A good use for a Temporal Anomaly

Every right thinking person knows that in the science fiction world of Star Trek, a Temporal Anomaly is a disruption in the space-time continuum which can be related to time travel. Temporal anomalies can take many forms and have many different effects, including temporal reversion, the creation of alternate timelines, and fracturing a vessel into different time periods. Basically that definition means that someone travels back in time, sometimes pleasantly, and at other times, not so pleasantly. The anomalies certainly have unexpected outcomes and can be used to provide all manner of tidy endings to otherwise messy and over long story lines, and they can sometimes look a bit like: “And then I woke up”.

I don’t feel that I would be comfortable travelling back in time, although it may occasionally be very handy. However travelling back in time may expose a person to serious discomfiture.

Another word we use in the English language to express such a desire, is the word “regret”. Haven’t we all had a few regrets from time to time? I certainly regret planting the thorny blackberry / bramble-berries on the black berry terrace. Those plants are seriously hard to remove once they are established, and they come back each year much like a horde of marauding spikey zombies. Nobody wants to meet a zombie. I reckon they’d make for unpleasant company.

And whilst I am dwelling upon the subject of regret, I also regret allowing the population of rodents (rats and mice) to build up over at the old chicken enclosure. Rats and mice are certainly more persistent than the average zombie, and they sure are smarter.

Rats thumb their noses at me in the old chicken enclosure

The above photo is from almost five years ago when the rats were rampant and running free over the old chicken enclosure. I was feeding a lot of rats back in those days. Nowadays, the rats are unable to break into the fortress that is the current chicken enclosure. The mice however have managed to break in past the extensive fortifications, but they live a nervous existence merely because the chickens enjoy eating mice. The newer chicken enclosure (which must be two or three years old now) is certainly not a regret!

Long term readers may have noted that this week begins a new journey for the Fernglade Farm weekly blog. For many years I’ve been happily blogging away recounting all sorts of stories about the farm, its plants and wildlife, and more importantly, the fluffy collective (of which I count myself as Chief Fluffy Officer). And over the past year it has become apparent to me that I would eventually have to move away from the old “Blogger” free website.

Like the population of rats slowly building up in the old chicken enclosure (which has long since been converted into a secondary fire wood shed), problems had been so slowly building up with the old freebie website. I haven’t mentioned many of those problems in the blog or the comments, and won’t mention them here, but they were beginning to annoy me. The process of producing the weekly stories and having wonderful conversations was becoming ever more complex as time went on.

As an adherent of the long since deceased Grand Master of Strategy: Sun Tzu (author of the Art of War), I decided about a week ago to do something unexpected and move away from the freebie blogging platform. And here we are today. I move fast when required and have no need of steering committees, focus groups, endless meetings etc. If something needs doing here, then expect that it will be done, but our way!

Whilst efficient, it is nice that not everyone thinks and acts like the editor and myself. The other morning I was enjoying a leisurely large cappuccino and breakfast at the local cafe and general store whilst reading the business section of the newspaper.  There was an article titled: Tomago Smelter warns of ‘crisis’ as the grid falters

Blind Freddie, is a fictional historical character supposing to have little or no perception. Well, even he knows that the sun doesn’t shine at night, and the wind doesn’t blow all of the time. And during those combined times of renewable energy dearth, renewable energy systems are useless. Aluminium smelters on the other hand require a lot of energy, delivered consistently, and as such you can’t run them on renewable energy. The article highlights the damage to the smelters when the power is removed for any length of time.

So, why ever are we closing down large scale electricity generators in this country and at the same time not deliberately reducing demand for electricity? That policy makes little to no sense to me and I suspect that at some point in the future, the powers that be, will be hoping for a temporal anomaly, just so that they can head back into the past and correct some of the policy mistakes that we are making today.

I like renewable energy, and it is a great technology, it just isn’t good enough to power an Industrial civilisation with aluminium smelters (geothermal sources are one exception to that).

The house here has never been connected to the electricity grid and every year I learn more about solar power. It is a very complicated technology, despite what people say about solar panels becoming cheaper every year. This week I learned more about solar energy and had to make some changes to the wiring in the battery room.

The solar power system here has 30 panels. Six of those panels face the winter sun dead on, and they do some of the heavy lifting during the winter months. This week I noticed that they had been exceeding their rated outputs. At one point they were generating 20% more power than the specifications on the back of the panel would indicate. A friend who is a whizz in all things electronics suggested that this situation occurred because of the combination of very cool winter air and strong winter sunshine.

The solar panels produce almost 15% more energy than their specifications (30.0A)

Knowing this problem meant that I had to upgrade the wires to and from this little regulator (a regulator is the brains of the solar power system) because they were warm to the touch. Warm wires in an electrical system means that energy is being wasted, and also it may pose a fire risk.

Regular readers will recall that a few weeks back one of the other larger regulators gave up the ghost for no apparent reason. It may be possible that the regulator shut down so as to protect itself from being ‘cooked’ (a technical word meaning that the device would possibly self destruct) due to too much energy being generated. With that possibility in mind, I have replaced the larger regulator with a higher capacity unit.

The solar power system now uses higher capacity regulators. The system is generating 110A at 27V = 2.97kW

The solar power story sounds very complex, but the core of the story is that when dealing with any systems that harvest and store energy from natural systems (and that includes firewood, food preserving, water etc.), you really do need to handle and store more than you will ever think that you will need. This is so that you can survive the very worst conditions that nature can throw at you. It is not good enough to be able to cruise through the best conditions but fall over when nature chucks you a curve ball.

On Friday we visited a lovely nursery in a nearby mountain range. The nursery specialises in ferns, and the editor and I spent a few hours having a nice chat with Eddie the owner. We learned a huge amount about ferns and purchased half a trailer load of tree ferns. The tree ferns are harvested from timber plantations where they’d otherwise get squashed by all of the heavy machinery used.

We purchased some tree ferns to add into the fern gully

The ferns have no fronds and I was wondering how to tell if they were still alive. Eddie explained to us that if the fern has an open crown, it will be alive. In the next photo you can see a new frond developing in the open crown at the top of a tree fern:

A new frond appears at the top of an open crown on this tree fern

A closed crown looks very different, like this next photo of a tree fern that I killed last summer due to the heat and lack of water:

A dead tree fern has a closed crown

We planted out the fern gully and next summer I will provide the ferns with water whilst they are getting established. After a year or two, they’ll be indestructible, but until then…

The new tree ferns were planted into the fern gully

And just because Ollie the cattle dog was hogging all of the photos last week, I give you the charming Sir Scruffy as he adventures through the fern gully:

Sir Scruffy adventures through the fern gully

We’ve been continuing to trim back all of the rampant growth around the various paths. The sunny winter conditions have been almost perfect for winter loving plants…

The sunny winter conditions have caused the plants to overgrow some of the paths

And we constructed another two steps leading up from the worm farm sewage system. There are another two steps to go next week and then that project is complete!

