Dig Dug

Alas for my misbegotten youth. As a teenager I was a mercenary little scamp, occasionally working three jobs at a time. And three jobs meant that I was usually rolling in mad cash. And back in those heady teenage days, businesses actually paid in physical cash. In these enlightened times, pays are represented by some digital entry in a bank account.

I must say that enjoyed the feeling of mad cash in my hand and in my pocket. My mother was always forever in my ear about depositing money in the bank, and so at one stage I set up an account with the local branch of the Pyramid building society (the name should have been a dead give away). They had a branch at the local shops so it was convenient to hand. In those days you were issued with a passbook, and whenever you deposited money or withdrew it, the nice people at the building society printed the transaction along with the balance of your account in the passbook. It was all very simple, until the building society collapsed.

Fortunately, by the time the building society collapsed I had very little, if none at all, mad cash held in the account. Years before the collapse, I’d discovered video games. I loved spending time at the local ‘Moonbase Amusements’ business playing video games. They were great money sinks – even better than deposits in collapsed building societies.

Fun times. One of my favourite video games was Dig Dug. Here is a screen shot of the game taken from the Wikipedia page for the game:

A screen shot of the video game Dig Dug

It was quite a simple but fun game where you were the little white dude in the centre of the above screen shot. The aim of the game was to dig through the Earth and kill all of the creatures by attaching a hose to them and then blowing them up with air. I guess it was a rather unpleasant finish for the creatures. But I felt no sympathy for the creatures, if only because they spent the entire time trying to kill my character.

The cool kids were probably playing other video games such as Defender or even Donkey Kong. And there probably were cool kids around too at the ‘Moonbase Amusements’. In a really weird twist of fate, I believe Julian Assange, the front-man of Wikileaks lived in the area at one time, had an interest in computers, and is about my age. It is a bit eerie to think that he might have been standing behind me waiting impatiently for a go on the Dig Dug arcade game machine. He probably wasn’t though, as he was mostly likely playing what the cool kids were playing which was Defender or Donkey Kong.

It is not lost on me that in the screen shot of the video game above, there are four monsters waiting to terminate the erstwhile hero. And in subsequent levels there are even more monsters wanting to kill the hero. And in each of those subsequent levels, there is ever only one hero. Julian’s situation is a bit like that, in that he is languishing in a UK jail whilst various powers, who he has clearly annoyed (not by attaching a hose to them and blowing them up with air – at least I haven’t read such claims in the newspapers) decide upon his fate.

Turns out that it might be a really bad idea to go around annoying governments, because these days they seem to want to avoid moments of honest self reflection, and instead they go straight to the vengeance option. There is a case down here of a whistle blower who apparently worked in the federal tax office, and he allegedly blew the whistle on some debt collection practices.

ATO whistleblower facing 161-year prison sentence says he ‘almost died from the stress’

I’m not sure that I’d feel that comfortable either if I was faced with a sentence that Stalin himself would approve of! At the very least it sends a strong (if perhaps somewhat over the top) message. Even the governments own broadcaster (ABC or Australian Broadcasting Commission) is not out of the firing line, because this week:

I live-tweeted the Australian Federal Police’s every move as they raided the ABC’s Sydney headquarters

I have no idea what it all means, but have written a note to myself which says: “Do not piss these vengeful people off, they seem like bad news”. Anyway, one thing the video game taught me, was that when there are monsters around, you need to keep on digging soil. And as very observant readers may have noticed, there was a flower growing in the top right hand side of the video game screen image, so maybe planting some plants might not be a bad idea too.

And so we began work on excavating the next and highest terrace this week. At the beginning of the dig (dug) it looked like this:

Before the next and highest terrace had begun to be excavated

When excavating, we use only hand tools. Of course, despite the lack of sunlight we were able to use the electric solar powered jackhammer. It is a nifty tool that works very hard, using very little energy. After many hours of work we’d pegged out the area to be (dig) dug and began excavating a small amount of the new terrace.

Several hours of work later and the project had begun in earnest. Toothy is impressed and Ollie is thinking of other things

It wouldn’t be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t unearthed some monster rock. Fortunately this rock was much smaller than the recent massive Moby (body) Rock, and that means that we could handle it (just).

We unearthed a massive rock during the excavations for the new terrace

On the second day of excavations, we got up before the sun had risen (which is actually quite late as we are close to the winter solstice). That required two cups of coffee, but we did a whole lot more excavations that day. As can be seen in the next photo, Toothy was even more impressed than the day before.

Toothy is even more impressed with the excavations on the second day of the project

The far end of the terrace (that can’t be seen in the above photo) had quite a natural dip in the soil. We’ve been using the soil that has been excavated, to extend the length of the terrace by filling up the dip.

The soil that we’ve excavated has been used to extend the length of the terrace

The terrace will be about 30m or 100 foot long, which is quite a useful size. All of the soil and rocks have been moved by hand. And there were a lot of rocks. There are two steel rock gabion cages that we can place rocks into:

There are two steel rock gabion cages that excavated rocks can be placed into

The upper steel rock gabion cage is now full and will be sewn shut with steel wire over the next week.

This upper steel rock gabion cage is now full due to rocks recovered from the recent excavations

The lower steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up as well, and I reckon it is about 20% full now.

The lower steel rock gabion cage is about 20% full now

Earlier in the week, a lot of rain fell, and the skies were full of thick clouds for days on end. Solar photovoltaic panels produce very little electricity in such conditions, and one day was so thick with dark winter clouds, that we recorded only 20 minutes of peak sunlight (20/60 minutes x the rated output for a solar panel) for the entire day. This renewable energy technology is good, it just isn’t good enough, and after many days of thick clouds the power went out in the house due to low battery voltage. Fortunately we have a petrol powered generator and quickly put some charge back in the batteries and brought the battery voltage back up again. And at the time, the batteries had 61% charge left, but we just asked too much of them.

The battery voltage became critical late one evening, even though there was 61% charge left in the batteries

Large batteries are complicated items of technology and they rarely work like most people believe that they should.

Limited electricity is one thing, maximum fun is another altogether different thing! We converted our harvest of Medlar’s into Medlar wine. Medlar’s are an ancient fruit that few people know what to do with these days. Apart from wine, it also makes a thick jam that is not unlike the consistency of Vegemite, but sweet. It is seriously good stuff:

The harvest of Medlar’s are being converted into Medlar wine

Even though we are fast approaching the winter solstice, there are plenty of plants growing, and there is always something to eat from the garden. The return of the late autumn / early winter rains has meant that the potato plants have shot up out of their soil:

Potatoes are doing really well now that the rains have returned

There are a few wallabies that live here on the farm, and most nights they dine upon the plants in the orchard and garden beds. Wallabies are a slightly smaller dark brown forest kangaroo. For some reason, a few months back, a wallaby tasted one of the editor’s cactus plants. Any animal that can dine upon this particular cactus is an animal to fear. The cactus has now begun to regrow.

Wallaby damage to this cactus has regrown of late

Onto the flowers:

Salvia’s are incredibly hardy and beautiful
The many lavender plants are enjoying the return of the rains
Not much is hardier than the prolific geraniums
This rhubarb is about to produce a flower. The plant self seeds here and also makes a good wine.

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 257.6mm (10.1 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 205.4mm (8.1 inches).

60 thoughts on “Dig Dug”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Sunday nights are alright for writing! 🙂

    Ouch. Well, I’m all for folks experimenting with major infrastructure like dams. You never know, they might actually learn something in the process? But walking away from the costs of the maintenance – which is at the core of the issue – and providing a sub-standard replacement is a dodgy thing to do. And yes, who would have thought that there are times of the year when there is no sun and it is not even remotely windy? Such times happen at night all of the time. The question I like to ask is: And then what? It is not easily answered.

    And the water temperature thing is a problem down here too with trout and salmon. There has long been a belief that shady exotic trees should be removed from river systems. No doubt that removal of the trees is a good thing, but without the shady tree canopy, the water heats up during summer and the fishies die. And dare I mention that from my reading of historical accounts of early settlers and explorers, the same river systems were allowed to flood across the landscape, and even form pools that kept water in the landscape right through the hot summers. Nope, the river systems were cleared so that they flowed freely to the land of elsewhere and unpleasant floods were avoided. Time will restore the changes that have been made in only recent times.

    Far out! Someone might just suggest such a water cooling machine, although on a serious note it does sound like standing in front of a refrigerator on a hot day, and not noticing the hot air to the rear of the machine.

    Did you get any toothy sun on Tuesday?

    Well, it is complicated and people confuse batteries with fuel tanks. And they work very differently. Despite having 1,200Ah of batteries I can’t really draw them down below about 70% full, otherwise the battery voltage level drops too far if I ask for the batteries to deliver a large load of electricity. And there are many devices that ask for a huge start up current. A laser printer for example has a heating element in it and whilst the device uses little electricity, when it starts up the heating element can draw quite the load.

    Ah yes, well, we have all been there and indulged in the drama when a cool head would probably have been a wiser choice of path!

    I don’t necessarily concur with Mr Orlov, merely because I don’t actually feel that we are stupid as a society, we just have this complicated desire to believe and wish that things were other than they are – and that has cast a huge shadow (or spell) over even the most basic interactions. But you know, we readily adapt to new states from what I can see down here. It doesn’t take the huge leap of effort that most people believe that it does.

    Lucky you to have missed the super cell. Good timing! It looks like Wednesday morning here will be a ripper for rainfall. The editor and I have discussed the need to drop a huge quantity of mulch over the latest excavations and we might just take a gamble and see how it all turns out.

    Meanwhile the coffee espresso machine has gone kaput, and the replacement parts are on order. But will they arrive in time to stave off the dreaded caffeine withdrawal symptoms? Time will tell.

    Cheers

    Chris

  2. Hi, Chris!

    My husband and brother used to go off and spend endless hours playing Pacman at some arcade.

    I suspect that Julian was very uncool as a youth. That type often becomes very successful in a quirky way. I think staying under the radar is a better option.

    Your property begins to remind me of Machu Picchu in Peru. You just need a few Ollie, Toothy, and Scritchy idols judiciously placed for worship. Make them fierce.

    I suspect that wallaby won’t be dining on cactus again.

    Pam

  3. Hi Lewis,

    I don’t expect sympathy from you, but the coffee espresso machine has crapped itself today. And I was left reaching for a non-existent latte. Fortunately the machine is beautifully designed to be easily repaired and/or have replacement parts put into it. But will the parts arrive before caffeine withdrawal symptoms kick in? And it was the Queen’s birthday public holiday today, so the editor and I decided to do paid accounting work today, but without the coffee machine, in the late afternoon we went to the local cafe and were confronted by the hordes of tourists. It was a challenging moment, but we braved the crowds and were rewarded with a cappuccino and latte. Such breakdowns make for nervous (and twitchy) times.

    During such seasons of very heavy rainfall, hill farming comes into its own, because the soil in such locations is usually well drained as long as it doesn’t slide down the mountain side. When the groundwater table is close to the soil surface, it is really hard to operate the sort of huge tractors that power large scale broad-acre farms. It is a real problem. Not to mention that most plants don’t enjoy having their root systems flooded. On a brighter note, cranberries may be cheaper for you this year – they like wet feet (as do pears).

    The rise in the price of the organic oats was a surprise, but I don’t grow them here, so I can’t really complain. Incidentally, your mention of the oats made me decide to investigate whether the supplier had a website that supplied other interesting grain and ground products. And wouldn’t you know it, they had all sorts of other fascinating grains: Four Leaf Milling.

    Yeah, the rose hip wine might end up being pretty good. And who does not enjoy the dessert – Turkish Delight, whose primary flavouring is rose water. I’d read that about the vanilla orchid bean replacing rose hip water back in the day.

    Oh no, I was going to harpoon the little baby Moby rock too, with plans to cut it in half. Sometimes you just know that you’re a bad person. The ground barely let that rock go. And there is another one next to where we pulled that one from. I suspect that the terraces at that point go right through an old lava flow.

    It is going to rain a lot here on Wednesday and so our fingers are crossed that the terrace holds together. Still, it couldn’t be worse than: ‘We thought it was lightning’: Westralia Square walkway collapses. Fortunately someone noticed the fault in the walkway and nobody was injured, but it is a big item to fall.

    No worries at all. Ceiling fans work great on hot summer days too! 🙂

    Isn’t that interesting, the Mad Scientist meme has dropped away from use in recent movies. Who’d have thunk it? Dare I mention the Back to the Future franchise of films? And did you enjoy them?

