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There are many benefits to living high up on a mountain side in the forest. One benefit is that it is a quiet life, and I enjoy that. However, one thing that you can’t find up here in the forest is a cinema or a restaurant. That lack does seem to me to be a bit of an unforgiveable oversight on the part of the authorities and I suffer these indignities stoically! But if I do want to watch a film at the cinema or eat at a restaurant, I can travel into Melbourne by train.
Travelling into Melbourne is a fun activity, as the country trains are very fast (130km/h or 81miles/h) and usually run every hour. The trains also manage the neat trick of dumping you into the middle of the city in less time than it would take for me to drive there.
The train journey itself is really quite scenic. As the train speeds towards Melbourne, the mountain range recedes off into the distance. The train performs the other neat trick of deftly sticking to the high ground as the journey into Melbourne skirts around deep gorges cut by the local creeks and rivers during past geologic times. To the observer inside the train, farm land scoots past the windows in a blur and I get to sample the state of the seasons and country all from the comfort of the insides of the train.
Sometimes, when the train reaches the outer suburbs, and the sun has been gently streaming in the window for a while, a feeling of lethargy falls over me and I cradle my head in my arms and lean against the window and have a short and refreshing disco nap! Hopefully during that important intermission, I don't snore, and upon awakening, I am always careful to check my fellow passengers for signs of extreme annoyance directed towards me!
Once the train journey has deposited me in the city, I can head towards my favourite haunts. Often this involves a walk of about an hour to get there. I could take the excellent trams, but I enjoy the long walk as I get to sample the state of the city and its people, all from the comfort of the sidewalk.
On those long walks, I could travel anywhere within a 5km (3 mile) radius of the city, but instead I have chosen to limit myself to a small area of the inner city. To be fair, that area was chosen specifically because it has a huge array of food and entertainment options – even a cinema! If for example, my stomach was telling me to consume: chili dumplings; Xiao long bao; slow cooked pulled pork; or perhaps even an awesome hamburger, I’d know where to go.
The downside of accepting the limitations of that small area of the inner city means that if a food or entertainment option isn’t available in that particular area, I accept that fact as that option is not available for me. This is not a problem because I then enjoy something else that is available in that location. For me this is no hardship. However, other people faced with that dilemma may suffer from a feeling of discomfit described as: the fear of missing out (FOMO).
The fear of missing out is a real fear, which speaks to a person’s sense of having regrets or anxiety about making the wrong decision, whilst fearing that other people may be making better decisions. Worse, still is that the people who made the better decisions may be enjoying experiences and life more than yourself. And the only way that I’ve found to address that fear and anxiety is to accept limits. Accepting limits reduces my choices down to a more manageable number.
But the unspoken question always remains: Why are limits considered to be bad?
The orchard this week has suffered from a number of daring night time raids. Something has been digging holes on the boundary that marks the edge of the forest and the lushness of the orchard.
|Something has been digging holes at night at the outer edges of the orchard|
On Saturday, I had a good look at many of the holes and noticed that there were a number of very unhappy looking bull ants in most of the holes. I also noticed that at the bottom of the hole was a deep slender snout imprint. This can only mean that the culprit of this night time hole digging activity was none other than one (or more) of the Echidna’s that live here. The Echidna was apparently digging up ants nests at night and then consuming the outraged ants who were silly enough to try and discover just what was happening to their otherwise quiet winter ants nest.
|An Echidna on the prowl for a tasty meal of ants|
The bull ants here are quite aggressive and will happily inject and spray formic acid on your skin causing unpleasant chemical burns which take a week or so to heal. With that in mind, I can’t honestly say that I am unhappy about the Echidna’s ant consuming activities!
The UV rating has this week increased from low to moderate, and now on a sunny day you can feel the warmth of the sun. With the additional solar radiation, the plants are all starting to slowly grow. I discovered a strange herb in the garden bed the other day which was clearly enjoying the warming late winter sun:
|Scritchy the boss dog enjoys the now warmer late winter sun|
The bee colony appears to have over wintered well and they too are enjoying the slightly warmer conditions. There are plenty of flowers for the bees to harvest pollen and nectar from at this time of year too.
|The bees appear to have over wintered well and are now starting to slowly emerge|
One of the four battery charge controllers for the solar power system has recently been having a minor intermittent problem. Fortunately the manufacturer is in Melbourne and so I’m hoping they will be able to repair that unit. Whilst that unit is off being repaired, this week I installed a spare battery charge controller in the system.
|The spare battery charge controller replaced an identical controller with an intermittent problem this week|
Every now and then I get an urge to clean up the mess that the loggers left on the edge of the forest here. It is a big job as the loggers have been active in this area since about 1860. I believe at one point in time the loggers may have used a bull dozer and steel cables to pull the trees over and drag them to another area for processing. This processing usually meant that the tree stumps were left half buried in the ground, caked in clay, and also for some reason they are usually upside down so that the roots face the sky.
This week I pulled two of the old tree stumps out of the ground using hand tools and then burnt them off. The hard baked clay that was attached to the tree stumps was used to fill in nearby depressions in the ground.
|Two large tree stumps were removed from the ground this week using only hand tools|
I still had some energy left over and so I pulled an even larger tree stump out of the ground and then rolled it up hill and burnt it too.
|Another very large tree stump was removed from the ground this week|
After that, I didn’t really have any energy left so I called it a day. Reader’s who are overly concerned that the job of tree stump removal may be finished, may note that there is still one more tree stump left in that location! Not to mention the other ones, in other locations…
Then the next day, we commenced constructing a new terrace above the house. A terrace is merely the fancy name for flat land dug into the side of the otherwise sloping land. Construction of a terrace involves digging soil from the higher side of the “cut” and then depositing it on the lower side of the cut. Hopefully, in that process you have enough soil so as to produce flat land.
|A new terrace has begun to be constructed this week above the house|
Observant readers will note that the dogs are enjoying this new flat land! They may also notice how rich and chocolatey brown the soil was that was excavated.The soil ends up being quite stable as I plant many long lived and deep rooted plants into the sloping side and it seems to work.
This is the beginning of new terraces above the house for new garden beds which will be individually constructed for specific plants.This first terrace, which is not yet complete, will be used for a fenced off thornless blackberry bed. Future terraces will also provide a site for two potato and one onion dedicated raised garden beds.
The temperature outside now at about 9.15pm is 7.0’C (44.6’F). So far this year there has been 682.4mm (26.7 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 654.8mm (25.8 inches).
Solar PV Statistics (from 4.6kW of installed PV panels)
Tuesday – 2nd August Batteries started at 66% full and 7.0kW was generated that day
Wednesday – 3rd August Batteries started at 70% full and 4.5kW was generated that day
Thursday – 4th August Batteries started at 65% full and 9.8kW was generated that day
Friday – 5th August Batteries started at 80% full and 5.0kW was generated that day
Saturday – 6th August Batteries started at 78% full and 5.2kW was generated that day
Sunday – 7th August Batteries started at 82% full and 6.8kW was generated that dayMonday – 8th August Batteries started at 78% full and 7.4kW was generated that day