Monday, 24 October 2016

Saturday Night (Hay) Fever

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

The farm is surrounded by dense forest and the dominant local tree here is: Eucalyptus Obliqua, or Messmate as they are more commonly known. These eucalyptus trees grow very tall and can eventually reach a height of 90m (just shy of 300ft) and live for around 400 years. They are not the tallest tree down under, and they are not even the tallest eucalyptus tree growing in this mountain range. The award for the tallest tree in this mountain range goes to: Eucalyptus Regnans, or Mountain Ash, and those trees can reach in excess of 100m (just shy of 330ft). In fact Mountain Ash is the tallest flowering plant on the planet.

Very occasionally the messmate trees on the farm (and indeed in the surrounding forest) decide to produce flowers. It is rare event when they do produce flowers as it is only once every couple of years. During those flowering times, the entire mountain range smells of honey. The buzz of insects harvesting the pollen and nectar during the day is almost deafening but the smell is beautiful.

However, the inner urban areas of Melbourne smell very different to me and sometimes it can be a bit of a shock to leave the pleasant smelling forest here. The other day I was in Melbourne on business and I noted that the many London Plane Trees (Platanus × acerifolia) were growing strongly because of the very wet winter. London Plane Trees are a popular urban roadside tree as they are not only drought and heat tolerant, but they are also very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction. They are just like Scritchy the boss dog, one tough customer!

Every year those London Plane trees drop short, stiff hairs which are shed by the young leaves and the dispersing seeds. Those hairs are my kryptonite, as they are a total irritant if I breath them in! And that is exactly what happened that day. I was inside a building and somehow happened to accidentally breathe one of the hairs in and I ended up having a massive coughing fit which soon passed (thankfully). It was very distressing and it was also very lucky for the offending trees that I did not have my chainsaw ready to hand… Why anyone would plant those particular trees is well beyond my understanding? And surely there would be better species with which to line the urban mono-culture with? Pah! We are not friends those trees and I!

Speaking of chainsaws, long term readers will recall that I semi-regularly employ some local blokes to assist with managing the forest here and have done so for years. The relationship between those blokes and the editor and I has not always been smooth sailing, but I have long since come to the conclusion that: they need the work and I need the assistance; and so everyone benefits from that arrangement. Problems become water under the bridge in such circumstances when the realities of both sides are faced. They can do the work and I want the work to be done and so what is the price? It is all a very pragmatic arrangement and that is part of living in a community.

So, as this year has been the year of strong winds, I employed the blokes to assist with cutting up the many fallen trees into firewood lengths and also to assist with cleaning up the old logging leftovers. Logging leftovers are plentiful here, and in this case I refer to the old tree stumps left sitting out of the ground. You see, the tree stumps don’t tend to rot which is why the trees themselves can live for so many hundreds of years. I wish that they actually did rot and turn into good soil, but they do not. The blokes cut the tree stumps to almost ground level and over the next few months, I will grind the stumps into sawdust and hopefully that sawdust will then turn into good top soil over the following year or two. Well that is the plan anyway…
Tiny but brave Toothy poses next to one of the very old and very huge tree stumps cut down to ground level
Grinding a tree stump is a huge job and requires a specialised machine. However once the tree stump is converted to a fine saw dust by the machine, that saw dust is then mixed with the surrounding clay and top soil and ultimately raked flat. The increased surface area of all of that organic matter is a true heaven for earthworms and they digest the contents and convert that to worm manure. Soil organisms then feed on the worm manure. Those soil organisms then provide minerals to the plant root systems in return for the sugars produced from photosynthesis on the sunlight falling onto the plant leaves. The plant leaves are also eaten by the many animals who in their turn produce manure for the soil organisms to eat and around and around the soil fertility cycle goes!
The soil surface comprising sawdust, clay and top soil after a tree stump was ground up
Last week, the editor and I planted out over one hundred tomato seedlings into the tomato enclosure. Well that night a very heavy rain storm knocked all of the tomato seedlings flat to the ground. Then a few days later on Wednesday morning, a light frost hit the farm and only three tomato seedlings survived! It was an impressive set of weather circumstances and it is very fortunate that we grow many more tomato seedlings than we actually require.
A light frost hit here on Wednesday morning
Observant readers will note that the outside temperature was 1.7’C (35’F) whilst the inside temperature was 13.6’C (56.5’F)! I know of so many people who have trouble sleeping and have for many years wondered whether they are over heating their houses and have speculated as to whether that is the cause for their insomnia.

The weather again deteriorated on Friday as two massive storms joined forces. One warm and tropical storm originated from the Indian Ocean to the north west of the continent whilst the cold and Antarctic storm originated from the south west of the continent. And over this part of the world is where they decided to join forces. The extent of the storm was quite impressive and this rainfall forecast map shows just how big it was:
Rainfall forecast map for Friday 21st October over Australia
Once the warmer tropical storm moved on, in only a matter of hours the cold storm brought snow above 900m (3,000ft). I couldn’t believe it, and it was the last straw for the poor tomato seedlings. At this slightly lower elevation the weather alternated between rain, hail and then sleet, but higher up the mountain range, this is what it looked like:
Snow fell in the higher reaches of the Macedon Ranges this week
Mind you, the wet winter and heavy rains have had some serious benefits. The nearby waterfall at Trentham looks awesome and I took this photo a few days ago:
The nearby waterfall at Trentham is absolutely rocking due to the very wet winter
This year and the last year have been particularly cloudy. Nothing shows that unusual cloudiness more than the statistics for the past five and a bit years for the off grid solar power system:
A graph showing the statistics for the off grid solar power system for the past five and a bit years
Yes, tech nerds of the world unite and go feral with that graph above! Everyone else can skip this paragraph! The blue line shows the battery storage state of charge at the beginning of each day. As you can clearly see it drops down low every winter – but some winters are lower than other winters. The red graph shows the usage of the petrol generator. And the green graph shows how much solar electricity I have generated and used. Observant tech nerds will note that in the past few years, I have barely used the generator, and am also slowly learning how to get the most out of the solar electricity that is produced, particularly in summer.

The newly planted fern gully is thoroughly enjoying the very wet conditions this year.
The newly planted fern gully is thoroughly enjoying the very wet conditions this year
I have completely given up on getting any apricot or mulberry fruit this year as the wet and cold conditions do not suit those fruit trees at all. Not all of the fruit trees are suffering though and the many citrus trees here are producing endless quantities of fruit:
The many citrus trees here are producing endless quantities of fruit in the very wet weather
Almonds don’t seem to be bothered by the wet or cold conditions either and the nuts are swelling on the trees. I will attempt to net this particular tree before the local birds crack all of the almond nuts open and eat the contents.
Almonds don’t seem to be bothered by either wet or cold conditions and the nuts are swelling on the trees
The cold and wet conditions have meant that the late flowering fruit trees have fared much better than the earlier flowering fruit trees. The quince trees continued to flower this week, but now the medlar fruit trees have also produced blossoms this week.
The medlar fruit trees have also produced blossoms this week
In breaking chicken news: Earlier this week one of the chickens produced a freaky large egg:
Earlier this week one of the chickens produced a freaky large egg
Which weighed in on the scales at 110g (3.88oz). Ouch!
The freaky large egg weighed in at 110g (3.88oz)
That poor chicken. Anyway, the freaky large egg ended up having a double yolk!
The freaky large egg ended up having a double yolk
The rhododendrons have started producing their flowers this week and I reckon they look great.
The rhododendrons have started producing their flowers this week
The rhododendrons have started producing their flowers this week
The Echium flowers are still continuing to provide food for the bees who have been unable to fly from their hive every day as they probably need to, because of the continuing cold and wet conditions.
The Echium flowers are still continuing to provide food for the bees
The bluebells are showing off their flowers this week too, and the next photo has a bluebell surrounded by sage leaves and an evening primrose.
A bluebell flower surrounded by sage leaves and an evening primrose
By sheer accident (as often happens here) I purchased a huge bulk pack of poppy seeds. As I walked out of the nursery, I thought to myself that that was an expensive purchase, not realising that the nursery charged me $30 for a small packet (which contained 1,000 tiny seeds). Anyway, I had 1,000 (!) poppy seeds and thought that that might have been a bit of overkill, as no doubt that it was. I threw some of the poppy seeds over one of the steep garden beds, and it now looks as if most of the seeds have taken…. Triffid alert!!! Run for your lives!!!!
Poppies have taken over this steep garden bed
Anyway, I enjoy densely planted garden beds as this next photo of another garden bed shows:
I plant garden beds very densely
I made a recording the other night whilst I was out supervising the chickens in the orchard of the bird songs and bird calls here. The recording goes for about 15 minutes and it has not been edited. I hope you enjoy the recording. It can be found at the clickable link here: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

The temperature outside now at about 8.45pm is 4.9’C (40.8’F). So far this year there has been 1,060.8mm (41.8 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 1,040.8mm (41.0 inches).

67 comments:

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Somehow . . . somehow . . . I just knew that the Bee Gees would figure into the next post . . .

So far, I have just skimmed through the photos. They are exceptionally interesting this time, from the Conquering Toothy who ripped that stump off of its base with his bare teeth (he's not "Toothy" for nothing) to the freaky egg.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

You do seem to be having some wild and changeable weather, more than I would have expected.

Love the photos as usual, particularly the waterfall. Your bluebell looks like a Spanish bluebell; they are interbreeding with our wild bluebells.

I am surprised that your lemons are okay while the mulberries are not. Here we can grow mulberry trees but not lemons. The mulberries were brought over by the Huguenot silk weavers when they fled France.

My home has an area of 442 sq.ft. so it is small.

@Lew

I have my teddy bear still, he is only 6 months younger than me and has only one eye. Shall let my descendents decide what to do with him as he has value. He is not a Stieff/Steiff? bear being English but is the first of his kind with his ear button and foot label.

Inge

W. B. Jorgenson said...

Lew,

I rather like your Universal Law of Stuff. It's very accurate, from what I've seen. However, I think it can be prevented by keeping an eye on how much you accumulate.

Chris,

Speaking from experience here: overheating a home can lead to insomnia. I know this because I figured out a long time ago I slept better if my window was open during winter. I always thought it was the fresh air, but I find I sleep really well in my currently unheated apartment without opening the windows. It's been raining a lot here lately and I don't want to deal with my stuff getting wet, so I've kept the windows closed, but I still sleep much better in ten degrees than twenty.

Will

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - You're bear might bring quit a bit at auction. I'm out of touch with the bear market these days. Back when i was in the tat business and bringing in stuff from England, I used to get the occasional Chad Valley stuffed, whatever. I particularly remember a really nice stuffed sailor doll. Most of my bears have been obtained, as an adult. When I was young, I yearned for a bear. At Christmas, all my older cousins got bears ... then my younger cousins. I got a ... wait for it ... a blue stuffed poodle. I loathed that thing. My first bear was a 1950s stuffed cotton panda. (Ted). I'd occasionally take him traveling with me ... head sticking out of my backpack. Shades of "Brides Head Revisited." :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ W. B. - "Stuff" is rather randy. Multiplies when your back is turned. :-). Yup. It's not only the holding onto that is a problem. It's stemming the inflow.

