Monday, 16 January 2017

Life, the Universe, and Yeast

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

Life always presents mysteries. Like, the other night Scritchy (the boss dog) and I were walking around the house and I noticed that a tree frog was living under the house. The little eyes of the tree frog were staring at us both from behind the safety of the other side of some seriously tough stainless steel mesh. Alas, for poor Scritchy who has discerning tastes and would have enjoyed eating the tree frog! And after that initial tree frog discovery, I noticed that there was more than just one tree frog living under the house. It was a real mystery to me because the tree frogs were all on the other side of a 23mm (almost one inch thick) fire rated wall. And the tree frog looked to me as if it had been enjoying both second helpings and dessert!
A Southern Brown Tree Frog is sitting on the inside and looking out
And whilst we are discussing mysteries, the other evening I heard grunting and rustling sounds just outside the house. What could those noises possibly be? Two wallabies were having a punch up. That is what that sound was! I have seen larger marsupials such as the grey forest kangaroos having a punch up but I have never seen wallabies doing that silly business.

Grey Forest Kangaroos are very social creatures who normally live in large mobs and so the social hierarchy for them is a complex business and fights are a natural part of life in a mob. Wallabies are usually very independent creatures who travel alone and no doubt, the wallabies in this instance were fighting for access to the feed and territory here.
Two wallabies had a massive punch up just outside the house
The victor of that wallaby punch up took a minor break to lick its wounds and catch a deep breath. Meanwhile the editor and I got closer to the victorious wallaby so as to take a photo (for research purposes for the blog, of course).
The victorious wallaby took a minor break to lick its wounds and catch a deep breath
The victorious wallaby kept a close eye on the editor and I. And whilst the victorious wallaby was suitably distracted, the other wallaby saw opportunity and bounced out of the forest at high speed and jumped onto the victorious wallaby. It was total marsupial mayhem that evening! That also goes to prove that even marsupials adhere to the Klingon saying that: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.

Unlike the two brawling wallabies I can alter the environment here in various ways so that nature produces different outputs from the outputs of the surrounding forest. And those two wallabies understood that the outputs here were worth fighting over.

Outputs are all well and good, but the question remains as to: How much output are you expecting nature to provide?

What I have realised about outputs from nature is that in order to obtain a reliable output from nature you have to consider the very worst case scenario that nature can throw at you. For example, I like apples, and who doesn’t like apples? Imagine for a second if I had only grown a single apple tree here at the farm and those two brawling wallabies crashed into that single apple tree and destroyed that single apple tree. In order to grow apples again, I would then have to wait many long years until a replacement apple tree had grown old enough before it then produced an adequate amount of apples for my consumption.
And I've discovered that every single system that relies on outputs supplied by nature works exactly like that! If you want to grow apple trees because you like eating home grown apples, don’t grow a single apple tree, instead grow as many apple trees as you can physically plant, otherwise sooner or later something will go wrong.

The same rule applies to electricity. If for example, you wanted to power your household using only the sun and photovoltaic (PV) panels, you have to have enough PV panels to get you through the cloudiest, rainiest, snowiest of the worst depths of winter, otherwise you are going to run out of electricity.

Another example is if you wanted to capture and store enough rainwater to supply all of your drinking water, household and garden requirements, then you have to have enough capture and storage to get you through the very hottest, most revolting, and sweatiest drought that you can imagine, otherwise you will eventually be thirsty and smelly.

Of course when I lived in the city, none of that was obvious to me. This may possibly have been because there were no brawling wallabies bouncing through my city garden! However, in the city if I was hungry I could easily walk down to the shops and purchase something to eat. If I wanted light switched on to brighten up a room, all I had to do was flick a switch and then the light switched on. If I felt thirsty and wanted to enjoy a drink of water all I had to do was turn the water tap on and out flowed quality drinking water.

What I have learned from living here is that nature works in ways that are inconceivable to people not used to supplying basic natural outputs for themselves.

The other thing to remember when outputs are limited, is that you don’t want to waste any of them. Indeed most outputs simply don’t go to waste here. Those outputs are generally the inputs for other projects or systems.

This week, the editor and I decided to remove some of the rocks in the paddock below the house that were sticking up out of the ground. What to do with the unwanted rocks?
Some of the large rocks sticking up out of the ground in the paddock below the house
It turns out that rocks are rather handy when they are used to fill up the new rock gabion project. Regular readers will recall that this project has been ongoing for the past few weeks. And since the farm has long since passed Peak Rocks (the point where all of the easy to obtain rocks have been reallocated and used in various projects) and we have to go further afield now to obtain new rocks, we thought to ourselves that we can take on these rocks in the paddock!

Six hours of work later involving the electric (solar powered) jackhammer and a rock breaking tip, we managed to remove all of the large rocks in the paddock below the house. Honestly using a jackhammer to break up solid rocks is very hard work (which is probably why rock breaking was used as penance in times past) and for the rest of the afternoon following that work I could still feel the jackhammer pulsing away – like a ghost feeling – in my arms.
Six hours of work removed all of the large rocks sticking out of the ground in the paddock below the house
The jackhammer was used to split the rocks into smaller and more manageable sized rocks. We then used a 6 foot long steel house wrecking bar to lever the now smaller rocks out of the ground. Even then some of the rocks were absolutely huge and weighed more than I do.
The author leans on the jackhammer and surveys some of the large rocks removed from the paddock
Observant readers will note that I am wearing a bee hat in the above photo. The purpose of that bee hat is not to keep bees off my face, but instead the broad brim of the hat assists with keeping the sun off my face whilst the mesh does the same thing for the pesky flies. It is a well known fact that a person cannot wield a jackhammer and swish flies away from their face at the same time!

The following day, we drove the little dirt rat of a Suzuki and the bright yellow trailer down the hill and into the paddock and used mushroom compost to fill up all of the holes left behind where the rocks once were. All of the rocks were then loaded onto the bright yellow trailer.

At that point we decided to drive the little dirt rat of a Suzuki back up the steep hill only to find that despite four wheel drive and low range gearing, the grass contained so much moisture that the little dirt rat of a Suzuki couldn’t make it back up the hill. The wheels spun on the damp green grass. Two of the largest rocks which we’d valiantly managed to load onto the bright yellow trailer had to be rolled back off the bright yellow trailer. In a pique of unhappiness, we rolled those two large rocks off and away down the hill. Alas poor rocks, I knew them well, but for a brief time.

After the two largest rocks were removed, the little dirt rat of a Suzuki managed to climb back up the hill without further incident. The output from that paddock clearing project (i.e. the rocks) then became the input for the rock gabion wall project.
The rocks which were removed from the paddock were then placed in the new rock gabion walls
The ground was quite damp on Friday as a slow storm had rolled over this corner of the continent and dumped some rain. During the storm we had the opportunity to observe how the drains which collect water from the many roofs for storage in water tanks were working. The drain which collects water off the firewood shed roof was allowing some water to fall onto the ground behind the firewood shed. This water was then slowly seeping into the firewood shed. That drain was repaired so that it now functions correctly.
The drain which collects water from the roof of the firewood shed was repaired
That firewood shed had been slowly emptied over the previous winter. We observed that the surface that the firewood sat on had also compacted over the past twelve months, possibly also contributing to the water flowing into the firewood shed. If that surface height was increased, it would be less likely that water would enter the firewood shed. We therefore added another half cubic metre (0.4 cubic yards) of the local crushed rock with lime to the surface.
Inside the firewood shed with the compacted surface prior to additional material being added so that the height would be increased
Once all of the minor alterations to the firewood shed were complete, we were then able to begin filling that shed with dried and seasoned firewood! One bright yellow trailer load of firewood later and the shed looks like this:
The firewood shed has now begun to be filled with summer dried and seasoned firewood
And just in case anyone was concerned, the wood ash from burning the firewood in the future will be added back onto the soil in the orchards (as a form of fertiliser).

I have a new hobby! I am slowly exploring the world of beer making from its very basics. And don’t let anyone tell you that making beer is a complex process because it is a very simple process which has been done by humans for many millennia. One of our first experiments is to make a version of millet beer known in Asia as Tongba!
We have begun making millet beer this week which is known in Asia as Tongba
The ongoing humid weather is clearly making the wallabies a bit grumpy, but the berry season has been better than I can recall and so this week we made a couple of demijohns of Strawberry wine. Strawberry wine is superb. Nuff said!
Strawberry wine is superb! Nuff said! So is pizza.
With country wines it is always interesting to see the yeasts irrupting (that is a fancy name for yeasts going on a massive sugar binge party) in the first day or so of the wine making process. The strawberry base made that yeast mess look like a strawberry meringue. I wouldn’t advise consuming it though, as that output is a job for the worms in the worm farm!
The yeasts in strawberry wine go feral and have a massive sugar rave/dance off
Oh, speaking of feral partying, the carrots have gone completely feral. Many years ago I let a carrot go to seed and now carrots turn up everywhere.
Carrots have gone completely feral
Pentstemon’s are producing beautiful flowers and the native blue banded bees and the honeyeaters really appreciate the nectar contained in the flowers.
Pentstemon’s are also going feral and producing beautiful flowers
The soapwort herb has just begun producing flowers over the past few days. In the photo below you can also see the white yarrow flowers which are to the left of the soapwort flowers:
The soapwort herb has just begun producing flowers over the past few days
Who doesn’t love foxglove flowers? I found this plant somewhere on a get rid of these plants table for a throw out price. Their outputs are my inputs and aren’t the colours superb too?
Who doesn’t love foxglove flowers?
The very first of the mint family plants to flower are oregano, and those plants flower their purple flowers for months. Plus the fresh leaves are excellent on pizza. Yum!
Oregano is now flowering this week
The award for the most pugnacious thing here at the farm doesn’t go to brawling wallabies, it actually goes to the zucchini / courgette plants who also take out the "Fernglade Farm Annual Triffid Award" (otherwise known as FATA) as they have doubled in size in just one week. Don’t turn your back on those plants or you may become the inputs to stuffed zucchini flowers!
zucchini / courgette plants who also take out the "Fernglade Farm Annual Triffid Award" (otherwise known as FATA)
The temperature outside now at about 8.00pm is 27’C (81’F). So far this year there has been 11.6mm (0.5 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 3.8mm (0.1 inches).

79 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

43F and wet

I felt quite exhausted after reading of your rock breaking work. I am sure that, barring any injuries, you must keep very fit indeed.

You give a timely reminder of the fact that people seem to have forgotten how easily ones modern life can be swept away (only 3 days supply in our supermarkets). I could live for 3 months without buying food, if necessary. Learnt that when cut off by snow on the road for 3 months in 1963. We were off grid and telephone at that time. Husband could walk out across the fields after awhile, which meant that we could get milk for the 2 children. Sorry, I am sure that I have said this before.

4 puppies have been sold and someone is coming to look for one later today. Son is interested in the fact that no-one has come specifically wanting a lurcher, it has just been usual pet seekers.

The only wild animal fighting here seems to be dog foxes. Plenty of bird fighting though and a couple of pheasants having a go at each other is a grand sight.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It's just you and me mate! I always said that the blog was just a way for you and I to have a regular chat. We of course, are very chatty! And this is a good thing. :-)!

Good luck with the flooding. You know, that is a good time to be in higher country like where you are... The floods down here over winter were horrendous for the stock, but fortunately there are sensible controls in place not to allow people to build on flood prone land. That land is very valuable land as nature periodically replenishes the minerals in those soils - free of charge!

So, have you ever read Poul Anderson's novel: Winter of the world? I'm curious as to your opinion of that work and whether you recommend it?

Thanks for the link to that article and it is refreshing to see the hard questions asked. In times of plenty, those questions are rarely aired, and everyone bangs on about rights this, and rights that. It is a fascinating point of view for them. We have the same problem here with the maintenance of the road. The council wants its property taxes, but struggles to keep up with the maintenance of the main road. They're presently attempting to boost the number of residents so as to get around those not insignificant problems. Talk about interesting times. Remember to stay safe during this winter, and perhaps occasionally wash the underside of your vehicle to stop it from disappearing to rust.

