The power and the passion

Thursday morning, a tree from the neighbours property fell onto the road. The wind was up that morning, but the tree, tall as it was, proved no match for the wind, and so it eventually fell to the ground. Gravity has been known to have that effect. However, before the tree reached the soil, it rested for a short while upon the power line which runs along the road and provides electricity to the many houses in the area. The resting tree soon broke the electricity wire, and then continued upon its downward trajectory. The local power grid was consequently taken out for a couple of hours whilst a crew from the power company repaired the damage.

A tall tree fell across the road above the house

The felled tree lead to an incident that somehow began me considering the matter of power and control in our society.

Earlier that fateful morning, the editor and I had taken ourselves to a local pharmacy to receive our second vaccination for the health subject which dares not be named. A lot of passionate words have been exchanged elsewhere in relation to that subject, and they need not be repeated here. Things are however, rather odd down here in this part of the world for some reason entirely unknown to us, and basically we had little choice in the matter. It really is that simple.

Maybe now being an old fella, I’m somewhat cynical in my outlook upon the greater affairs of our civilisation. And maybe perhaps it is just that the times in which I have lived, and for most of my life, the authorities have been pushing the fear button.

I don’t really know what to think, but when I was a young kid, I was always being told to fear strangers, whatever they were. However, the known adults in my life seemed pretty crazy to me. Then there was fear of the bomb. Who could forget that one? The Russians were apparently going to blow us all up for some inexplicable reason known only to themselves. The television displayed, in full glorious colour, the horrific consequences of that little nuclear escapade with: “The Day After”. It sure seemed to me to suck surviving a nuclear attack, what with all the death and flies and stuff.

As a late teenager there was the HIV/AIDS epidemic which caused untold suffering, but probably also made condoms more easily accessible to young folks. Seriously, prior to that, purchasing those items from the local pharmacy was a nightmare of embarrassing and awkward judgement. I don’t recall ever being asked: What do you want them for? But you could see that the staff at the pharmacy just wanted to ask.

Things quieted down a bit during the awful recession that we somehow had to have during the early 1990’s. My mates and I were too broke to worry overly much about pretty much anything, other than perhaps how much coca cola did we have to add to the $2 bottle of truly revolting port, before we hit the clubs on a Friday night. This is now known in the trade as ‘pre-loading’, but back then it used to be called ‘cheap’. Unfortunately, I’d often had a head start in that regard on a Friday, because my co-workers use to drown their economic sorrows using seriously cheap beer on a Friday afternoon after work (or sometimes during Friday afternoon work). I once spotted a slab of cans (24 cans to the slab) of that sub par beer product stuff in a mates kitchen, and said firmly that: ‘you and I, we need to talk’. Revolting stuff, but it did the job I guess.

Economic fortunes rose towards the end of the 1990’s. No doubt you all recall partying like it’s 1999? The tech geeks had us all in a lather over the Y2K bug. Apparently, it was quite common for programmers to code the year as only two digits when it is in fact four digits. So the story went if society didn’t spend huge wads of mad cash with the tech geeks, we’d have the zombie apocalypse and traffic lights wouldn’t work, or something or other like that. I now forget the details.

Then there was the fear of terrorism, and now it is the fear of the health subject which dares not be mentioned. Honestly, there are times when I think to myself: aren’t we paying the politicians to sort this stuff out on our behalf? And yet for most of my life I’ve been told to fear one thing, or another thing. And I’m sure all of the many things are probably worthy of fear, but it just seems a bit bonkers to me that the continuing pressure to fear seems unrelenting.

It’s probably all about power and control, but what do I know? The newspapers don’t seem to be vaguely concerned about the rising fuel prices. The other day at a nearby petrol station I paid the highest price per litre (3.8 litres to the gallon) that I have yet seen in or around Melbourne.

Yup, that’s expensive-as for fuel

Power and control is a funny thing isn’t it? The tree that fell across the road was scorched by its brief contact with power.

You can see where the tree trunk rested upon the power line

Regular readers will know by now that the editor and I keep a neat and orderly farm. The power company dudes cut the tree into saw log lengths and left those on the side of the road (which we mow and maintain). The head of the tree with the small branches and leaves was left all over the place with most of it falling onto the farm.

We decided to clean up the mess, so I spent about forty five minutes cutting all of the saw logs into firewood rounds. I collected all of the head of the tree into a pile with the intention of relocating it to our brazier so that it could be burnt off. Chainsaws it should be noted, make a lot of noise and this can attract attention. Whilst I refuelled the chainsaw back at my shed, the neighbour who’s property the tree had fallen from, arrived with the intention of possibly taking away all of the neat firewood rounds I’d laboriously cut up.