    That ’employment’ option wasn’t lost on me either. Scientists, mad or otherwise, have to regularly re-apply for funding for their work, otherwise they are in the dole queue on a Monday morning. Of course, if I annoy enough people, I’ll be there too right with them! Science is a tough gig on that front. You do all that study and you’re left with a vague and very uncertain future, unless of course you manage to trap a patron, as some scientists do. It is not lost on me that they have mortgages etc…

    Ouch! To have come through a few rounds of cancer, Julia appears to have a good survival instinct. And yes, having a depressed immune response (as well as the other end of that continuum) is a real problem. I hope that she recalls to look after herself too. The counter at the Club sounds like a worthwhile use of one’s time.

    Yeah, the word ‘presenteeism’ has different meanings in other countries. Down here it refers to work, and it is fear that drives such behaviour. Oh yeah, mate, I copped the flu last year really badly after just such an encounter. And then the editor dropped like a stone too. I can well understand how people die from the influenza virus, and I now get my vaccinations early and without hesitation. We were down for the count for about five weeks last year, and how we got anything done around here during that time is a real mystery to me. The flu is nothing at all like a simple cold.

    Like you, peas are a bit of mystery to me too. Last year I had the same experience where some of the seed germinated, and others just did nothing at all. It is weird because snow peas have grown really well in past years. I don’t get it at all, but didn’t have enough time and/or energy to consider what was going on. So you reckon it might just be old seed? I’m not sure really, but I always had a suspicion that maybe I just fluffed up the timing of sowing.

    Yeah, maybe, you might get a bit of genetic cross over with the pumpkins and squashes, but you never know. My lot seem to be fairly stable so far, but time will be the real test of such things. Dunno, but I reckon genetic diversity isn’t what it once was with seed. What do you reckon about that? Hey, we saved seed from the small exploding squashes too (we cook them now with holes to release the pressure). They’re really good keepers. Corn is likewise a funny plant, and who knows the seed that you’ve got might benefit from a bit of genetic boost from an unknown source of Garden Goddess’s plants? My guess is that she was growing a hybrid variety, and they can be a bit finicky about timing, moisture and temperature.

    Good to hear that you are well occupied. I’d be troubled if you were bored, which I suspect that you never are. 🙂

    Looks like the sun will return again tomorrow! Yay!

    But where are the parts for the coffee machine I ask you? Wars have been fought over less!

    Cheers

    Chris

  4. Hi Pam,

    Ah yes, the cool kids likewise played Pacman. But I do note that the games had little appeal to you, proving that you were wiser than us lot. Mind you, I have a vague memory that you indulged in the dark arts of shopping back in the day, before realising the errors of that path. Mind you, you did come away from such an experience with more than just memories which is all that is left from the dark path of the gamer! 🙂 Honestly, I don’t regret a moment of the past, because none of us would be who are today without having experienced those experiences – we’d be someone else!

    You’re probably right about Julian. And I agree, staying under the radar is the central tenet of the story. You are most perceptive. 😉 As far as I can understand things, sweat labour, organic food and serious limits, appears to be a rather unappealing combination for a large majority of the population.

    We love those terraces. But you have terraces too, and are fortunate to live on a less steep slope. I dream of flat land! 🙂 People don’t tend to take Scritchy and Toothy seriously, and they might not work as fierce idols. But Ollie, yeah, people take him seriously, and the funny thing is that he has a far lovelier nature than the two smaller dogs. I don’t get that at all. He is sound asleep behind me on the green couch, and it was quite wet here this morning, so he’s had a very slack day.

    I don’t know, I’ve heard stories of goats consuming fencing and although it maybe a tall tale, nobody ever mentions that they die from such goat (or wallaby in this case) shenanigans! Hehe!

    The coffee machine broke today. It is a total disaster. If I get a bit jumpy or twitchy, blame it on the lack of caffeine. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  5. Hi Chris,

    We survived the party and the weather gods were looking out for us as it was mostly sunny, pleasant temperature and enough of a breeze to keep mosquitoes in check. Most of our farmer friends didn’t attend as they were frantically planting now the fields have dried somewhat. We still have our house guest until tomorrow.

    Marty loved Pacman. Do you remember Pong? My mother got a Nintendo Mario brothers game for my brothers. They never showed all that interest but she got hooked. We all got a bit annoyed when we’d come to visit and couldn’t tear her away. It took quite awhile but she finally lost interest.

    With all your excavating you and the editor must be in great shape.

    I am always rather jealous when I look at all your plants growing during the winter. Everything I’ve planted is behind but doing OK.

    Margaret

  6. Hi Chris,

    It occurs to me that a large-scale variant of your solar system operating in the depths of winter would run into an additional problem I have yet seen described. Since you are the sole user of your system, you can at least manage and adjust your production needs. If your neighbour were hooked into your batteries as well then one might start getting ideas like “there is limited power today, I need to use it up before he does”. Competition here may lead to overproduction in times of shortage for the sake of using energy, which looks like a nasty positive feedback to me. The solution would be some form of rationing with the largest energy credits going to the largest campaign contributors.

    I have a suggestion for utilizing Moby (body) Rock. You could relocate the chicken enclosure over Moby leading to either one of the following conclusions:
    1. Rats unable to penetrate Moby. Rat problem solved.
    2. Rats penetrate Moby. Moby problem solved.

  7. Hello Chris
    Some rain at last, I can even see some in my pond! Always a downside though, I received my first mosquito bite today. Doesn’t take them long to arrive the moment there is a bit of water.

    Inge

  8. Hi Chris,

    Here’s an article on the floods in the US Midwest that discusses some of the economic implications: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/punched-face-u-floods-snarl-110000247.html

    Today I am looking at blue sky, feeling a pleasant cool breeze, and experiencing just how lovely a June day can be here. It’s temporarily stopped raining and the Mississippi is starting to fall a little at St. Louis. However, the local National Weather Service office is making noises about a rainy weekend that could lead to a secondary, but lower, crest on area rivers. Even without any rain, it will take three weeks to drop the river below flood stage – and it’s doubtful there would be no rain anywhere in the basin for that long a period at this time of year.

    I played Pacman and Ms. Pacman, but my favorite video game was Frogger. What can I say; I like frogs. My video game playing days were during graduate school, so I was well beyond kid stage, and the crush of work meant I didn’t have time to spend a lot of money on them. Just as well.

    The corn seeds I planted last Tuesday have produced seedlings, and everything in the garden looks really good. I’ve harvested all the bok choy and will harvest the rest of the lettuce today; the bok choy was already bolting and the remaining lettuce will soon do so. But there are four excellent looking cabbages sizing up and much kale and collards to provide greens. Some small tomatoes have formed too, and the few snow pea plants and more numerous shell pea plants are being harvested. Life is good in June as we await the summer solstice.

    Claire

  9. Yo, Chris – Yes, Pyramid Building Society seems to be an unfortunate name for the institution. In hind sight. Even a bit humorous, from the perch of passed time. Worthy of a Monty Python sketch? Was that the late 80s / early 1990s? If so, I wonder if it was related to our Savings and Loan, debacle? That was kind of a dress rehearsal for our 2008 meltdown. But in that case, a few “big fish” did go to prison, for awhile.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_loan_crisis

    Well, I think we’ve discovered the roots of your urge to dig around in the dirt :-). Dig Dug. You just couldn’t settle for virtual and had to make it real.

    “Toothy is impressed and Ollie is thinking of other things.” I don’t know why, but that impressed me as being the kind of caption Edward Gorey would come up with. I got my replacement coffee mug, today. It’s sketch is of a buzzard in a tree. The caption is: “Beware…of this or that.”

    You know, I was looking carefully at the new rock, and it seems to have a fairly flat top. I happened to think that if you shimmed and leveled it, cleaned it up a bit, that it would make a nice table base. Call it “Table Rock.” A geographical name often seen in our American west.

    Future archaeologists (given their lower IQs, the way things are going) will probably speculate that we were a rather anal retentive lot. Given the lengths we went to, to keep stray rocks neat and tidy in little bin cages. 🙂

    My potatoes are about the same size, as your. But mine seem greener. Might be the variety (mine are russets), or, just that fact that we’re getting more sunlight, right now. We also have a rhubarb patch that has recently gone to seed. Doesn’t seem to self seed, much. Have never seen a volunteer.

    Poor wallaby. I’d say he had a sore mouth, for awhile. May even have starved to death. I notice he didn’t come back for seconds. Cont.

  10. Cont. Drink lots of tea to offset the Caffeine Crisis. It really takes the edge off. Might even save your marriage :-). Or, at least, your sanity. I suppose you could always resort to some of those energy drinks. Loaded with caffeine and have names like “Jolt” or “Buzz.” Any time your machine goes down, you might think about ordering two (or three) replacement parts to tuck away. It’s not as though the price is likely to go down. Or, availability improve.

    Four Leaf Milling, looks a bit like our “Bob’s Red Mill.” They might be missing a bet, as it doesn’t look like they’ve jumped on the gluten free band wagon. But maybe Australians are more sensible. Given the drought, I wonder where they’re sourcing their grains, from?

    The walkway collapse is really something. Seems to be a lot of those, happening around the world.

    Mad Scientist has morphed into Evil Tech Lord. There’s usually some kind of laboratory lurking around in the background. A far cry from Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. Not near so interesting. But lots of glass. Which usually ends up being smashed in a huge fight, somewhere along the way. It’s almost become a set piece. I saw some of the “Back to the Future” films, and thought they were a lot of fun. But, as with a lot of those series, I lost the plot and can’t tell you if I saw all of them.

    Oh, it can be pretty easy for a scientist to trap a patron, depending on how fluid their morals are. It’s interesting that the same scientists who now debunk climate change, once worked for the tobacco companies. After tobacco played out, they found new patrons in the energy sector.

    Yes, the Club can be a bit of a hot bed of microbes. I started doing something I’ve never done before. After a couple of go rounds with …well, delicacy prevents me from going into the details. But I finally broke down and bought a pack of those antibiotic wipes, and carefully wipe down the chair, at the counter, before I perch on it. Sitting on a public stool is kind of like getting up close and personal with another person. Not only our you getting up close and personal with them, but also with every other person they’ve got up close and personal, with. :-).

    Well, I replanted the peas, yesterday, after a good soak. I wish I had done the same with the corn and pumpkin. Those keep trying to make a break for it, by popping up out of the soil. There’s also some kind of powder (darn. name escapes me) that you can apply to pea and bean seed, for better germination. Oh, dear. It just occurred to me to check the dates on the seed packs. I thought they were a year old. Nope. Packed for 2012. No wonder …

    I also mounded up the potatoes and buried some kitchen scraps and garden cuttings. And got sucked into a couple of little tasks by the Garden Goddess. I did a final harvest of the chamomile. After baking my head in the plot, for 20 minutes, it suddenly occurred to me, that since I was going to pull them up anyway, I could relocate to shadier climes and harvest in more comfort. So, I pulled them up and retired to the shade of the pear tree. Much more comfy. Lew

  11. Chris,

    Did I spy Moby Rock in the background of some pictures? Perhaps in the photos of the new terrace?

    I tried Pacman. Detested it. Never played Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Centipede or any of the others. A few years ago, one of the younger set at work said that she and her other half had spent the weekend playing “retro” video games like Super Mario 2, I just sighed that that game wasn’t “retro” in my book. After intently staring at me for a few seconds she said, “I get it. You’re more of a Pong guy. You can borrow our Atari any time.” With no hesitation, I quipped, “Young lady, I was playing Pong with my pet pterodactyl long before you were even a twinkle.” We have been good friends ever since.

    But Chris, isn’t it a given fact that either the sun is shining or it’s windy? I mean, keeping our current standard of living depends on that, and we make our own reality, and that’s the reality I want to make. Or at least that’s the narrative, isn’t it?

    Removing the shady trees from the river banks? Not a good idea. The annual (or nearly so) flooding that led to puddles and ponds sure helped. The beavers on this continent really helped with water retention and water control also, until they were trapped nearly out of existence. Seems to me we’ve extincted or channeled with levees and dikes anything that nature did for proper water and habitats.

    Yes, the ice machine idea is rather like standing in front of the open refrigerator while ignoring the blast of heat coming out the fridge’s backside. Good analogy. Once again the idea of “no free lunch” pops up.

    It’s Monday as I’m writing this. We had some very toothy sun until about 3:00 p.m. Then clouds, which promise to keep things from cooling down well tonight. I’ll let you know about Tuesday’s sun’s toothiness… Today was 27C and Tuesday should approach 29C or even 30C.

