Monday, 27 June 2016

Learn to learn

It can be very quiet here and the occasional tourist is quite an event. Most people are reasonably harmless and they simply travel slowly past the farm to enjoy the excellent view which looks down and across the valley below. Some people get out of their cars and enjoy the view from the road. It is a nice view after all. The most intrepid of tourists will even wave and smile to me as they speed past on their way to somewhere else. This view has even been quite useful on occasions and I recall that once the local fire brigade parked the fire truck up on the road above the house and used the view to spot a fire ignited by a lightning strike in a very tall tree in the thick forest down below.

On Saturday afternoon however, I met an entirely different kind of tourist. The tourists were an older couple. What made them unusual was that the female of the pair was lurking around in the forest up above the house. I rather suspect that the lady was going to the toilet in full view of my house. I can acknowledge that there are not a lot of public toilets up here in this mountain range, but still I believe that decorum is called for in such circumstances. The absolute cheek of them!

At the time of the strange couples visit, the editor and I were out with the chickens in the orchard enjoying a well-deserved coffee and Anzac biscuit (or two). It was very cold that day in the orchard. We heard the vehicle on the road rather than spotted it and when the engine stopped I had to skull down the coffee and consume my biscuit take away style. This left me in poor spirits but I stoically headed off to investigate the strange goings on.

My first thought was that they were dumping rubbish in the forest. But no, the lady sheepishly walked out of the forest above my house and grabbed an expensive looking digital camera from the car and then started taking photos of the house, surrounds and the view. It was a surreal experience. The guy hadn’t even noticed my approach, and in fact I believe he was completely oblivious to my presence until I was close to him and said: What’s going on here?

Incidentally, that is my pleasant approach for strangers doing strange things around these parts. The unpleasant approach goes along the lines of: Who are you and what are you doing here? The unpleasant approach is a reproach and it never fails to put people on the defensive. It is generally well deserved. On the other hand this older couple were just exhibiting strange behaviour.

The couple were clearly not from the local area as their vehicle was quite clean – unlike most of the locals who at this time of year have a lot of mud and other assorted unidentified splats on their vehicles due to a combination of dirt roads and winter conditions. I also noted that they were wearing quite thin synthetic winter clothing, which is seriously inadequate for this cool climate. It was really cold that afternoon and I was wearing a woollen hat, jumper, alpaca scarf, sheepskin boots and my sheepskin jacket. Honestly, I must have looked a wild man stepping out of the forest to confront the two strange people who were doing strange things in the forest in full view of my house.

Alas, everyone deserves a second chance, I guess, and whilst stuffing their bodies down a very deep wombat hole would have been an appropriate response, I decided after only a minute or so of talking with them, that they were basically clueless. I couldn’t believe it. Their story was that they were looking for a property to purchase in the area and I doubted that story until they produced a hand written list of properties for sale in the area. I suspect that they produced the camera from the car to cover up the fact that the lady had been using the land above my house as an open toilet.

The couple seemed harmless enough but they did seem concerned and mildly baffled that living in a forest would leave them feeling hemmed in by the trees and they expressed the desire to purchase a house with a view where everything was “done” - whatever that means - and then apparently they could then happily live up here. At this point regular readers will recall that the list of projects that are still to be “done” here is quite extensive. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing at them as those requirements do not exist anywhere at all up this end of the mountain range!

To stir the couple up a little bit I asked them how they would be prepared to deal with the sort of minor issues that are part of the day to day existence here. And that is when they said the strangest thing of all to me: “That would be hard. You have to be born in this sort of an area to know how to live here”. Now I’ve heard that trope from a lot of different people and it is patently not true. I gave the guy a searching look and said to him, “Mate. You have to learn how to learn”. Anyway, he looked very sceptical at that observation and after further conversation he and his lady departed. If I was a gambling man, I would take a bet that those two wouldn’t survive more than six months living up here. Certainly the first winter would be a shock to their pampered selves and they would quickly scurry back to the comforts of the city.

I was earnest in that observation about having to: learn how to learn. Learning involves gaining or acquiring knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught. That sounds simple enough, but it requires active participation, rather than mindless consumption. When we moved up to this property both the editor and I expressed a desire to learn something new every day, and an environment like this really lends itself to that.

Did I mention how cold it has been this week? Just after sunset on Friday night, the air temperature outside was 0.5’C (32.9’F) and it sure felt cold to me.
The air temperature was very cold Friday night when it snowed
Even Poopy the Pomeranian (who is actually a Swedish Lapphund) and it must be said - has quite a thick coat, decided that the outside weather conditions were sub optimal!
Poopy the Pomeranian decided that the outside weather conditions were sub fluffy optimal
It really was cold that day as about an hour earlier a short lived snow storm rolled in across the valley.
A short lived snow storm rolled in across the valley
The solar photovoltaic panels appreciated the cold conditions as those increase their output, but then they struggled with the short lived snow storm and were producing no power at all!
The solar photovoltaic panels produce no power at all during a recent short lived snow storm
In a comprehensively scientific test - performed for the benefit of the readers - we determined how much of that snow settled on the ground. Using lab quality techniques, we kicked Poopy out of the warm house and into the short lived snow storm. Poopy, true to his Swedish heritage romped around in the snow for at least a minute or two before roaring to return into the warm house. But before he was let back into the warm house, we measured the collected snow and the results of this scientific test are now in:
Poopy tests the quantity of snow that settled on the ground using his thick fur coat to collect snow samples
It did not get any warmer over that night and so the next morning, there was a heavy frost. The citrus trees (which show no signs of frost damage) show rare colour in such mono chrome conditions:
The citrus trees bravely display rare colour in a heavy frost
The recent rapid change in temperatures at the farm have produced a huge variety of fungi, and below are photos of some of the more unusual and what appear to be highly poisonous fungi specimens:
Fungi have thrived with the rapid change in air temperatures combined with the soil moisture at the farm
The fungi generally thrive where we have actively managed the invasive needle grass. I manage this grass by cutting it flat to the ground with my hand mower. Once the grass is on the ground and chopped up by the actions of the mower blades, the soil life begins to flourish and it rapidly consumes all of the available chopped up organic matter on the soil surface. The needle grass rarely returns.

Nothing is ever that simple though and on some parts of the farm there are the remnants of the old logging days (which began in 1860) where the environment is so dry and damaged that the fungi can't grow.

Today I, as a fun guy, was inspired by the fungi to tackle one of those logging waste areas. The main problem is that the loggers appear to have used bulldozers to drag stumps into various piles. The stumps are covered in clay by that process and because the clay sits above the ground it stays dry and preserves the timber which also stays dry.
The remaining stumps from loggers activity which has been in that location for many decades
To tackle this logging waste area, I used a mattock to remove the clay from the stump which was  partially buried in the ground. I then cut the stump into small manageable pieces. That is no easy job as the timber is very dirty and the chainsaw blunts very quickly because of all that clay. The timber is also very heavy and it displays scorch marks which would have been received during the last big fire here in January 1983. Eventually after many hours of hard work the job was done.
The stumps have been removed after many hours of hard work
I generally burn off those stumps as the effort of cleaning the dirty timber, then cutting and splitting them into small pieces which will fit into my wood fire is too much for me.
I burned off the stumps which were removed from the loggers waste today
Now that the stumps have been removed and burned, I will smooth out the area, add some organic matter (chook poo) to the soil and then the fungi will move into that area!

It was the week for tree stumps as we unfortunately discovered a very large tree stump at the top of the new concrete staircase which we have been building over the past few weeks. That stump had to be removed before we could continue building the concrete staircase.
A large old tree stump was discovered near to the top of the new concrete stairs
The excavations for the garden bed next to the new concrete steps were also completed this week. Observant readers will note in the photo below the many large rocks which will be used to retain the soil against the clay slope. That rock wall still has 2m (7ft) of rocks to go before we can begin adding manure and plants in that new garden bed. You will also notice in the photo below that there is also a new concrete step! There are still about four steps to go before the staircase is complete.
The rock wall has begun to be completed in the new garden bed and the concrete staircase has received another step
Fortunately, very few visitors are as strange as that couple on Saturday afternoon. The other night I heard a strange barking in the orchard and spotted a Barking Owl who was clearly in the process of hunting rats:
A barking owl hunts rats at the farm
Over the weekend the editor heard a strange whistle from the valley below which sounded like a steam train whistle. Sure enough there was a steam train running on the Bendigo line (the steam train usually resides further up the line at the town of Castlemaine) and we could clearly see the black locomotive and five red carriages trundling along what is normally a high speed commuter line. It was very pleasant sight to see!
A steam train was spotted trundling along the valley pulling five red carriages heading towards Bendigo
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 4.3’C (39.7’F). So far this year there has been 443.4mm (17.5 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 400.6mm (15.8 inches).

