Monday, 26 February 2018

If it makes no sense

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

Of late I have been reading Mr Gene Logsdon's book: "Small-Scale Grain Raising". It is an excellent book and I recommend it highly. Mr Logsdon is a practical bloke with a lifetime of experience and wisdom. I also appreciate that he calls things as he see them, whilst at the same time being diplomatic enough to acknowledge other peoples practices and opinions. The book is a genuine pleasure to read. I'd like to share a paragraph or two from the book where Mr Logsdon is writing about the economics of farming where he is providing some good common sense advice. Here goes...

"I have never in the last fifty years found a farm that can do all that (6%-10% return + living wage for the workers + a return for the farmer-owner-manager). The fact that farms grow steadily larger every year is itself proof that there's never enough profit in the occupation to accomplish these ends. Wherever a farm seems to be economically 'successful', there is either money being pumped in from another source or you will find the soil of that farm being gradually depleted of fertility. Nature never heard of money interest. What you take from her you must eventually put back...

The truly profitable farms are those managed for three or four generations under a consistent policy of frugality and conservation, and upon which some high-quality livestock-breeding program or high-value horticultural operation is carried out along with crop production... The operation is labor-intensive, employing the farmer and his family in all seasons. Older, smaller machinery is often utilized. Few luxuries are indulged in. Debt is, and has been, avoided like leprosy, and expansion has come only out of savings, not from borrowing."

Wise words, and I could not have written a finer piece of advice if I'd tried.

Whilst I am uncomfortable with bucket loads of debt, governments and plenty of plenty of other people in developed countries appear to have no problems at all with debt. Now I can't really speak for those folks, but their appetite for debt has the consequence of driving up prices in the property market. I feel genuinely sorry for people who want to purchase a house or land, but can't afford the crazy prices. Every year the prices rise in the double digits, well, let's just say that I reckon that incomes haven't increased by that same percentage. And the inescapable conclusion is that we are all getting poorer because the dollar no longer purchases what it used to purchase.

It is also not lost on me because of where we live, that I see a lot of good farmland around these rural areas laying fallow (i.e. unused or unproductive). The reason for that is that if a person has debt on their property, then it is impossible to follow Mr Logsdon's excellent advice, because you'll need to be employed full time elsewhere just to service the debt - the farm will not pay its way. Or the other possibility is that you can afford the property outright, but you are too old to work the land in a "labor-intensive" manner and so the large scale machinery required to avoid that option will then put you into debt.

Over the past few weeks I have occasionally had an ear-worm annoying me. An ear-worm is a song that you can't seem to get out of your head. I heard the raw Appalachian sounds of John Mellencamp's sad lament about the demise of family farms in his corner of the planet (Rain on the Scarecrow). It is a powerful song and I hope you enjoy the lyrics:

Deleted

More than fifteen, but perhaps less than twenty years ago the editor and I travelled to the Australian island state of Tasmania. Way down in the bottom eastern corner of that very large island, there is another much smaller island called: Bruny Island. A ferry takes cars and small trucks a short distance across a channel between Tasmania and the smaller island. The ferry carried what looked to me like locals and only a few tourists. It was pretty quiet and we stayed a few days on the small island at various locations.

One of the locations was a farm stay nestled in its own green, fertile, and protected valley. The farmer was an immigrant who'd married a local lady, and they had a beautiful looking farm. I was lucky enough that the bloke took some time to chat with us, and so after the initial greeting I remarked to him that the post and rail fencing looked superb - because it did. He then told us that he milled the posts and rails himself from his own stand of trees using a portable saw mill (known down under as a Lucas Mill).

Hearing that he used both the local resources, simple machines, and sweat equity, really impressed me and I turned to the side to admire the plentiful and tall straight blue gum trees which provided some of the farms infrastructure. The bloke was a cool customer.

By that time in my life the editor and I had been repairing and restoring houses for profit using our own labour, and so I asked the bloke about how hard it was to get a builder into such a remote spot to build the accommodation cottages? He replied (and he wasn't bragging either, but just stating the facts) that he built the cottages himself largely using timber that he'd milled from his own trees. I was in awe. Sometimes you occasionally meet people who are several orders of magnitude more competent than yourself, and that was one such occasion. It was quite a pivotal moment for me as it had never before occurred to me to utilise the natural resources that are to be found around you.

Anyway, I'm guessing that couple (who were about our age) weren't in debt, for the simple reason that banks down under do not generally loan money for that sort of building project.

Now imagine if that farm had been labouring under a huge burden of debt and the editor and I were the only people (which we were) in one of the three accommodation cottages. He wouldn't be so relaxed because he'd need to make income to cover the debt, and as the song lyrics say:

Deleted

Ollie, the cuddle-dog who masquerades as a cattle-dog has decided that one storm detective in a household is never enough. A photo tells a thousand words:
Ollie, storm detective...
I feel that Scritchy the boss dog is a bad influence on the impressionable Ollie, but not much can be done about that as she has taken the much larger dog firmly under her paw of iron!
Scritchy the boss dog is a bad influence on the impressionable puppy Ollie
On a positive note, Ollie seems to be marginally more accurate at storm detection than Scritchy. He reliably predicted a storm which brought a lot of wind, and not much rain. It has been a dry February. Anyway, the morning after the storm had passed, a huge bank of fog settled over the valley below the farm:
A thick bank of fog settled over the valley below the farm
The tree frogs celebrated the increased humidity in the air as they could be seen bouncing around the verandas chasing yummy insects.
The tree frogs enjoy the increase in humidity, albeit not much rain with the recent storm
The editor came across a very colourful metal gecko at the local CFA (Country Fire Authority) fundraising flea market. And we installed the artful gecko on the door to the secondary firewood shed. I reckon it looks very cool:
An artful and very colourful metal gecko was attached to the secondary firewood shed

Final Ollie news for the week. He has not only been supplementing his diet with kangaroo poo, but he also appears to be enjoying elderberries. This simply proves that one cannot take nutritional advice from a dog.
Something sweet for the breath after some (un)savoury kangaroo poo

Some heavy hitters over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range have used their legislative muscle to ban wind turbines in this mountain range. At this point in the story, I should add that I have dabbled in wind turbines, and to my horror I discovered that home scale wind turbines are a complete waste of time in this location. Anyway, I noticed for the first time this week that on a nearby mountain range seven very large wind turbines gently twirling in the winds. They are so far away that I couldn't say with a straight face that they've in anyway affected my visual amenities. I expect the turbines will have approximately a twenty five year lifespan.
I noticed for the first time this week, seven wind turbines lazily spinning in the winds on a distant mountain range
On Sunday, I travelled north to attend a course at an organic orchard at the base of Mount Alexander. I have been purchasing fruit from the Katie and Hugh at the orchard and other markets for about a decade and they are great people and they produce even better sun ripened and organic fruit: Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens. The course was on budding which is an easy form of summer fruit tree grafting. Basically grafting is all about taking a sample of a known fruit tree and getting it to grow on a seedling fruit tree. Seedling fruit trees may grow easily, but the fruit can be very variable. I learned heaps on the course and it was taken by Katie's dad who I believe he said that he had about 60 years experience and his dad owned a nearby orchard. It is a real pleasure to be able to talk with people who know their stuff and I will attempt the grafting process next summer. For anyone in or around Melbourne, it is also worth noting that that farm also supplies fruit trees for sale many of which they have raised themselves. *

* Note: I received no payments, discounts, products or any other incentive by mentioning this course or their business. There is no advertising on this blog!

The budding process is quite simple in theory. Firstly cut a section of young fruit tree wood with a bud:
First step: Cut a section of young fruit tree wood that has a bud. I reckon that is about an inch
Secondly, cut a T score in the tree that you wish to graft the bud onto. Peel the bark back (but do not break it). And then slide the inch long cut section under the peeled bark.
Second step: Slide the section of bud under the bark of the tree
Then tape the graft up. Incidentally, Katie's dad said that back in the day they used to use raffia or even wool worked well.
Tape up the bud
Of course, like everything there is far more to this excellent method than I can put into words, so go and do a course, or watch a YouTube clip. But most of all, get out there and grow your own fruit trees!

We've started saving some of our vegetable seeds too, and this week we saved the early yellow tomatoes and cucumbers. Again, saving seeds is very easy and cheap to do, you just have to learn how!
Seed saving: Early yellow tomatoes and cucumbers
I had better get a wriggle on! Late summer Vegetable and fruit update:
Bell capsicum / peppers have grown heaps in the last week
JalapeƱo! Yes, I have not forgotten the many warnings
Eggplants are almost ready to harvest. I'm surprised the plant doesn't fall over with the weight...
Long capsicum / peppers looks like they'll grow faster here than the bell shaped ones
Corn. Is it ready? I do not know!
The cantaloupes are rapidly gaining size. I also do not know if they are ready
But they're not as huge as the watermelon which has a pumpkin friend
Despite the dry February, the flowers are doing really well. Here's for the flowers:
Basil mint
Nasturtium
Who planted this bulb? Seriously, I do not remember doing that
Soap wort
Chives in among perennial rocket
Tiny bush roses!
They say debt can lead one up the garden path so who am I to argue with such wisdom?
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 17’C (63’F). So far this year there has been 109.8mm (4.3 inches) which is up from last week's total of 106.6mm (4.2 inches).

105 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the link. That was the link I went to in order to read the synopsis of the film. Don't stress about the hyperlinks either as it makes little difference to me. I use a website called something like www.w3schools.com to describe the usage of the html language and I often wonder whether they look back into who this fernglade farm character is due to the clicking on their website. Don't laugh, but I have finally memorised the formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit due to sheer usage! Oh well.

There seems to be little courage in the media these days and I rather suspect that the sheer volume of graduates in that industry would make for a nervous occupational hazard. Apparently there are more students studying journalism than there are jobs. I’m not smart enough to know what that means! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Very interesting blog this week. I think that it would have been great to be born into a farming family if one had been in a position to carry on. Excellent advice all round.

We are experiencing the coldest weather for about 5 years. Snow is supposed to arrive this evening and people are being warned to be home by 6pm. It appears that the jet stream is operating in reverse and the weather is coming in from Siberia.

Far too cold for me to do anything outside so bake bread, make a cake and sort paperwork.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

I do try hard to live up to that image of the thrifty Scotsman, but then there is a little bit of genetic advantage on that score. Unfortunately, as they say it is in the blood. I can't vocalise the correct Scottish pronounciation for the word ‘blood’ though as it sounds to me like ‘blud’ which sounds like an awful medical condition that is not fit to speak of in polite company. Fortunately, we are not in polite company! Speaking of which I do enjoy the occasional podcast and it always takes my ears a moment or two to adapt to the various accents used in your country, and it is very surprising to hear how far they have diverged. To my ears the Vermont accent sounds quite pleasant to listen too, but I am more attuned to the North East Coast and South West accents possibly due to the larger exposure. It is a fascinating area of interest. Accents within this country are quite homogenous.

Banks down here used to give kids saving money plastic doo-dahs for them to keep their spare coins in before taking down to the bank to deposit into deposit books. Being a mercenary little capitalist I was too clever for that, and I put my money into the failed: Pyramid Building Society. To be honest, if I was smarter as a child – which I wasn’t, the name itself would have been a dead giveaway. Fortunately, the money was eventually recouped as the tax payers bailed out the deposit holders.

Well, you are almost officially into Spring - whatever that means! Spring is generally a very lovely time of the year. Hey, I noticed the onion seeds popped up today in the raised garden bed set aside specifically for them. Good stuff. The next week looks set to hover between 68'F and 86'F which I'm quite enjoying. It would be nice to get some decent rain though.

Hope you enjoyed the song tonight and also that I did not inflict the dreadful ear worm problem onto yourself? Anyway, what do they say: A problem shared is a problem halved! Hehe! That is my excuse, anyway!

Very amusing! I had not known that ladder tuners were used for such radio stuff. All the same, I reckon I'll construct my own orchard ladder as it will probably be safer. Interestingly the orchard folks made a joke to me about the insurance people disallowing workers to climb to a height of more than two treads. I couldn't believe what I heard, but no doubts they know their business.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I've seen images of the old school orchard ladders and will construct one of those from memory. Tripods are inherently more stable on uneven ground than four legged things. You can see that in action in restaurants with their tables...

Fair enough, you know your own business in relation to social debts. I feel that the monetisation of relationships has had its effect on that form of currency. What do you reckon about that issue? It has been one that I have put much time into pondering of the whys of the situation.

Mate, if I was trapped, neutered and then released back into the wilds, I'd be wary of humans too! Hehe! I believe that some righteous groups tried that technique for a while on blokes in India. True story.

Mints and lemon balm which I believe is also of the mint family are actually invasive, so your concerns are warranted. It will be interesting to hear what the more experienced reckon about that matter of when to start the seeds inside. Mr Logsdon often quips in his book that few things in farming can be guaranteed upon. I reckon he is absolutely correct with that assertion. If I was attempting seed raising inside and things were upside down, then March would be the time to do that here.

Alas for your future career in science as I believe that a lot of that gear is all about replicability. Hehe! Cooking is a bit like that too. I reach for replicability, but can sometimes get forgetful or distracted and the outcome can be very uncertain. I discovered by sheer accident that I prefer biscuits without bi-carb by such accidents. On the other hand, you may turn out to stumble upon sheer greatness and moments of genius with your approach to cooking? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you for saying that and it is sometimes a fine line between really annoying folks that I know who read the blog and saying what I feel like saying. Diplomacy is a complex skill to master, and I sometimes fail. Between you and me, people are frankly quite kooky about debt and I hear things said and have learned to restrain myself as it makes no difference to the outcome.

I too would like to have liked to have lived with those who knew the old school ways of farming but in the meantime there are always books and historical accounts. Do many people farm using old school methods in your area?

Far out! So cold... Stay warm and those activities sound like a perfect way to while away a few cold days - and it is not lost on me that the oven helps to keep the house warm. Is it normal for the jet stream to reverse?