Two more steps were constructed leading up from the worm farm sewage system

We’re almost finished mowing the entire farm. This is a huge job and I’m grateful for the new self propelled mower / slasher as it has halved the time required to do the job.

A pecan enjoys the recent mow and also a good feed from the worm farm sewage system

The potatoes have gone feral over the past few weeks:

The potatoes have gone feral!

And onto the flower photos!

This is no flower, but it is a huge fungi with two smaller buddies
With the soil now becoming quite damp, the fungi are partying as a troop!
This alpine heath is quite striking
And the geraniums continue to produce beautiful flowers
This Tagasaste (Tree Lucerne) next to the chicken enclosure is beginning to flower

The temperature outside now at about 7.00pm is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 364.2mm (14.3 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 346.8mm (13.7 inches).

57 thoughts on “A good use for a Temporal Anomaly”

  1. Hi Hazel, Pam, and Lewis,

    Thanks for the lovely comments and I really appreciate the feedback. It is an epic amount of work to get this up and running in time, but I’m getting there.

    I promise to reply tomorrow.

    Lewis – Blogger was driving me bananas, and how much can a Koala bear, I ask you? :-)! Will speak tomorrow.



  2. Yo, Chris – Your pictures, look brighter and more vivid, on my machine. Was disappointed to discover I can’t just click and blow up. But then discovered I can just Command click + to enlarge. No biggie.

    Fern Gully is looking very Zen. Can’t explain it. Won’t try. The last line of the first paragraph made me spit tea. Invoice is in the mail for clean up costs. ;-).

    “Fed up to here” is the operative term for the old blog. Where “here” is is never specified.

    I always thought warm wires were just alternative sources of heat. (slaps hands to avoid using another emoticon.) Back when I was using space heaters, I’d often check the temp of the wire, just to make sure I wasn’t about to melt down something.

    Sir Scruffy looks a bit like my neighbor Princess. Same kind of coat and configuration. Of course, she’s black and smaller. Just like what I’d hear in the antique biz. “Exactly like my grandmothers, except for …”

    The Garden Goddess requested I not compost the parsnip (or whatever it was. Now it’s gone, speculation was that I was growing marijuana.) She believes it has some kind of plant cooties. And, since we don’t have a hot heap, best toss it in the dumpster. Looked more like a mosaic of some kind, but she swears they’re insects. Plant cooties are the distant prehistoric ancestors of computer cooties. Lew

  3. Hi Chris,

    Congratulations on getting the new blog platform up and running! As an aging baby boomer, I appreciate the larger typeface and much larger photos – they are clear just as they are and don’t require the added step to click on them to expand them as I had to do on the Blogger site.

    I have been contemplating moving my blog as well. It’ll be winter before that happens, if it does. Too many projects already for this summer.

    The Sustainable Backyard Tour turned out well. Even on a 94F/34C day and even though our place is well distant of the vast majority of the tour sites, we still had about 25 to 30 visitors. I put out the sun oven with a Pyrex pot full of water in it and also the solar food dryer. Each drew considerable interest from the attendees. Among the plants, the flowers on the hops vine elicited interest, especially when I pulled off a flower for each guest and invited them to crush them between their fingers and then smell the flower. People, even children, enjoyed the hoppy odor.

    The popcorn seeds I planted last Tuesday have put up shoots. Fortunately corn seeds are happy to germinate in July-type heat. I hope the blackeyed pea seeds will be as ready to do so when I plant them later this week.

    As for the aluminum smelter – just another early warning of what is going to affect more of us more often as time goes on.


  4. Congratulations on the new digs! Looks fantastic:)
    I wonder what the solution will be for aluminium smelting? Do you think that as a society we will decide that we can do without aluminium? That is the kind of choice that off-gridders have to make all the time..

  5. Congratulations on the new blog Chris. I never liked the Blogger platform. My only hope is that you’ll now answer comments under the actual comments and not in some random way the following week. It’s a major reason why I rarely commented to the old blog. Comment answers are meaningless if you can’t see the original comments above them.

  6. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the blogroll links are pretty good. I’m working towards getting a separate page on this website that provides all of the latest posts from each of those blogs too – otherwise I have no idea when new posts turn up from these excellent authors. It is complicated and has been one of the more difficult tasks for this new website. Oh well, I’ll work it out eventually! :-)!

    And absolutely and you betcha. It is as they occasionally say down here: ‘Heaps good’ = getting here and posting a comment. I find it easier not logging into the thingo account too because I have to maintain another one for some paid work and sometimes the two logins didn’t always play nicely together. That was one of the issues, and it escalated from that point and eventually played havoc with the old blog. These things happen, and I guess you get what you pay for.

    Well done that Frank sorted the problem with the electrics on the beast. A squirt of WD40 (it is good stuff) would assist that matter on an ongoing basis. But where to squirt becomes the question. You wouldn’t believe it, but one of the wheels to the dirt mouse cracked (probably metal fatigue) and let the air escape from the tyre (you call them tires?) I had to get some new wheels today… That hurt. I didn’t realise that wheels could crack. I remember the old steel ones used to warp over time and you could get them re-rolled so that they were ‘true’ again.

    It is very nice of our Royal leader to grant us a holiday. I feel very fondly towards them because of that. The politicians following a neo-liberal cant on the other hand have been hell bent on taking public holidays away (all for our supposed good). Aren’t they naughty? You get Presidents day, I believe? Your President has been up to some good over in Singapore.

    By sheer accident I discovered that I can edit your comments. Haha! I can’t imagine why I would want to do so. It seems a bit unnecessary. Anyway, I was trying to work out the emoticon / emoji business as I feel we need a little set of buttons near the comment section for that purpose.

    Yeah, you sure did mention one issue by saying something along the lines of ‘it will only be a problem when or if the blog scored a wide enough readership’ – and sure enough it became a problem, but let’s not talk about cooties. True gentleman never discuss cooties. Hehe! Maybe…

    The giant parsnip / triffid would have been quite awesome to behold. It may have been a sugar beet as they look like a bit like that, and can get quite huge. Speaking of which, I’m reading about sugar maples through the very excellent book that you suggested: “Backyard sugarin'”. A great title and I feel subversive just reading it. But I have discovered that maple sap is only 3% sugar at best. OMG. No wonder it has to be boiled down so much…

    Has your weather turned warmer? We had quite a heavy storm last night and I reckon almost an inch of rain fell. It is very damp here and the water tanks are rapidly re-filling. I’m hoping to install another 1,050 gallon tank in soon.