Solar PV Statistics (from 4.6kW of installed PV panels)

Tuesday – 21st June Batteries started at 67% full and 3.1kW was generated that day
Wednesday – 22nd June Batteries started at 66% full and 4.7kW was generated that day
Thursday – 23rd June Batteries started at 65% full and 2.6kW was generated that day
Friday - 24th June Batteries started at 60% full and 6.0kW was generated that day
Saturday - 25th June Batteries started at 58% full and 5.4kW was generated that day
Sunday - 26th June Batteries started at 57% full and 6.4kW was generated that day
Monday- 27th June Batteries started at 60% full and 4.7kW was generated that day

47 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - My standard greeting to an out of place stranger is an icy "Can I help you?" Probably a leftover from my retail/cafe days. :-). Oh, well. Look at it this way. At least they contributed something. A little potential compost and nitrogen. :-) Oh, gee. The whole learning curve to country life. Little things like having 20+ gallons of water stashed away for emergencies. (And, a bit of rainwater catchment to flush the toilet and water the animals.). Preparation for electric outage, maybe lasting a few days. The idea that the weather might be nasty enough that you don't want to be running to town, at the drop of a hat. So, especially in winter, you'd better have a bit of back up for the cat, dog and chook feed. Etc.

When I moved out here, I told my landlord to feel free to let me know if there were things I should be doing, that I wasn't. And things I was doing that I shouldn't. Oh, I suppose the older couple may make a similar journey, to the one I've recently made i realizing that I'm a little long in tooth for pioneering. It's a young(er) persons, game, I think. My recent little journey from "isolated little cabin in the woods" to "government subsidized housing" has been an exercise in realism.

Well, you've got the title for you book about Fern Glade Farm, now. "Snow Falling on Solar Panels." :-). Since Beau either hides in his dog house when it snows, or under the deck, I have to use the "find a flat place on the truck and pull out the measuring tape", method.

Well, that was quit a job of stump removal. A few more pictures for the calendar. "Prideful Master of All He Surveys." :-). The steps are really looking good. Todays ear worm is .... "Stairway to Heaven". Led Zeppelin.

Steam trains are soooo cool to see. There's just something exciting about them. Maybe someone was getting a bit of footage for a movie?

Well, I did a little research into Herb Robert (Geranium Robertianum). LOL. What WERE you suggesting. Apparently, in this part of the country it's called "Stinky Bob." And, is on the Washington State noxious weeds list. Wikipedia had this little tidbit. "Freshly picked leaves have an odor resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the small is said to repel mosquitoes." And, probably anything else with a nose in the vicinity. :-). Maybe a bit behind the ears on date night?

But, seriously, I tried to find some of the tea, online. Nothing I've found in the US, so far. Mostly from Eastern Europe, Portugal and ... Australia. Next time I'm in town, I'll check the local "health food store" to see if they've got any leads. I'll have to recheck Buhner's books (Herbal Antibiotics; Herbal Antivirals) and see if he has anything to say about Stinky Bob. :-). He's a great writer. Goes on rants about taxonomists that are quit funny.

Daniel Radcliffe has a new movie out. "Swiss Army Man." The premise sounds absolutely weird, but it's getting some good reviews.

Was quit breezy here, yesterday. The wind seemed to have a very important appointment, somewhere, and was running late. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It's just you and me here today! Alfredo is an excellent choice, we make that here. Incidentally the pasta was freshly made there in a little glassed off room to the side of the restaurant. Pasta is ridiculously easy to make (flour and eggs and then mix) and fresh pasta is so tasty compared to the dry stuff that is normally for sale. I have a little pasta machine which I picked up for $20 - all stainless steel innards and gears - and it makes sheets, spaghetti or fettuccine. It's all good and I tend to make that for guests. It is a bit richer than your standard dry pasta too because of the egg. I tend to reckon that Marco Polo and his cohorts developed pasta based on rice noodles consumed in Asia. I read somewhere that some of his final words were: I haven't told you all - or something along those lines. It makes me consider the plight of the poor English explorers who took back hides and drawings of marsupials only to be scoffed at by their fellow countrymen.

It is a sad day here, because the ladies who supply me with the raw materials for my bread making activities are shutting up shop this week. They told me today that they could not find a buyer for the business and so they just appear to be winding it up and are now retiring. Nice for some, but I'm in a bit of a flap trying to work out where to purchase the products in quantities beyond that of the local supermarket but less than what the wholesalers want to sell. I have about two months of supply left... It is like the zombie apocalypse, but with baking raw material products!!!

Hehe! Yeah, those lemons are good. You know if you were local, I would share them with you... You know I suspect just like Master Fukuoka, those citrus trees will be a total winner (we are in a very similar climate to him) which is why a dozen more were planted in autumn. I must track down a copy of the One Straw Revolution. I'm assuming that you have read that particular book? What are your thoughts about it? I have heard criticisms that it was very esoteric, but then I have been accused of such things myself so it may just be right up my alley? ;-)!

Well, that is hardly a surprise. No wonder it is weedy here, that plant Geranium robertianum grows feral just like all of the other geraniums - there are a lot of them here (one smells exactly like lemon sorbet which may be self seeded and I'm very excited about). OK, so my encyclopedia says that it was once official in the Middle Ages and ascribed to St Robert or Pope Robert. It was associated with magic and goblins in earlier times. I've certainly met a few goblins in my time, but then Tolkien spoke to that problem as well. ;-)! I like your name for it, as it is described as unpleasant smelling, although I have never noticed that aspect of the plant. Ah, interesting, the uses tend to indicate that it has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits. The encyclopedia also says that the leaves may be chewed or used as a gargle in inflammations of the mouth and throat - not that I am aware of anyone who is specifically displaying such outward signs. Hmmm? Seriously, I'm starting to feel like your mum! Hehe! The placebo effect is certainly a positive thing and does more good than harm. Anyway, I was wondering at what point did the saints become idols in their own right? It is certainly an interesting question. Spry to the end is a worthy goal. Many people die many years before they actually depart this planet.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Really? Wow, well there you go. Choke is a funny but somewhat appropriate name for that side story. On a serious note, my friend who introduced me to the ADR has that very issue, and blokes being blokes down here it is not discussed. The sad thing is that I've known him for so long that I've met his current wife, his ex-wife, and his ex-girlfriends and they all have made complaints in public at one time or another circling around and around that problem. It is embarrassing and I wish they would just have an honest discussion with him about it all. It is not my place to get involved and I suspect deep down that they just do not want to upset the apple cart. Sometimes I'm a firebrand and if it was up to me, I'd tip the whole apple cart over and spill the contents onto the road for all to see. I avoid the guy now because he inevitably shows me images that shock me, and over the years they have become more extreme - and it is just not my problem to deal with and if they all can't be bothered then I don't see why I should be.

Hehe! Yeah, who listens to Jeff Goldblum anyway? I've heard good and bad reviews about that film. The first one was a hoot! It was a total destruction fest. The thing I never quite got my head around was that if aliens could travel between one star system and another, then they'd be tough as. Haha! No problems, Independence Day II would be a better story given your circumstances. David Foster Wallace - and no disrespect to the dead - but he did a lot of soul searching. I'm of a more pragmatic mindset which says a little bit is good, but too much is an indulgence.

I've heard that story about alcohol added to the water to ensure that most of the bugs were poisoned due to the lack of understanding about germ theory. And the village idiot is an old story too. My understanding was that a lot of the older alcohols were of a lower percentage due to the lack of availability of sugar. I mean mead was a drink of the nobility and that can get up to about 18% max - the yeast limits the % of alcohol as the yeast dies after that % regardless of the sugar. Ciders and beers rarely make it to about 5% or 6%. The difference is due to the yeasts used and those that have inoculated the orchards where the fruit is grown, but primarily it is due to the sugar content of the base material. I mean honey is at least 80% sugar. Where else was a sugar product to be found in Europe during the distant past? Even sugar beets are only about 20% sugar. Any higher percentage would require distillation and then you are taking a base product and converting it to a higher percentage alcohol, but would have been a high economic cost to that process. Johnny Appleseed was OK by me! :-)! I have a lot of apple trees here.

That AA magic bit, is magic! Well done them for avoiding the mistakes of the past.

Thank you and it would be nice to hear of a species. Nice to hear of the arrangements, I respect such orderly manners and no doubt, I would do the same. Yes, I'd be interested to hear of the three part bit about remembrance as I reckon quite a lot of things will be lost over the next few decades. Ritual is rarely lost though.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! Yeah, that sounds a lot like a couple of cookies short of the box! But mostly you hear a couple of choccies short of the box. People rarely mention such things nowadays, but I know they are thinking it.

Oh, I do hope that Pam is OK? Yes, the world is getting hotter and wetter, no doubts about it. Too much rain is worse than too little (if you have the water stored to spare). It would be nice if people understood the risk...

Yes, your opening line is very good and quite icy! I too shall enjoy the public in depth next Saturday! ;-)! I didn't mind the manure, it was the other things that they may have been potentially up to. I believe that car windows have been shot out over such matters as tensions slowly escalate. It is not often spoken about, but I see references in the newspapers from time to time as well as hear things on the bush telegraph.

