Monday, 11 April 2016

Magic couch ride


Like an old friend, that green couch and I go way back, and how it came into my life is an interesting story. The title of this week’s blog sounds a bit pervy, doesn’t it? However it is worth mentioning that the green couch in question is a very respectable couch you know!

The idea for purchasing the green couch arose way back in the mid 1990’s. And the idea for the purchase was at the repeated insistence of the local real estate agent. I was trying to sell a house in the middle of a recession and back in those days few people were actually buying houses. The real estate agent simply wanted his commission from the sale of the house and quite politely told me that the existing couch looked as if it had been only recently been removed from a landfill and should be replaced.

The agent was making a reasonable observation because the existing couch was propped up on bricks and additionally had to be covered over with a sheet so as to hide both those bricks and the many holes in the fabric coverings. House mates can be brutal on furniture and that existing couch had witnessed many house mates. Actually, if the couch could have talked, it may possibly have told many entertaining stories. Fortunately, the couch could not tell its story! That old couch was not new when I inherited it as it had lived with many different families over its life and was possibly between three and four decades old. Anyway, it would be a fair thing to say that the existing couch’s best days were behind it and it was probably beyond repair.

The real estate agent was very insistent that the old couch had to go because it did not look good and would discourage potential buyers from considering purchasing the house (the technical description for the old couch was: Eyesore).

So, one dark Friday evening, the editor and I drove my little 1 Litre (all 61 cubic inches) 4 speed Suzuki car the two suburbs over to Brooklyn (that is a suburb of Melbourne). Back then Brooklyn was very gritty as it contained a lot of heavy industries. Mind you, there were refineries and other such inexplicably large industries in the suburb that we were living in at the time, so I didn’t really notice any of that stuff.

One advantage of a suburb with heavy industry, is that there are usually a lot of very large sheds. And Brooklyn contained Sidney’s lounge discounters in one of those very large sheds. These days furniture stores look very flashy to me. However, back then it would be a massive stretch of the imagination to say that Sidney’s was a flashy furniture store. I mean the shop was in an industrial estate, in an over sized shed, in an out of the way suburb and that night we were the only people, other than the sales guy, in the shop. It was quiet, like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's film: Psycho.

Sidney’s did have a serious strategic advantage over other furniture shops though, and that was because they kept their costs down, they were cheap. And way back then, most of the furniture for sale was locally manufactured. Furniture was not cheap back then and that is why we had a couch that was propped up on bricks, covered over with a sheet and full of holes in the first place.

The sales guy at the shop eventually talked the editor and I into purchasing a locally manufactured green plaid two seater couch. And it cost us almost a month’s wages, which we could ill afford. But that real estate agent was very insistent…

And two decades later this is what the green plaid couch looks like:
The green plaid couch two decades on, looking almost as good as new
I keep an eye on the zeitgeist and I've noticed very recently that in some of the high end designer stores, plaid coverings seem to be making a return to favour. I cannot imagine that the sort of rubbish being sold as furniture today will look as good in two decades time as that locally manufactured green couch. 

What I’ve also failed to mention is just how much abuse that green couch has had to suffer in the intervening years. Check this out:
The green plaid and locally manufactured couch cushions are used on the raw dirt during the construction of the house here back in 2009
Observant readers will note that on the very right hand side of the photo is a small grey vacuum cleaner that I was using at the time to suck dirt out of the holes. That vacuum cleaner was a hand me down from the editor’s mother and it is still in use today and I even use that vacuum cleaner to suck leaves out of the guttering which collects the rain water!

And I won’t even mention the cat which used to share the house (and green plaid couch). That cat had suffered from cat flu as a kitten and he used to blow snot bubbles which hardened into an almost epoxy resin like substance on any surface of the house and the fabric of that green couch was no exception. Or the dog that used to enjoy sleeping on the couch, but at one stage had some weird skin allergy which smelled like last weeks un-refrigrated casserole. In hindsight, I wish that I had purchased more of those green couches and I often wonder whether the demise of local manufacturing and the shoddy goods supplied to us these days has been a good thing. From my perspective, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Speaking of which, I have recently been searching for a supplier for skivvies (which are a long sleeved t-shirt with a turtle neck). It is very hard to maintain my winter style without skivvies! I used to work as an accountant in both the clothing and footwear manufacturing industries and all that I can observe is that recently the fit and finish of the clothing being supplied to us now is total rubbish. And because a few generations have passed since sewing was considered to be a necessary part of a family’s existence, no one seems to even notice the low quality!

This week, the editor and I finally decided to address the complete lack of storage and preparation space in the kitchen. The recent glut of zucchinis discussed in last week’s blog was the final straw (that broke the proverbial camel’s back). To that end the old stainless steel island bench was replaced with four flat pack cupboards which would make a new island bench.
Four cupboards replaced the existing stainless steel island bench in the kitchen
The funny thing was though, the cupboards just didn’t look right. There is a rule of thumb relating to aesthetics which says that in order for rectangular buildings to look correct to the untrained eye, the proportions must adhere to a one third / two thirds basis. Those four island bench cupboards proved that rule of thumb to be true because they just looked so very wrong!
Two further cupboards were added to the existing island bench in the kitchen
Two further cupboards were added to the island bench in the kitchen and then all was good, aesthetically speaking of course. It was fortunate that the two cupboards had to be added, because I’d completely stuffed up the location of the feet and in order to correct that problem the entire unit had to be disassembled anyway. Before too long (well, actually after many hours), the doors were added and a few scraps of plywood were included as a temporary benchtop. I use the word temporary because the suppliers of the flat pack cupboards no longer supply benchtops. This was an unexpected occurrence and the editor and I spent a few hours on Friday afternoon meeting benchtop suppliers in strange industrial like suburbs (everything old is new again! Sidney's benchtop discounters anyone!).
The new island bench cupboards began to be filled with farm produce today
The old stainless steel bench was not scrapped. That bench has been relocated outside undercover where it will become the outdoor summer kitchen. I may want to consume freshly baked bread on a 40’C+ (104’F+) degree day, but I seriously don’t want to be using an electric (solar powered) oven inside on such a day. Imagine dehydrating tomatoes on such a hot day too, in the house for 10 hours… And that is where an outdoor kitchen comes into play.
The stainless steel bench has now been repurposed into an under-cover outdoor kitchen
Speaking of bright ideas. Lewis, who is a regular commenter here, has spoken in the past about utilising a light in his chicken house. What a good idea. As the days are getting shorter here and winter is looming, I’ve noticed that at around dusk there is enough light from the setting sun to see the chickens heading off to bed. However, once inside the chicken house it is very dark, so I’ve added a magnetic LED battery light to the wall of the steel chicken house. That way the chickens can see what they are doing when they head off to bed. Before that LED light was used, there used to be quite a lot of fighting between the chickens, because in the dark, the late to bed chickens used to jump on top of other already settled-in-for-the-night chickens, who really didn’t seem to appreciate the inconvenience.
A magnetic battery operated LED provides light to the chickens in their hen house when they go to bed at night
It rained this week and it was nice to see that forgotten wet stuff falling from the sky. The rain has meant that I’ve been able to stop watering all of the recently installed plants – like the fern gully.
Poopy inspects the newly planted rainforest gully after a recent rainfall
The wildlife here is enjoying the moister and greener conditions and a few nights ago, this kangaroo bull decided to enjoy the herbage not 10m (33 feet) from where I was sitting. The chickens didn’t seem to care about the kangaroo.
A bull kangaroo enjoys the green pick in the orchard whilst the chickens look on
And speaking of marsupials, I noticed today that Scritchy the boss dog ventured into the old strawberry bed to investigate the damage that the wallabies have caused. The funny thing was that she became stuck in the netting and had to be extracted. Poopy clearly thought that the situation was very amusing!
Dude, what are you doing? Poopy looks on whilst Scritchy the boss dog became entangled in the netting in the now destroyed strawberry bed
The cooler conditions and recent rainfall has meant that the raised garden beds have rapidly filled with the many greens that we eat. There are all sorts of plants growing: various lettuces; mustards; rocket; celery; parsley; and onions. Those greens will continue to grow all winter.
The recent cooler temperatures and rainfall has meant that the greens have grown in the raised garden beds
Many of the citrus fruit trees will provide fruit over winter too and home grown mandarins are far superior tasting to the store purchased fruit. This poor fruit tree has recovered from a wallaby attack and is now producing a lot of fruit.
A mandarin fruit tree which is recovering from a wallaby attack is now producing a lot of fruit which should be ripe in a month or two
I used to feed the dogs toasted muesli which had pumpkin seeds in it. After being baked in the oven and then passing through a dog gut, one very hardy pumpkin seed established itself in the orchard and today it looks like this (and I have not watered the vine once this entire growing season). Given the market for civet coffee, the editor and I are rather excited about the potential new market for civet (poopy?) pumpkins:
A pumpkin plant has taken hold in the orchard after having the seed consumed by a dog as toasted muesli and then being excreted in the orchard. Civet pumpkins anyone?
As autumn continues and the daylight hours get shorter, the many deciduous trees are putting on a good display. In the orchard, this nashi (Asian) pear has turned a beautiful yellow colour.
Autumn continues and the daylight hours slowly reduce. A nashi pear begins to turn colour to a beautiful yellow
The temperature outside now at about 8.15pm is 11.0'C degrees Celsius (51.8'F). So far this year there has been 128.2mm (5.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 115.4mm (4.5 inches).