After a very ungentlemanly exchange, the neighbour took off with half of the firewood rounds (the smaller and conveniently located rounds) which fortuitously for him I had neatly sawn up. At a wild guess, the neighbour perhaps intended not to avail himself of the firewood, but rather I’m kind of guessing that he intended instead to deprive me of the firewood. However, I note that it is notoriously difficult to gain insights into another person’s motivations, so I don’t really know one way or another. My motivations were to clean up the mess. What I do know however, is that it is an unwise act to reveal a moral compass over such a trivial matter.

The editor and I split the larger remaining firewood rounds and then hauled them away, along with all of the heads. There was a lot of leaves and sticks in that mess. A couple of days later, we burned off all that organic material. Burning green tree material, the fire created an enormous amount of thick smoke for hours, all of which due to the unfortunate winds of the day, drifted by sheer chance in the direction of my neighbours house.

Green forest materials unfortunately creates a lot of smoke

The weather this week has been warm and then cold. That sort of weather variability is not promising for the harvest from the orchards. Earlier this week there was an epicly thick fog layer hanging over the valley below the farm,

A wall of fog hangs over the valley below the farm

The editor and I are celebrating the great re-localisation, by visiting many of the local landmarks, and we continued the trend this week. One of the major creeks leading off the plateau of this mountain range has a waterfall at one point. Who knew?

The waterfall on Turritable creek was in full swing

The watercourse had apparently cut through rocks that date back something like six million years. It was a very peaceful and quiet place which was set aside for the enjoyment of the year around working families who used to service the needs of the wealthy ‘summer only’ folks back in the Victorian era.

Higher up in the mountain range is a small man made reservoir. The reservoir was constructed as a water supply for the nearby tuberculosis sanatorium which operated way back in the Victorian era. Back in those days, governments seemed able to effectively manage something as simple as a quarantine. The locals of the day were none too happy about having a sanatorium located in the area, and things are quiet now, but they were even quieter back then so there was no real opposition. Aand fortunately the institution was located nowhere near the wealthy summer only folks and their hill stations. I applaud such fore planning.

Sanatorium Lake

The forest surrounding the lake was a very wet forest, replete with the occasional very large and old tree, and of course many ferns.

There are a lot of ferns in the higher reaches of the mountain range

And there was the most massive tree burl that I have yet encountered! The thing was a huge canker of a thing and would be the envy of any person who works with beautiful timbers.

Truly, this tree is huge, but so to is the burl. Hi DJ (from the editor)!

The editor and I meandered around the higher parts of the mountain range, and discovered that a road which had been long closed due to the damage from the epic wind storm a few months ago, was now open.

A lot of hard work went into reopening this forest road as there was a lot of wind damage

The road lead into a loggers coup which had been harvested in the past year and a bit. Most of the trees removed were Pine (Pinus Radiata) and Oregon (Douglas Fir). We’d been watching the tree harvesting works for the past year or so from a distance, but we’d not imagined that we could get into the area. The view was astounding. The next photo is high resolution so you should be able to click on it, zoom in, and even see the skyscraper towers in the city of Melbourne.

This is a clickable high resolution image. The city of Melbourne is on the right hand side.

We took things a bit easier this week, but still did plenty of work around the farm. I opened up my trusty high end three decade old Kenwood FM tuner in order to make a list of the contents that require replacing. I noted that one electrolytic capacitor on the power supply board is very near to failing.

The large brown electrolytic capacitor is near to failure

A trailer load of crushed rock and lime was placed upon the low gradient ramp project.

A trailer load of crushed rock and lime was added to the low gradient ramp project

The steel rock gabion cage which was constructed last week, was placed on the excavation site up above the house. Then a huge quantity of collected rocks were placed into the cage.

A new steel rock gabion cage was placed on the excavation site up above the house

We intend to construct another concrete stairway leading onto the garden terraces. Unfortunately a very large rock was in the way and we needed to split it apart into smaller more easily moved rocks.

The large rock is now missing a chunk
The large rock is now split into four still large, yet more easily moved pieces

Fans of the trap door spider which was shown on an image from last week’s blog, may be interested to see another of the species happily freaking us out. The toxins from the bite are not exactly poisonous, they’ll just really hurt.

A close up of a trap door spider. Delightful patterning. A witchetty grub is in the top left hand corner

Onto the flowers:

It’s Rhododendron time and the gardens are a riot of colour
A stunning Crab Apple tree in full bloom
So many flowers and an apple tree in blossom

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 1,028.6mm (40.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,011.6mm (39.8 inches)