Monday, 2 October 2017

Into the Great Unknown

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

Tonight, for the first time in many long years of writing, I had no idea what to say. Seriously! That is how writers block sometimes occurs with me. It was a complex situation, because I knew what the subject was that I wanted to write about this week, but I just had no story with which to talk about that particular subject.

As an interesting side story, I am nowhere near short of ideas for the blog, because as I type this essay, I have a whiteboard that shares my desk and it is full of topics and story ideas. It is just that this weeks particular topic is hard to form a story around.

I enjoy telling stories. You know, with the topic I chose to write about this week, instead of telling a story, I could have reeled off a fire breathing sermon and hopefully people would be heard cheering in the pews. But I also know that those same cheering people would then go off and about their lives as if nothing had been heard. The topic I chose to write about is a boring one after all, and a fire breathing sermon is far more entertaining to some people. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of fire breathing sermons in the world, and one more from me would probably only add heat to an already over heated atmosphere.

Yup, I really lacked a story to tell around this boring topic that I had chosen to write about today. With my writers block in mind, I decided instead to sit out in the orchard as the sun set on this early spring evening. At that time, the chickens did what the chickens usually do, which means ransacking garden beds and digging up the orchard. Meanwhile, as the sun set lower on the horizon, a Boobook Owl hooted and the Currawongs sang their mournful cries to mark the end of another day.

So I simply quietened my mind for a while and opened it to the evening sights and sounds of the forest and asked myself the very hard question: How the heck do I write about what is ostensibly a boring but important topic?

The topic arose in the first place because the editor and I were discussing chocolates and the sheer variety that is available to be purchased these days. It can be quite confronting to see firsthand the sheer variety of chocolates available. The packaging is certainly very eye catching and a person may feel warm and fuzzy thoughts about some brands of chocolate and indifference and/or curiosity about other brands. 

The funny thing about the sheer diversity of chocolates to be had these days is that when I was a kid, there was only a very limited variety of chocolates, and so you were taught to be loyal to a particular brand. As a kid I probably had endless arguments and fights with my peers about why my chocolate brand was better than their choice.

As a teenager, recurring zits (the technical name for pimples, which are a small hard inflamed spot on the skin) put an end to my love of chocolate. I couldn’t consume a chocolate bar without breaking out into a face full of zits. Actually it probably wasn’t that severe, it is just that teenagers tend to exaggerate otherwise minor matters! 

Nowadays, I enjoy a small quantity of dark chocolate in my daily serving of Anzac biscuits – and there are no zits! But of course that may be because I have not purchased a chocolate bar for many long years.

So this evening I was sitting out in the orchard with the ransacking chickens and contemplating chocolate and that boring topic. Chocolate is much better to contemplate! Yum!

Earlier in the day, the editor and I had been working on the new strawberry terrace. I have to admit that I enjoy fresh sun ripened strawberries far more than chocolate because they taste better. As an interesting side note, the strawberry terrace project itself makes no financial sense whatsoever, because so far despite using a huge quantity of sweat equity, existing tools and a whole heap of recycled materials, the project has consumed about $500 of materials, and it is nowhere near completed. Now for that sort of money, I reckon we could purchase about 50kg (110 pounds) of strawberries from a grower or retailer.

The real problem is that the previous strawberry patch and enclosure had been ransacked by the wallabies (a local marsupial which are a bit smaller than a kangaroo, and which were captured on film fighting in my previous entry). Then the local Crimson Rosellas (one of the local parrots) broke into the holes that the wallabies had created and gorged themselves. Even the dogs got in on the thieving act and they consumed plenty of fresh strawberries. Finally, the leeches and millipedes cleaned up all of the remaining fruit. Last summer was a total strawberry disaster, and we didn’t harvest any berries for fresh eating, jam making, or wine making. Nope, less than a cup full of berries for the entire growing season.

And that is why we decided we needed a better strawberry enclosure. In fact making decisions is not hard at all, it just takes practice. For example, making a decision to start any new project is a relatively easy process:
  • Identify a need;
  • Work out a possible design;
  • Identify and accumulate your resources;
  • Work out most (but not all) of the details as to how the project will look; and
  • Then do it (with some possible modification allowance along the way).
The thing is, I don't know whether any of these projects will work out. Or whether my decisions are the right ones. That is why it is the leap into the great unknown. Making the decision to do something is the easy bit. Acting on the decision and living with the consequences is not as easy. And it is not lost on me that choosing to not make a decision about anything - is actually making a decision, albeit passively! Perhaps that is why people seem to have trouble making decisions. Fortunately, I’m made of stern stuff, and I can stand in front of a display of chocolate bars without feeling dissatisfied, which is how you are programmed and intended to feel. Can you?

Springtime weather is glorious. The air temperatures are cool, and the High UV provides so much energy to the plants that they are all jumping out of the ground and reaching towards the sky. It really is a nice time of year. On the other hand, very hot weather is fast approaching with its Extreme UV. With that deadline in mind we have been 'flat out like a lizard drinking', trying to complete the final infrastructure project for the calendar year: The new strawberry terrace.

This week, a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch was placed onto the recently excavated surface of the new strawberry terrace. Just under half of the treated pine fence posts which form part of the structure were cemented into the ground too. And we hung the recycled screen door off one end of the strawberry enclosure (a tip shop purchase from way back). And just to top it all off, two rows of a beautiful mix of very fine composted woody mulch (not the usual and more coarse woody mulch) and mushroom compost were laid out in the enclosure. By the next blog we are hoping to have at least some strawberry plants in that glorious compost mix.
The new strawberry enclosure progresses and hopefully will be ready to accept some plants over the next week
In the next photo below, Mr Poopy admires the rows of deep compost into which some strawberry plants will be planted over the next week.
Mr Poopy admires the deep beds of compost which hopefully will be planted out next week
Of course access onto the new strawberry terrace was a bit of a minor problem and so we began constructing a concrete staircase leading up to it. Unfortunately, the current access path passes a bull ant colony, and we haven't been attacked by the bull ants yet but it is only a matter of time. Bull ants are very aggressive insects and not only do they inject formic acid under your skin, they also spray the bite site with the same acid and you end up with chemical burns and swelling and aching in whatever joint happens to be near the bite site. Very unpleasant and aggressive creatures!
Two concrete steps were constructed. The screen is to protect the surface of the curing cement from a sudden rain storm
Another cement step was added this week
In the photo above, you may notice that there is a park bench which is laid down on its' side. The purpose of this park bench is to discourage the fluffy collective of canines from random acts of graffiti on the surface of the curing cement step. Mr Poopy in particular seems rather fond of leaving his footprint as a permanent calling card. I guess he is saying: "Poopy was 'ere"!

Unfortunately we were unable to plant strawberries into those nice neat rows of compost because we ran out of time. We also were unable to provide daily doses of water to the transplanted plants and that is a necessity at this time of year, otherwise the plants will go into shock and die. Last week we moved and filled a water tank near to that strawberry terrace, and this week, I began the slow process of installing a water pump so as to provide water to the yet to be transplanted plants.
The author begins the process of constructing a water pump for the strawberry terrace
I have discovered after many years of experience, that small high capacity water pumps require accumulator tanks. An accumulator tank is a small high pressure water tank that stores a small (or large depending on the size of the tank) amount of water at very high pressures. If a water tap is opened, then the water flows out of the accumulator tank at the expected pressure, rather than from the water pump. The whole point of that setup is to stop the water pump from switching on and off again at a very fast rate, because the water pump becomes damaged in that process. Basically, if you want a water pump to last for any length of time, you have to install an accumulator tank after the water pump in the water piping system. There is no alternative that will work as well.
The water pump and accumulator and circuit breaker is connected and is now ready to be installed
I ran out of time to install the water pump and accumulator tank and I'm hoping that by the next blog it is operating well and is being used to water many strawberry plants.

Solar power geek alert (skip to the next paragraph if easily bored!) Enthusiasts of solar power occasionally talk among themselves about the mysterious "Cloud edge effect". What this means is that you can experience a day when there is a lot of high altitude clouds with sunny breaks in between. On those special days, the sunlight bounces off those high altitude clouds and photons skip all about the planets surface in ways that the local star (The Sun) never quite intended. On those special days, the electricity generated by solar panels can far exceed the expected output. This week, I spotted one of those special days and the solar power system was generating electricity at the maximum continuous rate of 160 Amps (or about 5.8kW). That is a lot of electricity...
High altitude clouds caused a cloud edge effect which produced the maximum amount of electricity from the solar panels this week
After many years of experiments with seed raising, we reckon we have discovered a very good method involving egg cartons and a plastic tray. The photo below shows the results of this experiment after only two weeks!
Egg cartons and a plastic tray were used as an experiment this year with seed raising for summer vegetables
For people who are curious about the thornless blackberry and raspberry enclosure - which sits on a terrace just below the new strawberry terrace and enclosure - I thought that I should add in a photo to show how well the various plants are growing:
Growth in the blackberry and raspberry enclosure is very strong. Poopy expresses his thoughts
The warmer spring weather has brought out the European honey bees and native wasps to forage around the garden beds:
European honey bees and native wasps enjoy the warmer spring weather
Some of the spring flowers are just show offs. Nuff said. Enjoy!
Two flowering cherries. Show offs...
The local Acacia's (Blackwood's) are in flower
The prize goes to this red flowering camellia. It is about the size of an outspread hand
Leucodendron's provide a mass display of heat hardy flowers
We reckon this is some form of African daisy
The Echium's appear to have hybridised and we are now enjoying pink flowering forms
Succulents are not to be outdone
However, the African daisies have gone feral
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 679.8mm (26.8 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 672.4mm (26.5 inches).