Thought of you the other day. I guess there's a yearly autism conference here. I don't think it's really "official", mostly parents that get together for mutual support. This year they had a speaker, a young man from Nevada. 27 or so. From what I could gather in the article, I guess he's gone from non verbal to high functioning, over the course of his life. He credits his parents for being "sensible."

They estimated that in our county with a population of 75,800, there are about 1,104 people of all ages on the spectrum. An estimated 267 under 18. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Sorry about the hay fever. No fun at all. All my life I've had this annoying nose drip, mostly in the morning. Mornings are spent with hot cups of tea, blowing my brains out of my ears. I think it's perhaps genetic. I remember my Dad having the same problem. Probably have some sensitivity to some food. Picked up a book from the library, recently, about elimination diets to figure out what to avoid. But is it really bad enough that I want to go through all that song and dance?

Soil building. Don't forget the mushrooms! Mushrooms and worms never sleep. :-). My worm box is so interesting to watch. It's slightly opaque, but I can put stuff in at one end, and it sits there, where I can see if for a few days. Then, all of a sudden the kitchen scraps disappear. And that end of the worm box sinks down quit a few inches.

Planting that many seedlings and then loosing them would just about do me in. All that effort and .... poof!

I still think fern gully needs a naughty gnome, or two :-). Or, maybe a green man, peeping out of the ferns. Speaking of ferns, those tree ferns (?) look positively prehistoric. We have many varieties of ferns, but I can't remember seeing any that look like those. I quit like our ferns and mosses. Such variety.

I still wonder if a fertile double yolk egg, left to go to maturity, would produce twin chicks? Inquiring minds want to know! I once set the library reference staff on that question and couldn't get a solid "yes" or "no" out of them.

We have quit a few waterfalls in this part of the world. I always think they're quit pretty. That one of yours looks like it would make a good swimming hole. At least, no crocodiles. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I was watching another entry in the Chehalis International Australian Film Festival, last night. "Last Cab to Darwin." Quit good, or, at least I liked it. An old duffer who has lived his whole life in Broken Hill as a cab driver discovers he had really advanced cancer. He hears that up in the Northern Territory that they are about to pass assisted suicide into law. So, he hops in his cab and begins to drive to Darwin. Life, the end of life and all the interesting people he meets along the way.

So, it's 8pm and I'm down to about the last 10 minutes of the movie and the power goes out! Luckily, I'd already had dinner. Read a bit, took a nap and it came back on about 3 hours, later. No wind or rain. I thought maybe someone had hit a power pole. According to the Net, this morning, something blew out in our local power substation.

LOL, I didn't realize it, as I don't pay attention to sports, but there was a Seattle Sea Hawks game going on. Judging from the comments, 1/4 of our county went crazy(er) than they usually are. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Now that you mention it, the first few eggs for the young birds are sometimes quite unusual aren't they? Yes, that was my thought too. Ouch.

Those costs for healthcare insurance policies are about what a person would pay down here, sometimes less, but sometimes more. Pharmaceuticals down here are purchased in bulk by the government and then on sold to chemists, so they are usually reasonably priced if they fall within the confines of that scheme. I have heard of horrendous charges for that Hep C medication, but from all accounts it is a life saver.

Fair enough, I guess it all depends on how heavy the seeds are for their dispersion. The Brassicas are very light seeds and they have little fluffy parachutes and so spread very widely. Of course the average soy bean is a bit heavier than that!!! Hehe! I had visions of the seeds falling from trucks around your area and then setting up shop in the nature strips? Dunno. I've seen that happen with grain trains.

Thanks very much. There are a lot birds enjoying the edible garden here! Mostly they are very pleasant company. Your bird CD for the local birds is a great idea and you are in good company as I keep a photographic field guide ready to hand in the bookshelves for that exact same reason.

As to the naming question. Such things are beyond my mind to grasp. Who knows why?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, those grapes, figs and olive cultivation took its toll on the soil from my understanding. I also wonder if they began cultivation of areas that otherwise would have been left undisturbed? Dunno. Being on the side of a hill such considerations are on my mind and I make changes slowly until I understand the consequences of those changes.

Did the Romans believe in life after death? Was it a consideration at all? Dunno. Given the care taken with the tombs. You know what? I'd be bored if I was me for all of eternity. :-)! That reminds me of the Mormon wedding the editor and I went to and there was a lot of talk about marriage for eternity. At one point I turned to the editor and jokingly said: I like you, but eternity is such a long time... Anyway, for the couple in question, it didn't work out so well and they separated after about four years.

Wow. It is interesting to read that such trade occurred. It would have been all rather very exotic. It is hardly surprising though that such things took place and the journey across land would have been arduous but not technically difficult. The journeys across the oceans would have been very problematic and uncertain. I often wonder how they managed the freshwater. By the end of the trip it would have been pretty nasty.

It has been a very long winter, but today is warmer at about 23'C (73.4'F) but the wind this year has been very persistent and strange. Yay for your sunny weather. Have all of the trees gone deciduous yet? Your part of the world is known for its gloomy weather. Sorry, but that is the perception.

Oh! Anxiety or panic attacks are not good. They can escalate many other health matters and to live with a low level of anxiety is not good for a persons health either. I'm not naturally an anxious person, but I do feel a little bit of minor unease during the bushfire season. But then the flip side of that is that I'm very much aware of being alive! Mate, that healthcare system sounds like a nightmare. Out of curiosity, why are they billing anyway? Wouldn't you pay at the conclusion of the procedure - that is often the case here, unless it is something far more complex.

Ha! Well, rejecting claims has a financial benefit for that company. It seems a bit like a conflict of interest? There has been an enquiry down here about a particular form of insurance because one provider rejected 37% of all claims and apparently they were very reluctant to disclose which one it was. Disclosure was voluntary. Nice for some...

Ouch! Yikes is right. Hey, two words... Good Luck! Well, you may have to pare back some of your goodies? When I travelled around the country for six months a long time ago, I just had a small hatchback. It is amazing how little you actually need when you get down to basics.

The flirtatious aspect would have been good for the author Rawlings. She was clearly far more clever than the editor Perkins.

Well done you for suggesting the credit union. Top work!

Thanks very much. It is totally feral out in the orchard. There are so many species and I don't believe that I recall the kookaburras laughing either that evening. The barking dogs are the wattle birds I believe. They've only moved up here in the past couple of years. They're very fast fliers. I would love to have a lyrebird (a bush turkey) which are the ultimate mimickers, but alas they died out here in the 1983 fires. I just hope the cockatoos don't pick up on some of the more colorful language I occasionally utter. Sorry to hear about the eagles. They really need very large and very old trees for their nests, plus they don't really enjoy torn up ground as they need larger prey. It'll come back in time. The trees really benefit from the eagles as they do a lot of birdie doo and that helps feed the tree massively. Squabbling and fighting seems to be the lot of the birds. They are very good at it from what I observe.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks very much for writing that and I am glad that you enjoyed it. You actually inspired me to take the time to record the bird calls, I wouldn't have thought of doing that, so thank you too. I sometimes find myself playing the audio in the background as I reply.

Ha! Really? I guess urban people do tend to think that the country is quiet. Maybe they are referring to human generated noises. The day and night in the country is full of bird and animal noises. I honestly have to be careful not to startle the wombats and wallabies at night as they get pretty grumpy and can vocalise their unhappiness. The wombats growl at me. They're not happy with my presence and at best tolerate me which is fine by me.

That sounds lovely, but seven hours of talking would exhaust me too. It was lovely that he made time for you too.

Oh yeah, if it works then that is cool by me. I probably would have let the neighbours know that it was happening so that they were not overly startled - and possibly more importantly, it didn't give them something to talk about for the next thirty years... Nobody needs that problem. The memories in the country are quite long from what I can see. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Will,

Yeah, it is a complex matter no doubts about it. You sort of have to understand and be honest (as much as you can anyway) with your own motivations before you can consider other peoples. I was wondering how you go with reading other people given your aspergers? I can tell peoples emotional states pretty quickly, although I rarely discuss the matter with them, it is not usually to their benefit I've found, but I use that to defuse or avoid highly emotional situations.

The interweb is a big problem. I lost a whole group of mates to world of warcraft and they disappeared for three years into it. I lost patience with that trip of theirs and three years is more than enough time to get over people. Well for me anyway.

No! Sending a text to say they had no way of getting in touch with you! That is funny. Hey, my gut feel tells me that they are actually annoyed that you are not using their preferred method of keeping tabs on you. Incidentally, I was told off on Saturday night for not being on Facebook... The dominant narrative is hard to fight grasshopper! Hehe! It is all very silly really.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Helen's dog BeeGee was a true inspiration! Plus, what a great soundtrack double album. Those guys rocked, plus there were all the other classics: Disco Inferno! Unfortunately, I recall when it was released too... Hehe! Pity about the film but then I was very young and the subtleties of that story were lost on me. I reckon a far better film which covered similar - but not the same territory - was: Silver Linings Playbook.

Haha! Do not attempt to snatch Toothy's dinner from his vice like jaws! You saw what happened to the tree stump. ;-)! I was mildly nervous the tree stump may have rolled onto him during that photo take.

Yeah, freak egg alert!

Hope you are starting to get some autumn weather?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The changeable weather is a bit more than I expect too. In two previous years we have had the tomato seedlings in by now. And last year, I could have had them in the ground by the start of the October. Extreme variability and the floods is really challenging agriculture down here.

Thanks very much. How good did the waterfall photo work too? The editor has a theory that it is because the falls take up two thirds of the photo? That is hardly surprising about the Spanish bluebells. I didn't know that but they are probably hardier to heat and dry than your variety.

It is weird now that you mention it. The poor mulberries - and there are many different varieties - look quite lacking in colour and the leaves are tiny. The ones down under were perhaps chosen for hotter and drier conditions - which they seem to thrive in.

Yes, extreme views can be used to justify all manner of unpleasantness. I had a mate many years ago who claimed descent from that group.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Will,

Thanks for sharing your experience and I much prefer cooler conditions than warm to hot.

Oh yeah, it would be hard to cope with extreme humidity, although my understanding is that your winters are drier than the ones here which can be over 90% humidity for many cold months on end. Is that how your autumn weather rolls?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks and sorry to read that you also suffer too. No doubts about it, but I sort of adapt to the circumstances. There are a lot of London plane trees in Melbourne and people would get very annoyed with me if I cut any of them down. It is a bit rough of them not to understand though! ;-)! It is really hard to know what is affecting you, there are just so many possibilities and it doesn't have to even be food, it could be environmental conditions, local bugs etc... You just don't know, it is much easier to deal.