42 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Please, please take some of my rain, it has poured down hard all night.

'Devil, monsters, magic' perhaps you should be careful!

My couch is Victorian, bought for 5 shillings nearly 60 years ago at auction. Mind you I have since had to have it recovered for £500 but it continues to appreciate in value. It has stood up to the children romping all over it.

Now where did that use of 'skivvies' come from. Skivvies were the lowest of the low in the old great houses, they did all the most menial work.

7 pigs go to the mainland to be slaughtered on Wednesday. Just as well, the pigs are becoming increasingly unhappy with their containment. Son got into the mud again and only got himself out because he was within reach of a fence.

Back to your previous blog.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Odd, the ideas real estate dealers, get in their heads. Years ago, I put a run down little place on the market. The whole point was, the value was in the land. The agent kept nattering on about painting the derelict house ... all 365 square feet of it. I ignored him. He sounded so surprised when he called to tell me that it had sold, in pretty short order.

Thanks! "last weeks un-refrigrated casserole" cause me to blow tea out of my nose. Waste of good tea. :-(. Ah, couches. The first rental I lived in, after leaving home, had an enormous, overstuffed 1930's couch in dark blue corduroy. Since I was working two jobs and going to school, full time, many a nap was taken on that couch. How it managed to stay in such good shape, for so long, I don't know. There's an independent film maker, I follow, and, in most of his movies a plaid couch appears. Brown or gold. It's kind of a running joke, among his devotees.

Here, "skivvies" refer to male under ware. Tighty whities, jockies or boxers. Whatever is worn "in there," next to the skin.

Well, that's kind of weird that a countertop wasn't included with the counters. Although, it kind of makes sense, given the wide varieties of counter tops, available, these days. Granite, anyone? What didn't make sense is, that I bought a string trimmer, last week. I got it from a locally owned shop, as, I figure if there's problems with it, I can take it in for service. The very nice and helpful salesman (also, one of the owners of the business) was very specific about using the right gage wire, for the electrical cord. Then I asked him if they carried the cords, and they didn't. So, I had to go elsewhere, to buy the cord. Seemed odd to me that they'd pass up an opportunity for profit.

There's an old American (I think) saying ... that I've heard all my life "They don't make them like they used to." Shoddy workmanship and planned obsolescence seem to be the order of the day. And, if you get a bad piece of merchandise, just try and get satisfaction from the dealer ... what with all the disintermediation going on. Sooner or later, I'll have to make some large purchase (for me), and I shudder to think of what I will end up with. Maybe the truck, hot water tank, refrigerator ... computer?, will come to the end of it's life, and figuring out what to buy next will become a major decision. I don't mind spending a bit of cash, but I want a bit of quality.

Another good quote from the Berman book on Japan ... "The second aspect, the destruction of a previous way of life, requires a bit more by way of explanation, because modernity comes with a huge smokescreen of propaganda about "progress" and so it becomes very difficult to penetrate the fog." He then references a book by Ursula Le Guin (which I'll have to get from the library) called "The Telling." "For those of us living in the developed world have (in effect) passed through the historical process described in The Telling, and are now left swimming in a sea of what Le Guin refers to as "undigested techshit," while at the same time cut off from any genuine spiritual roots." Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Watched "Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective." Not a bad little movie. A bit of a sketchy overview. Mostly, sites around the United States. Most of the little cameos of people involved in permaculture were people who wrote books about it, or, ran schools. It's the tantalizing kind of movie that makes you want to dig deeper. I watched the extras, too. One guy was really into creating swales. No till, small scale agriculture. There was a composting toilet.

Although only one person talked about the "work" involved, plenty of people were working up a good sweat and doing a lot of heavy lifting. People talked quit frankly, about their failures. What worked and what didn't. No one came off with an "this is the way you do it, it's set in stone." Most talked about systems ... tailored to one particular area. Working toward closed loops. And very honest about "this loop isn't quit closed, but this is what we're going to try next season, to see if we can close the loop.

The woman who talked about work ... well, she's working on incorporating a permaculture garden into an inner city playground. Doesn't stress the work involved ... the in the beginning. :-).

And, our ol' buddy Michael Phillips, of "Holistic Orcharding", made an appearance. :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Was the song "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf on your mind (1968, same year as our couch; don't ask)?

I am absolutely shocked at your treatment of your "new" green, plaid couch. I am also absolutely shocked at how good it looks (mine doesn't; don't ask). What a fun story. Thanks!

Smart move, extra work though it was (isn't it always?), with your new island. I sure do like it.

Your outdoor kitchen idea is spot on. Around where we live, in the 18th and 19th centuries it was fairly usual to put the kitchen in a separate building from the house. Besides the comfort factor in summer, it kept the whole house from burning down when the hot cross buns caught on fire . . .

Poopy and Scritchy have really been up to tricks! Poopy is so glad that he has such superior intelligence that he does not get caught in nets. He probably now has visions of becoming Boss Dog . . .

It is so delightfully green there, even with the autumn leaves. We are very green here, too. Is there still time for the pumpkins to ripen?

Pam

Damo said...

Your couch story is well timed. Yesterday, it was announced that electrolux, the last manufacturer of fridges in Australia will be shutting down, taking 300 jobs with them. Production will be moved to Thailand, high wage costs were suggested as the culprit. They were making 1500 fridges a day, or nearly 5 per day per worker. That works out at $200-300 of labour costs for at least $3000 of product. One wonders what other costs they will externalise in Thailand since labour is such a marginal difference?

Personally, every fridge I have owned was second hand, sold only when I move interstate, usually for the same price I paid. Most of them were decades old and very heavy (good quality steel, insulation). One rental even had an ancient, dust covered unit face down in the dirt under the house. It took three people to carry. I gave it to dad, it still works flawlessly. Compare that to the 5 year old one I had recently, it must have had some metal in it but you wouldn't know it, so light and flimsy. Even the plastic drawers and shelves were cracking and falling apart. Pathetic really.

Jason Heppenstall said...

Hi Chris. Sofas/couches are a topic close to my heart this week. You see, my wife is an upholsterer who was trained in traditional methods and even has a City and Guilds certificate that says so. Over the last 15 years or so we have rescued many a dumped sofa or old chair that has been tossed into a skip or advertised for free to whoever wants it. My wife then strips these forlorn unloved pieces of furniture down to the bones and rebuilds them. She does the whole time-consuming thing of removing every single nail and staple (she curses the inventor of the staple gun as much as I curse the inventor of barbed wire) and lovingly hammers the things back together using metal tacks and traditional materials such as webbing, horse hair and hessian. As a final twist she gets unwanted fabrics from junk shops and uses this as finishing fabric. The results are quite extraordinary and not only do we get completely unique furniture, but we also get furniture that will last generations.

Everyone is wowed by the results and I've encouraged her to run it as a business, but to little avail. People, she found out, aren't really willing to pay for the time and effort put in and often say things like "I could get a new one in Ikea much cheaper." So it goes. The system, at the moment, is rigged in favour of mass production and doesn't much value recycling. Maybe that will change some day, but for now her only hope of running it as a business is to find some wealthy stately homes (or similar) for whom cost isn't such an issue.

Anyway, as I said, it's a subject close to my heart this week as she's just finished a 100 year-old iron framed sofa that was being chucked out by a church in Denmark. It's lived in our basement the last few years, going rusty and falling further into disrepair, but she made a concerted effort to restore it and finished it off, which she did a couple of days ago. I wish there was some way of adding photos to blogger comments so I could show you. As a poor substitute you might be able to see her Facebook page, where there are some pics of previous projects.

https://www.facebook.com/michellesupholstery/

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks for the lovely offer of the rain. I will gladly take some of your rain. Last year was more or less a perfect year - until the heat wave in late spring (of course) - and I'm now down 3 inches over that year.

Exactly, I was thinking of the 1968 song by the band Steppenwolf, but of course, I take your warning on board. Mind you, if you've ever heard a koala bear roar at dusk then, wondering about whether the occasional monster lurks around in the forest here would be not that big a stretch of the imagination. :-)! And a vixen scream outside the bedroom window can make the blood curdle! Do you get unusual and alarming noises in your forest. The big trees here very occasionally toppling in the wind is something to strike fear into ones heart.