    Methinks you hit the nail on the head. To start anything with a battery takes more oomph than does keeping it running. I had a car once that taught me that lesson quite well, until I forgot it. You can tell how long ago the brief university study of batteries was for me – the large “cranking power” was the whole point of the study, which you just now reminded me of.

    The Orlov article. As with anything, I think there are some holes in it, but there are some truisms also. One of the things I regularly experience is that some managers do indeed purposely refuse to share necessary information. Without fail, each of these managers is insecure. Your suggestion that there is a huge shadow/spell over some situations is probably right. As you said, we CAN change IF the change is truly wanted. The fact that some people have a vested interest in not changing simply adds another challenge. Thanks for your input.

    DJSpo

  12. Hi Margaret,

    The party sounds delightful. And yeah, nature runs to her own schedule, and despite the non-attendance, for me to read that the fields are now dry enough to be planted out is a really good thing. A few more weeks of bogged soil, and things would not end up so good because you would not have enough time to bring in a harvest.

    Hehe! I’ll bet Marty was good at Pacman too (it is a game of patterns)? Yeah, pong was the original way back in the day. I never had access to a pong machine, so missed out on that, but I always drooled with envy whenever a friend or relative hauled out their game. Your mum’s story was not dissimilar to my mates who became hooked on ‘World of Warcraft’. Despite having known them for almost 18 years, visits were distracting to say the least, and after three years of that even my patience was done – and I went off and did something else. That was a tough time.

    Thanks. Yeah, probably. There is a serious difference between the sort of muscles developed in a gym session and the sort that can keep you digging in the soil for six hours. It kind of reminds me of the difference between a racehorse and a draft horse. I’d be a draft horse! The local pony club is at the bottom of the hill, and there are a lot of show ponies there that wouldn’t be up for a hard day’s work.

    Incidentally, I finally managed to crack a large rock (not the Moby rock but the large one in the photo this week) into halves and thirds today. I’m pretty happy about that. And I extracted another one of similar size.

    Good to hear that the plants are doing OK. Winter is a funny season here, and is very variable from one year to the next. Mostly, I just try a lot of plants that are sub-tropical but with known survival abilities and then hope for the best.

    Cheers

    Chris

  13. Hi crowandsheep,

    Very funny, the rats would probably be onto that gear. Mate, they are smart as, and they adapt, with the current exception of the chicken enclosure where for now I am winning (for now). It is a precarious win over the rats if the past is any guide.

    Yes, absolutely that would happen. Mind you, it already happens now. I’m not sure about your country, but some of the very large coal fired power stations have come to the end of their economic lifespans and they’ve been shut down. What then happens on days of very high electricity demand (where the supply is exceeded) there are brown outs or load shedding as it is sometimes known. Is there a difference between this and your excellent supposition?

    Cheers

    Chris

  14. Hi Inge,

    That is fast for the mosquitoes. And I do hope that the sting is not too itchy. Strangely enough, last summer here was so hot and dry that I barely saw a mosquito, and I’m glad that the tree frogs managed to carry on despite the lack of mosquitoes which they possibly dine upon.

    The large rock in the photo this week has now been broken into three pieces! Yay! My understanding of all things rock has improved over the past few weeks.

    I hope the rain continues for you, and you must have had a bit for the pond to begin to fill up.

    Cheers

    Chris

  15. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the link to the outstanding article. I had not realised how extensive the flooding was, and even your neck of the woods was mentioned in the article. I was interested to see that there was no mention of where the situation will go from here, as the people in the article seemed to be more concerned with resolving the day to day problems.

    Glad to read that you are getting a little bit of summer (or late spring for you) sunshine. Oh my, more rain for you, well the drainage catchments for those rivers are massive in size and all that water has to go somewhere. Is any planting going on in your part of the world?

    I liked Frogger too! It is a great game and frogs are lovely creatures. Do you get many on your property? It is meant to rain about an inch of rain tomorrow and whenever I have been outside today I can hear the tree frogs happily croaking their selves silly in anticipation of the rain. I suspect that they are sensitive to the drop in air pressure that accompanies storms.

    Your garden sounds like it is going gang busters. Did you get a good germination rate with your corn seed? I’m going to watch the corn here a bit more closely next season. And yes, summer just before the solstice is a wonderful time. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  16. Hi Lewis,

    For some strange reason I’ve always felt that the name suited the institution and nobody could possibly complain about it – it is not like you weren’t told! Did you know that the early private railways in your country had some attributes of a Ponzi scheme? From my readings in accounting theory, back in those early days no depreciation was accounted for with any of the assets of the railway businesses. Early returns for the shareholders were quite good, but then inevitably the rolling stock and tracks needed replacing and the costs mounted and profits declined. Fun stuff, and particularly good if you were an early investor.

    The Savings and Loan crisis was a doozy. Thanks for the link, it read like a slow motion car crash and when viewed from a perspective that takes account of declining net energy, well it doesn’t look any better. It has always fascinated me that apparently no criminal charges were pressed against the perpetrators of the 2008 debacle. And strangely enough, we had a Royal Commission into the banking sector recently and despite the blush worthy circumstances disclosed, no criminal charges appear to have been apparently laid either. Of course, one conclusion can be drawn from those circumstances in that the lack of action, means that they may well be officially condoned. Something needs to ratchet up GDP figures I guess.

    Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my joke about the video game. Hey, the large rock in the photo has now been broken into three chunks and we unearthed another large rock today (which is now in two chunks). We’ve learned a lot about rocks in the past few weeks. Incidentally the editor loved your comment about harpooning! Nice one.

    To me, I can almost feel that Edward Gorey enjoyed observing the small things, and then making comment upon them. Plus, who doesn’t love a dry sense of humour? I was pretty chuffed with the words in the essay this week. Who knows where these ideas pop into my head? The editor often asks me about what I intend to write about, and most of the time I give a vague meaningless reply. I mean how do I explain the concepts in the essay without first writing them down in their full story? The idea for the essay sounded ludicrous at first, but then it grew as it was fleshed out.

    A truly fine and non-specific warning! Yes, be alert, maybe! 🙂 Weren’t we talking only a month or two back about an artist that paints buzzards? I hadn’t realised that buzzard art was a big thing, but no, it is.

    Total bummer, the rock is now in three pieces… But yeah, a table rock would have looked good – I never thought about doing that. The three pieces, along with another two pieces from another large rock that was excavated and harpooned, are now in place in a rock wall to retain the soil in the old strawberry growing area. It is a bit of a mess there in that location…

    Speaking of lower IQ’s, I must add that I grew up in the time of lead being added into petrol. Imagine the fine achievements that we all could have achieved (for want of a better word) had we not encountered so much lead as children? It certainly explains a thing or two. I guess things could always get worse! Wouldn’t that be fun? The rock cages are a bit of a passion project of ours, so neat, with a side serving of anal sounds about right. I tend to feel that the goings on will provide hours of discussion in the distant future.

    I’d never heard of a russet potato before. Interesting and a nice choice if I may say so. They seem like a good all rounder, although the water requirements might be a bit much for here. The energy from the sun is not good at the moment and so that might explain the paler shade of green. The potatoes took several body blows during the recent hot and dry summer, and they did nothing at all during the summer other than survive.

    It is worth keeping an eye out for volunteer rhubarb plants, they do turn up here. The seeds are easily spread by the wind, and I can’t say that I’m much of a fan of the unusual odour that emanates from the seeds. The plants are very easy to divide to get new plants, just by cutting a chunk of root off and replanting it elsewhere. Such plants make us gardeners look like we know what we are doing.

    I feel for the wallaby too, but it is not like it was the first time they’ve eaten some of the cacti. If the wallabies break off chunks of cacti, I generally replant them. Those cacti are tough plants.

    Keeping replacement parts is a great idea. With the coffee machine, I’m going to replace the old parts with the new parts and then clean up the old parts and see whether they can be saved. For all I know, there is a chunk of unidentified stuff in one of the parts. I have my suspicions where the problem lies, but until it gets opened up and examined, it is all guess work.

    Have you ever tried those energy drinks? A lot of sugar, and they leave me with sugar headaches and I can’t imagine that they would do you any good. Not good at all. I’ll keep your advice about tea in mind, mornings are rarely clear. Woe is me.

    No, we’re not more sensible, and there are people who have genuine life threatening problems with gluten, some people get serious reactions to consuming gluten, and others have jumped on the bandwagon because they were bored one day and… It did remind me of Bob’s Red Mill too. The drought is an often unspoken about problem. I was trying to get through a long comment without a link, but Scritchy started it: Hay shortage prompts farmers to pay big money at clearing sales. One day I’m going to have to consider putting away stores of hay for the chickens.

    The zombie film, 28 weeks later, had a good scene with zombies destroying a lab, and the camera was located on the other side of a locked door where people were trying to get out. A nasty experience. As an interesting note with technology, I have noticed of late that there have been a number of articles about people who have taken up the gentle backyard art of ride on lawn mower racing. It must mean something?

    Dirty stuff, and yeah follow the money is always wise in investigations. I’ve encountered morally flexible people from time to time, and I can’t say that it assisted them in their lives. I did notice with them that they often expressed a belief that they were smarter than most other people. It is a frankly delusional way to view the world.

    Mate, not to fire you up, but have you ever considered swabbing an ATM machine and then plating out the swab? Scary stuff. Best not to put your hands in your mouth, or other orifices, and also recall to wash them before eating. And then hope for the best… I have come down pretty sick after food handling problems at cafes and restaurants, but it is rare – and highly unpleasant.

    Hehe! 2012. Ouch. Just checked the seed savers handbook and pea seeds are viable for 3 years. Yeah, that’ll do it. The powder is some sort of bacteria and or fungi that assists the peas to create nitrogen balls (that is the technical word) onto the roots of the plant.

    An excellent solution to a head cooking experience. Do you enjoy chamomile tea?

    Cheers

    Chris

  17. Hi DJ,

    Your observational skills surpass my own, as in the photo were I am squatting next to the large rock that we excavated, I can see Moby Rock – taunting me – behind me and on the downhill side.

    But son and daughter of Moby Rock have now been thoroughly harpooned! We broke the one in the photo into three pieces and another only slightly smaller rock into two pieces.

    The pterodactyl story was delightful!

    It is the narrative. Interestingly, I looked up the definition of the word narrative (apologies it is late now and I did not refer to the 1953 hardback Oxford concise dictionary) which returned the following definition: “a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.” Hmm, it is not lost on me that stories may not reflect reality. It would be nice if people were more realistic about this stuff – serious people are talking the technology up, and that is a worry.

    It isn’t a good idea, and I’ve never encountered a beaver so I don’t really know how they work in river systems. For your interest, with the recent return of the rains, the local river has begun flowing again, but the area that it cuts through looks like a giant floodplain to me, although the water gets moved elsewhere and not kept in the area…

    Actually refrigerators use far less energy to do their work than electric heaters. It would be nice if lots of devices didn’t incorporate heating elements.

    It is Tuesday here (it is intense living in the future) and your weather sounds really nice. Given you are inland, do you get cooler summer nights? The summer nights here are usually cool, except when they’re not, and then they’re really hot. About 27’C was the worst I saw last summer, but the days can get into the mid 40’C. 45’C is the hottest I’ve seen so far, but no doubts records are there to be broken.

    Spot on. Car batteries are Starting, Lighting and Ignition batteries. So they can provide a lot of oomph (a technical word) to get things going and then not much. Solar batteries are normally deep cycle in that they can provide electricity over a longer period of time, but are also heavier and more expensive (but last longer too, as long as you don’t use them). Electricity in rural areas hasn’t been around for as long as it has been in the city so no doubts the process will occur in reverse but maybe at a faster rate.

    My pleasure, it is a complicated story that we waded into there. I guess much depends upon the response of the individual, and everyone’s motivations are all over the shop. We’re certainly not all going in the same direction from what I can see.

    Cheers

    Chris

  18. Yo, Chris – Supposed to be 90+F (32.22C) tomorrow. Then cool down toward the weekend, and maybe a spot of rain by Sunday.

    I hadn’t really thought, in depth, about the railroads, back in the 1800s. But the TV series, “Hell on Wheels” (about the building of the transcontinental rail) was always caring on about financial shenanigans of one sort, or another. Owen Meanies (Star Trek) character was always lurching from one financial tight spot to the next. At one spot, he ends up in jail for misappropriation of funds. We had several financial panics in the late 1800s, and several of them were connected to railroads.