53 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Ah yes, I would appreciate the guys Modus Operandi too. Punctuality is a lost art these days and I book visits in to clients weeks ahead and simply just turn up as expected, or alter arrangements with a good deal of notice. What is the point of making a booking, if one does not keep the booking? If such behaviour is notable, I reckon you may be experiencing other more loose forms of time keeping? Don't laugh, but I have often been stirred up by friends about not being spontaneous enough. I'm not sure of your point of view in that matter and would be curious to learn, but I always interpreted that to mean that they did not plan to do much and so did not do much! The facts in that case support my point of view! :-)!

Of course, you are correct too, and sometimes people need to feel comfort before they engage in any discussion at any length.

Thank you for the information regarding the berries and I will observe how they grow with that in mind. Hope you like the new strawberry enclosure. It will score a roof sooner or later over the next few weeks, but I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment...

I appreciate your perspective and also your experience in that matter – especially given your family history – and will try to keep my wits about me. And no, I do not object to your point of view in the least. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I haven't read you yet but have updated on JMG and saw your contentment/happiness question. I don't see it as an either/or, it is language that creates a seeming boundary. To my mind contentment and happiness merge into each other.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks very much for the heads up about the coffee article. Hey, I may not have mentioned it, but I read the Atlantic article you mentioned about phone usage and generations in full and it was quite eye opening. I have actually referred that article on to several people since. Speaking about coffee, I picked up the usual collection of coffee grounds and will have to head out into the marsupial filled orchard tonight after replying here (it is 9.45pm here now) and empty the bins as they can be refilled again over the next day or so. So many coffee grounds, so little time... I was quite slack and failed to get to the podcast last week... Ooops!

That is an awesome system, and yes, you have mentioned it before, but I failed to fully appreciate the beauty of that system. Sadly, I feel that it may be a liability issue as well as a safety issue which has finished such systems. You know down here, newspapers are delivered wrapped in plastic and thrown out of a vehicle. Far out, when the kids wake up to the loss that they're experiencing, they're going to be angry, and yet not know how to express themselves. Far out... Mind you, they may be out of good physical condition too...

I was never much interested in hunting and fishing either. Yes, I am curious as to how you adjusted to social situations and the free time that you suddenly found yourself imbued with. If it is not too much to ask, I would appreciate learning about how you navigated that? Did you have to avoid friends that drank?

Yes, trespassing is a definite no-no in a rural area. Not that it doesn't stop some people, but it is a risky activity, no doubts about it. An old time crim turned author who is now deceased, once quipped: Australia is a big place and shovels are cheap. Pretty blunt, but effective! I recall mentioning him to you before as he used to live around the corner from me and we used the same post office - I only know that because I made an inappropriate joke about him once (relating to his distinctive ears) and the staff behind the counter almost keeled over in fright. And then I was warned to keep my mouth shut.

The downsides of having precious and semi-precious stones in an area is that people will try to harvest them. A bit like the "orchid thief" don't you reckon? Don't mention the orchids!!! Hehe!

Hope you like the story this week, you know it is the first time in years that I have faced writers block and it is possibly an indication that we have been over doing the work. We decided individually to tone it back a bit next week. Part of the reason for constructing the water pump was so that we can plant the strawberry runners a few weeks later if need be. Mostly plants here will survive transplant as long as they have access to regular water. Far out, have you ever over done it before and worked too much? It can happen without warning and with the best of intentions too, I reckon.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I enjoy Mr Kunstler's writing and have respect for his intellect without agreeing with everything he writes or opines on. Interestingly, I noted a youth news radio program this afternoon which discussed funding matters between Universities and vocational colleges (called TAFE - Technical and Further Education down here). For some reason the Universities have flexed their muscles and continued with the student debt driven Federal Government funding model, whilst some TAFE courses have apparently had the debt driven funding withdrawn. Some cheeky wag texted into the radio program and raised the thorny matter about how is an undergraduate degree for Arts considered more crucial to the economy than the Arts subjects offered by TAFE. It looks like a turf war in a diminishing pool of funding. The Federal Government deficit was something like $28bn or $30bn this year. I wouldn't trust a business that lost that much money every year and continued to do so the following year. Oh and apparently there is a talk about how we can use rocket ships to get to London in one hour. What could possibly go wrong?

Out of curiosity, do you reckon your cornbread has a sweet flavour? I was considering growing some corn this summer and am wondering whether to grow the painted mountain variety which is hardy to colder climates and good for cornflour, or grow the full on yellow sweet corn. Dunno.

Yes, flavour can mean anything on a product label!!! Oook! The pie crust with pumpkin slice sounds pretty tasty. Yum! Did I mention that I had a rabbit pie a week or so back? It was very good. Yes, the editor was aware of the Hersey kisses a long time ago as a friend travelled to the US and brought some back. Very tasty. Dunno about the pumpkin milk shake. It may be a bit like a Blue Heaven milk shake in that you can't quite be sure of the ingredients!!! Hehe. I don't see that blue colour in nature anywhere...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris:

"Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of fire breathing sermons in the world, and one more from me would probably only add heat to an already over heated atmosphere." Excellent!

Blah, leeches with breakfast . . . We don't have land leeches here, only water ones, and I've never actually met one.

On your most important topic . . . "Fortunately, I’m made of stern stuff, and I can stand in front of a display of chocolate bars without feeling dissatisfied, which is how you are programmed and intended to feel. Can you?" I can. If I am not hungry. I am always hungry . . .

Hi, Mr. Poopy! You are looking as glorious as the new strawberry beds. We did not protect our stone walkways when we were building them and the concrete between the stones has all sorts of various dog - and cat - footprints in it. This gives us ample opportunity to play "Whose footprint was that?"

It sounds to me like the water pump for our house (our only pump) is going off and on a little too often. I wonder if the pressure can be adjusted? Or perhaps it's a filter . . .

I love the seeds in the egg cartons idea. It is making me itch to start saving egg cartons - though it will be 6 or 7 months before we can start seeds!

In the blackberry/raspberry enclosure you have a nice, wide central path. Do you keep the plants cut back so they don't grow into it? Or train them on the fence? I see a fuzzy orange blob in that same photo, too. Another case of "Which end is which?".

What a perfect camellia. Thanks for the flowers!

Pam

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I appreciate your blog style in the mode of story telling. The fire and brimstone hellraisers probably have their place, but, as you mention, that market is likely saturated at this point in time.

The reduction of the justification of your strawberry enclosure to economics demonstrates the poverty of that particular metric. Many bad decisions may be justified by their economics! But perhaps that is sacrilegious to utter such things in earshot of hard-working accountants?

Speaking of the sacriligious, I have laid the first tub of this seasons's sauerkraut this week. Here's to hoping the basement is not invaded by petty criminals this year, who delight in the sabotage of a well-laid crocks of kraut. Surely that is a crime against the holy ghost?!? But just as you are working hard to keep the wildlife from your berry enclosures, the crowandsheep is busy padlocking and chaining kraut enclosures against the unsavoury creatures of the night.

To your first point: "identify a need"; at what point do you incorporate economics into your definition of "a need"? You could have decided, like you suggest, henceforth to purchase berries, to cut your losses as they say. When should a need become action?

Perhaps Mr. Mumford can help us out here again, who quotes Arthur Clarke's 'Profiles of the future': "So we may hope ... that one day our age of roaring factories and bulging warehouses* will pass away. ... And then our descendants, no longer cluttered up with possessions, will remember what many of us have forgotten--that the only things in the world that really matter are such imponderables as beauty and wisdom, laughter and love**."

Is that how we should also identify needs: does it bring beauty, wisdom, laughter and love? Poopy admiring the new enclosure definitely brings laughter, as do the products of fermentation!

* The factories (post-industrialism) and warehouses (just-in-time) are dissappearing, but the clutter remains?
** Mumford goes on: "One hardly knows whether to mock the sentimentality of this passage, made hollow and ridiculous by all that preceded it, or to weep over the poverty and futility of all the lives that have been, on Clarke's own confession, so extravagantly misspent in bringing to pass one technological miracle after another. Certainly both mockery and tears are in order. Beauty and wisdom, laughter and love, have never depended for their existence upon technical ingenuity--though they can be easily eliminated by devoting too much attention to the material means of existence, or attempting to play a game that subordinates all other human possibilities soley to the cultivation of [abstract intelligence and to the electro-mechanical simulation of organic activities]***.