That couch is an excellent investment in the future. Total respect. You may be interested in Jason's comment below...

That is interesting about the derivation of the word skivvy. You may be interested to know that as a clothing item they get no respect, but are actually very functional and they keep my neck warm over winter. Possibly, one word led to the other? The growth of a language is a funny thing, but very interesting.

May you enjoy your sausages when they return from the mainland. And please feel free to make us all totally jealous with the home made quality pork produce! :-)! Pork is my favourite meat - not many people cook it well though.

Your son was very lucky to be able to extract himself from the mud. That sounds awful.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is a very small house. Real estate agents, I reckon, are looking for the big sale and there may be a case to say that they are very interested in receiving their commission on the sale - and if they can get more... I noticed in the film: The Big Short that later in the film, the two mortgage brokers were standing in line at the job expo thingee. Fine details.

That dog was Poopy by the way. When he first moved up here, he became allergic to something in the surrounding forest and sort of lost his fur over a patch of skin - and wow did he smell or what. I eventually bathed him in an anti-parasitical shampoo and he came good over the course of a few weeks. It was weird and yes, that would have been a waste of good tea! I do try to amuse!

Dark blue corduroy is a classic!!! The original couch (with the bricks) was a dusky slightly pink thing in velour (it was the editors). And you know what, we sold the thing!!! I mean nowadays such a beast would have no value. That independent film maker sounds quite amusing, and it is a clever idea.

That is funny because jockies down here refer to people that ride racehorses, and the underwear are referred to as undies! Seriously.

Yeah, the whole benchtop thing was weird because they had previously supplied them. I suspect that the third party had cliffed the supplier (i.e. told them to lower their prices or else) and in turn the supplier said that they'd supply and install benchtops direct to the customers. Ahh, the fun and games of business. I don't actually require, the measure, transport and install component of that equation which incidentally costs more than the product, but plenty of people do. Supply only is a pain for these things. I'm going for a manufactured stone because it is the best product on the market and trust me I've used all of them. Granite is the worst as it is very porous and therefore stains very easily. Laminate is actually quite good. And a long time ago in my better remunerated days, I arranged to have benchtop manufactured by a guy in a small out of the way country timber mill who utilised salvaged timber - and that was awesome, but way out of my league nowadays. The funny thing was though that nobody noticed the amazing quality benchtop from that guy. I felt sort of sad about that as it was an epic job.

The local guy was probably used to selling fossil fuel powered line trimmers which utilise a slightly thicker line. Mate, I reckon the electric units are the bizz because they are so much lighter than the fossil fuel powered units. Try telling that to people though... They probably didn't expect to sell an electric unit? I didn't even realise that electric units were available as there was only one unit at the local shop here. I'm not joking about that either.

They say that down here too - and it is true. I've heard that said about people too. It always reminds me of the back comment from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Men were real men, Women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real furry creatures from Alpha Centauri! It is a real shame about the manufactured products though, but then there is a huge market in second hand stuff which is massively high quality and easily repairable - and nobody seems to notice. I wonder that about vehicles too.

That quote from Berman is total genius! I love it. Are you enjoying the book?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

It is good that the people in the video aren't trying to sell stuff. Unfortunately that is often the case with Permaculture things. The other thing is that people misunderstand the main point which is that it is a starting point and not an end point and that issue can become confused in the minds of true believers - and fortunately that video sounds as if it has dodged that bullet.

I respect people who can say: I don't know; or Well, that didn't work, did it! Good for them. In a strange coincidence, I noticed in the Cooking Dirty book today that Jason Sheehan was complaining to his lady that both of their parents failed to say that in their rush to say that the kids could do anything, they failed to say that there were some things they should not do, and also how to cope when they encounter things that they cannot do. It is a very profound insight. Poor Jason is at the point in the book where he seems to be approaching a total melt down...

Ha! That is funny about the work. Too often it is understated, and I once read a quote by a person far wiser than I, that it takes at least 10 years before one can say that they know how to feed themselves and I reckon that is about the right amount of time.

Michael Phillips is a very wise dude!

Hope you enjoyed the Steppenwolf reference this week. The moons have aligned... Hehe!!!!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

You scored the elephant stamp for mind reading skills this week! Yes, Steppenwolf was very much on my mind when that title popped into my head. Mind you, I'm a bit slow on the uptake as it was only after I was a few paragraphs into the blog that I realised that the title sounded a bit dodgy (as perhaps Steppenwolf was?).

It was a fun story. Oh the poor mistreated couch. It does look pretty good these days too. If I hadn't shown the photo, people wouldn't have believed me. I won't ask, but you have to remember that back then, couches were real couches!!!! Hehe!!! Sorry, you started this trip into silly land! Hehe! :-)!

Kitchens are fiddly. I mean if you are unconcerned about how the finished product looks, they can be very quick to install, but then my mate was telling me over the weekend that somehow they installed their benchtop on a funny angle, and the editor would be rather unhappy about such a result.

That was how it rolled down here - even in the early 20th century. The risk of a kitchen fire was no laughing matter, and so the kitchens were always detached from the main house. Plus the additional heat load on the house was very unwelcome in those days - as well as today. Exactly! Hot cross buns are nice toasted, but burnt is total unacceptable!!!!

Poopy could be the boss dog and the favourite dog, if only he tried a little bit harder. He suffers from a condition known as: "Terminal laziness". It is an unfortunate condition for the poor dog and as a result he is far less concerned about running a tight ship (in the canine world) than his creature comforts. If only....

Thanks and glad to hear that things are green in your part of the world. I don't actually know whether the pumpkins will ripen. It is a chance seedling and I've always had dreadful luck with pumpkins, but then there is next year where I'm going to start them inside in late winter and then set aside a very sunny spot for the plants to sprawl in (plus maybe melons - the holy grail of fruit here - just because everyone says that it is not possible, does not mean that that is the case).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

That is awful. Labour costs are low in Thailand, because the Thai people set their manufacturing up on the border with Burma and then the Burmese often work in those factories. Lots of vehicle manufacturing goes on up there too nowadays.

Labou arbitrage is a strange thing and it will unwind as time goes on. No doubts about it. I'm sad for the loss of manufacturing in this country and it has hit Victoria particularly hard and mate, wait until October 2016 when the first of the big three (the blue oval) pack it in...

I totally respect your story about the refrigerators. Well done.

How are the travel plans going? Have you decided to stop in Canberra or Goulburn? I didn't mind Gundagai either as it is off the freeway. They had a very good bakery.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes I saw Jason's comment and if he sees this, I have a question for his wife: I sleep on an ancient horse hair mattress. I will probably always sleep on it. However, for the benefit of my descendants, is the horse hair valuable?

Son has given me an answer re. the egg shells. He throws out the shells and the foxes take them to play with. I knew that foxes are playful with all sorts of things but am still somewhat puzzled. Son has not yet seen the shells and they didn't look the sort of shape that one would get when cracking them oneself. Shall question him again.

I certainly hear vixens scream but am used to the sound. Have heard a male koala when in Australia and that is surprising when first heard. The only real shock here is when an oak comes down in the night as the ground reverberates. Low flying helicopters are around as well.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jason,

A very big welcome to the discussion!

Mate, I often reckon that repair of small appliances, housing and furniture is going to be a big issue over the next few decades. Honestly, I'm in awe of those sorts of skills that your wife has and I respect people that can both think and act about the sort of future that we are leaving to our descendants.

Staple guns are a nightmare, I hear you. The scrap plywood used as a temporary benchtop had to be de-nailed of staples - by hand - and I was cursing the rotter that went totally feral with the staple gun in that scrap plywood in the first place. Individuals like that suffer from the conceit that one is good but fifty is much better! ;-)!

Using the scrap material is a lovely addition and each piece of furniture would tell a story - as they should.

That issue is very real and I feel both of your pain. Food quality is an even bigger issue! I may not have mentioned it in the blog, but the flat pack cupboards from Ikea (I merely consider) to be beneath my thresholds for quality and I shopped around a bit for the cupboards in the island bench.

You know, over the past few years there has been a movement towards mid century furniture being sold at ridiculous prices. It has never ceased to amaze me that people don't seem to get the simple fact that those mid century furniture items were always intended to be mass produced and basic household items using commercially available materials. I've often wondered whether the whole movement is some sort of joke that I just don't get?

That couch is absolutely superb work: Michelle's upholstery. The cat was a nice touch too!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

What a great question for Jason. Incidentally, you can contact him directly via the most excellent blog: 22 Billion Energy Slaves (you should see a link to it on this blog page).

It is amazing work, isn't it?

Well, that is interesting to hear. Foxes are here, but they are very elusive so I don't get a feel for the sorts of mischief that they enjoy. But the fox cubs that I have seen certainly muck around a lot. They are very clever animals. I was wondering that too, as I thought that the foxes may have consumed the shells.