    Hey, I reckon the photos look better on this website too. In the past we had to blow them up just to see what they were. Hope you like the teaser photo at the beginning of the blog post too. No explanation – just a nice teaser photo. The amazing thing is that the photos are 1/10th the size of the blogger photos in terms of storage space and they look the same to me. I don’t know about Mac’s which I think you use, but on the Windows PC you can “right click” on an image and “view it” in double the size and quality. All the photos are now stored at 1280 x 1024 pixels (or vice versa for portrait photos), whilst the ones with the blog are shown at half that size.

    And not to worry about the storage space for the photos, as I have that cost covered for a long while to come. Of course, things are subject to change at short notice without warning if circumstances drastically alter… Text is cheap though.

    Hehe! Glad to entertain you – and mate, it is totally true! It is almost as bad as “‘Twas a dark and stormy night” but that hasn’t been as overused as a plot point…

    Thanks about the fern gully. It is a pet project of mine and the editor has seriously indulged me in this instance. The bloke at the fern nursery was an awesome guy, and I really should get some cards made up for the contact details here. I am slack at networking and have missed a few opportunities recently. I have to get better at my game.

    Old blog, are we still talking about that? I was done with it days ago! Hehe!!! Bad Chris.

    Warm wires are pretty much what electric heaters are. The fancy name for them is resistors and they turn electricity into heat through the act of resistance (friction might be another name for the effect).

    Really, I get that claim too. It seems like anyone who can grow something – anything – has to be turning out a cash crop. That claim is one of my pet hates. You dealt with it far more diplomatically than I would. People fail to understand that cash crops makes one a target…

    I’ll hopefully begin transitioning the old blog posts across over the next few days.



  7. Hi Pam,

    Well, first I blushed at the mere name of that town, and then a little memory popped into my mind from the series “Petticoat Junction” and the blush went away. A delightfully naughty play on words that one, and my mind was far too young to understand much of the subtext of that show when I saw it. But it was pretty funny all the same.

    Thanks for the feedback, and I love the big photos too. They can get biggerer too if you right click on them in your interweb browser thingee and click on “view image”. The sad thing is that they take up 1/10th of the storage space of the old photos and someone, somewhere was paying for that privilege of wasted storage space.

    Hang onto your hats as I’m trying to work out how to put together a page that has all of the latest blog posts from those most excellent authors that I’ve linked too. I need a bit of time to work it out and it will happen because I miss the updates too! :-)!

    It is a good habit, and these things must be treasured. The editor says that once is a habit for fluffies when it comes to bad habits, although I do not dignify such observations with a reply!



  8. Hi Hazel,

    Thank you so much for writing that. The blog is both a hobby and a joy and I too find that the images display better in this format. You can increase their size too by right clicking on them and viewing in your browser (if you want). The text is a bit bigger too.

    Yeah, phooey to them. They were looking for an easy feed, and I have no desire to co-operate with them. But alas, that is how the interweb is going, it is not as free and easy going as people pretend. Fortunately, I promise to not accept advertising. Done. Although I don’t wish to tempt the Gods themselves… I feel a bit nervous now that I’ve written that. Oh well. Let the future worry about the future in this instance! That is the spirit don’t you reckon?

    Hope you have received some good rain of late. Autumn was crazy hot and dry.



  9. Hi Claire,

    I appreciate the larger images too – and you can make them bigger by right clicking on them and viewing them in your browser. I reckon the text is easier to read in this format too and I’ve tried to keep the format simple and clean, which suits my nature. You are definitely not old. I know people younger than yourself that could not even manage the many good works that you do.

    Moving a blog is not so difficult, but it is worth mentioning that the WordPress functionality is more extensive than blogger which to be honest does a lot of things without you being aware of it. On the other hand, WordPress (and there are other options that you can install if you own/lease a website), it is just that you have to pay for the website and access to the servers. I chose a local mob that runs local servers and they’re really good to work with.

    So good to hear that the Sustainable Backyard tour went well, and I’d be really impressed with such a good turn out on a warm to hot day. I really loved your idea with the hops flowers with the visitors as it was sheer genius – and I’ve never encountered their scent before. It is a nice way to engage people’s viscera and also grab their attention and show them a whole different way of seeing the world. I ran a stall at a local sustainability festival a few years back and did a similar thing, but handed out freebie walking onion bulbs by the dozens and then shared the plants story whilst I had the people in a receptive state of mind. I would have loved to have poked around at your solar food dryer and watch it work.

    Yeah, corn is incredibly hardy to heat from what I observed last summer and I reckon the popcorn will grow really fast if the heat continues. Did you get much soil moisture from the spring rains?

    Exactly, I’m not worried for the Aluminium smelter, but it is the vision that is being expressed in the policies that are playing out that worries me. If it was a consciously managed strategic withdrawal I’d be happy, but it really looks a lot like a rout.



  10. Hi Chris

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about the Gods picking up about advertising – surely they have bigger fish to fry, what with Elon Musk and Donald Trump and Tony Abbott and… But let’s not go there! The new site is brilliant to read, and the photos are actually clearer than they were on Blogger, even when expanded. We’ve had all of 2.5mm of rain over two days. Whoopee!(not) However, showers are forecast for every day this week, so fingers crossed.



  11. Hi Jo,

    Thank you, and such compliments are music to my ears. It has been a bit of work to get to this stage, and there is still a bit of work to go.

    It is a choice isn’t it? I don’t know the answer to that question either. For what it is worth the smelter in Portland in Victoria faced similar and worse conditions. Let’s have a look. … … Here goes: Alcoa’s Portland smelter rebuilding after unprecedented power failure. Dunno. It doesn’t look good to me. Adaption really is the way to go from my perspective – and aluminium is a very handy and readily recyclable material. You and Paul seem to be pretty much onto the adaption thing, but I would be curious as to your opinions on that subject.



  12. Hi Bev,

    Thank you very much for writing that, and I enjoy your writing too. And the way images are displayed here are far superior to the way blogger did it. Plus the media library is very good.

