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Who doesn’t love low tech solutions to modern problems? And sometimes low tech solutions have unexpected benefits. On the farm I have a very low tech storm early warning device otherwise known as: Scritchy the boss dog.
Scitchy is infallible in her role of low tech storm warning device. If there is a storm anywhere within a thousand kilometres (about 600 miles) radius of the farm, Scritchy is well onto that business. It is uncanny just how well Scritchy can communicate that storm early warning! And how does Scritchy achieve this feat of accurate weather prediction? Scritchy hides under the bed whenever a storm threatens.
|Scritchy hides under the bed whenever a storm threatens anywhere in the Southern hemisphere!|
Meanwhile, away from the safety of the hiding space underneath the bed, the setting sun put on a spectacular show as storm clouds built up over this part of the world. A storm certainly did threaten.
|The setting sun put on a spectacular show as storm clouds built up over this part of the world|
Earlier that day was very hot at 39’C (102’F). In those hot weather conditions, Scritchy would have shown no sign of her storm early warning alert as she would have much preferred to be out in the hot summer sunshine performing her other trick of: “cooking her brain”. I’ve read that zombies are rather fascinated with the fine art of consuming brains and for them this activity may be a good thing, who really knows but I for one would not stop to ask them? However, if they were to attempt to consume Scritchy’s brain after a day of “cooking her brain” in the sun, well, they may find that her brain was somewhat curdled, and really, who knows whether zombies would even appreciate consuming “cooked” brains?
Anyway, that night was very hot and I slept fitfully knowing that Scritchy (as well as the more reliable Bureau of Meteorology) had predicted heavy rain and localised storms. It was the lightning flashes which proceeded the storm that woke me up at the ungodly hour of 2am. I then lay in bed watching the lightning flashes and waiting on the thunder (Bob Seeger fans around the world one and all rejoice!). And then I enjoyed listening to the rain falling. What a beautiful sound rain makes when it falls on an roof during the summer months.
By 3am the heavy rain continued and in my half drowsy state of mind I’d concluded that there didn’t seem to be anything to worry about and so I went back to sleep.
By 4am, Scritchy had come to the same conclusion as I about the storm, and instead of quietly exiting the bedroom where she had hiding after having been kicked out earlier that evening, she decided that it would be best if she shook her head rather vigorously and bang various body parts on the bed so as to alert me to the fact that the storm wasn’t as severe as she had initially predicted. It was very thoughtful of Scritchy to do that and I wished her well on her way back to her usual sleeping spot with the delightful epitah: “Get the f… (a naughty word that rhymes with the word “truck”) out!” Scritchy obliged me by rapidly trundling off to her usual bed spot.
The next morning I woke up feeling like a zombie. Fortunately the best cure for an infection of the zombie kind is a quality coffee from a proper espresso machine and so in the early wee hours of the morning I toddled off to the local General Store under the guise of collecting the mail, but really I was after a large cappuccino to cure my zombie like state of mind. The cure worked and I recommend it!
It is interesting because I’m not the only person this week to have used naughty words that rhyme with “truck”. The editor was in a car park in Melbourne the other day. It is a nice car park and has a very well laid concrete slab. I like concrete as a material and can respect good concrete work when I see it. And that car park certainly had a good concrete slab laid at some time in the past.
Interestingly enough, a couple of late teenagers also understood the benefits to be had from a good quality concrete slab. Of course earlier that day the editor had parked the little “Dirt Mouse” vehicle which is a 2008 Suzuki Swift on that same concrete slab. As a side story, we call the car a “Dirt Mouse” because the car is small and we live on a dirt road. The dirt road makes it impossible to keep the outside of the car clean and so many long years ago we simply gave up and just accepted the coating of dirt and mud. Despite being really grotty, the car is very well maintained and most excellent.
The late teenagers were using that smooth concrete slab as a skate park. By all accounts the late teenagers were very talented and were jumping fences whilst on their skateboards and zipping around the parked vehicles at high speed. I’m in awe of their skills as to be honest I used to fall off skateboards after only a few seconds!
Anyway, the editor spoke to one of the late teenagers and advised them that she would be reversing the little “Dirt Mouse” and was concerned that she did not want to injure any of them in that process. The late teenager replied by saying: “F…… (a naughty word that rhymes with the word “Trucking”), S… (another naughty word that rhymes with the word “Sit”) car, lady”. When I heard the editor’s account of that colourful interaction many hours later, my heart was genuinely warmed because the late teenagers understood that the editor was a "lady" of distinction and quality, albeit with a dirty car.