Incidentally, I wrote this weeks blog with Damo in mind given the issues he raised last week. It will be interesting to see what he takes away from the story.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am sure that I would really annoy folks if I said some of the things that I long to say. Even more difficult is the fact that it is so easy to be misunderstood. There is also stuff that one doesn't want out in the public domain

Debt: oh dear. I endlessly try to explain to friends (with no success), that they pay extortianet (can't spell it) amounts of interest on their credit cards even though they have the wherewithal to pay them off. Compound interest is unknown to them.

I really don't know anything about the reversal of the Jetstream. I thought that it had a constant direction which is why it takes longer to fly from here to the US than it does to return.

I also know little about farming here. Many fields just have horses on them. Farms seem to do bed and breakfast and let out holiday cottages. I guess that they are all small by present day standards. The only people that I know about, have small, small smallholdings. One couple here have only just got permission to build a home on theirs, it has taken them about 10 years. Persistence is definitely the name of the game.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I read about the weather, in England, and wondered how you were doing. Given your maritime exposure, I was hoping it would be a bit warmer on your patch. Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I am currently reading Prof. Michael Hudson's "the bubble and beyond", which is largely an economic meditation on the negative aspect of unnearned income (financialization), and debt to, amongst other obvious social aspects, industrial production. For example, in big, glaring text of page 66:

"The economic tragedy of our time is the decoupling of banking, stock market and the rest of the financial sector from the funding of new capital formation."

I am still reading, but the implication is that once the finance sector is made to behave and debts reduced in accordance with the ability to pay, industry and labor would then be allowed once again to blossom. If that is indeed the implication, the good professor may well be correct, but I am skeptical.

My take on financialization is that it is a reaction to the reduced energy densities yielding less and less of the profits the big brass came to expect. Instead of swallowing the pill of lower profit margins and lesser salaries (not to mention bankruptcy), the margin was reinflated by
(a) loading the middle class with debt via home/student/car loans, and
(b) offshoring working class jobs to the developing world, whose own working class are paid even less, while making use of under-utilized coal resources (China) to compensate for the maxed-out resources in the developed world.

What (a) and (b) have succeeded in doing is masking the uneconomicability of much industry in the face of thermodynamic realities whilst maintaining the lifestyles of a fraction of the well-to-do.

Nonetheless and stating the effing obvious, it definitely would be easier without all the artifical finance and debt creation.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The temperature hovered right around 32F (-0-C) all night long. No snow, except for a little flurry, about an hour ago. That might be it, for this year. Fingers crossed.

Mr. Logsdon is quit astute. Farming is a kind of a business, and expansion doesn't always mean business health. What expands, must deflate? We're seeing it here in the contraction of chain retail. Some of it is due to the internet, but there are other factors in play. And, that bit about taking from nature ... that you have to put back is right on point. Something I've always felt in a vague way, but it's good to have it stated so clearly.

So, you take a trip to Brumy Island (a lark?) and life shots off down another road. A pivotal event, indeed. Or were you, on some level, looking for another road? LOL. We've talked before about life shooting off in odd directions and ending up somewhere you didn't expect.

"Ollie Storm Detective." New dog, old tricks? :-). Gecko art. A new genre? He's colorful and quit pleasing. We have a comedy show, here, called "Portlandia." They have a running gag about making homemade tat successful. All you have to do is "put a bird on it." Put a gecko on it?

I guess wind turbines can be pretty noisy. Off on the horizon, like that, they remind me of a couple of scenes from the newer version of "War of the Worlds." I don't take the local newspaper, but keep hearing odds and ends about a wind farm out in the western part of our county. I'll have to look into it. In case we run out of things to talk about :-).

No payment or discounts? Not even a slice of apple cake? About the grafting. I think, like the soil test I observed, you had to be there :-). That was funny (in a sad kind of a way) about the ladder insurance. I can just hear an insurance adjuster. "Was he on the second or third rung, when he took a tumble? If the second, your covered. If the third, you get bumpus." After we "kill all the lawyers" (tip of the hat to The Bard), next on the list is insurance people. Then, maybe, anyone connected with "human resources." "Come the revolution", as my grandfather used to darkly mutter. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Darn. I meant to see if there were any tips on figuring out when corn is ripe. I'd suggest a bit of a Google. Of course, people with acres and acres of corn just rip open a cob from time to time. Oh, well. Your chickens might get an unexpected treat. :-)

That doesn't look like any watermelon or pumpkin I've ever seen. Might be a bit of squash DNA mixed in there. Opening it up may be a, hopefully pleasant, surprise. The nasturtium sure is colorful. Do they come in blue? :-). I understand that through some weird plant chemistry, they're very good to plant around the base of fruit trees. Who planted the bulb? The Little People, of course. I tried growing miniature roses, inside, several times. It never ended well ....

Regional accents are fun. I particularly like our dour New Englanders. Some SE accents are pleasant to my ear. Others, harsh. Our Appalachian mountains were heavily settled by the Scotts, all the way back to the 1700s. It was pretty isolated, for a long time. Once in awhile, you hear a word or turn of phrase ... a bit of folk music, that's straight out of the Scot's highlands.

Those little give away savings banks are collectible. The earlier one's were metal. Later, plastic. There are collector's guide books. And, probably collector's groups and newsletters. Back in the 1970s, The Franklin (as in Ben) Savings and Loan (a regional outfit) gave away. or sold at a deep discount, dishes. (Colonial Blue?). Made in Staffordshire, England. Blue and white and played a bit off our country's bicentennial. Mostly famous colonial buildings. The salt and pepper had Paul Revere on them. "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere." Etc. :-).

Years ago, I had an old great auntie who died (hadn't seen her in years) and much to my surprise (and, everyone else) I was the executor. One of the first things I had to do was pull her eight or so bank accounts into one estate account. Why so many accounts? Did she not trust banks? Get a better rate of interest? Not want all her eggs in one basket? I asked my mother about it and she just laughed. Aunt Tina had many nephews and nieces. And, got invited to a lot of weddings and graduations. Banks used to give away small appliances for opening an account. So, Auntie would just move a bit of money around and get something to give as a gift. How's that for thrift? :-).

I heard about an interesting book that I got on interlibrary loan. "Consumed Nostalgia: Memory in the Age of Fast Capitalism" (Cross, 2015). It sounded interesting, and I always puzzle over why people collect what they do. Why I collect what I do. Why the tat market has changed. His premiss is that collectors used to take a longer view, into the past. Not so much their personal past, but more a societal past. Younger collectors are more interested in recapturing a moment of their personal past. Those Star Wars figures or Barbie dolls from the 80s. He also observed that the collectible toy shows, used to be four times as big as they are now. Some of it is the internet, but a lot has to do with collectors, in some fields, "aging out."

The potluck was pretty good. A little long on the sweets. My muffins, some cupcakes (what's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?), a cherry pie. Blondies, which are some kind of bar biscuit with carmel swirled through it. Very chewy. Glad I didn't have a dental plate. :-). Very poor commercial pizza (but tasty :-), a pot of homemade spaghetti (the sauce, not the pasta), a bowl of beans and franks and a green bean casserole with a can of mushroom soup and the mandatory crushed potato chips (crisps) on top. Very 50s retro. :-). Lew

foodnstuff said...

A dry February? I just realised, for the first time in 17 years of living here and recording rainfall that I will be writing '0' in the column at the end of the month. Dry indeed!

Damo said...

Hello,

Accents are fun - Mrs Damo and I definitely noticed significant differences across Australia. The most noticeable would be between Adelaide and North Queensland. Adelaide sounded a little 'put-on' to me and very 'proper'. North Queensland is very drawly, with lots of 'heys' added to every sentence, but only just pronouncing the 'h'. I guess the heat makes talking too hard!

Damo

Damo said...

Chris,

Now I feel pressured to write something insightful about your excellent blog post! I love Bruny Island, and visited the area regularly when I lived nearby. To this day, the best cherries I ever had were bought from the side of the road whilst waiting for the return ferry. $10 a kilo and 4 of us ate the whole bag, then got another :-p

The small farm you visited sounds very inspiring, and a lot like the sort of thing I would like to try. Avoiding debt, building incrementally and using local resources where possible is literally bullet points from a tentative 5 year plan I put together a little while back when I was more optimistic. A lucas mill featured heavily! Is it realistic though? At todays land prices, not really. Perhaps with a land price crash it could happen? But then, as the not-family friendly saying goes, if my Aunt had b**ls.... she would be my uncle!

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, the internet leaves much to be desired as a quality form of communication and misunderstandings are rife. Many people tend to be on the take too which doesn't help matters and emotions run high in many.

People have no idea what debt even is these days. I have had people tell me with a straight face and no hint of irony that they are debt adverse, and in the next breath they're talking about taking on more debt - or drawing down on their mortgage. Basic understanding of peoples economic circumstances seems to be lost on many. And I particularly enjoyed Mr Logsdon talking about luxuries. Many who are in trouble, do not stint themselves.

I thought the jetstream ran in a constant direction too. How are you holding up in the cold snap?

Yeah, it is the same here, but at least a few places run cattle on fields, but there are feedlots (ducks, chickens, and cattle) not too far from here. They produce an inordinate amount of manure... People said the council here could be painful with planning permission, but I was like an absolute terrier with them and got back to them the day after they raised any questions at all. And if they asked the same question that they previously asked, I simply graciously replied again. 3 months is what it took, but I have heard those stories. It is a process and people have to follow the process, and not try and dictate what they expect the process to be like. I see that all of the time, and no doubt the same thing goes on in your part of the world - given it is largely the same system. I give that advice to people and generally they do not listen.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Incidentally, I love the words "unearned income" because the desire for that runs deep in the population and it is their undoing. The stock market is generally understood to be investing money, but to my eyes it looks a lot like gambling. The money being spent on equities is not being invested in productive assets, it appears to me to be used to inflate the value of paper that already exists. And from a larger perspective, if this option is not pursued, well, we may well find that excess money supply getting spent on actual real world physical goods and services and that would only lead to hyper-inflation. Few would want to experience that. This current experiment (asset bubbles in equities, bonds, and property) has not been tried before and it is quite a genius strategy, but like everything it is sadly subject to diminishing returns and the problem child will inevitably be the property market (maybe) because it has a physical component.

Exactly! That is a pretty fair summation of the situation. I have a hunch that at some point in the future, some of those bubbles will have to be deflated, before being pumped up again. And all the while incomes for many have stagnated and costs are increasing. It is certainly interesting times you'd have to say!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Yup, fingers crossed. At least you are avoiding the "Beast from the East" that Inge is suffering from. Tonight looks to be a warm one here with temperatures hovering around 68'F for most of the night.

I worked once for about a week over two decades ago for a business that basically lied to me during the interview process. Who would have thought that would happen? They had this weird narrative in their heads that said: "get big or get out". Strangely enough they were one of the top 100 fastest growing companies that year, and oh boy, were they growing fast or what. I walked into the accounts department feeling all happy and good on my first day, and the little sad faces I met told me pretty much everything I needed to know. It was a disaster and after a few days trolling through the books, I declared the patient still alive but soon to be deceased. I tried to make an appointment to discuss the situation with the owner and my boss blocked me. I resigned. Two months later the disaster exploded and they were done for. I didn't get paid for week either which really annoyed me, but I got over it and moved on. One thing I notice in other people is that they can often have a belief that nothing can go wrong, but I have experienced firsthand many things going wrong, often horribly, and I share no such belief with them. Have you ever seen that belief system?

Of course, I always have my eye out for opportunities. Interestingly, they are there, but being able to see them is another skill set altogether. I may have mentioned my time up in Nimbin which is Australia's equivalent of Ashland. Now, at the time I wondered whether the hippies were winning, and I'm still not sure about that, but the problem is we all get older and their lives look unappealing to me as they also age. The saddest place I'd even been too was the hippy museum up there as I could smell the lost opportunity all around me and I had to leave the place and not ever return. Fortunately it wasn’t like the Hotel California. I mean what are you meant to do?

Yup! Ollie has been receiving training, and it's not good... Thank you the editor is always on the hunt for metal art, and she makes jokes about pink flamingos, but I'm never sure whether she is joking or not. Anyway, I retaliate with the threat of five Pomeranian's. What a collection they would make - and a lot of racket too. At least Ollie is a quiet dog.

I've heard that some people are sensitive to the resonances from the wind turbines, and everyone experiences the world differently. I have read about geological fault lines transferring sub audible harmonics from nearby airports. I used to have a pilot for a neighbour and he was pretty cool, although I had the sneaking suspicion that he enjoyed the job for the attention of the ladies. He seemed very popular, and I was always discreet whenever I encountered one of his friends.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Advertising! Pah! Like the farm, the blog is supported by off farm income, and hopefully it stays that way. Mate, I hear you and down here they run some scam called "test and tag". Those folks earn more than I do. Sometimes a copy of the future Encyclopedia Britannica which had travelled through a Star Trek anomaly and landed in the present would be kind of cool as we could see who ended up badly!

Nope, the watermelon is green and that is the colour of watermelon down here. What colour are your watermelons? I'm intrigued by that. Hehe! No blue, a bit of a shame that, but there is also orange and red (Empress of India variety no less - a very regal name)! Nasturtiums are just all round good plants. They are in the process of growing right throughout the garden beds and they seem to accommodate the needs of the geraniums and wormwoods quite nicely.

Speaking of Appalachian accents - in the song John Mellencamp used the word 'hoss', whatever is that? It certainly sounds derogatory to me. Do you happen to know?

Back in the day, the metal money tins were cubes and they had painted images of city buildings. I'm amazed to read that they are collectible. Oh my, the Penobscot Expedition was not good.

That is a surprise, I wonder if you have ever unravelled the mystery behind why she chose you? I'm impressed by her thriftiness, it is a great story. :-)!

Have you begun reading the book and has it enlightened you? ‘Just because’ is a good reason too, as I don't feel that everything has to be justified, although no doubts others feel differently. It is interesting that you mention Barbie, but there was going to be a film about that doll but with human characters and of course one of those characters was a bit different and didn't fit in so well. Well, but far out, that concept raised some heckles and people went off the deep end... The project was cancelled I believe.