*** replaceable by 'economics'? Of course, one still needs to dole out the cash.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hmm. The only time I feel dissatisfied in front of the chocolate rack is if the Safeway brand is on sale and the 85% cacao is out of stock :-). I think I mentioned that I eat 2 squares of dark chocolate, a day. Purely for medicinal purposes, of course :-). So, I wait for it to go on sale (preferably under $2 a bar, which last me 5 days) and pile them up in the fridge. About a year ago I read a book on the artisanal movement and there were a few chapters on chocolate. There is a huge amount of choice available in the chocolate aisle. But any curiosity is quickly stifled by the price or a quick look at the ingredients list. Of course, those things are suspended in search of the willy pumpkin spice :-).

I had never heard of the cloud edge effect. I’ll have to look into that. Sounds interesting. The egg cartons for starting seedlings is a good idea, but, doesn’t the small amount of soil mean that you don’t have much wiggle room as far as when the seedlings need to be planted out? And there’s also the added time of a few days of hardening off. It’s a thrifty and clever idea. It’s just that the smaller amount of soil means a smaller window of opportunity to plant the seedlings outside.

That camellia is a prize winner. Just a perfect bloom. And the African Daisies really appeal.

Yup. That was quit an article about kids and smart phones. I think life was a lot simpler, when I was growing up. And, even when you were growing up. Tech was a lot simpler and could be mastered for a life time. It wasn’t all the constant change in order to squeeze another buck out of you.

I’ve suspended my coffee ground additions until I get a bit more space in the garden. Every available space has been liberally salted with coffee grounds, prunings, and kitchen scraps. I’ve reapplied in some of the early areas. Things are breaking down nicely and worms are in evidence.

Hmmm. Yes. Early sobriety you have all this time on your hands. All the time you used to spend acquiring, using and enjoying (?) the effects of ... whatever. There’s a little book floating around called “Living Sober” which has been available for decades. It’s full of suggestions as to how to navigate early sobriety. Social situations, etc.. There’s an old saying, “What do you have to change to maintain sobriety? Everything.” Some hard drinking friends fall away pretty rapidly. But you make new friends.

I’ve heard the “shovels are cheap.” We also have one that goes, “Shoot, shovel, shut-up.” With the explosion of social media, that last one seems to trip up the wrong doers. We have a poaching ring being exposed, right now, and the evidence, piled up from social media, is pretty overwhelming. There’s even video... I pretty much gave up rock hunting as my favorite places were being cleaned out. One year, I’d find my couple of handfuls of pretty stones, and the next year there wasn’t even a shard. Then I saw an ad in our Nickel ads newspaper. “20 5 gallon buckets of Lewis Creek Carnelian for $10 per.” Sigh. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, your body or your mind usually tells you when you've worked too much. And, if you don't pay attention, it can get pretty dicey.

Hmm. Is my cornbread sweet? Not very. I don't think. Not like cake. I mean, you have to throw jam on it to get it to taste really sweet. And the way I make it, I think it's more like a (not sweet) bread. As far as corn varieties go, I wonder if your painted mountain corn is like our indian corn? Multicolored ears. Just about every color of the rainbow. Here, it's pretty much just used as "decor". it being harvest time, the stores are sporting displays of pumpkins and "Indian" corn.

But, I will say that four a few years, I grew a small patch of sweet corn, hung some of it up to dry, shelled it into a sack and ground it as needed for cornbread. It had a slightly different taste profile that was quit nice. Fresher? Nuttier? You probably know that corn pretty much freely cross pollinates. So, if your going to save seed, you need to keep your corn patches as widely separated as possible.

I was out gassing with one of the ladies, last night, just after sunset. When a raccoon staggered out of the rose bushes, headed for the garden beds. I shoed him (her?) back the other way. Not that that probably did much good. The ladies said one year there was a mom with three babies. So far, they haven't seemed to be much of a problem (unlike the deer). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! I rather liked that turn of phrase too when first I heard it. I may have ripped it from Mr Greer who used it in a slightly different context. And who can deny that there is a huge amount of hot air out there?

Certainly I cannot in all honest recommend making an acquaintance with one of those blood suckers - they're not very friendly, the cheeky scamps... And the sores following the bite are even more itchy than the worst mosquito bite you can imagine.

Of course the story failed to mention the very tasty orange and poppy seed muffin which I just consumed! :-)!

The various dogs and cats in your life were very thoughtful to leave such permanent mementos of them. Mr Poopy is due for a haircut this week, so next week you shall see that he is all legs and tail! He likes being groomed as his breed makes no sense for a hot climate like this one.

I'm only just learning about the accumulator tanks too. The plumber installed the large one on the house water pump. Yes, they do in fact use air pressure in the accumulator tank to vary the cut in point for the pump - and usually it is an ordinary car valve arrangement. But as to your pump, it may indicate a leak somewhere in the pipe system too? Usually leaks are in the most inconvenient location. Also it is possible the controller is failing? Dunno. Intermittent problems are the worst to fault find, and maybe it is sometimes easier to just let the system fail so that you can be sure what needs to be fixed?

Yes, the egg carton is an experiment worth repeating and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out. The germination rates have been superb. Those seedlings were only planted as seeds two weeks ago.

The plan is to simply run the mower down the central path, and/or pull any errant plants. 'Tis but the work of a few minutes. I doubt I can contain the blackberries, but they are present here anyway and these cultivars are thornless varieties.

Mr Poopy was relieving himself at that point in time. I take that act to mean that he has given the paw of approval to the project. :-)! I hope he knows which end is which. Sometimes, I wonder about those dogs...

It is a ripper isn't it? Camellia's do well just in that small patch of the farm. Weird huh? Oh well, ours is not to kill any more of those plants.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Thank you for saying that, and I too enjoy your clever word play in the comments. :-)!

Maybe! But, we eat strawberries and you can't put a price on some things. To be honest, I recall a lady looking to buy a house around these parts (it was at an open for inspection when we were sticky nosing through a local house) and she was rather insistent about a house with an established garden. Alas, I suspect that the same person would probably not want to pay for an established garden. There is a conundrum in there somewhere... These projects make the place more productive and also significantly easier to live here. Try mentioning to people that off grid solar costs about $0.85 per kWh and you may see some reactions.

Oh yes, thefting off with good sauerkraut is an unforgiveable sin! Did you catch the perpetrators in the act of decamping off with your sauerkraut and/or committing acts of defalcation.

Nope, not at all. None of this makes any economic sense. Really. None of it. That is why people don't generally take this path. Of course, if you live in a society where money is being printed out too liberally, then maybe strawberries have future value. But as of today, strawberries, like electricity are pretty cheap and in good supply. People look for direction, the path I point to wears overalls and looks like hard work.

Mr Mumford was an astute bloke! Thanks for the nice quote. Mr Poopy rather correctly pointed out that in among the detritus of a civilisation in decay, there are always marsupials to chase, beef jerky to demand, pats to be had, and bones to be chewed and fought over. He may well be right too, you know!

And your observations were spot on the money.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You are a gentleman of fine discrimination and taste to enjoy 85% cacao chocolate! Such are the precious moments in life, you know! We're going huntin' those willy wascally wabbits (sorry I meant to write, pumpkin spiceses). Hehe.

Far out, there was a huge fire in a few shops (allegedly starting in a restaurant) last night in an inner urban restaurant strip in Melbourne, and the street was closed off. Part of the wall looked collapsed to me. Anyway, the editor and I took a detour tonight and stopped off for a coffee, cheesecake and a gourmet burger (Hmmm. Mustard and pickles!) It only seemed like the sensible thing to do given the circumstances (feral traffic). By the time we'd eaten, the feral traffic was elsewhere. We were both in places that public transport does not reach today, but we did carpool.

There was a lot of debate about the cloud edge effect with the solar power folks, until people experienced it for themselves with their own solar power systems. Some of those folks have the most amazing data loggers... I was always considered to be a bit eccentric due to using the old, tried and true technology. Oh well. There were always claims that I wasn’t getting as much as I could out of the panels and I always thought to myself that efficient is in an inverse relationship to resilient.

That is a fair point and I honestly don't know how the experiment will turn out with those seedlings. It feels like a warmer spring than last year, but the seasons can change.

Then there was just one (for a few weeks anyway): Toyota workers out of jobs as car manufacturer closes Altona plant. And we’re living here in Allentown, and they’re closing all the factories down…

And CliffMass would never get a forecast this wrong... Queensland weather: Bundaberg hit with downpour, flash flooding as rain falls across state. Well, maybe he might! :-)!

It is a ripper isn't it? Yeah, I spent many years looking for the perfect spot for the camellias and transplanted all of them there a few weeks back. It is a stunning flower.

Yeah, life was simpler and parents set firm limits on screen time. Parents are overly involved in their kids lives nowadays in a way that I saw none of my peers experiencing. Mind you, it is an aspect of fear and concerns about peer status, that they do so.