    OK. I have to fess up here, and no doubts you’ll be totally annoyed with me. Anyway, I annoy lots of people, it seems to be a bad habit of mine! :-)! Over the years I have had a few comments suggesting that the comments would be better to read if they were presented as you described. And yes, WordPress can do that easily enough. It is just that, what is easier for you, isn’t necessarily easier for me. To explain that situation further, I only have so many hours in any one day to put towards this blog (which is a hobby after all, and you may notice that I am very busy on the farm, and I also have to run a business, keep the editor maintained and happy, catch up with friends, take some time out to relax, hopefully – and I think you get the picture). The way the comments are structured is a poo-test. It really is that simple, and yes, I expect you to be unhappy about it and for that I am sorry, but how else do I maintain the quality of the writing and reply to everyone? It is a conundrum and there is no easy answer to the question. I could not possibly field as many replies as Mr Greer does and I’m frankly a bit in awe of his abilities on that front.



  13. Hi Hazel,

    Hehe! Well that is a relief isn’t it! Hehe! I’d never quite thought of it that way before. Yeah, lets not go there, politics is rather dull these days, and anyway we’ve had so many Prime Ministers recently that I forget who is whom – they do seem rather interchangeable.

    Good for you with the rain and I hope that it is soaking into the soil. From some accounts it has been quite cold of late up your way. It sure is cold here now and the wood heater is ticking along nicely.



  14. Chris- aka the energizer bunny- New platform looks good. I was amazed at the overrating output on your panels. I knew the combo of cold and clear could result in over rating output, but had no idea it could get to 20%.

    My panels have gone over around 5% during winter, but then, their angle was optimized for overall yearly output, so I would have to angle them to winter sun to get any higher.

    Many industrial processes require large, reliable electrical supplies. Smelting is huge, but oil refineries, chemical plants, anything with big motors and and continuous processes are designed with this assumption. Back during one of JMGs contests, I started a proposal but did not get it finished. Here is the link.

    I find it interesting that all of his space bats contests elicited big response when it came to imaginative story telling, but when he solicited specific engineering proposals for a low energy future, he did not get enough response to complete the project. Grappling with the real world is not easy!

    I’ll say again that I respect your endurance and time management to both grapple with the real world low energy life style AND devote time to this blog. Props.

  15. Hi Chris,

    Very much appreciate your efforts here. I really like the new format. I’m going to be brief as things are really ramping up here now that we actually have a place to move too. Maybe Doug will start going through his stuff now. We had the inspection of the new home last night and it went very well – just a few minor issues. The seller came towards the end which is not the usual practice but it turned out quite well. He was able to answer a few questions and see for himself a couple of small issues. He was quite elderly and his realtor was his daughter-in-law. Our inspector is one of the builders of our house and his partner is the brother of our realtor. Oh yes, the inspector is also the new assessor and is now Doug’s boss – all in the family around here haha. This lot is very wooded but there are mowed paths all through it. We found a sunny spot in the back that looked like an old garden which looks like a perfect spot for a new asparagus bed. There are also a couple of apple trees as well. We have our moving sale in ten days.


  16. Yo, Chris – Tyre? Really? Australia seems stranger and stranger. :-).

    Doing away with holidays seems very Cromwellian. Oliver and his band of merry band of Puritans did away with Christmas, closed all the theaters, etc. etc.. No fun at all.

    Yup. Not much sugar and sugar maples. Hence, all that boiling in big flat pans … outside … all day.

    Temperatures have been mild, here. There’s been rain. Weather bureau says we’ve had .50 over the last three days. Which, I think, is half an inch. It’s supposed to be clear today, but rain back, tonight. But, starting this weekend, we’re in for a warm stretch. I haven’t had to water. Slug hunting has been good.

    Another water tank? With a city the size of Melbourne, there’s probably a 12 Step Program, for that. :-). But I know you’ll sleep better. Fern Glade Tank Farm.

    You could put up a tip jar, to defray expenses. Do it before you need it, just to see how it goes. I made banana muffins, yesterday. But don’t tell anyone. My preferred crunchy ones. A bit dry, but with a cuppa … Lew

  17. Congratulations on the new blog digs! Looking great, both text and pics. Do the potatoes grow all winter? Seems odd from a northern hemisphere perspective.

    The raspberries I planted have disappeared, probably overwhelmed by the weeds, but the blueberries and currants are still hanging on. I need to find a place to buy some thornless berries this fall.

    Now that we have a forecast for sun, do you suppose the time/space continuum could provide me with a few more hours a day to weed? Yeah, probably not.


  18. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the kind words! And hard work is a lifestyle choice here! :-)!

    The over rating with the solar panels output on really cold sunny days threw me too. I had not expected it to be as great as it was, but mind you the six panels are set up for winter production at an angle of 34+ degrees and they face dead on to the winter sun. Plus they’re on stands and there is a lot of airflow around them. Still, it was a surprise, and I suspect the circuit that failed that had twelve panels may have over rated too in the very cool winter air. For your interest too, really hot air and sun has the opposite effect and the panel output de-rates. It always makes me laugh, in a sad sort of way, to see claims that solar panels would work really well in a desert with all that sun – the claims just sort of forget about the heat side of that equation. The panel specifications are at a surface temperature of 77’F. And given the cells are black or near black, they always run much hotter than the air temperature.

    Thanks for the link to the solar concentrators and furnace. Wow.

    It is hard that stuff, and you know I reckon not much of it makes economic sense, or the technology can work but it is enormously expensive to setup in the first place and nobody is interested in writing the cheques…

    Thanks very much and that praise was very well received. I’m impressed with anyone who is trying to be productive in a low tech way. Speaking of which, I read your blog tonight about the coffee grinder and it is a great idea, and I never realised that such devices were available.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    I reckon the new format is better too – especially the images. I never realised what a pain they were on the old platform.

    No worries at all. I’m still flat chat trying to get the new blog fully operational as there is a whole lot of behind the scenes stuff going on.

    Haha! Well I can well understand Doug’s point of view, but alas for him that such excuses no longer apply. OMG – you’ve just proven that it is true what they say about only six degrees of separation! Far out! It is nice to hear of a woodlot – can you harvest firewood from your own property? And best of all, established apple trees. It is very exciting! I’d transplant some of your existing asparagus crowns once the deal is settled, but then that is me…



  20. Hi, Chris!

    In fact: Greetings, CFO!

    There are a lot of Blind Freddies about, eh?

    That is an unsettling story about the aluminum smelter and your power grid. It seems like I have read a lot of such stories the last couple of years. Apparently California is following the same scenario with their water needs. They seem to be adamant about not building desalinization plants or new reservoirs even though so much of the place is a desert, with frequent droughts. So – instead of improving infrastructure – they ration the citizenry. Which would account quite a bit for the exodus leaving the place. Plus insane taxes.


    I haven’t come across a nursery that specializes in ferns; what a neat idea. Is it a very big place? I was going to ask if it was in a rural area, but they state that they are across from a school, so I guess not – though my sons went to a rural school . . . I love the various wild ferns that we have and would love to have some tree ferns. Deer don’t eat ferns either.