Beau is clearly an intelligent dog to hide under the deck when it snows. Snow is such a rare thing that we are all bouncing around outside for the novelty of it all. Yes, I know...

Well the old Led have been in a bit of legal strife recently but seem to have come through with flying colours. I look into the eyes in the photographs and I see things in that one. Oh, the other song in question was very good too and apparently they used to tour together, although why such trouble took so long to manifest seems a bit weird to me and may possibly be a grab for cash.

No. I have it on good authority from a guy that drives the high speed sort of train, that the steam guys have to keep up their hours so as to maintain their licence, and what better way to do it? It is lovely to see and hear, I just wish I'd thought to put the big lens on the camera!

I saw a preview for that film last Thursday night when I watched the Linklater film at the cinema and it looks very different and may even be an original idea? He is quite the good actor that Daniel and he has done his very best not to be typecast. And I watched a film with him recently although I won't mention that it was a Canadian rom-com called What if. It was very good though.

It is no bad thing to be running slightly late from time to time, although I'm rather disturbed at the lack of punctuality these days.

Hey, the sun finally shone here - at least for today - and the solar generated 8.9kW which also shows that even one week from the solstice the sun is climbing slowly higher into the sky.

PS: Longest reply eva!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I hope that you were not affected by the flooding of the Elk River and my thoughts go out to all of those affected by the recent flooding?

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I like pasta, but don't eat too much of it. Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that it's not healthy ... though I know that's not quit true. So, I usually go with brown rice, instead of pasta, in different recipes. Just had what evolved, for me, out of Mac and Cheese, last night. The butter, milk and grated cheese, but beyond that, all bets are off! Usually, lots of veg. Sometimes, just peas and tuna ... and spices. I had one of those nifty little pasta machines, years ago, and never used it. Passed it along to someone who would.

Oh, my. A baking apocalypse! It's just a pisser when something you depend on disappears. Surly, somewhere in the fast reaches of Melbourne, there's a replacement source. And, if you have to buy in bulk, there's all sorts of information on the Net for how to go about preserving grains, the best way. Usually involves food grade buckets. Which, according to my friends in Idaho can be picked up cheaply, or free, from bakeries.

Yup. Got a copy of "One Straw Revolution" on my gardening shelf. Can be quit pricey on line. I've been thinking of selling mine. I've gotten about as much out of it as I'm going to get. I think, maybe, some people are a bit disappointed in it as it's more philosophical than a nuts and bolts book.

Well, I found a source for Herb Robert tea. LOL. I had searched under the scientific name, the common name. Nothing in this country. Then I tried "Stinky Bob Tea." Bingo. Found a Canadian company that has an American outlet. Winging it's way to me as we speak (write.) Later I got to thinking I should have just called my local Noxious Weed Board to see if they had a patch somewhere, that I could raid. I have some wild geraniums growing next to the back porch (they're blooming now, and quit pretty. They come back every year) and at first I thought they might be Herb Robert. No such luck.

Odd. I was idly thinking about saints becoming idols, just yesterday. I think that's almost a pun :-). Where do you draw the line? LOL. I was talking to my landlord's wife yesterday, and telling her my "plan of action" and that I'd even picked out a couple of saints to talk with. Now, she was raised Catholic, but had never heard of either of them. I told her I'd picked obscure ones, because I figured not many people probably bothered them, and maybe they were just hanging about with not much to do. :-).

Yeah, the whole internet addiction thing can be a bear. My friend who had the problem and took care of it ... well, he often says that he can talk to me about stuff he can't talk to, to anyone else in the world. Hmm. Maybe my epitaph should be "good listener." :-). Not much shocks me. But, at least he had the good grace to not be flashing me with his IPad. :-). But he also mentioned that things escalate. Always searching for that higher, high. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Ah, found it.


The Three Deaths

According to Mexican tradition, people die three deaths: The first death is when our bodies cease to function, when our hearts no longer beat of their own accord, when our gaze no longer has depth or weight, when the space we occupy slowly loses its meaning. The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground, returned to mother earth, out of sight. The third death, the most definitive death, is when there is no one left alive to remember us.

Reminds me of a book I read a couple of years ago. Can't remember the name. The Dead live in a vast city. Everyone who's ever died, as long as they're remembered by someone, still alive. So, of course, famous people hang around the longest. But it's a pretty orderly process. But suddenly, huge areas of the city begin to go dark. What is finally realized, is that a huge plague is raging in the land of the living, so remembrance is being snuffed out at a frightening rate. Finally, it's just down to the narrator, and he realizes that a woman he loved a long time ago, was probably the last person left alive. Until he too fades. As I remember the story. I might have some of the details wrong.

Yes, Radcliffe seems to have carved out a pretty good career for himself, post Harry Potter. I've seen quit a bit of his stuff (I think I even saw the Rom Com) and he's consistently good. Maybe not great, but, at least good. "Woman in Black" was worth watching. But then, who doesn't like a good Edwardian ghost story? :-). Seems like most of the major young actors from the series have made a pretty good transition. No major meltdowns. A few among the minor characters. Emma Watson has turned in some fine work. Even Rupert Grint seems to be working pretty steady. And, he can be really funny.

It just occurred to me, I wonder if that's because "the youngsters" were working with some really fine, older English actors. I wonder if Maggie Smith took Emma Watson aside and had a little private heart to heart. "Look dear, here's what you need to do and the attitude you need to cultivate to make it, long term, in this business." :-).

"A few bricks shy of a load?" "Not playing with a full deck." :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Thank you so much for your concern about us here in Virginia. We are fine. In fact, my part of Virginia has not had much rain. I guess the worst of the storms swerved and went somewhere else as they crossed West Virginia.

Good for Poopy - ever the scientist, with his interest in snow and such.

Once we had people stop by the house and ask for directions. Before they did so, however, they asked us if this was our "second home", as in a vacation home, where one comes to rusticate and be close to nature. I figured them for some swells from Washington, D. C. (2 hours north).

The sight of citrus trees in frost is quite sensational! Gorgeous fungi. They look good enough to eat . . .. I wish our Japanese stiltgrass would submit to being mowed. We do so, but there is always more popping up. It grows all through the woods now. The deer won't touch it.

I can't believe how long some of those fallen trees stay intact where you are. Ours rot fairly quickly, all the different species. One doesn't like to wait more than a couple of years once a tree is down before cutting it up for firewood. I think that the bears help break them up, too. I saw a REALLY BIG one doing just that on Sunday.

Your barking owl reminds me of our catbird, which sits in a bush and meows so that I will go out and search all around for a poor, lost kitty. I swear it's playing a joke.

It's so great that you got a photo of the steam train! Neat!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Everything does happen for a reason; hard to keep in mind during really troublesome times, but it seems to me that it works that way.

Thanks so much for the heads up on subsidized housing. I have passed the info on. I kind of expect that by the time this person works his way through the waiting list he will have already solved his housing/financial problems. I hope.

I hear that hooch - on a very small scale - is frequently produced even whilst in jail, from amazing things like candy.

Pam

Coco said...

Hi Chris

Wow - snow! Good to see Poopy doing his bit for science.

Speaking of burning, our builder stopped by last Thursday on San Juan bonfire evening and, despite our protests, proceeded to set fire to the big pile of scrap wood, with the typical ¨no pasa nada¨ no worries line. Well, DH was then out at 3 AM dumping water buckets on it to try to put it out so he could sleep. And this morning, we realized it´s still smoking. Grrr.

We´re also grumpy over the election results, the corrupt conservatives won big again, and we´re out of the Eurocup. I´m now rooting for Iceland.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Glad to read that you and your family are fine. My heart goes out to those affected. The photos looked like total destruction of those parts of the town close to the river and the roads and bridges will take a long time to recover and repair too. Incidentally, the bush surrounding the towns looked beautiful. Hope you get some rain up your way soon, although not quite that much rain.

Poopy did us proud with that brief foray into the snow. Brrr. Speaking of snow, I just had to warm my hands up over the wood heater which has only just been started. Brrr.

Of course, the sheer presumption of the people! That comments says a lot about them. Did they leave soon thereafter?

There must have been some trouble down here recently as my neighbour posted a "Private Property" keep out sign. The funny thing, it looks to me as if it is on a wombat track of one of the various wombats that lives around here and they may have confused the trail as being a human trail onto their property? Dunno.

Mandarins and limes are just starting to become fully ripe, although I have been eating them already. Yum! Citrus is really hardy to frost as long as they are protected from the wind. Winter bearing fruit is a rare thing. The fungi are awesome. Do you get a lot of different varieties in your part of the world?

The Japanese stiltgrass sounds formidable. Wow. Not good. The needlegrass here tends to outcompete every other plant except for the over story trees and like your stiltgrass nothing eats it. It also keeps the ground very well shaded so that new plants don't emerge. I read that it came into the US via its use as a packing material...