I'm starting to feel that I should look up what sort of minerals are in the coffee grounds? I don't really know. Mind you the area is so huge that it is not a problem and any organic matter usually is good if the soil life is active enough. I reckon I get 100 bins of the stuff in a year. As your soil cools, the composting process will slow, but the heat effect of the bacteria may keep plants growing for far longer than you may expect. Your garden bed sounds perfect and you will see a real difference next summer.

That is true too. Sometimes I feel that if people want to make friends, all they have to do is try to make friends. I still laugh to myself about the quote from the punk band I mentioned last week about: you can't take on the system from the couch (or words to that effect). Of course, some people may be dysfunctional in some manner, and that comes clear in the friend making process. They used to say that there is a lid for every pot.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Yeah, that not shutting up thing is really weird. I do not get it at all. Nope. And some people post the most horrendous acts online. Their moral compass is all wrong, of course jail may be a good place to break bad habits that their family and friends tolerated and that is perhaps a good lesson for them to learn.

What a point. You know, I have suspected for quite a while that a lot of people don't listen to their body and mind to check on the state of things. I learned that trick through distance running and also I once over did a paid job and worked too many long hours for too long. I should tell that story one day. I don't reckon I've ever felt quite the same about work since then. That is one of the reasons I like being self employed as I work hard, but keep barriers around myself. I assume you felt the same way about your addiction?

I believe the painted mountain corn is the same Indian corn. They use that down here for cornflour as it is apparently a cold tolerant variety. To produce the sugars in plants, the plants require heat energy from the sun. I'm not sure it is hot enough here to grow the yellow corn. The editor and I have been considering planting a grove of sugar maples and also olive trees. Salt is the big issue this far inland. I assume nobody does anything with the Indian corn in your part of the world? Your soils may be more fertile and corn is such a heavy feeder, the soils just aren’t as fertile down here. Thanks for the gentle reminder about keeping distance. I'm a bit slack about such things and there are a lot of pollinators on the farm (and it gets breezy from time to time).

The walnut has not yet broken dormancy and I check on it every day and give it a proper talking too. I'll give it more seaweed solution over the next day or so.

How cool is the raccoon! I really love having all of the wildlife floating around the farm unconcerned at my presence. If you take the time to get to know them, they will get to know you in turn. Of course they may not like you, and they may be grumpy...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Exactly, our language has trouble describing emotional states. It is interesting that you mention that because the editor was telling me tonight about one of her school friends who's mother "took to bed" on the weekends when they were very young. It was not considered unusual at all, but then again it was not discussed either and our culture does not deal well with such matters of the mind. I wonder why? I have never really considered that matter before, but there must something in it. What do you believe about that?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have never had a problem with making decisions and acting on them. I actually love the unknown. For this reason I have no understanding at all of people who can't do this. Looking at chocolate is not a problem, I love the stuff but can exert self discipline. I do look at the list of ingredients.

I think that we are running into far more trouble these days as we try to categorize mental states. Every slight difference is being given a name and whoopee we can medicate it. No such thing as normal variation now.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, there was a rumor ripping through The Home, last night, that we were going to have a frost. I checked the National Weather Service and mid 30’s was predicted. Last night’s temp was 37F (2.77C) and the next two nights are supposed to be 35F (1.66C). Close to a freeze, but no cigar. :-). Then the overnight temps are supposed to go back to the 40sF for the foreseeable future.

It seems that roof tiles with foot prints are always showing up in Roman Britain. Besides the usual dogs and cats, there’s the occasional deer. Small children. Once in awhile, a squadies hobnailed boot. Recently, a extensive Roman pottery and tile works has turned up. Very early. Some of the tiles and pipes are stamped with “Nero.” Probably a military endeavor. They knew there were these extensive Roman ruins, in a rather out of the way area. Then they figured out it was kilns. There’s probably a good clay bed, somewhere nearby.

Yeah, it all seems to be efficient (or easy. Maybe, also, cheap) vs resilient.

Parents seem to be overly involved in kids lives ... or, the opposite. One hears tales of all kinds of nonsense “the kids” get up to, without their parents knowledge ... or interest. Great tabloid fodder.

Yeah, the time I ran up against the limits of the human body was when I moved out to my old place and tackled the yard without paying much attention to hydration or building up a bit of stamina. Blood sugar levels. Fell down in the yard and darn near passed out. I think the trick is, you’ve got to gently test limits and build stamina. Especially in spring.

Well, yellow corn grows quit well here, and I think we’re a climate zone or two cooler (and wetter) than you. I don’t know if I’ll grow any, here, given the “yield to space” problem. But, if I get an additional garden space, next year, I might try as patch of “three sisters.” I’ve always wanted to give that a whirl. It was a Native American technique. Corn, beans and squash. The corn provided support for climbing beans and the squash shaded the ground and kept down the weeds. And, the beans put nitrogen back in the soil to offset, a bit, that heaving feeding corn.

I finally got a look at a film that had a really long hold list. “The Accountant” with Ben Affleck. Given your occupation, I figure you probably saw it? I really enjoyed it. It was such a puzzle. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Unfortunately, I am going to be from the School of Wait and See as regards the water pump. I did realize that we have been watering outside on many days, sometimes as much as several hours a day, even some of the big forest trees near the house, as we have not had rain for four weeks. We had very little even before that, and it was hot until last weekend. So - the water pump is running a lot.

I'd forgotten you have thornless blackberries; smart thinking. I got my hair caught in the wineberries this morning. I have very long hair that I put into - let's be generous - a "chignon". It took me a bit to get loose. I fit nicely the old saying: "She looked like she'd been dragged through a bush backwards".

Mr. Poopy was the wisest of the wise when he said, and I quote: "Mr Poopy rather correctly pointed out that in among the detritus of a civilisation in decay, there are always marsupials to chase, beef jerky to demand, pats to be had, and bones to be chewed and fought over. He may well be right too, you know!"

Yum! Mustard and pickles!

Pam

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

...'spot on the money'...you almost snuck that one past me...

I don't think we have ever seen Lewis Mumford and James Howard Kunstler in the same room together. I suppose you don't want to see Poopy and Scruffy in the same room together?

Please don't get me wrong though, you are probably the last person needing convincing about inherent value; I am suitably envious of your future strawberries (good luck!). You have likely seen that movie Apocalypse Now? My favourite part of that movie is when the general says, "I like the taste of strawberries in the morning, tastes like...tastes like victory!"

I only saw the results of the sin and it was pure vandalism! Defalcation is likely not the correct word, but a similar variant perhaps! Nah, they were probably scoping the place out. Next time they will likely come armed with buns and W├╝rstchen. By the way, this time I am trying the sauerkraut with one red cabbage included, which was suggested in Katz's fermentation book--a recommendation I think I got from you thank you very much! Looking to try more stuff from it.

A house with an established garden? Do those exist anymore? You are more likely to see established gardens converted into more housing. Checking out the local houses for sale is very cagey of you. I may have to adopt that tactic myself.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Son has grown giant pumpkins this year. He has just brought a large piece of one to me. I roasted some yesterday evening, yum,yum but the rest is gazing balefully at me. Am going to have a go at roasting pumpkin seeds. Have you tried that?

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge, Pam, Lewis, and crowandsheep,

Me tired and am going to bed early this evening to recharge the batteries. I don't know how things roll in your part of the planet, but down here last Sunday was the daylight savings changeover. I lost an hours sleep that morning. I didn't think to check to see whether it had fallen behind the couch and check after switching the computer off, just to make sure that the lost hour is not hidden there (hopefully I don't discover too much dust there either). It would be nice to find my lost youth there too. I wonder where it got too? Anyway, getting up an hour earlier than is my usual wont has left me feeling mildly jet lagged all week. And there has been quite a lot more work than usual. Perhaps the moons have aligned? I’m not complaining though.

Lewis - It got to 80'F (27'C) here today. Spare a thought for Mr Poopy who still has his winter double coat on. I will have to do something about that. Anyway, earlier today I was in the big smoke of Melbourne and I noticed something really strange. The sun was shining pleasantly and the many well established old gardens I passed in my travels (I walked quite a ways) were full of flowering plants. The thing is, I just didn't notice many insects around (I may have seen one or two flying insects – certainly no bees), and there was very little bird life either. I am unsure whether I have become used to the mass of life up here and the contrast has become significant and hard to ignore, or there is just not much insect and bird life down there in the big smoke. Dunno, it was very strange and the absence was notable.

A number of people have suggested that I should watch that film. To be honest, I wasn't sure they weren't stirring me up. Glad to read that you enjoyed it and I appreciate your review and will add it to the "to watch" list.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Re: last week's question whether you will ever get to the place where you aren't adding on but rather maintaining what you have.

You responded: "1) Sooner or later I'll be dead, so that may be a minor problem for the continuing projects! and
2) Sooner or later I'll reach diminishing returns on new projects as the work and resources required to maintain the existing projects equals or exceeds the ability to implement new projects.
What are your thoughts on that subject? Have you ever encountered that predicament?"