As an interesting side note, I often throw the egg shells into the worm farm - where they disappear quite rapidly.

Yeah, you do get used to the denizens of the forest, but the vixen is such a rare visitor - I often see the cubs, but not the vixen as she is very elusive. Well, you know what I mean then about the koala. The trees produce a mini tremor here too. The air ambulance often flies low over the trees and I wonder just how necessary that sort of thing is. Mind you Tullamarine airport is not far from here and on quiet nights the rumble and roar from a take off is a fascinating sound.

I once knew a pilot and he told me that there was an underground fault line that channelled that rumble from take off into a far distant suburb. It was weird.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm struggling to reply to all of the comments and missed this one!

Your chickens are the best and should have little Super chicken branded sweaters on them. They earned it. Yeah, I'm not up for the whole stand up comic thing as it is a tough world. Imagine getting heckled - I'm not built for such things.

Sometimes people can become inspired with jokes and they just carry the audience along with them, but other times... Comics suffer a bit upstairs from what I reckon. It is a rough gig.

Poopy thinks eggs are precious too - in his gut... :-)!

Ouch. I offer no advice on such matters, but then perhaps a little bit of friendly advice wouldn't go astray. In such situations: Doing nothing is often the more mature and cool path. What do you reckon about that? Sometimes avoiding high emotional heat is a good thing.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Well, in a way, underwear is "the lowest of the low." :-)

Yo, Chris - Hmm. I think I was not clear. Not unusual :-). I had three options. The gas jobs, the ones with the battery pack, and, the electric ones where you plug it into a socket and drag the cord around with you. It's that cord that needs to be high gage wire. The longer the cord, the higher gage the wire needs to be. After having a frank discussion about my lack of ... being able to keep a gas job running, we looked at the battery pack ones. He (even though they are more expensive) advised against it. He said that unless you use multiple tools, they aren't very cost effective. So, I settled on the one with the electrical cord that I'll have to drag around.

Interesting. Berman was mentioned, yesterday, over in the comments at ADR. But, it was just a little curfuffle over titles and copyrights. JMG is aware of him, but, I couldn't get a sense of an opinion. To my surprise, I ran across 2 or three pages in the new book that talk about JMG and quote him. Am I enjoying the book? Hmm. It's pretty deep, in spots, and I find myself skimming, re-reading, skipping ahead. It's 500 pages. :-).

Oh, yes. Sheehan (Cooking Dirty) is on his way to "hitting bottom", as we say in the recovery racket. :-). The elevator is going down, but you don't need to ride it all the way to the basement (Lew tm). Something that I think is happening to my chef friend. Last week was spring break, from school, so, the stops were off. I estimate the final crash will come, this summer. I'd rather not be around (or be involved in) the train wreck. But, I want to talk to my friend "Doctor" Scott, about it, tomorrow. I've known him for probably 25 years and he's a retired drug and alcohol counselor. And, he's met the chef.

My mom and grandmother always used to refer to "summer kitchens" back in Minnesota, where they came from. Sometimes, they're referred to as "canning kitchens." When my friends that moved to Idaho, did some canning, over here, they usually did it on the back patio, over a gas grill. North side of the house, always in the shade, with a nice breeze off the river.

I used to put my egg shells in my worm box, but now I save them, give them a minute in the microwave, and add them to the chickens afternoon treats. I grind them up, so they don't look like eggs. Don't want them to develop bad habits :-).

Well. Someone messed their skivvies, yesterday, at my place. I was making dinner and heard Bull Whip Boy going at it. I thought, "That sounds close." So, I glanced out the front window, and there he was snapping away at the blossoms on my apple tree! I threw open the front door and howled at him to stop that and get the ____ out of my yard. I'm sure I looked quit wild eyed and demented :-). He evaporated. Don't know if he told his Dad, or not. I have expected to get a "what for" from him. I was prepared, for that. But, no. Maybe the kid said nothing at all. I'll be sure to mention it to grandma and grandpa :-).

I watch trailers. Sometimes, I discover something I want to see ... or, something I want to steer clear of. Last night, I saw one for something titled "Margin Call." A few years old. I think it's about the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Good cast. Library has one copy, and, there are 4 holds on it. Probably won't get it for about a month. Lew

Jason Heppenstall said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, mid-century furniture is a big money-spinner over here. A good friend has a shop selling 'vintage' furniture with designer labels - mostly Scandinavian. I'm not very fond of the stuff, to be honest (it was a period style favoured by the Nazis, and I find it soulless), but each to their own. Anyway, myself and her husband worked out that it would be profitable to drive their large van and trailer over to Denmark, fill it with second hand furniture and drive back here to Cornwall. This we did, taking about a week in total. Given that I can speak Danish we were able to penetrate the parts that other foreign dealers could not reach and we drove around the country picking up pieces of furniture from flea markets and private sales. It was a very exhausting and not very pleasant experience, and it was only profitable due to low petrol prices and combining the trip with various deliveries en route. The irony is that when we finally arrived back in Cornwall, much of the furniture was then sold at auction to buyers in London. In turn, Danish people themselves cottoned onto the fact that it might be worth something and have begun to buy it back. The end result is a whole load of petrol being burned to move some sticks of fancy furniture around a continent and then back again!

Hi Inge - yes, horse hair is expensive stuff. These days they rubberise it, for some reason. My wife has had a big bag of it knocking around in our basement for years. It looks like a huge sack of pubes!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I reckon you bought the sweet spot model for the line trimmers. I spotted the battery powered ones down here and to be honest, I'm unsure how the battery could actually provide enough grunt to run them for very long. I mean my electric trimmer uses about 0.5kW when it is operating and how a small battery could even compete is beyond me... Not to stress too much about the extension leads! I use chains of up to four heavy duty cables (85m or 280ft!!!!) and there is a bit of voltage drop, but honestly I've never noticed any difference. Smaller diameter (copper) cables will have a greater voltage drop and if you notice they feel warm at any point, just pick up some heavier duty cables. Other than that, I wouldn't worry about it. The gas ones are smelly, noisy and up for a lot of maintenance as well as being much heavier and harder on your back (even with a harness) but then they can work a bit harder too as the line is thicker.

You've lost me there. I spotted the duplicated title situation and my mind simply glossed over it and went onto other matters!!! Hehe!!! What is the Berman book that you are reading?

Bread is baking in the wood oven, so I have to get up and check it every few minutes or so just to make sure that it doesn't burn. Putting a loaf of bread in a cool wood oven is like turbo-charging the rising process and I do that sometimes over winter when a loaf is required to be baked at night for the following day.

Sheehan crashed big time. Those fits that he was suffering from were definitely a sign from his body telling him to slow down and take it easy. I once had a mate that was either really full on working - or he'd go to the other extreme and do nothing, almost as if there was no middle ground. As an interesting side note, he disappeared, literally, just upped sticks one day without saying goodbye to anyone. It was a mystery.

Maybe, some people need to reach the basement, before they can take the elevator back up again? Good TM by the way. A very nice turn of phrase. How did the talk with the "Doctor" go? It is hard to know when to help people and when to let them crash. I don't envy you that situation. Does AA wait until people are ready to join and then cautiously welcome them? Or do they occasionally reach out to people in need?

Those are both excellent descriptions and both very appropriate. Honestly baking bread outside on a 104'F+ day is a good idea. And canning in the house is always a good way to heat it up. The glut always happens at the hottest part of the year (or just afterwards).

They do eat eggs the little rotters. I had a sick chicken once that decided to up her protein levels by eating eggs. Not good.

It is really hard to know when to bop a sick chicken on the head because whilst they mostly don't recover, some of them occasionally do and I have an Isa Brown that recovered from a brief illness recently. So, you never know - although mostly it is not good news. Have any of your chickens become sick over the past few years?

Mate, I really feel for you on that one. Kids explore their boundaries, and if parents don't provide guidance (usually a fear driven thing) then, well, sometimes the kids over step boundaries and then they find that other adults aren't as nice as their parents. The kid is clearly bored and sometimes I believe that it is a bad thing that children are kept as pets.

Someone mentioned that film in the comment section recently. I'd be very interested to read your opinion of the film.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jason,

That furniture is a big money spinner here too and I suspect that many of the original pieces for sale are actually reproductions. Well that gives the furniture a whole different perspective doesn't it?

Thanks for the Great Furniture Heist story. It was a very clever move really and at least you ended up cash flow positive.

You know the same thing goes on down here with VW combi vans (the old air cooled motor ones). With the general lack of ice on the roads down here, comes the lack of salt and also the drier overall conditions means that the steel worm is not as hungry as in most other countries and those old VW combi vans get snapped up by European buyers. Talk about a home coming (although they may well have been manufactured in Brazil).

