One of my guilty pleasures is falling asleep on the country train into Melbourne. I can’t help falling asleep as the seats are comfy and I do always aim to get a seat on the “quiet carriage”. Hmm, the "quiet carriage" is as you’d expect, quiet, and the sun streams in through the windows, whilst the motion of the train gently puts me to sleep. It is very pleasant and I highly recommend this type of activity.
Of course, the country trains are very good and reliable, but from time to time, buses replace the train. This week was one of those occasions. The government is in the process of replacing level crossings with over passes or under passes for the road traffic. Trains and cars do not make friends. And so it was that I found myself sitting on a near empty bus waiting to start the journey into the big smoke of Melbourne. Being on a near empty bus meant that I scored a window seat. And as I waited for the bus to head off on its journey into the big smoke, another bus turned up and disgorged its passengers onto the bus that I was on. My bus rapidly filled with passengers. This was an unexpected turn of events.
Eventually a scary looking bloke with dirty jeans, a long beard and arms covered in tattoos (the technical term for those tattoos are: sleeves) said to me: “Excuse me, do you mind if I sit next to you?” It was such a polite request that I was momentarily taken aback, before quickly replying with a hand wave at the empty seat next to me: “Not at all, feel free”. It was all very civilised and not at all what I expected from such a character. Perhaps he worked as a hipster barista in a trendy cafe in the big smoke!
Before too long the now full bus got underway and we all headed down the freeway. Needless to say that the sun shone through the windows, the bus gently rocked in its travels, it was quiet, and the seats were comfy. All the boxes were ticked and before I knew it, I was sound asleep. I woke up about half an hour later and quickly checked my fellow passengers for signs of annoyance. One doesn’t want to snore or drool all over the window (or the hipster) in such a circumstance, do they? Fortunately, nobody appeared to want to throttle me, so I assumed my sleep was well behaved – or at least quiet.
When I was a young lad, I could sleep anywhere, anytime. Of course through life we humans pick up cares and stresses and I was not immune to collecting those. And with those additional cares and stresses, a person can find their sleep to be disturbed.
It is worth noting that I function best if I have eight to nine hours of sleep per night. That may sound like a lot of sleep to some people, but, well, I’m a finely tuned machine you know!
I haven’t always enjoyed such a good relationship with my friend “sleep”. There have been times in the past when I’ve worked high stress, high maintenance, corporate gigs, where I could do the work and I did not shy away from the fights that I had to have. During the day I was Mr Cool, but it is in the wee hours of the morning that the truth comes to the fore and that was when the ongoing work fights woke me up and I personally struggled with the contradictory forces of maintaining an income from an organisation where the work gave me considerable stress.
And so for a few years, I wasn’t getting my preferred eight to nine hours sleep per night. Now, I may not be the sharpest tool in the toolbox, but I eventually realised that such a situation was not sustainable for me and so I reorganised my life in such a way that I was not faced with this predicament. And in doing so, I got my eight to nine hours of sleep per night back again. All was good with the world.
There are times however when I encounter a situation that my brain needs to process upon. I call these situations: 'absorbing new circumstances into my worldview'. As I said, I’m not the sharpest tool in the toolbox and it usually that takes my brain about a week in order to absorb the implications of that new situation. Until, the process of absorbing the new situation into my worldview is complete, my sleep gets disturbed. It is all very unfair and not very nice.
It may surprise some of the long term readers to know that before writing this blog I used to write for many years in the print press and my stock in trade was quirky and enjoyable stories based around the many activities I was doing in my personal life (when you are onto a winner you might as well stick to it!). As many of you may be aware, the advent of the internet has been a bit of a disaster for the print trade and the jobs became fewer and further between, and the increasing demands from the publishers seemed to have a strange and inexplicable inverse relationship to the declining remuneration.
However, I’m adaptable to new circumstances and so I began writing for internet websites. And I discovered that writing on the internet provided the unexpected and delightful opportunity to conduct a dialogue with people who comment on the articles. Except that along with the people who genuinely enjoy dialogue, there are also trolls. The first time I encountered a troll I was completely horrified that people would write such things. And my sleep was affected for about a week whilst I absorbed this new internet troll animal into my worldview. Nowadays, I am simply bored with trolls and they would never dare to say such things to my face on the off chance that I gave them a resounding thump! Take that trolls.
This week has provided me with a new and interesting internet situation which is wrecking my sleep and taking time to absorb into my worldview. The new internet situation is that my favourite blog: The Archdruid Report has simply stopped. Completely dead! I’ve been reading the Archdruid Report for over eight years and I must say that it was a highlight of my week to see what interesting and complex topics and historical characters were discussed. Where else can I go on the Internet to read about historical characters as diverse as: Schopenhauer; Socrates; Aristotle; Nietzsche; and Diogenes (nod to Jo for the introduction). Even better than that, I can form coherent views on these historical characters. One such coherent view would be that: Despite the historical character Socrates performing a minor role on the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, of all of those historical characters I mentioned previously, Diogenes was the coolest because, well, he had four dogs after all and he did rather seem to be able to casually give the middle finger to all of his betters. How cool is that?