Sometimes though, like Scritchy’s early storm warnings, a potty mouthed quip from late teenagers can reveal a much larger truth hidden within their words. Basically, the late teenagers were saying that they wouldn’t steal the “Dirt Mouse” even if they felt so inclined. It is an interesting thing to hear because in Melbourne there has been a recent and very noticeable increase in the incidence of car jackings. A car jacking is the situation where criminals violently steal an occupied car. That is a traumatic situation that I hope all of the readers here are never involved in.
Recently, I read a very thoughtful article written by the veteran crime reporter and author of many books, John Silvester, who suggested that the best way to avoid being car jacked was to own a vehicle with a manual gearbox (that is referred to as a stick shift for people in the US). The logic behind the veteran crime reporters suggestion was that the criminals were basically incapable of driving a vehicle with a manual gearbox! It is perhaps important to note that in Australia, 80% of vehicles are supplied with an automatic gearbox. Perhaps the editor and I are contrarians, but we have never owned a vehicle with an automatic gearbox. The much larger question that John Silvester almost touched upon was: that if most people are following a certain path that leads to increased personal risk, perhaps it may be worth considering taking the less popular path (the path less travelled??)?
Heating one’s home with locally harvested firewood is certainly a less popular path. Scritchy has been warning the editor and I about increasing storm activity of late and we hear her! With those warnings in mind, we have decided to begin bringing in the winter’s store of firewood now. Bringing in locally sourced firewood is hard work under the best conditions, but when the hot summer sun is beating down on your head it feels even harder. And this week, my big shiny new electric log splitter died. Fortunately, I have another and much older, electric log splitter, which is still working well and so we could continue splitting and storing the firewood.
|The seasons firewood is being brought in and stacked on one side of the firewood shed|
|The other side of the firewood shed has also begun to be filled this week|
The new adventures in brewing have also continued! The Australian millet beer has really enjoyed the hot weather this week and it is producing copious amounts of a beer like liquid. In all honesty it tastes to me like a sweet beer, which is quite nice. Perhaps with the addition of vanilla extract it may become a magical millet unicorn!
Scritchy may like hot weather, but the tomato plants like that hot weather even more! I spotted a few green tomatoes today:
|Some of the heritage tomatoes have quite strange shapes, but the real test will be: How do they taste?|
|The first of the seasons zucchini / courgette appeared this week|
We’re also trialing mini capsicum (peppers) and mini eggplant varieties that hopefully get enough summer heat to fully develop. If either variety produces fruit we’ll definitely save some seeds and sow them next summer.
|We’re trialing mini capsicum (pepper) varieties this summer|
|Mini eggplant varieties are also being trialed this summer|
The Sweet Siberian melon that was accidentally grown last summer is starting to produce trailing vines. We collected the seeds from that one melon that did grow and have planted them out this season. Observant readers will notice in the next photo that there are several yellow flowers bearing what looks like tiny melons! Yay!
|Sweet Siberian melons are producing good trailing vines despite the unfavourable summer conditions|
The blackberries are only about two weeks away from being ready to harvest. The local wild varieties of blackberries also appear to be at about the same stage of ripeness. It should be a bumper season for blackberries.
I’ve often written about the stainless steel bushfire shutters protecting the windows but I don’t believe I’ve ever shown a photo of them actually covering the windows before. The shutters are very strong stainless steel mesh and they really protect the windows from transferring heat to the insides of the house. The windows are double glazed with 10mm (0.4 inches) of toughened glass. We usually have the shutters covering the windows during the months of January through to early March because of the bushfire risk.
|The bushfire shutters cover the windows here from about January to early March|
In breaking plant news, the ferns that were planted into the steep garden bed where the landslide happened a few weeks ago, have all grown prolifically and produced new fronds despite the heat and lack of shade.
|The ferns planted into the repaired landslide area are growing very nicely despite the heat|
And I like to end the blog at this time of the year with some nice flower photos from around the garden:
|Fennel plants produce a good quantity of flowers and a great bee attractant|
|I can’t remember whether this is an orange or a red yarrow!|
|Californian poppy plants love the heat of summers down under|
|Globe artichokes have the most vivid purple flowers but behind those showy plants is a stunning red, pink and white geranium flower|
|But the bush rose produces more showy flowers than any other plant here|
Postscript: Scritchy is currently hiding under the bed as storm clouds threaten!