Simon Pegg is awesome. Nuff said, really! What I liked about the story was the sense of total fun. Sure, we've lost the Enterprise - the best ship in the fleet - and a good deal of the crew too, but hey, here's another old banger that we can wheel out as needs be. And who wouldn't get annoyed by the Beastie Boy's classic song Sabotage when broadcast at full volume! Oh yeah, the economics make no sense whatsoever, but then what can't be held, can't be held really...

I didn't notice that about cleaning out Chekov's locker. The Aboriginals have a taboo against seeing pictures or watching films of people now deceased. It is a bit errie really, and yeah, he didn't look in best physical condition now that you mention it. Mind you, being killed by your own vehicle is a sign of a distracted mind and we'll never know the reality as to the why of that matter.

I liked Captain Janeway, as I have a similar management style with groups. It was interesting at the start of that show that she faced a mutiny among the crew. Mate, I've seen that story, although I was a touch more ruthless in the response to that gear. Honestly, who would want to be stuck in a temporal anomaly? A pretty horrendous situation by all accounts, although you may not be able to speak of it because you’ll be stuck in a temporal anomaly. Damo, spoke of an excellent - probably the best episode - of Voyager which I believe was called "Year of Hell" which featured that story. It really was that good.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Really, you know that scene I saw in High School and it must have left an impression because I can't remember much else about the story. The lesson there was that money itself is an abstract representation of wealth and as such is only a claim on wealth and not wealth in and of itself. I don't know why that shocked me so much to learn that, but perhaps it was because I was such a little work horse at such a young age? Dunno. The thought that it could be given in return for labour and was not worth much was quite a frightening concept. Perhaps there was a little bit of mercenary behaviour - as is to be expected of a kid - in there... Dunno. That is hysterical about the headache! Very, very funny! :-)! I’m with you! A real gnocchi all over the keyboard spit. Speaking of spitting, the faulty log splitter could have also been said to spit the dummy... Of course that joke isn't as funny, and probably needs a bit of work...

Oh. I hadn't realised the difference between a tavern and a lounge. Interesting. Yes, I understand from local legend that there are a couple of well to do and well connected families up here that put the stomp on new commercial ventures up here. It is interesting what interests some lot can take up. Looking at the local history there were a lot of tea rooms, accommodation and other sorts of commercial enterprises up here. Not so anymore. I can see that happening up your way too. They certainly put a stomp on wind turbines.

Isn't it funny that whiskey once formed the medium of exchange. Down here it was obviously rum. The move to tax the stuff is really a push to get people into the monetary economy, for obvious reasons. I like Washington's style of sending peace negotiators and the troops at the same time, just in case. Covering all bases is what that looks like to me. It is also pleasing to see that it was the Republican party that was the political party responsible for repealing the tax on distillers. You know that back in the day, distilling the excess grain supply would have been just another food preservation technique?

That is funny! Malapropisms. I like it. An example from the interweb was Dance the Flamingo, rather than flamenco. That's good.

Honestly, the Aboriginals were here 60,000 years ago, so I see no reason why the descendants of the Indians would have waited even that long. People want to believe that the land was empty of humans before them. It suits there narrative and I once believed that the Aboriginals didn’t travel, live and gather in this mountain range…

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you, the editor and I do OK on that front and are also very careful. I'm getting to be a bit of an old fella though. Honestly, I used to work much harder when I was a lot younger. In comparison, it all seems quite civilised and well balanced to me nowadays.

How is your neighbours property holding up in the wet? I worry about tree removal if the soil is not repaired quickly and appropriately. As you know, even I make mistakes. I'm very careful with the land as I can see that even minor changes have big impacts. We humans are an impatient lot and don't tend to consider longer time scales.

What a story and that experience breeds resilience. I heard a very disturbing story about someone who is in the prime of their life but has many Frank Spencer type attributes. Oh how that show annoyed me, however my mum used to love the show, and I have very little time for that sort of display. People seemed to think that it was funny and I just didn't get it at all, it was completely lost on me.

No need to apologise, I enjoy reading your stories and they are very relevant. And yes, I could go many long months before having to venture out if that was required, and you know what else, I'd be quite comfortable too.

I'm with your son. It is interesting that nobody is particularly seeking that breed. If he is interested in my thoughts on the matter, it is that I believe our relationships to our canine friends may change markedly in the future. And they are our friends too. Dogs are a necessity up here and they perform a huge number of functions. Poopy the Pomeranian has a silly name, but he can also chase off a huge stag along with the attendant does and he is also wily enough to do so at a respectable distance, but then also know when to pursue, and also at what point in the chase to return. Not all dogs can manage those feats. You may be interested to know that I am considering a slightly larger bred for purpose dog when it comes time to replace Scritchy the boss dog. Long live Scritchy though!

Oh, those pheasants would be a grand sight indeed. They are beautiful birds too. I believe the word “mayhem” may appropriately apply to one in a glasshouse though?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Lew,
Well yes those two examples certainly sound worse than what happened here.

Now was that uncle sleeping when those bottles exploded?

Your weather sure sounds sub-optimal. We haven't had a snow storm - even an inch for weeks and none are in the forecast either. My nieces and families moved to Portland a few years ago partially to get away from Illinois winters. Not working out so well this year though their kids are enjoying it.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Speaking of poop - Doug reported that our back field is full of deer and turkey poop. It will be well fertilized it appears. No wonder Salve and Leo make a bee line back there whenever they're let out.

Patrick's memorial went very well. The weather cooperated perfectly - in fact overnight through this morning we're having light freezing rain so we sure dodged a bullet. Attendance far exceeded our expectations. There was much laughter as people shared their memories, the nicknames he had for them or some of the interesting compliments he gave. A couple examples of compliments: "Those shoes make you look ten years younger." "You don't look 60 but don't you know there's hair dye?" Many of his co-workers came and spoke as well as people he had met at the beach.

Anyway I am hoping things will slow down a bit now. I've had a nasty cough for a week and little sleep. It's bad enough I may break down and go to the doctor. Reminds me a bit of the time I had walking pneumonia many years ago. Then I found out one of my granddaughters was just diagnosed with it a few days ago and I've spent time with her lately. I'm going to re read this week's installment from Fernglade Farm and check out all the pics a little closer but it'll have to wait until later today. I just got a text from the electric company that our power will be out shortly while they do some maintenance. This is a first but at least they let us know. We had a bit of a brown out a little while ago. Don't know if the ice we're experiencing now has anything to do with it though it's a pretty light coating.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - It was so long ago, I don't remember if the bottles exploded when they were asleep.

I'm glad Patrick's memorial went well.

I'm surprised you haven't gotten much snow. I always think of windy, snowy Chicago. I quit envy that you're close to the Chicago Art Institute. Never been, and probably never will. Oh, well. Next life :-)

My Dad, after he retired (he lived most of his life near Portland) used to occasionally go on a riff about "moving back to Nebraska" where he was from. And, still had a lot of family. But, sooner or later he'd get around to "but, oh, those winters!" And then we wouldn't hear about it for awhile :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - It was 23F (-5C) last night. But it's supposed to be a balmy 38F (3.3C) tonight. The cold snap is ending. Things are beginning to drip. I can see warm bands of rain, off the coast, heading in. My friends in Idaho sent a horrible picture, this morning. 8 foot drift of snow outside their kitchen window. Blocked a lot of light.

I saw a little green frog in my basement, once. He hung around for quit awhile. Just sitting up on the edge of an old stock pot, watching the world go by.

It was nice of the wallabies to pose for pictures :-). I wondered about your stylish chapeau. :-). Thought it might be to keep the sun and bugs off, and then you answered my wondering. I've noticed when I watch the "extras" on films shot in Australia, the interviews with the actors and such, that everyone is always swatting away flies.

So, the strawberry yeast rave/dance off is kind of like they're on Ecstasy? :-). Love the world and everybody is their best mate!

Looking at the synopsis of Anderson's "Winter of the World", I don't think I've read it. Or, if I did, it was so long ago ...

Washington used to have "Blue Laws". I vaguely remember that there was no liquor sold on Sundays. Unaccompanied women could not sit at the bar, only at tables. Customers could not carry their drinks from bar to table. A waiter or the bartender had to do it. And, I'm sure, lots of other weirdness that I don't remember. Then, the World's Fair was proposed for Seattle and it became very clear that more sophisticated people would be coming from all over the world. So, they massively overhauled the liquor laws. Until just a year or two ago, hard liquor could only be bought in State sponsored liquor stores. They did away with those by vote of the people. They were banging the drum that prices would go down, due to competition. Fell for that old chestnut. Now, pull the other one ... Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

The whole "how well should we be prepared for snow" thing is kind of what your talking about in this weeks blog. Should we be prepared for the worst winter possible? But that's kind of expensive ... Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Even before Mr. Greer's post this week, I was already thinking in terms of "Republicans of that time" or "Democrats of that time." If you really look into Lincoln's (a Republican) freeing of the slaves, it was part humanitarian ... part political expediency. Eisenhower, a Republican, in his farewell speech warned against a military / industrial complex. Past Republican presidents have been really active in passing environmental regulations. People change, society changes, times change.

Didn't get around to watching "The Emigrants" last night. Some nights, I just want to read. Last night was one of those nights.

I don't know how long I could get along without "going to town." Probably two or three months, if I really put my mind to it. Being a disaster freak, I think in terms of pandemics. How long could I lay low and stay away from people? Lew

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris

I missed last week entirely it seems! We have not had your rain/slow moving storms here or any kind of real cool change, which means all of the attention moves to watering, harvesting and sheltering from the heat. Our top on farm temperature has been 41.4C so far. During the inside times thoughts turn to future plans for defensive living and of course the beginnings of the production lines for cucumber pickles and possibly zucchini pickles. Our deer problems continue and we've repurposed a children's swing set to make a cage over an outside the garden cage bed of zucchinis. I was very surprised to see the deer had eaten zucchini leaves but not the fruits.

Your's and the editors rock work is commendable indeed. I have to admit that firewood moving is not on my mind but it will be soon. Have you resolved your wood heater replacement issue!? We have an out of control fire on a parallel road to ours at present (very rough country) not huge but always a worry and today we can smell the smoke.

We need to travel again in the next couple of weeks but I hate to do so when everything is tinder dry so I'm hoping for a good storm to give us a window to slip away for a quick family event.

Wallaroos live in our area. They are heavy and very powerful. I think seeing territory disputes between them would be pretty scary.

Warm regards, Helen

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Salve and Leo are clearly connoisseurs of quality turkey and deer poop. The fertiliser should make a huge difference – when it warms up again. I run the grass / herbage purely for the benefit of the wildlife. Hey, speaking of fertiliser, I scored another two huge bags of coffee grounds and coffee husks today. Once the chickens go to bed and it is a little bit cooler, I’ll distribute them around. It is very hot here today and I saw 42’C in the city late this afternoon which is about 106’F. Here it got to 39’C which is still over 100’F. Far out that is hot.

That is really lovely that Patrick’s memorial service went well. And Patricks sounds like a right character. The funny thing about those compliments is that he himself would have meant no harm and that is just how they arrived into his head the moment before he spoke them. I’m glad other people could see the funny side of those comments and it is very endearing.

Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. Funerals and death are very stressful and complicated grief filled times and I feel for your pain. I used to get sick post exams and I’d be fine up to and including the exam and then a couple of days later, my body just said: That’s enough for now, I’m ordering time out for you. It happens. Remember to look after yourself.