Whoa! Bears ripping apart fallen trees looking for grubs is not a thing you would want to stumble across in the forest. On the other hand it would increase the surface area of the fallen timber. I wish the stumps would break down as they take a huge amount of effort to remove and nothing really lives on or in that timber. It is incredibly dense timber though. Dunno. The fungi have to work harder!

How cool are the catbirds? Some of them have amazing colours and plumage too. It would give you quite the shock to hear a cat where none is expected!

The steam train runs quite regularly on weekends on a disused side line further up the main line. It is very cool to see it in the station at Castlemaine. It is an elegant mode of transport.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Yes, Poopy is doing his best for science! The snow was really enjoyable too, and it was nice to retreat back into the warm house. The snow froze to the windscreen of the car...

Oh yeah, the big burn offs here can easily burn over night, and for days afterwards the ground can be still warm. In fact if an underground root of a tree becomes ignited then the fire can burn underground for months. I've had your experience of a fire not out before a work day once towards late spring. I had to do the same thing as your DH as I could not afford to burn the entire area down, whilst I was elsewhere. An easy way to become the most hated person in the area!!! Fortunately, I am very careful with fires.

Ha! We are having a Federal election of both houses of Parliament this Saturday, so who knows? Sorry to hear about the loss of the Eurocup. Those Icelanders seem to have exercised a remarkable amount of common sense.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Can understand the excitement of the unusual snowstorm. Snow can be a beautiful sight especially when it clings to all the branches - until you have to drive in it and shovel it. It muffles sounds and can be very peaceful as well. Chickens are less than pleased however.
I shovel a path for them and spread a little straw so they'll venture out. Funny thing though this current batch of Buckeyes were not as put off as every other batch of chickens I've had. They are described as "winter hardy".

I would love to know more about mushrooms as one is always afraid to eat them. This spring my husband found a few of the much sought after Morel mushrooms when clearing the tree line. They were a bit old so he tried drying them in our warming drawers. This process took all day and I found the smell slightly nauseating so when he cooked some up I found them less than pleasant. I had never tried them before.

Finding people on your property can be disturbing - not knowing why they are there. Most people have "no trespassing" signs up. This is especially true for the woods around here. Usually it's because the owners are hunters and want that ground specifically for them.

Still not a great deal of rain here but enough to keep everything that I don't want growing to be doing just fine.

Had an overnight in Chicago last weekend. Stayed in my aunt's 20th floor condo overlooking the very touristy Michigan Avenue. On Sunday we went to a cookout at one of my brother's apartment building. The young couple who lives there and oversees all the residents (all disabled) puts it on once a year for the families. I don't know how they do it with a baby, a dog and all the characters (my brother is definitely a character). It was very pleasant though hot. Eight of our family members attended. That might sound like a lot but my niece who attended and is planning her wedding noted that she has 49 people from our family alone on the guest list.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Pam,

Glad to hear you are OK. Often when people hear of extreme weather in a state they assume the entire state is affected. I know that's true here in Illinois.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fair enough, although I reckon that perhaps pasta is a problem because of the sauces rather than the pasta itself which is just flour and eggs. Just had to go and warm my fingers and brain up over at the wood fire box. Brrr! Interesting about the brown rice. I eat Basmati rice which is very low in sugars - and I enjoy the taste of the stuff better than other rice varieties. Dunno. Peas and tuna with spices is a real winner of a combination for a sauce. Hey, they make a pea pie in a few places down here and it is very good. And then there is the unlikely pie floater... It has all of the food groups such as fats and proteins, and maybe some fats and proteins, but I tell ya what - it is tasty! Yum!

Actually the little machines are very good. And I suspect that they are given as wedding presents and people get rid of them because they don't use them. But they are good.

Yeah, I'm bummed out about them closing up shop. I mean it took them five years before they recognised that I was even a regular customer. The trauma of having to find somewhere new. Anyway, there are plans afoot... Oh, down here the bulk supplies usually come in what looks to me like feed bags or heavy duty paper bags. The food grade buckets are around, but you usually have to pay about $5 per bucket.

Thanks for the feedback. His philosophy does sound quite interesting. On the practical side, there are plenty of how to books, I guess, but to get under the hood of the mind is an all together different thing. That act provides the background and perspective of the whole enterprise. A lot of people are looking for step by step guides. I'm unsure how effective they are.

Stinky Bob tea sounds rather unappealing, but then medicinal herbs rarely taste nice. But then I find over the counter stuff to be quite acidic to my system. Dunno. Nice to hear that you have wild geraniums. They're very common plants and they produce quite a lot of flowers - which the bees and other insects love down here. The funny thing about that herb was that I picked it up via the local market from a place that specialised in herbs. I'd read about the herb somewhere or other and it was amazing to find there. I'll be very interested to hear of your experience with the tea?

I like your plan of action. Very astute. I hope that you add in St Francis? He seemed like an OK dude.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yes, the junkies have a saying for that escalation process: Chasing the Dragon. I see a lot of parallels with that process in our culture. A bit of a shame really. The thing that annoyed me about it was that there are things that one cannot un-see and it really pissed me off - as I suspect that it was intended to do so as he drove people away from him in a fit of self destruction. I saw a great line in a film once with one character remarking to another character who was very obsessive about yoga (of all things) and the line went: "Some people can turn anything into heroin". A very astute observation.

Thanks for that explanation of the three deaths and I will meditate on it tonight. It is a very interesting perspective. It has much to say to your saint theory too.

Oh, that would be an alarmingly well ordered process. As I read today in one of the Grimm fairy tales on of the characters in the Rapunzel story asked for mercy rather than justice.

It would be a very hard thing psychologically to peak so early in your career. It hasn't played out well for many. Yes, he is a good actor. I have never watched the Harry Potter series of films nor have I read the books. Something just nagged my consciousness about them and I've avoided them. I can't explain it. They really do require mentoring. It is a shame that such things are discouraged nowadays and inevitably we repeat the same mistakes over and over again as a result.

Those are good ones too!

I feel a bit exhausted tonight, dunno why. Maybe it has been a rather long and unrelenting month for me work wise. It was nice that earlier this week I could get back to the usual amount of work here. I find that the manual work is very meditative and I'm often in a state of great mental relaxation whilst at the same time very tired. I see an awful lot of people nowadays with signs of anxiety and as the economy is slowly tanking, the rates of mental health issues seem to be on the increase down under.

Wow, the wind is blowing hard here tonight.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Thanks, Margaret. It's amazing how big some of the states are in the U.S., though nothing on the scale of Australia's!

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

'Learn to learn' that is very good advice and makes one think about it.

I like Lew's 'Can I help you?'. Am pondering the fact that you considered it icy. It doesn't have to be. I say the same thing when I encounter people in my woods but I say it with warmth after which there is no problem at all. The only time that I had a bad response was when the chap said that he wanted to buy some of my land and that I really didn't need it all. Later he got caught for drug smuggling. I am guessing that he wanted to land a boat here.

Wood stumps are very difficult things particularly as one has to cut a tree down fairly high up the trunk if one doesn't want dirt to wreck the saw blade.

I object to the fact that the alcoholic content of wine keeps on increasing. I enjoy a glass of wine but don't want lots of alcohol. I like to have a clear head.

The second of my new neighbours has just put in a planning application for a replacement dwelling. It looks like something from grand designs; I don't think that he has a cat in hell's chance of getting it. Showed it to my son who laughed aloud and said that we will see bits being endlessly chopped off the plan.

Yesterday I dug up another load of potatoes and got a whole lot of washing completely dry outside. Of such small things is happiness created. Today it is pouring with rain and I have the heating on. No wonder the English are accused of always talking about the weather.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ohhh. Pie floaters sound really good. I can't think of anything we have here that's similar. Wikipedia had a good entry, and also explained "pie carts." Here, no matter what they're serving up, they seem to just call them "food carts." And, they can be anything from a smallish push barrow to a caravan with a side that opens up.

Oh, I think St. Francis is pretty busy and distracted. :-). You see a lot of his statues, here, generally around gardens. Even among non-Catholics. I think there's two kicking around, this place ... :-)

Here, the ex-child actor gone bad is almost a trope. A cliche. "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" :-). Seems like there's always some bit of click bait on the Net, following up on some ex child star ... most of whom are unfamiliar to me.

Well, you were pretty sick, pretty recently. Of course you're going to feel like you've had a bit of the stuffing knocked out of you, for awhile. And, you probably "got back right at it" ... maybe a little too soon? It's a guy thing :-).

Well, it didn't get very hot, here, yesterday, as it was overcast til noon. My friends in Idaho are reporting temps of 100F+. Looks like we had some rain overnight. Supposed to get some more rain, this weekend.

I'm off to the Little Smoke, today. Not too many stops. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - I figured you were alright, since you're in Virginia, and not West Virginia.

That couple were probably asking that as a leading question to see if you were "their kind of people." Silly, really.