1. Well there's not much one can do about that I suppose.
2. Yes I've encountered this though it's primarily diminished physical ability. Of course the more you continue to do the better able you are to continue physical activity but there still comes a point when the work involved is just too much. Over the last ten years we've continued the same projects but just not on as large a scale.

I haven't mentioned it but I have been working on finding a new home for my egg layers and accomplished that last Saturday. With the impending move and some travel for awhile it just seemed practical to cut back on some projects though the barn now is too quiet. There still continues to be lots of work maintaining the house in "showing" condition as well as cleaning out years of accumulation. With winter coming and the expected reduction in egg production not to mention all the young hens are about to go through their first moult it didn't make too much sense to keep them at this stage.

The house goes on the market tomorrow so the fun begins. Last Sunday we took Michael to our annual Cubs outing at one of the rooftops. As we wouldn't have gotten home until 10:30 that night we stayed overnight at our sister's place. This Saturday we are finally scattering Patrick's ashes at the beach he loved so much though one sister is taking some to our old family farm where he lived until our mother died.

Finally going to get some rain starting tomorrow through Saturday. Figures - virtually no rain for two months and it's going to rain the day we are scattering the ashes.

Regarding this week's blog - I think there's too many choices for the various consumer goods and food items and there really isn't much difference between them. Of course these aren't the important choices but if a person has difficulty making a decision what to buy how can they make important life decisions? Just wondering.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Me sick and am going back to bed :-). Cold. Came on full bore yesterday. Seems to be moving out of my head and into being a chest cold. It's Wednesday morning. The retreat starts on Friday afternoon. So, two days to get better.

Our daylight savings time usually starts the last weekend in October. This year it's the first weekend in November. Don't know why...

It was 36F (2.22C) here, last night. One more cold night and, if the forecast holds, we're in the clear for another week.

3 minutes is too long in the nuker for a frozen English muffin. Got the place cleared of smoke before I set off the fire alarms. Whole place smells like burnt toast, now.

Three of us on the third floor convinced The Warden that something is living in the attic. I think the corker was that my pretty deaf neighbor has also heard the thumps and bumps. An exterminator is to be called. Don't know if he showed, yesterday, but it sure was quiet up there, last night. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

All the best of luck to you with selling your house. It sounds like you have done a phenomenal job getting it ready.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I hope you get well really, really quick!

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Strangely enough I consume a lot of pumpkin seeds via the toasted muesli. They are an excellent addition. So far though, I have had little success with growing them. I'll be very interested to read of your seed drying experiments. They keep very well if dried, but you may have to ferment them a bit to clean off any excess pumpkin material.

Good to read, and I reckon learning to make decisions is a skill like any other and it has to be practiced. I suspect that learning to let go and make mistakes is part of that learning process too. What do you think about that?

Oh yeah, you are so right. Sometimes badly behaved, is just badly behaved.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Well you are definitely in a new climate zone in your new digs and frosts may be part of that experience. Mind you, this year I have experienced more frosts than I can recall. Usually there are not many in any given year, but this year was just different... Haha! Yes, close but no cigar is an excellent way to put your experience. I wonder what is the derivation of that saying? I remember people smoking cigars when I was much younger. It looked like a heady experience. Have you ever tried one? They smell better than the chemically smelling cigarettes.

Oh no. I noticed that the most recent Grand Designs episode looks like the landholder may construct a new dwelling right on top of an old Roman construction. I don't know how I feel about that as I dislike seeing heritage lost, because once it is lost, it is gone. On the other hand, history and things flow and morph in unexpected ways and the detritus of one civilisation is constructed upon that of a previous one. What do you think about such things? I have witnessed a lot of destruction of heritage buildings in Melbourne and was always uncomfortable about it. Architects often say the replacement building has nods to the heritage, but I feel that that may be a lie.

Oh yeah, good, cheap, and fast. Pick any two! Hehe!

Strangely enough we don't generally hear the stories about what kids get up to whilst unsupervised. Of course there are always some notable exceptions to that rule... Usually it gets in the papers because the police become involved.

Of course, that happens to me too, but in a different manner. The sun's UV can be quite high whilst the air temperature is quite cool, and I slowly cook my head during the spring days. It is a bit of a headache. Sugary drinks are on hand for such occasions and they do work. Other than that I don't touch the stuff. Dark ales are much nicer!

I have heard of that three sisters arrangement. And I will look forward to your reports on the matter next growing season.

Mate, I am so sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. Please take the symptoms seriously and keep up your fluids and get a lot of rest. The flu season down here was one of the worst for a decade and a half from what I've been reading, and my experience was not good. Speaking to others they had it far worse. Lemon, tea and honey in warm water was good and the honey keeps the sugar levels up and it has other properties.

At least you get your stolen hour back then! :-)!

That sort of temperature will produce a frost here. Incidentally the Nearing's had frost down to four foot into the soil. Far out... A very light dusting here... I am enjoying their second book more than the first as they have grown as writers, although I still feel they are lecturing me from beyond the grave! Aurora turned up today as did the Witch of Hebron.

Well, I reckon you get one chance to set off the fire alarm before you have to make everyone lunch! Good luck and you dodged it that time.

Far out, there is stuff living everywhere and as far as I can tell, for every niche there is a critter. :-)!

Had an easier day today and just spent the day picking up supplies for projects. Mr Poopy had a haircut!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

No worries at all. Honestly I would do the same too given those circumstances. It is often easier to fault find when things are not working. Intermittent faults are such a pain... As another thought, related to the watering, water pumps have a duty cycle rating too, so they can only be used for a certain amount of time before they have to cool off - although some are continuous cycle so you just don't know. Sorry to read about the lack of rain. You know that is my nightmare situation down here, and to be honest I start getting a bit edgy towards the end of the two months. I hope you and your family and garden are OK.

No! What a drama and that is no easy problem to solve. I trust that scissors were not involved in the incident? Hey, in breaking hair news (hehe! sorry I couldn't help myself), Mr Poopy had a haircut today and he is looking very spiffy and full of self importance. He jumped out of the car and said to the other dogs: "You may admire me, now!" And they looked pretty unhappy about his uppity behaviour.

Unfortunately Sir Scruffy hurt his leg last night chasing a wallaby. I've got him on anti imflammatories and he is just resting now. We'll see how it goes. I hope he is OK.

Pickles and mustard in a burger is superb! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep and Margaret,

Thanks for the lovely comments but I have run out of time to reply this evening. I promise to reply tomorrow evening. I have tried very hard to have a relaxing day today and have plans to top it all off with a meal and pint at the local. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

A while back my son brought home some funny looking fruit that a neighbor gave him off of some trees in the woods. They were paw paws. I knew zero about paw paws, have read a bit now. Low and behold, we found an 18ft (5.5m) paw paw tree on our property, right near where we frequently walk. No fruit on it; maybe next year!

"Pawpaw trees, the largest edible fruit trees native to North America, produce greenish-blackish fruit, usually three to six inches long. The flesh is pale to bright yellow and contains a network of glossy, dark brown seeds. A pawpaw's flavor is sunny, electric, and downright tropical: a riot of mango-banana-citrus that's incongruous with its temperate, deciduous forest origins. They also have a subtle kick of a yeasty, floral aftertaste a bit like unfiltered wheat beer. "The flavor of pawpaws is forceful and distinct," writes culinary historian Mark F. Sohn."

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The pumpkin seed work was a complete disaster, never again. The work involved is not justified by the pathetic results which have gone to Son's chickens. Son says that he has tried before and wouldn't bother again. Now he tells me! It would require starvation for me to have another go.

I don't know whether or not one can learn to make decisions, but I do think that one has to learn to let ones mistakes go and to move on.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well after and absolutely miserable night, I bit the bullet and sent my regrets to the weekend retreat. With this cold or flu, or whatever, there’s no way I can run off for a weekend of frolic. Oh, well. “Life on life’s terms” as they say in The Program. Or, as in gardening or baseball, there’s always next year. Tea, lemon, honey. Check.

Four feet is a pretty deep frost line. I don’t know what our standard is, around here. But, not that deep.

It always tugs at the old heart strings, when a heritage building bites the dust. But, as time goes on the upkeep can get pretty steep. Nothing as picturesque as an old ruin.

Well, nothing showed up in the attic. So now I’m the old crank who imagines things. The exterminator did say that with our extraordinary dry summer, it may be the usual cracks and pops of season change. And, every once in awhile, the floor lurches. Like someone has dropped something very heavy, somewhere in the building. They tell me that even though the place as a pretty rustic exterior, it’s a concrete and steel constructions.

I don’t know how I got on their mailing list but I get this very silly high end catalog of all kinds of mostly useless stuff. I noticed there was an “Italian Electric Tomato Press.” Which I think is pretty much like the one in the Australian cooking series. For $349. I thought that was a bit outrageous, but a quick Google search indicates that that’s about what they go for. My old Folly Mill does the same thing and cost me $8. I bet if you looked around, long enough, you could find one of those fancy tomato presses at an estate or auction sale, for not very much money.