Brown outs and black outs are quite common up here and it finally dawned on some people at the recent community bushfire talk that the power will be cut during a bushfire incident. Welcome to the future…

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, now that you are getting reasonable temperatures 38’F, I think, if you’re OK with it, can we do a swap of temperatures? Here the farm got to 39’C (well over 100’F) and I’ll tell ya in Melbourne it was shocking at about 42’C (even further above 100’F). I’m done with summer and the coolest it made it to was 23’C early this morning. Far out, we’ve been bad for such a hot day. Humidity here was as low as 11%.

8 foot of snow is something else though. How do they even exit their houses during such a snow storm? Out of totally morbid curiosity, do people ever get trapped in their houses during those types of snowfalls? I mean, wouldn’t the power be disconnected, water is non-existent etc…

Did you ever wonder what happened to that little green frog? I’m personally curious as to how the tree frogs survive under the house without a source of fresh water. You have to admit that it is a good effort. Frogs may be far tougher than I have previously considered. Of course down here, I guess they’d be quite dry adapted. I remember a few years ago leaving a bag full of water so as to slowly drip feed a young fruit tree (now very well established). And one day looking into the bag as I filled it up there was a large huntsman spider living happily with two cheeky looking tree frogs. My money would be on the tree frogs to win that particular fight.

Ha! Those wallabies were in the midst of an ultimate fight challenge and didn’t bother asking either my opinions or permission for that gear. Did you notice the huge tails that the wallabies have? In the photo, if you didn’t look too closely, it would have looked like massive rats having a punch up. I sort of felt bad about how it turned out for the victorious wallaby who got soundly trounced a few moments later. I always felt that Merlin suffered a similar lack of respect for the previously agreed upon niceties of well-established terms of engagement. Reading between the lines of his story that was what I saw.

It would have been nice if I’d heard the yeast call out to me: Party on dudes; but alas they lacked the late 80’s / early 90’s references. Strangely enough, I believe the yeast may have said something along the lines of: this sugar is a transcendental experience man. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand what they were talking about…

Fair enough, I was curious as to your experience with dodgy sci-fi, but I also realise that you prefer non-fiction titles. Out of curiosity, what have you been reading lately? I started reading: Into the Ruins Volume 3 and are really enjoying it. Jason Heppenstalls story was excellent as is Cathy McGuires (really good stuff).

Those blue laws sound very weird indeed. I recall as a child that the shops closed dead on 12.30pm on a Saturday and there they stayed shut. Saturday mornings were hectic events, but the rest of the weekend had a more relaxed feel to it than people seem to experience nowadays. A bit of downtime does nobody any harm.

Yes, I’ve heard that old chestnut about changes being good for the consumer and that does not smell of the truth to me. People advocating such stories seem to forget in their rush for benefits that consumer economies actually require consumers. It is a bit sad and I know that trouble is afoot when that story gets wheeled out.

That is a very astute observation and of course that is exactly what I was writing too. Elephant stamp for you! Well done. Of course people want the facilities but not the bill, and I worry about that matter.

Cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, context can be interesting. And I was aware of the Eisenhower’s speech warning of that matter. I wonder how things will pan out over the next few years? You are certainly in for interesting times - as are we all. I’m personally surprised at the tone deaf nature of the media and it seems surreal. It is like the rave has finished and the final duff duff has pounded the living daylights out of the party goers eardrums and yet, the DJ hasn’t quite gotten around to noticing that someone pulled the power plug and the revellers are straggling off home. I've noticed that the exchange rate down here has improved relative to the US, Euro, and Pound. We are no haven as we are so far past our carrying capacity, not that anyone tends to think in those terms. But other people see things differently and I wonder what that means for other parts of the globe. You know, I can spend days up here with not seeing anyone other than the editor. When I used to head off into the high country to go and camp, I could spend a week and not see anyone. I'm starting to wonder whether that is a more valuable thing than I realise? Dunno.

Fair enough about the reading. I hear you about that. Some nights dropping ones nose into a book is a fine choice.

That is quite ironic about the pandemic as in the 19th century up here: One one hill was a sanatorium; whilst on another hill was a health retreat; and yet on another hill were the wealthy folk's hill stations. What a confused mess the train trip up here would have been for all those folk. I do realise that back in the day, they did not understand that it possibly wasn't such a good idea to place wounded and sick soldiers in among the healthy soldiers returning from the front...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

Wow, that is hot, although I saw a similar temperature in Melbourne today 42’C. Up here it got as high as 39'C with 11% humidity. Not a pleasant day at all, and the house is now wide open to the cooler night air. The inside of the house reached 26’C, but began the day at 23’C as yesterday was also quite hot.

There were reports on the radio about a large out of control grass fire on the outskirts of Canberra this afternoon... Stay safe and I hope the wind pushes the fire away from you.

The editor and I were speaking earnestly about insurance today as that is a complex matter and there are some curious clauses in the policy - which most of the insurers have nowadays.

Pickled cucumbers and zucchini! Wow! Yum! Don't hold back, do you have a tried and true recipe which you would like to share? Do you use white vinegar? I'm salivating thinking about pickled cucumbers and zucchini. :-)!

Oh, that is not good as not many things consume zucchini leaves...

Thanks! And I'm unsure of where we are this season as I spotted autumn weather the other day, but summer is here today in full force. It takes a lot of work to bring the firewood in. I may do some more on Thursday. My gut feeling tells me to do that task early this year, but I could well be wrong too.

No, I'll manage through this winter with the current falling apart wood heater. But long term I'm considering the Nectre Large Bakers Oven. The firebox combustion chamber here now is too small and the steel is too thin. It is a travesty and I want to use the current thing until it falls over good and proper! ;-)! I don't really enjoy waste.

Best of luck with that and I feel the same and try to not travel far at all at this time of year for the same reason. There is a storm due to hit here on Friday morning... The storms from the NW coast have been huge this year, and I do hope some of them push their way up north a bit for you. Did you notice reports that Tennant Creek is just shy of its annual rainfall only three weeks into the year?

That is a good common sense. I do not mess with marsupial business either as they are quite large. A wallaby here is about 5 foot tall, but the grey forest kangaroos can be up to 7 foot tall and they are very powerful and muscular looking. The best option is to not surprise them and always leave them an escape option.

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

Hi Chris! Those wines look very promising indeed. While I was in the States, my brother very kindly brewed a couple of beers, the second reusing the yeasty stuff from the bottom of the bucket of the first and it went wild overnight. Blew out the cover, oozed out the airlock. I swear it was breathing. Very exciting.

I have a question about demi-johns. Are they difficult to clean? The combination of a skinny neck and large bowl seems like it might be hard to scrub anything stuck off the bottom.

The media are in a frenzy over a cold wave coming our way, supposed to get to -5C, so I´ve brought in some more firewood and pulled the remaining brussels sprouts from the garden. I´ve roasted a bunch, but now I have to process the remainder and freeze them. Any good recipes out there?

Hope you avoid fire trouble.

Cheers

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

That's a funny blog title!

Ahhh! The feisty wallabies (was one of them named "Chris"?) were too much! Except that they looked like they were dancing as well. The victor definitely reminds me of someone . . . I think your tree frogs might be acting like our mice - it just takes one small hole, one mouse finds it and the possibility of food (or shelter) draws him in, then other mice follow his scent into (or under, in your case) the house. I would guess that there are a lot of insects under there, and that it might be cooler and damper, too.

Last week you had a photo of blue hydrangeas. I have recalled that hydrangeas grow blue in my area also ( a sign of acidic soil), but that there is a house in town where the owners keep their hydrangeas well supplied with lime, so that their huge bushes have pink flowers.

"Thirsty and smelly". Please - no! No!

Now I don't have to ask why you are wearing your beekeeper's hat in the rock breaking photo. There was a very slight chance that it was a joke, though very unlikely during working hours? How are the bees?

Your rock gabions are beginning to resemble Hadrian's Wall. Fine work!

You have a tarp under the firewood in the shed? Did you do that last year?

What a beautiful color the strawberry wine is.

Do you eat any of the feral carrots? I'm especially thinking dog food as we had a dog that would - almost - turn down steak for carrots. She tended to be on the portly side and it was one way to help her stay on her "diet".

I love zucchinis. We had such bad luck with them last year. Yours have more "ruffly" leaves than ours. Any idea what variety they are? We still have kale and collards and - impossibly - lettuce growing in the garden. None of my theories can compensate for the fact that we sporadically have had temperatures 20-25 degrees F below freezing.

I am noticing that more and more building is being allowed on flood-prone land here. What on earth can they be thinking? In Colorado, where my parents live, every now and then they have catastrophic floods - and people die in those buildings on the flood-prone land. Yet they keep building in those spots. The U.S.A. is a big place, so we should be able to spread out some. Could it have something to do with the loss of the Commons? Or is it the reverse?

"As you know, even I make mistakes." Smelling salts, please . . .

Beware - I have found that the boss dogs usually turn out to be the smaller/medium dogs, often with terrier blood. We have had all sizes and the larger ones are usually more easy going. Though they have their own uses, of course. We had one 92lb. dog named Rex who was a malamute/yellow lab cross and so we assumed that he would vastly enjoy pulling things. Alas! He was not of the same frame of mind and when we had him hitched up to a tiny sled with 2 sticks of firewood on it he ran off into the woods and dumped it down a hill. I also tried skijoring with him - bad idea. Rex was swiftly retired from any work other than being everyone's friend.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I don't remember ever hearing your 3 months of isolation story. It would be interesting to hear more. I am assuming that you wouldn't have been thirsty, with snow available, but the "smelly" part of Chris' "thirsty and smelly" comes to mind.

Very good news about the puppies. Lurchers are such neat dogs. Do the buyers seem to care at all about their hunting heritage? I hope the puppies will have some room to run around.

Oh, no! Beware of pheasants!

Pam

Damo said...

@Chris
Nice photo of the foxglove flowers! Who doesn't love a bit of bokeh? And yes, I think that the Year of Hell episode was one of Voyagers best!

RE: Australian dollar and safe haven
Gosh, it is all over the place isn't it? As you know, I made a modest bet (I prefer the term 'hedge') against the Australian economy a year back. My thinking is, 23 years without a recession, we are probably due one soon. So far, it has not paid off. Indeed it has lost ~10%. But, I feel no urge to change course. Moving it back into Australia feels very wrong. I will stick with having my eggs spread across several different baskets.

@Jo
The other week on your blog you made a passing reference to Mr Money Mustache. Just wanted to say thank you, what a great site. I would say I am already pretty 'Mustachian' with my spending, but his style of writing has already encouraged me to make some changes (in particular health and optimism related fields). Terrific stuff!

@Unrelated segue
Tonight there is some very loud music coming from next door where the Northern Laos Development Bank is located. I am not sure what work they do, but there seems to be a very loud party on a regular basis :-)

Cheers,
Damo


Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

It sounds like the very best way a memorial service could go. This has all been tremendous work for you and I hope that you will be able to get a bit of rest now. In fact, it sounds like you are being forced to. Take care of yourself -

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

We actually got quite a bit of snow the first three weekends in December but nothing to speak of since. In fact we had so much then that I think we're still above average for snow for winter so far.

The Art Institute is really wonderful. I went to college in Chicago as well and my Art Appreciation class went to the Art Institute weekly. They also have a nice member's lounge to take a break when in the city. My sister has a membership and we take advantage of it whenever we're having a day out in Chicago. It's nice to be able to live in a pretty rural area and yet be able to hop on a train into the city and take advantage of all the museums etc.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,
Yes I was thinking the same thing about all the poop fertilizing the field. There have been tons of deer this year.

Coffee grounds are great fertilizer too.

I'm following your time out orders as much as possible.

The power never went out yesterday though it had gone out for awhile before the text came in so I was wondering if they just got the time wrong.

Yep, always important not to get too complacent. We haven't had any major outages for awhile but I keep after Doug to keep the gas cans topped off as you never know. The generator could keep us going for quite awhile if necessary.