One of the episodes of "Orange is the New Black" had a bit of a sub story about making hooch in prison. Sugar and food scraps, bartered from the kitchen. Mixed with water, buried in the ground until fermented. Then, stashed in hidden places around the prison until "ripe." Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Chris - PS: A copy of the DVD "Brooklyn" is waiting for me at the library. You had really liked it, but it didn't sound like my cup of tea. Then I saw a trailer, and, by now, the hold list wasn't too long. So, I put it on hold.

Wonder what JMG will have to say about Brexit, tonight. Now that he's had a few days to think it over. Now that it's a week on, there's a lot more measured analysis of it, if you know where to look. My kind of lefty friend, Scott, can't seem to get past the possible racial aspects of the vote. That there might be a heck of a lot more going on.

I think if more (any) of the financial crowd would have been punished, after the 2008 meltdown, maybe feelings wouldn't be running so high, now. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for that - it is beautiful to see snow here, but as you correctly point out it has novelty value here, and is not persistent. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulties of living in an area that receives regular winter snowfall. It would be very difficult. Do you free range your chickens under the open sky? The damp and cold here over winter makes that a very bad option for the chickens, although if it was a dry but cold winter, they may be OK - unfortunately that isn't the case. Their health has improved remarkably since they have had an all weather run. It is good to experience which chickens are best for your area as they are all so different in their requirements.

Yeah, I'm afraid of wild mushrooms too, and I hear you about the smell. I've tried slippery jacks but the texture really put me off. Over the next year or so, I do plan to investigate mushrooms and work out how they grow and what their requirements are. They're a very good source of winter protein. The hot summer cooked the last batch and I haven't had enough spare time to investigate or experiment. If you have any hints and tips for the beginner, I'd very happy to hear of them?

That makes sense about the hunters, plus if you don't know: "their people" how do you know that they'll not bag more than the environment allows for? Some people can go feral and if there is no obligation or responsibility it can get ugly. It is the not knowing that makes it very difficult to deal with trespassers and they are inevitably cagey and shifty right from the outset, so there is no upside to the arrangement.

Was that a polite way to say: weeds? Hehe! Speaking of which I planted a weeping willow today in my swale. They grow well here. I just have to track down a white willow as there is already a green and yellow willow here. Nice to hear you are getting a bit of rain. It is torrential here today and forced me back into the house.

That sounds lovely and what a great spot to stay too. Yes, weddings can be massive events. I do hope that your niece takes the time to enjoy herself?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I enjoyed the word play with the title and glad to hear that you also found it to be thoughtful. I often throw in a few jokes into the text.

Of course, you are totally correct and I hear you. Don't you reckon that so much of our communication is based on non verbal methods and also the delivery of those words? That is a much better way to approach people and I will take that on board. Sometimes I can be a little bit combative when I feel that people are stepping over the usual social boundaries. On the other hand I have noticed that a lot of people are selling those social boundaries down the river for their own gain and I have noticed a significant increase in those occurrences over the past few months. It is a bit weird and I have seriously been pondering it. Have you noticed that in your part of the world? I have wondered whether it has anything to do with some of the regularity of short forms of electronic communication that people seem to indulge in. I mean some of the examples that spring to my mind have been written by other people as if they were commands. Unfortunately, I'm probably the wrong person to try that on as they found out - the hard way. Dunno, it is weird that it is on the increase.

I've noticed that the experienced forestry workers do that. I don't actually drop trees as it is a very real skill which is beyond my capabilities. On the other hand I have a licence - believe it or not - for cross cut saw operations. Go figure that one out. Honestly, I should never have been let anywhere near a chainsaw without going on a course to gain experience. Most other tools are easy to figure out and gain experience with, but not that one.

Of course, that is only sensible. I tend to stick to one glass per day, five days per week. I find limits are empowering and so I stick to them. Yeast only provides for an absolute upper limit of about 18% - absolute maximum. Of course that is a heady wine and not the usual run of the mill variety. Out of curiosity, what sort of numbers are you seeing?

Haha! That's funny. Down here they call that the ambit claim, and it is an expensive way to go and also has the unpleasant side effect of annoying all of your neighbours. You know, I must be the only person that I've heard of that visited all of the neighbours affected and gave them an opportunity to discuss the project before the council even looked at it. And I have never had a single objection from a neighbour on any project. Not one. Mind you the local fire authority - of whom I was a member - were very dubious about allowing me to build a house here.

Yum! Go the potatoes. Yum! I'm running out of time to plant the seed potatoes... Maybe if I get them in over the next few weeks. June has been out of control busy for me. No wonder I became sick earlier on this month. Are you harvesting anything else? Lots of mustard plants here (red and green). Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Yahoo2 said...

Ah, now we are bringing back some memories. One of my school chemistry assignments was fermentation, distillation, fractionation then identifying all the molecules we could build. The catch was we had to ferment something from the lunch menu! My triumph was a particularly lethal ketone with a refreshing strawberry bouquet. A couple of students had success with McD's buns and fries, plenty of sugar and carbs to work with.

Interestingly our modern obsession with alcohol has skewed our perception of fermentation, the old fermented drinks were safer than water because the acidic liquid killed the majority of harmful bugs in the water and the rapid colonisation of fermenting microbes out-compete those that produced unwanted toxic side effects (not that there is much that is more toxic than booze) the ethanol content was very low as a rule, rarely over 0.5%, brewing for alcohol was a different activity. The downside was that tooth enamel was etched away because of the acid. I have heard stories of wood ash toothpaste that protects the teeth, never found a recipe.

I had a chuckle at the image of you willing the sun into the sky Chris, bit early me-thinks, the elevation is at the bottom of a sinusoidal wave around the winter solstice, it is almost flat for 3 weeks either side of the 21st, it will move less than 1.6 deg in the first 3 weeks, the following 3 weeks it will be up 4.2 degrees. Then you can toast a crumpet to the sun gods.

On the topic of trees. Back in the ol days, a carload of us made a grand tour of the ash Wednesday fires looking for areas that didn't crown. We called the result of our trip "under 100" meaning less than 100 mature trees per hectare and no ladder fuel would be safe. The idea was to count the trees in a 40m x 25m area ( tenth of a hectare) as a gauge to the potential risk. I notice that Bill Armstrong (forest service fuel specialist) put the number 38 trees an acre out as the traditional density of the Californian landscape before the modern massive fires. That's 95 trees /Ha. We let it slide as a concept at the time and deferred to the experts. I am wondering if it should be dusted off and added to the modern narrative as an idea for homestead protection. Any thoughts?
Steve

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, they really are carts and there are some quite famous ones in Sydney and Newcastle. How do you reckon someone would come up with the idea of a pie floater? It is tasty though. It looks like split green peas, but it could also easily be lentils - which are really tasty, but have a poor reputation. Imagine having to suffer from a poor reputation!

Fair enough, St Francis has only so much manna to spread around and it certainly doesn't seem like a good idea to ask too much of the busy spirits!

It is a trope isn't it? The guy that wrote the Big Short (Michael Lewis) was expressing his own regret at having peaked too early. Fortunately, both yours and my peak will certainly be far off and away into the distant future.

Haha! Yeah it is a guy thing, but I did actually only re-engage with the world when I felt 100%. It is actually the end of the financial year and I am under the pump. Yesterday I was actually email bombed by someone requesting information. It was very strange because clearly I did not reply to the first email - as is my usual wont - so they sent another one explaining how urgent it all was. Now I got those emails at about 10pm, and I had to explain to the person that sending another email whilst I hadn't replied to the first one was probably not a smart idea - especially when they had my phone number... Communication skills are being whittled down in recent years. Are you finding that to be the case in your part of the world? It all seems very weird to me.

Yeah, you know, Idaho sounds very hot during the summer to me, although it gets to those temperatures here too. Do they get cooler nights or does the high temperatures persit into the evening?

The rain is torrential here today and I was outside before but had to retreat inside. This is more like Spring or Summer rainfall, than the sort of gentle winter rainfall that I normally get where it rains a lot but you don't tend to get much rain. At least the water tanks are now completely full and overflowing. How is your water crisis going?

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke and I do hope that no unusual or interesting goings on occur? I went off the farm today too to pick up a huge range of supplies from the local businesses. I tend to work the travel like you do and even had - a list to follow. It was all very civilised and organised and I got to have a chat at each of the businesses along the way. It is all very social really - especially as I've been dealing with them all for years. The stock feed place was very cold...

Cheers

Chris

Yahoo2 said...

Footnote: Poopy the Scandinavian mountain hound has lost me a bet, I told a friend you wouldn't get photographic evidence of the snow because it would be between midnight and dawn and melt as it hit the ground.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I suppose someone accidentally dropped a pie into a vat of soup, fished it out and thought "Oh, my, that's good!" Or, some sod like me who can't leave a recipe alone. "Oh, let's throw these two things together and see what happens?" A pie, a bowl of soup, you only have one bowl .... The possibilities are endless! :-).