Of course, the mushrooms are our friends, well as long as they don't try and poison us! Thank you for the correction, the fungi work hard indeed. I may have to do a blog with the title: Consider the Fungi? No, no! I will avoid the footnotes, I promise. :-)! Yeah, the worms and pretty much everything else in that worm box has a total feast on your kitchen scraps. The sewage system here does the same trick too with the assistance of the worms.

It was a bit disheartening I have to admit. But there are plenty of more tomato seedlings to go in.

Oh, the green man, of course! I may just track one down. The tree ferns get very tall given a couple of centuries of growth or so. I'll have to grab a photo of some of the older ones in very sheltered spots high up. They're quite impressive. It makes one wonder what sort of animals feasted on the fronds for them to have to adapt to growing that tall.

Wow. What a question. A local science dude who does a one hour science show on the national youth radio broadcaster Triple J answered that very question: Twin Yolks & Twin Chooks?. He says both yes and no!

I hadn't heard of that film, but will look it up. Thanks for the reference. The Federal Government over ruled the Territory (The Northern Territory isn't a state despite how massive it is) and the law got shelved. I reckon economics will ensure that that situation changes and in not too many years either.

No! You lost the power. I hope you had a chance to watch the last 10 minutes. Curious minds would like to know how it ended up? Glad to read that the power was restored. Yup. Substations are not dissimilar to the setup I have here with the inverter. Not much different at all really. They all have a finite life.

Sports are lost on me too. I used to be interested, but something had to be given away and that was one thing I gave up. What happened?

Cheers

Chris




orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am hoping that economics will cause the euthanasia laws to change in time for me to make use of eventually.

Have just received 4 almost identical letters from the Land Registry. I reckon that they are in a complete shambles. One of them had a weird address on it; thank heaven for rural postmen or goodness knows what would have happened to it. Have a meeting with my solicitor next week and hope to advance on the land question.

Haven't looked at the twin yolk thing yet but I had wondered and was going to ask my son if he knew.

@Lew

My teddy bear is a first edition 'Merrythought'. I have a white cat that is almost as old, it plays music if you squeeze it (imagine a modern toy functioning for as long as that!). I have been unable to find out anything about it, it has no labels.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Wow! Those poor chickens. It sounds really onerous and they are doing this constantly.

Inge

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris

BeeGee is honoured to be the inspiration for this week's blog title. She laps up any and all attention.

Well done for having extra tomato seedlings but how sad to have to do all of the planting work again. We are gearing up for a major planting push next week. The beds are almost ready, just need some top dressing and the last couple of frames set up for upwardly growing plants. The watering system won't be switched on until everything is ready. Even with full tanks we can't risk losing water. I'm very hopeful that our new garden will be successful this year but there are still lots of unknowns.

With our geese now kept out of our house yard the return of several varieties of clover amongst the grass is very noticeable for the first time in years. The house paddock must have been sown to a pasture mix before we bought the farm, which is 20 years ago now. I'm amazed that it has survived all these years through such tough seasons.

Allergies are the pits. I sympathize. We seem to be the permanent custodians of our younger daughter's cat and one of our closest friends starts spluttering, eyes streaming within minutes of coming into our house. Then there's the pollen and the dust on windy days and who knows what else that always seems to add to the misery.

We are off to our big smoke (Sydney) tomorrow to drop an American friend to the airport for her flight home. I like the trip through the Blue Mts but the city leg gets more and more congested. We have spent quite a bit of time in Sydney but mostly in the very inner suburbs. It's a tricky city to get to know.

Warm regards, Helen

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

How disappointing to lose all those seedlings!! I too always have more seedlings than I need for just that reason. I can give the extras away.

Toothy sure does look tiny compared to that post.

How many eggs are you getting now?

Margaret

margfh said...

Lew & Chris,

Speaking of sports, as some here may know the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time in over 70 years. To say it's crazy all over the Chicago metro area is an understatement for sure. I think part of this is because people are craving some good news - a few friends have stated that in fact. So the curse of the goat appears to be over. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Billy_Goat

All bars offering up specials i.e. free shots for every run - not sure how good of an idea that is.

I do go to one Cubs game each year - an annual family outing with my brothers. I must admit I've caught the fever a bit though I definitely would describe myself as a fair weather fan.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

You and your tree friends - and enemies - are so funny!

Why don't those stumps rot? Is it because of all that lovely eucalyptus oil? Oh, I wish I could smell the flowers.

We had a large oak tree fall last week and it got hung up in another tree, which always scares me. Pretty near the garden fence, but not too close. It actually came down all the way, on its own, a few days later. I have no idea why it fell in the first place; there had been no storm. Maybe it was sick.

We just harvested our turmeric. It was an extraordinarily large harvest. Now we are pedaling backwards to figure out why. Our sweet potato harvest needs a microscope, yet last year we did really well with them. They were given lots of composted horse/cow manure this year. The leaves were luscious. I think that might be the problem. Big butternut squash harvest. And I am still pickling peppers.

I was so sorry to hear about the dead tomato seedlings. That is such a blow. It happened to me one year when a mouse (that must have been one hungry mouse) ate all of the tomato seedlings, which were still in the house. Luckily, I was able to start up a new batch and get them out before the season was too far advanced. Which reminds me - our seasons still seem to be moving in about 2 weeks later than they used to. This has held true for about a year and a half. Perhaps your area is trending that way, too?

About sleep - I do know some people who only seems able to sleep if the room is warm and cozy. I like a cold room myself. We don't heat our bedroom in the winter and do use a window air conditioning unit in it at night in the summer when fans aren't enough. I think that maybe not enough physical activity during the day is a big cause of sleeplessness and, of course, health issues, like arthritis, etc.

The rough weather that you have been having is a shame. The waterfall is gorgeous, though.

Good for you - learning your solar lessons well!

Our wild mulberries are the remnants of a 17th century project to raise silk worms in the area. They have become well adapted after all that time. Whenever we find a baby one, we move it into the garden. They are now being trained as mulberry bushes, here we go 'round, as they were shading too many plants.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, as the Roman Empire banged along, more and more marginal land was put under cultivation. As the empire shrank, those were the first areas to be abandoned. Last in, first out. Roman north Africa was quit an agricultural garden spot. Due to Roman engineering and a slightly cooler and wetter climate, at that time.

Hmm. The Roman's concept of an afterlife. A real smorgasboard of beliefs. Hades, the Elysian Fields, the Underworld, Tartarus. Stuff imported from other cultures. But I guess the bottom line is that something lingered ... existed after death. There were taboos around death and burial. As in, no bodies could be buried within the walls of a city. Getting a body out of a house and out of the city had some pretty stringent rituals. They did have a concept of lingering shades, or ghosts. There were days where the vail between living and dead was very thin. Here's a pretty good overview. Scroll down to "Afterlife."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_funerary_practices#Afterlife

Roman maritime trade. The Med was pretty much a no go during the winter, due to weather. In the Empire, the season's first grain ships from Egypt and North Africa were met with much celebration. The Roman's had a huge port at the mouth of the Tiber. Ostia. The ruins are well preserved and extensive. Huge ships would be off loaded there, and shallower draft boats would travel up the Tiber to a large port area in Rome. Or, goods would travel over the roads from Ostia. In Rome, near the port area there is an entire "8th hill" made up of the go to shipping container of the time ... the amphora.

Shipping by water was faster and cheaper. There are huge Roman ports scattered all over the Empire. Alexandria. Caesara in Israel. There's been quit a bit of excavation at Caerleon in SE Wales. Another relatively undisturbed site. It was also the "home" of one of the three permanent legions, in Britain. Boy, that must have been a rollicking town :-).

Yup. Our trees have pretty much turned color and the leaves are coming off at a sharp clip. Given the wind we've had. Gloomy, yes. Keeps the tourists and day trippers, off. :-). Cliff Mass was saying that, for Seattle at least, it may be the wettest October on record. The record, for the month is 8.96 inches. Average is 5.53". A few days ago, they were at 7.38". Odd there hasn't been more flooding. I guess that's the difference between scattered rain and "all at once." Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, all the privatization isn't really noticed until you run up against it. And, I can't say it's really discussed much, except at the fringes of the media. And, old cranks like me grousing. :-). I think people just write it off as "That's the way things are." And, when you consider one in five Americans take some kind of mood altering drug ... well. Yup. It's pretty much a landslide of paperwork any time you get anything done medically. The hospital and clinic charges. Any doctor you've brushed up against. Anesthesiologist. Labs, labs and more labs. A snow storm of paper from whatever insurance program you're with. Mistakes are widespread.

LOL. Yup. You'd better be careful. You'll end up with a forest full of foul mouthed parrots. :-). It's always a temptation to teach a bird naughty behavior. But I think it's harder to think up something out of the ordinary or cleaver. My cockatiel used to skulk around on curtain rods muttering "Nevermore! Nevermore!" (Poe). And he performed the first couple of bars of the 1812 Overture. AKA, the Quaker Puffs cereal song.

Tell you the end of the movie? Spoilers! :-). Here, end of life assistance is mandated state by state. In our part of the country, Oregon passed it first and when the sky didn't fall, Washington State passed it a few years later. I'm glad it's in place. Watched a move last night called "Hi-Rise." From a novel by J. G. Ballard. (Empire of the Sun). It was written in 1975 and the film has a very 70s look. it's about this huge residential high rise. The higher the floor you're on, the more status you have. The proles on the lower floors get restless, the building starts falling apart and the whole thing descends into "Lord of the Flies" chaos. There's an early scene where the residents of the top floors have a Louis XVI themed costume party. If you have any sense of history, you know where things are headed .... Ballard had a genius for observing life as it was, whenever he wrote a piece, and projecting it into the future. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Never fear on that score. My gut feeling says that necessity will drive that change. When though is the real question.

It is an interesting question that land matter and it is an unknown process. All I hope for you is that you are not overly inconvenienced and are not out of pocket.

Oh yeah, that was one big egg. Did your son mention that he gets the occasional egg that big too? I must admit that I have not seen them that sized before. I rather suspect that we have been mucking around with the chickens genetic pool, but time will tell on that front. They are important creatures to humans.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

BeeGee is a truly lucky dog and thus we must allow her her occasional vanities!!! :-)!

You mentioned the risk of the frost. I have just not seen it here this late in the season. Lesson learned - tomatoes do not appreciate sleet! Who would have thought that would happen down here? I've read about uncertain cherry crops and certainly I'll be lucky to see a single apricot this season...

Good luck for switching on the water system and I hear you about that as you never know what the summer may bring. I can't take that risk either and I check up on the systems every day just in case.