It sounds like you don't see wallabys fighting all that often. With all the deer around here I one would think you'd see the bucks get into it sometimes but I never have.

We have lots of rocks around here. I wish I could send some your way.

Margaret

Steve Carrow said...

Beer brewing- so far our brewing has been with kits from the brew shop, and in a bucket, so I don't get to watch the irruptions. Maybe I'll use the clear carboy I bought but haven't used yet just so I can watch, but they look like they are harder to clean. I also need to do more creative fermentations like yours, and yes, we hope to do wine soon, maybe this next year?

Big rocks- Wow, real muscle work there.

Maybe you've mentioned it in the past, but how is your back? Do you do anything special to keep it healthy?

I am just a tad older than you, but had a desk job for far too long, and my back is now letting me know I should have kept it in better shape. I can still lift a fair load, but the next night and day are when I pay for it. Even being smart with levers and such, sometimes it just takes a strong back to get things where they need to be.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Helen - Zucchini relish is also very nice. Great with corn chips! I'm sure there's recipes on the Net. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Raining and the temperature is 43F (6.llC). The warmest we have seen in weeks. The snow and ice are on the run. Nell woke me up this morning as she was quit startled by the sound of ice cycles crashing off the roof into the shrubbery.

Well, I suppose if you get snowed in, you just dig your way out. A major concern is snow on roofs. My friends hired some help to help scrape off their roof. They also had to do some on their daughters rentals, as she is on a long posting with the Forest Service to California. I think most people ... or at least people with an ounce of foresight are prepared to be snowed in.

I don't know what happened to the little green frog. He just disappeared on day. Theres a florescent light in the basement that's on 24/7 and he'd hang out there. Any stray insect was drawn to the light and ...

When the yeast starts talking to you, you need to take a "me" day. Or, investigate of possibility of heat stroke :-).

Ohhhh! An Elephant Stamp! I'll put it in my Treasure Box. Take it out from time to time and finger it. Treasure it always. Have it buried with me. What I really lust after is a Gold Star from Mr. Greer. Probably never happen as I'm not a "deep" thinker. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. What I'm reading. Well, I read a couple more chapters in "Bottleneck", last night. Took a quick look at that book on consumerism I picked up at the library. A very scholarly collection of essays by different people. Some of them look beyond me. I'm looking at a couple of cookbooks from the library, to decide if I want to buy them for my collection. I'm reading a novel called "Certain Dark Things" by Moreno-Garcia (2016). I saw a review on NPR and it sounded interesting. Mexican vampires who run drug cartels. In this one, there are 10 different "breeds" of vampires. It kind of relates to the series I've been watching, "From Dusk to Dawn." And, I'm reading "Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters." The director.

Oh, I also go for days without seeing anyone. I quit like it. Don't know how I'll fare when I move to The Home. Decided not to do a check in this month. Will go again in mid February.

I think I figured out who brought the flu to Lewis County, back in 1918. Patient zero. Flu was rampant in Boston. A ship full of soldiers left there and sailed to Seattle. Several soldiers were sick and many died. One of the soldiers was from Centralia. His mother went on the train to collect his body and as near as I can tell, she was the first person to come down with the flu in Lewis County. By then the flu was rampant in Seattle, so if not her, it would have been someone else. I don't know if she survived, or not. There are several issues of the local weekly newspaper that are missing, around that time. I don't know if they're just missing, or if they didn't publish.


Trains and boats, that's how it spread in 1918. We're on the main north/south rail line. I don't know about WWI, but during WWII, as many as 42 passenger trains passed through here, every day. These days, not so many passenger trains. But I-5 carries a huge amount of north/south traffic. And, Centralia being almost exactly half way between Portland and Seattle, it's kind of a traditional "pit stop."

Pandemics are so hard to stop. Someone always breaks quarantine. As a species, we feel so darned self entitled. And that's not a recent development. It goes back to medieval times and even into antiquity. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Steve - I also have (or had) a hinkey back. I'm 67. There were times when I couldn't climb stairs or get in and out of the shower. And the pain! I finally put together a little series of exercises. A little routine that I learned to do ... religiously ... every morning. Takes me about 10 minutes. But if I slack off, I have back problems, again.

I picked up one exercise from a chiropractor. The rest I got from "The YMCA Healthy Back Book" (there's also a dvd) and the book "Stretching" by Anderson.

Good luck with the back. It's as hard, I think, to develop good habits as it is to get rid of bad ones. Every time I slacked off the exercises, the back problems would come back. I finally learned ... through painful experience. I've been there, done that so you don't have to! :-) Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I have to admit that right now I would take your heat - yes, even 39C and 23C the lowest temp in the house - over the weather I am getting. And it isn't even that cold today, in fact the current temp is almost exactly the same as Lew's 43F/6C (hi, Lew!). But I am already tired of winter, even as little real winter as we have had so far.

I'm happy to report that the ice storm had minimal impact. For one, lots of schools and businesses closed, and many special events were cancelled or postponed. People seem to be getting smarter about ice storms, thankfully. For another, while we had freezing rain three separate mornings, each afternoon the temperature rose just enough above freezing to melt off the ice coating on trees and power lines. Thus there was very little tree damage and only isolated electrical outages, and neither of those here. What we did get was the beauty of ice coatings making the yard look like a fairyland. I took pictures. Maybe one or more will make the next blog post. (One is in the current blog post - the pile of prunings - but it's not pretty, except maybe to the rabbits.) We are supposed to have early spring like weather the rest of the week.

Mike is down in the basement bottling two batches of wine that he began a year ago from 2015's elderberry and crabapple harvests respectively. It'll be quite interesting to sample the crabapple wine because it's the first time we've made it.

We have sometimes had yeast overflow from wine or beer making, more the latter than the former. Mike attaches a plastic tube to the upper end of the bubbler and puts the other end into a tall plastic bottle if he thinks there will be overflow or notices it happening, to keep it from becoming a general mess.

So far we have had bottles explode only twice. Once Mike added too much sugar when he was bottling beer (a little sugar water is added at the time of bottling to allow the beer to fizz but it's not supposed to build up enough pressure to explode) and the bottles of beer exploded as they sat in the basement. Mike likes to tell that story in a funny way. The second time was with a cherry wine that apparently wasn't quite done fermenting when it was bottled. When we opened the bottles the wine would get a little bubbly. That was fine, but then we took a bottle of that wine with us on a five hour drive to visit friends. We stopped at a rest area along the way; all was well when we stopped. But when we got back into the car, it smelled like wine ... a lot. We scratched our heads and started looking. Pretty soon Mike found part of the wine bottle. Apparently the motion of the car agitated the wine enough to cause more fermentation, building up the pressure past what the bottle could stand.

As always, I am enjoying your stories and photos! Thanks for letting us in on your life!

Claire

SLClaire said...

Hi Margaret,

I'm really glad you didn't have any issues with the ice storm! It didn't cause too much of a problem here as I mentioned to Chris above, but there were places that got hit pretty bad.

The memorial service sounds as wonderful as such a thing can be, a true celebration of your brother's life with many memories shared. Now that it is over and you can allow yourself to relax, it's not surprising to me that you are feeling ill. I used to get ill routinely on vacations when I was working for pay at a job I found stressful. May you enjoy some rest and recover soon!

Claire

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco, Pam, Damo, Margaret, Lewis, and Claire,

Thanks for all of the lovely comments! I promise to respond to them tomorrow.

This evening the editor and I watched a really good film at the cinema called: The Edge of Seventeen. It was an excellent film and the young lady who had the leading role really nailed the role. It also starred Woody Harleson, and who doesn't like Woody? Heck, I can even recall Cheers. And who didn't enjoy Cheers? :-)! It is funny how when we were all much younger just how strongly emotions were felt.

Cheers (pun intended!)

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I found your stories on the 1918 flu very interesting, especially as it applied to Lewis County. And I have found Anderson's "Stretching" book to be invaluable. My dad sent it to me years ago when it helped him with an injured back and I had it out only last week when my husband pulled a calf muscle.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 52F (11.11C) this morning at 8am. ALL the ice and snow is gone. Wind gusts to 25. We went to a "flood watch" status, this morning.

Woody is a fav. He had a small, but great roll in "2012". A reclusive conspiracy freak who gets blown away by the Yellowstone super volcano! Kind of like the hermit in "Hunt for the Wilder People."

I watched "The Emigrants", last night. LONG but good. A lot of the little details looked like the "Finn Stuff" my relatives used to have around. Speaking of movies, there's been an obscure Bette Davis movie I've been trying to track down. "Storm Front" it was done in the early 50s during the Commie witch hunts. A small town librarian has a book in her library about Communism. The town board wants her to remove it. She digs in her heals. The pitchforks and torches come out. They burn down her library! Who doesn't like a good burning library? :-)

And, from the paleobotany front ... they've just found a fossil down in Argentina ... "52 Million-year-old Tomatillo Fossils Rewrite Veggie History." It was on NPR. It pushes the Nightshade family back another 12 million years. As you know, the family of plants that gave us potatoes, tomatoes, chili, bell peppers, egg plant, etc. etc..

Off to the Little Smoke. Hopefully, a stress free trip. Rain, no problem. Ice and snow? Not so much. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I have found a match for your fighting wallabies. Scroll down a tiny bit to see fighting bunnies:

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/34290545/watch-video-of-slap-fighting-jackrabbits-goes-viral

Pam

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris

The recipe for the pickles is new to me, I used apple cider vinegar rather than malt vinegar so I'll let you know if they are worth the work after a taste test. I'm still finding sticky patches in the kitchen because I turned one jar up to see if it was airtight.... Not my cleverest move. I also make a quick pickle out of grated carrot, daikon radish green ginger and chopped garlic, plus a pinch of salt, pinch of sugar in the summer to go with salads and it's delicious with either lemon or vinegar as the souring agent.

Good luck with wringing every last hour out of your current wood stove, Chris They are a large investment that's for sure.

Margaret I do hope you recover quickly. I'm glad the memorial for your brother Patrick went well. It's heart-warming to hear the endearing and funny stories about loved ones and to see how their lives have affected the lives of others.

Warm regards, Helen

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

What a fine mess that yeastie business would have been. In a good way though. You can inoculate new batches of wine and beer with the remnants of the old ones, so your brother’s experiment was spot on. How did the beer taste? That is the important question really. The millet beer ere is tasting like a mildly sweet beer. All of these experiments are so simple that it is just not funny. I'm looking forward to the blackberry harvest which should be about two to three weeks away as there will be jams and wines to make - plus who doesn't love fresh blackberries?

Well, all of the sediment which is basically dead yeast and yeast waste falls to the bottom of the demijohn. It accumulates there and the wines and beers can be poured from the liquid which the mess sits in. A simple wash out with hot water will clean the sediment at the bottom of a demijohn - that has not been allowed to dry. It is a very Western cultural thing that says that all of the equipment should be cleaned out with bleach and it is frankly very weird to believe that. The only bad batch of wine that I have ever had was from a honey supplier who was not my usual suppliers and which substituted corn syrup for honey. The wine was still drinkable but was way too sweet for my tastes as I prefer a drier taste.

Honestly, the less you clean the stuff, the better the cultures that you will encourage.

Stay safe in the extreme cold weather. Bringing in the firewood is a great idea - and we spent the day doing just that.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

23F yesterday and the white frost is still here today at 27F. Out in town yesterday and my knees didn't want to function. I am told that synovial fluid thickens in cold weather. Don't know whether that is true or not.

@Pam
It is illegal to hunt anything with a dog so lurchers cannot be advertised as ideal for the purpose. Of course hunting goes on but perhaps the hunters breed their own dogs.

Ah, the winter of 1963. It actually started in 1962. We woke on Boxing Day (26th Dec) to an incredible snowfall. The snow fell into the kitchen when we opened the front door, which opened inwards. It was not possible to go outside. The timing was actually quite convenient as I never reckoned to shop again unti after Twelfth Night.