Last night I made some hummus with chips and it didn't seem like quit enough. When I was halfway through it :-). So, I added some mayo (it had already been extended with a bit of plane yogurt) a couple of green onions and cubed up some white cheese that wasn't enough to make a sandwich with. So, the end result, while tasty, wasn't anything anyone would call hummus. :-)

Well, besides your client being antsy abut his financials, sometimes I'll sit in front of the computer and wonder "Did I hit send? Did I get the address right? Is it going to float around in the cloud for days?" There's always a nagging feeling that your launching something into a black hole.

Well, even before the internet and a device in every hand, a guy wrote a book called "Bowling Alone." About the decline of civic involvement. But, I think that had more to do with tv, than anything. Me and a mate were moaning after the Men's Meeting the other night, that, "back in the old days" there was usually a "meeting after the meeting." Repair to some nearby coffee shop and just continue on. That doesn't happen anymore. Don't know why.

My friends in Idaho mentioned that their house only cooled down to 70F, something, overnight. They have a bit of "air", but are pretty conservative in it's use. A few fans. But, beyond a certain point ... Also, there's really no trees to provide shade, around their place. They're pretty much out on the flat.

Well, the water keeps running but no more on working out any kind of a schedule. Doubt I'll hear more about that.

Well, I'm off to the movies. Or, "the films" if I want to get all hoity toity, about it. :-). Monthly birthday meeting, tonight. There will be cake! Probably homemade! As Inge states "Of such small things is happiness created." Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Unfortunately I know very little about mushrooms. It's something I'd like to learn about but who knows if or when that'll happen.

Snow is definitely a challenge. The first few are kind of fun but I'm pretty done with it after that. At least here it stays fairly clean. As you get into the suburbs and especially the city it rapidly turns into a grey/black mess. Don't even get me started on all the road salt.

Yes, my chickens do free range out in the open. As it's very dry during the winter they do just fine. The only issue I've ever had is a bit of frostbite on some of the larger combed chickens and that's only if it's extremely cold - below zero for an extended time.

I've experimented with quite a few breeds and when these chicks mature I should have an interesting mix. I don't know yet how many roosters I have - the youngest batch of 12 was straight run. I would like to replace my present rooster with one of the new ones and cross my fingers that he's not nasty.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve (Yahoo2),

That sounds like a fun experiment and oh yeah, those buns have plenty of energy. The editor has a degree in biology - specialising in applied microbiology and apparently they used to make wine, and I was told that pretty much any organic compounds can be used in that process - there was even talk of using leather, but I am still unsure whether this was a joke or not. We're pretty relaxed about the whole process nowadays and I'm personally dubious of peoples obsessions with sterilising the equipment e.g. give demijohns a good wash out with hot water seems to do the trick. Now in the many years of experience at that activity, we have only had one bad batch go bad, and that was for mead. The honey came from a supplier that I hadn't used before or since. The mead was OK, but was way too sweet for our tastes (headache inducing, actually) and we believe that the supplier substituted some sugar syrup into the honey in order to pad it out. I have asked around and have been told since by reputable sources that such things go on - and that year was particularly poor for the bees.

That is my understanding too about the fermentation process. I mean, even a bucket full of cut and blitzed apples in water with some lemon juice will produce a reasonable - if somewhat toothy - brew after a few months. I add a bit of that brew to the chickens water as they are very messy and will scratch around and flick organic matter into their water supply. Wood ash and water produces lye, I believe, and that is basic so I don't know about that. On the other hand, I have heard of people making toothpaste from some sort of bi-carb mix, although I'm unsure of the taste.

The old timers, as well as many much older cultures, used to use charcoal to clean their teeth. Wow, charcoal really whitens teeth and I believe they use activated charcoal nowadays for such things.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Thank you for the correction. Well, it would be nice to have a little bit more sun, although - I'm assuming - and would appreciate your correction, that it operates more like a sine wave rather than a linear function which I assume is what you mean by the term sinusoidal wave? Sorry, I struggled with maths for some reason as my brain tends to recall stories and concepts rather than too much detail, although I did very well in statistics for some strange reason, but then I only had to follow the formulas and not discover them in the first place! It is funny, but I mentioned to someone that the really clever people in the renewable energy business are the ones that build the circuits that us users get to enjoy. Quite a lot of very high quality gear is developed and manufactured in Australia (and I use the locally produced charge controllers and inverter), but I understand how they should be connected together and how to program them, but I have absolutely no idea how they do what they do. A lot of life is like that in our society. ;-)! The electric oven is a definite no-no right now, but then there is the wood oven, which has cooked a batch of Anzac biscuits and another batch of dog biscuits tonight. I could construct a wood oven from beginning to end, but not an electric oven. The water pumps are the ones that worry me the most.

You know, reading your comment about Ash Wednesday left me with the chills. Of all of the people that I believed that I would enjoy a dialogue with on this blog, some of the graduates, students and scientists employed in that particular capacity after Ash Wednesday were not among them. It would not surprise me if you had travelled here in the Macedon Ranges as this farm was on the very edge of that fire. What surprised me was that so much good evidence based research was undertaken by credible people after Ash Wednesday and then it was quietly shelved as the implications offended our sensibilities and the economics of those implications began to sink in with the authorities. My gut feeling is that we have descended into a state where the lowest common denominator dominates the discussion and that is simply "do nothing".

Incidentally, I did exactly the same thing after Black Saturday in that we went into the fire affected areas – after a respectable time - and simply looked at what worked and what didn't work. I was a member of the CFA at the time too and so had firsthand accounts of the days and weeks that followed. I don't need to be told twice.

If you were to walk into the oldest and most undisturbed parts of the forest here, the trees are very tall and they are widely separated and they are much like you describe. The other interesting thing is that the wildlife eats here, but they live in the forest so clearly a patchwork of diverse forest types and meadows would be a sensible approach from an ecological point of view. But try telling that to the local authorities and public who are setting the bar...

I'd be very interested to hear what you believe about all of that?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve (Yahoo2),

Sorry mate, Poopy is on my side!!! Actually, I do have a photo of frozen snowflakes on the window of the little white Suzuki so you are both sort of correct.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ha! That is both funny and quite a likely story. I've often wondered whether olives were discovered as an edible fruit after just such a process. I mean, how would you come up with a process to remove the bitterness from the fruit by soaking them in salt water for a few weeks - other than the fact some very hungry dude many millennia ago spotted this fruit bobbing around in the ocean, ate them and said: These are actually pretty good, I didn't believe that they were even edible! Yeah the possibilities are endless: Wasn't it you that said here a long time ago: It is only the first crayfish...

That sounds a lot like healthy nachos to me? Or am I mistaken in that belief? Mmmm, I'm starting to get a hankering for Mexican food. Yum! Tonight, it is gnocchi, wood oven baked mushrooms with a bit of truffle oil and herbs for me tonight. It sounds very gourmet, but it is actually pretty easy to make. We've never cooked with truffle oil before but it seems pretty tasty in small quantities. Some people try to grow truffles in this part of the world, but the soils have the wrong pH (acidic) for the inoculated oak trees, so they have to bring in huge quantities of gypsum every year. How they can make money doing that is way beyond me. Over in Western Australia, the soil pH is just right and the fungi is big business, those strange brown/black and quite horrid looking fungi.

Exactly, who understands the cloud? The sort of free storage offered on the cloud makes little financial sense to me...

Mate, I hear you. Oh yeah, do I hear you. Back in the late 80's, mate, the work group used to hit the pub on a Friday night and that was a lot of fun and it became a huge part of my social life for a few years. But then along came the recession and everything fell apart as - I honestly don't know why. People seem to be far more serious nowadays and they lack a certain sort of job stability. Plus they have focused inwards on their families. It is a million reasons which have been a sort of death by a thousand cuts - but I saw how it was different and it disturbs me how it is nowadays and I just don't want to join in. A mate actually said to me that I should grow up and get with the times - and he was referring to the massive multiplayer online games, and I thought to myself, no way am I joining that cult. If I knew the answer, I'd probably be smarter than I am. The meeting after the meeting is a lovely practice.

Ah, 70'F is about as hot as it gets here overnight during summer, despite the temperature reaching 104'F+ during the day. The trick here is that the forest cools the local environs. In Melbourne it may not fall below 80'F which is just uncomfortable due to the heat island effect but the feedback loop of using air conditioning can't be discounted. When I was a kid, nobody had air-conditioning in their houses or their cars. I used to have a joke with passengers that my very earliest vehicles had manual air conditioning - i.e. you had to wind the windows down. Hmm, Idaho doesn’t quite sound pleasant during high summer – it will only get hotter for them.

Nice to hear that you have access to water, but I reckon just to be on the safe side, I'd keep the rain barrel of water filled. Incidentally is it filled? Well, they are probably embarrassed at the water outcome and are unable to talk about it in any meaningful sense.

Don't hold back, what did you see at the films? We can go all hoity-toity here!!!