I may ask someone tomorrow that very question about muffin versus cup cake. What a debate it shall stir up and I do hope I remember to do so. :-)! Can of mushroom soup and crushed potato chips is not quite floating my boat – then they do sell pie floaters down here (not easy to find these days). I have New Zealand friends who swear by a packet of French Onion soup added to yoghurt to produce a dip. It sounds dubious, but the editor enjoys it.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi foodnstuff,

It is pretty serious isn't it? Strangely the rain in January has caused the more shady parts of the grass to green up. 2009 was only 6.4mm here and that didn't end so well, especially after January's (2009) 0.6mm. I was a bit nervous that year...

I hope you garden is growing well. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Hehe! Yeah, I've heard the Adelaide folks pronounce dance (or chance) as "darnce". I wondered whether it was put on too? But they are the city of churches after all, and that can lead to exciting times... Probably not though! Hehe!

Bruny Island is a stunning place, and it was so quiet. Hobart is under pressure from developers and mainlanders heading down there. It would be nice if not every large city on this continent became over developed as I have a very soft spot for Hobart. When we travelled around Australia, we spent the first month down in Tasmania and it was during winter, and we camped along the foreshore where I believe Mona is nowadays. We slept 12 hours a day and just enjoyed ourselves in Tasmania. Back then you could purchase Georgian mansions with land for about $300k. We were very tempted.

A lucas mill is always a realistic option. As is a stone house. Some of the most beautiful buildings are built from stone. Hehe, well your aunt is your aunt after all! Did you check? You never know... ;-)! We've gone a bit crocodile dundee here tonight...

Mate, no jokes at all, there are so many second building materials around to be had for cheap. I reckon the trick nowadays is to purchase land with a damaged house on it, and simply repair the house. Most damaged houses are considered to be a nuisance for property purchasers. You have to keep your eye open for the gap in the market that nobody else wants. Nobody wanted the land here and it is seriously just under an hour to Southern Cross station.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

No snow so far but it is very cold. I am wearing fingerless gloves when reading or at the laptop. Admittedly air gets into the shack as I refuse to live in a sealed up building.

Goodness yes, when dealing with planners it needs to be courtesy all the way. I am always amazed at the people who get angry because they have RIGHTS. Oh yeah? That approach is an inevitable disaster.

Finance again: A friend who has some money to invest, was telling me about this new bank that is opening and offering a very good rate of interest. He then told me about the area in which the bank was going to invest the money: peer to peer lending. I managed not to scream but hope that I instilled serious doubt. Does it not occur to people that higher than averaged interest implies higher than average risk?

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Isn't Mr. Logsdon wonderful? And such a great writer.

More beautiful poetry, this time from John Mellencamp. He really knows how to nail it.

Ollie - some day you are going to get stuck under there - freckles and all - and the other fluffies are going to laugh at you. Or worse. I feel for Chris and the editor once you discover blackberries . . .

Isn't it wonderful how frogs stick to things?

Cool is an understatement. That is some gecko!

I have some doubts about large commercial applications of wind turbines. I think a lot of the facts and figures don't take into account the costs of building and maintaining them, just the benefits, which can also be dodgy since weather so completely affects them, not just the wind, but things like cold and ice. Perhaps they would be most useful small-scale, like the ones I grew up around in Texas that pulled up water to fill the cattle tanks? Or the larger ones that the Dutch - and many others - used to mill grain or move water?

Thank you so much for the free lesson on grafting!

What especially beautiful eggplants. What are those long peppers? Are they mild? One of my favorite peppers is the banana pepper - so mild. Geez, what fantastic corn, but darned if I can tell if it's ready; my corn never gets to that stage . . . Since a cantaloupe is a "muskmelon" you can tell if they are ripe by a pretty strong smell. They will also ripen, however, off of the vine if kept in a warm spot.

Thanks for the flowers. We are beginning to see a few kinds bloom. The cherries are about to explode into bloom and the weather has been good, but frost is expected for the weekend.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I appreciate your conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit. I have no problem visualizing what metric measurements would be in US Standard but temperature I have more difficulty with. With your conversions I'm doing a bit better.

Ollie and Salve must have met in another life. She loves eating poop of all kinds.

I think your corn has a way to go. The silk should be pretty much all dried out. I've usually pulled back on the husks a bit just to be sure. I pretty much gave up on corn as the raccoons destroy it. They'll go into the patch just as it ripens, knock down the stalks and take a bite out of the ears. Some have luck planting squash around the corn as the leaves can be pretty prickly and the raccoons don't like to walk through it.

The level of debt that people carry is just crazy!! When I was in college a large department store, Carson, Pirie Scott gave out credit cards to the students, most of whom had little or no income. I must confess that I got one and used it though the limit was just $300. The only good thing about it was it did give me the start of a credit history. When my first husband and I divorced I was a single mother for awhile and frankly needed some credit for living expenses and a car. I was able to pay off the debts without too much difficulty. To this day Doug and I carry separate credit cards. We bought our first house in the mid 80's when interests rates were really high. I think the interest on that mortgage was 13%.

The gecko is very cute.

It's supposed to be 60 here today so I'm going to get some work done outside. By Thursday it'll be back down in the 30's with some snow in forecast.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

"Aunt Tina had many nephews and nieces. And, got invited to a lot of weddings and graduations. Banks used to give away small appliances for opening an account. So, Auntie would just move a bit of money around and get something to give as a gift. How's that for thrift? :-)."

That is just priceless!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I have been wondering about you over there. Hope all is ok and keep cooking!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hmm. Doomed businesses. Just about every time a new business opened on Tower Street in Centralia, I'd think, "Doomed ... doomed." Every time someone took over the cafe, next door (7 owners in 15 years) I'd introduce myself and just ask, kind of off hand, "Have you ever been in the restaurant business, before?" The response was always negative and I'd think, "Doomed ... doomed."

My friend in Idaho is always scrounging around for bits of interesting metal to create ... whatever. They have five small dogs, by the way. Cockapoos? I don't know what the deal is with pink flamingos, but some people like them. And, collect them. Florida vacations? Grannies pink plaster flamingos in the bathroom? Rather than dogs, maybe go with garden gnomes. "I see your four pink flamingos and raise you five garden gnomes." :-)

I looked and the wind turbine farm is to be in the northeast part of our county. They started with a planned 50+. But, the plot of land was half in Thurston County (very blue / liberal) and half in Lewis County (Very red - conservative). So, now they are just building 38 in Lewis County, as, I believe, there's a lot less "push back" from enviros, etc.. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Oh, there's nothing wrong with the color of the watermelon. Same as ours. It's the shape. Ours are perfect ovoids. Yours looks to have the shape of a Turk's Hat (?) squash.

"That" word on a supposed family friendly blog? My eyes! My eyes! I'll never un-see it! I'll have to gouge them out! (Just sending you up :-). I think "hoss" might mean "horse." One of the sons on the old Bonanza western had the nick name, Hoss. He was a very large fellow.

Well, I think the reason I ended up as executor to Aunt Tina, was, at the time she did her will, I lived in Seattle. And, she just never got around to changing it. Though she did make other adjustments over the years. One of my uncles who had been angling for the job, for years, was gob-smacked. It is reported he said some very unkind things about me. My response, sent back through the grapevine was, "Well, I guess I won't have to attend Uncle Bernard's funeral." :-)

There were several casseroles from the 50s (some more successful than others) that involved cans of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Usually, crushed potato crisps formed a crust. Sometimes, those dried Chinese noodles. Onion soup mix turned into dip is pretty common, over here. Yogurt would be "different." But, I'd think of it. Usually it's sour cream or mayo. Just about any dried soup mix flavor is a possibility.

Yes, I'm plowing through the nostalgia book. Interesting stuff, and not too scholarly. I notice on Amazon that he's written a few other books that sound interesting. None of which the library has. I might have to do a few more interlibrary loans. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Yep, I have watched with grim sadness what is happening in Hobart the past couple of years. It is a logical flow on from the very high prices of Melbourne and Sydney, and yet another casualty of our 'economic managers' decision to make money (debt) essentially free.

Your suggestion of an damaged/run down house is sort of where I landed in my mind as well. If you are going to buy something at land-only value, might as well be something you can live in and don't need to battle council for the necessary approvals etc. etc. Prices being what they are, this option still requires a mortgage unless I want to rent and save till I am 50. Seeing as I don't know where I want to live yet, it seems prudent to save another year or two and re-evaluate.

Damo

Damo said...

To all,

Mrs Damo bought me home a very strange looking saw/knife device. It is stainless steel and made in Japan. I have put a photo on my blog, if anyone knows much about them I would love to hear it!

Cheers,
Damo

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

Isn't it really just inflation though? You may not be paying much more for your milk, but you are for your home loan. It's a bubble if the majority of loan payments are then fed specifically back into the housing market, inflation if distributed back to the wider economy.

I think most large corporations have their own enormous finance department, which I interpret they are using to subsidize the rest of their unprofitable (real) business. So like a lottery that the government uses to bring in revenue, a stock market is a corporate lottery with a few winning inside traders and many losers (us) which the private sector uses to subsidize their high salaries and generally unprofitable (real) businesses.

So, in short, consumers are able to sustain themselves/keep themselves entertained by purchasing cheapo goods produced in developing countries. The rest of their salary goes to the paying of debt to subsidize domestic business via the market. That will continue so long as the goods keep arriving and the people are willing to give the rest of their salary to the banks.

WadyareckonChris?

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

21F but feels much colder with the wind. Son has just been down to collect large water containers from me. His water supply has frozen, not much fun when one has livestock. It appears that the geese ripped off pipe lagging.

There was a beautiful 10 minute snow flurry yesterday, but the ground cleared rapidly. People are having to be taught that there is a difference between dry snow and wet snow; they are wondering why they can't make snowmen.

Inge

Coco said...

Hi Chris,

Gene L. was a treasure. I followed his blog for a while before he passed, they now maintain it as a memorial - https://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/ if you want to take a look through the archives.

We´re getting the Siberian blast too, but only a couple of centimeters of snow. I think the direction of the jet stream is the same, but the peaks and valleys change around and allow air from either the Sahara or Siberia to come on through.

Galician farms are ¨minifundia¨ holdings, as in they get smaller as they are divided between descendants, which makes it harder for a farm to maintain a minimal profitable size. And, just like in the States in the 60´s, there´s a policy of get big or get out. The latest issue has been manure management. Since no one has enough acreage to keep cows on pasture all year, they´ve been spreading the slurry from barns on fields using giant tanks and sprayers, purchased with government subsidized loans. So the gov´t looks good while the equipment manufacturers and the banks make money, but the farmers are in debt. But the EU changed their policy due to excessive ammonia levels and it was announced that this year manure would have to be injected instead of sprayed - requiring all new equipment. There was such pushback I believe they´ve delayed the legislation.

We got the new garden area plowed again. Best 50€ I think I´ve ever invested in gardening.

Cheers

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge, Pam, Margaret, Lewis, Damo, crowandsheep, and Coco,

So many lovely comments. Thank you to everyone! So little time this evening to reply. I promise to reply tomorrow. I believe I am beginning to get into a routine of quiet Interweb days on Wednesday evenings, but I can also be very inconsistent in my application of that general guideline. Dunno, but sometimes it can be complex being me! Hehe!

Lewis - I'm very displeased with myself, if only because I came across a spurious claim exactly like your non-refundable deposit. At the time I thought to myself, I must remember this and then recount the chunk of silliness to Lewis who would no doubt roll his eyes, say something witty about lies, damn lie, and statistics. If I don’t immediately write story ideas down too, they disappear, but inspiration is not always convenient.

But the idea has completely evaporated from my brain. Of course this may possibly be early onset dementia. That could be a problem, as there does seem to be a lot to forget, but then don't you reckon it is a gift to forget? I once read a really interesting series of books by the author Gene Wolfe titled: The Shadow of the Torturer. Anyway, the protagonist had a perfect memory, and that appeared to be a bit of a burden to the character.

Speaking of books, a copy of "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance" by a certain Mr Couliano is winding its slow boat way down here to the bottom of the world. With an authors name which itself sounds Cool, the book can't fail to be cool. The cover art is a bit naughtier than the average pulp science fiction cover and I must remember not to outrage the local dignitaries by getting caught reading it at the local cafe. Thirty years later, I'd still be hearing about it. Remember that naughty man who was reading.... The contents are all very innocent and scholarly from what I understand.

I used to enjoy the covers of pulp fiction sci-fi from the 1950's and 1960's. I see Damo has scored a story in an anthology, and I must send my congratulations tomorrow. He is a better fiction author than I. I hope they do some really gaudy cover art for the anthology.

I did find one "non refundable deposit" style claim in the newspapers: Big banks really aren't that profitable, Westpac finance chief says. They really will over succeed, and over succeeding is a failure as most ecologists would know.

There was an interesting article on the record breaking rainfall up in the north west. Broome smashes annual rainfall record in less than two months as Cyclone Kelvin caps big wet. There is a chart in the middle of the article which displays the first two months (January and February) of rainfall in that town and plots it out of the past 80 years. Blind Freddy could plot a linear regression line through that chart and discover an alarming trend over the past 80 years.

Sleep is calling!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

In 1982, when my husband and I had been married two years, we were already tired of living in an apartment and wanted to buy a house. This was in Dallas, Texas and we were 26 and 25 years old. Our income was muy low and, as Margaret mentioned, the interest rests rates on mortgages were around 13%, though I remember seeing them as high as 18%. Our absolutely only option - if we wanted to stay in Dallas, as we did because I was helping my elderly grandmother a lot - was to buy something in an old neighborhood and fix it up. We chose a rundown hose in what had originally been a suburb of middle class white people, but had long ago been swallowed up by the city. It was now a Hispanic area with a touch of gentrification, with a ghetto not too far away.

We were able to get a note on the house from the elderly widow who owned it. We repaired every bit of it ourselves. My husband had some experience working in construction. I'm not sure that I had ever even used a hammer before. We lived there for seven - I have to admit it - harrowing years, though we had some great neighbors from Mexico. But some were not so great and there was a lot of crime. And during that time we had our two sons, so there was an extra level of worry.