Well, I’m going back to bed to sulk. I may even slather on a bit of pouting. :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Glad you enjoyed my little joke! I chuck in all sorts of jokes and puns and I often wonder if anyone notices them. It doesn't matter though as I just enjoy the laughs I get out of the writing process. :-)!

The difficult we can both attempt, but the impossible is perhaps beyond our grasp, don't you reckon? And Mr Mumford may observe from beyond the grave that: "Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life's absurdities by thinking absurdly about them”. Mr Poopy and Sir Scruffy are good mates, although the younger Mr Poopy may attempt a snatch and grab of his mates breakfast from time to time. I have a wooden spoon on hand to deal swiftly with such outrages and equity is rapidly restored.

Hopefully some strawberry plants are transplanted into the new enclosure tomorrow. What do the wise ones say about not counting ones chickens? Hey, I liked your interpretation of the apocalypse now quote too. Very funny. You know, someday this Industrial civilisation will end! (said whilst trying to stay in character).

Exactly, I was trying to work in a clever money reference and defalcation fit the bill (haha! There is another one! We could go on like this all day, but I may run out of ideas sooner rather than later). What were we talking about? Ah that is right, German sausages. I hadn't heard of that term before, but I have to confess to being a fan of the Bratwurst which is apparently part of that word. Yum! My favourite is perhaps the Polish cheese kransky, with onions pickles and mustard.

Yeah, that book is amazing, and he tells a great tale too, full of the enthusiasm of one who does. Interestingly, we completely mucked up our last batch of sake (Japanese rice wine) because we became too clever for our own good and tried to turbo the process using additional heat. We produced an amazingly untasty batch something that smelled like paint thinners. Yes, this is a process that cannot be rushed. Oh well.

Nope, they don't exist. You know for all of the talk about kitchen gardens, I see very few of them about the place. A bit sad that. In my walk in the inner city last week, I saw house after house with immaculately maintained ornamental gardens - and there were no pollinating insects anywhere. Not to mention the lack of bird life. Nature is messy and mostly not to be found in highly maintained ornamental gardens. They do look good though, but are a bit like show bags: Look good on the outside, but are generally full of plastic rubbish that you'll throw out.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your thoughts on that subject. It is a complex subject and I am considering that in light of the book I'm reading at the moment by Scott and Helen Nearing. Interestingly, I rather suspect that Scott wrote the first book and Helen wrote the second as the authors voice is completely different between the two books. Anyway, in the second book, Scott is in his late eighties and they're building a new house - as you do at that age, and largely by hand too. I reckon you hit the nail on the head as age becomes a barrier to the amount of physical activity that you can do. I'm certainly not as spry as I was twenty years ago, and I can only imagine that it gets harder. Sometimes I feel that in some respects there is the Taxi (you may call them Cabs) effect and you hinted at that effect. Taxi's are sometimes remarkable vehicles because they are so highly used that they remain in continual operation up until the point where they are no longer in operation. Dunno, certainly I have noticed that they enjoy considerably longer mileage than equivalent vehicles that may sit around for extended periods. I reckon that may have an impact on a persons brain functions too, although to be honest I'm not as sharp as I was twenty years ago. On the other hand whilst being not as sharp, I'm more thoughtful and so may not think the same now as I did back then. Dunno, you really touched on some deep and very complex matters relating to the human experience.

Oh, I'd take them! Well, that may make no economic sense. Hehe! Glad to read that you have managed to find a good home for your layers. Exactly. You get used to a certain sort of noise and colour and general goings on. And when some animals have departed from the farm, well, it does get quieter. Good luck with maintaining the show condition for the house. I too have experienced the ups and downs of that story. It is hard and you have my sympathies as people have such high expectations these days. I knew someone once who disposed of a layer chicken because it was going through moulting and they thought that it was sick - I rather enjoyed correcting them as I felt sorry for the bird which they left out one night for a fox.

That is a really lovely thing spreading Patrick's ashes at the beach. I hope the weather throws you a solid favour and stays nice for the occasion. I am amazed that you have had little rain for two months, honestly I would be on tenterhooks in the same circumstances. I haven't mentioned it but on Sunday we have a rain event which will stretch all the way from Indonesia right down through the middle of the continent into the Southern Ocean. It is extensive, but it looks like only a bit under half an inch will fall here.

Exactly, that is what I was trying to get too with the story. Making decisions is not a complex process, but if a person has no practice in doing so, how do they even know how to go about doing that task in the future? And then if someone has gotten into their heads and that they can do everything and anything, then how realistic will be the decisions that they do make? It is really complex and as a society we are failing abysmally at such training because it hits up against the very real limits that we are all brushing against.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Many thanks for mentioning this fruit. Wow. It is very rare here, but it grows over such a huge range. I have a packet of 10 seeds now working its way here in the post. I noticed that the deer seem repelled by this plant and so that is a good thing. Incidentally the wikipedia page mentioned a neurotoxin in the fruit, but I assume that is only a problem if consumed in large quantities. It is interesting, but I once tried growing custard apples here, but was defeated by the cold winters. This variety looks like a real winner! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

That is too funny! A lot of things are like that. On the other hand it is good to know how these things are done and whether they are worth a persons time. I have never tried drying pumpkin seeds before, but I may still give it a go - under your advisement of the outcome - as I consume a lot of them in the toasted muesli. Of course, I have to grow pumpkins first and then select for the best varieties. That may take a few years... I always laugh when I hear about preppers hoping to turn up some place and just grow things. They may not have heard of the word "failure" before, which may explain a thing or two.

Yes, letting go and moving on is a skill too. The editor and I also conduct a post-mortem on that sort of situation just to see whether anything useful can be gleaned - sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Mostly we talk about how (and whether) we should try, try, again!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Have just discovered that there are varieties of pumpkin which have seeds with no shells, they would be worth a try perhaps. One variety is aptly named the Lady Godiva pumpkin.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Sorry to read about the weekend retreat as you have been looking forward to that for months. Yes, definitely sulk your socks off and enjoy a good pout (or twenty!), as being sick, you deserve to indulge a bit. Are you feeling any better today? Incidentally, my mother always used to tell me off for pulling faces like a proper pout. She used to tell me that the wind would change and I'd be stuck with that silly look, until the day I died. Of course that trick only worked on me the first hundred times or so! Hey, do you reckon twenty pouts could also be called: vigensumus poutus? Just sayin... I am trying to keep you amused here in your hour of sickness. :-)!

It is nice having a few lemon trees in such a circumstance that you now find yourself in. Press the citrus fruit with a liberal hand, I say. At a pinch oranges could fill in nicely. Speaking of which, I discovered recently why my orange trees died: It is not hot enough here for oranges. Oh well. I ordered some seeds for your North American (Eastern) pawpaw this evening. I had never heard of such a fruit before, especially such a cold tolerant variety of custard apples (yup, killed one of those too). Interesting.

What is also interesting is that I purchased a hand of more than usual cold tolerant bananas at the market the other day. They're red bananas, and I have to say, they are superb tasting and remind me of what bananas used to taste like when I was a kid. There is no chance of them growing here without a lot more global warming. The more usual yellow bananas are beginning to show signs of a soil fungus attack which may be slowly spreading. Such a fast growing plant is bound to be a heavy feeder, and they always extract from the soil, until feedbacks kick in to slow it all down.

Yeah four foot deep frost line is crazy deep and way beyond my understanding. They're in Maine, if that explains it. The last book was written in the late 70's or perhaps the early 80's.

Fair enough about the ruins. I get that, nothing lasts forever. Even the tallest mountains eventually get worn down, sunk or lifted up. Or perhaps eventually gobbled up by our hungry sun.

Oh yeah, buildings shift and groan. The house here expands ever so slightly and then contracts again with the weather - and the building is designed to do so. I used to work in an office block in South Melbourne and occasionally I could feel, although I'm not sure what the right word is, but perhaps: rumbles; through the structure. I'm very sensitive to these things. The last earthquake I can recall, the editor and I were in a restaurant and I remarked that I thought the walls and floor were moving ever so slightly. Sure enough the next day I read that there was an earthquake quite a distance away. Incidentally I read recently that the one of the most expensive insurance events in recent years down under was the Newcastle earthquake.

Spam seems to be increasing here too. It is a bit of a nuisance and they adapt very quickly. Incidentally, I feel very important because I received a proper Nigerian Oil scam email today! I'm always amazed that they never put those letters through a basic grammar checker. Of course, they may want to come across as looking as though they are stupid. Dunno. They’re probably not given that someone must be giving them money... What did PT Barnum once say?

You need a laugh: We started making a batch of millet beer today. The first step in that process is to cook the millet. Anyway, I'm in the front of the house and about as far away from the kitchen as you can get - which isn't that far - and this awful smell permeates the room. I thought maybe that Mr Poopy had done some doggy business in the room, but no, it was the millet cooking. Not an auspicious beginning...