The red clover is quite lovely and you will notice that the bees and other insects really enjoy the flowers too, much more than the dandelions. Yeah, I'll bet you see the occasional alfalfa too? I get vetch and sweet pea turning up in the strangest of spots and sweet pea is threatening to smother one garden bed. These pioneering plants are hardy as aren't they?

This year the continent is so green that, well, there is a lot of pollen in the air. When the winds blow in from the North west here, the air smells of dust, vegetation and earth to me. Do you notice that too?

Oh yeah, western Sydney traffic... Ouch! It was just never setup with the automobile in mind. But at least you have a train service to the airport unlike us more progressed people down here! ;-)! Hehe! Hope your friend enjoyed the visit?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

It is a bit of a shame really, but at least as you write there are spare seedlings. It is very wise to have more than you require with these natural systems, I haven't quite managed to convince myself that just in time is a good idea with natural systems. I will try and give the extra tomato seedlings away once I've done planting. Hey, another melon seedling popped up this morning... One can only dream! Melons are very difficult to grow here.

Yup! I'm glad the stump didn't roll onto Toothy during that photo. He is pretty fast though.

I'm getting between 8 and 10 eggs per day now from 16 chickens. How about you, have your chickens moulted yet? Actually do you over winter your chickens?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Go the Cubs! Well, hopefully the curse is broken? And it probably isn't a good idea, but it may get a bit of community going - which can occasionally be a rough and tumble business. Hopefully nobody is stressing too much about your up coming election as it may not matter as much as you believe it will. We had an election like that a few years back now and since then it has been turmoil and instability, but little change for the better.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Forests are fascinating places and the trees battle it out for supremacy and dominance. It is not the quiet and gentle place that people think it is, the speed at which it happens deceives us. Glad you enjoyed the story. I love writing fun stories and I wouldn't really cut the London plane trees down, well, maybe... Hehe!!!

The timber doesn't rot because the entire plant is alleopathic (funky word huh?) and it pretty much is engaged in chemical warfare with the rest of the forest. There are some introduced fungi which are starting to slowly speed up the decomposition process, but no doubt the eucalyptus trees will adapt in time. The timber is also incredibly hard and dense (650kg/m3) which is feral heavy and hard to cut and split. The early settlers despaired at the hardness of the trees.

Oh my! I'm glad to hear that the tree eventually fell of its own accord. Trees fall over when they are at the end of their life and that can be for all sorts of reasons. Here it is the calm days following big storms that the trees really surprise you by falling over. There could be ants consuming the timber? Did the root system come out with the tree?

Yum! Turmeric is great and so prolific. Nice to read of your excellent harvests. Sorry to read about the sweet potato. They do need a lot of heat and water at the right time too. I thought they enjoyed fertile soils? Dunno. Some manures like horse manure (mushroom composts) can contain antibiotics and anti worming agents which take a bit of a toll on the soil life, but it does recover after a year or two.

What? I never even thought of a rat or mouse eating them. The leaves are way toxic too. Yes, the growin season is definitely expanding at either end of the season. No doubts about it.

Fair enough. I enjoy the air being colder than hot at night, but as you correctly say everyone is different. If I have a very hard work day, I feel very hot at night and it takes a long time to cool down from that. No doubts that you are correct in that assertion.

Oh yeah, the weather - not so good - but the waterfall is really rocking! It has become quite the tourist attraction.

Thanks it takes a long time and experience to learn how to live with all of this stuff.

Ha! Do your mulberry bushes eventually produce fruit? It is very tasty and I have white, red and black mulberries here, although the black fruit seems to be the tastiest.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ouch. It makes you wonder whether the use of the marginal land had become a necessity because of population growth but also because of over use of more arable and fertile land? I get LIFO! ;-)! JMG once mentioned that the electrification of rural areas will follow a similar decline. I also noticed that as a young bloke, it was the young that got shelved in the recession of the early 90's. Oh, I didn't realise that North Africa had a cooler and wetter climate during the Roman era. Wow, I can't even begin to imagine what a failed harvest would have meant for the Romans... Ouch! Did they ever have the occasional famine? So many questions! :-)!

The Romans seemed to have been very adaptable and pragmatic when it came to adopting religious practices from within the empire. Fascinating and I wonder how the culture changed so radically? There must have a turning point in the culture where they took a more hardline and inflexible approach? I was reading about the Huguenot massacre in France way back in the day and intolerance seemed to be the order of the day.

Ship technology would have really given a leg up to an empire. I mean to be able to face really rough weather and survive at sea would have been quite the achievement. Ah, shallow draughts using the local rivers as a canal system. Of course, that would have been cheaper wouldn't it. I wonder how the Vikings managed such deep water travels and were also able to travel up rivers without putting holes in the hulls of their ships. It is a big call really.

SE Wales would be one wet area! Well, frontier towns have a certain feeling about them I guess. Were the Romans exporting wool and lumber from Wales? It seems a long way from the core of the empire?

Watch for those leaf change tourists as they drive both slowly and erratically. Not a good combination of skills in anyones books. Oh, that is a huge amount of rainfall in just a month. Still, records get broken and we seem to be heading into a warmer and wetter future... And windier too!

Old cranks like me too! I don't much like it as some services are provided because they are services, not because they are profitable. I suspect that the politicians have forgottent that they themselves do not produce a profit, unless of course someone wanted to pay for that circus and hot air? They may be rare commodities for all I know? Feel free to grump and I am with you in this matter!

Oh imagine the forest swearing at me... Yeah, I'd better watch what I say. Actually it may well be the next big tourist attraction? We may just about to make our fortunes with this idea? Imagine the surprise, but of course it would escalate and the parrots would have to become inventive... Hehe!

The sky rarely falls. I suspect the politicians don't wish to see these sorts of questions resolved as it would mean that they may actually have to get on and do real work.

Haha! That is funny - well it shouldn't be, but it is! I visited a shopping mall yesterday and I rarely see these places. I can well understand why George Romero chose the places he did. The faces and the emotional load of the place was mildly unsettling for me.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Sorry to jump into the comments so late in the game, it is possible I have not fully attended to everyones comments so far :p

@Lew
I second (or is that third?) the call that respects your occasional historical anecdotes. In fact I quite enjoy all of your comments, you have a dry wit that fits very well with the Australian mindset I think.

@Chris
I saw your comment on ADR re: Economics and inflation and decided to reply here because reasons. It reminded me of my very first economics lesson in high school: "The economy consists of limited resources and unlimited wants." A terrific example of the dangers of half truths no? All economists have it drilled into them that no human can ever be satisfied and will always want more! It reminds me of the great novel Dune, where the evil Baron Harkonnen tricks a noble Atreides mentat (a type of human computer) into working for him. A concerned aide asks about the risk and the Baron replies that a mentat is only as good as the data inputs he receives. He was half right and did indeed get some useful advice from the mentat, but (spoiler alert) his assumptions were flawed and it turned into a very messy end for him (and the empire!). I think these days more people see do the flawed assumptions built into economic models, but our selfless politicians still seems to think Homo Economicus is a reasonable proxy for Homo Sapiens....

RE: Grand Designs
Chris selflessly reminded everyone on another forum that a new series of Grand Designs is available. Thank you Chris! I just watched the first episode of season 17 where our heroes build a complex, cantilevered steel foundation house in the treetops. What a great way to end the day with a beer or two! I was immensely entertained and found myself loving the finished product, even though I really wanted to hate its unnecessary complexity and self-imposed difficulties. I did get a laugh from the solar panels which were 50% shaded in summer. Oh well, must look the part! Still, it would be a lovely place to live (and would want to be for 270,000 pounds + land).

@Misc
I was briefly mollified by a drop in humidity two weeks ago and the mornings were almost pleasant. It didn't last, the days are back to ~32 Celsius stinkers and 70%+ humidity :-( I find that if the nighttime temp drops below 24 I can sleep OK as long as the humidity is below 50%, otherwise it doesn't work. Like you (and others) I find a nighttime temperature around 12 degrees is much nicer. You can snuggle under a thick quilt and I sleep like a baby! I guess this is a good use for aircon, the locals seem to catch up on sleep at work after lunch :p

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yup! Grand Designs is the best. :-)!

Gotta go to bed, will chat tomorrow. Enjoy the beer. I had southern pulled pork tonight.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I'm getting about 5-6 eggs a day from 20 chickens. Ten are six months old so not all are laying, three are 1 1/2 and they are going through the moult and the others are 3-4 so only laying a few eggs. By over wintering do you mean preparing the coop for winter? If so the only thing I do is lay in lots of bedding, put in the heated base to keep water thawed and add an additional 3 hours of light.

People are quite stressed about the election and I think a lot of the Cubs hoopla is a distraction. Most just can't wait for it to be over. I do have a facebook account and there the political discussion can get pretty heated. I rarely post much but rather have an account as (unfortunately) it's the best way to communicate with some people. It's surprising how many don't check email regularly but are on fb all the time and it's not just young people either. I make it a policy not to respond to anything political. My sister who is a very active Libertarian says the best practice on fb is to keep it to pets and gardens.

Margaret

margfh said...

Lew,

Thank you for all the great book and film recommendations/reviews. I've added many to my list.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Did a couple of searches on E-Bay. Merrythought bears. These are bears that actually sold. A Merrythought bear from the 1940's, in good shape sold for GBP 320. One in poorer shape went for GBP 103. One in fair shape from the 1930s went for GBP 290. No joy as to stuffed white musical cats. Sometimes the search engines are pretty useless. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The Romans stumbled on a kind of genius. Instead of just conquering people all the time, they often offered citizenship, with all the benefits, first to the elite and then to the general population. They made it attractive to become a Roman. In the early days of the city of Rome, they welcomed outlaws and drifters into their city. They also seem to have been pretty color blind.

Roman merchant ships could be as long as 130' long and carry up to 440 tons. The grain fleet seemed to be smaller ships that carried 75 tons. Don't know why that would be. Maybe they didn't want all their eggs in one big basket?

Some of the things that Wales exported to Rome (off the top of my head) were slaves and dogs. And, there were extensive silver and tin mines. Thought you'd enjoy this. Check half way down the page ... the reconstruction of a Roman water mill to grind grain. It was near Arles, France.

http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/barbegal/

"Forest of the Foul Mouthed Parrots." :-). I'd make a day trip ....

Having worked in so many malls in my misspent youth, Romaro's "Dawn of the Dead" has always resonated with me. One of my favorite films. Off to the Little Smoke. Lew

W. B. Jorgenson said...

Lew,

Oh yes, keeping it from accumulating seems far harder than it should be...

My understanding is that there are very few organizations that official support, so it's probably parent run. It's weird to see, considering how many people view autism as this scary thing that ruins everyone's life, I'd expect there to be more support. And for the person in question: my experience is parents can help a great deal, or hurt a great deal. Supportive parents can make a huge difference, while more problematic parents can cause a lot of problems.