    By the way, I poked into how my State retirement is financed. All very complicated. We have a Washington State Investment Board, that invests money. They invest, globally, in quit a few investment firms. Who also don’t have all their eggs in one basket. I didn’t get past their “front pages” but most of them seem to lean toward some kind of “green” investing.

    Officially condoned/old boy network. You cover my neither regions, and I’ll cover yours. Strategic people who know where the bodies are buried. Am I a cynic? 🙂

    You never did mention how you broke up the new rocks. Did you use the Expando-gunk?

    I’ve never tried an energy drink. Or, bottled water, for that matter. Somewhere along the way, I broke the allure of any beverage in a container. Funny, that. 🙂

    That was an interesting article about hay. Happens, here, too. Although I saw an article last year about farmers with an abundance of hay, in some parts of the country, giving excess hay away to their less lucky mates. Huge convoys of hay flowing into drought stricken areas to keep the less lucky farmers afloat.

    I quit liked “28 Days Later.” There was a sequel. As with most sequels, not as good.

    First thing I do when I step in the door is give my hands a good scrub with soap and water.

    I quit like chamomile. Might have a cuppa in the evenings, when I want something warm, that won’t keep me up.

    Well. The pumpkins are poking through the soil, and so is the corn. The Garden Goddess is driving me crazy. Yesterday she sucked me into four tasks. I had something I wanted to do this morning, and she tried the same gear again. I retreated to my apartment. I’ll get done, what needs to be done, when she’s not around. If ever. And the constant chatter! I came to the realization, this morning, that I garden for the peace and quiet. Oh, well. It will all sort itself out. Lew

  19. Hi Chris,

    Here are some nice charts for you to pore over: https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm

    Note that I recently made the midsummer mistake of questioning the energetics of solar power and that chart was used to expertly counter my skepticism. Looks at those solar numbers Chris!

    The plan is to remove the evil red which I suspect will be taken up by the CO2 neutral brown coal since the excess supply is currently shipped to the neighbors at the cost of their chagrin.

  20. Hi crowandsheep,

    Yeah, I’ve been there too. What do you do?

    The graph is very pretty to look at. And fortunately because the example for that particular grid has a base load supply of electricity, people can actually look at the graph on a screen.

    Here is the thing, demand for electricity follows predictable patterns. Nature on the other hand is anything but predictable. Imagine this: When on a sunny day, in an otherwise clear blue sky, a small cloud briefly obscures the sun. At that moment in time the output of the solar rapidly declines. It is almost like flicking a switch it is that fast. Does our demand for electricity likewise decline during that time? No – not at all. The difference has to be made up from somewhere else, and if it cannot be brought on line quickly enough, that is when things start going very strange indeed.

    Most supply sources cannot react fast enough (with the exception of batteries that can react very fast), to meet the loss of the power from the example of the brief cloud passing over the solar panels.

    Take away the base load power (coal, nuclear, gas and hydro) and the system doesn’t work – because who wants to pay for batteries big enough to cater to the moments when the renewable sources don’t work? Solar only works now in such a system because there is so much wasted energy and the large generators from some respects act like batteries.

    In fact, there is a school of thought that suggests that having solar power in the grid system actually increases the overall cost of electricity. This is because the system has to cater for the times that solar (or wind for that matter – although it is more consistent than solar) doesn’t provide electricity. You see the large generators (coal, gas, nuclear) if operated wastefully, make less economic sense because they cannot charge for the supply that they’re required to generate in order to maintain the stability of the grid. But it possible that allowance has been made in their pricing models to reflect this matter. Or, the contracts were drawn up before the large scale roll out of solar. It is possible because I don’t see large generators being constructed, and many of the large generators down here are being retired.

    Hope all that makes sense. It is really complicated, and solar doesn’t scale – it works best on a very small scale – like here.

    Good luck.

    Chris

  21. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you enjoy my little polite rant (not directed at the very polite crowandsheep who is merely relaying a third party conversation) about solar in my reply to crowandsheep. I really do wish that serious people who talk nonsense about this technology got in the ring and had to publicly live with the consequences of their decisions. The technology is good but it just doesn’t scale, and I can almost hear them saying: “They’ll think of something”. One day we might meet one of these ‘they’ folks? They’re probably mythical figures forming a nice backdrop to a future morality tale.

    By the end of summer I’m sort of looking forward to 90’F days on the basis that things could always be worse. Speaking of which I undertook a pilgrimage to the delightful hamlet of Pheasant Creek today. Back in February 2009, the Black Saturday fires ripped right through that part of the world, and I’m curious as to how the vegetation is responding to the recovery process. Well, there has been a huge amount of re-growth and the forest is exceptionally thick but very young. On the steeper slopes the older trees looked as though they have died and might even come crashing down – and feed the soil critters and provide housing for the ants, frogs, reptiles – and pretty much anything that is tough enough to eat cellulose. However, unlike this place which jumps with life, it is pretty quiet over there, but hopefully critters will move back there eventually.

    Anyway, there is a specialist fern nursery at Pheasant Creek / Kinglake West. What there isn’t to be found there, is a lake. Kinglake was the name of some English politician back in the day. But there is a fern nursery and I picked up a dirt rat full (not many ferns can be held in such a small vehicle) load of tree ferns. In the past, I’ve purchased them bare rooted, and then hope they get established in time before the hot and dry summer kicks them hard. Those plants are recovered from pine plantations and that is why they’re bare rooted, but they have size on their side. This time instead I picked up seed grown tree ferns because they come with soil and root systems and I reckon the summer shock won’t be as hard on them. Two of the tree ferns planted in the fern gully last year died, so I wanted to try something different with these seedling ones, and hopefully it is all good.

    It is fern time here, and it rained one and half inches today. It looks very wet outside now. 🙂 Happy days, and happy ferns!

    Did you mean Colm Meaney? He’s a very consistently employed and excellent actor. And I quite enjoyed his character in Star Trek. Never seen Deep Space Nine or Hell on Wheels, but yes the financial improprieties were there for sure way back in those railway days. The very least that can be said about the railroads in those heady days – dangerous employers that they were – was that at least they produced something useful, unlike perhaps the notorious South Sea Bubble…

    It is all very complicated, but if the state government backs the pension fund, then as an opinion, you are in as good a hands as could be expected.

    No, I don’t think cynical goes quite far enough. It is downright odd, and I just don’t understand the why of it at all.

    The expansive grout stuff is having a lot of difficulty due to the ongoing high humidity and low temperatures. So, instead we drilled a few holes in the rock. Then we used the jackhammer with a bit that looks a bit like a spatula with a wide sharp blade to split the rock. With a bit of mucking around, we have worked out how to split a rock in about 15 minutes. The way the job was done is a replication of the old school techniques using a chisel with a cross head to bore the hole, and then the jackhammer replicates what a feather and wedge set would do. We saved ourselves work and sped up the job by using electric tools. Moby Rock is of a similar but different (somehow) material.

    Ah, yes, of course, I can well understand your point of view in the matter of bottles. 🙂

    Yeah, the thing I wondered about with the hay was how is that transport issue working with all of the floods in your part of the world?

    The zombie sequel was still good, but it had a lot to live up to. There was something quite good about 28 days later in their low budget take on the subject.

    Yes, chamomile is a soporific – apparently. Good for assisting with sleep matters if needed.

    Awesome with the corn and pumpkins. Not so awesome about the Garden Goddess. Feign a headache and ask for a bit of peace and quiet. Given you are in hiding mode number four, you probably have a headache from the goings on. It is complicated thing to stop peoples expectations from escalating and I have been cogitating on such matters earlier this week. I don’t seek to control others, but that does not mean that other people don’t need to be deflected from time to time. What do you reckon about that?

    Cheers

    Chris

  22. Yo, Chris – Occasional rants are good for clearing out the pipes, and probably, your sinuses. I think “they” live wherever the unicorns do. Or maybe behind the couch along with lost socks and lost youth.

    Oh, I’m sure Pheasant Creek will bounce back. The way the forest is bouncing back, up on Mt. St. Helens, after a pyroclastic flow, is really remarkable.

    Oh, fess up :-). Didn’t you tuck a smaller variety or two among the tree ferns? Nurseries are terribly tempting places.

    Ah, Colm Meaney. He pops up every now in again, in something. The guys got range. He played such a nice guy in Star Trek, and such a low down, evil fellow in “Hell on Wheels.”

    Yeah, I think we do pretty good in the State Retirement, department. We’re rated 9th out of 50, as far a covering our obligations. Now I wish we had a State bank. Right now, we’re paying horrible costs to Bank of America. It comes up in the legislature, every once in awhile, but the banking industry is strong.

    15 minutes to break a rock? Pretty soon you’ll be hiring yourself out. As with the Old Saw Guy and the Old Orchard Guy, you’ll be the go-to Old Rock Guy. 🙂

    Well, they were moving hay, during a drought. No problems with the roads. I haven’t heard of any major road closures, due to the flooding in the SE.

    Was out very early this morning (I know you sympathize) to work in the garden and get a little peace and quiet. LOL. Yeah, sure. The garbage trucks going, “beep, beep, beep” and the groundsmen at the treatment center across the street mowing and edging. Oh, well. Other mornings will be quieter.

    I hung some organic thrip miner traps. Hormone attractors. The thrips think they’re showing up for a party. Maybe they die happy? They’re set up so I can see what’s caught. Supposed to stand up to water and sun, for a season. Got out the BT and sprinkled a bit on my one, lone Brussels sprout. I needed one more tomato cage, for the sprout. Went down the the hardware, last night. Of course, I wanted a blue one. There was one mixed in with a stack of purple ones. I don’t know if you’ve ever wrestled with tomato cages? Patience, patience does the trick.

    There have been deer, seen about. I’m pretty well fenced, but scattered a bit of blood meal around, just for giggles. I have 12 little mounds of corn. I made a quick sketch map of which mounds I planted last years commercial seed in, and which I planted with seed I saved. Will be interesting to see if both perform the same.

    Well, “Gods of Egypt” is waiting for me, at the library. I figure it will be all gods and monsters. Playing fast and loose with Egyptian mythology. Rampant CGI. Review to follow. Lew

  23. Hello again
    Rain is absolutely tipping down at last and I am thrilled. If I wasn’t growing food, I wouldn’t be a bit happy at such rain.
    Finally made bread yesterday; the first time that I had spare energy for the job. I so much prefer my bread to anything that I can buy. Don’t think that others would agree with me as most people seem to like soft bread and mine isn’t. I like to chew.
    Otherwise nothing much to say. Our politics is nauseating fun at present but I’ll keep my detailed opinions to myself.

    Inge

  24. Hi Chris,

    Have you seen the impressive amount of biomass production in the chart?

    Before being confronted with this pretty chart, I was putting forth the hypothesis that, when used for electricity generation, an entire field covered with solar panels may be less productive thermodynamically than if the same field were used for biofuels after accounting for panel manufacturer and raw materials for the panels and fossil fuel inputs (fertilizer) and processing for your biofuels. I can see the argument for panels on otherwise unused building surfaces. Now I know the thermodynamics of biofuels for electricity generation are marginal, but I am yet to be convinced either way. Such a chart just gives you the raw numbers. I will need to look at this in more detail.

  25. Chris,

    I’m used to your mentioning in the text that the observant reader can see something. So I was rather surprised that you missed Moby Rock. Hint: Moby is in 2 photos, one in which the rock is behind you, one in which Moby is in the far distance.

    Glad you liked the pet pterodactyl. I get a lot of mileage with the younger set when I make comments like that or that I was in my teens during the Neocene Era or something.

    Good point. It IS the narrative. When the narrative and reality don’t match, things get very interesting indeed.

    I recently read something about how the Vikings got their start. It was different than the normal scenario. In this one, the Danes were scared of Charlemagne, as the Danes were friendly with the Saxons and their king Widukind. Then Charlemagne slaughtered the Saxons, perhaps for religious reasons. So the Danes began building ships and started raiding northern France and England (which had ties to Charlemagne), knowing that they couldn’t stand up to Charlemagne’s armies. Charlemagne was on a different narrative, thinking that he could simply invade the Danes by land and do unto them what he had done unto the Saxons. It took some fairly large Danish incursions before he got the idea that he needed to defend his coastlines.

    Beavers would dam up any small stream, so that there were ponds all over. This helped keep things a bit cooler, added to the difficulty of some flooding, and assisted with plant growth and fish habitat. I’ve attended a few talks by local Native American elders who talked about their lore regarding the benefits of beavers. Science is starting to catch up with their ideas. Now all that water gets improperly channeled, and more flooding occurs.