We had always wanted to get out of the big city - and that climate - so we put the house up for sale. It did not sell (and the price was great, I felt). We decided to move anyway and chose where we are now in the Charlottesville, Virginia area (my ancestors had settled here in 1741). We rented a house while looking for property here, so we were paying rent and a mortgage. It took a year for the Dallas house to sell and we lost a bit of money on the deal. However, somehow we had still saved enough to pay cash for the five undeveloped rural acres that we still own. We decided that the only house we could afford to build (feeling that we just didn't want to put in all the time, especially with two small boys, to try and build it from scratch) was a log house kit - we liked the log house that our neighbors had built. We had someone else put up the log frame, with our help, and then we mostly finished the interior ourselves, hiring men for the plumbing and wiring, but assisting them. So, we did sort of build the house and our little sons helped tremendously.

We did have to get a 15-year loan for the log house. There was kind of a dichotomy of feeling about paying off the loan. It was hard to pay that debt each month for all those years, but we consoled ourselves that we were not paying rent and would own something in the end. And we were pretty committed to staying here long term (it has been 27 years since we bought the property, and it will be passed on to our sons). Still, things happen and we could have been stuck with that debt, as with our first house. But we still have the asset and it is still worth something, besides the fact that we love it.

What a joyous day that was when we made the last payment! Now all we have to do is come up with the property taxes each year . . . and maintain what we fondly call the "Million Dollar Maintenance Mansion" - as in upkeep costs, not house value . . .

"If it makes no sense"? I don't know.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I'm sorry. I laughed when you wondered about early onset dementia. My buddy Scott and I are two doddering old fools. Often, while waiting politely for the other to run out of steam and stop gassing about something, we forget what we were about to gas about. Or can't quit remember a name. "Pfst! Gone." Our running joke is: "I'll probably remember at 3am. I'll give you a call."

There used to be a long running tv program, here. "Golden Girls." The most elderly didn't have dementia. She'd rub the sides of her neck and say it was just a "vascular flow problem." Which is actually a real thing. They do have a treatment, for that. They take a tiny plumber's snake and ream them out.

There's a little test for dementia. If you can't find your keys, not a problem. If you can't remember what a key is, you've got a problem.

Lurid covers. They're actually collected (what isn't?). There are collector's guides ... If you search E-Bay for GGA (Good Girl Art) thousands pop up. Mostly noir. But, also paperbacks.

The big wet. Also the name of a kind of sci-fi novel by Shute (On the Beach). As I remember, it starts to rain and .... just doesn't stop. Enjoy your down time. Everyone needs a day (or two) of rest a week. Religious, or otherwise. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - The dry snow is factory defective :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Aunt Tina was a hoot. When she talked, she sounded just like an old hen. Hmmm. How to describe it? She's start with a short exclamation, but at the start of a sentence. A rising "Eahhh. Talk, talk, talk, talk." Eahhh. Talk, talk, talk, talk." :-). She lived well into her nineties, and died the "good" death we all hope for. Quietly, in her sleep. Lew

Jo said...

Like Coco, I have been reading essays from The Contrary Farmer over the course of a year or so and have been enjoying them very much. Sensible old people are an absolute gift with all their years of experience and experiments, and they are the link to the wisdom of the generation before as well. We ignore them at our peril.

Your pink bulbs are belladonna lillies or naked ladies. I can't say I am a fan. They keep coming up in my garden too, and I dig them out. Possibly they piggy backed into your garden with another plant, especially if you have ever had plants from someone else's garden? They can survive out of the ground for ages. Tenacious buggers.

Your corn looks ready with the silks gone brown. Peel back the husks a little and poke your fingernail into a kernel. If the juice is milky it is ready. If the juice is clear, wait a couple of days and try again.

For cantaloupes, the stem should start to crack away from the melon, the vine should be pretty much dried out.. your veg all looks amazing!

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Brr! I hope you are staying warm and the fingerless gloves are a great idea. Today was about 65'F here, and I have the door to the outside world open right now, but you are reminding me that winter is just around the corner. Today I fertilised two of the garden beds with 2.6 cubic yards of mushroom compost and woody mulch. The dry February has meant that the compost actually smells really nice and it has a very fine texture. It is amazing all of the changes that occur through the seasons. And perhaps it is just me, but they seem to appear quicker than the year before!

Exactly, too. My mum used to say that a person catches more flies with honey than vinegar. I sent the planners a thank you letter at the end of the permit process and it was appreciated. The strange thing with them was that the next time I had dealings with them, they were very combative, even though they were in the wrong, so I guess it all depends on the individuals that get assigned to you.

Peer to peer lending. What could possibly go wrong? I'm being sarcastic! Where is the security. I have heard stories of up to 30% and I believe the legal upper limit is either 38% or 48% (I forget which). I suspect that this form of financing which I hear and see getting plugged everywhere is a frantic attempt to achieve a yield at any cost. That says a whole lot about the fundamentals of the larger system. Basic economic literacy is appalling and I have had people swear that such and such is not debt, when it clearly is. This stuff is not taught in schools.

Oh my! The naughty geese! Well part of the mulch / compost mix I put down today was to repair damage to one of the steep garden beds that was caused by Ollie...

Hehe! Well, snow is less frequent these days, and people have short memories!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Yes, Mr Logsdon is a wonderful writer and he writes with a nod to the larger farmers, but his words are really aimed at the small holder or family farm. I reckon he is right too in his occasional cheeky observations.

I sort of feel that it takes about a decade to become competent, but a lifetime of learning to become any good at such things. What do you reckon about that?

Hehe! Glad you enjoyed the lovely poetry and I did a bit of reading about him before using that song, and he has lived an interesting life, and continues to do so. Of course, music is clearly more profitable than farming.

I must be quiet here as Ollie is asleep behind me on the green couch. If he got stuck under the bed, he may have forgotten that he left his tail and rear legs hanging out... Sir Poopy used to have this belief that if his face couldn't be seen, then the rest of him was carefully hidden! Not so my doggie friends.

Frogs are amazing how they can climb vertical walls. I hope the frogs are chasing the large huntsman spiders...

Would you believe that someone wanted to throw the gecko away? But then I guess someone wanted to through Ollie the cuddle-dog, err, sorry cattle-dog away, so not much surprises me.

On a Mr Kunstler podcast (#298 I believe) I heard a lovely metaphor for wind and solar energy versus fossil fuels. Wind and solar is like living off your annual income. Fossil fuels is like living off an investment. What a lovely way to look at the situation. It is a bit of a shame that many people appear to want to live beyond their means, don't you reckon?

It was a good course and I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

Yes, the long peppers are I believe called 'Slim Jim' and they are a mild pepper. I've never seen a banana pepper, but they do sell yellow peppers at the market. Are the banana peppers yellow? Jo, left some advice below about the corn and melons so I'll have a look as time permits over the next day or so. Absolutely, home grown melons are vastly superior tasting to the store bought ones.

Good luck with the frost and I hope the cherries put on a good show. Are they ornamental or fruiting varieties? You could attach a bud of a fruiting cherry to an ornamental cherry...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

No worries and I've used the conversion formula so much that it has been committed to memory. Here goes: (F – 32) /1.8 = C. It was 68'F here today which is very nice.

Who can fathom the taste buds of a dog? Honestly, I don't know how they aren't sick more often given the rubbish they eat. I reckon a few months back Scritchy ate something she shouldn't have, and she just had to ride it out. She slept it off on the bean bag for two days and then had a remarkable recovery. Has she learned anything from this incident? Possibly not. Some of the marsupials consume the local mushrooms, and no doubt there is all manner of toxic stuff in their manure. Salve and Ollie have possibly performed the ancient canine mind meld!

Thanks, and I will have a look at the corn over the next day or so. Jo provided some guidance in her comment below. Your raccoons are way smart creatures. Good luck with them and please keep them there! The rats drive me bananas enough here. Incidentally, over the next month or so, the rats will be seeking somewhere nice and toasty to ride out the winter. Ollie caught a rat the other day, so there may be some hope for that dog.

Exactly, the whole thing is crazy. Back when we had our first mortgage, the interest rate was something like 18%, which is horrendous, but the house prices were much cheaper. I have a sneaking suspicion that those rates at that time were deliberately introduced to wean our economies away from the production of physical goods which would eventually have led to hyperinflation. Obviously, it is just a hunch, but once people saw that the return on interest exceeded the return from running a business physically producing widgets...

Thank you!

Did you manage to get outside in the milder weather? The weather today was only just warmer than your 60'F. Is this the passing of the baton?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, cafes are a tough gig and they take huge hours for very little coin, and the sharks circle everyday looking for a cut of the action. I had a thought recently, that a number of long term employees (such as folks from the recently deceased car industry) may be considering purchasing a business in lieu of getting a job and, you know, I've a read a lot of articles in the newspaper about folks getting stitched up in franchising arrangements. It can't be a coincidence. Incidentally the big banks down here are on a charm offensive because the Royal Commission into some aspects of their practices is well under way. Now the thing is, I have heard stories that they are also in the process of making large numbers of employees redundant. I wonder what those people will do because their skills don't transfer well into small business. Such people have asked me about job descriptions, and I always quip, yes, they have those, it says: work your backside off!

Ooo. That is uncanny about the cockapoo's reference because that is the second mention today about people breeding poodles with other dogs. I wonder if anyone has ever bred a poodle with a pug? The logistics would be complex...

Have your Idaho friends made anything really interesting and unusual with their collected metal scraps? Some people have a gift for that and they see the world differently. I tend to work out how to make useful things like sheds and stuff with metal scraps. Speaking of which we may build a small woodcutter shed down below soon.

I like your style about the garden gnomes, but the editor may like them and then there would be little people in the garden at night causing me startlement. Is this a good thing? Maybe?

That is funny about the wind turbines. I suspect a lot of the concern arises from aesthetic concerns, but people still use electricity, so they can have all the liberal values they want, but if they use the system, then they're part of the system. I've never seen one of those large scale wind farms except in images from the US. Fascinating and I suspect that the generation potential is subject to diminishing returns as the airflow interrupts the other wind turbines in the general area. It isn't cost free as the wind really has to shove the turbine blades hard. I should produce a wind driven water pump, sooner or later as they are quite effective.

Thanks for clarifying that. Yes, this variety of melon is a ball. They had them growing at a market garden north of here and they were quite large at about a basketball size.

Please accept my apologies and I do hope that your eyes recovered from the use of the naughty word? Hehe! I can barely recall Bonanza, but it did have a rather catchy theme tune didn't it? I have to admit that I much preferred the Adams Family when I was very young. A few monsters around never seemed to do those folks any harm. :-)! Didn't the Dukes of Hazard have a character named Boss Hog?

Speaking of cars (Dukes of Hazard) there is a major thing going on down here with dodgy airbags which appear to be exploding unnecessarily forcefully into peoples faces. Not good. Suzuki hasn't been listed yet as one of the affected vehicles, but the list is long and impressive and growing and it covers something like two in seven of the vehicles currently on the road. Is the long decline a fun thing or what?

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Aunt Tina sounds like a thoughtful lady and the fact that she made adjustments over the years, but never changed the executor says to me that perhaps she was happy with her first choice? Yup, weddings and funerals tend to bring out the best and worst in people and not much in between. What do you reckon about that?

Haha! Your mission should you decide to accept it is to incorporate French Onion soup and yoghurt and come up with culinary genius. Of course, you may well roll your eyes, have a chuckle, and go off and do something else with your time?

Good to read that you are enjoying the book. There is a nice space between the scholarly and the person that tells a ripping good yarn. Words are an interesting tool, don't you reckon?

I put down 2.6 cubic yards of mushroom compost and woody mulch mix today into two of the newer garden beds. They really needed a solid feed and Ollie had been stomping through there...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Still no snow, just this vicious easterly wind. I wish that it would snow because that is always warmer.

Things deteriorated rapidly yesterday. First my washing machine finally gave up the ghost. About 2 hours later my electricity went off. I rang a neighbour and checked if theirs was off. It wasn't; oh dear, just my problem. I knew that Son was sitting in a digger halfway across the Island but rang him anyhow. He said that it would be one and a half hours before he could get to me. The speed with which the temperature dropped indoors was incredible. Anyhow suddenly the electricity came on again. I still haven't a clue as to what happened. I rang Son so that he could relax.

Now my water is trying to freeze. The toilet cistern is the worst, I am having to flush it every 2 hours or 3 hours. First warning was at bedtime when there was silence after I flushed it and then a crash noise as water broke through.

Just to cheer things up, I saw something wonderful this morning. I think that I have said before that in all our years here Son and I have never found a squirrel's drey. Looking out of the kitchen window I saw a squirrel sitting on a rail looking at me. I thought 'what on earth has it got in its mouth'? It was a mass of nesting material. I watched this squirrel until it vanished high up in a very large ash tree. It remained there. Later Son saw it coming down from the same tree.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

@ Pam

The account of your house and land history was very interesting, I enjoyed reading it.

@ Lew

Thanks for making me laugh re: the defective snow. There is something in a newspaper today about the inadvisability of putting coffee grounds direct on to soil. It appears that it must be composted first or it can kill earthworms plus some plants.

Inge

margfh said...

@ Inge,

So sorry about your cold weather. My mother-in-law uses finger less gloves as well.

@ Pam

We could only qualify for an FHA loan which had a lower interest rate. For some reason the owner of the house didn't want that so he ended up financing it himself. When interest rates went down we refinanced so it all worked out well. We paid off our mortgage two years ago -what a good feeling. However, like you, there's still the (high) property taxes, repairs and upkeep and homeowners insurance which also goes up considerably every year.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well when I want to convert temperatures I go the lazy route - putting it into on online calculator. There was some discussion about the benefits of standard measurement vs metric on JMG's blog a week or so ago. Doug often measures out length using his feet - just to get an idea. Food items other than produce have both standard and metric measurements listed on them. For some reason two liter bottles of pop are always referred to in that way unlike everything else.

I am not fond of raccoons but have to respect their intelligence. They are probably our worst predator and generally reek havoc getting into attics, garbage etc. They are also quite nasty and I wouldn't want our dogs to try to tangle with one.