    So good to see Sir Scruffy, who looks very unscruffy, I might add.

    Your pecans look better than our pecans; they are about the same size. I’m pretty sure I can’t do winter potatoes, though the ones we grew in the fall and harvested before frost did pretty well. You and I both have fungi right now – no, that’s not right. I don’t have fungi and hopefully you don’t. I mean, the woods have fungi . . .

    Winter flowers – lucky you!

    14.3 inches of rain sounds to me like less than you usually have at this time of year.

    I am finding it way easier to post on this new site.


  21. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, I really like the new comment facility here because I can get to read the entire comment prior to posting it. In the past I often just had an excerpt and in such instances I had to hope for the best. Mind you, we are a civilised lot here comprised of respectable gentlemen and ladies! General riffraff need not apply! :-)! I must sort the emoticons out…

    Absolutely, the things on cars are definitely tyres. A person can tire of something but that does not mean that they are having a tyre installed, it means that they feel either: bored; apathetic; or sleepy. I suppose next you’ll be claiming that jam is jelly? Hehe! Or what about bottles being jars? We could have fun for hours on this stuff. It does make you wonder at the reasons for the difference in language given that we share a common heritage. Dunno. Dissertations have been written and pundits argue endlessly, I guess? What do you reckon? Bill Bryson wrote a book on this subject, didn’t he? He’s a smart bloke. Imagine how it will work out over the millennia…

    Who isn’t mildly nervous by the unwavering righteousness of the forces of Puritanism? Mate, that bloke embodied that gear in spades. And I rather suspect that he was quite feared whilst alive, but then once dead, not so much. What a character. I’ll bet he was a bad person to cross, even in an inadvertent manner – things would go rather poorly from that moment onwards. I have a vague suspicion that the histories talked up the good points, and really tried to ignore the worst points. Given the sheer discrepancy in the histories, I’d have to suggest that there is a bit of hagiography going on. What is your take on that matter?

    Hehe! Yup, hey the backyard sugarin’ bloke is quite the character too, in a more pleasant way though than Oliver, and he did mention that his initial efforts at the boiling down process in his kitchen caused a minor chunk of matrimonial distress. Yes, a job to be done outside. Noted!

    It is nice that you are enjoying some pleasant, if apparently mild weather. Down here, the winter has arrived with a thud and the past day or so has seen over an inch of rain fall now. Feral, because it looks set to rain for the next several days too. Well, at least the water tanks are filling up. I assume your slugs enjoy the rain that you are receiving? It is a shame you don’t have chickens because they would love to eat the slugs. Imagine how much your neighbours would delight in a couple of silky chickens bok, bok, bokking around the place? No, well perhaps feathers may be ruffled by the idea… Sorry for the bad pun.

    The more water I store, the happier I am. Some people have easily twice as much as I store here, and my mates of the big shed have easily 3.5 times the water that I store. Flat land is a wonderful thing, and you need flat land for water tanks… The really big water tanks have to sit on dead flat, laser levelled land otherwise the torsional stresses damage the tank pretty quickly. It is a lot of water and weight in those big tanks.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the tip jar and, well you’ve been right about the rest of the story…

    I replaced the wheels on the dirt mouse today and the bloke there told me that in the not too distant past these items were made to be indestructible, but now he said they have a finite life of about a decade. I really wonder about newer vehicles and their longevity.



  22. Hi Coco,

    Many thanks, and your words are music to my ears. It has been bit of hard work getting the website up and running, and it is still not finished. Oh well.

    Absolutely, the potatoes grow all year around, but they generally set flowers and seeds over about January to February, which would be your July to August. Those are the hottest months. Incidentally, it may surprise you, but I do not ever water the potatoes. They just don’t need it as the rainfall is enough – even in prolonged hot and dry patches. That is one of the beauties of tubers. The ground doesn’t freeze here over winter, although you do get frosts, some of which can hang around for a few days.

    Currants are great plants aren’t they? And I propagated most of mine by simply chucking hardwood cuttings in the ground in late autumn – and they’ve all taken. I like the blueberries too, but they are much slower growing and they require a regular drink of a couple of minutes per day over high summer – I usually water in the morning. The colours the leaves produce in autumn are among the best of the best too! Raspberries are really hardy and no doubt, they’re down, but not out!

    Hehe! Yup, most likely not! Good luck, and if you work out how to generate additional hours in the day, please let me know. It would be kind of handy wouldn’t it?



  23. Hi Pam,

    Greetings from the Fluffy Collective! :-)!

    Blind Freddy certainly knows a thing or two, and he wouldn’t walk down the street in random patterns with his head glued to a device screen accidentally bumping into innocent pedestrians. At leasting being blind he has an excuse – he possibly thump them with a cane, all the while muttering apologies…

    Yeah, water is one of the crucial elements to the story. During the last drought here, they rationed us to a bit over 40 gallons per day, and the dams got very low indeed – and for some reason we decided to add an additional million people to the city since those days. I’m of the mindset that if it has happened once, it will happen again. Check out the stories about water shortages in Cape Town in South Africa if you want to see where it can go. Incidentally, despite a lot of wrangling and whining at the cost, the government did build a desalination plant – those systems tend to produce the most expensive water around too. As far as I understand the story, there are no more rivers to dam.

    Have a look at the nursery on a satellite image. Look for Pheasant Creek in Victoria, Australia. It is a pretty quiet part of the world, and the primary school appears to be a rural school. One problem with rural schools is that apparently the story goes that parents from nearby towns can send the trouble kids there in the belief that they’ll get more attention. I’ve heard that story from a few different sources, but have no idea as to whether it is true or not. Yes, the tree ferns are superb and they are almost prehistoric and they grow quite tall.

    Sir Scruffy is a gentleman, and he appreciates your feedback. Woof, woof! :-)!

    The pecan is really slow growing isn’t it? That has been in there for about two years, but I suspect that it may take off next spring. Hey, the walnut appears to have survived the summer. It took a lot of feeding that plant and I suspect they extract a lot from the soil.

    I wasn’t aware about how potatoes grow in colder climates. Does that mean that you have to lift all of the tubers from the ground before winter? You can never remove all of them, so I assume that some kick off again in spring?

    Hehe! It is funny that you say that about fungi, but the editor and I were talking about just how infested the kitchen here would be with bakers yeast and champagne yeast – not to mention the sake yeast, from all of the cooking activities. Yeast are fungi. Plus I reckon they would have all escaped out into the orchard, no doubts about it. Originally the individual strains were collected from orchard samples.