We did have mains water by that time and things remain warm under that depth of snow so the pipe wasn't frozen as far as I remember The snow had drifted in one direction so some roads were fairly clear, ours was not and the snow was level with the top of the hedges. We had 2 children at the time aged 4 and 2.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

@Pam cont.

My husband managed to get outside a few days later and I tried to by walking in his footprints. The snow remained soft and I found it exhausting to lift my legs over more than a few steps. Later on when he could get across the fields to the village, I accompanied him on one occasion. I think that a local brother-in-law came and baby sat. On the walk back I became more and more tired and honestly I longed to lie down in the snow and go to sleep. It does sound incredible but I now understand exactly how easy that would be to do. Seems weird now when I think that it was only a mile each way.

The sun shone for months without clearing the snow. The beach was amazing as great hunks of broken ice were left behind whenever the tide went out.

Someone built a busty snow woman on the side of the road. I always assumed that my husband was the sculptor but he denied it.

Fortunately we had a huge cache of firewood and lots of paraffin for lighting and a bit of bedroom heating. (What do you call paraffin in the US?)

Fortunately no children old enough for school and the holiday business and café that my husband ran with his brothers only functioned in the summer, so apart from getting food and for pleasure we had no need to get out.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! Yes, fans of Douglas Adams rejoice for he has provided an excellent blog title! Hehe! Glad you liked it, I do aim to amuse.

Oh, I felt really bad that the victorious wallaby got soundly trounced. Anyway, they both happily bounced off to whatever wallaby mischief they were up to. And, don't feel too bad for them as one of those naughty wallabies ripped the top off a young ornamental weeping cherry tree. They got what they deserve those two! ;-)!

Your guess is very accurate and there are some very strange insects living under the house. They look to me like the sort of insects that a person would find in a cave. There are crickets which are very pale and creepy spiders that weave single strand webs. I'm sort of hoping that the tree frogs eat the lot of them. But yeah, the mice have no doubt opened the way for others to follow. Don't you reckon the wallabies look like 5 foot tall versions of rats on a dodgy television show like: Dancing with the rats?

Yeah, the soils here - like your place - are definitely acidic with the blue. And adding lime will make the flowers pinker. You know some people down here grow groves of truffle oaks, but the lime they have to bring in every single year makes no economic sense to me. Mind you, last year someone uncovered one of the largest black truffles for the year down this way. I believe they called it black gold? Truffles in small quantities taste ok, but they can be less than subtle tasting.

Personal hygiene is a priority here, but alas, some male friends seem not to have received that particular notice. I once met a young lady who asked me whether it was normal behaviour that her partner to be didn't wash his beard and made a point of doing just that. It was a tough thing to let the poor young lady down, but no, it is not normal. Just sayin... Hehe!

Thanks and the rock wall project has had to stop so that the winters firewood could be brought in. I suspect autumn may be early this year. Oh yeah, there was a tarp under the firewood last year too. Water is a very interesting medium to keep out of your firewood. The winters here are usually the humid time of the year and so water is a friend now, but a foe at that time of the year. This is of course upside down when compared to your drier but colder winters. Global warming...

Oh yeah, we chuck carrots in all sorts of food, including the dog food. Dogs love carrots as much as they love pumpkin and they are very fond of apples! That last one was a surprise.

That is a bummer, but you did have a humid summer last year? Maybe? Zucchinis love the heat combined with low humidity, plus a regular drink. I give them about 10 minutes of water per day from a dripper hose and that is it. Oh, almost forgot. They are blackjack variety.

Building in flood prone lands is crazy as. Follow the money. The reason my house insurance is almost $2,000 per year is because the government prescribed that the insurers had to cover flood damage. When Black Saturday hit 2,000 houses were destroyed or damaged. When the Brisbane floods hit there were about 35,000 to 40,000 houses damaged. You do the maths as such things are beyond my poor brain.

Well, one must maintain an element of modesty in all situations! That is the mark of a gentleman or gentlewoman.

Thanks for the story about Rex and I have absorbed that and taken it on board. It accords with my understanding of the world too. I'm thinking a blue heeler might be a good breed?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks, would you believe that that poor unloved foxglove plant was only $1 and the person selling it just wanted to be rid of it?

What a great word. I'd never heard of that one before, but I do try that camera trick with the photos. It is hard to get close up without switching to macro mode. You are clearly a connoisseur of digital photography so I will tell you that I use a Pentax K-r and the lens is Sigma 18-50. I got the camera second hand a few years back for a throw out price and it is truly amazing. The camera looks like the sort of camera that storm-troopers from Star Wars would take with them.

I'm with you, that was their finest hour that episode. I really enjoyed Voyager and the channel station that appeared to me to have been taken over by a private equity firm the details of which shall not be disclosed here unceremoniously dumped the show a year or two before it was finalised. It is enough to kick anyone's television watching habits.

I cannot offer you financial advice, but as a mate I can discuss general asset classes. I read somewhere recently that 75% of all managed funds lose money. My understanding about that situation is that generally the people that run managed funds apparently have an arbitrary requirement that they take 2% of the funds value every year as fees and that is apparently regardless as to whether the fund has won or lost in the year. My maths is not so good, but I'll leave the numbers to you.

It is nice to see some nightlife in your part of the world!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

A high turnover of plant material into poop (plant soluble minerals) is a good sign. I am curious as to whether the deer have been clawing back the snow and eating the frozen plant material underneath that? I have never heard that deer consume the root systems of plants - unlike rabbits and sheep - and so the plants will inevitably bounce back with vengeance once spring kicks in. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of that all is. I have no experience with such climates, but the protein levels in plants drops off near the end of winter and so the wallabies can begin browsing on the fruit trees. This is not that different a situation?

Yeah, I'm really wrapped to get the coffee grounds and husks and the other day I took them in some lemons from the trees here. They make the most excellent lemon and coconut muffins and I have not had better anywhere. They use a sour cream recipe for the muffins, but they are holding back on handing over the recipe, despite ongoing pressure to do so! Hehe!

That is nice to hear. I hope that you are taking it easy on yourself and the people around you. Everyone feels differently in your situation and it is hard to know what may happen. When I first felt grief at the loss of loved ones as a young adult, I was personally surprised at the indifference from my peers. Time certainly changed that. Look after and go easy on yourself.

The power company has to work around the weather so no doubt, they keep their own counsel. They trim the trees around the lines up this way at random intervals and don't need anyone’s permission to do so, which I'm fine with. A lot of bushfires start with overloaded power lines. All we have to fear is hubris - anyway that is what a former Prime Minister once quipped. Mind you, he later lost his seat... That is not a good look.

I've never seen a deer buck fight either. They seem to be the boss, and that is where the matter rests. I've never seen wallabies fight before, but the grey forest kangaroos are forever testing the other bucks mettle. It is all a lot of show of course, but a lone old male kangaroo calls this place home and he is huge at probably well over 7 foot. He has a story to tell, which we'll never know.

Ha! I'd happily remove and relocate those rocks - and replace the holes with mushroom compost. Alas for the distance...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

It is worth giving the experiment a go. Beer is basically fermented grain. How it works at its most basic level is that the yeasts cannot convert the starches in the grains to alcohol. So you sprout the grains in water and then a mould converts the starches in the sprouted grains to sugars. The sugars then get deposited by the moulds in the fluids. All of the leftover muck from that process is chook or worm feed. Then the yeasts convert the sugars in the liquid to alcohol. It really is that simple and it is a two stage process. Sake does the same process of converting rice (a grain of sorts) to alcohol, but the moulds and yeast are added to the cooked rice upfront and so it is a one step process.

If you have sugars in the first place - such as from fruits or honey, then it is a one step process as the yeast then does all of the heavy lifting.

Hope that all makes sense?

Thanks! That is a blog post in itself. The short story is that:
- I have never stopped physically working from a young age. Honestly, I could have started the blog 20 years ago and back then it would have looked very crazy on a work front even though I worked full time at a desk job. However this is a minor side story;
- Stretch. Every single night before I go to sleep regardless of circumstances, I perform a series of stretching exercises. Every single night - and so does the editor;
- Eat lots of greens and fruit. Those things are chock full of anti-inflammatories. Nuff said;
- Enjoy a well deserved tipple at the end of the work day. People who say that one drink five times per week is bad for you are selling you down the river;
- Remember to pat yourself on the back for a job well done after a hard days work;
- Walk (or swim). This is an awesome exercise to build strength in your back;
- Keep your back straight as you work. It takes practices but it really does make a difference. I could tell you about my chainsaw work before I went on a course to teach me how to use the thing. I've followed an excavator around for three solid days wielding a chainsaw and could get up and do the same the following day (although i was a bit tired at the end of that);
- When you are sitting at a desk keep your back posture symmetrical. I see appalling postures when they are sitting in some people and it reminds me of the South Park episode (one of the few that I have seen) called Make Love not Warcraft;
- Take breaks. I don't understand why people have issues with breaks, but we structure our work her so that regular breaks are a part of that;
- Don't do the same thing day after day. This sounds like common sense, but I wonder how tradies keep at their jobs day after day if those jobs are repetitive activities like brick laying. I don't get that as it is not sustainable.

I'm sure more will spring to mind later and if anyone else has any suggestions, I'm all ears?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Claire and Helen & Chris,
Thanks for the good wishes. I am feeling quite a bit better now. I'm going into Chicago tomorrow to spend a couple days with my aunt which will be a bit like vacation. If I'm away from here I can't do any work now can I :).

Claire, I was very relieved we missed the ice storm on Sunday as it was originally forecast to hit that afternoon. Instead we had some ice build up on Monday - much better timing.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

This is really weird but when I woke up this morning it was almost the same temperature here as up your way! Seriously. 46'F. Outside it was so cold that I had to put on a woollen jumper. And the funny thing was that I went to pick up the mail at the post office - and enjoy a cappuccino and fruit toast, and here's me with a woollen jumper on and everyone else was wearing shorts and t-shirts as if it was hot. I suspect that the houses that they had just come from had not cooled down from the hot days leading up to this morning? Dunno really.

Oh yeah, I could see a cat being freaked out by that noise, and it would freak me out too! I'm probably not going to be able to sleep the entire night through tonight and this affects my feelings of calmness and general sense of well being! A severe weather warning has been issued for this part of the state as the second tropical low looks set to smash here at about 3am. Is that not an indignity? I think so!

Wet night ahead of Friday flood threat. Things may be worse in Jo's and Angus's neck of the woods!

Fair enough. I assume the snow loading can be heavier than the roof was engineered to sustain? The engineers for this place specified high wind loads and that meant all sorts of steel holding up and tying down most parts of the roof. It seemed a bit over the top at the time, but there was that minor tornado a few years back. I wouldn't know how it would cope with a huge weight of snow.

Out of curiosity, I assume people keep the tools for digging out of the snow inside their homes? The logistics would be interesting, like do you have to remove the snow into the insides of the house? Does the power go out? It would be a surreal experience for me and I just can't understand any of it.

Your little green frog was wise in the ways of fluorescent lighting! All of the tree frogs stake out the garden lighting here and the owls use the up-lit tree like a giant fast food outlet. Not to mention that the dogs eat any moth they can find - and the moths here are huge. They were originally a source of protein for the Aboriginals and I can see that as there are a lot of juicy fat moths.

Maybe, what sort of things do you think yeast might say? My gut feeling is that they'd be very busy in party mode and possibly would deign to notice the likes of me...

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! Well Elephant Stamps have lower trading value than the Gold Star and of course finding an exchange would be problematic - and that lot always want a cut of the action. You know, you can almost hear them now saying. Thanks for the idea Mr Lewis, but well, we're taking it for our own and too bad, so sad for you! Yes, Mr Greer holds on tightly to the Gold Stars. Pah! You my friend think deeply enough, plus you are far better read and more learned than I. We might be able to pull a heist on Mr Greer's blog by offering each other a Gold Star? What do you think about that idea? Of course, Mr Greer would no doubt moderate such cheeky behaviour?