Enjoy your birthday meeting and cake. Did you end up with the homemade cake? It is the small things that I find pleasing too. One of the recurring themes in the Grimm brothers stories, which I'm finding to be quite an annoying read (much like you in front of a rom-com), is that the big things and wins always come with a cost. Oh the other narratives just send me around the bend...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Mushrooms are a project for the future, but I reckon they'd provide an excellent and promising source of protein. But alas the details are unknown to me. If you do start growing them, I'd be very interested to hear about your experience? On the other hand there are a lot of projects, aren't there, and one can only cover so much ground?

Yeah, the summer heat is exactly like that too, after a while, I'm done with it. Speaking of which, I have heard that there are forest fires over in California, so I hope it is nothing too major. Those gift eucalyptus trees were a double edged sword. Oh no, do they seriously put salt on the road? That must be awful for the land and waterways around the roads? And the cars would rust out in no time. Wow, I had heard of that practice, but thought that it would be for places further north.

You are lucky with those dry winters. Yes, the chickens would invariably cope better in the dry than the wet. Oh, out of interest, did you have to remove the comb due to the frostbite? It does grow back, I have seen some chickens with damaged combs from fighting.

It is nice to experiment with different breeds as you never quite know which ones will perform the best over a number of years. I reckon a lot of that local knowledge is completely lost down here, so I try a scatter-gun approach of trying a number of different varieties and then see how it works out. It is not a very efficient system. There is a local poultry auction on Sunday, but I'm unfortunately going to miss it.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Your description of your alcohol drinking habit is identical to mine! I open a bottle of wine and drink a glass a day which is usually five days and then wait two days before I open the next one. The wine seems to keep okay after being opened. I checked the alcohol content of the red wine that I have, it was 13.5%. I'll look around when I next go shopping, I am sure that I have heard of 15%.

I don't expect neighbours to complain about the 'grand design' application. If it succeeds the potential for their properties (mine also) will increase; it is the planning authority who won't like it.

People tend to be very courteous to each other here. No doubt this is because we are so rural and behind the times.

I was amused at the 'grow up and get with the times' in relation to online games. 'Get with the times' may apply at a pinch but 'not grow up'.

The loganberries that I grow are going mouldy before they ripen due to the wet weather. I have had this happen occasionally in previous summers. Our water table is right up again grr.

I would be very interested in info. from anyone who has successfully grown mushrooms, I gave up years ago.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Mmmm. I think of nachos more as "throw anything on chips and cover with shredded cheese and nuke until the veg softens and cheese melts. My hummus hybrid :-) was more of a cold dip thing.

I read a couple of mushroom books, last year (more the foraging end of things .. not field guides) and there was a couple of chapters on truffle growers. The general take away was that most of them were hobbyist / gentlemen farmers who kind of dabbled in truffles. Similar to a lot of people who are "going to start a vineyard." Great plans to make a lot of money, that go nowhere.

Oh, I think air conditioning in this part of the country is kind of ... silly. When I started shopping for my little truck, things like wheels were high on the list. Air conditioning didn't appear at all. The house isn't bad. There's a sunny side, and a shady side, that changes during the course of the day. I open windows, and close windows. One box fan to keep air moving. Even as hot as it got last summer, I can't say I had trouble sleeping. Sure, it was a bit uncomfortable, at times, but well within my tolerance levels. Some people are such delicate flowers :-)

Speaking of weather, here, it's supposed to be cooler over the weekend, some overcast and maybe a bit of rain. But, nice for the 4th of July, our major patriotic holiday. Me, I'm staying in and off the roads til my appointment on Tuesday. That bit over on the ADR about jet streams crossing the equator, had me wound up, a bit ... later corrected by several posters. Gah! Sometimes the Net just winds me up. I have to keep in mind to wait for further developments and do a bit of research. There was an article yesterday that sunspot activity has fallen to a real low ... we could have a heck of a winter and the Thames may freeze over. And, it's likely to be a real "Game of Thrones" winter. Well, I kind of caught the pop cultural reference. I know little about Game of Thrones, but the few stills I have seen have a lot of ice and snow about. :-). You read the find print, and, yes, the Thames froze over in the 1600s, but these solar minimums happen every 11 years and the Thames hasn't frozen over every 11 years since the 1600s, so, it's probably not going to happen this year. Feels like it's all sensationalism and click bait.

Interesting how many Europeans are coming out of the wood work, over at the ADR. I mean, I knew Mr. Greer had a bit of an international following, but didn't know it was so extensive. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. OK. The movie. SPOILER ALERT!!! :-). Well, my calculations paid off and I ended up sitting in a theatre with four other people. The ticket and a small bag of popcorn cost me $14! No discounts applied ... not even the old guy discount. Unnoticed last year were several posters in the lobby, and, several screen announcements to silence cell phones and no texting, during the films. Apparently, a lot of people are morons, and this is necessary.

The movie. Well, it was predictable. The CGI was great. Lots of cool explosions. The cute dog and whiney children that don't follow instructions and endanger everyone and you just want to throw to the aliens were on the scene. Lots of iconic national monuments were destroyed. And, in the end, the earth is saved, with less than 5 minutes to spare. The good aliens who rode in to the rescue (kind of) have decided, that even though we're a primitive race, they're going to gift us with all kinds of techno gizmos, including interstellar flight, as, they would like us humans to "take the war" to the bad aliens and "kick some alien butt." Martial music swells. Finis.

Ah, the person who usually makes the cakes for the meeting took some time off, but someone else brought a cake. "Store Bought" as they used to say back in olden times :-). My. I have not seen a more elaborate cake, outside a wedding. It being the holiday weekend, it had a patriotic theme. It made me want to salute and sing our National Anthem. It had the flag on top. There were many small flags stuck in it and some plastic toppers that looked a bit like bunkers with exhortations on them, such as "CELEBRATE!!!" White cake with red, white and blue frosting ... but, a nice layer of strawberry jam in the middle.

Haven't got to watch "Brooklyn", yet. I'm more in a reading mood. A good thing, as the books are piling up. I'm reading a new biography of Forster (Room with a View, et all). One of those doorstops of books with lines like "And, on April 29th, 1905, Forster took tea with Lytton Strachey, in his rooms at King's College, Cambridge." One of those kinds of biographies. :-)
And, I'm dipping into a really good survey of the American artistic dynasty, the Wyeths. Grandfather N.C., father Andrew and son Jamie. The whole lot of them are not much loved by the intelligentsia, critics or academics, as they are mostly realist painters. But, greatly loved by "the people." Ought to be fun. A distant relative observed, "I think there's madness in the family, carefully covered up with a very sensitive veneer." Well, they are artists, after all :-).

I've managed to see a handful of Wyeth's in my life. A few years ago, there was an exhibit, in Seattle, and I pulled myself together to get up and see it. It was at the Seattle Art Museum. Oh, they are little gems and I was quit taken with them. There's another, smaller private museum, in Seattle, that also has a clutch of Wyeth's. So, I naturally assumed they'd also have them out, to play off of the exhibit at the major museum. You'd think. No. All in storage. What were they thinking? I created a bit of a scene. Security was called. At least, that's how I tell the story. :-). Lew

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

I take anything Robert Scribbler writes with a grain of salt. As a writer who sensationalizes everything he does no service. Good that some pointed that out on ADR. I have a sister who is like this and she can be very convincing. Rest of the family calls it "The K factor" (her name is Kathleen).

Margaret

margfh said...

Yesterday morning when I went out to do chores I found all twelve of my 5 week old chicks dead scattered around their pen. As only one was eaten and the rest had only heads removed or were just dead we believe a weasel is the culprit. There is no way I can completely weasel proof the barn. This is only the 3rd time this has happened in the 28 years we've had chickens but it is devastating when it does.

To prepare for a likely attack again last night we baited rat traps in the chick pen and a live trap next to the pen where the other chickens are (older ones and 2 month old chicks). Chickens all acted normally yesterday and I let them out after evening chores to forage as usual. As it got closer to dusk that's when the weird behavior began. They usually go in well before dark but last night they would start and then go back out again. Finally there was just one (I thought) out so I guided her but when checking the coop nine of the young ones were missing and most of the chickens were in the nesting boxes - very unusual. I searched with a flash light but couldn't find the remaining chicks. I had counted all sixteen when they were out foraging as they have, up to now, run as a pack. We also put up the baby monitor that we used to use when goats were about to kid and occasionally to catch a particularly persistent predator. Well all was quiet during the night. This morning I found six of the missing chicks outside - still missing three. We'll repeat the precautions tonight but no foraging outside the pen for awhile. As I prefer to raise my birds to be able to get out and forage widely at least for part of the day I expect some losses from predators but a weasel or a mink can is devastating.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis and Margaret,

Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to reply to you all tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I got a mushroom growing kit (shitake) and only got 4 mushrooms out of it. I'm currently going through the song and dance to see if I can get a second flush. Maybe better?

@ Margaret - I am so sorry about your chickens. I lost all my chickens (save one) to coyotes a few years ago. Had to start all over again. Besides the pure carnage, it's just the waste that bothers me. I wouldn't mind so much if the predators picked off the occasional chicken, I'm a sharing kind of a guy. I feel the same about my fruit and veg. But to just spoil vast amounts of ... whatever? And, you get a little attached to some of your hens. The one's who's personality stands out. Sigh. Mama Brahma will be long remembered.