I did get to enjoy the nice weather and got the two flower beds near the house cleaned out in anticipation of house showings hopefully. Some of the early migrants are returning - robins, red winged blackbirds and I heard a bluebird yesterday as well.

Our internet was out for the last couple days except for a few hours on Tuesday. I have to say I got much more done without it.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Back to that topic of ... hmm. What was the topic? Maybe, responsibility? I've always thought it was over the top ingenuous of websites to claim (or not claim) and responsibility. "We're just a platform." What a bunch of horse apples. You put stuff out in the world, you own it. You're responsible for it.

Ran across a book review on NPR. "Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization. (Nicholas Money). Library doesn't have it. Might have to ILL it, or suggest it for purchase. Alcohol is yeast poop. Never thought of it, that way. Who knew? Explains a lot :-).

OK. Corn. Tassel should be dry (brown) down to the cob. End should feel rounded, rather than pointed. Corn ripens from the top of the plant, to the bottom. Ears up top, might ripen as much as 10 days before bottom ears.

Poodles and pugs? Don't want to think bout it. Debbie in Idaho does all sorts of stuff, out of metal. Quilt blocks stitched together (with recycled wire) to form a wall hanging. Tin men to sit on the porch. Christmas ornaments. Etc..

So. Are you going to hire a woodcutter, to live in the woodcutter's shed? Could double as a "hermit in the garden." :-) Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I don't go to funerals. Or, weddings, for that matter. It's a relief to be an orphan :-).

I am hopeless (powerless?) when it comes to food. I shopped a bit late, last night, and was tired and just felt like opening a can of something and calling it good. So, I had a craving for hash (probably, all that talk about St. Patrick's Day and corned beef). So, I get home and throw in a bit of garlic. Then, a couple of tomatoes. Green onions. Herbs, spices ... some mushrooms. So, it ended up being as much of a production as usual. Oh, well. The end result was probably "healthier" and I've got more portions, for later. Should have been fried, instead of nuked, but it was passable. Lew

Steve Carrow said...

I'm late to the party, but had to chime in on the song. I'm from Indiana, same as Mellencamp, and in fact, one of my college room mates had occasion to do a few informal jams with one of the band members, back just before they got big.

Anyway, the lyrics send a chill even now, as I was raised on a small farm, and I saw it happen. It really was bad back then, with many being foreclosed. A convergence of events caused the end of many small family farms, and even now the trend continues, though at a slower pace. ( Not that many left!)

But the underlying reason is that those who raise food have never been compensated fairly for the production that is so fundamental, and frankly we would all die if not for them. I don't fully understand why it's been this way, probably simply that the concentrated economic and political power of the distributor/marketing/retail large companies has been able to use the farmers inclination of independence against them. Food here in the states is ridiculously cheap, as the linked article shows, but people don't seem to realize it, and it's completely because of fossil fueled automation.

https://www.vox.com/2014/7/6/5874499/map-heres-how-much-every-country-spends-on-food

I believe It won't always be like this, and hope a more equitable valuation for food will be coming. I fear it won't.

Steve Carrow said...

Forgot to mention- I have Gene's book, and loved it. I plan to plant a pancake patch this year. I have my scythe, grain mill, and am working on the human scale processing equipment, so I'm learning a lot.

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

The Hobart skyscraper issue is bigger than it first seems. At the moment, there are none, but a Singapore company apparently wants to build a something like a 40+ storey behemoth which from my perspective looks a little out of character for the city. But then, as these things go, once there is one... Incidentally it is worth recalling that there are rumours floating around that Singapore is apparently a notorious tax haven.

Well, as far as I can tell, if you can't risk living in a tiny house on a block of land, that is the only other option in the game worth talking about. Some people aren't up for the process of obtaining a planning permit which gives the permission to build in the first place. Incidentally, it is not a battle, but a legal process - and you have to remember to follow the process first and foremost as all other considerations are to the side and not relevant to the permit process. To me the legal system looks like an administrative process that follows its own rules.

Waiting and holding onto cash might be a good idea. How did your managed fund go during the recent plunge? I have read that something like 75% of all managed funds lose money, but I can't confirm whether that is true or not.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

I absolutely agree with you. It is inflation, it is just that the statisticians use a definition of inflation that ignores that aspect of the story. These things happen. Incidentally it is worth recalling that one only benefits from rising house prices if they have a second property. People with only a single property have to increase their debt in order to take advantage of the rise in the house price.

As a gut feel and I'm unsure about your part of the world, but we are in for a nasty surprise in the future which appears to be baked into the cake. One of the big banks down here loaned half of all new mortgages as interest only loans. Now, I have not read or seen the contracts, but those loans are typically five years and at some point in the future they will have to be renegotiated. It was the cheap rates and NINJA mortgages in the US which reverted to higher rates, that eventually caused the meltdown in the housing bubble there. This may be our Waterloo: Interest-only loan crackdown 'could lead to US-style meltdown'. Not good and I'd be curious as to the state of affairs in your part of the world?

That is possible about the corporations and I have heard stories of gambling, sorry I meant to say, hedging, in foreign currencies trades etc.

The other side to that story is the waste side of the equation. Have you not noticed that China is now refusing to accept our waste? We currently do not pay the relevant costs for handling waste and it is an expensive business and we as a society have been very lazy. There have been suggestions down here to burn the stuff and use the heat to generate electricity. The fumes from that process are a toxic brew.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

Thanks for the link to Mr Logsdon's blog and I have not read it. He is a thoughtful author whom I’ve only recently been alerted too, and I am enjoying the book immensely. Books are lovely tools with which to hear the thoughts of the departed.

I did not know that about the Siberian blast. Interesting. I read a couple of weeks ago that snow had been experienced in or near to the: Snowstorm blankets Sahara in white and that would have been quite strange and unexpected. Yeah, I too enjoy overly hot air from over the central arid lands of Australia, before being pounded by cold and moist air from the Southern Ocean where there is not much between here and Antarctica. The weather here can be very strange. Stay warm, and I hope you haven't used up all of your firewood?

Ouch, the whole farm succession planning thing is handled very poorly down here too. And yeah, I see and hear the whole: "get big or get out story" too and like every good story there is some truth to it and some falsity. Ouch, debt is the killer. I read today that a single horse requires three acres of paddock and it must rotated every ten days. Now I'm just saying that I don't see that happening a lot about the place around here. I feel sorry for the horses.

Yup, too much nitrogen is a bad idea. And the question is, what the heck are all those animals eating to cause too much nitrogen in the form of ammonia? Not good. If I smell ammonia in the chook pen, I know I'm doing something wrong and I address the issue.

You've done well with the ploughing. Good stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

INTERMISSION...

The chooks needed a run in the orchard, the camellia's needed watering, and several wheelbarrow loads of chook poo had to be distributed in the orchard.

Thus we have the: INTERMISSION!

We now return to the regular schedule.

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Re: planning permits
Obviously I have no experience with planning permits per se, but I have worked with a lot of people in similar jobs. A few kind words and a smile, plus strict adherence to the rules and procedure works wonders. I mean, all of the information is right there on the website, you just have to take the time to read it. Everything is laid out for you! The bigger question is how we can untangle decades of cascading and intersecting rules which individually make some sense, but combined strangle anyone trying to have an honest go of things. The blog 'granola shotgun' discuses these issues in greater detail and is a highly recommended blog for urban development and planning nerds.

My 'managed fund', actually a collection of forex ETFs, are doing not much of anything for the past two years. They are unleveraged and, may, maintain purchasing power in event of an Australian economic shock. I would rather use them as a house deposit but that is not a pathway to happiness right now.if things don't change I can always blow it all on hookers and coke! (futurama joke).

Cheers,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for sharing your story. The interest rates were very high down here too in the 90's - we often trail behind with good ideas after the US has forged a solid path. And like you with your Dallas house, we too moved to a dodgy and very gritty industrial suburb. And frankly other people were very weird about our choice, because of all sorts of dubious reasons which basically amounted to: 'low status suburb'. The joke is that now it is a suburb in very high demand. And interestingly in a strange coincidence, I plan to write on the next blog about the armed hold up the editor and I were caught up in there. So yeah, I hear you about the crime. It was gritty.

I applaud your ‘can do’ and ‘do it yourself’ attitude with the construction. Not much else works nowadays. As a contrast, we did everything that we legally could in constructing this house. Down under a householder is prohibited from working on the electricity mains or plumbing which requires a license to work on, but other than that.

And like you, we also had to endure a mortgage, but I tell ya, we kicked that monster as quickly as possible. Mortgages are like inviting the devil to play in your backyard - and banks hate the sort of customer that pays off debt early as the last thing they need is either a person paying off debt too quickly, or going into default. Alas the system is set up such that one has to occasionally sup with the devil. ;-)!

You know, even brand new houses require maintenance, and what disturbs me is that most people fail to realise that. A builder once told me that the basic houses being constructed these days have a lifespan of about 35 years.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Ah, thank you master for sharing your wisdom on the subject of dementia. All is now clear and I hope that I am now ready to go into the world. Before I head into the world though, what are these 'keys' things again? Hehe! Your comment was a sake on keyboard spit incident! Very funny, and a really good guide.

Story ideas are like that too. I'll get a story idea and if I don't write it down, it disappears. Fortunately, when we were at the pub last night, a good pint of stout (alas not a dessert stout, although I hear rumours that maple stout will be soon to make a reappearance) stirred the creative juices and two story ideas popped into my brain. I wrote them down and so next week I'll talk about an armed hold up that we got caught in. It involved art too!

Yeah, I do recall the Golden Girls series, although I never watched it. Possibly the show was not targeting my demographic, but by all accounts it was a very well respected show. I'm always surprised when there is a show or story about women and written for women that people are generally surprised that it gains a solid audience. Who'd have thunk it?

Thanks for the reference to Good Girl Art as I had never known that there was a genre for such things. I looked it up on eBay too and no doubts I'll get some strange purchase recommendations down the track. Some of the art verged on Goddess art and I am dubious about that art form as it doesn't speak to me at all, and I run from it wherever I see it displayed.

Ah, I had not heard of that story before: In The Wet is a novel by Nevil Shute. What a fascinating story. Interestingly, when a referendum was held to turn Australia into a republic, I voted to stay. The Queen is after all the head of Parliament in Australia and all acts of Parliament receive Royal Assent, although few people recall such legal niceties. To be honest, I voted to stay, because I didn't trust the politicians and their motives which seemed to be a bit grasping to my mind. They wanted a President who would be voted upon by the politicians themselves as if they are the arbiter of all things good and proper, and that rang alarm bells to me. The country voted to stay with the monarchy and voting was compulsory at risk of a fine. I also sort of feel that a monarchy, despite possible disadvantages, may take a longer perspective on matters than politicians merely because they have to.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I can't recall what the topic was either! Rather than talking about responsibility, let's talk about BLT's instead. So, yesterday I was momentarily distracted by someone who had threatened me earlier in the week and I was pondering what to do about it and not concentrating on the job at hand. Anyway, I spent the day moving manure and woody mulch as that usually brings clarity and decisiveness. At one point I put my foot down and there was nothing beneath it and my foot connected with the ground at a strange angle and I felt a crunch. Ouch. I took a few moments to recover and then kept going about working. As the evening wore on my foot became stiff and it sort of hurt. We went to the pub as most things are helped by a pint and a good feed. I woke up this morning and my foot feels better, but I decided to have the day off. So, we went to a nearby country town bakery (they have an historic and working Scotch oven) to enjoy a very tasty BLT (bacon lettuce and tomato toasted sandwich). Tonight, I feel ready to rumble and the ankle is almost 100% back to normal. Surely it must have been the BLT, but it could also have been the lemon, yoghurt, and coconut cake afterwards?

Yeasts are amazing and I will be very interested to hear what you learn about them. They're everywhere by the way, and just waiting to convert sugar into alcohol. I only learned recently that they are a variety of fungi. We accidentally forgot to boil a recent batch of apple cider and the local yeasts took over the brew. Not good.

Thanks for the info on corn. I really appreciate that as I've never managed to keep the wallabies off a corn harvest before. Your friend in Idaho is quite clever to do that with scrap metal, and I do recall you mentioning the quilts in the past.

Sorry for inflicting the poodle-pug image into your consciousness. Yes, it is not good. Incidentally, I already hire woodcutters on a reasonably regular basis. I really need their help too as much as they need the funds. I am quite taken with the idea of a hermit living down the back paddock, but the editor is not as keen as I on the idea. The shed will be quite small, and I got the idea for it from observing old potato sheds which are dotted around the fertile elevated country to the west of here. How they can keep planting potatoes year in and year out in that area is beyond me. I can manage it here because I bring in lots of new organic matter, but how do they do it? Dunno.

There is a certain freedom to be had in being an orphan, so yeah I hear you. But how do you deal with grumpy friends who want to hold lavish weddings? If people ever ask my advice about weddings I say: Elope or just go to the registry office. It is a shame they usually want me to validate their over consumption.

Your dinner sounds much better than passable to my ears. Singapore noodles here tonight! Yum! I just have to remember not to drop the stuff on me. Who would have thought that turmeric was such a powerful stain? Fortunately, the editor has become rather fond of vinegar as a cleaning agent, because it just works far better than the chemicals that people seem inordinately fond of.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Jo,

Yeah, I too am enjoying the advice from a sensible old farmer. So true too, yes he is a link to an older generation and I enjoy that aspect of his writing as he tells the story of how things used to be done in the old days. When he wrote about haystacks, he told the story of falling asleep as a child under a haystack and enjoying the warmth and reprieve from the world. The contrast to the current experience that he also drew from that experience was stark.

Ah, thanks very much for identifying the errant bulb and also for explaining how it arrived. Plants arrive here from all over the place. It is a strange and unusual collection of plants here!

I'm going to check on the corn over the next day or so. A mate told me that if you leave the corn on the stalk for too long, the taste of the kernels deteriorates. Not good.

The melons look like they have a ways to go yet. Have you heard about the listeria outbreak with melons from elsewhere. Not good as a few people have died from food poisoning. I'll have to look into how that came to be as I may learn something. It is a very common bacteria in the soil, but I feel that perhaps I should not gift the melons off the farm unless I understand the process...