How are you finding the book Bottleneck? Is it as good as Overshoot? Does it share any great insights? It is quite amusing that there is a book on consumerism - available for purchase of course! But then, you got it from the library so perhaps I'm just being silly. I'm unsure how much mileage could go into such a book anyway? I wasn't aware that there were different breeds of vampires, but then dissensus rules that kingdom of course. So don't hold back, what could that possibly mean when they refer to different breeds of vampires? Are there nice vampires that do good deeds?

Yeah, the home is probably full up to their eyeballs with problems relating to the weather. That same thing could have pushed you up the list a bit. But then people suffer more from the prolonged heat waves too. Best of luck with that and give yourself some time to adjust to the many quirks and routines of the place. What else can you do?

The stories from the 1918 flue epidemic were quite shocking and many of the victims were previously very healthy individuals. Of course moving the sick and deceased on trains with the healthy returning soldiers was not a smart move. Also the sheer stress that people were under increased the susceptibility of people. Population stresses are serious things when it comes to disease in previously healthy but stressed populations. My gut feeling is that this will be an impact in the future. No doubts about it.

Well, I'm aware of a person who held strong opinions on the subject of vaccinations. When his kids were very ill, he took them to the Royal Children's Hospital and lied about is kids vaccination status and there are a lot of sick or immune compromised kids in that hospital. The guy had no shame or remorse about it, despite putting other sick kids at risk. That I believe is the future when you wrote about breaking quarantine.

I hope the storm here tonight is not too bad. We worked until well past 8pm tonight getting the place ready just in case.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Sigh! I hear you. You would be only too aware that thermal inertia means that perhaps the hottest weather here, and the coldest weather there is yet to come, sorry to say. I would lend you some of the heat here in exchange for some cooler weather. It only seems fair! :-)!

Glad to read that the ice storm only had minimal impact. I'm bracing for a 3am heavy rain tropical low pressure system here. I will have to get up and keep an eye on the place... It is good that so many places and events closed during the ice storm. It is only sensible really. You were also lucky not to get much in the way of tree damage or powerline damage. The trees really struggle with the freezing and thawing process I would hazard a guess?

I'd love to see those photos. I noticed you have a new blog entry and I was hoping to enjoy it tonight, but ended up working to 8pm. It was a long day... The ice really washes the colours out of the world doesn't it?

I've never tried crab apple wine and will be very interested to learn of your opinion. Elderberry wine on the other hand is superb! It really is good and a lot better than champagne.

Mike is pretty clever to have worked out such an arrangement. That has given some interesting ideas for the future. Thanks very much for sharing!

Thanks for sharing the stories. Yeah, that would do it for sure. I've never had an exploding bottle yet, but the agitation from car travel is something that I had not considered... What a frightening thought. The editor once had a flagon of port spill into a work car. Apparently the cap was not tightly fitted... Ooops! No amount of cleaning gets that stuff out of the carpet and sound deadening in a vehicle... How did Mike clean up the cherry wine in the car?

Ooooo! I have the door open (it is about 11pm here) and I just heard a couple of rats squeaking in the garden bed outside the door. Creepy. The editor and I took Toothy and a couple of torches only to spot a rat scurrying away. The funny thing was that the rat was covered in bidgee-widgee burrs (also known as burrs) and so they are spreading plant seeds all over the place. The dogs also get covered in burrs too at this time of the year...

It is a pleasure to be able to share the place and stories with people as lovely as you and the other commenters here!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, Woody is a very good actor. Have you ever seen the very creepy series True Detective? Woody rocked that rol1(sic)!

Gotta run, bed is calling sorry mate!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis, Pam and Helen,

Thanks for the lovely comments, but I've run out of time to reply this evening as we worked very late in preparation for tonight's severe storm. I hope it makes friends with us...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I used to scald my bread box (it's an old biscuit/cookie tin; maybe it's aluminum?) with boiling water before I stored my fresh loaves in it. I figured that crumbs from the last batch of bread might cause the fresh bread to mold faster. I make bread twice a week, which is often enough not to have it mold, so I gave up the scalding chore. I reckon if my bread gets moldy before we eat it I am trying to stretch it too far anyway.

Our neighbors have a kelpie. Is that anything like a blue heeler? She is the bossiest of dogs, BUT has a huge tendency to roam - at top speed - looking for something to herd. There's a thought - herding dogs are pretty bossy. We had an Australian shepherd and 5 cats once and she used to (she thought) herd the cats.

Thanks for the zucchini variety. I hadn't heard of it.

"75% of all managed funds lose money." Ok. I am going with the thought that at least the other 25% don't lose money, and may earn some . . .

Wonderful fitness advice! Love it! I just sat up straight. You have improved me already.

"We might be able to pull a heist on Mr Greer's blog by offering each other a Gold Star?" I can just see it! I think Mr. Greer might well appreciate it - until it unleashed a torrent of everybody offering everybody else a gold star. Rather cumbersome to moderate . . .

You are never lacking for water these days, which is good, but then there are all those other issues that come with these storms. Good luck! And it sounds like Tasmania may be in for it.

A Bidgee-Widgee Rat! Even a Klingon would not eat one.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

Thanks for the recommendation about the book, "Stretching". I've had some back issues for several years and hope the recommendations from this book will be helpful.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

The power company comes every few years or so but they do quite the "chop job" on the trees unfortunately.

I wanted to bring up the "Women's March" this Saturday. It's not something I plan to participate in even though I'll be in Chicago on that day as I think the purpose is rather vague. I have many friends and acquaintances who are, however, and boy are they putting on the pressure. I believe I've admitted here before that I have a FB account. Most older people got accounts some years ago as it was the best way to see their kids' pictures. This is where most of the pressure is coming from. For those not familiar if someone is "tagged" in a post or picture you'll get an email notification. A women I know well who's the president of the county environmental organization did just this demanding to know if I was going. She did this to quite a few people. I've also gotten phone calls as well. At least I have an excuse - recovering from whatever I've had for the last week. I hesitate to tell them that I wouldn't have participated anyway. I'm just a wimp I guess but I just don't need the guilt trip. Many of these same women are busily knitting "pussy hats" by the dozen. Well in my mind if they're concerned about specific issues their time would be better spent than this.

I rarely put anything on FB and make it a policy to totally stay out of politics. One of my sisters is a very involved Libertarian and in fact has run for state office and her policy is to just keep her posts about pets and gardening. I've found exactly three benefits from FB; reconnecting with an aunt and cousins who don't live nearby, our local page that updates about what's going on in town and a Chicagoland chicken page where you can buy, sell or trade chickens. Unfortunately it's becoming the only way to reach some people now as they don't even check their email and often don't reply when you call on the phone (sigh).

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

@ Pam

It has just occurred to me that we would have run out of bottled gas during this time. I cooked with it and it was my only way of heating water. My husband must have had to carry in more than one cylinder. His brothers had cleared the road as far as the business but not to us so husband would have had a difficult walk across a field and through the woods, about a quarter of a mile. We didn't have a wood stove only an open wood fire.

Our income was just over £500 a year, I don't know what the equivalent would be now. Life was really quite hard but it seemed okay.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hope you rode out the storm, ok. Weather here is still warmish. Looking at the 15 day forecast, in about five days our overnight lows will be right around -0-C. That I can handle, no problem.

I there's snow on the roof and it starts to rain, sometimes, the snow soaks up the water and it gets even heavier. There is a tool called a "snow rake". I have no idea what they look like, except they have a long handle. Talked to my friends in Idaho, last night. They're snow rake broke and they're waiting on a new one. Of course, you'd keep a shovel inside, to dig yourself out :-). There are also machines called "snow blowers". I don't know much about them. But I know there are smaller models for home use that look a bit like an oversized lawn mower.

The yeast would probably break into a couple of courses of "Come on, Eileen." :-).

Well, in the book about the Mexican vampires, there's even a glossary in the back explaining the different varieties. Differences and similarities. None, are nice. Data on what part of the world they originated in, etc. Which can breed with which other breed. And, no, vampires can't make humans into vampires. They can enthrall them, but that's about it. Some breeds are mildly telepathic, some not. They're very clannish and tribal. Each breed looks down their noses at all the other breeds. One or two breeds prefer carrion, rather than meat on the hoof. It's interesting. You take an old story and give it several new twists.

Finished "Bottleneck". Well, generally, Catton makes if pretty clear that we're way past the carrying capacity of the planet, and that sometime in this century the population will be reduced, one way or another. He hopes people get a clue and reduce the load. But, he doesn't think that's going to happen. He touches on it lightly, but it's probably more going to be ghastly and bloody. More so in some places, than others. One way or another, the population must be reduced. The American health care system is doing it's best to help in this endeavor. :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I've read stories about how the logging camps during the 1918 flu epidemic were quarantined, but someone alway broke quarantine. Always one or two guys that just HAD to get to town for booze, women, or to check on family. I seem to remember a novel about that. During the epidemic, here, the city council banned public gatherings. Businesses had to close. Theaters, restaurants. Church services. Business either put pressure on the council to lift the ban, or ignored it. There was a lot of flip flopping. The ban was on, the ban was off. The body count rose, the ban was on again. You find this kind of behavior right back to the medieval plagues. Villages would try and isolate themselves and someone would break quarantine.

I wonder about that human urge to go counter to self interest. Probably a mix of self entitlement and genetic predisposition. I think it relates to the urge to drive into flood waters, travel in weather when no one should be traveling. Talking on the phone or texting and wandering into traffic, or, over a cliff edge. What was so important?

I watched "The New Land" last night. Long and beautifully photographed. But always something interesting going on. I did fast forward through the part where the Native Americans were killing the settlers. Some things I don't need to see.

We have a crew of Mexican fellows working about the place, today. They're all related. Clearing some brush and propping up an old shed. My landlord mentioned that sometimes, the fellows communicate by whistling. He wondered if that was a Mexican thing. Well ... the handy dandy trusty internet ... They must be from Oaxaca. It's a Mexican state way down in the south on the Pacific coast. Home of one of the few whistling languages in the world. Speculation is that in that very hilly land of isolated villages, the whistling language developed.

Interesting stuff, out there in the world. If you have the sense to look ... or listen for it. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow, that obscure Bette Davis film would have been quite revolutionary given the time that it was produced, but then Hollywood would have been under suspicion from day one. I see very strange attacks on the government broadcaster down here which often describe it as left wing and I don't believe the people mounting those attacks even understand what they are trying to articulate. They certainly couldn't explain what was meant by the term "left wing"... It is just very, very, silly.

Burning libraries seems to provide some sort of a cathartic release for stressed populations, don't you reckon? It is like: oh I've got a great idea lets stop people thinking about things in the first place. It unfortunately sounds very despotic to me.

Those plants in the nightshade family are very hardy. There are even local edible species here which I grow. It is nice to learn that they have such an excellent heritage.

Lucky you, that you can avoid the cabin fever and I do hope that your trip into the little smoke was uneventful.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the querulous Jack Rabbit video. Funny stuff, and the fur did actually fly!

Down here there are little kangaroos (much smaller than a wallaby) called Pademelons and they fight incessantly from what I've seen of them. I've only seen them in the island state of Tasmania. It is an interesting huge island because there are no large kangaroo species and I've often wondered about that. Anyway here goes: Pademelons Play Fight.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

Thanks for the feedback about the pickle recipe. I mucked up apple cider vinegar last year because I didn't get it acidic enough and my pickles went off. I'm interested to learn of your opinion of the cucumbers in apple cider vinegar when you eventually taste them. I reckon it will be good.

Yup, would be massively messy! Dogs are good for cleaning up the floors in such a sticky situation! Hehe!