    Historically, Spokane cools off at night in the summer, typically between 15C and 20C. After several days above 37C, however, the nights might stay above 22C. For several years, though, any temperature above 35C results in late afternoon clouds that keep in the heat and don’t dissipate until 2:30 a.m. or so. Even though the temperature might spike down to 18C or so, it really doesn’t cool things down.

    I grew up with no air conditioning and know how to cool down a house in our typical summers. However, due to the changes, I had to break down and install a heat pump a few years ago, which also operates as a cooling unit when it’s hot. It’s rated at better than 90% efficiency, so is fairly easy on the energy use and is inexpensive to use. It also works like a champ. With the smoky summers that seem to be prevalent, this has become a necessity, lest we bake in constant 30C temperatures indoors. Note that nowhere did I say that I like having to use it.

    DJSpo

  26. Hi Chris,

    You lived a charmed childhood. On a farm, well out in the sticks, the joys of arcade machines were a rare occurrence during my misspent youth. I did however, get the PC gaming thing figured out. It is amazing how many DOS manuals a 12 year will read to get a Star Wars game working!

    RE: Grand Designs
    It is a fun aspect of the show. I like trying to predict if it is all going to go pear shaped or not. And Kevin likes to stir and troll them during the first half – but then he is always nice at the end, even if it is a disaster. Maybe there is a folly in your near future? Peak Rock keeps getting pushed back, and a stone tower nestled among your ferns will be a sight to behold!

    RE: Chickens
    I have no facts to back up my idea that eggs are traditionally expensive, just noted that in old recipes it was only the special stuff that got eggs which suggested they were a bit rarer, or at least not always available. In your forest, you do have a lot of critters that want to eat chooks. On the old family farm, we weren’t too concerned and there always seemed to be 15+ chickens and a rooster or two running about. As long as we closed the shed at night to protect from foxes, the chickens seemed safe and laid lots of eggs. In Zeehan, I think it was just luck our 3 didn’t get eaten. Quolls, Wedgetails, Foxes and Tassie devils were all in the area and frequently seen or heard.

    We have been away from home the past 4 days, work took me to the east coast (Napier and Hastings) plus a stop-over in Taupo. For those that don’t know, the central area of the North Island is home to a *lot* of geothermal power plants. It is quite common to see thick clouds of steam, bubbling mud and masses of stainless steel pipes across the landscape as you drive about. Mrs Damo and I may have visited a lot of op-shops and used book stores – the regional stores tend to be better priced. We may have got too many books, the back of the car seems to be overflowing. My reading list gets longer 🙂 How are you going with Skystone? Lew and I have finished book 2 and, being the gentlemen we are, are waiting for you to catch up.

    Cheers,
    Damo

  27. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! Rain is good! I spotted an article on our local weather news about the deluge and flooding in your part of the world. Britain is in the middle of a drought – so how come there’s flooding?

    Hope you garden is responding well to the rain? Has it now pooled in the pond? One and a half inches of rain fell here yesterday, and there is even the odd puddle here and there to be seen. Exciting stuff.

    I’m with you about bread. The loaf I normally make was based on a recipe with the title: Crusty Peasant Loaf. And it has never gone wrong, and is a far cry from the soft white bread that people seem to enjoy so much these days. The soft white bread that people seem to like has an apparently very dark backstory as I have read accounts that the loaves were apparently mixed (not baked) and frozen many months beforehand in distant countries. Dunno how I feel about such things.

    I always enjoy your thoughts on local politics. To be honest, we hear very little about the ongoing Brexit saga down here, unless something momentous happens.

    Cheers

    Chris

  28. Hi crowandsheep,

    Conflation. That is basically what is going on with your graph. Graphs are pretty, but they’re like looking at a cartoon and suggesting that the cartoon is an actual representation of reality. Some of the details are breezed over.

    One set of sources produces electricity upon demand, whilst the other awaits upon nature to produce electricity. They can work together, but they’re basically not compatible.

    Biomass – if you consume foodstuffs, no matter how local and organic, and then go and take a dump which ends up in the ocean, well that is a system with no future no matter what it is called.

    Cheers

    Chris

  29. Hi Lewis,

    Everyone’s sinuses could use a bit of clearing from time to time. Wasn’t that some sort of Victorian era treatment, with a specially made ceramic bath thingee, and with salt water? Sounds to me like it would hurt! Ouch! All the stuff behind the couch might be accumulating, along with the mysterious dust bunnies – wherever they come from.

    It was a nice day here today, blue and sunny skies. We’d booked in to go to the dentist for a checkup and clean first thing this morning. Nice to get that out of the way, until next time of course. I’ve been taking it very easy on the work front this week and doing a lot of life’s administrative tasks that needed doing. Still, I placed 1.3 cubic yards of composted woody mulch on a new garden bed (to the rear of the corn enclosure on the same level). And the recently filled steel rock gabion was sewn shut. I reckon at the rate we are extracting rocks from the ground, the other steel rock gabion cage will fill up over the next week or three.

    It is remarkable how fast nature can bounce back from a massive environmental shock like a fire or a volcano. And the ash bed usually provides a mineral rich start to life for the plants that do germinate in it. I might not have mentioned it in a while, but I’m still throwing around two bins worth of coffee grounds per week. Sometimes it is a bit scary to contemplate just how much energy we are using to send such a valuable agricultural product from distant tropical countries into landfill – and I rescue these two bins without fail, but what about all of the other cafes in the big smoke? It is quite frightening to think how incredibly wasteful we are as a society.

    Incidentally, I don’t believe that there are native pheasants down here, but in that area there are populations of lyrebirds – which are one of the great mimics of the bird world. They can reproduce all sorts of sounds.

    Haha! No, not at all with the nursery. They need the money up there as the town looks like a commuter town to me and there are very few businesses up there. The big smoke demands a lot of feeding, and it draws from the rural areas – not that anyone seems to notice.

    I read a great rant in Skystone this morning (whilst waiting at the dentist): “The soldiers of Rome have no loyalty to Rome, Publius. The State has deprived them of too much, and has betrayed their interests and their trust too often. There’s no focus for the soldier’s loyalty, so that when he does find someone in authority with whom he can identify, he will adhere to that man’s cause with total, suicidal devotion.” The author has an excellent sense of history.

    That’s the thing with actors, they have to be able to project different emotions that may not be their own. The thing I wonder about actors is if you had to interact with them and they were good at their art, how would you know what was real and what was acting?

    Hehe! Old Rock guy has a nice sound to it. 🙂 Pity nobody around these parts seems to be interested in the local rocks and how they relate to the land. Back in the day, things were otherwise and one of the great down under proponents of rocks in gardens was: Walling, Edna Margaret (1895–1973). In the more fashionable end of the mountain range her influence can still be seen in many of the hill station gardens.

    Indeed I do sympathise with the early morning and your effort to escape the attentions of the Garden Goddess. Don’t they call that a cacophony? Hey, I made the mistake once of renting a house opposite the car park and loading bay of a small supermarket. A single time mistake that one. The delivery trucks arrived early and late on most days of the year. I was only there about six months. The neighbour, who was to put it mildly – unfriendly – owned the drive to the garage (but not from the garage back). Because it was a very old house, the car couldn’t be parked in the garage (which was closer to the size of a very small shed). So we had running and heated battles about parking the car on the driveway (which he owned but otherwise had no access to). It was very strange. And on street parking was time limited as it was a touristy area during the summer months. Truly bonkers. I do hope that the mornings become quieter for you?

    Not good. Have you noticed any miner activity in your garden patch – or the adjacent patches? All of the Brussels Sprout plants here have been eaten to the ground and I’m unsure whether it was a rabbit, a parrot, or a rat? Dunno. Since the demise of Sir Poopy, there have been incursions. I’m considering getting some dog like a Jack Russel. They’re a bit bigger than Scritchy and quite energetic. Can’t say that I’ve ever seen a tomato cage, but patience usually does the trick. And nice that you scored a blue one!

    What effect does blood and bone have upon deer? Ollie brought back what looks like a dead wallaby leg bone (with leather like paw). He was happily munching upon it in the nice warm winter sun today. After he discarded the bone, I dumped it in the worm farm where they’ll look after it. It was smelling a bit ripe. And one of the Wyandotte chickens looks a bit sick to me and may not survive the next few days. That is four so far this year (I bopped one of them though and I’m not sure that counts), but most years I usually lose about two chickens.

    Hey, I’ll be really interested to learn the outcome of your corn experiment. Are they hybrid varieties or open pollinated? And are you trying the red variety again this year?

    Gods or monsters! Who will win this ultimate fight to the, I dunno, logical conclusion? 🙂 Maybe they might make friends, or decide that the battle is not worth the effort? Hope you enjoy the DVD. I’m getting closer to the end of Skystone. It’s a good read and hard to put down. Alas work needs to be done…

    Cheers

    Chris

  30. Hi DJ,

    I believe that you are correct and I bow to your superior observational skills. Moby rock is one tough and gnarly rock.

    The mileage is because your joke is actually funny. It is nice to be able to wheel out a witty line on cue. Sometimes they come to mind hours after the fact, but I reckon waste not want not and all that because it can be used next time. 🙂

    Yeah, the narrative is a really interesting issue. Hmm. I’m also feeling that there is often a form of conflation going on. You see that with discussion relating to energy all of the time. For example, say Oil is A, and Electricity is B. They’re both energy sources, so in people’s heads there is a story that energy can do whatever, so A must be the same as B, when it has unique properties all of its own. But all the same, the narrative gets conflated and that is where it gets interesting.

    Exactly, not all goals are the same, even when they look sort of similar – like your fine example. As far as I understand history, and from what Lewis has informed me over the years, the Romans were not much good on water.

    The beaver story is very common across the landscape. You may notice that I get every drop of water that falls from the sky (that I can’t store and use), back into the ground where it belongs. Are the Native American elders getting any traction to have a go at trialling such techniques? I’ve read about more working examples of fire-stick land management techniques being used down under over the past few years.

    Your weather is remarkably similar to here. Mind you, if it is hot overnight here, then in the big smoke it is a scorcher – unless they enjoy an offshore breeze that doesn’t make it that far inland.

    No worries at all. I built the house here to withstand really intensely hot summers, with all that brings. I could have done better given what I’ve learned over the years, but you know it mostly works. The inside of the house can eventually reach 29’C on a really hot day (44’C in the shade) or a series of hot days. Unless you are living underground, the sun and air temperature will eventually change the inside temperature. Sometimes I just head outdoors on such days so as to acclimate my body to much hotter temperatures so when I retreat back inside, it feels much cooler than it is.

    I feel that mechanical heating and cooling will be one of those things that would shock people if it were not available.

    Cheers

    Chris

  31. Hi Damo,

    Ah, yes, the pleasures of the big smoke. I feel it necessary at this point to mention the ubiquitous fish and chip shop, where back in the day a potato cake cost ten cents and a dollar bought you a huge packet of freshly fried chips, which I’d generally smother in salt and white vinegar. Yum! But arcade games in those days cost twenty cents a go.

    What do they say about necessity being the mother of invention? Was the Star Wars game some sort of MAME ROM emulator? Use the force Damo! Hehe! Some of those old DOS games were great. I used to be a huge fan of the Ultima series of D&D games where you’d have to battle monsters for hours at a go because it had no save functions at certain points in the game…

    Yeah, I reckon Kevin has that technique down pat too. And I suspect that since he has had a dose of his own medicine with building, like you say he’s been far cheekier initially, and then far more empathetic towards the conclusion. I mean it is a hard process, but plenty of people make it harder than it need be. And whenever I hear the words: “we’ll save money by project managing it ourselves”, you know there are money issues (which would be a safe bet anyway, don’t you reckon?)

    I’m looking forward to seeing this stone folly that you intend to build in the fern gully! 🙂 Meanwhile, I intend to keep planting ferns in there – and maybe a seedling walnut tree in the underground water course near to that location. 😉 But I’ll plant another seedling walnut tree not too far away in a drier spot as a control for the experiment.

    Mate, your observation about the eggs sounds spot on to me. The sort of large scale poultry operations that operate now might be a fairly recent thing, but I don’t really know. Keeping the air moving in such a place would be an interesting problem to deal with. It is a bit like a crane that picks up steel using a strong electro-magnet, it is kind of important to ensure that the system doesn’t fail.