Thank you! It has been a good season. I hope to have even more growing space by next summer. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Brrr! Down here they are saying that you may well cop some blizzards before the week is out: 'Beast from the East' sweeps across Europe as Arctic warming brings freak weather. Stay warm, and have you considered installing a small wood burning stove? Small wood stoves are like bantam chickens which lay almost full size eggs - they take a lot less feeding...

I hope your washing machine wasn't fried by a surge in the electricity grid? Voltages in the mains power grid are usually far from stable. Off grid, the voltage is rock solid and stays the same. The electrician who wired up the mains circuit (not the low voltage off grid solar part which I did) said he was amazed at how stable it all was.

The frozen pipes are a real drama in such weather, and I'd imagine the larger mains systems are faring even worse in such extreme weather?

Cool! And good spotting. The images on the internet of squirrel drey's show amazing constructions. I had previously believed that squirrels lived in tree hollows like the marsupials down here, but not so.

In animal spotting news, I spotted a Kookaburra sitting on the air vent for the worm farm sewage system. Fortunately I had the camera readily to hand. How the bird could sit on a rotating whirly gig is beyond me, but it looked quite comfortable. Things are drying up in the mountain range and every animal and their mate is turning up here for a feed and a drink. All I tell them is to: Bring manure! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Hehe! No worries at all. I used to use that online calculator too, but curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided old school was the way to go. I also do the mm to inches conversion as well using the old school method. And cubic metres to cubic yards. Gallons to litres… And acres to hectares… There are a few of them, but it is nice to be all speaking the one language!

That was an interesting discussion about which measurement system suited people and more importantly the why of it. To be honest, I use both systems but always metric when talking to people down here (unless it is rainfall or land size) and Doug is on the money. I rarely carry around a measurement tape, but my feet are still conveniently there. Although I don't want to put the kiss of death on my feet as they seem to be inordinately useful. I was distracted for a moment yesterday and crunched my ankle... Ouch. Feeling better today.

Yes, please do keep your raccoons where they belong as the animals here already seem pretty switched on and would probably get more so if other clever creatures started training their minds! The birds here never cease to amaze me. Yup, dogs run into some serious problems when taking on street smart wildlife. We have snakes down here, and they're deadly to both us and the dogs, but then there are spiders and scorpions and a big bull kangaroo can kill a dog if it is stupid enough to corner one. A mates dog was bitten by a snake and the vet bills were epic.

Nice to hear that you are enjoying some warmer spring weather. Thank you for the nice image of the birds.

Hehe! Yes, the internet can sink a bit of time. Glad that you had the time to drop by here as I appreciate your comments. My modem died the other week and so I bought a replacement and sent the damaged one off for repairs but most likely replacement. I've ordered a new antenna for the internet here, but induction from lightning storms seems to kill the modems...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Steve,

Awesome story, and yeah we are all only ever a few degrees of separation away.

The song is very powerful, and I too wonder at the loss of the small family farm. It is a sad loss, and the whole get big or get out mindset is a ticket to being exploited.

Exactly too. I produce food for our own consumption and I share it with the animals here and with people that I know. To try and sell the stuff makes absolutely no financial sense to me as people are unaccustomed to paying the genuine prices for food. Now the only way that that story makes sense is that many years ago I read an old economics text book which stated that the number one policy of macroeconomics is to ensure that inflation does not get away from us. This situation has caused some serious woes elsewhere in the past.

Now generally, loose money printing has always led to hyperinflation, it is just at the moment - and for now - that other policies are being pursued which means that some items have their prices pushed or kept down, whilst the inflation is channelled into financial assets such as bonds, equity, and unfortunately property. Food is one such item, but I do note that the quality appears to also be diminishing to achieve that, not that anyone seems remotely concerned about it. But if property prices increase 20% in a year on average, then far out, that's some serious inflation, because it is not as if the property has changed in any meaningful way during that same period of time.

Thanks very much for the link. I had a chance conversation with a bloke today who was complaining to me about the increased cost of living with no increase in salary until - and he mentioned an arbitrary year of 2020. That sounded a bit odd to me.

I'll be really interested to hear how your pancake patch goes. I'm intending to plant grains on one of the terraces that I'll cut into the side of the hill over the next few months. Always so much to do!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

You have a solid grasp of the planning permit situation. That is it in a nutshell. The thing is about the cascading and intersecting rules, well the sensible thing to do, is just ignore that aspect of the application and simply answer the questions that you have been asked by the process. To do otherwise is to critique the process and that will not be viewed favourably by people who are in the position of defending the process. It does not matter at all if the answers that you provided contradict each other, although as a suggestion you may try to use language that does not highlight that minor matter. ;-)! Hehe!

Fair enough and it is a complex matter. I had a friend get very heated with me when I suggested that such a beast is actually a managed fund - I believe it was iShares. I sort of felt very uncomfortable, but fortunately we were at a pub and beer did soothe ruffled feathers. Managed funds have the difficulty that you could simply purchase the equities yourself and they have an expectation of apparently taking something like 2% of the funds value each year.

Fair enough too, you know, there is rarely a safe haven in such times. I actually heard Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers - whom I quite enjoy - say that line in an exasperated manner to a radio interviewer who was asking stupid questions many, many long years ago.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Almost forgot to mention. Apologies.

Congratulations for getting your story into the anthology and I look forward to reading it.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The snow finally arrived yesterday afternoon. As I expected, this has marginally raised the temperature. Only by 2 degrees but that has been sufficient to stop my water supply trying to freeze. Son is still frozen up though. It is far harder to unfreeze than to avoid freezing in the first place. Son (en route to fetch the local weekly paper for me)gave a neighbour a lift into the village this morning. Neighbour said that he had been without water for 2 days.

Son tried to go to the aid of a driver whose car was sliding all over the place. Son couldn't help him because there was nowhere at all to fix a rope on that car! He also said that the new tyres were incredibly smooth.

The electrics are okay on the washing machine; it has mechanically given up the ghost. I was expecting it but it could have chosen a less inconvenient time. This is the third home that it has liven in and it must be at least 25 years old.

Nowhere to put a woodstove here. Different if I had built the place from scratch.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

You are having a terrible time of it. I have read that there is a natural gas shortage in the UK as well? I think that squirrels are the most fun of all wild furry creatures. Squirrely is the word! For days I have been trying to remember what a squirrel's "nest" is called - drey, thank you. Sometimes I am stubborn and won't look things up because my brain is mushy enough without ever exercising it. I like that Chris put forth the formula for converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, too. I will try harder to use that.

Fierce winds started up here last night and are still going full blast, but the temperatures are well enough above freezing. The usual tree limbs are coming down, but my biggest worry is the Nanking cherry, which is about 40% blooming already. I wonder if the blossoms will blow off.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Congratulations on the rat, Ollie. I'll bet your status has gone up a notch! Someday you might even get to be "Mister".

Would a pug and a poodle be a puddle?

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I sympathize, with you. Cold weather can be such a slog. If the power isn't out, the pipes are freezing.

I once bought a little house (365 sq ft). It had a very odd bathroom arrangement. The toilet was in a little closet and the tub and sink, across a short hall in a larger room. The first winter I was there, much to my surprise, the water froze in the toilet. The little toilet room was in a corner of the house, and, I discovered that there was NO insulation in the two walls.

Well. I worked in a bookstore, then, and had styrofoam packing beads in abundance. So, I drilled holes (using a circle saw attachment ... so I'd have plugs to put back in place) and started dragging home bags and boxes of styrofoam pellets. I'd drop them in and pound on the wall to get them to settle. Once they reached the top, I'd tamp them down. Replaced the plugs, added plastic sheet as a vapor barrier on the inside. Had a mad idea and nailed cedar shingle, over that.

The house had a crawl space, and I laid down a vapor barrier on the ground. Just used old blue plastic tarps. I also put insulation between the floor joists. Just the ground tarps made a big difference, in keeping the house warm. And, made it a lot more pleasant to work on those joists.

Of course, all those projects were "picked at" over some months. But, the water in the toilet was never a problem, again.

Thanks for the heads up on the coffee grounds and worms. I'll look into it. I hope it's "fake news." :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I forgot ... and didn't have your number to call you at 3am. Your time :-). I'll probably get 4 or 5 bags of mushroom compost for my little plots. One of our big box stores has them, pretty reasonable. Nostalgia TV. Once I left home, I pretty much "lost the plot" on tv series. Until cable tv, it was pretty much of an age cohort thing. "Dukes of Hazard" and "Adam's Family" was "after my time", pretty much. But a lot of the tropes and catch lines filtered through into mainstream culture. My era was more "The Golden Age of Westerns". As an interesting factoid, in 1959 there were 28 western series on television. And, I can still sing most of the theme songs :-).

The onion soup mix/dips are pretty over the top as far as salt is concerned. I'd probably adapt something. Your foot. Keep it elevated and iced. Were you wearing your sandals, or sensible shoes? Yeah, you're miraculous cure was probably due to the BLT. Not the cake. Unless you used it as a poultice.

GGA (good girl art). Very much the femm fatales. Or, just slightly naughty girls. And, compared to today, rather quaint. They always held a bit back (community standards). It was a lot of promise, and not much delivery. They're now kind of kitsch.

My uncles who had a lot of daughters always said, in relationship to weddings, that they'd be more than happy to fill the suitors gas tank and hold the ladder, for an elopement. Would cost a lot less. It's an idea that launched a thousand cartoons.

Turmeric does stain. They used to use it to dye cloth. Probably, still do. I use a lot of turmeric, and if I splash it about, it's hell to get out of even white enameled appliances. And, Pyrex. Here, we have a scrubbing powder called "Bar Keepers Friend" (since 1882). It's got oxalic acid (?) in it, and usually does the trick. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I got to the part in the Franklin books, where it talks about his electrical experiments. He was just ahead of his time, a bit. The technology wasn't quit yet "there." He had a sense of the great potential, but couldn't quit push it beyond parlor tricks. About the only useful thing that came out of his work was the lightening rod. But he could feel the potential. His work on electricity was published and widely circulated. So, he laid the groundwork. Other people picked up where he left off and pushed the technology, further.

Cooking the turkey. That was, rather a failure. He could kill a chicken, but not cook it. Just to kill the chicken took about 2,000 rotations of leather around a glass bottle (to build a static charge). You could kill a turkey, but it took about 10 times the power to do that. But, all in all, he thought killing fowl, that way, made the meat "marvelously tender."

Which brought to mind ... In 1903, at Coney Island (an amusement park), New York, a very abused elephant named Topsy, killed it's trainer. And, became aggressive to other people. So, it was decided the elephant must be put down. But, how? In steps Thomas Edison. "We'll electrocute it!" And, he filmed it. There's a ghastly clip on YouTube. I don't recommend watching it (but, know, some of you will). I saw it years ago, and it's not an experience I want to repeat. RIP, Topsy. Lew

Damo said...

@steve
Re: fair price for food.

Sadly, farmers have almost always gotten pretty poor prices for the food they produce, and I think always will. Rooted in one spot, and forced to invest enormous amounts of time into managing the land farmers cannot simply up and leave if raided by a roving band of goths or building code inspectors from a local council. They will always be forced to pay somehow, by someone. The exception to this are the large estates, often farmed by slaves, which have been very profitable throughout history. The wealthy owners can lobby for favourable trading rules and tax protections which don't apply to the smallholder. Fundamentally, is there much difference between an old sugar plantation and a large fruit picking and canning operation which uses illegal or shadily obtained foreign workers? In Australia the owners of these massive enterprises publicly admit they can't function without cheap foreign workers, often backpackers who are willing to work for not much more than food and lodging.

Cheers,
Damo

Damo said...

@chris

Yep, permit process is just about ticking boxes and giving the right answers. The official rarely has it in for you and will often quite gladly explain what is required. If the requirements are too onerous, it is the land owners responsibility to research these before the concrete has been poured. Thinking back on some grand designs episodes I am amazed at the amount of money people were willing to spend without spending a couple of hours and a coffee at their local council Chambers. Anf to be honest, there are plenty of places in the UK I would just never consider building due to those permit requirements.

Fair enough, in a way an etf could be considered a managed fund, but there are clear distinctions, such as the presence of an active trader directing the process. Like index funds, etf's tend to be a 'set and forget' creation and do not have a human manager. They also offer the avantage of scale. I cannot put foreign currency in a bank, or take an unleveraged short position on the asx200 in anything even remotely approaching the cost of an etf, which like index funds, is around 0.5 to sometimes 1%. I even have an etf for gold (pmgold) which apparently (the risk of 'paper' gold is very real) can be redeemed in person at the Perth mint.

Cheers,
Damo

Damo said...

Thank you for the story congratulations. I think it is my best one yet, I have a month to edit it if I want. Looking forward to seeing the other stories and what cover art they go with!

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Who said something or other about being grateful for small mercies? Glad to hear that the snow has arrived and that the weather has slightly warmed. I hope you are staying warm? You know, 2 days without water would have me feeling very stressed out. Even down here, people don't understand their systems very well, and that means that when extremes of temperature or climate arrive, they are completely unprepared. I spent several hours of solar electricity today pumping water up from the large reserve water tank (which is now half full). I took a peek at the long range 28 day rainfall forecast yesterday and all I see is one big dry couple of weeks. Water is everything here.

I had to balance that water pumping today with the electric oven for cooking and also the tomato dehydrating - which does not use too much electricity, but because it goes for so many hours it ends up using a lot during any one day...

What? Of course newer vehicles tend not to have recovery points welded to the chassis because they have no chassis in the first place. You may be interested to know that I keep the little dirt rat Suzuki four wheel drive in tip top condition because it is an old school design and is quite robust. Newer vehicles are less robust, and I have been wondering for a while if vehicle design and materials peaked sometime in the past. Dunno.

Sorry to read about your washing machine. I'll be curious to learn how you address this washing disaster, and yes, it is not a good time to pack it in and give up the ghost.