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Loved the couch story. We have our original furniture when we moved here 28 years ago and it's still looking good though we did have it reupholstered once. It wasn't particularly expensive either. Recently bought some new furniture for my MIL who ended up not needing it as she went to a nursing home so it's back at our house. Will be interesting to see how it holds up. I have clothes from decades ago that are still fine but anything that was purchased in the last ten years either ends up with holes in it or falls apart even from companies that used to carry good quality merchandising.

Weather has finally turned here - no rain for the next ten days and much warmer temps. Good thing as pigs, chicks and bees are arriving next week.

I may be crazy but have ordered 15 guinea fowl primarily for tick control. I'm getting kind of freaked out by the tick situation and Lyme disease and these birds are known for their tick eating. They, supposedly, don't both plants like chickens but we'll see. The downside is they aren't easily contained though I don't want them to be - just want them to stay in the general vicinity. They are also noisy but do warn about predators or anyone who steps on the property.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thank you and great to hear that you have been a good steward with your original furniture. Furniture restoration - as well as houses and appliances etc. - is a good skill and it is great to read that someone in your neck of the woods can do such work.

It will be interesting to see how that newer furniture withstands the test of time. My gut feel is not good about such matters. I worked in the clothes and footwear manufacturing at the end and it was sad to see such skills lost and the equipment shipped off overseas. I have a sheepskin jacket that is nearly as old as I am and it is real pleasure to wear. I hear you about the holes and I also reckon the fit and finish of the clothes are not that good either. I find that the sleeves are often too short for me nowadays in clothes...

Yay for warmer weather and I'm very excited for you. It is a real event to get new livestock and then learn all of the unique personalities. I'm assuming the chicks are a few weeks old? I tend to purchase point of lay - which is about 22 weeks old because I get a bit over despatching roosters.

No, guinea fowl are lovely creatures and the noise doesn't bother me (not as much as a rooster does at 3am in the morning!) at all. The seem a bit more street smart than chickens to me and wow, can they run or what!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

It appears that the pigs eat egg shells. I put mine in my compost but have practically no compost as I eat almost everything (except kiwi skins).

I agree with everyone about modern manufacture. I have ancient clothes which are still going strong, fortunately I have always been about the same size. Modern clothes fall apart in no time.

@Jason Thanks for horse hair info. Your wife may be interested to know that my couch is supposed to be unusual as it has 3 stretchers underneath instead of 2.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, I do and I don't understand all the mid-century modern craze. People seem to be interested in whateve they lost from their childhood's, or what was in grannies house. So, collecting interest areas seem to change with generations. I've noticed that really nice Victorian furniture is going for a song, at the local auctions (although, some of that is due to the economy.) Oldies like me appreciate the older stuff. Arts & Crafts, Art Deco .. Depression era stuff. I looked at a couple of books on mid-centruy modern glass and pottery, last year. Wouldn't have most of it in the house :-).

Back when I was in the biz, I brought in a few 40 foot containers of tat, from England. Mostly oak furniture. Did ok with it, for awhile.

Re: the string trimmer. Not so much the "sweet spot", as my complete lack of mechanical ability :-). LOL. The guy was going to walk me through the "how to load the string" part, which was covered in the manual. I told him that wasn't necessary. Though my mechanical ability sucks, my reading comprehension is pretty good.

AA doesn't really do outreach (except jail visits). People have to "want what we have." But, once they're through the doors, they get a warm welcome. Some are court ordered. If people "slip", or, "relapse", they are also warmly welcomed back. All we want to know is what happened, and what did they learn.

I had one chicken just die on me, last year. She was kind of elderly. I had one chicken, that got very sick, for about 48 hours. I thought I was going to loose her. But, she finally staggered out of the chook house, sat in the sun for an afternoon, and recovered. Miss Gimpy is the chicken, with the limp. I accidentally stepped on her, when she was quit young. I noticed the other day, that she's stopped limping in the afternoon. Just limps in the morning. So, maybe she's working it out. Old Mrs. Barnvelder was crop bound. I tried every remedy, and not much helped. But I notice that even she seems a lot better. Might be the sunflower seed they get, daily. Someone is laying very chalky, thin shelled eggs. I suspect one of my older hens, who maybe isn't metabolizing calcium as effectively, as in the past. Otherwise, every one is pretty perky.

Berman's book is "Neurotic Beaty: An Outsider Looks at Japan."

Off to the Little Smoke, today. Will see Doctor Scott. Will ask him to come out of retirement and put on his booze and dope counseling hat, for a short chat. (Full stop). I am thrilled. The first season of the Australian series "Cloudstreet" is awaiting me at the library. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That sounds about right to me! Those would be very happy piggies, getting to eat egg shells. Fair enough about the compost. I get a lot of garden cuttings which I redistribute around or chuck in the worm farm composter. A few weeks back we did a huge cut back where the plant growth had taken over paths and stairs - it was feral.

It is sunny and warm here today and the windows and doors are open to the outside. I've noticed that down below they have had some outbreaks of European wasps and those are pesky little critters trying to land on food all of the time.

Exactly, a lot of modern clothes are total rubbish. It wasn't that long ago that clothes were expected to last for years. They have a concept in the fashion world called "churning" which means bringing in as many different styles el-cheapo clothes as possible and also as quickly as possible. It is not good on many fronts.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, I don't get the mid-century craze. The editor and I were looking in the window of a high end designer furniture shop last week, which is when the idea for the blog started. The stuff all seemed to be mid-century. It was always intended to be furniture for the masses and cheaply assembled using commonly available materials. I don't get the obsession with it today as it makes no sense.

I like the older stuff too. You see oak furniture down here from time to time too. Much of the earlier furniture was local timbers which were quite high quality. I recently moved a red-cedar (our rainforest tree - not your pine) and that one produces very high quality furniture timber. It even seems to have survived the move - I really hate having to move trees as the survival rate is not good.

Ha! Well, you have picked the right machine for you. It has an electric motor and a switch. It should get many years of life. Feeding the line onto the spool is a learned skill - good luck. The head on my electric trimmer was a use once item and I didn't realise that at the time of purchase, but I have been hacking it and have had many, many uses and am still on the original head - which probably doesn't have much life left in it...

AA has a very sensible and clearly tried and tested approach. That is sensible and I was wondering about that matter. Years ago I tried to help a mate in need and I became the focus of his personal unhappiness and despite very little help given, I ended up getting blamed. Waiting until people are good and ready and not being judgemental seems like an excellent approach. Exactly, what did they learn? That would be hard for some to answer too.

Yes, such events are reasonably random in the world of chicken. And you never know what internal reserves a particular chicken will display. The continuing thin eggs is a strange one. I realise you feed your chickens yoghurt, but have you thought about some warm mash (oats, grains etc) with milk? Chickens love milk.

Of course, apologies for asking. My mind slips... Have you seen it anywhere? Oh there it is!

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on that series. I have not seen it, but I have been to Perth in the early 1990's. It is an interesting capital city, which I believe is in the process of economic decline due to the end of the mining construction boom. It is such a long way from anywhere else... It is hard to understand just how isolated that part of the world is. They're having a heat wave up in the northern part of that state too.

Down here it is warm (maybe a little bit chilly to be honest) and sunny today. A very nice day, but it has been so dry this year, that I'm having to take water up by bucket to the new rainforest gully. The plants don't look stressed, but a little bit of help goes a long way. The vegetables are jumping though in the raised beds. The down side of this time of year is that the chickens are on egg strike so I'm only getting 1 or 2 per day and I just roll with it.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You probably can't imagine the feral growth on my paths. The main one is kept open but the others are totally closed in at present. As they have become swampy rivers we can do nothing till the land dries. I keep them open through the summer but it will now be a job for a fit man when they dry out.

The oak trees have leafed out and look beautiful.

My phone and broadband went out a short while ago while I was on the computer and I am not sure what I have said.

Son's boar got out at 5.30am yesterday. It was in pursuit of a gilt on heat. Son is an early morning person and he said thank god for that and even so he ended up exhausted. The gilt was in a trailer waiting to go to the slaughterer. Son expected to find wreckage around the boar's enclosure; there wasn't so much as a scratch. He says that the boar must have flown over. We are amazed at the ability to jump of such a huge, stocky creature.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

No, the chicks I'm getting are day old (well probably two days) from a hatchery and will be all pullets though I'm sure a rooster or two will slip in. Before I ordered these I had ordered some different breeds from a local person as well. These will be straight run so I'll have a few roosters. I'll brood them all and pick out about 20 to keep and sell or give away the rest. I'd like a new rooster so I'll keep one of those as well. I found this guy years ago who will either buy any old/extra chickens or in the case of some roosters or old hens I'll just give them to him.