    My money would have been on the Quolls from what I understand of their behaviour.

    Thanks for the update on your travels in the north island. I’m always curious to hear how it is going. You two are redoubtable gentlemen to wait for such a slow poke reader as I. Appreciate that. 🙂 Almost finished the first book. There has to be a bigger Skystone in the lake is what my gut feel tells me.

    Cheers

    Chris

  32. Chris:

    One wonders if Ollie’s wallaby leg didn’t come from a wallaby that ate a cactus . . .

    Pam

  33. Hi Pam,

    Well that is a different take on the matter. Hmm, I’d have to suggest that if your supposition is correct, the wallaby may not be able to attempt to consume cactus anytime soon.

    It is raining again outside right now. After the rain yesterday, the large reserve water tank is now about 40% full. If it becomes full within the next four weeks, unfortunately, I don’t have enough surplus electricity to be able to pump the water elsewhere to other smaller water tanks. Oh well.

    Cheers

    Chris

  34. Hello again
    Thanks for indicating the article in weather news. You queried earlier whether July is our warmest month. My instinct said August but I note that it can be either. It is so cold and windy today that my hands felt icy on my walk up to check if I had any post.
    The pond is full of water again and I still only need to water the tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses, though it is not raining at the moment.
    They are going to start adding folic acid to our flour which doesn’t worry me but I wish that I could get yeast which hasn’t endless additions. Bought bread has all sorts of additions.

    Inge

  35. Hello again
    At the moment, the conservatives are voting for their next prime minister. I think that there were 13 applicants! That went down to 10 and the first vote today, has reduced it to 7, the only 2 women are out now. Boris Johnson is way in the lead.

    Inge

  36. Yo, Chris – I keep a little squirt bottle of saline spray in the medicine cabinet. Comes in handy when my constant nasal drip gets out of hand. Also, great for the occasional, inconvenient nose bleed. I discovered that the adult stuff is ghastly, but the stuff from the baby section is quit tolerable.

    Well, it hit 93F (33.88C), yesterday. Everything did fairly well. When I went out to water, this morning, the only thing that looked slightly heat stressed was the Jerusalem artichoke. It’s supposed to cool down, over the next few days.

    Chris takes it easy. Throws around a few yards of mulch :-).

    Well, I’m glad the gablons are about full. Now you can start constructing the folly tower, in the fern gully.

    Yes, after awhile, the support of the army went to the highest bidder. And, the money better not run out. I think it was during the year of the four emperors, that the position was actually auctioned off, in front of the Praetorian Barracks. Which were recently re-discovered, in Rome, during subway construction.

    Walling sounds like quit a fascinating character. I’ll have to look up her Bickleigh Vale village. By the by, I was reading in Horwitz’s book last night, and he was joined for part of the trip by a friend he made through his wife, in Australia. You’ve probably heard of him. Andrew Denton. Media figure and advocate for end of life options. Horwitz was a bit dubious about dragging Mr. Denton (who is a fairly fastidious fellow) through the back roads of the rural south. The funniest parts of the book, so far. I laughed out loud, a few times. And, I’m not given to that type of behavior.

    I remember seeing the leaf miner damage to other people’s beets, last year. Didn’t really know what was going on, until I planted mine, this year. You probably call tomato cages, something else, in Australia. As you are wont to do 🙂 Here you go ..

    http://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Plant-Support-Tomato-Cages/Plant-Cage/N-5yc1vZcib4Z1z0rvs4

    They come in handy for all kinds of plants. Sprouts, tomitillo, etc.. My tiny little sprout plant looks quit lost in it’s big cage. But I know what’s coming … Blood meal is supposed to be a deer deterrent. Really depends on how finicky the deer is. It’s like crystals. Has to be frequently reapplied, and if made wet, looks like a crime scene. But, it’s high in nitrogen, so, good for the soil. Bone meal is just a nice organic phosphorous booster. 6-8-0.

    I’m growing the heirloom Jimmy Red corn, again, this year. By the way, the book a mentioned a couple of weeks ago, “Beautiful Corn” was quit good. On my list of books to buy. Everything from history to cultivation. Pests. Even a few recipes, thrown in. Fairly good illustrations. A bit “deep science” in parts. It’s written by some folks who have a big organic farm, south of Portland, Oregon. They’ve grown corn, for years, so know what they’re about.

    “Gods of Egypt” was pretty good. Pomp and splendor. Rampant CGI. Kind of “Thief of Bagdad.” Ra’s solar boat was pretty cool. One of the goddesses trucked around in a flying boat, powered by flocks of tethered birds. Lots of battle scenes and one-on-one fights. Worth a bowl of popcorn or half a quart of ice cream :-).

    Oh, I almost forgot. Saw and article that bird flu is in California. Got into a commercial turkey farm. Backyard flocks were culled. Urban farmers have their flocks in lock down, hoping that the plague will pass them by. Lew

  37. @ Pam,

    That was a wonderful comment about Ollie’s wallaby leg! I’m still chuckling 10 minutes after reading it.

    DJSpo

  38. Chris,

    I’m giving credit more to my fixation on the Moby Rock than on normal observational skills. Moby almost jumps out of the ground whenever it’s in a picture. Get your rock harpoons sharpened and at the ready!

    That is one of the better jokes I’ve come up with. I remember when I started there 27 years ago. The guys who were in their late 50s and older really wouldn’t talk to the newbies unless it was strictly work related. Until the recent hiring frenzy of the past 4 weeks, I’ve been able to talk with each of the younger crowd several times. It makes it easier to make the joke, which helps lighten the mood, and it also seems to be helping them to have one of the older set treating them like people. Several of them know that if they have questions about anything, they can ask me, as they feel comfortable around at least one of the older crowd. Since I’m not a manager, they seem to understand that if I “correct” something we’ve worked on together, it is purely for educational purposes and can have no bearing on how their performance is viewed. It seems to work.

    Great point! Energy A is NOT the same as Energy B.

    Alas, no traction is being made regarding beavers. What’s interesting is that many early settlers would build small “spreader” dams that served a similar purpose, but that can’t be done due to “water rights” laws and other stream and wetland regulations. As you’ve picked up from Cliff Mass, at least some of the traditional Native forest management ideas ARE getting a footing. Small steps…

    34C here today, the hottest day so far. Another feature of climate change decided to reappear with the heat: it never used to be windy at this temperature. Today has seen sustained 25 km/hour winds with gusts to about 40 km/hour. It is rather miserably dry.

    My wife went to the shopping mall this afternoon. The air conditioning was broken and it was miserably hot inside there. As you mentioned, the shock when mechanical heating and cooling are not available is real. I try to make a point out of spending at least a few minutes outside in the heat. Like you, even if it’s warm indoors, the indoors will feel cooler than the hot outside.

    We’ve been enjoying kale from the container gardens for a week now. Some of the chard has gotten big enough to add to salads with the kale, too. The 7.5cm of compost I added to the containers has drastically improved the germination rates and the yields in the containers.

    DJSpo

  39. I was a big Dig Dugger at the arcade in my day too. I hadn’t thought of that game for a long, long time. What a hoot.

    I have to say I’ve been regularly reading and enjoying your post for several years now but I’ve not been good at making comments. Thoroughly look forward to your weekly missives though.

    I share your concerns about the criminalization and prosecution of whistleblowers and journalists, and was particularly bummed to read about your government raiding your network’s offices because it means the insanity that’s been growing in the US is spreading. (Without Assange we wouldn’t know about [fill in the blank/it’s so much calamity it’s depressing] but Americans mostly don’t seem to care.). Reporter Chris Hedges on truthdig.com has a recent article in support of Assange.

    But no matter what’s going on in politics the rocks still need to be gathered and arranged. Which is something I worked on a bit this week too: arranged some rocks in crescents around some of my figs to collect some solar heat to help keep them warm at night.

  40. Hi Inge,

    I’d be curious as to your thoughts on the matter of your politics, but didn’t your former Prime Minister take a public stance on ‘stay’ in relation to Brexit, and don’t you think that there may be at very least a perception that the former Prime Minister had a conflict of interest by being put in charge of the Brexit negotiations? The choice seemed odd to me. Ah, Boris appears to have read Classics at Oxford. Fascinating, I wonder if he can place the current leadership shenanigans in an historical context? Such an education should be at least useful for something! 🙂

    Same here with the warmest month being either January (your July) or February (your August), but as you quite correctly point out, it depends. We’re probably enjoying the same weather! Today, the rain was fine and misty and very cold, and it almost felt like snow – but was too warm to form snowfall.

    How good is that? The pond has gone from empty to full in no time at all. The recent rains here are beginning to fill up all of the water tanks. Even the large reserve water tank is now at 40% full. To think two months ago we had almost run out of water…

    Yes, well, flour is not what it once was. I’ve experimented in bread making with really high quality organic and biodynamic wheat flours and they’re a delicious off white (and very creamy colour) and the taste is good, but the texture is nothing like what people are used too – it is much closer to the sort of bread that you and I enjoy. I don’t believe that the majority of the population would like such bread.

    Instead of yeast, you can always capture some wild yeasts and begin your own starter culture. I’ve had to restart my yoghurt culture all over again from scratch, and it is really good. But I also kept some aside in the freezer as a backup – just in case. You may have some very tasty wild yeasts in your part of the world, especially given how old your forests are. Look for old apple trees or long established potato fields and try and sample some of the skins of such produce.

    Cheers

    Chris

  41. Hi Lewis,

    Saline spray is a useful item, and I noticed a reference in “The Skystone” about Varrus liberally heaping salt onto a dish. You’ve mentioned in the past that at times the Roman legions were paid in salt. I’ll note that in the book, and you and Damo are far ahead of my slow poke reading efforts, that the characters are expressing a disdain for the ‘mobs’ of Rome. I’d have to suggest that such stated beliefs are not an endorsement of the fine and upstanding citizens of that time and place. 😉 Hey, did I not say that the Skystone would be found in the lake? I called it… Of course I have the experience of reading about and seeing for my very own eyes, a lake (Lake Elizabeth) formed in the Otway mountain ranges to the south west of here that dammed up a creek, and then filled up with water, after a major landslip. The water tanks are filling up with the recent rains. It is amazing to watch the speed at which it is happening. The massive overflow storage water tank is now 40% full.

    Yeah! People have told me that Jerusalem artichokes are extraordinarily invasive plants, but then I’ve never seen that in practice. They get out-competed. They suffer during the sort of hot spells that you are experiencing. And sometimes they just don’t produce flowers. I don’t get it at all. Hope it cools down soon for you. It almost felt like snow weather today.

    Hehe! Mate, I have worked too hard of late, but this week I slowed down and took stock of what was going on. I’ve made one or two mistakes of late and had to have a bit of introspection about why it happened and then work out what to do about it going forward. Mental tools can be added too, and the editor and I had a long and free-ranging discussion today about what to do about it all. Sometimes things go wrong despite the very best of intentions, and it is at such times you sort of have to nip things in the bud before they escalate too much and move on. Our society loves nothing better than escalation, but I’m vaguely uncomfortable with that reaction because it is not the reaction of long term relationships – which we’re all enmeshed in whether we like it or not. Little wonder that people run a mile from community, despite their big talk.

    Haha! I tried talking Damo into constructing the folly in the fern gully, but everyone is dodging me. What to do? I’ll hopefully plant some additional ferns in the fern gully tomorrow. Was going to do it today, but I ended up getting side tracked with work.

    News from your part of the world. Nirvana’s first album was released three decades ago. Incidentally, if you find my lost youth behind the couch, or even under the stairs, please let me know! 🙂 For a while there, your part of the world went full on crazy in the music scene.

    Ah, the story spoke about what a devil’s bargain the Praetorian Guard made when they supported Constantine the Great, but I see now that history was otherwise and Constantine smashed them. Gee, that lot really wielded political influence with a sledgehammer.

    Walling is a fascinating character. Haha! Cool, I hadn’t heard of that. Andrew Denton is a well known public figure down here. He seems like a very intelligent bloke and an exceptionally good interviewer. Such folks are rare and interviews can become almost like conversations between friends – or lead the interviewee to reveal disclosures or insights. Hmm, I can see the fastidious thing.

    The tomato cages are really interesting. The plants do spread so the cages are a good idea. I did the experiment one year and left off any supports, and it was a total disaster – the tomato plants crept everywhere and I couldn’t stand in the tomato enclosure without squashing fruit. I grow too many tomato plants for such structures that you use, and instead have two mesh fences that they can climb up.