Chris,

Yes, know yourself before you can think of knowing anyone else, since if you don't know yourself you won't know your biases. And reading people is interesting for me. I can read my friends fairly well, but strangers... I have no clue a lot of the time. And, it's also worth mentioning I'm fairly open about being autistic, which tends to make people a lot more understanding of situations where I've missed something.

Yes, I've found a lot of people can't use it responsibly. I think I can manage it well enough, but I also know the temptation to just use it and ignore the world. I find that a lot less tempting now that means getting up, walking to the library, finding a computer, and using a library computer instead of my own.

Yes, I thought it was a joke, but later on talking to them I found out in at least one case it was serious. It's possible that is why, I doubt it though since I hardly used the site even when I had it beyond messaging people. I had and still have better things to do with my time.

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Along with others I am sorry for your tomato plants dying due to the unexpectedly cold weather. But I was surprised at the number you are growing. 100 tomato plants for two of you? I grow 20 plants and get more tomatoes than I can easily keep up with during July. That includes preserving some of the crop. And I'm more surprised that you have at least that many more seedlings. I usually only grow a few extra plants, because everything takes up space and I only have a limited amount of porch space in case of a cold night in spring. To each their own way of gardening, of course.

I'm not part of the medical insurance system here. In theory every adult under 65 is mandated to buy medical insurance from a private insurance company, either through one's employer as part of a group policy, or through a group plan run under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), or, if one has too much savings or income for the Obamacare plan(s) and no employer-sponsored plan, then one has to contract with an insurance company on one's own. But there is an out. If one has excessive savings and/or income for Obamacare but insufficient for purchasing a plan on the open market (the plan's monthly cost is more than 8% of monthly income), then one need not purchase insurance and does not have to pay a federal tax penalty either. And if one could buy an insurance policy but doesn't want to, paying the federal tax penalty is cheaper than buying insurance until income level gets quite high. As a result there is a good-sized chunk of folks in the US, including Mike and me, who don't have policies. We can't afford a policy on our income and we have too high savings to buy a policy under Obamacare. But I'd choose not to buy a policy and pay the penalty if our income were higher. The policies are crappy (we'd be out thousands of dollars before insurance would kick in a single dollar), the paperwork is monumental as others have noted, and I don't trust MDs to have my best interest at heart or give me the best care I could get even if I wanted to pay their absurdly high office visit charges. I've learned how to take care of any of the little illnesses Mike and I may contract, and we do our best to avoid excessive risk. I'm not sure what we'll do in two years when Mike is eligible for Medicare (the program for folks aged 65 and over). I'll need to do research as to what it covers and what it requires. I've heard that being a non-compliant patient (not being willing to do everything the doctor says) can mean some issues in getting one's care covered. Yes, I have a very poor view of the medical "care" system here. It's a disservice industry IMHO.

If we weren't getting off and on showers this afternoon I'd be out planting garlic. Probably I'll plant it tomorrow. The area for it is prepared and ready. Unlike in the Pacific Northwest, the leaves have only just begun to turn color here because of the very warm autumn weather we've had. Most years peak color would be ending about now, yet color is just starting this year. The next week is supposed to be warm too. Frost? What's that? ;)

Claire

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

:-)!

That is the basic economic problem really and it is built into the resulting theory. And, well, it is kind of wrong... Or at least impossible to ever achieve or prove. Hey, I really enjoyed the Dune story you shared. Thanks for that. Nice one. The main consideration of economics is that we are somehow in competition for scarce resources, but we could actually manage our resources cooperatively if we so chose. It doesn't have to be the way it is, just because someone tells you that that is the case.

Oh. It is the best. Been watching for about a decade and a half now and really love that show. And yeah, that build was amazing. He has (or they have) a knack for selecting the very quirkiest builds nowadays and it is great to see. All the solar panels out there in the world will make exceptionally good roofs for chicken coops in the far distant future. Any shading at all kills the performance of a solar panel... Antenna's, heater flues, chimneys, trees, you name it! How they produce anything at all in winter at that latitude is way beyond my understanding. Still, as you say, we must maintain appearances, stiff upper lip and all that gear! :-)! We took 18 months start to finish here to build but only contracted out the electrical, plumbing (both of which we had too) and earthworks.

Sorry to hear about the heat and humidity. It does me in too, so I hear you. Of course the siesta is an option during the hot afternoons for those types of climates. Hey, it didn't rain here today (well it did last night) and the sun shone. I now have four melon seedlings (Sweet Siberian) growing. One can dream of home grown melon fruit!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

20 chickens is a good number of birds to maintain and you are doing very well with your egg count for the autumn season. Oh yeah, point of lay is a description and not necessarily a reality! ;-)! Hehe! Some of the heritage breed chickens here require up to a year or so before they begin producing eggs. Thanks for the explanation of your winter preparations. Interesting. The light would seriously assist with egg production and the birds would be unaffected by three hours. Your winter days would probably be shorter than here and with lots of twilight so I get that. The extra bedding straw is a very good idea to keep the birds warm. I do that too and over July and August, and the chickens enjoy a good quantity of dry bedding straw. I can just purchase bales of sugar cane mulch cheaply which is a very good product, but wouldn't want to have to think about how to provide for the dry straw from here as it would be quite a complex task. Not impossible, just very complex.

Go the Cubs! :-)! There is a lot of hot air and I try hard not to add additional heat to that already over heated atmosphere of politics. Well, that is very true as email has sort of become a mode of business communication. Facebook on the other hand is generally for more mature people such as ourselves, whilst the kids are on Instagram and Snapchat from what I understand, although I have not used or am on any of those social media sites. I just can't be bothered. The Libertarians are an interesting bunch and I sort of understand and agree with many of their perspectives, but at the same time feel that people require basic protections from predatory practices. I'm not sure how many Libertarians would be comfortable with the concept of asset seizures and criminal charges against corporations and their directors who misbehave in a criminal way for example? Like everything it is a complex matter and nobody ends up happy with the result, which probably means that it is the best middle ground.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hope the drive into the little smoke was uneventful. The poor King Parrot, I'm out with the chickens at the moment and I accidentally startled the bird. For some strange reason the bird has taken to consuming the stems and leaves off one of the many geranium species here. It is a very unassuming plant, so who knows what the parrot is consuming. At first I thought that the King Parrot was a strange red flower and then I went to check it out... Well, what a hullabaloo! Anyway, the parrot is now glaring at me from the safety of a nearby and very large tree...

They really did stumble on a form of genius with that policy. I first read about that policy in the Annie Hawes book who mentioned that the ancient Romans adapted the local hunting God in that area to a form that resembled their hunting God and pretty much everyone was happy with the result and readily adapted to the change. I doubt very much that the local spirits were offended in the least at the change as the traditions continued and nobody got their noses out of joint. I do wonder at the sheer insecurity on display from all of these prophetic religions these days. Clearly they do not enjoy the competition, but every time I consider the problem, I keep coming back to Zaphod's private brain care specialist who said of him: He's just this guy, you know. Very cool and very superior! Alas if only we could all be so cool. :-)! And don’t mention the rabid atheists…

Of course, the whole colour blind thing is very sensible. I was reading today about the New Zealand Maori's who were only allowed to fight for the English from the first World War onwards and they achieved a formidable reputation which apparently exceeded that of the Nepalese Ghurka's. Of course the text was written by a New Zealander who saw the aftermath of that war as a child and so was perhaps biased? Dunno. It is an interesting tale and I am very grateful for the reference.

Oh yeah, I would have wanted to break up the fleet too into smaller ships merely for strategic reasons. The current super container ships are monsters and very easy targets for nefarious individuals and groups. I would not pursue that particular strategy, but that is me.

That is not what I would have considered to be an export business at all from Roman Wales. Timber, yes, but slaves and dogs? It sounds all quite strange to me. I'll bet the Romans had a hard time capturing slaves in that damp and far flung country... Of course, silver and tin mines I get that. Yup, that makes sense. I guess silly actions would have turned many a free person into a Roman slave?

Thanks for the link and I'll check it out once I've finished with the replies.

Those naughty parrots. It's their fault, they started it!!! Hehe!

The film is a ripper. John Carpenters remake scared me silly. My mind is not made for horror films like that one. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Glorious sunny day here. I am being given letters from every address that I have ever lived in. This is the Land Registry driving me nuts. They say that they do this to prevent fraud. It seems more like a means of encouraging fraud. Appointment with my solicitor next week thank goodness. The complexity of modern life is ridiculous.

It appears that people are being chucked off some doctor's registers if they haven't been seen for 5 years. From which one assumes that getting sick has become mandatory.

I don't think that I ever have more than about 20 tomato plants. This is quite enough in a normal year. In a disastrous year like this one, unlimited plants wouldn't have made any difference.

@ Lew

Thanks for bear sales info. I had better leave a note for my descendants so that they don't just chuck him in a bin. He wears clothes so looks like new where he has been covered.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Will,

Thanks for the explanation. I see way too much. The world is a very noisy place for me! :-)! Oh well, anyway, when I come across people with your attributes, I tend to assist them with navigating the world and smoothing out misunderstandings with other people. But I definitely set firm limits under the conversation when they go on for too long, and then gently steer the conversation onto other topics, but by and large it is mostly appreciated - although to be honest I do get the occasional stunned look from the talkees (I just made that word up) when I do that. Hehe! The movement of conversation in a group is almost like a flow, but it also takes the form of an energy and it can be managed for everyone's benefit. Hope that makes sense?

It sounds like you have found a happy balance for yourself with the library access to the internet. That sounds to me a bit like the choco-holics solution of only consuming chocolate when they have to go out of the house to purchase it, rather than having a massive stash in the kitchen cupboards. Accepting limits really is a freedom, although we are told all the time that it is not. A bit of a shame that.

Oh no! I thought that it was a joke too. Alas, irony is a difficult thing for some people to comprehend! Hey, they were serious when I was being told off for not using FB too... Exactly and spot on with the use of your time. I know of a lot of people that claim to be busy, although I am frankly unsure about what they mean - although I reckon I can take a fair guess. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you very much for saying that. It was quite the shock to have such a late frost, preceded by such a heavy rain. Alas for the poor tomato seedlings... We do consume a lot of tomatoes and then there is the dehydrating machine which eats more than both of us combined, but later provides tomato chips for a huge chunk of the year! Plus the passata. I hadn't mentioned that we are trying to harvest perhaps about 220 pounds of fruit this season. It is perhaps a bit ambitious but not impossible. The dogs are currently harassing me to eat my paella which is dinner and that has tomatoes in it!