Lew & Chris,

If a chicken gets sick and it's not something obvious i.e. egg bound I can't remember one surviving. Over the fall/winter I had a hen laying eggs that were very bloody. None seemed sick. This would go on for weeks and then one would get sick and eventually die - no more bloody egg. Then some time later it happened again. Now I've had a bloody egg for two days running. I know it's one of the Buckeyes. I've got a broody Buckeye hen now though she doesn't seem too committed.

I use a battery powered string trimmer and have two batteries so I can get quite a bit done on one charge. The batteries last at least two years and they get pretty heavy use. As I'm pretty small and not young the weight and size work well for me.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The couch odyssey had something nagging at the back of my brain. A photo essay from 1985. "The Red Couch". These photographers hauled around a red couch, for 5 years, and photographed it at different places, around the U.S.. Well, I suppose everyone needs a hobby. :-)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Red-Couch-Portrait-America/dp/0912383054

The thing about midcentury modern furniture and other tat is that the high end stuff, usually began as high end stuff. Certain designers are collected (Eames, Eva Zeisel) or, companies (Wakfield, furniture.) Of course, you find that in about any period. If you look at "mission" or, arts and crafts furniture (mostly oak, circa 1915), well, Sears sold it by the box car load. And, it doesn't go for too much, today. But then there was a small, company in upstate New York called Stickley. If you can find a piece of that, that is quit a find. The workmanship was miles ahead of the Sears, stuff.

You have a lot of dealers who don't do their homework, and think that any bit of tat made around 1950 deserves a high price. Our local auction house is having a midcentury modern auction, tonight. Ghastly stuff.

I often loose my mind. Usually, I find it behind the couch, right along with my lost youth :-). Of course, I don't have a couch, so it's usually under the futon. :-). Sometimes, Nell drags it into her food dish, along with socks. I used to worry a bit about alzheimer's and such. Until I read that forgetting where you put your keys is no big deal. Forgetting what keys ARE, is a big deal.

Well, the chickens get oats, every day. Yogurt, every other day. Along with oyster shell. I really think it's an old bird. When I let my chickens out, this morning, they did some behavior I hadn't seen before. Two the the hens started to go at one another. Like a cock fight. Leaping into the air and going at each other with their claws. Quit spectacular. No damage was done.

Haven't started watching it, yet, but "Cloudstreet" takes place, in Perth, between 1943 and 1963. I guess the series is inspired by a novel. Might have to look into that.

Weather here has been rain, with a few clearing spots. And, very cool, especially when the wind blows.

Oh, Relapse. Drifting away from meetings (especially, early on). Seeing or being around "triggers". (seeing an ashtray can still set me off). Not changing your "playmates". Not picking up the phone and giving someone a call. Getting sober for someone else, not only for yourself. Hasn't happened in awhile, but if I got to feeling like I was in between a rock and a hard spot, I'd just step up the number of meetings I went to. Drift from meeting to meeting until I either heard what I needed to hear, or, the feelings past. That had more to do with mild depression, rather than an urge to drink. But, one can lead to another. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No doubt that you are correct. All of the water from the rain and a little bit of heat will produce huge growth in plants. I've noticed that their growth is rarely linear and it is probably closer to a boom and bust cycle. You sound as if you are in a boom cycle! Watch out for triffids hiding in those paths.

That is lovely to hear about the oak trees in leaf. They are starting to turn here and producing a lovely yellow colour, but there is plenty of reds and oranges too. A lot of people plant for the autumn colour around these parts.

The internet and phone troubles have been slowly increasing down here too. The largest telco company down here had to provide a day of free data to its customers and someone used up 1Tb in a day. That is feral. I can't even begin to imagine what they were doing.

Wow, glad to read that you got the boar back safely and I had no idea that a boar could jump a fence. It is an impressive feat.

It was a beautiful day here 27'C (80.6'F) and the sun was shining and the wind was light. Really very nice.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the info. I've met people who purchase day old chickens and that is certainly a very cheap (pun intended!) and reliable way to start a large flock. I've never tried that myself so will be interested to hear how it goes.

Yes, I've been wondering for a long while about the rooster problem and the need to bring in new genetics regularly. I've been avoiding roosters for a few years now.

I agree with you as sick chickens tend to be dead chickens in short order. I do have one chicken that has a milky film over one eye (probably from a fight?) and she took a week or two to recover from that, but seems as good as now, albeit one eyed. Have you ever seen that in a chicken?

It is good to read that you have contacts that will take excess and/or older chickens.

I have no experience with a battery line trimmer and it is excellent to read that the tool can be used for quite a lot of work. I tend to have the line trimmer out in the orchard for about 10 long days every year and then it sits around doing nothing for the rest of the year. From a big picture perspective it does run off the house batteries ;-)!. It can do hedge trimming, but the very sharp (I sharpen all of the tools here) hand shears do a much faster job.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That red couch story is a true find! Nice one. It sort of reminds me a bit about stolen garden gnomes being taken on exotic holidays and having the photos sent back to the owners. It does make you wonder whether the gnomes are ever returned and the if the original owners would have enjoyed their loss and subsequent adventure? Incidentally, some of the photos of Die Rote Couch were on the Internet. Those guys sure dragged the couch to some cold spots in the US.

Speaking of which I'm constantly surprised at how mobile the population in the US is. The reason I mention that is because I'm almost finished Cooking Dirty and Jason and his lady don't hesitate to up sticks and drive half way across the country to start a new life elsewhere. That is quite rare down here - although it does happen.

That is fascinating. Out of interest, in your professional opinion do the Stickley pieces last the test of time better than the Sears equivalent?

Well, I do hope that the local auction place does OK with its mid century stuff? I remember the awful anodised and very heavily coloured aluminium drinking cups were all the rage in the 1970's. Very unpleasant feeling things - from memory - and you don't see them around much anymore.

Naughty Nell to steal your brains (zombie cat anyone?) and our lost youth. Be sure to remonstrate with her! :-)! That is funny about the keys - but at the same time there is just this bit of truth to the observation. Still if you lost your brains, you wouldn't notice and would become a problem for other people. It is the clarity bit that would be uncomfortable, almost like having a massive hangover and wondering what your body had been up to last night whilst on auto-pilot! I've had a few of those experiences as a young adult learning how far things can be pushed and it was unsettling... Fortunately, my friends were all too eager to share the stories. :-)! I'm not sure they were being nice?

Your chickens are spoiled rotten! That is why they produce so many eggs. :-)! Yeah, the hens fighting happens all of the time down here and they go chest to chest and then they quickly become distracted and do something else. It rarely seems to settle any matters of importance. Incidentally, it is the Barnevelders that are the worst of the lot on that front, and I'm unsure why.

Yes, the series is based on a novel, which by all accounts is quite good, although I haven't read it.

More rain. Lucky you. Things are dry here and the sun was shining today 27'C (80'6'F). You could feel the energy from the sun when it was on your skin. Fortunately the UV has dropped down to Moderate, otherwise we'd get burnt. It is dead still today though. Actually, it is pretty pleasant. Just in case I become a little too complacent, we took some photos of the fire affected areas today and I'll put them on the next blog. I haven't checked out how they've turned out yet - they may be rubbish photos so who knows?

Thank you for your honest assessment as I'd personally wondered about triggers. They are very complex things and I guess places, people, time, smell can all be triggers. Your coping strategy is very wise. I've never smoked, but have known people who have smoked over a long period of time and have observed (after they told me) triggers at work after they'd quit. I've noticed that sometimes too, other people who continue the habit seemed to take a certain pleasure in enticing others back into the fold. And often the funny thing is that ex-smokers (the more recent, the more extreme) can often have quite startling reactions to people still pursuing the habit who are enticing them or merely crossing their paths. It is a complex beast, no doubts about it.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Overcast and quit nippy, here. Last night I was driving down the North Fork Road, and it poured! Sunshine and rainbows but at least an inch of water on that one stretch. Supposed to be 83F (28.33C), Sunday and Monday. Then, back to the rain, later in the week.

Oh, America has always been, very mobile. "Go West, young man!", and, all that. :-). Curiosity. Exploration. The promise of riches or, at least bettering one's financial situation. Sometimes, to escape personal problems. LOL. In the mob I run with, that's called "pulling a geographic." You think you are escaping your problems, but they're packed right up with the baggage and travel right along with you. You discover (if you're sharp or lucky) the problem is you. :-).

If you look at biographies, of a lot of people in the 19th century, it seems that farms were going broke, businesses failed and they'd pack it in and try their luck, somewhere else. The Ingalls family of "Little House" fame, come to mind. Just about every book involved a move. One of our politicians recently stuck his foot in it. Pretty much said if you were unemployed, you just move. Otherwise, you are lazy. Hard on community building, but, perhaps, that's the point.