    There are flowers here all year around, although the next month or two will be a bit light on for them, but by September the place will be blooming. Haven’t seen any bulbs yet, but it is too early still.

    The rain is about an inch or two shy of a decent average, but it is more or less OK. I was talking with the fern bloke about the rain and he said that it has dropped markedly in his part of the world (which is traditionally far wetter than here), but here it hasn’t changed that much from the historical averages. The thing is, the rain is falling in bigger splats with larger intervals in between and he said that is happening up his way too. How does that compare to your part of the world? Has your rain returned?

    It is easier all around – and the stuff that you don’t get to see behind the scenes works better too.



  24. @ Margaret:

    The property you all have found sounds delightful and it is going to be so exciting to hear how you progress with turning it into what you want. I think that it is great that trees are already there, as it is easier to decide which trees to cut down (and use for firewood) for garden areas, rather than having to start from scratch and plant all new ones as some of us are not getting any younger . . .

    Best of luck with your moving sale.


  25. Yo, Chris – Of course there’s a distinct difference between jam and jelly. Jam is made from whole fruit. Jelly is made from just the juice. But you knew that, didn’t you? :-). Now bottles and jars … Dunno.

    Language history is fun. They’re like family trees. Our two versions of English diverged when we both took a powder from the Mudderland. Keeping in mind, that even within the source, there was multiple dialects in play. Just to make things interesting / confusing. Distance, time, experience. It all has it’s effects.

    EVERY author has an agenda. A point of view or position they want to present as Gospel Truth. :-).

    It felt like a insanely busy day, yesterday. Gassed up, headed for the farmer’s market and bought a half flat of local, organic strawberries. $15 for half a flat. Local + organic = expensive. Oh, well. Get what you pay for.

    Then it was off to buy a set of book cases for our little library, here at The Home. Cheap but serviceable. One they get books on them, no one will notice. Wrestled the thing, by myself, at both ends. Played the “we’re old and poor” card and the guy knocked off a couple of bucks. $20 for the unit.

    I started sorting through the dreck, last night. Various strategies are in play to minimize chaos and general knee jerk resistance. No we don’t need a Mobile travel guide to California, circa 2002. Rather than asking about the VHS tapes, I’ll box them, and keep them in my apartment for 30 days and see if anyone has a melt down. If I asked, it would be, “We should keep them. Because I have a broken VHS player in my closet, that I’m going to get fixed … maybe … someday.” Lew

  26. PS: To offset the cost of the strawberries, I was doing a bit of scouting around and discovered a little plot of strawberries hidden behind some bushes, here at The Home. Well away from the gardens. And, on a slope where only the spry can get to them. There may be possibilities, there. Someone said they don’t taste very good. Enough sugar …. Lew

  27. Hello Chris

    Coco beat me to it on the subject of potatoes. I was puzzled as to why your potatoes are at the same stage of growth as mine. Potatoes do have to be dug up before Winter in Northern climes as they are ruined if they freeze. I am only just far enough South for those that get overlooked to sprout again the following year.

    We are having a stunning Summer so far and I have just come in from watering everything.

    This week I received the quarterly electricity bill. This is a joint one for my son and I as we share a supply. It was for £600 and one penny. I managed to restrain the urge to send a cheque for £600 followed the next day by one for a penny. Accompanied of course by fulsome apologies for having overlooked the penny.


  28. @ Lew:

    You’re taking them all in hand and they don’t even know it, poor dears. 🙂


  29. Hi Lewis and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but I am officially smashed (i.e. tired) and am off to bed for an early night and long sleep. I had to work in the big smoke today and it was a long work day.

    Lewis – When I got home a big storm arrived and the wind was howling and the rain was driving. Even so, there was a wombat happily munching around and an owl sitting in the ornamental cherry waiting for an unfortunate rodent. The wombat must have been hungry to have been out in this weather, but it has been this way for a few nights and even wombat reserves have their limits.

    I was glad to get the wood fire going and close the doors to the outside world! Me tired…



  30. @ Pam – Sometimes, addelpated (sp?) is just an act, around here. Sly, cunning and manipulative is more the order of the day. :-). Me, too. We’ve all had years of practice. Lew

  31. Hi Chris- l look forward to reading your blog each week and I’m happy to see the new format. Much easier for senior eyes to read and photos much improved! Appreciate your stories about the goings- on at Fernglade and your perspective on global/ environmental events. Thanks Chris!

  32. Hi Lewis,

    Oh! You may be surprised, but I have never seen ‘jelly’ as you describe it. Just to confuse the entire matter, jelly down here is a substance that contains quantities of gelatine and is usually in bright primary colours, and has a strange wobbly consistency. It is a dessert and usually has very little taste. About the only time you encounter jelly nowadays is in the very old school dessert of ‘trifle’. The photos on that link do the dessert justice. It is good. The berries are sadly out of season here now, although that doesn’t stop them being displayed for sale at the local green grocers, having been trucked from an inordinately far distant place somewhere ‘up north’. I have always wondered at the name of that dessert because the word ‘trifle’, generally also refers to a small and insignificant thing.

    And thus we come full circle – via the way of the dessert – and back to the vagaries of the English language. Yeah, I hear you about that, and then there are the difficulties with the local accents. Down here the accent is fairly homogeneous across the continent. But in your country, the accents can vary wildly. I note that just for one example the Vermont accent is very close to that of the Canadian accent – my hate mail has suddenly increased at that observation! I often wonder at the diverse spread of accents in your country and the origins of that. As an amusing postscript, sometimes I annoy Canadian’s down here (and I can hear the accent difference) by asking them what part of the US are they from. That is always guaranteed to get a rise out of them! Plus it is just plain fun for me! Hehe!

    That reminds me of a strange circumstance last weekend. The local bakery was very busy because of the Queen’s birthday long weekend, and the place was full of tourists. All I wanted was a vanilla slice and jam doughnut (your donut), but the crowd was thick like flies at the counter. A lady turned to me (who was unknown to me) at one point and out of the blue said: “How does this place work?” It was spoken in a very commanding and authoritative manner, and I thought to myself before replying: “Ah, I can see that your last slave died of disobedience, and this was an endless disappointment to you”. I just pointed at the red ticket dispenser (the bakery is a very orderly business) and said “red thing”. I often wonder when people forgot to be polite to strangers because I was brought up to say: “excuse me, please, and thank you”. They don’t hurt to say, and they smooth the complexities of social interactions. If really rude people ask me for directions, I inevitably send them in the wrong direction – it is a bad habit of mine…

    Where were we? Haha! Of course, as to an author’s agenda, well we all see the world differently and want to express our views. And how much fun does that make? It would be a rather dull world if we all thought the same thoughts. Plus we’d probably never get anything really interesting done. Speaking of which, I really must get the emoji’s buttons going in the comment section tonight.