Fair enough, I designed the house around the wood heater and as you say, that does bring some advantages. Woollen blankets are a good alternative. And I recall reading somewhere that in the middle ages when wood fuel was scarce, that four post beds with curtains tended to retain the heat. They used to be a thing down here back in the early 90's, but nobody ever added the curtains, which was the entire point of the timber frame.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Gangle chunks here! The dirty rat was asking to be taken down, Al Capone style. Toothy and I were surveying our domain, and wouldn't you know it? Some cheeky rodent twitches its nose the wrong way at me whilst crossing our domain. I said to the rodent: "How about you pay the toll, my friend?" The rodent ignored me and sped up as if to escape our turf, but I was the faster one. That will send a clear message to the rodent company – to send us beef jerky or suffer the consequences. Oh, maybe I should have let the rat go so that the message got back to the rodent collective? I never thought of that... Toothy, why didn't you think of that?

I did my first boundary patrol check today and discovered no marsupials. However, I did discover a fascinating wombat poo which I added to my coat as a fluffy fetish. It sure did smell nice and look tough, but for some reason Chris poured warm soapy water over me which was not very nice of him. He's usually nice, but now we hates him for ever, but he did slip me an Anzac biscuit so I guess he's sort of OK?

Bones for breakfast, running around all day long, and now all I want to do is sleep on the green couch. But Scritchy keeps calling me to come to her aide. She just wants me off the green couch. Life is so complex.

Cheers

Gangle chunk

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Not saying that I'm glad that you are unable to call me at 3am, but yeah, well, I kind of am glad that you can't do that. Mate, I have had to train people not to call me at ridiculous hours of the day. My personal favourite is Australia Post waking me up just to let me know that a package is due to arrive at the post office that day. And I have been unable to work out how to opt out of that system. It is not easy and I feel for people who work shift hours. What that system has done has made me ignore any beeps that the phone makes other than the alarm. I have read articles suggesting that many peoples sleep is very disturbed these days due to invasive technology. That can't be good. I enjoy my sleep, but also need lots of sleep.

Yah, the mushroom compost is quite basic so it is very good for growing leafy greens. Interestingly I'm beginning to feel that I have to mix up some of the organic matter that I bring in here, as I used mushroom compost on the strawberries this year and they produced a lot of leafy greens, but virtually no fruit even on the runners. Next year it is acidic soil food all the way with that lot. And tomatoes are a 50/50 mix. Generally if you know in what conditions the plants grew wild, you can guess at the soil mix.

The theme songs for those Westerns were quite catchy and I recall the Blues Brothers doing a riff on the song: Rawhide - The Blues Brothers! Hehe! I quite have a soft spot for country music. What is the chicken wire for? Hehe!

Mate, so much salt is used in processed food because well, something has to be used to preserve the stuff and salt is fairly cheap and there seems to be a lot of it about - unless you live inland like me. Most preservatives are poisons because they have to kill off the biological activity in the food, otherwise the industrially produced food would never arrive at the destination without being spoiled. I'm just glad that lead is not used in the soldering of food tins, like they used to. I recall reading about some well provisioned Antarctic (or was it the Arctic) expedition where lead poisoning became a bit of a problem.

No, I had sturdy work boots on which probably saved my foot. It feels fine today, but the skin is showing some discoloration which may be a strange form of bruising. Dunno.

I reckon there is something to be said about holding back a wee bit with those Femm fatales. I am genuinely concerned at the access that people have to hard core porn these days. It is not a good experiment to run on the population for either their mental or physical health and the young are especially vulnerable.

Hehe! The elopement is a funny concept, but some cultures do that gear as part of the ordinary turn of events and I recall reading that it was a very common thing to do in Bali for the locals.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Anything that can stain Pyrex is one tough customer. The editor used hot water and vinegar. As a funny side story, I dropped the turmeric infused food all over my shorts and well, it didn't look good and I was sort of resigned to not wearing them off the property. Of course, dodgy clothes are OK up in the forest because as someone once remarked to me that there is: No shame in the bush! I have seen people around these parts gardening in their pyjamas... That is hard to explain.

Far out, a sharp knife tends to work better with chickens than that excessively complex solid static charge. Incidentally Mr Logsdon was very firm in his opinion on raising turkeys because he seemed to imply that the birds were total nuisances. Hey, marketing people would call the "marvellously tender" claim a 'unique selling proposition'! On the other hand, electricity is very handy and I have read that Mr Franklin developed much of the basics of the technology still in use today. I have to laugh every time I hear the claim that in the future electricity will be better and cheaper, if only because it has been around the block longer than you or I ever will be. It is interesting that you mention electricity because today I was dwelling upon the subject of a spare replacement inverter and Nickel Iron batteries…

Oh. Well, I may avoid looking at that image as I may have troubles un-seeing it. RIP Topsy.

We began the slow process of correcting some of the concrete staircases throughout the garden today. One or two of them were finished a tread too short, and it is the job that is not started that takes the longest to finish. This morning I had to bring up here the sand and gravel mix as well as some bags of cement. I could feel the strain on the dirt rat Suzuki, but we got home in the end. I also replaced all of the older style hose hangers with better designed hangers. Because I had originally purchased them over such a long period of time, I could physically see the weaker grades of steel being utilised in their construction. And in the summer heat all bar one of the older style ones failed (and it was the very oldest that did not fail). It is a very annoying situation, but I see a fair bit of decline in the quality of some goods being sold. Didn't the old timers call that trick: Bait and switch?

It looks like March will also be dry here, so I topped up the main house water tanks from the large reserve water tank. I still have huge volumes of water reserves but the sun is lower in the sky now and there are all sorts of demands upon the electricity. Fun stuff!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Yup, follow the process and stick to it like glue and, well, you'll then be in the process, and the process will more or less work out. That is the theory anyway.

Mate, they even came back to me with questions that they'd already asked me. I just replied to the question with good grace and moved on. Some folks may take a combative situation and get the planners off side in that circumstance, and nobody wins from that point onwards.

It can be equally difficult down here too. But I am amazed at the lengths that people go to build something very large that they can't afford. There was a build on the Isle of Wight in the UK where the guy was apparently an accountant and he ended up with something like 11 or was it 17 different forms of finance to pay for the house. I wouldn't sleep at night if I had had to take that path.

Incidentally, if a person knows where to look, Grand Designs Australia season 7 episode 10 is on the Internet. I signed up to Foxtel for two months so that we could see the program in full. And there we are early on in the show. You can even hear me saying: “chook, chook, chook”!

Damo, I don't what to say about that. I live in a world where people tell me that two is actually three and they keep a straight face all the while doing so. I suspect they believe their claim, and as I said I walked blindly into a heated discussion (not on my part) with a mate who made the same claim as you, about pretty much the same product. It is not worth the aggro for me to even enter into the discussion. A good book to read on the matter is John Kenneth Galbraith's book: The Great Crash 1929. If only because it gives an amusing historical perspective and it covers such products with a level of cynicism and tired amusement that I am unable to match.

Again, total congratulations on getting into the anthology and you are a far better fiction author than I.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Ollie:

Life is complex, but life is perfect.

Hi, Toothy! Hi, Scritchy! Hi, Sir Scruffy!

'Bye, rats . . .

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The thaw has started and Son's water supply is no longer frozen. He has re-done the lagging.

I am amazed at what a very small change in temperature does for ones comfort.

The washing machine is stacked with the dryer which gave way over 2 years ago. They are in a very confined space. Son has to get them out and there is no room for anyone to help him. Then some repair work needs doing on a stretch of wall which we were not able to access before. This is why I am so pissed off at the time of year that the washer has packed up. My new neighbours have a spare washing machine in store which has been offered to me and hurrah it is the German make which is the only one that I am ever prepared to buy.

@ Pam

I believe that a huge gas storage thing has been disposed of, which hasn't helped the shortage. Mains gas doesn't make it out to me.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

The power went out 24 hours ago due to these ferocious winds that we have been having (but beautiful sunshine). That makes one day without pumped water; we do have a lot of stored water. A lot of water is used to flush toilets, so one uses the woods and last night I twisted my leg in a hole trekking out there. The generator is working beautifully though, but it can't pump water.

I had just put a load of laundry in my clothes washer yesterday when the power went out. It is so high-tech that the clothes have been locked inside it for 24 hours with just enough water to start them getting really smelly, which from experience, is a very hard smell to get out. With my old washer, the door never locked so that was never a problem. I suppose these newfangled ones are so smart so as to prevent little children from lifting up the heavy glass door on top and climbing in to play? I should send the manufacturer a bill for the nasty laundry. No - I should mail the nasty laundry to them with the bill.

Shop carefully and beware!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

Congratulations!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris:

We used to have curtains on our four poster bed, but when we moved into this log house, we made sure that there was a ceiling fan installed in each room (it is harder to stay cool here than it is to stay warm) and the curtains were in the way. Our ceilings are kind of low due to the beams in the ceilings, too.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

"No shame in the bush!"

"I have seen people around these parts gardening in their pyjamas..."

I will probably laugh all day at those - thanks!

Pam

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

That does not look good. Then maybe inflation isn't the correct nomenclature, but rather 'taking the piss' would be more accurate? Nonetheless, my feeling is that housing prices will be maintained at all costs, with all other parts of the economy sacrificed first. But all bets are, as they say, off.

The property market over here is ridiculous of course, and the rental market is also extremely tight in the cities or anywhere with work. But to end the week on something more positive is the development of property cooperatives where apartments are basically paid for (but not 'owned') at cost with a weekly rent at a humane rate. There is more of a social concept as well with, for example, common areas within the house. One must be a member at any rate.

China is fascinatingly making all the moves industrialized countries have made, and then learning the same lessons, that, for example, things become even more unprofitable once industry is forced to pay for its own waste. The plastic is sorted by hand here and they recycle what they can, with the rest handed over to mother nature for further processing.

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I forgot to mention that there is one invaluable item to have in a power outage and that is a headlamp. We've been using them for years, as they free up one's hands. In fact, I use one for reading in bed at night on a daily (nightly?) basis anyway. And they are good for working on equipment and cars in the dark.

My son just texted me that on his way to work he saw 30 guys with 8 huge trucks eating where he stopped for breakfast, so that's encouraging. Apparently they are from North Carolina.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I did use that formula when I was teaching. I was a resource teacher meaning I either worked either in different classrooms with my students (who were all struggling academically) or with small groups. My students were in 3rd grade through high school so I had the opportunity to re-learn all the subjects. Using the on-line calculator is the lazy way for sure.

I spent yesterday with one of my sisters who had a rare weekday off work. She said she was pretty sure there was a family of raccoons living in her shed. Things are always falling apart at her house as both she and her husband work very long hours with long commutes as well. They don't have the skills to fix much either. She refers to their place as "Green Acres" after the tv show. They're in an upscale suburb with many restrictions including fences of any kind. They also are required to keep their garage doors closed at all times. Anyway we went to see the movie, "The Darkest Hour" which was very good. The movie theater has reclining seats so it was quite comfortable to say the least. Needless to say the senior rate was $3 more than around my house. I can't remember when I last saw two movies in two weeks.

We don't have any dangerous snakes around here.

Doug's mother has qualified for hospice due to her chronic lung condition (pulmonary fibrosis). She has been declining quite a bit but her mind is still sharp. This will provide her with a weekly massage, aromatherapy as well as some other services to make her more comfortable.

Your blog is one of the few places I visit almost daily. I appreciate the time you put into it sharing what goes on in your life.

Margaret



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I looked into the worms vs un-composted coffee grounds. Your right, care must be taken. Mostly, give it a good mix with other stuff. PH levels were talked about. And, a good tip that if one detects a vinegar smell, things are off. Egg shells (which I work in) help bring things back to balance.

LOL. Also, I don't drive a truck, anymore. I drive a mobile garden shed :-). My parking spot is pretty handy to the garden plots, so I tend to toss my garden tools on the front floorboards. And, the bags of leaves and coffee grounds get thrown in the back. Some of them have been there for months. With the loose tops to allow a certain amount of air in, the compost process is already under way. Thank you for the heads up. I now have a bit of a better handle on keeping my worms, happy.

I discovered an interesting story about Ben Franklin and where you live. In Franklin's younger, wilder days, he visited England, and stole a boat. At least he left it where the owner could easily recover it. Naughty colonials! Lew

http://www.iwhistory.org.uk/RM/benjaminfranklin/

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I sometimes wonder if some of the people that run amok are reacting to frustrations over technology?

I guess one of the secrets of good compost is to really mix it up, as to different kinds of stuff. You probably noticed that Inge and I have been exchanging thoughts about coffee grounds.

I really like some of the older country music. The new stuff, not so much. Hard to beat the Blues Brothers.

I tend to have two sets of clothes. Work clothes vs play clothes. "Going to town clothes" vs home clothes. It's not quit so marked as when I did live in the country. The dress expectations around the home are pretty relaxed. But, if I'm going out to the library or stores, I tend to spruce up, a bit.

I'll see your 'unique selling opportunities' and raise you 'value added'. And I may have a bit of 'plus selling' hiding up my sleeve. :-).

Franklin also invented bifocal glasses. Who knew? I provided Inge a link to a story about Franklin stealing a boat, in her part of the world, in his wild youth. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I watched a pretty good movie, last night, "Goodbye Christopher Robin." A. A. Milne and the writing of the Pooh books. Not a bad film, but, on occasion, the youngster playing Christopher Robin was so precious I just wanted to slap him :-). But, the really interesting thing (to me) is that almost in the first scene, there's a bit that takes place in the living room (lounge?) of Milne's London house, and plopped down, right in the middle, is the Art Deco table I passed on at the op-shop! Minus the black paint, of course. It is seen in several later scenes.

After a bit of research and a good night's sleep, I hit the op-shops again, yesterday. Bought a Royal Doulton china plate (c.1950, coaching scene) for $4. Replacements Ltd. sells them for $100 a pop. But, their prices are mad. They seem to run $40-$50 on E-Bay. I did spring for the Noritake china bowl with the deco pattern. c1920. It has a factory flaw, but for $2 ... I did splurge on some Wade Irish porcelain miniatures. Still in their original box. "Three Lucky Leprechauns". Paid $20 for those. But, they actually have sold on E-Bay for $50. Besides, they might bring me luck at bingo :-). Much to the amusement of The Ladies, I usually drag along some lucky token. Ever changing, as none have delivered.