Space is not an issue here and I can sort of keep extending and expanding the garden areas as needs be. Of course, spring here is not usually as cold as this year so even I would appreciate your porch space for the growing of tender seedlings. I'll include a photo of the seedling area which is inside the house for the next blog and that should clarify the issue a bit. You may be interested to know that the seeds that I saved from last season have a much higher germination rate than commercial seedlings – which were purchased from a very reputable supplier. The tomato seedling tub looks like a mini forest... Plus, I reckon we now have about four or five cold tolerant melons - which I have an absolute determination to grow. I'm not sure whether they were from the seeds I saved last season, but I do hope so. Fingers crossed...

Thank you very much for the clearest explanation that I have read so far. 8% of monthly income is quite a considerable burden. And of course insurance is there to mitigate risk, it doesn't actually make the risk go away, it just makes the financial consequences easier to cope with. Well, doctors are human and they make mistakes. It wasn't until my third visit to the local doctors that they told me that I could get the benign tumor on my head removed - which they did promptly for about $70 using dry ice. The thing fell off last night too which was a mildly creepy experience. The medical profession is perhaps a little bit insecure about other modes of healing and I get that, although it is an unfortunate response. We made the mistake once many years ago about mentioning the use of the herb feverfew occasionally to a doctor and the telling off was a little bit over the top and we felt as if we were in primary school again. It is professional capture and I get that as turf wars happen. The low rates of returns on financial instruments is also causing a massive under funding of insurance companies who have become, well, used to enjoying a certain financial surplus which is not there anymore.

Haha! Frosts! That was very funny. I wish your garlic a good winter chill and then a prolific spring and early summer. Actually I haven't lifted the garlic here for a few years now and it is producing a little forest of green shoots in several spots and the soil positively smells of garlic. It must release some potent chemicals from the root systems... You seem to have taken our warmth this year! ;-)!

The potatoes are now all sprouting green leaves and I'm considering removing some of them and piling on more manure. It may be a big crop. And I spotted the very first tiny green cherries tonight in the orchard. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris (and Damo)

You've struck another nerve (bee in my bonnet) with the economic needs/wants statements. I see both of those terms as concepts in themselves, which have many components or elements. Wants can belong to the same kinds of arrangements as needs in that they are both economic/social/cultural? What may perhaps be seen to separate them are the values/interests binary offered by ADR? However, wants and needs intertwine for me with desire, not an endless desire for what we might be seen to lack, always wanting/needing more, so to speak but desire as productive and creative. So here is a twist from the negative to the positive. And might not wants/dreams drive innovation just as much as needs. In green terms of course, stepping outside of the worst aspects of the current system? Anyway, this is probably irrelevant to your thinking so feel free to ignore my thinking.

Our American friend came in an attempt to create a life here but she is in her fifties and a fibre artist so not seen as a valuable economic migrant. She lived between our farm and the Blue Mts which she regards as her spiritual home, for the last nine months. It was sad to see her go but that's just the way the world is at the moment.

I don't know how you mow only once in a season, Chris! Seriously! I am excited and terrified by the growth. In terms of actual weeds, one of our fence lines could probably be seen in terms of the the serrated tussock along it using google earth and this is after years of working, fairly successfully, to contain it on the upper areas of our farm. It's a rather dark example of fences and the edge effect in permaculture. I get cross about notifiable weeds because we haven't ever planted any of them (she says in a quiet and considered tone).
You can tell I have spent four years eradicating heliotrope (a notifiable weed here) out of one of our gravel walkways.... Digging, boiling water, more digging and every time I think it's gone several more parches pop up and poke their tongues put at me.

Warm regards, Helen

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ W.B. - The book on hoarding I'm reading is pretty interesting. Most people have a ... relationship to objects, but in the case of hoarders, it's over the top or runs out of control. They seem to attach more meaning to objects than the general run of the population. Some of it is perfectionism ... being afraid of making the wrong decision. Sometimes it's the fear of waste. But it extends to items which have NO value at all. There's information junkies (guilty, here :-). It's all pretty complex. Different causes of hoarding, sometimes mixed up together, in various intensities.

I think I'm pretty good at spotting people on the spectrum. Although the fact that so many American's are doped up makes it a bit difficult. I'm pretty sure The Warden at The Home I may be moving to, has at least aspergers. Also one of the building heads at one of our branch libraries. Usually my first tip off is them not getting some small joke I make (or, maybe I just tell bad jokes). A slight ... effectionless or flat feeling to our interaction. There's probably other clues I'm unaware of on a conscious level.

A few years back I ran across someone I knew in college. We reconnected, briefly. It's a long story, but somewhere along the way he had run across Joey. A much younger man who decided John was his new ... parent? Joey's autism is pretty severe. He's mostly nonverbal, at least with people he doesn't know well. When he meets someone ... at least someone who John seems to accept, he'll take a hand and put it to his cheek. I'm sure that startles a lot of people. Me? Naaaw. John is apologizing all over the place and I just stated that I didn't find it a big deal, and that, I may be wrong, but I think Joey was just trying to "catch a vibe." No big deal. That seemed to smooth everything over. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Like the road, the book list winds ever onward. :-). Too many books (and films) and too little time. Oh, my. I just picked up a book from the library. What a doorstop. Over 600 pages. "Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula." He was rather a mysterious figure. A very public man, but didn't leave much of anything behind of a personal nature. I guess new documents have been discovered along with a trove of unpublished fiction. Lew


@ Claire - Medicare puts out a yearly free booklet, but it's pretty "dense." I found "Medicare for Dummies" to be good. Make sure you get the most recent edition. They update every year or two. Watch out for that "free", Welcome to Medicare initial checkup. Having not seen a doctor in over 15 years, I wanted to bring my vaccinations up to date ... and there was a doctor ordered lab test they didn't want to pay for. So. I appealed, and, of course the private appeal company rejected it out of hand. Could have fought it, but the lab bill was wending it's way toward collections. They wanted payment in 15 days. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Do Not Disturb the Parrots." :-). It's interesting what animals snack on. Nell often munches a bit of grass. But, occasionally I'll see her sampling a fern or a leaf or two off the ornamental barberry. Some of it's probably curiosity. But I think there may also be ... medicinal aspects in play. An instinct as to something missing from her diet.

The Romans were also smart as far as axillary troops went. You have an area, say, in what is now Austria that has recently been absorbed into the Empire. There's lots of young men about who are at loose ends and have too much time on their hands. So, you raise a military company, either volunteer, or not. Then you ship them off to, oh, say Britain. The axillary troops were attached to legions. Sometimes, they had special skills. Archers or horseman. Other times, they were just boots on the ground. That policy defused a lot of tension, around the Empire.

Sometimes the Romans seem so alien from us. Then you run across something and think, "Not so different. Here's something I ran across, but I don't know if it will link, or not. It's a small picture off of Twitter. It comes from a Classics / Archaeology site. So, I've never tried to cut and paste a Twitter link, before, so I don't know if this well work. it will pluck your heartstrings and it's family friendly. No "winged willies" as Prof. Mary Beard likes to say. :-). I think (know) that the good professor has a bit of a naughty streak. Lew

https://twitter.com/latinategua/status/790633906395545600

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

Oh my it is very complicated isn't it? I heard on a podcast a long time back that someone read a bumper sticker that said: "How would you know if you've had enough?" And it is an awesome and complex question and I reckon that is where the values come into play. Of course, I hadn't considered that, but producers have different perspectives to consumers. My head is starting to spin! :-)!

Sorry to read that your friend did not get a residency visa. That would have been hard on both of you. Our immigration laws and policies are very strange things.

The wombats, wallabies and kangaroos all do a great job most of the year keeping the grass down and it is only about this time of year that the grass gets away from them. In a perfect world, I'd keep the grass long over high summer as that would help shade the top soil and retain moisture, but alas I exist in a world where mistakes happen and arsonists are a reality, so I will chop and drop the lot over the next few weeks. But it is only a once per year job.

The serrated tussock appears to be a pretty tough plant! I have seen signs for this plant but haven't seen it around here. I'd probably just chop and drop it if I ever spotted one anyway. I do hope that you find your fence again in all of the plant! Ouch. You can't even burn the stuff off or you'll risk losing your fence. The notifiable weeds is a nuisance because plant seeds blow in, the birds drop them in, or even the occasional kangaroo will deposits seeds. There isn't much you can do other than chop and drop them. Nature is constantly on the move!

Wow! I've never seen that heliotrope plant. It has quite attractive flowers, but some people seem to have very nasty reactions to the plant... It makes for an unpleasant guest. Pathways are the hardest. I tend to run the electric line trimmer over the pathways from time to time. Some of the plants growing there are very useful though and I noticed some herb Robert and also a perennial rocket growing in one of the paths and just relocated them.

The apples are flowering today in the superb spring conditions. The skies were clear and there was not even the slightest hint of a breeze and the air temperature was only about 16'C. We set off two bonfires today because the conditions were perfect. I'm still cleaning up the logging left overs and probably will for the next twenty years...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, I find hoarders fascinating. Of course as a comparison I am a neat freak which is mainly due to the fire risk here more than an underlying desire to be neat. ;-)! Anyway, hoarders are just very extreme, but I reckon there is something in what you say about the perfectionism - this is of course an unrealistic goal, but in the long distant past I have been subject to the whims of one who took that goal seriously... It was an unpleasant clash of cultures.

Sorry, I realise you are writing to Will, but it is a very interesting topic. Yes, I agree with you that it is the little jokes which just seem to get no response which is a major indicator. Generally people who don't find your jokes funny give you a withering look, or they acknowledge that you are being ignored deliberately. All of those are valid responses. Of course, your humour is quite good and so those responses are perhaps not valid. The other thing I note is that the individuals lack a certain ability to be able to tell when the conversation has passed them by. And I always try and assist people with that particular matter when it happens. Most people are pretty forgiving.

The unfortunate King Parrot was disturbed! ;-)! Alas for the bird, it is not very King like behaviour. I may have to teach the bird some naughty words in exchange for parrot treats? Wouldn't that be fun for visitors? :-)!

Cats can be a bit dodgy after consuming grass and they can regurgitate the contents of their stomach along with some tasty morsels of chewed up grass. But no doubts you are correct, the animals know best. Sir Scruffy sometimes eats chunks of top soil from a particular spot. But a mates very young children did the same thing here many, many years ago now. There are a lot of minerals in the volcanic loam here and I recycle every chunk of organic material that ends up here into the top soil. It is kind of amazing when you think about the sheer volume of minerals that are shipped around the globe and fed to us in our food stuffs.

Oh, speaking of which, I changed the dogs brekkie food now to 50% vegetables and 50% rice and they love the stuff. They get a bit of commercial dog food rubbish chucked in plus a couple of eggs so they're not complaining. I sort of watch them to see what reactions they have to the stuff I feed them and then change the recipes accordingly. The dog biscuits they get now are gourmet plus! Seriously, sometimes I find myself grabbing one of them. They have: rice; vegetables; oats; flour; eggs; olive oil; coconut; sultanas; and sunflower kernels. It is a bit too good for them...