    Honestly, I’m salivating thinking about your organic strawberries purchased at the local farmer’s market. Yum! Did they have good smell and taste? Strawberries are an interesting berry in that they are quite low in sugar, but the berries use all sorts of chemicals to produce nice smells and flavour. I may write over the next few weeks about what it is like to live through the winter here and how we’ve adapted over the years.

    Speaking of strawberries, about half an hour ago we had a cattle dog incident. I’d only just put the chickens to bed, and it was not quite dark yet. I let Ollie (the cattle dog) outside to go to the toilet, and unbeknownst to me, a large wallaby was in the strawberry enclosure happily munching away on the strawberry plants. Well, Ollie wasn’t having any of that, as it was an affront to his feelings about his domain. The two animals met and clashed without a decisive outcome. And the hapless strawberry stealing marsupial bounded off the property after smashing through the remains of the netting on the enclosure. Ollie has this weird sense of the limits of his territory and he chased the escaping wallaby to the boundary and then returned, looking as if he’d had the best time ever. I hope he does not try that trick on a seven foot kangaroo as I am very uncertain of the outcome. Oh well, Ollie is his own keeper.

    Nice work with the bookshelves and I particularly enjoyed your clever ploy which scored the discount. Cheap but serviceable sounds as if the shleves will enjoy a long life.

    Oh yeah, fair enough about the VHS tapes. Now in a weird form of synchronicity, the local pub which generally stocks only locally produced specialty beers (sorry for this digression), but I noted that one of them the other night was represented by a VHS tape with a logo. This may well mean that brewers are now about my age and can recall such bits of technology? In a strange twist to the story along the lines of the revenge of analogue, I was always rather impressed at the dynamic range of audio that the very high end HiFi stereo video recorders could capture and reproduce on tape. They were far superior to the old cassette tapes which were a bit of a compromise. To be honest, your VHS tapes have probably demagnetised, sorry to say.

    Far out, speaking of repairing such devices, I occasionally look at my old audio devices and have wondered about who will be left to repair such items when they eventually need repairing. I know of one or two shops in Melbourne that still do that, but you know, they’re few and far between. When I was a kid, such electronics repair shops were easily found.

    Top work in discovering a secret patch of strawberries. Hey, they may be alpine strawberries? Dunno. Alpine strawberries run feral in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, and from time to time I taste test the berries. Now, interestingly, some of the berries are very good, but others taste like cardboard and for the life of me I can’t tell the difference just by looking at the plants and berries. Do you have alpine strawberries in your part of the world?

    Very funny too! Hehe! I tell ya what, it is another dark and stormy night here tonight! Hehe! Far out, the weather of the past few days has been feral. I hope I have something to write about for Monday? No doubts I’ll be able to go outside sooner or later…



  33. Hi Inge,

    Oh. Well, it is funny that you mention the similarities between the state of your potatoes and the ones growing here, but I’ll tell you a funny story. For some strange reason, people in Melbourne have grown accustomed to the rather mild winters that they experience. Even those that have lived overseas and have experienced much more extreme winter weather have become accustomed to the mild winters. It does get cold during winter in Melbourne and the maximum daytime temperature can hover around 50’F for days and days. Up here it can hover around 37’F during those days which is a result of the combination of altitude and being inland.

    Anyway, most people in Melbourne would suggest that I live in a very cold corner of this country and they constantly remark about how cold the winters are. Thus proving that the term ‘cold’, is a relative concept with very little overlap, especially given the sort of winters that you may experience.

    Sorry I digress, but the original observation that you raised was that plants continue to grow here during the winters – albeit rather slowly. That may explain the similarities of the potatoes despite the difference in the hemisphere and seasons? The potatoes are warmer in the ground because the soil does not get as cold as the air temperature. And a frost can linger for about two days at most, but it does not reach deep into the soil.

    You know, I have a hunch that you live in quite a good corner of your country, for all sorts of reasons, one of which is the climate. It is very good to hear about the missed potatoes re-sprouting.

    When the wind is howling and the winter rains are driving, it is a true delight to read about the lovely summer weather that you are all enjoying and I get to enjoy the knowledge that the sun is warming your gardens. It is nice.

    The water tanks are rapidly refilling because of all of the rain here.

    Just for your interest, that sort of electricity bill is in the ball park of what I see of other people’s bills down here. I dream of access to such volumes of electricity! But then, I have access to firewood which is in plentiful supply. We’re not far from the winter solstice, and despite that and the rain and thick clouds, the solar power is working OK now that I have repaired the system.

    Are you harvesting anything from your vegetable patch or greenhouse yet? I’m dreaming of fresh strawberries…



  34. Hi Robyn,

    Welcome to the discussion!

    Thanks very much for writing that. Nice! How good are the images on the new blog? And I reckon the text is crisper too because of the clean background. Nothing fancy, just good words and images! Hehe! I aim to entertain and inform, and am very glad that you are along for and enjoying the ride.



  35. @ Lew:

    Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel. Watch out – murder was included in there . . .


  36. Hello again
    We do have a better climate than the mainland, warmer on the whole. We don’t get as cold in Winter but nor do we get as hot as the mainland does in the centre in Summer as we are affected by sea breezes.

    Another advantage probably so on all islands is a tendency for less crime. Large stolen goods would have to be got off the Island via a ferry. We do have close criminal set ups but it does tend to be small stuff.

    Strawberries: Oh yes I am eating them every day and giving them to Son. It is now past peak strawberries but I still get some. Birds and mice are eating them as well. In fact the birds are taking them to a table to eat; rather sweet really.

    I am eating from a nice crop of Swiss chard. Also have radishes but none of my lettuces have come up. Apart from that, I have French sorrel, sage, parsley and oregano available and they will continue until Winter.

    I believe that I mentioned that in all these years I have never seen a squirrel’s drey. Well now I have. Son brought one to show me. It was in his shed and the young had now left it. He is amazed that it was built there as he is in and out all the time. It had an outer frame of twigs within which was a mass of very thin bark shavings and some pieces from Son’s newspapers, he could even read the words. The whole was a complete oval ball with a small entrance hole.


  37. Hi Chris,

    Yes we can definitely harvest wood from the lot. I don’t know if I’ll take asparagus crowns as when we signed the contract with the realtor you had to specify if you were taking any perennials. I may take out a few that are actually growing in the lawn around my garden from an old bed.