    Thanks for the information on blood and bone, and deer (which I fence out of the vegetable beds). The deer are a particular problem for me in the orchard where for some reason the stags take the bark off apple trees. They drive me bonkers and thus Ollie has a job to keep him busy. Interesting, the soils here are very deficient in phosphorus.

    How good is a book written by people who have real world experience? I enjoyed I believe it may have been yours or Margaret’s reference of Gene Logsdon’s book: “Small scale grain growing”. Great stuff to read the thoughts of a person who has been in the field. And the authors are from your part of the world.

    By all accounts a nice use of CGI! 🙂 Glad that you enjoyed the popcorn and ice cream!

    It is a real problem. We have a duck and chicken farm at the bottom of the mountain range, and I recall when the quarantine folks shut one of the farms down. It was an ugly business and by sheer chance I spoke to the guy who had to operate the excavator which was used to bury the culled birds. Interestingly, they sell manure at the farm gate, and I’ve never been inclined to purchase any. It is probably fine and I’m being over cautious, but I just don’t know. I have a suspicion that the chickens get bird flu which spreads from wild bird stocks which they are in contact with. It happens. Occasionally a sick chicken will recover, but it is by no means guaranteed and usually it is terminal.

    Cheers

    Chris

  42. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! The rock is big! Too big for me to deal too, sometimes it is wise to know when to quit. Harpoon’s ready and poised Captain!

    It is a great joke, and yeah it is nice to be able to speak with people of all sorts of walks of life. Some people get stuck into an echo chamber where they only speak with people who they perceive as their social peers. Not sure that is a good thing to be stuck in such a place as it works as a feedback loop. And absolutely, there are ways to dish up criticism that don’t annoy people, but then I’d have to suggest that diplomacy is a lost art these days. And good grace is even rarer these days.

    Of course, hadn’t considered that part of the story. The reintroduction of beavers adds an unpredictable element into an environment, and I have a suspicion that us humans try to simplify natural systems instead. Fire-stick farming is slowly making some ground down here, but I use the self propelled mower to replicate the same arrangement, if only because the neighbours will get less upset. Exactly, baby steps if only because it took a long time to get to where we are today.

    That sure does sound like hot and dry weather. And chuck the wind in for good measure. Adaption is at least a cheap option that can be readily achieved. I’m surprised that the mall wasn’t shut, because it is not as if such buildings can open the windows and let some fresh, albeit hot air in. Ouch!

    Nice stuff with the compost. Hey, given you use containers to grow plants, have you ever noticed how soil drops as it gets converted into plants? It is quite a fascinating thing to watch that process in action, and that gives an interesting perspective on the benefits of recycling via compost! Picked up another half a cubic metre of the stuff today and will hopefully avoid the curse of this place (bringing back too much organic matter – eyes bigger than stomach and all that gear) and get it placed down tomorrow.

    Cheers

    Chris

  43. Hi David G,

    How much fun was dropping the rocks on a monsters head! 🙂 I’m pretty sure I couldn’t lift Moby Rock!

    Glad you are enjoying the ride and I appreciate hearing from you, and also appreciate your voice and thoughts. I learn a lot from the commenters too, and without them, I’d be talking into the air.

    Mate, I keep a very low profile, but I really do worry about the persecution of such folks. It is healthy for a society to own up to some solid self reflection, but instead such folks who are doing us a favour, get treated like political prisoners. Thanks for the reference and I’ll have a look.

    Exactly too. Before enlightenment, chop wood and fetch water. Nice one with the figs and the rocks.

    Cheers

    Chris

  44. Good afternoon Chris (and everyone)

    Falling behind with the conversations as ever, but I have been fascinated by the tale of Moby Rock.

    I put it in terms of a Viking saga, and knicknames: would you, as the hero of the tale be ‘Chris Rock-Breaker, or -horrible thought – ‘Chris Broken-Drill’?

    But the result is perhaps the best of all possible outcomes: ‘Chris Limit-Respecter’. Or ‘The Wiser’.

    Chris is perhaps not a very Viking-sounding name, unless in a Monty Python film, but you could always change and the Editor would have to get used to calling you ‘Ragnar ‘ or some such bearded and terrifying thing. 🙂

    Nothing like coming up against a damn big obstacle is there?

    When we hear the laughter of the gods, we know we’ve had an opportunity to learn something. That’s how I justify every mess I get into.

    Ollie is a damn fine dog!

    All the best

    Xabier

  45. PS If you have a spare moment and fancy a dog-related laugh, look up pictures of the ‘Pachon Navarro’, the traditional big hunting dog from our part of Spain -wild boar that sort of thing. The dog with a split-nose. 🙂 If I move there in due course, one of them is on my shopping list.

  46. Hello again
    Oh dear, one could write pages on our politics here. May was a remainer but claimed to be going for Brexit as that was what had been voted for. She produced a deal which was worse than Brexit. This after saying ‘a bad deal is worse than no deal’. she took no deal off the table and thus was weaponless and pleading. Pleading never works anywhere. She should have gone for no deal and left Europe to do the pleading. I feel very sorry for businesses that have had 3 years of not knowing what will happen. How on earth can one plan that way? Even given a result that one dislikes, one at least knows where one stands.

    I assume that yeast obtained that way is what is called a mother and it would have to be tended to keep it alive?
    It is supposed to start warming up, I have had to put heating on when I get up in the morning and the cold nights and some days have held back growth.

    Inge

  47. Yo, Chris – Got a bit of whiplash, from our weather. AT 3pm, yesterday afternoon, it was 77F (25C) and by 10pm, had dropped to 55F (12.77C). Wind gusts to 20mph. Actually had to put on a light coat, when sitting out with my neighbor. Looks like we got a bit of rain, overnight. Cliff Mass put up a post, yesterday, explaining all. Including DJ’s weather, over on the dry side.

    Oh, I figured it was in the lake. :-). Varrus (and the reader) just got distracted and fixated on those smaller strikes, further up the side of the valley. Doesn’t the valley seem like a nice place to run away to?

    My Jerusalem artichokes didn’t flower, last year. Some of this years bunch is from undisturbed root from last year. We’ll see if I get any flowers.

    Well, if you turn out a few tomato cages (for whatever use), with your handy dandy welder, I’d suggest welding the upright wire to the inside of the hoops. Seems like all the cages I see here, weld on the outside. So, when you occasionally have to spread the bottom prongs, the welds pop. Boooo!

    Wood ash has a bit of phosphorous in it. Along with other good things. But the Master Gardeners advised I go light with it. Wood ash + rain = lye?

    I watched the new Mary Poppins movie, last night. Not something I would have watched as a matter of course, but it was on the “Lucky Day”, DVD shelf. Not bad, but I did fast forward through most of the musical numbers. Except the one on the importance of reading. The bottom line of the whole thing was the importance and magic of compound savings interest.

    Walling’s Bicleigh Vale village reminded me of a planned bit of community, down in Portland, called “Ladd’s Addition.” From the early 1900s. A suburban streetcar neighborhood. Portland had a lot of those. I suppose, other cities, too. They’d run a street car line to some distant point, and neighborhoods and small commercial districts would spring up, along the way. A lot of fortunes made, that way. Buy the land, lay a line and wait for the money to come rolling in.

    I picked a quart bag of strawberries, yesterday. Safely tucked in the freezer. There’s quit a patch, back of the Institution. I was unaware of them, last year. I figure, like the blueberries, if I pick from the back, and upslope, about every 3 days, I shouldn’t get much flack. With luck, by the end of the season, I should have 2 or 3 gallons, put by. I thought about putting some in my patch, but decided for the amount of space they take up vs yield, best not do it.

    I checked two garden stores, and the seed potatoes have already disappeared. I wanted to replant the blue ones, that didn’t come up. But, I had a brain storm and found a couple in the organic produce section, at Safeway. They went in, this morning. Of course, I found a sprout from (maybe) the potatoes I originally put in. Left it alone. A bit of diversity, can’t hurt.

    Ran a young squirrel, out of another strawberry patch, and commenced to weed. Not one of my favorite tasks, but one must bite the bullet. We have some kind of grass like thing, that will take over if not nipped in the bud. The soil was just damp enough that they came out, fairly easily. Some areas I could go at with a trowel, others, I had to use a teaspoon to do surgical strikes, when they were lurking close to new plantings. Lew

  48. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the mention of Cliff’s blog regarding Thursday’s wind. That was an interesting read.

    DJSpo

  49. Chris,

    Yes, I’ve found that talking with people from different backgrounds is rewarding. Remaining in that echo chamber of a box tends to keep me short-sighted. Our clerical supervisor and I grew up totally differently, she’s young enough to be my daughter, we have radically different views on politics and religion, but by talking we were able to set the barriers that are able to keep us working together. We are able to be allies on different things as a result. Why? The honest communication allowed us to view the other with respect, rather than as one of “them”.

    Oh yes, having a lot of beavers would totally add chaos and complexity to the water systems! Methinks that people want to simplify to the point of the simplification being detrimental. And doesn’t simplifying some things to that point, rather than allowing a natural process to do its thing, leave humans with a false feeling of being in control?

    It WAS hot and dry yesterday. According to the Cliff Mass blog about the event, it looks like the humidity here was 25% give or take. That is VERY dry for the middle of June, although I’ve seen humidity as low as 8% during the nastiest hot spells in July and August each of the past few years. The wind is just sucking the moisture out of everything. About 3C cooler today, but the wind is still there but without the nasty gusts.

    Close the mall? Surely you jest! “Anything for a buck!” appears to be the true national motto. Closing the mall for something as mundane as human health and welfare would violate the national religion of making money.

    Nice point about the lessening of the soil in the containers. A portion of it might be due to settling and compaction, but a large amount of it probably is due to the conversion into plants. I see the same thing to a lesser degree in the raised beds.

    The compost heap is fun to watch. I’ve been weeding my vegetable and flower beds. Meaning getting the $#@^ grass out of them. The grass gets added to the heap. Banana and orange peels, tea bags, coffee grounds, all of that type of thing gets added too. The heap sort of slowly meanders about its business if it is only grass and leaves. Adding in all the fresh fruit and vegetable parts really turns it alive. Add in watermelon and cantaloupe rinds and the compost heap almost starts to dance. I’ve only got one bag of leaves left now, as 4 of the bags that weren’t dug into the raised beds got added to the heap. All the grass and leaves except what I’ve added in the past 2 weeks have turned into good compost. Mixing the fruit and veggie parts into the grass and leaves and also mixing in some of the lower layers of good compost – wow! That was a new experiment this season and what a difference it’s making.

    DJSpo

  50. @ Lew
    The red squirrels here don’t eat strawberries, they just sniff them which is fun to watch.

    Inge

    Hello again
    My Jerusalem artichokes rarely flower. This doesn’t matter as they spread out from any roots left behind and wow do they spread if there is room for them to do so.

    Inge

  51. Hi Chris,
    Not too much of interest to report here. We continue to be somewhat below normal temperature wise and every few days get some rain but not too much. Finally got to harvest some lettuce. The meat chickens have been out in the chicken tractor for about a week and so far, so good. I’ve staked out an area for another garden bed in an area that gets sun almost all day. Right now plants are all over, not very efficient, taking advantage of the various areas of mostly full sun. I’m going to start some broccoli plants to set out in July and plant kale, other greens and turnips for the fall.

    Lew mentioned tomato cages. Well I got rid of all of mine when we moved. I’ve always staked the tomatoes and used a cage and still they sometimes fall over. A friend of mine who had a huge market garden gave me some of his very sturdy cages though they were kind of rusting out the last few years and I don’t even have those. However I don’t have that many plants and don’t intend to in the future. Another friend with a market garden will sell excess tomatoes at 50 cents/lb so I’ll get some for canning from her.

    My digestive system is much happier without gluten but I’ve found a vendor at the farmer’s market who sells traditionally fermented bread that I can eat. I would make my own but I just don’t eat enough of it. I can buy a loaf and slice it and freeze it and it works out just fine.

    Margaret

  52. @ Xabier – Poor dog looks like he’s been hit with an ax! :-). Or, smelled something REALLY bad. They do carry themselves, well. Lew

  53. @ DJSpo – I really like Prof. Mass’s blog. A bit Seattle-centric, a bit over the top on the ski reports, but generally, more value than dross. And, every once in awhile, he’ll throw in something that just explains a weather phenomenon.