Putting such silliness to the side, I feel the loss of that blog and the grief to me is the equivalent to the loss of a friend or a mentor. I will however absorb these new events into my worldview and I shall carry on.
Lets now discuss more earthy topics. Who doesn’t love manure? This week I brought another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of manure onto the property. The bright yellow trailer, which to be honest is now looking a little dirty because of all of the manure it carries, makes it easy to unload manure into crates:
|The author unloads manure into crates from the back of the bright yellow and now quite dirty trailer|
A wheelbarrow is used to move three crates around the farm. Every cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of manure works out to be about ten wheelbarrow loads of three crates each. The crates make it easy for me to move the manure from the trailer to the wheelbarrow to wherever that manure is needed:
|The author unloads manure from a crate into a raised garden bed|
Today, I headed off into the orchard with the electric brush cutter (some people call that tool a line trimmer) which is powered by the sun, and cut back all of the grass away from some of the fruit trees. Then I applied some of the manure to those fruit trees:
|Scritchy looks on approvingly at the weeding and feeding activities around some of the fruit trees in one of the orchards|
Oh yeah, the firewood shed is now full. I forgot to take a photo of the firewood shed when it was full and well the next photo shows what it looked like on the morning before another day of cutting, hauling, and splitting firewood. It is nice to have a full shed of firewood and well before winter too!
|The firewood shed is now full, although this photo shows the shed the day before it was filled|
One of the 'fun' side effects of collecting firewood is that many huge and very fast huntsman spiders live in amongst the firewood. These spiders are fast because, they don’t hang around waiting for prey, they actively seek it out (which is why they are called huntsman), and as such they have to be very fast. I took this photo of one of the unwanted large huntsman spiders on the side of the house the other day. Even with disturbed sleep, my day ended better than the huntsman's!
|A huntsman spider lurks on the side of the house seeking easy prey|
We have been harvesting a lot of cucumbers recently so we are in the process of trialling a new style of pickling (preserving) which involves: white vinegar; apple cider vinegar; sugar; dill seeds; mustard seeds; and turmeric. The cucumbers and chopped onions are salted and drained, and then the other ingredients are combined and heated and added:
|Cucumbers and onions are in the first stage of pickling|
We are also harvesting about a medium sized container full of tomatoes every single day now. Of course those tomatoes are also being preserved by dehydrating them.
|A medium sized container of ripe tomatoes are being harvested every single day|
And this is what some of the preserved cucumbers and tomatoes look like. Yummo!
|Pickled cucumbers and dehydrated tomatoes just waiting to be eaten|
Observant readers will note that a loaf of bread is slowly rising in the background.
Today we also pressed the remaining apples for their juice and that was converted into apple wine (which is very tasty) that will age for the next twelve months:
|The remaining apples were pressed today for their juice|
Manure is a good thing to have readily available and I used some of that manure to plant out the first of many flowering tree groves around the property. The trees in this grove include: Blackwood; Sticky Wattle; Coastal Banksia; and Western Glory Callistemon.
|A flowering tree grove was planted out today including: Blackwood; Sticky Wattle; Coastal Banksia; and Western Glory Callistemon|
March has been warm to hot and dry and the bees are enjoying this now warmer weather:
|March has been warm to hot and dry and the bees are enjoying this now warmer weather|
Two of the miniature eggplants (a purple variety) are producing fruit:
|Two of the miniature eggplants (a purple variety) are producing fruit|
The capsicum (pepper) plants have produced some fruit too:
|The capsicum (pepper) plants have produced some fruit|
There are still some apples on the trees:
|There are still some apples on the trees|
Cantaloupes are almost as feral as zucchini (courgettes) and there are little melons all over the place. I hope they get enough warm weather to ripen. I had no idea that these plants are that prolific!
|Cantaloupes are almost as feral as zucchini (courgettes) and there are little melons all over the place|
The olives are getting much bigger as well:
|The olives are getting bigger|
And as is now traditional at this time of year, I like to chuck in some flower photos to warm the hearts of people living in the cold northern hemisphere:
|I managed to get a close up photo of the eucalyptus flowers high up in a 50m tall tree next to the orchard|
|Basil mint and fuchsia both produce flowers at the hottest and driest times of the year|
|Geranium flowers are awesome and the hotter and drier it is the more they like it|
|This geranium looks like a carnation flower|
|I don’t know what this flower is as it came with a wildflower mixed seed packet. Any ideas anybody?|
|Yellow evening primrose flowers stand above the purple salvia flowers|