Mr Poopy is enjoying his new haircut and Sir Scruffy seems to be slowly recovering from his leg injury.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Stop! Stop! I’m amused! :-). Before I forget, Inge and her pumpkin adventure: Yup. It’s hard to separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp. And they’re very slick! Shot all over the place. Not much return on time and effort invested. But you can feel soooo virtuous :-). As to the pawpaw tree, I’ve seen a couple of articles, recently, about the “rediscovery” of the pawpaw. As they don’t grow here, I just took in the headline and didn’t bother to read the article.

Yes, I’ve heard about the banana fungus. It’s happened a time or two, before, and they had other varieties to trot out. Which, it occurred to me, is perhaps why bananas don’t quit taste like they did when we were kids. I thinkI’ve mentioned that the first time I bit into an organic banana, I thought immediately of my grannies banana cream pies. But maybe they were memorable, not because of the organic bananas, but because grannie was using a different variety? I eat a banana a day. Have since the early 80s. Bananas kind of kicked off my interest in food. I’ve heard there’s also a chocolate and a coffee fungus or blight. Sigh. Fungus has it out for us. Strikes at all that makes life worth living :-).

Yeah, according to family stories, when my Dad’s still exploded, the first thing I said when I got homre from school was “Smells like dog doo, in here.”

I’m glad Sir Scruffy is recovering from his injury. I was concerned.

I was worried that Friday would come and I’d receive some kind of miraculous healing and would regret canceling the retreat. Didn’t happen. On the mend, I think, but still feel pretty under the weather. Lew

PS: The amount of spam seems to rise and fall like the tide. I sometimes wonder if the "good" hackers, when they're bored or just for amusement, take down the spammers from time to time. Speaking of "real" Spam, I saw an article yesterday that scientists exploring the Mariannus (sp?) trench with a remote submersible spotted a pristine can of Spam. :-).

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

I ferment seeds in water for about three days before storing or cleaning them. I have it on good authority that that system works, but I have not tried it with pumpkin seeds. The germination rate for last seasons seeds is very good and well over 90%. The zucchini seeds are now pushing new plants out of their egg crates and soil. I only now hope that we did not start them too early. Dunno.

The name of those pumpkin seeds was very amusing and I appreciated the joke. There is a bean variety down here named the: "lazy housewife" which is meant to be very prolific. Fortunately I myself have not had the experience of encountering a lazy housewife as that may cause other issues. :-)!

We planted out about one hundred strawberry runners today in the new strawberry terrace and was also able to give the plants a good drink of water as the water pump was also connected today. I'm starting to be sort of envious of people who have bubbling springs!

On a completely unrelated note. We have spoken in the past about eczema and I noticed that a small patch on my arm has cleared now that it is exposed to the High UV sun, whilst another patch under my arm has not cleared as well. Dunno, there may be something in that.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Haha! My evil plan to amuse you has worked! :-)! Yup, that flu affected me for two weeks and I have heard stories of people feeling far worse and for far longer. This year the flu strain was pretty nasty. Mind you, it is nothing like the 1919 strain. Far out, nobody wants that.

Removing the pulp from seeds is a tough business and with most seeds I ferment them for about three days and let the yeasts work their business on the pulp. I don't know how applicable that system is to all seeds, but I get a pretty good germination rate for seeds and I reckon it is well above 90%. Interestingly, the zucchini plants are now pushing their way out of the soil and I'm sort of hoping that I haven't started the plants too early this year. You may be right that there is not enough soil in the egg crates. It is warmer than last year, but nowhere near as warm as the previous year where you may remember that a back burning operation got out of control in the mountain range just north of this one and several homes were lost at this time of year. Who would have thought that the footy finals may possibly have impacted upon the shifts of people who were meant to be looking after the back burn? You are only as good as the weakest link in any system.

The weather was superb today. The sun was warm and the wind was elsewhere. We spent the day putting chicken wire around the new strawberry enclosure (at least the bit that is constructed so far - it will grow by another 150% over the next few weeks). We also set the final concrete step leading up to that new terrace and got the water pump going for the tap and sprinkler there. Then about a hundred strawberry runners were planted out. I have to be honest, I had no idea just how many of those plants that we had in the old strawberry bed. There must be well over a thousand. If you were local, I'd be currently offering them to you for free... There is a lot... Oh well.

Fair enough about the pawpaw. I am curious as to why they don't grow in your part of the world given the reasonable rain that you usually get? Anyway, I'll see how they go here and you never know it may be a winner? They may be like cranberries which will grow here, but they dislike the dry hot summer and promptly turn toes up. To be honest though, I can't taste much difference between cranberries and black currants (which are feral here). As a bit of a confession I once substituted black currants in a recipe that demanded cranberries and nobody noticed, in fact the people seemed pretty happy about the result! I thought it was good too.

Yeah, you know that is what I noticed about the red bananas too. They had a notable flavour which as you say takes you back in time. You know sometimes I wonder whether I'm confusing my memories about what things tasted like when I was kid because other people don't seem to notice the changes - even when I raise it as an issue of concern. Dunno, what do you reckon?

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Nooooo! A coffee fungus? That is the worst news that I have received for quite a while... A couple of weeks ago I spotted three tea camellia's for sale at a nursery and I didn't buy them because they looked very dodgy (a lot frost damage to be honest). I wonder whether I'll regret that? Oh well, there is always chicory root. The stuff grows like a weed here.

Do you know how hard it would be to obtain chocolate / cacao seeds here! Far out, talk about a drama. This would probably assist your cold/flu if it was even possible which I doubt, but when I was in Peru you could just purchase cacao leaves to chew on at all sorts of stores and they were useful if you climbed in elevation very quickly. It was a local remedy. One day we travelled in a bus from 2,500m to about 3,900m to see some condors. The birds were very impressive, and the editor and I had been chewing on the cacao leaves all the way up in altitude, as we had been instructed to do so as the risk of altitude sickness was quite severe. The leaves do not taste very nice. Anyway, the leaves are full of alkaloids which not only made us giggle more than usual, but they also wonderfully cleared the sinuses.

Well, there is always the carob tree and I have one growing here. There is a mature specimen in a nearby botanical garden and for a few years I have been keeping my eye on the tree as I wanted to sample some of the carob pods. Alas, others have been far quicker off the mark than myself.

Oh no! There is much to be said about not involving a still in alcohol production and that amusing story of yours is certainly a good reason to avoid them. Exactly, such a situation as you say would not smell nice. On the other hand it is a handy skill to have, but I worry about producing methanol instead of ethanol and the effects of that are not good.

Yes, Sir Scruffy has been outside all day long and is now reclining in his bed and fast asleep. Despite limping around the place on three legs, he still found the energy to chase a wallaby this afternoon. How he did that is a true wonder... He seems to be using his dodgy leg today.

Yup, not good. I hope you are feeling better today, and sorry to nag you, but are you keeping up your fluids? I may have mentioned something about lemon, honey and tea? :-)! Hashtag: Just sayin!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Supposedly pawpaw seeds have to be moist cold stratified for about 3 months. My son put some seeds from the neighbor's fruit in a box with a lid in the back of the refrigerator. The box has damp soil in it and the seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel. Since it's fall here, I would think that we might eventually set them outside for the winter. This is our first experiment with pawpaws.

I just planted chicory seeds yesterday from some plants on the side of the road.

Here you have been working so hard on your strawberry bed and I was not even connecting the fact that we have done some strawberry work, too. We have planted one 2-row 24ft (7m) bed and have 70 or 80 plants in pots still waiting, as another bed is not ready. We have had very bad luck with strawberries before; here's hoping this nice sunny spot (and enough plants to stand some failure) will be a success.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for mentioning the stratification. The seeds I purchased have apparently already been stratified. I didn't ask about the details though and perhaps that was an oversight? Dunno. Yeah, the refrigerator works great for that process doesn't it? Some of the very cold area species down here have to be stratified in order to germinate too. It constantly amazes me just how adaptable plants are don't you reckon?

Well, we may well be running the pawpaw experiment at the same time which should be fun!

Yup, chicory is a handy plant and you may be interested to know that they grow along the roadsides here too. Anything that can do that trick must be hardy as!

Hey, there was the hugest wombat in the orchard tonight. It was not quite as large as a sow, but not far off it. And I accidentally got a bit too close to the wombat and it huffed at me, like a very loud and unhappy exhalation. And then it went off about its wombat business as if nothing had happened.