Hmmm. Stickley vs Sears. Well, the Sears stuff was mass produced. But, I don't think it was all that bad. Even on the factory floor, back then, I think there was a bit of a feeling of craftsmanship. But the Stickley furniture was hand crafted, from beginning to end. And, there was a lot of by hand, detail work. All the hardware on a piece of furniture was usually hammered copper or brass. Ah. I remembered. Roycroft was another high end company. They were actually an intentional community and not only did furniture, but everything from lamps to a publishing wing.

Oh, yes. I remember those aluminum drinking cups. My aunt (farm, large family) had sets of them for "every day." There were always squabbles, over favorite colors. :-)

Old Mrs. Barnevelder is my boss chicken. I don't know quit how she does it, as she's such a lady. I've never seen her go after any of the other chickens. But, she's very vocal. Really gives them "what for." Maybe it's just because she's my oldest chicken.

Well, I watched a few episodes of "Cloudstreet", last night. First, I'll say, that much to my surprise, our library system has a slew of Winton's books. I read all the summaries ... and nothing really "grabbed" me, enough to give them a whirl. There's a bit of magic realism. A talking pig, makes an appearance. An exotic (to me) bird that poops out shillings. The house itself is, probably, malevolent. The cast is very large. It just doesn't seem to have much ... focus. Some of the children (and, there are a lot of them) are just background. Window dressing. So far. But, I keep watching. Hoping for some kind of resolution. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

An inch of rain over a stretch of road can be a total nightmare. With 83'F on Sunday and Monday, your par of the world will turn to total jungle. Actually, my gut feeling is that you will have an exceptionally productive summer. It was 81'F here yesterday and the day before, but looking outside the windows today all you will see is drizzle and fog. A very poor day for the solar electricity, but the wood oven has been going hard producing batch after batch of dog biscuits (plus heating the house, drying clothes and heating the hot water). I had a rather rude shock because the commercial dog biscuits (which I use as an emergency supply) reduced the size of their package by 25%, whilst the price only came down 10%. And they tell me there is no inflation...

Exactly! That is a great saying by the way. I'll rip that one off, if you are OK with that? I often say: Darkness of the soul is not lifted by a change in location. :-)! Very zen - mind you, I probably read it somewhere a long time ago. It certainly sounds a bit clever for me to have coined it. Now that you mention such matters I've been considering writing the next blog entry on such related (but not entirely the same) matters after considering the opinions of the recent visitors. Of course, sometimes it is luck isn't it? I'm reading the gritty details of Jason Sheehan's personal fall from grace and I get him and where he was at. It makes a certain sort of sense and he explained everything beautifully for those with ears to hear.

Ouch. That is a harsh viewpoint that seeks to blame the victim. The previous treasurer down here was quoted as saying something along the lines of: If you want to buy a house get a good job, that pays well. I believe the nation recoiled in horror from that viewpoint as he didn't last much longer in the job than that comment. It was interesting that he introduced two mutually exclusive concepts as being one and the same. I know people who are actually lazy and I doubt that moving them to another place would assist matters. Certainly your politician was making a big call. Damo, who is a regular commenter here moved from a small remote community (which I've actually visited) which had taken him in and that is a hard loss for that community as he probably fully understood.

No, I don't believe that things were all that bad back then either with the quality, least of all because people may have remembered the difference and knew better and that would have killed their markets. I wasn't joking when I said that many people have skipped the finer arts of sewing and so have no idea about fit and finish of clothing. Furniture is the same problem.

Well, that was an interesting read. From Roycroft furniture to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, what a mess. It would be a difficult thing for passengers to say that they were not warned... But then at the same time it was a massive web of intriuge and perhaps they thought that it did not matter? The editors father was actively recruited as a young teenager for the U-boats late in WWII and I distinctly remember him saying that he would not entertain the idea as even he understood at the time that they were a spent force.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

How garish were the orange, red, green and blue cups? Of course, a person could quickly identify the best colours! Hehe!

Well, the oldest chickens offer guidance to the rest of the flock. Chickens really do learn things and they pass those lessons on to the younger chickens. Sometimes, the boss chickens are not the most aggressive, but the most assertive of the flock. They can be very gentle. The aggressive ones tend to be given: "what for" instead! Hehe! The boss chickens just are the boss. To my mind it is a bit like being cool. If you want to be cool, just be cool. However, such simple and effective instructions are often dismissed.

It is difficult to transition a book into a TV series and so a little bit gets lost in translation... Mind you, I reckon it is a bad thing to be living in a malevolent house. It does remind you a bit of scary horror films from the 80's and 90's. For example, if I found a stairway to Hell in my basement, I'd simply leave and find somewhere else to live. It seems like an unpleasant situation to hang around and find out what happens next... What do you reckon? "Lewis, get out of the house...." Hehe!!!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

All my chickens have been either raised from purchased day old chicks or raised by the hen, herself. This first batch will be all pullets though usually you do end up with a rooster. Yes getting those extra roosters in a straight run batch can be a problem. Last year I raised them to about 4-5 months and had them butchered for meat. Problem is I have three indoor pens and one movable outdoor pen for poultry and fitting everyone into a spot in the summer can be a challenge. Right now our rooster is a pretty quiet guy - not annoying at all but I have had some in the past who seemed to crow 24 hours a day.

Well it's gone from late winter temps last weekend (mid 30's F) and cloudy to bright sun and temps around 70F so things are really ramping up around here. Got beets and radishes planted and onions go in today. In recent years it often seems like we go from winter to summer overnight.

I'm trying something new here this year. We now have three pens to rotate the pigs though as I sold my last two goats last summer. I'm going to plant some of my garden in one of the pens that has been cleaned out by the pigs (no quack grass or bind weed), then plant in cover crop next spring and rotate to the next one. My present garden is kind of low and I can lose a lot of plants during wet years.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Rip away! :-). Usually, I've ripped it off from somewhere else. I always try to give credit, where credit is due. Sometimes, I think I've come up with something original. But, it's probably been said already, somewhere, sometime. New Ideas are thin on the ground. :-). I think my "junk expands to fill the space allowed", is pretty original.

The hummingbirds FINALLY found the feeders in the apple trees, this morning. Yesterday, I noticed one was working over the barberry, next to the front porch. And, one was working over the apple tree blossoms ... but, he didn't find the feeders. Maybe the hummingbirds in the apple trees will help the lack of other pollinators? I'm getting a bit more action at the feeder on the back deck. Hard to get a fix on how many are around. I hope when the little ones start hatching out that the population will surge.

There's a couple of new-ish book out about the Lusitania. I read one, about 6 months ago. Oh, I think a lot of it boils down to American hubris. We've got plenty of that. It will never happen to me. And, war between Germany and America had not been officially declared. Roycroft was revived, and is making furniture, again. Very high quality ... and, high priced.

Let's see. Somewhere, you mentioned McCarthy, and I forgot to mention that a couple of weeks ago, I watched "Trumbo." Also, a documentary, about him. He was a Hollywood writer (among many) that was black listed, in the early 50s. But, he figured a way around ... he used a pseudonym. And, carried a lot of other writers along with him. He actually won two Academy awards, under another name. It finally became such an open secret (and embarrassment) that he triumphed.

Have pretty much finished off reading "Neurotic Beauty." Basically, his premiss is that decline is coming. Constant growth cannot be maintained. A lot of comparison between basic Japanese character traits (the group) to Western (American) ideas of individualism. And how "group" is more likely to survive the coming decline. And, that Japan has a deeply rooted tradition of little growth (the isolation period) and a cultural attachment to traditions that are millenniums old. As often happens when I read non-fiction, there are a couple of books I want to check out. Cont. Chickens.

LewisLucanBooks said...

"Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan" (Brown). I actually think I have a copy kicking around, somewhere. It looks at the almost steady state economy during the isolation period. "Everyday Things in Modern Japan" ( Hanley). "The ideology of the Tokugawa era, she writes, was optimal use of resources in the long run, not maximum use of them in the short run. It amounted to a special kind of affluence, one that made the most of what was there: "luxury in austerity.""

And, I want to look into Yasuyaki Fujimura ... an engineer and inventor. He started a non-electric movement in 2000 and has developed over 1,000 household items that don't require electricity. Sounds like a Lehmann's catalog :-).

Finished watching "Cloudstreet." It was satisfying. Don't think it will make it onto my personal list of things to re-watch, in a few years. I watched some of the extras, and realize that it's a beloved Australian novel. People who saw the house, as built for the film, burst into tears .... it was so like what they had imagined. I think it resonates on a lot of levels, with Australians ... levels that I, as an American, can't tap. It's like (but not so extreme) when I watch a Japanese movie, especially the older one's, I'm very aware that there's a lot of things going on ... symbolism, cultural mores ... that I don't have a clue about. "Kwaidan", comes to mind. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Total respect. Of course, sorting the hens from the roosters is an art rather than a science and some do slip through the gaps. I'm actually amazed that such a thing is even possible in the first place. And to be honest, I tend to purchase 5 - 6 month old hens as a point of lay hen and sometimes even then it is very hard to spot the occasional rooster. Of course, that happens here too and your (or mine) infrastructure trails the possibilities. That is a really interesting and complex thing to manage because there really is no end point and sometimes I've found that little additions or changes can stress some systems but not others and you never quite know which ones will produce either outcome.