I had never heard of Robert Scribbler, before. My he does write an exciting headline! :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That is good to read. It does work well that pacing strategy. It is a bit like the story of the tortoise and the hare. I like to believe that I'm closer to the tortoise strategy - as perhaps you are too? I've always felt that things taken to extremes inevitably ruins the enjoyment factor. 15% is not out of the question and if the wine makers don't kill off the yeasts then they keep on with the fermentation process until all of the sugars are consumed or the yeast variety reaches its maximum. Of course, the reason commercial producers kill off the yeasts is that the bottles may explode as the gas pressure builds in the bottle. I tend to avoid the preservatives (which are a form of poison) and just keep the caps screwed on loosely to the bottles. It seems to work and the wines age, that is why I aim for at least 12 months.

Oh, OK. Down here the neighbours most certainly would complain about the application, but then the council would probably have issues too. I don't personally understand why people require such large houses. It makes little to no sense to me. Are large houses the norm in your part of the world?

Yeah, the people in the rural areas here are generally very polite with their communications too. There is a curious mix of people here who live in the area and some people may call them townies, and they tend to act very differently. I fail to see why they would, but they do.

That is true, one can get behind the times, no doubts about it, but joining in on that strange social game which seemed to require more hours of a persons day than I'm comfortable with just seemed odd. Have you ever known anyone to become addicted to those games? I suspect there is a certain amount of positive feedback and lack of risk within the game structure which people can find addictive. Dunno.

Yeah, the berries here suffer in very wet summers too and the moulds are really difficult to live with. It certainly affects the taste of the berries. Sorry to hear that you are having such a rubbish summer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oooo! The nachos concept sounds very good, and I get the cold dip thing. That makes sense. Some NZ friends make a dip using french onion soup and yoghurt which they eat with corn chips too. It is very more-ish! ;-)!

Thanks for understanding, it was a long day which is to be expected.

It looks like there maybe a hung Parliament down here, but we'll see how the results go over the next few days.

That is funny. They're a strange breed those truffle growers and hunters, and the assorted pigs and dogs used to find the truffles are a rare commodity. I read a story by Peter Mayle about their activities in the Provence, France. He is a very entertaining author. I doubt that there is much money in either. I may grow some grape vines over the next year or so - there are plans afoot! Although those plans will actually come to fruition unless disaster strikes and then other more immediate plans may take their place.

Ha! Delicate flowers is funny. Nice one. The whole air conditioning thing is just weird when viewed from the big picture. People are uncomfortable with the heat, so they run an airconditioner which is generally powered by brown coal down here and then that adds to the greenhouse effect. It is like a giant feed back loop.

Oh, sorry to hear that the fourth is not quite as pleasant weather wise as it could be. I read the article about the jet streams and frankly I don't understand enough about how they operate in the first place to be able to make an informed decision. What I did note - and will comment at the ADR tomorrow - is that it is a perfect example of how scientists dilute a message. Yes, click bait indeed.

Ha! I read the books for the Game of Thrones story and just failed to understand how it could possibly translate into a TV series and just went off and did something else. I did notice that you may have had a Lord of the Rings reply a week or two back on that subject that was quite amusing to read! Well, you have to admit that it was pretty funny.

Yeah, well their facade is breaking apart and they are reverting to type. I commented elsewhere that to me the whole thing looks like a different form of colonialism, and it is not as if they are unfamiliar with that territory historically. I sometimes wonder if policies become fossilised in place because they deliver the goodies?

Ha! That was my guess too, hence the Jeff Goldblum reference. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. The first instalment was very silly, but in a fun sort of a way. At least they didn't use an F-35! That would have been funny.

Unfortunately, my weekend is rather short this week and I have to bounce. Sorry, I am struggling for time this week due to many work commitments.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I'm really sorry for your loss of the chicks. It is devastating and I often wonder too about the wanton destruction wrought by predators. Once Poopy escaped due to a visitor letting the chickens out of their enclosure and he ended up killing two chickens - and he didn't even have the excuse of eating them.

The baby monitor is a good idea so as to hear what is going on at night. The loss is really hard. I'm glad to read that six of the chicks came back to the pen in the morning - and thus survived the night. That may mean that the predator has moved on. Maybe? Did the others arrive back this morning? Did you end up catching anything in the trap or were the baits consumed?

I've heard that both weasels and minks are very clever creatures.

Regards

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Six of the nine chicks were outside yesterday morning and the other three never showed up. No other problems for two nights either so I'm cautiously optimistic that the critter has moved on. A neighbor told us that minks will move through looking for water. That's what we thought got our meat chicks a few years ago during a severe drought. It's dry again this year but not nearly as bad. My husband is making a couple of specially designed weasel traps today that I found on You Tube.

Now the Japanese Beetles have made their annual appearance. So far not too much damage. They love fruit trees, particularly plum, basil, raspberries, grape vines, zinnias and asparagus though you can find them on almost anything. I put up two traps downwind of the garden and fruit trees and have to empty them every other day. I have found they help. I let some lady's thumb grow in the garden as they really like that too and tend to congregate there instead of on the other plants. I collect them in a little water a couple times a day and feed them to the chickens. The Barred Hollands love them and the Buckeyes stand there just looking at them though one tried them yesterday - quite amusing.

Another day in Chicago today to see younger daughter's new apartment. She's hosting a get together to celebrate my older daughter's and niece birthdays. After a light lunch it's "linner" in Chinatown and karaoke at a place where you rent your own room. Both my daughters have lovely voices. My oldest daughter does a Sarah Brightman's song "Time to Say Goodbye" and people stop outside the room to listen. As it's 4th of July weekend the train will be mobbed. I'm glad we're the first stop to Chicago as you get your pick of seats. Returning on 8:30 so should miss the bulk of people going home - at least the drunk ones.

Good luck with your busy week.

Margaret

margfh said...

Thanks Lew. I wasn't really attached to these as they were just chicks. However I've never had the time to just spend time with my chickens so they've never been overly friendly. I decided with this batch to just spend some time in the coop each day and they were getting used to me being there.

Agree about the carnage. Weasels and dogs kill for fun in addition to food as you know.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am finding it very difficult to keep off politics. I have previously mentioned the blog. 'The argumentative old git' as I thought that it would appeal to Lew. A literary blog. I feel that his latest comment about trying to avoid politics also is good.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, a lot of people over here, just mix dry onion soup packets, with sour cream to make a dip. Used to do it myself, til I caught on to how much salt is in those packets. And, fat in the sour cream :-). So, now, I just use the plane nonfat yogurt. And, add some cut up green onions, or, garlic, or a bit of real onion. Herbs, spices, etc.. I'm also partial to corn chips. But, rather than picking up a package of corn chips, I pick up tostadas, break them into fourths, and use those to dip. They're not a salty, cost a lot less and I can occasionally find them baked, instead of deep fried.

I did get around to making a blueberry crisp, yesterday. Yum! Nice and warm with a bit of milk.

I did read around a bit about your election. As per usual, I really didn't understand what had transpired. I barely understand our own election process, let alone another countries. No matter if your election, or someone else's, the reportage never goes the next step and tells me what it all means. OK. A hung parliament. Who does that benefit? Who doesn't it benefit? Is it a bad thing, or a good thing? Depending on your point of view. I did notice that third parties, surged, a bit.

I ran across an article, last night, about some worldwide study that indicates that, in general, "people" have lost faith in governments and institutions. A rather elaborate study with lots of graphs. How the political climate is changing in lots of places.

Watched "Brooklyn". Quit a good movie. I think it was in one of the extras that the director (or someone) made the point that when you make some choices, some doors ... opportunities, vanish. It was framed in "becoming an adult", but, I think that applies at any time of life. I'd never quit thought of it, that way. So, she goes back to Ireland, and is pretty much blindly walking down the garden path, when the insular life of a small village smacks her awake. That curtain twitching 24/7 surveillance. And, I wondered what her future life will be like. Living in an Italian family enclave out on Long Island. A few Italian/Irish babies. Will they let her use her accounting talents? Probably not, given it's the 50s. Although, if the Italian families building business takes off, maybe they'll let her do the accounting. Cheaper. Keep it in the family. And, that got me thinking about my mother's family. My grandparents, her and her three brothers, all living in the Portland area. Finns. I think it was pretty tough, on occasion, for the inlaws, most not being Finn. There was an insularity. My Dad was German, one uncle married an Austrian orphan. One uncle married a "good" Finn girl. The last uncle married a Finn girl, but she was a divorcee (!), with a child from a previous marriage.

I got the Herb Robert tea, yesterday. One bag makes a couple of cups of good strong tea. It's rather peppery and there was a taste memory I couldn't quit put my finger on. Something I've had, but not much of, and a long while ago. Maybe ... oddly enough, Chinese Szechuan? Good stuff. Lew