Well done and that is quite the bed of strawberries. Nice work and I hope you are imagining all the yummy things that you are going to put your strawberry harvest to next season? They like a drink of water from what I've seen, but only about 10 minutes a day and as long as the soil is deep, they're all cool. I hear you about the bad luck! Far out, everything eats strawberries. But yeah a sunny spot and a lot of redundancy will probably do the trick. The plants like the sun here, even when it is 100'F plus. Go figure that one... Dunno. Did you give them a good feed of manure? They're heavy feeders. We also lay sugar can mulch under the ripening berries and plants and that seems to slow them being eaten by soil critters as the berries stay drier. Dunno, we're working this one out so it is a work in progress. I’d be interested to compare notes with you as you go.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

I've been trying to figure out how I updated the profile photo as the current one looks sort of stretched sideways to me. Now, I don't actually recall being put to the rack! What kind of mind would come up with such a concept. So much for the good old days of the dark and middle ages, huh? :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have to admit that I just put seeds between kitchen paper and put in a bucket in a shed. I have never counted but get sufficient germination the following year.

Bananas taste of cotton wool now because they no longer have seeds within. I have never heard of red bananas.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Your Nigerian spam should have been labeled, “Sounds illiterate in the interest of authenticity.” :-).

Well. Fooled me. Just out of curiosity ... Pawpaws DO grow in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Raintree Nursery, which was not far from my old place, carries them. They grow 10’ tall. (about 3 meters?). “Grafted trees produce in 3-4 years, seedlings in 5-6 years.” There was also an interesting note, “they are sometimes insect pollinated, but more reliably pollinate by hand.” So. Get our your ladder.

Now you’re getting with adventures in cooking (not that you haven’t before.) Re: the cranberry / black current slight of hand (or spoon.) It’s a variation on a theme we discussed the other day. Substitute, stir in, shut up.” :-). I think Julia Child once said of some kitchen disasters that if you didn’t say anything, no one would know. What a concept!

Chicory has no caffeine, so why bother. I must admit, years ago I tried a couple of cans of it. Small cans and very expensive. But I really liked the bitter kick and rich aroma.

Things are wrapping up, archaeology wise, in the northern hemisphere. More interesting stuff from Vindolanda up on Hadrian’s Wall. Odd and interesting coincidences. Back in 1992, Dr. Robin Birley discovered some of the original tablets. Including one from a Masclus who was requesting more beer be sent to an outlaying fortlet. This year, his son, now Dr. Andrew Birley has discovered another trove of tablets ... yet to be cleaned and translated. But he spotted the name of our old friend ... Masclus. They appear to be less official and more personal missives.

it’s been temperate here, the last week. No frost yet. A few showers. Then last night it really came down, for awhile. Sunny, today.

I forget if I mentioned I talked to one of the Master Gardener’s the other day, and it turns out her interest or specialty is soil. She was pretty impressed that I kept my worm box going for 15 years and intrigued that I was turning my raised bed into one big worm box. She also told me something interesting about my plot. Last year, they removed all the soil to give it a good turn over. And that my perception was correct. Nothing much living in it as there wasn’t anything to eat. She also told me there’s an upcoming class on soil that includes a soil test kit in the price of admission. She couldn’t remember exactly what it costs, but it’s probably not very expensive as they do everything at cost. I’ll look into that.

I took a can of chili, last night, and added a couple of handfuls of tomatillas. Really, the first major use of them. I can’t say they really have a big flavor impact. Maybe a slight sweet tang. But, they do have a lot of fibre and several nutrients. So, why not? Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

No worries at all. I'm no purist and I don't advocate any one particular system as there seems to be way too many people trying that trick at the moment. It is certainly well past its due date.

I just got inside this evening from supervising the chickens roaming around the orchard. During that time there was a tropical downpour and the chickens just didn't seem to care. I took shelter under the roof of the chickens enclosure and just watched the storm pour water down upon the orchard. It was very pleasant really.

The red bananas are one zone out of possibility for me (I’m Cold Zone 9b, whatever that means). A local gardening club (of which I am a member) sells them: banana dwarf red dacca. Enjoy!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, that is so true about the authenticity! Too funny. When I debt collect I always act dumb just to slide under the radar, and once guards are lowered, I then go in hard for the debt. It seems to work.

Yeah, I was surprised to read that the pawpaws weren't recommended for your part of the world. Perhaps the original growing areas never spread as far west because they were stopped in their tracks by arid lands and mountain ranges? Those two make for effective barriers to biological movement. Incidentally, I read a quote today suggesting that custard apples (of which I have already killed one, and the pawpaw is in the same family although more cold tolerant) stand a fighting chance anywhere lemon trees can grow. Who knows the climate may have shifted since last I tried? Fortunately, I prefer more trees and lower pollination rates and thus avoid the whole hand pollinating problem which sounds a bit high maintenance to me. On an interesting note I spotted the first tiny apricots and almonds today. Don't count the harvest before it is brought in...

Julia Child was clearly an alert student of the human condition to suggest such a thing. Good for her. And such a policy does tend to work. ;-)!

You know, I've never tried chicory but am intrigued by your description. It makes you wonder how or why people decided to brew the roasted plant roots in the first place. Far out, such culinary adventures. The horseradish appears to be doing well in its new spot.

Well done to the long since deceased Masclus for getting his priorities right. To be honest, I'm surprised the fortlet wasn't producing its own brew as it doesn't take that much effort. Out of curiosity who would Masclus have been writing too? I assume that people would have joined the Roman legion in order to qualify for a land grant? When the population was lower down here, World War I vets were given land. Unfortunately a massive drought hit in the late 1920's to early 30's and much of that land was abandoned.

Nice to read that you are getting some solid rain. It was very humid and warm here today and it rained quite heavily for a short while whilst the chickens were out in the orchard. I ran for shelter into the chicken enclosure and watched the storm. The chickens on the other hand were oblivious to the rain...

What a great course and having a soil test chucked in is a real incentive. I'll be very interested to read how the soil test and course goes - as long as it isn't too expensive. There is a course being held locally by a bloke that is well renowned for growing citrus and I'm wondering if I'll have enough free time to attend. Oh well, we do what we can. The editor and I had a talk today about how to approach the next few weeks as there is a lot to be done.

Why not indeed? As far as I can see a varied diet is to our benefit and advantage. I note that veganism reared its head over at Ecosophia and I'm with Mr Greer in that I have no problems with vegans, but I have problems with vegan lecturing. It is funny that you mention that, and speaking of which... I'm about to start writing tomorrows blog. Better bounce.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I would love to hear a wombat huff - from a reasonable distance.

Last night the rain started. It is suppose to rain for 2 days. Yay! We were getting rather nervous about the possibility of fires as it was so terribly dry, and with the leaves falling at this time of year. We have kept the strawberry bed well watered; not to worry for a bit now. We usually put hay (we can get it for a song, or free, from a farmer nearby) under the plants. Hay has its drawbacks because of the weed seeds, but as it is the right price . . . I also gather up the wood chips from under the gas-powered log splitter and put those under the strawberries and blueberries. I wish you could see the pile of logs that my son has brought home from the neighbor's. I have never seen anything like it except at some place that sells firewood commercially. I asked him if he was going to sell some and he said, no, that is my husband's and my retirement cache.

I shouldn't think that you would have any troubles with pawpaws since they stand temperatures well below freezing here. Your main problem will probably be wombats . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I had a banana the other day - a very tasty one - that I'd swear had seeds, the first I had seen. Supposedly different varieties are being grown because of the disease problem rampant among commercial growers? It happened to be organic; perhaps organic growers grow some different kinds.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I forgot - the strawberries were planted with a bit of composted manure, not that much. More will be added in early spring. They follow a crop of peanuts, the term "crop" being an ambitious description as Arnie the groundhog ate the peanut leaves several times. We got a few - very nice - peanuts. Next year . . .

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - About the chicory. On reflection, I may be misremembering and thinking about some small expensive cans of Italian expresso. But I know I’ve tried chicory. Sometimes used as a coffee extender. Which is kind of like the tomatellas. One can of chili became two ample meals.

I suppose Masclus was writing to a supply officer. The payoff for the soldiers, at different times and in different places ... our knowledge can get a bit spotty. Sometimes, it was a choice of land or a cash pay out. Secure employment for 20 years was attractive. But the big bonanza was Roman citizenship for you and all your descendants, if you didn’t already have it.

Looked at the Master Gardener website and couldn’t find a soil test class. Maybe in the spring?

My head is still pretty stuffed up, but i think I’m on the mend. To put it delicately, the mucus is changing color. But, just to make life interesting, I’ve got a tooth flaring up. I must not be living right. :-). Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

Was that the sake you put on your wood heater? That is quite interesting. I once tried to put the sauerkraut crock outside which taught thecrowandsheep the subtle difference between fermenting and rotting. I suspect such things require little temperature variation more than a correct absolute temperature. A little bit of extra sun rapidly increases the temperature and bacteria population goes into overshoot, then rapidly drops once cooler, allowing other nasties to creep into the process? Could something like that have happened with your sake? Perhaps try a container with a higher heat capacity? I note those crocks on the first photo plate of Katz's book are standing outside and look mighty impervious to temperature changes.

Birdie said...

Hi Chris- Birdie from Vancouver Island here.
I really appreciate the thought and effort you put into all your projects. You make them to last! I continue to enjoy reading about Fernglade and also your musings on various topics!
Thanks for your efforts Chris!