The Romans were very clever in mixing their troops and also employing idle hands. It is an expansionary policy to be sure. The British copied that particular policy too.

The dog marble art work was fantastic. Thanks for sharing it. It looks like Scritchy does it not?

The weather has been superb here today so I got stuck into cleaning up the old logging and it sort of feels pretty good doing that. How someone could get a tree stump completely upside down and half buried is well beyond my understanding. Orcs and trolls would probably do that trick... Mind you, they probably used a bulldozer and chains?

Hey, I installed the new upgraded water pump this afternoon. I'm in the process of testing how to get the best out of the various water systems here. It is complex and promises as to how things work rarely match the realities.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to read of your land legal troubles. We have pretty much the same system here and it is unnecessarily complicated and very expensive to boot.

I had to go to the doctors this morning to get the thing on my forehead checked up on since it fell off a few days ago. It wasn't too bad an experience but there are many unknowns with the spot just as there are in life. The doctor asked me whether I used sunscreen as a young child and I just looked at her and said, they didn't have sunscreen back then... You know you're getting old when... :-)!

Of course, a bad summer for you would be not good so that makes sense. A bad summer for me means hoping that I have enough water to last until the rains return.

Cheers

Chris



Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The big oak that came down did still have its roots; the soil around them was very dry, however. We have had very little rain the last half of the summer and early fall. This has made us a bit nervous and we are now watering the biggest trees near the house. Some of these 100-footers are within 8-12 feet (2.4 - 3.6 m) from the house. Bad idea, but mighty nice shade.

We are going to prune the mulberries next spring to turn them into bushes, so I don't know yet how well that works. There is one that I have been pruning pretty severely for a couple of years and it seems fine. The wild mulberries transplanted to our garden are red, but I have seen white ones growing wild, though not lately or I would have "captured" some. I wonder why - since we still have mulberry trees around - there seem to be no silkworm survivors? I haven't found one and I used to collect (already dead) moths.

I have some baby lettuce growing in a container on the porch (as well as what's in the garden; I always try to hedge my bets). The other day my son saw a chipmunk sitting right on them. No wonder they look so sickly . . .

@ Lew:

The Twitter link certainly did work. That's really touching. I'm with Chris - I thought the dog looked Scritchy-like, too.

Thanks for the heads-up about the "free" Medicare check-up. Snares at every step along the path.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

@ WB

I think that we are getting too great a bias towards the disadvantages of being on the autistic spectrum. I agree that there are social problems but set against that is the ability to concentrate on one thing. I would guess that many of the great scientists etc were on that spectrum. I have a friend with Aspergers who is completely hooked on railway timetables, the amount that he carries in his head is astounding.

This raises a thought in my head. If one has a child on the spectrum, is there any way of steering the potential for obsessional interest on to something very useful for the child's future? What dictates the lifelong interest, is it pure chance? Is there just one vital moment when something sticks?

Inge

SLClaire said...

@ Lew, thanks for the recommendations on reading material to learn about Medicare! I'll put them on my list to read.

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Opening a whole can of worms, here. :-). Bumper stickers. My friend Scott has one on his car that says "It's Not Them!" I think he ordered it made. LOL. Next up .... T-Shirts! Those things are clever for about a hot minute and then ...

Lots of news from the natural world, today. Noticed a new book on the list at the library. Did you know your trees are talking about you behind your back? :-). "The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World." Wohllenben, 2016. Not many copies and the hold list is already VERY long. So, it's on my "check back in 6 months" book list.

I got a catalog from the Fungi Perfecti people. www.fungi.com. You might want to check it out. Apparently, with the help of a bee keeper / entomologist, Stamets has developed something called "BeeFriendly" (TM) out of mushrooms. It supposedly extends the life of worker bees. They are also studying if certain mushroom concoctions can help eliminate Varroa destructor mites. "We are studying mycological solutions to increase longevity, reduce mite and viral burden and improve immunity of honey bees." I hope they pull it off.

The library has also got the film you mentioned, "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." The list is not too long, so I should get to see it in two or three weeks.

LOL, I seem to remember as a very small child sampling some dog biscuits from a broken bag at the grocery store. And, by the way THE GREAT PUMPKIN HAS FINALLY LANDED AT THE LOCAL SAFEWAY!!! The pumpkin ice cream, is in. From a small outfit that appeared in the store a couple of months ago. Umpqua Ice Cream. Apparently a rather small (in comparison), family run dairy in S. Oregon that has been in business since the 1930s. Besides the savory swirl of pumpkin flavoring, there's a white swirl that I thought was vanilla ice cream. Nope. Marshmallow. And, in a stroke of genius, they got little sweet bits of pie crust, scattered through. Just to keep you digging in :-).

The Roman army seemed to operate under the motto of "Idle hands are the devil's playground." I forget which British city it was, but recently a marble plaque was found that states the Legion ... whichever had rebuilt the town gate. In the early Empire, when the legion was on the march, they could throw up a marching camp in an afternoon. Complete with defensive ditch and wooden palisade.

I thought you'd like the little doggy tombstone. I've seen quite elaborate ... monuments to Roman dogs, sometimes entirely sculptured in the round. But nothing that caught the ... aliveness like this little plaque. It's like a quick sketch. The artist was truly gifted. You can almost tell the pup was some kind of terrier (?). Lively, smart and maybe, occasionally naughty. "Darling Metilianus" was clearly loved and missed. Some Roman art was so-so. But then every once in awhile you run across something that is startlingly modern. The Mona Lisa of Saphora, The Fayum mummy portraits. Realism you wouldn't see again for another thousand years. Lew

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fayum_mummy_portraits




Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam and Lewis,

Thanks for the lovely comments, however I am unable to respond tonight and promise to respond tomorrow. Usually, I don't provide a reason for not responding - for good reasons too. However, today I jumped on the bus (no trains this month) into the big smoke for the Green Wizards meetup. It was a whole lot of fun and good company. Tonight I have to head out to the local Fire and Friends social bash at the nearby hall. It is the big fund raiser for the local volunteer fire brigade and is possibly also the biggest social event in the calender for people living up here. Plus the editor managed to score a vegetarian hamburger last year with bacon! It was apparently quite tasty!

Gotta run and we shall talk tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I have had a bumper sticker on whatever I drive for 25 years (every now and then I have to make a new one) that says: SEE PAST WHAT YOU SEE. It is not actually meant to refer to the beater that I drive, though it certainly can apply there, too.

I just got my Fungi Perfecti catalogue, too.

I've learned more about the ancient Romans from you than I learned in all of my school days.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

You live in a social whirl! Fire and Friends sounds like such fun.

Today is the one-year anniversary of when I first started my sourdough starter - and it's still going strong!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I thought you'd be off to the Green Wizard meeting. Especially since you didn't get your "fix" last month. :-). And a souree at the fire hall. As I was joking with a friend, my life is just a social whirl! What with, usually, one trip to town a week and one meeting. But, I AM off to an auction, this morning. A couple of things online, I want to bid on. Finger's crossed. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

The thing with trees is that it is all a compromise and there is no getting around that. But then it is like everything really in that there are risks and benefits and you just never know the outcome until it has happened. My understanding was that oaks were very long lived, but I may be incorrect in that assumption? Dunno.

You may be interested to know that the dry soil under large trees is not necessarily a bad thing. Very large trees tend to compact the soil underneath them because of the sheer weight and mass of the tree and so the soil gets very dry and very solid. If a tree falls over here, it brings the clay up with the root system. I don't really know, but it is probably a good thing that the soil is dry underneath a tree because damp soil would speed up the actions of any possible plant pathogens. But then I'm with you with the watering regime so as to keep the tree and soil healthy, I'd probably keep the water to the drip line of the tree though and not up against the trunk. My thinking with that is that it will keep the side feeder roots strong and healthy and perhaps assist with keeping the tree vertical. Did the tree that fell over show any signs of distress in the leaves or even die back on some of the upper branches?

A lot of people around here tend to plant cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) hedges as a wind break and those trees have a lifespan down under of about 120 years. Those do tend to fall over at the end of their lives. I've never seen an oak tree fall over down here and so always assumed they have strong tap roots, although I don't really know.

Yup, the summer shade is worth the risk. The fire risk here means that it is better if the trees are further removed from the house. Oaks have a lot of side branches too so that may lessen the impact if it was to unfortunately fall over. But it does depend on the oak species. We generally have English Oaks growing down here, but I have seen some old cork oaks growing about the place and for some reason there is a preference for pin oaks in this mountain range, although I am unsure why?

That is a shame about the silk worms and the white mulberries. I'm not sure I understand why, but for some reason the mulberries down under seem to be grown in warmer and drier areas than here. The fruit is quite tasty isn't it and you will never see it for sale? I grow mostly black and red mulberries but the white berry is still readily available in plant nurseries. I will be very interested to read how your mulberry trimming experiment goes in the future, but many plants respond well to a good prune. Some people here grow them as a weeping shaped tree.

Ouch! What a naughty chipmunk to squash your late season lettuce! I hear you though, the wallabies are only too happy to jump into the raised garden beds to eat whatever takes their fancy and in the process squashing many of the plants, and there is no consideration as to their future meals...

Fingers crossed, we planted out a complete replacement of tomato plants this afternoon... Every single one of the seedlings died. Also I planted about a dozen gooseberry cuttings in the tomato enclosure. Yum! It may be a bit too late in the season, but we shall see.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I do realise that you were conversing with Will, but I recently came across this quote in Michael Lewis's book the Big Short and thought that that may help you understand and it will perhaps give you an answer to your question which you posed to Will, and also some information for Will:

"Asperger's kids can apply tremendous focus and ramp up knowledge of a subject in which they have an interest very quickly, often well beyond the level of any peers. That ego-reinforcement is very soothing, providing something that Asperger's kids just do not experience often, if at all. As long as the interest provides that reinforcement, there is little danger of a change. But when the interest encounters a rocky patch, or the person experiences failure in the interest, the negativity can be felt very intensely, especially when it comes from other people. The interest in such a case can simply start to mimic all that the Asperger's person was trying to escape - the apparent persecution, the misunderstanding, the exclusion by others. And the person with Asperger's would have to find another interest to build up and maintain the ego."

Certainly I have met a few people who correlate to that description and I am always very gentle with them because they appear to me to be lost in a world that is sort of hostile to them – which it perhaps is. But then I also set hard limits on them so that they do not go on overly long - especially in a group setting. That can indeed be the cause of their sense of exclusion from what I have seen of their interactions. They just do not read other people well at all. But then the reality is that there is a place in the world for people with that particular outlook on life, they just need to find it. And it may be your job to shepherd them into a useful focus?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ha! That is a very funny bumper sticker, but of course I would hate to suggest that perhaps it may also be Scott? :-)! Hehe! You rarely see bumper stickers down here unless they are on a B&S warrior. That is a different kettle of fish as they say. What is a B&S warrior you may ask? Well, it is a fair question. Way back in the day, country towns used to host a B&S party. B&S as you may know refers to Bachelor and Spinster. And a B&S party - which I've never been too - was a party in a paddock for the local young folk to get together with live music, utility vehicles, a well stocked bar and just general mayhem. To save you a bit of trouble here is a link to images: B&S warrior ute image.