Found some sweet potato chips AND some pumpkin spice chips. Think I'll make a big bowl of humus for tomorrow's pot luck, to go with the chips.

So, how are you going to "correct" the naughty concrete steps? Whip and chair? Or, will a wooden ruler suffice? :-). Might want to leave well enough, alone. At different times in history, uneven stair treads have been used to thwart bandits, burglars and marauding bands of barbarians! Lew

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the Grand Designs heads up - a quick search on completely legal and legit websites has revealed what looks to be the episode in question. I, of course must wait till Friday as I am away from home at the moment on a work trip and will elect to *not* use the work computer to obtain said episode!!

RE: ETFs
Look, I understand. Internet 'discussions' are even worse than in person. So many opportunities to misunderstand, and waiting hours or days for a reply can be frustrating. I must admit though, and I say this with the fullest respect, I am not sure what you are getting at? ETFs and Index funds *are* very different from an active managed fund. I mean rain and snow are both precipitation, race cars and tractors are both vehicles, ergo anything sold on the stock exchange must be a scam? It is possible both you and your heated friend were correct /shrug

I guess ultimately it doesn't really matter. US equities are too risky for my timeline and society has elected to price me out of property. This leaves me with gold buried under the porch, keep it all in an Australian bank (did you see what the government can now do to bank deposits in a credit crunch?) or move it to another country. I have elected to do a mix of all three and hope for the best. This may indeed mean I can't tell 2 from 3, but I am trying to play the hand dealt to me.

Cheers,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Bark, bark! (Ollie has a deep bark, unlike the other fluffy members).

Ollie is sound asleep behind me on the green couch as he has spent the day munching on bones and harassing visitors. He has had a very good day! The others of the fluffy collective are likewise sound asleep.

That can be a problem with the low ceiling heights and the ceiling joists. I once lived in a flat (an apartment with no lift) and it had eight foot ceilings which I could touch. For some reason the builders chose to use spray-crete so it looked as if a giant mutant concrete spewing monster had had a party on the low ceiling. And I could touch the ceiling if I stood on my tippy toes, whilst it felt very oppressive. My flat mate moved out (it was a share house) due to noise issues with trucks in the local area and left me holding the fort. The place was depressing, but there was a very good pub just around the corner within walking distance...

Yeah! Hehe! Funny stuff! One of the pyjama's was a dressing gown with the world 'darling' embroidered on it. Hard to explain, but the individuals seemed unconcerned, so no judgement here.

Thanks for the heads up, but the house is already on battery power and if those items fall over, I'm in for a bit more trouble than I could readily talk my way out of. :-)!

Out of sheer curiosity, did your son speculate as to what the large trucks were doing in Virginia and heading north at this time of year?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, lagging can make all of the difference. It is good stuff and probably has a half-life of about a million years. I can tell you a funny story about that stuff. I went to the local plumbing supply shop early last year and asked for some lagging, and the bloke behind the counter looked at me as if I'd asked for Uranium. He had absolutely no idea what it was. But a quick discussion about what it looked like, solved the problem...

I won't sit outside over winter and enjoy my usual evening coffee if the outside temperature drops below 33'F. For some reason, a degree or two above that temperature feels fine to me, but that is the tipping point. Yes, I am summer soft here! Glad that things are becoming more normal weatherwise (whatever that is) in your part of the world.

Lucky you being able to obtain a spare washing machine at short notice - and of good parentage too! I'd be hard pressed for such an outcome and would have to travel to the nearby town to use the coin laundry facilities - which are quite good all things considered. Ouch about the dryer. I sure do love firewood for heating as it performs so many important tasks here. I hear you, but sometimes the flip side of a crisis is an opportunity - although experiencing a crisis is usually an unpleasant experience.

I had a couple of lovely guests up here today talking about the rural experience as they are both considering moving to rural areas. Do you ever get people asking you about that?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Exactly! I read in the newspapers yesterday about a suburb where the median house price had more or less doubled in the past five years. And people talk about inflation being only 2% to 3% with an absolutely straight face. I don't know what to say other than you are correct. Yes, that is true, but I also mentioned to someone earlier today about the situation where: What happens when their kids want to purchase a house? People are not trained to consider the long term consequences.

Yeah, the social housing models are pretty good, no doubts about it. I have seen some Grand Designs where the home owners had to commit labour to constructing their own houses as well as helping the neighbours with their builds. Strangely enough it began fomenting community.

China is fascinating, but I suspect that they are playing the long game. For example, if it was never cheap in the first place to dump recycling material onto their shores, then we would have accepted the higher costs of dealing with that stuff in the first place. Dunno. The fact that we could actually do that on the cheap, means that we did it on the cheap, and now when we can least afford it, well, I don't know what we are doing. I read a serious suggestion about burning the stuff off for electricity generation and that seems to be the best outcome so far - although the gasses are a way toxic brew.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Well done you for knowing the formula. As a bit of a confession, I looked the formula up because I got sick of having to bring up the conversion page on the internet, and I was having troubles with the modem, so there was a bit of incentive to sort all of the problems out. Incidentally, I have not heard how the repairs on the old modem are going. Good for you too for teaching the kids stuff that may be of use to them. I sometimes feel as if schools miss the mark. I'm embarrassed to recall that when I finished high school I actually had the thought: What more can there be to learn? A sad indictment of my education.

Yeah, well, it is sort of hard for people to work full time jobs and maintain a rural property. It is fascinating to me that you wrote about that issue, because we were talking about that today to some lovely visitors. I said that you have to walk in both worlds, because to do otherwise would be to fail in a rural ideal. The entire system that we live in has been so tied up that someone is always enjoying a free ride on your back. That is how it is, and I suggested that the ferals eventually fail too - as do the people who attempt to live rurally, but have to work full time elsewhere. It is really hard. On the other hand, you can do it, you just have to accept hard limits as to your choices which is not something that people want to hear these days.

Lucky you for not having dangerous snakes. They are rare here, but not unknown. I've seen two in about a decade. It would be very ungentlemanly of me to suggest a swap of my poisonous snakes for your raccoons!

I’m so sorry for Doug's mother and I hope that she is comfortable.

Thank you for saying that and it is likewise a joy to have an ongoing dialogue with the many lovely people here such as yourself!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You're probably spot on about reactions to technology. But I also suspect that they are taking the third (and twentieth) option by running amok and doing whatever they do. Sun Tzu said something about not ever backing your opponents into a corner, and the system is so stitched up from what I can see that there are a whole bunch of people backed into corners and trying to figure a way out of the mess. Talk about money and property is a national pastime down here, but I notice that people tend to have current views that are based on how things were in the past, and the held views have not caught up to the reality. It is a really complex problem.

Yeah, I did read the coffee ground exchange, but was not invited into that discussion. I read an interesting article on the subject last week when it first came up: The Starbucks coffee compost test. I can't vouch for how independent the article is, but far out, all of those minerals are deficient in Australian soils, so if some dude in a tropical country wants to sell stuff which contains the very minerals that are deficient in the soils here, and some other dude wants to throw them out as a waste product - well let's just say that I ain't arguing! You couldn't grow anything other than fungi in the stuff because it is lacking other minerals, but what you can do is make those minerals available to the soil - and if you have a large enough area (and I do) then it does not matter. There was an experiment done with comfrey many years ago where the folks apparently fed a comfrey only diet to rats. What a surprise the rats died. I would probably die too on such a diet. But to then extrapolate that comfrey is harmful seems like a dodgy claim to me. The same argument could be used for chocolate!

Fair enough too. How were you with The Eagles? They went from rock band, back to their country roots, and I quite liked that although it took a bit of adjustment. The Blues Brothers was about the only musical I enjoyed other than The Commitments - which was also very good.

Note to self - Do not clean out the chicken enclosure in clothes that you will see clients in. A sound rule that one. ;-)! Clothes can be very grungy in rural areas, because people tend to focus on practicalities.

You've absolutely got me with those other marketing spin words. What do they call them: Weasel words? I tell ya, some folks read Tolkien and think to themselves that the Grima Wormtounge guy was onto a good thing!

Well, one can't be good all the time, can they? The 'family values' politician's downfall story is getting stranger and stranger all of the time: Barnaby Joyce says he had 'no choice' but to reveal paternity doubts. You know, I sometimes suspect that the folks on a Jerry Springer show (there is a story in there about that bloke too) were sometimes more honest in their stupidity, but at least they weren’t shouting out about their moral values? Dunno.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Your Art Deco table has been hanging in high society and enjoying itself. I have heard good things about that film, but never got around to watching it at the films. I was thinking about seeing the film 'I. Tonya' as it sounds dark and with humour, but the editor wants to see 'Lady bird' which has been receiving rave reviews. Then an out of left field (whatever that means) editors suggestion has also been to go and see: The Square which is meant to be a very complex story.

Are you having regrets about the table? It may still be there?

Top work with bringing a proper fetish to the bingo for blood table. Good stuff, and you never know when having dealings with the little people how it will turn out. Usually not to your advantage!

Humus is really tasty stuff. Do you make it from scratch? And I was wondering whether you can get dried legumes easily in your part of the world? The reason I ask is because such foodstuffs are harder to find these days.

Well, no whip and chair was required in this instance. I simply downgraded the naughty concrete step to second place! I tell ya, we finished some of the staircases one or two steps too short, because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I'll include a photo tomorrow night.

Gotta run as writing needs to happen!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

The build is epic and you can see both the editor and I in the first few scenes. The lady getting her hair cut is also known to us and she is a lovely person. Yah, such usages of computers have led to unfortunate employment outcomes, so stay safe!

Ha! Cool. Hey, did you not notice that the title of this week's blog is: "If it makes no sense". No stress at all.

Mate, I absolutely 100% feel for your situation because the policies that we are pursuing have slammed that door in your face. And I can't deny that I am on the other side of that door. Today, I spoke with two lovely people in your same situation with your same hopes. To be brutally honest it is now at a point where people need to get organised and demand change. The changes are relatively simple, but the thing is a whole lot of people enjoy unearned wealth and not all of them own property - some are on drip feeds from that source. What the heck to do about that?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well as the saying goes, "Education is wasted on the young." Even though I presented the material it's doubtful that many students (particularly mine as they were a very unmotivated bunch) remembered or used it.

People often want to "have it all" and it's a difficult realization when they find out that's just not possible. My sister and her family would be much better off in a condo or something similar. They really aren't outdoor people and their job requirements prevent that anyway. I know they realize this and would like to sell their place but there's no time for them to fix it up.

Some of the services provided by hospice will do much to keep my MIL comfortable which is the aim of hospice anyway. To be eligible for hospice the person has a terminal illness with less than six months to live but that's just in the medical staff's opinion. I wouldn't have thought that's the case but the staff at the care center obviously has seen a great deal in this area. I'll be doing my weekly visit today.

Typical of March the weather's about to turn from pretty pleasant to cold and nasty for about a week.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Inge

Really sorry to hear about your troubles. Thanks for bringing up the issue of coffee grounds as I use them on my garden too though generally mixed with other items.

@Pam

Every time something breaks down I worry that I can find an uncomplicated replacement. I didn't know newer washers lock. I was wondering how you were faring in the storm. We got a different generator that is wired into some things in the house - particularly the sump pump and water pump after a 3 day outage. Having water makes a huge difference particularly if you have animals.

@Lew

You remind me that it's time to start saving egg shells separately to be used for tomato transplants. I've always had blossom end rot and this really does mostly eliminate it.

@Damo

Let me add my congratulations. I can't wait to read your story.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have never been asked about rural living by anyone who is thinking of trying it. All I get is horror at the way in which I live. Very occasionally someone expresses envy.

My electrics tripped again this morning so it is just my problem. I am awaiting someone's arrival to discover the problem and then deal with it.

What is this nonsense about having to be invited to a discussion? (coffee grounds)

@ Pam

Having to watch ones washing turn mouldy is terrible. I thought that there was always a way of getting the door open in extremis but one needs the booklet instructions that come with a machine when one buys it new.

@ Damo

I have now shown my son the picture of your knife/saw. He is also puzzled but says definitely not a garden implement. He suggested that it might be meant for cutting up meat.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I forgot to mention that the large trucks were from a power company in N. Carolina, coming up here to help with restoring the huge number of power outages - especially mine, which has not been accomplished yet.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Thanks for the coffee compost article. LOL. Rotatil it in? All by hand, around here.

The Eagles were "after my time." Never quit caught my imagination. Due to pop cultural drift, I was aware of Jerry Springer. So, I sat down to see what all the fuss was about. Made it through less than 10 minutes. I can still remember the "topic". Dwarf Family Holiday Food Fight. The old fashioned side show has migrated to Jerry Springer. I was once joking with a mate about marital infidelity. I observed that he wouldn't want the wife, showing up at the door, with a gun in her purse and Jerry Springer's phone number in her hand!

Things get stranger and stranger. Margaret saw "Darkest Hour." I watched it last night. You're contemplating seeing "The Square". It's setting on my shelf. I'll either watch it tonight, or tomorrow night. I review "Darkest Hour" in a comment to Margaret.

I make the hummus from scratch, sort-of. I use canned garbanzo beans (chick peas). Safeway has quit a variety of canned beans. And, they're usually pretty cheap. I am going to try a patch of garbanzo beans, this year in the garden plot. Just to see how they grow and what kind of a yield I get. Also, Montazuma (sp?) red beans. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - For smelly clothes - put a cup of ammonia in the wash cycle. (Along with whatever laundry soap you use). When the water starts running into the tub for the rinse cycle, throw in a cup of white vinegar. If the machine allows you to open the door while it's filling. We have 5 washers, here at The Home. Only one lets you open the door, during the whole process. Old people. Might hurt ourselves. :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - How cosmic! I watched "Darkest Hour", last night. Brand new DVD from the library. I thought it was quit good, but a little claustraphobic (sp?). So much of it filmed in small cramped rooms with not much light. They probably could have filmed it in black and white, and I wouldn't have noticed. Lew