Thanks, I've replaced the side plates twice now, the bricks once, and the glass three times (that pyro 5mm glass stuff is $1,000 per square metre!). It'll be when the wet back packs it in that we'll stump the cash for a new wood heater.

22mm last night here! I noticed the storm seems to have drifted north and I hope that you enjoyed some much needed rain? It looks like winter outside here today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ouch! I hope your knees became better as the day progressed? I honestly don't know enough about such subjects, however fluids do become more viscous at low temperatures and the winter temperatures I'm reading about this year from your part of the globe make me quail in fear as I have no experience of those sorts of cold weather living conditions. Winters are quite mild here really. I believe doctors in the 19th century used to advise people in UK to emigrate to warmer climates for their health. Of course this may have been a social policy too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Enjoy your vacation!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Bread is a funny product and I'm glad to read that you bake your own bread. I've read some rather strange stories about shop purchased bread in that the dough mix could have been prepared then frozen at least six months prior to the baking process. And what is worse was that the reports also suggested that this dough mix was begun in a factory as far away from here as Ireland - and other parts of Europe. Now call me old fashioned but that process seems very strange to me.

Scalding your bread tin is probably a good idea. As a comparison, I tend to bake smaller loaves and consume the bread that day (or the next at the latest). What is happening to your bread is probably a good thing as any bread that can hang around longer than half a week most likely contains a goodly quantity of preservatives. Bread goes off really quickly without those preservatives. A mate once showed me some bread and he was saying how amazing it was that the stuff was still soft after almost a week. I was a little bit horrified by that...

The kelpie's are a great breed. Herding cats is a tough job under the best conditions and not one I would try. Well, Scritchy spends an inordinate amount of time co-ordinating the activities of the other dogs. Hmm, a Australian cattle dog is also called a Blue or Red Heeler. I think Beau is one of those types of dogs and Lewis may be able to elaborate further on the matter? Basically, I need a smart dog, rather than an excitable dog. Dunno, I haven't put too many brain cells towards the matter and Scritchy is showing no signs of turning paws up despite her advanced years and recent illness.

That zucchini variety is quite common down this way as is the Lebanese varieties.

Haha! But which is which - and in which years? That is the question. They have a saying that applies to that particular field which says: Past performance is not a guide to future performance. ;-)!

Glad you enjoyed it. The use of symmetry in your frame is perhaps more important than I understand. You can see that some people lack symmetry when they walk - and this can be for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons is learned behaviour and that one we can all do something about.

Hehe! Yeah, Mr Greer would be most displeased and so it is probably best if we don't manage to achieve that particular goal! Hehe! I'm always amazed at his even handedness and the wit he displays in his replies even when some people look to me to be doing acts of: Drive by trolling.

I woke up at 3am and the rain seemed more persistent than damaging which I was pleased with. All up 0.9 inches of rain fell in only about two to three hours. It was quite heavy at times, but the orchard received a good summer’s drink. All this rain is making me turn my attention to ensuring that the firewood is brought in for the year. The rain was much heavier in Tasmania by all accounts.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh yeah, the power company guys are trying to do the job cheaply. The last time they were up this way, they took the wood mulch away with them. I did ask them for some of it. They are under instructions not to accept anything from anyone whilst working on the various jobs. Alas, I suspect things clearly got carried too far in the past.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Wow, I feel bad for you about that pressure. Yeah Facebook was used a lot by parents to keep an eye on their kids. If i makes you feel any better the kids quickly wised up to that and switched over to snap chat and instagram. And possibly other services.

I wonder what the goal of the march even is? Most marches appear to be quietly ignored by the powers that be. The whole feminism thing appears to have been captured by any number of groups with agendas and I have heard some of the most outrageous claims being made under the guise of feminism. The editor cops a fair bit of pressure by not conforming to societies expected narrative of her. I'm planning to write about a funny story that relates to this matter but from the different (and perhaps less excitable) perspective of vehicles on the next blog.

Yes, I also despair about the lack of phone calls and people ignoring emails etc. etc. Someone not too long ago sent me an urgent email asking me to phone them. And I made an issue about how stupid that act is. Of course they assumed I could receive emails on the go, but why didn't they just call me in the first place. Another time that same thing happened and they sent me an email, and then another email because I hadn't responded to the first one. And they were also explaining in the email that the information was required for a meeting that afternoon. How weird is that?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, you are very stoic coping with all of those low overnight temperatures. The storm wasn't too bad and it brought a healthy 0.9 inches of rain which the orchard appreciates. The rain fell over about two to three hours so it wasn't too bad, but the lightening storm before hand lit up the night sky (and woke me up!)

Thanks for the explanation about the snow on peoples roof's. Absorbing extra weight with the rain would be a serious problem for loading on the roof timbers. Ouch. I assume the occasional roof falls in at any weak points. Usually in the middle of the night of course... That isn't good about the snow rake breaking. I try hard to keep spares for crucial bits of equipment, just in case... Our "stuff" these days is very shoddy.

Ha! Of course, Dexy's Midnight Runners would be the yeasties theme song. Seriously, that song is one massive ear worm. Don't think about... And here's today's ear worm featuring Dexy's... Hehe!

Those are new twists to the vampire story. Hey, is the word "compendium" appropriate for that collection of vampire breeds? And curious minds want to know if the vampire breed that consumes carrion is on the bottom of the pecking order? And if they are not human, what are they - did the book get around to explaining that? Don't laugh but I've seen plenty of people who are enthralled by television screens. Are there vampires controlling the programming?

Yeah, Catton wrote as much in the book Overshoot and I see no reason to doubt his learned opinion. Hmm, he did mention good grace and I've been pondering that particular matter of late. My gut feeling is that the structures of our society favour competitive thought-ways without thinking through the consequences of that strategy. Interestingly enough, memes can get dumped if the facts can no longer hide from a failing meme and he did mention that. But what takes its place in a society that thinks in terms of memes. That is the question. That is funny about the health care system in your country! But not funny at the same time.

I haven't read about that urge, but I can see it in operation in our society. It is disturbing as it runs counter to the best interests of the herd. Perhaps it is the stories that we tell ourselves and who put those stories there and what do they support and what benefits do they bring. I had a mate once who pitted his genetics against nature and knowingly produced a disabled child - knowing that was a very possible outcome - and I wonder about that.

Well, that went on in both camps. It was a war for resources after all at its most base level.

That is interesting about the whistling language. You know I use whistle commands with the dogs when they are at a very far distance from me. That is a form of language too. It is amazing really that some animal species try hard to communicate with us humans and dogs are one of those. The dogs here are forever telling me to come here - I guess these relationships go both ways... The world is a fascinating place indeed.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

That is a fascinating tale that you have to tell. The winter of 62-63 must have been quite the anomaly? I'll bet the children enjoyed the snow. It still enthralls me, though that is tempered by the extra work required to deal with it, especially if I should have to drive in it (usually I don't). I would guess that what you call paraffin I would call kerosene. We have a friend who is toying with giving away his kerosene lantern (I believe it can run on other fuels, too), but he just can't seem to part with it. We'd like it here. Running out of bottled gas would be a problem. Our generator - used in the frequent power outages - runs on regular petrol and I am most vigilant that we always have a good supply of it.

That is most interesting about knees. I have a bit of joint problems when it is cold and damp, the damp actually seems to be the worst part of it.

Hunting with dogs is very common (and legal) here. In fact, there is a law that states that a hunter may freely go on anyone's land to retrieve his dog during the hunting season. We used to shelter at least one stray hound every hunting season until his owner came to collect him, after we called the number on his collar. That hasn't happened the last couple of years. I suspect a lot of hounds are wearing tracking collars now.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris:

Those pademelons are too much! I can hardly sit up straight - as I have been taught . . . - while watching them! I love how they briefly, though frequently, stop for a breather; sometimes they are still hanging on to each other!

Their name reminds me of an American folk song that includes "Where the deer and the antelope play." My sons used to sing "Where the deer and the cantaloupe play." I imagine Tassie children have malapropisms about pademelons.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I am ready to make a report on the Carrot Kale Kraut, which if I had made a report a week ago, I would have said: "Sort of yuk". However, today marks the 3 week point since I started it and it has changed immensely for the better. I like it! I am very glad that I did not throw it out last week. I suspect that one more week will see it at its peak, but I don't know as I have never made sauerkraut before. It is in a quart glass canning jar, well-sealed, in the pantry. I have had to add more brine a couple of times. There has been no sign of mold.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - This just in! :-). The roof of the one grocery store in the little town directly south of my friends in Idaho, caved in. There was enough warning, and everyone hustled out and there were no injuries. That they know of. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't find a stray customer under the wreckage. Once, when I was managing the bookstore here, the mall electrical room caught on fire. The place was plunged into darkness and you could smell smoke. So, I hustled everyone out the back door into the parking lot. I made one last sweep of the store and discovered a fellow under an emergency light, blithely reading away. "Er, Sir. The mall is one fire and you should really exit out the back door ... NOW!" Moron. In the end, it was pretty localized and we didn't even suffer smoke damage.

A late report from Portland says that at least 4 homeless people died during that last storm. The news story said that they were of a type that were very shy of people. Also, a homeless woman gave birth in a bus shelter. The baby was either stillborn, or not. Reports vary. Cliff Mass, the weather guy has some nice pictures up of what an ice storm looks like.

The Bette Davis movie was a real barn burner ... or, library burner. There's one scene where Davis slaps a little kid around. I don't mean one slap, I mean half a dozen and a good shaking til his teeth rattled. The child actor must have been a pain in the .... ear to work with on the set and it just all spilled out. The whole town turns out to watch the library burn. THEN they get remorseful. It was a cheery blaze. All that dry wood and paper. These days, it would be toxic clouds of smoke, due to all the computers and other electronics. Cont.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I don't know if there's a collective noun for different species of vampires. Bats are a colony, or a cloud. Either is correct. But that doesn't really work. Because the different species really don't hang out, together. And, yes, the carrion eating vampire are at the bottom of the pecking order. Kind of. It's hard to tell as each species looks down it's nose at all the other species. Echos what Mr. Greer was talking about his week. Class.

I don't know about facts and failing memes. You can beat some people about the head with facts ... or, right into the ground and they're going to clutch their failing meme to their chests in a death grip. My landlord has been moaning for the 25 years that I've known him that someone is going to come and "take his guns." Hasn't happened. Probably isn't going to.

A good turn out for the meeting, last night. About 30 people. Next week they're going to have their annual desert potluck. I haven't decided what to make yet. Something over the top, or more simple?

I know you're not going to rush out and get a dog, tomorrow, but a blue heeler might be good. Beau is mostly blue heeler. I looked on line and he has the coloring of some blue heelers (black and white) and the perky ears. But he's a lot heavier through the chest. I don't know if his hip problems are endemic to heelers, but it might be something to watch out for. I don't know what kind of training Beau had, but he's just the best dog in the world.

With the Mexican work crew around, I didn't see hide nor hair of Nell for the whole day. She just vanished. Beau surprised me as he barked a bit when they showed up, but that was it. I thought he'd be barking his head off all day. Maybe not as he saw my landlord with them early on and figured out they were "O.K.". And that I was relaxed with them being there. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh yeah, those pademelons are constantly fighting among themselves. It looks very ineffective though - all that arm waving and slapping. A bit like the three stooges... :-)!

Nice to see that you are sitting up straight! When I was a kid I always heard adults correcting their kids posture. Of course those instructions were usually conveyed in the form of a telling off: Stop slouching! I think you get the picture. Hehe! You don't hear that said these days.

Haha! That is really funny. And who doesn't like cantaloupe? It is in season here now. Unfortunately it is just too cool to grow that delightful fruit - even in a very hot summer. I guess that may be one benefit of global warming? Speaking of which the Sweet Siberian Melons are growing quite nicely. Fingers crossed for some fruit.