What I find interesting about the whole thing is that utility vehicles - you call them trucks - used to be a whole lot smaller than they are today. I look at most of them nowadays and wonder how anyone could extract any materials from the tray to the rear of the cab because the sides are now so high? It is a mystery...

That book about the communication between trees was mentioned here a few weeks back and I spotted it for sale at a bookshop in the city recently. I am mildly concerned as some of the trees may have an appreciation for my efforts here, whilst others will certainly be very unhappy. Alas it is hard to please everyone and as such we should not attempt the possibility! Well that's my excuse. Hey, Paul Stamets had a theory that the fungal networks between the trees was the mode through which the trees communicate. He is probably correct about that. Did you happen to learn what the general premise of the book was all about?

Unfortunately, the European honey bees are toast. The main problem with that species is that humans over harvest the collected products from the insects and thus the hives are under constant stress. I have not been able to harvest honey from the hives here yet because to do so would result in serious losses and stress for the bees. I don't see any way around it - yet. So much of the outputs from natural systems are like that: You can extract a percentage of the output, but you can't take too much and in some seasons it may be less than what is possible in other seasons. We are a strange species that feels that contracts and expectations outweigh natural productivity. Dunno, I'd like to be wrong about that, but that is what I see here. I hope that Paul Stamets can pull it off too.

Oh! That New Zealand film is very, very, good! And I do hope that you enjoy it as it was good fun.

Yeah, dog biscuits won't kill anyone... Well not as far as I'm aware! Dogs consume a diet that is pretty similar to ours. The ones here would make an excellent side dish to a corn chowder soup or maybe even a minestrone soup? Yum! Well done you for tasting the canine food experience. ;-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh wow! Marshmallow swirls in ice-cream. Seriously, I'm now starting to salivate thinking of these distant and unobtainable food pleasures! Hehe! It is genius and I have to agree with your sentiment. So, how did it taste? :-)!

After the fire and friends night at the local hall (which is out in the middle of nowhere, but at a cross roads(!)) the editor and I retired to the local pub for pizza and local craft beer (although in the editor case she consumed a local cider which was very good). Back to the social night though and over 500 people turned up to see the band and enjoy some hamburgers and/or sausages in a roll. There was also a big bonfire which was perhaps initially a bit too big but fortunately the local fire-brigade was able to douse it a bit!!! I met plenty of locals I hadn't seen for a long while and had a good chat. And I even made peace with one of the trespasser horse dudes. Who would have thought that they may have to pay for access to here with manure, it was a delicate negotiation, but it is very unwise of the person to eat and poo in the same area as all chickens eventually come home to roost! It was a very good night all up.

No doubt that the Romans were perhaps correct in their assumption that: idle hands are the devils workshop. Still, the large standing army that would have been the Roman legions would have eventually beggared the empire and honed the skills of their enemies? Our health care modalities are a bit like that nowadays! Infrastructure construction would have been a very useful employment of that resource.

The images of the Fayum mummy portraits is mildly uncanny and also a little bit unnerving to see all of those long deceased eyes looking at, but also slightly off the images. Thanks for sharing that history. I'm fascinated that the ancient Greeks in Egypt were able to afford the craftsmanship and the level of detail and the realism is also very good. Apparently, the portraits were made after the person had become deceased. And the Mona Lisa of Saphora is just uncanny. What awesome mosaic work.

Ha! Well there was no Green Wizard fix last month indeed. Of course these things occasionally happen and we must be flexible! :-)! Did you end up purchasing anything in the auction? I assume that there was something in particular there that you had your eye upon?

It rained here today after a very warm day. I re-planted the tomato patch and hopefully this time does the trick? Maybe. Anyway, I was busy planting the tomato seedlings out and decided to put some gooseberry cuttings into the ground in the enclosure. Time will tell if it is too late for that activity, but still. I also went to visit some open gardens today in the nearby area and they were really good. It is always interesting to me to see what other people are up to - and you never know what ideas you'll walk away with.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I always heard that an oak tree grows for 300 years, is grown for another 300 years and then spends 300 years dying. Some live more than 900 years though. Here they fall over and the root system is on show then and looks pathetic. I am told that this is due to the solid clay. A neighbour has one that fell down about 10 years ago. It kept some root system in the ground and didn't die. It looked bad for a few years and has now completely recovered while lying on its side. The wild life loves it as it has created a sort of green cave during the summer.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Yes, our oaks do live a long time though not as long as the ones Inge mentioned. 200 to 400 years is usual; one or two varieties live to 500 years. There is one down our road that Thomas Jefferson would have seen riding his usual route between Monticello and Pennsylvania, and eventually to Washington, D.C. I can't remember if our fallen oak's leaves showed distress before it fell and I haven't looked at the crown yet, only the roots. We have had a couple of other oaks fall in that area in the last 2 years. Coincidence?

This tree talk reminded me that my baby osage orange trees, growing to eventually become a hedge, are still doing well. Recently my son met with a farmer to buy some scrap metal to weld a work bench and the subject of osage oranges came up. This fellow is also a wood worker and had inherited some huge sections of osage orange on which he counted 180 rings. He was told that it is the densest of our woods. I guess that's why it makes good fence posts, too.

Best of luck with your most recent tomato planting. Yay - gooseberries!

B&S - oh, my, you have brought back some not very tasty memories - except for the fun! We were the Upper Valley Wrecking Crew. It was all pickup trucks and sand dunes and the levee . . .

My sons, in their crawling baby days, used to eat dry food out of the dog's and cats' bowls, and drink out of their water bowl, too. I am completely sure that they thought that the furries were their siblings. They slept together, too.

My goodness - what a deal maker you are with your horse dude.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - So. Did you have a little birthday party for your sourdough starter? :-). I know how you feel. My worm box has been chugging along for about 15 years. And, it's going to The Home, with me. I'll have to downscale the box, a bit, but it's time for a new box, anyway. The old one's looking pretty tatty. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I'm sure we have the same sort of gatherings here as there, but it's the first time I've heard of a B&S, Bachelor and Spinster's party. Here, they just call them "keggers." :-). Ah, the mating rituals of the young. There's a lot of whinging and joking here about big fancy expensive off road vehicles ... that never go off road. Then there's the youngsters that come back from the military with a pretty hefty severance (?) packet who buy one of those. I you see a youngster behind the wheel of one of those, and he still has a bit of a military haircut, it's easy to figure out the story. No military haircut, and the narrative is a rich daddy. All ostentatious consumption to make one feel better.

Other than the title, I don't know much about the book on trees. I'll get around to it once the hold list dies down. I remember when a book came out way back in the 70s (?) called, I think, "Talk to Your Plants." It was kind of a initial scientific look at plant communication. Thought to be very hippy dippy at the time. A year or two ago I saw a documentary about plant communication and how they change their chemical compositions to respond to insects, other invasive species or other stresses.

Well, the pumpkin ice cream, as always, was quite tasty. After an initial orgy of gluttony, I can now go several days without dipping into the freezer ... and consume it in smaller amounts :-).

Ohhhh. A party at the crossroads. That may be tempting fate. As you probably know, a rich site for doing deals with the devil. Here we have a tv series called "Supernatural". About two brothers who are in the family business of poking into the supernatural as "hunters". Seems like when they need a bit of information, they head for the crossroads to interrogate a demon or two. Always a dicey proposition as a deal must be struck and you have to be careful that your soul isn't sucked into the bargain. It's quit a popular series. I think it's going into it's 11 or 12th season.

Open garden days are pretty interesting. You always see a plant or two that you want to add to your garden. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I got curious about the little dog tombstone and did a bit of poking around. The dogs name, Metilianus doesn't seem to "mean" anything in particular. Roman's were pretty flexible about spelling, and a name that's close was carried by a Roman general. And, a governor of N. Africa and another that was a governor of Britain. As far as the owner goes, there was a Novinus clan that didn't seem to have any bright lights ... except for a play wright I'd never heard of ... but he cranked out at least 40 plays that we are aware of. From the titles, mostly comedies.

I've been dipping and skimming into that biography of Bram Stoker, the author of "Dracula." Dipping and skimming as the author follows every digression to the bitter end. Did we really need 10 pages on a rather obscure (to us) illustrator from the 1920s who DIDN"T illustrate an edition of "Dracula?"

The auction was pretty good. About 40 or 50 people showed up. I got everything I went after at about half of what I was willing to pay. Even with the rather stiff fees thrown on top. 10% buyers premium, 8.5% sales tax and since I didn't get my act together and carry cash, a 9% fee for using my credit card. Something you need to keep in mind while bidding.

I got the little china cupboard and will pick it up, tomorrow. Got the two pieces of Fenton Glass I wanted. There was a woman who was buying up most of the Fenton, but she had seen how hard I drive the bid, for what I want and backed off fairly early. There's a mystery. One of the Fenton pieces, I noticed before the bidding started, was signed by Thomas Fenton. Now, he wasn't a decorator, and it wasn't a decorated piece. He was a vice president of the company. So, it's a mystery. But, I have a vague recollection that he used to flog "limited" pieces on one of the home shopping networks. They seem to bring a bit more.

There were a couple of lots that were going begging, that I bid on and won. With more mysteries. I usually check what's on offer at E-Bay, AND their "completed" auctions... to see what the stuff (maybe) actually sells for. I picked up a Blue Willow pattern, footed china cake plate. Older and English. There was plenty of pieces from that company, on E-bay. But not that shape. My initial speculation is that it's a rather rare shape, for that company. I also picked up a Lenox porcelain hummingbird feeding on a flower. Nothing like it online. Plenty of Lenox hummingbirds, but none exactly like mine. And, the one's I saw had a 'cruder" look to them than the one I got. The bird and signed Fenton piece will go to my friend in Idaho. So, I'm covered for birthday and Christmas for the next year. By the way, her husband got an elk calf, yesterday. So, I may get a little piece of elk sausage! Yum.

In general, the auction prices seemed a bit ... depressed. But that might just be the new normal. I've known the auction owners for years, and talked to them about general trends ... and, my eventual downsizing sale. I'm toying with the idea of Idaho, again. Not very seriously. I think the financial and economic situation is making me apprehensive. They have a similar facility to The Home, in Council, Idaho. Which has openings. Or, their daughter has several rental houses in Council, at a lot less rent than you'd pay for something comparable, here. And I'd get the "family" discount :-). Lew