As an interesting side note, the moveable chicken enclosures don't tend to work so well down here because of the occasional very hot day causes the chickens to over heat in a small moveable enclosure. I mean 114'F stresses me, so the chickens wouldn't cope very well with that either. Having said that, a moveable chicken run is a great idea which I'd love to try in a few years.

You are very lucky to have a quiet rooster. I'm wondering what impact the rats had down here on the roosters crowing? Dunno, I found rats in the machinery shed yesterday because I foolishly kept the empty feed bags for re-use in there, but no longer.

Yes, the change between summer and winter can be abrupt down here too. I've been wondering whether that is an effect of global warming, but my memory fails me and I just can't be sure. 70'F sounds very nice - it was about that here today too with sunny skies after a complete day of drizzle yesterday. Yum! How good are beets and radishes? As a young child one of my memories of my granddad was eating raw red radish from his massive vegetable garden (it was a shame that I failed to take more notice of the goings on during those days. I may even have learned something! Oh well....)

An excellent idea. I look forward to reading how your experiment with the pigs and the garden beds goes. It certainly sounds as if it would work very well to me.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you and certainly credit will be provided. Yeah, that happens with me too. I mean new ideas are rare, I generally seek opportunities to expand production, utilise scrap or correct a failing system. That whole concept reminds me of the "broken window theory" which I thought that I'd coined, but fortunately someone here (I forget who) pointed out that it was a serious theory. Yes, that is a rather interesting concept and you are rather fortunate not to be edited in the accumulation of said junk! Hehe!

Don't know about new ideas being thin on the ground. ;-)! I reckon that depends on a persons perspective and outlook and also perhaps whether they can critically review the dominant narrative and be willing to extend out the concepts to some of their possible conclusions. That may be more challenging than some people are comfortable with. Dunno, what do you reckon about that?

Aren't your hummingbirds clever to have found the feeders. It must be hard for migratory birds to have to spend the time rediscovering their patch of summer productivity. Certainly the bees spend an awful lot of the previous seasons stores mapping out the territory. The birds here are rarely migratory (although new comers still arrive) and they know every bit of feed that is available to them. The olives are starting to swell and it would nice if the birds stopped eating the unripe fruit and left some for me. Anyway, my olive trees need a few more years to put on some decent size. They scored a prune today as they'd grown so much that two of the oldest were starting to shade the solar panels.

Of course, some of the people who were in the Malaysian plane shot down over the Ukraine lived not too far from here and that was a bit of a shock. I noticed that the original captain of the Lusitania was replaced because he was wary that the German U-boats would sink the liner (as they did). The newspapers were not very nice about his reticence (or is that prescience?). Quality does not come cheap! The engineers often say: "Good, fast, cheap pick any two". Wise words.

Trumbo copped it hard. 11 months in jail because of those idiots. It smelled to me of a good old fashioned witch trial. It was all a bit sad really.

Well in a very strange related circumstance... The editor enjoys the TV show "Girls" which is way out there on the zeitgeist. I did notice that one of the main characters is over in Japan and an unusual interchange occurred between herself and two Japanese friends which went along the lines of the Japanese friends saying: "We thought that you were very wealthy because you acted so spoiled". I'm uncertain whether the Japanese can actually feed 200 million people.

That Just enough book sounds fascinating and I would be very interested to hear whether you consider it to be a good read. It is very hard to envisage a steady state economy over the longer term. Certainly, we wouldn't have much stuff. Exactly, the choice between optimal use and maximal use are issues that I face here every single day. Today, I was moving very large rocks back up the hill and there are several projects that those rocks could have been employed in so it was a tough decision to work out where they would be best used. And then, how the heck do we bring them back up the hill as most of the rocks weighed more than I do!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

What a rabbit hole you've led me down with that Lehmann's catalog! Awesome stuff. I mean who sells cast iron hand turned grain mills nowadays. Total quality stuff.

Nice to read that Cloudstreet was satisfying. It is hard even for me to understand the existence in Perth, Western Australia. It is hot here during the summers, but Perth summers are brutal. And the isolation is hard to understand unless you've driven there by car (the train service from Sydney is apparently very good, although you'd want a sleeper arrangement - I recall that Bill Bryson poked his nose into the seated car and was mildly scared by what he saw).

I mean, I live in a quiet part of the state that has a very small population. But over in Western Australia, I remember having to drive for an entire day just to travel between one town and the next and the only thing in between were roadhouses every 200km (125 miles) or so. Driving back from Perth to Adelaide (heading east) through the Nullabor plains (i.e. Latin for no trees) took two days and over night we just had to stop by the side of the road and pitch the tent as there was only the road ahead for hours and hours. It is hard to grasp how small and concentrated the population is down here.

I recall a story from long ago about a guy that decided to ride his push bike from Adelaide to Perth and at one point he got a puncture and the tyre went flat. At that point he simply stuffed the tyre full of grass and kept on going. I have often wondered whether the bicycle brigade over at the ADR would display such stoicism? Dunno, but I think not.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, of course there's new ideas in science and technology. Though how useful some of them are ... :-). There's another old saying "Everything (sweeping generalization) old, is new again." But, sometimes it seems like we're reinventing the wheel (another old saying.) But, it's nice and useful to stumble on some old bit of alt tech. And, thanks now to the internet, it spreads very fast among those who are interested.

Maybe something related. I saw a trailer for a movie, last night. "The Last Tour" about the author David Foster Wallace. Now, I don't really care for his fiction. To ... literature with a capital "L." :-). For my taste. But, he did some good non fiction, I liked. So, I'm looking at the Wikipedia entry about him, and notice they have a little box to which literary movement he belonged. Several. The one's that jumped out at me were "New Sincerity" and "hysterical realism." Now, what the heck are those? Apparently, just something made up by Literary Critics. :-). And, who decides what gets capitalized, and what doesn't? Still don't know if I'm going to watch it. My hold list (maximum 25) is rather full. Maybe next winter when it gets slack.

I was driving around the back roads of Lewis County, years ago. Just kicking around. Maybe, I was on a rock hunt? And, I ran across this little roadside memorial to Herman Klaber, the hop growing king, who went down on the Titanic. It gave me a rather strange feeling. Commercial hop growing used to be pretty big, around here, but now it's all moved to the other side of the mountains.

After Katrina, a directive came down on high, in the Timberland libraries, that if we ran across any people seeking library cards that came from New Orleans, to waive the usual song and dance as far as identification, went. I remember one shell shocked family ... When we have floods, the same goes. Be flexible and just write off any claims of damaged books.

Yeah, the Lehmann's catalogs are pretty interesting. A tip. I think (from my point of view) that some of their stuff is a little expensive. Usually, I can find the same thing on Amazon, for less money. But, I order from them, from time to time. Just to keep them in business :-). I really like that they usually make clear, country of origin.

We also have great distances, here. Though, none quit so empty, as yours. But, we're getting there. The Great Hollowing out. Hundreds of counties in the center of our country are steadily loosing population. Small towns are drying up and blowing away. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

I see the Ring of Fire is waking up. Major quakes in Japan, Ecuador and Tonga. We haven't had a good shake, here, in a number of years. We're probably a bit overdue.

Well, one enterprising little hummingbird found both feeders in the apple trees. And, yesterday, the bees showed up. One little scout made it back to his hive, did his little dance and it was party time! :-). I could stand next to the trees and hear the hum ...the drone :-) Pun intended. Speaking of bees, I watched "Mr. Holmes" last night. It takes place in the 1940s and bees play a role. You get to see plenty of old hives and bee keeping equipment.

I'll have to dig out "Just Enough" and give it a good look. Berman and the other authors he quoted seemed to think it was a kind of golden age. Lots of cultural things going on and the people were reported to be, healthy, happy and had a high level of hygiene. Berman did mention the drawback (from a Western perspective) of everyone keeping an eye on everyone else. I seem to remember reading about the forest management, at that time. Japan was well on it's way to deforestation (like so many other countries) and some rather draconian forest laws were put in place. It may have been in Diamond's "Collapse."

There's also a typo in Berman's book. I went looking online for the Hanley book, last night, and discovered the actual title is "Everyday things in PREmodern Japan." A world of difference. Our library doesn't have any of the books Berman led me to. So, it's interlibrary loans. Also did a bit of looking around for Fujimura ... a bit about the man (isn't he odd and strange, school of journalism) but not a clue as to his 1,000 household items that are nonelectric. A couple of books by him on Amazon, but in Japanese :-(. Lew