Pademelon is really a funny name for a very small kangaroo isn't it!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oops. Almost forgot to mention that fuel for generators is always a big problem down here after a natural disaster and so I salute your efforts to remember to keep the jerrycans full. I accidentally ran my lot dry the other day. The mower and stump grinder both use fuel, but not much.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh no. That is a disaster that the roof fell in. I hope the town has another grocery store? It is nice that there was enough warning and it does make you wonder what that actually means? I'd imagine that the roof was audibly groaning under the weight of all of that snow. I'd never even considered people hiding in the store, but on reflection you are no doubt correct. I like the story of the guy that was too enthralled reading the book to exit the potentially burning building. Did he buy the book? Probably not given the circumstances... Hey, did you ever get any regulars at the book shop? And were there people who would peruse the shelves for hours on end but never purchase a book? Dealing with the public can be a tricky business at the best of times. I've been there too and I never for one moment misunderstood what people meant by the saying: "At the coal face". My paid work now is like that as I'm at the coal face all of the time. Most accountants hide in their offices and even then hide behind their desks, but I prefer to be where I'm needed. That is considered to be a rather quixotic personal choice by my profession, but I reckon it is the choice with longevity!

It is surprising that in a city of 3m people with such severe winter weather that only a few homeless people died. It is a credit to their homeless shelter networks. I would hate to think what would happen down here if that sort of weather struck. There were anecdotal reports that the homeless people were cleared out of the city recently because the big international tennis tournament is on. I heard international visitors on the radio news complaining about being affronted by the homeless and saying how they would not see such a thing in their home country (they were from New Zealand, Auckland in fact).

Cliff Mass's website is superb. How good were the photos of the ice storm. I have never seen anything even remotely like that. Hope you get that promised warmer weather too?

Ooops! You never see that these days and Bette Davis clearly had a license to do so. You know the other morning I was happily consuming my cappuccino at the local cafe whilst I picked up the mail and a lady came in with her two very young children. And I felt sorry for the mum because she created such a commotion that I worried for her mental health. The two kids were stomping around but not yelling or anything - the mum sure made up for that though. And my gut feeling told me that the mum was itching for an argument or a fight with anyone at all just to relieve her internal tensions. I wonder at the stresses that she was personally feeling to have performed that act and I just felt really sorry for her. Life sometimes doesn't work out to be like peoples daydreams tell them that it will be like. I expect hard work and so I get that, but it is very rewarding and each project produces outputs when not too many other things in our society actually achieve that goal.

Burning libraries is certainly an indicator of a society in decline.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I'd heard of bats living in a colony, although the marsupial bats which consume insects and live here tend to live in small family clusters in hollows in very old trees. I can hear them at night. The fruit bats which are in Melbourne are a whole different story and they descend every single night on any fruit tree in the city. My neighbour back in the big smoke had a very old and very productive apricot tree. She was of an unfortunate type plagued by a state of constant disappointment and she could never quite decide whether the apricots - which were superb - would be better off going to me or the fruit bats. That was only because she hated both of us equally and perhaps me more. I once constructed a very beautiful brick wall made from late 19th century bricks which replaced a rotten and falling down timber fence at no charge to herself. The brick wall really looked awesome and I was very pleased with the finish. I even cleaned up her garden (bringing quantities of her preferred river pebbles) in that area around the wall and re-oiled the timber steps just so there were no hard feelings about the construction process. And at the end of the job, my building surveyor contacted me to let me know that she had been harrassing them about my legal obligations to do further work on the brick wall as apparently she wanted hanging terracotta pots filled with various plants at my expense. It was a surreal experience to see such greed first hand as the finish was so far beyond what the starting point was.

Speaking of old red bricks... There is a new project here which may commence once the threat from bushfires has passed which involves those beautiful old objects which some people consider are a waste product. Some of those objects even have sea shells, thumb prints and all sorts of other interesting features.

Yeah, I've been reading the feedback from comments over at the ADR this week and yes, Mr Greer really spoke to that large and looming problem.

Ha! Well I did try to have a crack at sunseekernv the other week with some rather salient and unpleasant facts. And then I switched tactic and hit the guy’s belief systems before going for the jugular. The funny thing was that he kept coming back to the same thing over and over again. It was like he was saying: My belief system says that it should be thus and so it is thus, and here is an abstract model which supports my belief system. It is a very real death grip. Ha! I'll tell you a funny thing about your landlord’s belief systems: If those guns are more than 25 years old, it may be that they don't work as well now as they did when they were new. Guns are machines just like everything else and they are subject to entropy. A very good neighbour was discussing this very matter with me the other day. The rifling in the barrel is a manufacturing weak spot - not to mention all of the other moving bits and pieces. They don't have to take his guns, entropy will.

Speaking of which, I repaired the throttle cable on the stump grinder today. Some of the parts on these new machines are total rubbish and I really wonder about the longevity of the stuff being produced nowadays. Mind you, I'm getting good at small repairs. In other news, I also teed up the local farm equipment repair guys who I have a very good working relationship, to repair the faulty hydraulic electric log splitter. I felt a bit uncomfortable because I didn't buy the machine off them, but I was saved the discomfit because they don't sell that sort of equipment in the first place and they know I prefer electric equipment because of the solar (they only sell the larger fossil fuel log splitters). Interestingly, they have installed a huge solar array on the roof of their business and we had a good chat about that.

That is a good turn out. Green Wizards is next week! I'm thinking meringue? But given your freezing weather perhaps something more substantial like a good old fashioned homemade apple pie? Or perhaps blueberry pie? What are you thinking of doing?

Cherokee Organics said...

Thank you for saying that about Beau. And yes, by all accounts he sounds like a nonpareil. :-)! I'm looking for a sensible dog rather than an excitable or a vicious dog. A sensible dog will alert me to danger before I'm aware of it and that is their role. The blue heelers are an interesting breed because they have dingo blood lines in them. That is a bit like saying that they have coyote blood lines in them. That provides intelligence.

How are the Mexican work crew going in the cold weather? The guys that sporadically work for me up here have a tough time of it because working outside is like riding a motorcycle in that the weather is only nice about 25% of the year...

I had a massive cook-up day today and all round general life's administration day. Just going around fixing this and that and doing this and that. I like days like that as they are unstructured and you can follow where your nose leads you. I also spent about an hour and half sorting out all of the various screws that I have here into their various categories so that they are ready to hand. My systems for those screws was a complete mess and all of them were spread over a section of the floor in one of the sheds and I just ransacked the pile whenever I needed to find a particular screw. Yes, there are messy bits around here that I don't show in the photographs!!! :-)!

I gotta go and let the chickens out into the orchard, but I have enjoyed our chat!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Coldest night yet 21F, I am getting very fed up with it. The constant white frost is gleaming in the sunshine.

Have the Ladybird books for adults hit Australia and the US? I succumbed to 'Mindfulness' this week, it is hilarious. Son was laughing aloud as he read it. I bought it along with a number of birthday cards and didn't realise until looking at the receipt at home, just how much it had cost. Much to much for something that I could have read quickly in the shop.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Haven't seen the Ladybird books for adults, here. But then again, I haven't been in a "real" bookstore in years. Those are mostly in the big cities. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I suppose the grocery store roof gave a few good groans before it gave way. My friends live in an area where there are a string of little towns along a state highway. Each little town has about one grocery store ... but, the towns are not that far apart. You have to drive quit a distance to get to any "big box stores."

My friend in Idaho is in quit a tizzy. The new snow rake came, and it was missing a small part. Could they send it? No, they'd have to return the whole rake for a replacement ... but wouldn't be charged for it. But they were charged for the replacement rake, so now it will be hours on the phone ....

We don't hear "at the coal face", much, here. What we hear is "in the trenches." Same meaning. Oh, yeah. Seems like there was always someone around reading books and not buying them. Or, the lady who wanted to borrow a book from the bookstore, to xerox a recipe, because she only needed the one recipe. In those pre-internet days, I told her to go to the library. Not related to books but once when I was working in a small bar/cafe in Portland, we had a sea food bisque as a lunch special. A woman asked if "there would be a substantial reduction in price, if we strained out the sea food and she only ordered the broth." Thinking fast on my feet, I told her it would actually cost MORE due to the extra labor involved. :-). In my life, I've heard and seen it all ... as far as dealing with the public goes.

I cheered when I saw a business study that said that "the customer is not always right." That about 5% of your customers were not worth doing business with. They used up your resources and ground down your staff. But then, I must say that there are businesses that give bad, or a minimum of service. I suppose it's a very fine, constantly shifting line.

Well, the weather here has been pretty nice. Oh, a bit of rain, but that's normal. Daytime temperatures in the 40s to low 50s. The Mexican guys working on the shed dress for it. I was letting Nell out this morning and they were unloading some stuff just up the road. I heard them use their whistle language! So cool. As I told my landlord, I guess now, not only do I have to learn Spanish, but the whistling language, too! :-). I don't know why my landlord is repairing that old shed/workshop. Sentimental value? He keeps his guns in good repair and has all kinds of gun smithing equipment. At one point he was a licensed gun dealer. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Odd you should say that. Individual meringues did cross my mind. Lemon, I think. Fragile and hard to transport.

Old bricks are so cool. One of those things that if you want them, they might cost an arm and a leg. Every once in awhile, I see an archaeology article on Roman bricks or tiles that have finger prints or foot prints from people, dogs, cats and deer.

I just saw my landlord out in the yard and he said his wife saw a cougar at the bottom of their driveway, last Wednesday night! I'd better keep a close eye on Nell. Some of the mules are out, this morning, and they seem kind of spooked. Vocalizing, a lot, which they don't usually do. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Have you considered attaching a winch to a wheelbarrow? You could balance the rock in the barrow and the winch pulls it up the hill?

Totally agree with your observation about systems. Many people forget that all systems need to be engineered not for the day-to-day, but for worst case scenarios (storm-water systems are case in point -- whatever we may think about paving 80% of the city ;-)

How did you go with the storm front that came through on (I'm guessing) your Thursday morning? It was dead calm here, and then the storm hit us like a ton of bricks. I was sure we were going to lose a tree (I've got a plum that's very wobbly at the base, which I've carefully staked in hopes it will strengthen again), but miraculously we lost none! I hope you came through unscathed.

Cheers, Angus

Jo said...

Chris, good to see you are getting some exercise this week doing a little rock-breaking. What on earth would you do with yourself in the suburbs? While I could find quite a list of jobs for you to do if you ever popped in, I don't have a single large boulder that needs breaking up in my backyard. You'd likely die of boredom!

Thanks for your answers to my queries last week. I have discovered that the local rock I need is called crushed granite, so once I have prepared my site I will order some in. And thanks for your very long and detailed comment on my blog about your electrical systems. Here is my question - when you said you would do solar hot water with an electric element for winter, what did you mean there - an electric booster, or PV solar panels?? I am so grateful to have you to answer my questions, as someone who has been there and has all the experience:)

@Damo, yes, I really like MMM's unique perspective on life. Sometimes we all need a bit of a kick in the pants! However I am not convinced that his stock and share based income is going to keep him solvent for the rest of his life. In saying that, he is very resourceful, and seems quite capable of making a living in all sorts of different areas.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis, Angus, and Jo,

Thanks for the lovely comments! :-)! Happy times!

I wrote tomorrow nights blog tonight and so have spent so much time writing fun stuff for you to read that I have completely run out of time to reply to your comments this evening. I promise to reply to them all tomorrow night.

What is this Alt-Right business that I'm reading about over at the ADR? Does anyone here know anything about them?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hmmm. How to explain the Alt-Right. In 25 words or less :-). They come in a lot of flavors, with overlapping concerns. I think this Wikipedia entry about sums it up ... the first three paragraphs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

So, you can see why some people have been whipped into a froth over at ADR. I think it's an overheated exercise in purity politics. Outrage that Mr. Greer might find a nugget or two of ... value (?) ... reality (?) among all the dross. Legitimate concerns (?). Lew