    Tales from the Mall. I think I’ve worked in something, like seven different malls, in my life. When I worked in the Capitol Mall, in Olympia, and commuted to Centralia, To close for weather, or not, was always a fraught issue. Turns out, each store in the mall had a different lease. Some of the leases said we could close, if 50% of the stores wanted to close. And, then depending on the store, it could go as high as 90%. So, by the time the management had dithered and polled the stores, it was the regular closing time, anyway. Twice I ended up driving home in white outs. Good times! Lew

  54. Yo, Chris – No probs. You missed your hiatus, this week, anyway. So you’ve got comp time, to use up :-).

    Mostly movie news, today. Our report from Hollywood :-). There’s talk about that there is to be a “Gladiator 2.” Story picks up 25 years later. Our hero is ripped from Elysium and sent back to earth by the gods, to fight Christianity. Or, something. Still in the talking stages, so, with luck, the thing will never be made.

    I noticed a new (?) zombie movie on the library “new” list, yesterday. “Dawning of the Dead.” Looks like it was a straight to DVD, production. I looked around online, and there’s not much information. Other than the release date is given as 2014, 2016, or 2017. Take your pick. The Rotten Tomatoes critic website says it’s ok to take a peek, if you’re desperate for zombie content. Internet Movie Data Base lists FIVE directors. Well, I put it on my hold list, so it ought to show up in a month or two. Where, oh, where is Anna?

    The new “Men in Black” and “The Dead Don’t Die” continue to be panned, in the media. Even Atlantic magazine took pot shots, at both. Will still watch both, on DVD, well fortified with popcorn or ice cream.

    Leaving Hollywood, we’ll head for suburbia. Saw two articles this week (though I think they were both referencing one study) about McMansions. People are happy with their McMansions, until someone moves into the neighborhood and builds one bigger. Then they are unhappy. Fancy that. There was a bit of tooth gnashing over “the break down of the family.” Members off in their own wings, doing their own thing, and not having much contact.

    One hears stories about teenagers with a boy or girlfriend, stashed in a closet, for months. Or wild animals. Maybe whole punk rock bands. Inappropriate wild animals, are also popular.

    Moving along to the garden, one of my potato patches, flourishes, while the other pokes along. Who knows why? I swear, the robust patch doubled it’s foliage, in one day. I had to beat back one side of it, to give the pumpkins room. Speaking of which, I had to put down four pumpkin sprouts, this morning. One to a hill. Culling is always a trauma. Next, I need to thin the beets and carrots. That will be a grim day in the garden. Lew

  55. Hi Xabier,

    The Pachon Navarro appears to have a nose that points in two different directions! A fine feat. They’re an interesting dog and look like a pointer, and are a bit in danger of the breed dying out. Incidentally, part of Ollie’s mix is the German Shorthaired Pointer, among other breeds.

    Thanks, and these limit things are a bit of a hassle, whilst also being hard to get around. 😉

    Like the name, it sounds positively scary. An occasionally useful trait.

    What do they say about, to err, is to be human? Mate, if I didn’t make heaps of mistakes, I wouldn’t learn anything at all. Or that might be the case if all us weren’t doing anything new at all.

    Cheers

    Chris

  56. Hi Inge,

    Exactly! A bad deal being worse than no deal at all sounds very much like a dubious claim. I mean the powers that be could have angled for a good deal, or even a middling deal where nobody is happy. Or just rolled the dice and said “what the heck, let’s see what happens”. I have a suspicion that things were done the way they were done as a delaying tactic.

    I tend to agree with you in that pleading does not work. I feel that this may be the case due to the sort of shifty double speak that has been practiced on the population for a lot of years now. Ideas and policies have to be sold, even if the benefits and costs are self-evident which in itself is a big call. People can make choices that are not in their self-interest’s if it can be shown that there are other benefits to be had other than self-interest. But most policies are directed at self-interest, but it isn’t the only game in town.

    Businesses do spruik the idea of having certainty in the environment they operate in, but then at the same time I see a lot of policies getting pushed that benefit some businesses at the cost of other businesses. I can’t really speak for your part of the world, but here there is no common vision or goals and often the loudest voice gets listened to.

    Yes, the yeast culture would have to be continuously fed, unless you froze it and added the fungi to the bread mix as you made new loaves. The sour dough fermentation process is a lot slower than using bakers yeast.

    The Jerusalem artichokes are such a funny plant, because my lot don’t often flower either, and yet they don’t quite manage to die off either. The problem I have with them is that I planted bluebell corms in the same garden beds as the Jerusalem artichokes, and well I sort of don’t rightly know which is which. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Do you have any advice for me – other than ‘don’t do it, again’?

    Cheers

    Chris

  57. Hi DJ,

    Mate, that is almost perfect. If you aren’t aware of the needs and motivations of other ages and classes within the community that we all live, how would anyone be expected to know when they’re going to march on your area with pitchforks in hand? Plus, we can all learn something by speaking outside our echo-chambers! 🙂

    Control, I ain’t arguing with you about that, as I entirely agree. Control over nature is a dangerous illusion. I have to live with the risk of serious wildfire, and you know I look at the forest and ask what does it have to say about such matters? There is a canoe tree here which predates European settlement, but at one point a fire (1851, 1939 or 1983) has burned the core of the tree (not too much of a problem for Eucalyptus Obliqua) and the charcoal scarring of the fire is a reminder that things can change.

    Ouch! I’ve seen humidity dip down into the single digit range too, and it is not a good thing and an extraordinarily dangerous day (or series of days). Thanks for the heads up and I’ll check out the most excellent blog.

    Sometimes people can experience thick chunks of paper with complicated terms and conditions, and then have them used to beat you over the head with. And the mall shop holder folk probably faced such a dilemma. I’m not really down with such practices as it appears a bit predatory to me.

    Absolutely, soil settles and the soil critters convert larger chunks of organic matter into much finer particles that they can deal with and trade with the plants for sugars, which the plants harvest using the energy from the sun. It is a complicated dance, but if the cycle is not completed – fully – then sooner or later it comes unstuck and then shifts into a new state of equilibrium.

    Top work with the compost, and it is music to my ears! Yup, diversity of inputs is exactly what compost needs, as well as a bit of moisture when things get too dry. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  58. Hi Margaret,

    There is not too much to report here either. The past few days have been unseasonably warm and sunny, and that is good for the house batteries, and I can also see that sap is rising in the many fruit trees as they are sporting new (but deciduous) growth. All good things end and it looks like tomorrow may be the last of these sorts of fine winter days.

    I’ll put a photo on tomorrow’s blog, because our lettuce might be at the same point that yours is at. 🙂 I did an experiment of sown garden beds versus seedling transplanted garden beds, and the sown garden beds won hands down. Even with the hot and dry summer that was just experienced.

    It is really hard to get to know the land that you live on, and areas that receive sun for the majority of the day are special places. Staking the area out is a great idea. Hey, I forget what things were like in previous years, and it is maybe time to sort out a proper garden diary? Have you ever used such a tool?

    With friends like those, you probably don’t have to grow an entire year’s worth of tomatoes! 🙂 I was quite amazed at how cheap the tomatoes were for purchase from your friend. Just for your interest, I tend to run two plastic trellis lines either side of the row of tomato plants, and that seems to keep them happy. The plants grow up and obtain support from the plastic trellis.

    Exactly! Yeah, I reckon that properly slow fermented sour dough (or naturally slow fermented) bread eliminates 90% of the problems for people who suffer from less than life threatening side effects of the products of bread wheat. It is complicated because it is such a slow process to rise that sort of loaf – especially in winter – and people don’t appear to want to pay for the final product. Have you ever used a sour dough culture?

    Cheers

    Chris

  59. Hi Lewis,

    The recent Cliff Mass essay on the weather in your part of the world was quite a scary read for folks who are occasionally subjected to high fire risk weather. And the winds, combined with the low humidity in the east was a bit of a worry.

    The lake was the obvious spot for the Skystone. It is funny that Caius continues his support for the exploration, but then expresses serious doubt as to how stones could fall from the sky. I was a bit dubious about that side of the story, because surely the Roman’s would have encountered shooting stars or comets before? I find it hard to believe that they never looked up into the sky one cold winters night and noticed just how many chunks of stars were falling from the sky?

    Anyway, as I was reading the story, I came across the minor side story of the two identical twin Roman shipping magnates: Terra and Firma. I spotted this article which has eerie similarities to that fictional time: Oil tanker explosions prompt Saudi call for decisive action to secure Gulf of Oman energy supplies. I can’t imagine that there are spare tankers just hanging around on the off chance that they’re needed, and so somebody, somewhere has taken a hit for that bit of mischief.

    The saddest thing that I read in the newspaper today was: Anarchy among anarchists as anti-capitalist clubhouse listed for sale. I used to live around the corner from that clubhouse, and it was not lost on me that huge apartment buildings were constructed on either side of the original building. It wasn’t always that way. I’ll try and get a photo of the building before it is demolished.

    A valley with fertile soil and a lake would be a very defensible location, and Varrus seems rather smitten at this point in the story with Luceiia (ignoring chapters 3 and 4!) so he may just want some quiet time? There seemed to be little concern for the poor folks living downstream of the drained lake, but I may be overly sensitive! 🙂

    Jerusalem artichokes are a strange plant and I seriously doubt that they flower every year in the sort of conditions that you, I and Inge face. I just don’t see it. Sunflowers, may need more sun?

    Ouch, yes the wire should be on the inside so as to avoid such outcomes. For such fine work with the welder, I’d probably have to get smaller diameter sticks (flux and solder). I probably should do that anyway.

    I don’t know about the lye (wood ash and rain) being such a problem for the seeds in the ground. It may also act as a counterfoil to seed germination inhibitors? The forest recovers really quickly after a thorough scorching – notwithstanding the lye. Dunno. I chuck the stuff onto the garden beds and have never noticed any issues, although I’ll keep a closer eye in future. It may also possibly help raise ph.

    Lewis, your keen insight has blown away the magic of Mary Poppins! Nice shot. 🙂 I had no idea… In the dark rabbit hole that you sent me down I stumbled across a delightful quote: “Albert Einstein famously called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world” and noted that “he who understands it, earns it… he who doesn’t… pays it”. He was a clever bloke that one.

    Thanks for that, I had a merry and enjoyable virtual tour of Ladd’s Addition. How nice. The street cars – known as trams down here – often followed a familiar pattern of expansion and development. Plus there were train lines going all over the place way back in the day. I’ve noticed easements that have now been turned over to grass and the occasional tree that also have the occasional disused railway station. One such place was near to me and it led to the old town gas works – which is now a large park.

    Awesome find with the strawberries! 🙂 Most spuds will happily reproduce plants, as long as they haven’t irradiated the tuber or some such horrid process. Seed potatoes are a winter thing down here. The potatoes here are going gang busters too. And genetic diversity is usually a good thing in the garden.

    There is middle ground to allowing wildlife into a garden, but some areas you just have to fence off, otherwise you’ll get nothing for your efforts. Strawberries are like that here.

    The mid-week hiatus was neatly dodged this week! Happy days! Although I made a fundamental mistake recently in that I did an urgent complex job on the cheap as a favour to someone I’d worked with for years. It was all good, until I had to face demands for more work like that done on the cheap in future, just because. I presumed that the relationship meant more than it did – a rookie mistake to be sure. Yes, the road to Perdition and all that, is actually – and I can assure you of this – paved with good intentions. Oh well, we all make mistakes.

    Desperate for zombie content! Some people come up with very witty lines, and I’m in awe of such language skills. Five directors, hmm, I’d have to suggest: run, Lewis, run! How did that work out in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? And there were apparently only two directors in that film? But five…

    Nope, I still intend to see Bill Murray on the big screen, the pundits and critics be dammed! 🙂

    It escapes my mind at this point – I’m trying to work out what the story for this week’s blog will be, which I really should start writing – but there is a marketing term for dissatisfaction at the achievements and/or stuff that other people have – and it is a technique used to drive a wedge. I run my own race and set my own goals, so I basically don’t care.

    Ollie is sitting on the green couch behind me and just ripped out a rather audible note of flatulence. And he looked really pleased with himself! Dogs…

    Who knows, but it may have something to do with the varieties of potatoes, aspect to sun, quantity of water, quality of soil, and/or location near to other locations where people tend to be a bit loose and free with the applications of herbicides. Other than those guesses, I have no idea! Culling is hard, but carrot plants really need that job done.

    Hey, I added applications of both dolomite and blood and bone to the new soil in the extended corn enclosure today. Over the next few weeks, I’ll chuck a good quantity of compost in there too.

    Better get writing!

    Chris

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