    The home inspection went very well. It’s a good solid house. There is a dead tree and some dead branches over buildings that need to be addressed. The inspection report is quite extensive with areas noted that might need some watching and later attention. The roof is fairly new as is the out building as both had to be replaced when damaged by a tornado. I well remember that tornado which was in January (a very unusual time) as it hit some trees on our road as well. It also took out much of an apple orchard near our new place. Hopefully since it’s already been hit we’ll be safe for awhile.

    Baltimore Orioles love grape jelly and everyone who feeds birds puts it out for them. We have at least 3 pairs this year and as they are one of our most colorful birds it’s fun to watch them. They also come to the hummingbird feeder but are a bit to large to comfortably feed from it. Orange halves are also one of their favorites. The grape jelly probably isn’t all that healthful for them but I figure it’s only a small part of their diet. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/overview

    I’ve had potato plants sprout in the spring from missed ones even with the freezing temperatures here.

    Sounds like Ollie is earning his keep. Good for him.


  38. Yo, Chris – Summer is arriving. ETA, this weekend. :-). Starting Sunday, temps are getting into the upper 80sF. That should make my garden jump!

    Looking at the the recipe, it calls for “raspberry jello crystals. Here we just call it “Jello” as that’s the company that cornered the market, way back when. Responsible for a plethora of bizarre deserts. It has gelatin in it. Jelly, however … now, to just open a whole different jar of jam …

    I checked out my canning cookbooks, just to know of whence I speak. Fruit jellies are made from the juice of several fruits (or herbs) and involve just sugar and pectin. At some time in the distant past, I have made mint jelly and apple jelly. It looks jewel like and is quit pretty put up in jars. But, I always felt a little wasteful, throwing away all that good pulp.

    LOL The book said “Preserves have many tastes, many names.” Ain’t that the truth. Jelly, jam, marmalades, conserves, butters and brandied. There was a whole page (with illustrations) on “finding the magic jell point.” For jelly.

    Well, Come The Revolution, the posh lady in the doughnut shop will be among the first to go. You should have told her express service is available. “Just step right up into this tumbrel…” I guess her minions had a day off and she had to fetch her own tucker. Or, she was “between.” So hard to keep good help. :-).

    This is probably a good place to mention the movie I watched, last night. “Ethel & Ernest.” Animated, but not what I’d call a children’s film. It is from a book by artist and illustrator Raymond Briggs. Really a simple story of the artists parents, in suburban London (starting in 1928) and up to their deaths in the 1970s. “Forty years of change, one enduring love.” One interesting thing about the film is all the little comments the Mum drops, that indicate an awareness of “class” and one’s place in the world. Another thing I found interesting was, the Dad was a milkman, and in the late 40’s he got a new electric milk delivery van. Who knew? Cont.

  39. Cont. Here, we just call them “wild strawberries” instead of “alpine.” They can be pretty bland. The one’s I spotted appear to be commercial. But, probably need a bit of feeding (and separating) to improve flavor. The deer nipped off the tops of quit a few of the Garden Goddesses strawberries. They’ve been at my peas. Need to get that fence up.

    Wombat Raid! Glad to hear Ollie is on the job.

    VHS, etc.. Repair shops are a dying breed. But, we have a show repair or two, I noticed a cleaners that did alternations and repairs. There’s a computer repair or two. Repair shops are out there, but you have to dig for them. Not one in every neighborhood like the old days.

    I had a video camera, once. Used it on a few trips, and then it languished in a box until the technology moved on. Ditto the digital camera. But you’re right. The sound was very good.

    I got most of my strawberries froze up, yesterday. Will be about a gallon and a half. I usually have the feeling that “it’s not enough.” But, I reminded myself that there will be blueberries and blackberries, later on. Lew

  40. @ Pam – I watched one of the Great Courses on “Great Works of Mystery and Suspense.” There’s a whole genre the professor referred to as “Cozy cottage mysteries.” Some of Christie’s were like that. Miss Marple, etc.. And, she wasn’t the only one writing them. Lew

  41. Hi Inge,

    That sure does sound like a temperate maritime climate – and it sounds pretty good to me. It is nice to have a less extreme climate, although I’d imagine the winds could pick up and blow a gale on your island from time to time?

    There is also a sort of sense about people being in the area who have no business there, and in rural areas I’m always amazed at how activities are watched and noted. And the more out of the ordinary ones are commented upon and recounted. I assume that happens in your area too? The ferry would make such nefarious activities quite complex. Interesting.

    Hmm, fresh strawberries! Yum! And the birds and animals can be quite sweet as they’re tucking into produce. You know, I don’t begrudge them their share, and most of what I work towards is trying to work out how to balance the harvest between my needs and theirs. It is not always easy. Today we dismantled the old strawberry enclosure because of the Ollie – Wallaby incident yesterday and have begun chucking around ideas as to how to convert that area into a pumpkin and melon growing space.

    Swiss chard is quite nice and very hardy, but the editor is not a fan and we don’t grow it. It is funny that you mention lettuces, but I have the same problem that you had with the potatoes in that lettuces grow outside of the summer season. The heat causes lettuce to bolt to seed, although you can set up elaborate structures to shade the plants.

    Squirrels are very clever creatures. I checked out a few images of a squirrels drey and spotted images of squirrels also living in hollows in trees. Now of course if my history is faulty, I apologise, but didn’t at some far distant time the UK undertook a prolonged and significant expansion of their naval fleet and timber was in short supply? Dunno about your part of the world, but down here only the largest and oldest trees have hollows, and for those hollows alone the trees are very precious. That is because hollows of all shapes and sizes are housing for the local birds and animals. But your squirrels are smarter than that, because they construct their own houses in the form of a drey. Cool huh? Was it a large drey?

    I forgot to ask you how the repair to the shed roof has ended up? I hope that your book collection is OK and not damaged by the rainfall?



  42. Hi Margaret,

    A well established woodlot is a thing of beauty. Honestly, managing firewood is a very complex and difficult task that forces a person to consider not only the next few years, but you have to stretch your mind for many decades into the future. My mind is not quite that stretchy, but I am considering the matter and adapting. In the meantime, it is nice that you can harvest firewood from the new property.

    Really? Well your sale contracts are far tighter than ours down here. For some reason I’ve noted that people are inordinately concerned about fixtures and fittings such as light fittings etc. and all sorts of other really minor details. I’ve never encountered a clause relating to a garden.

    I totally understand about the dead branches over hanging the building. Such branches tend to fall without notice and cause damage. On the other hand, due to the bush fire risk, I have a general policy of no trees within dropping distance of the house. Mind you, there is a large branch – which is still very much alive – looming towards one of the bee hives and I do pause and consider that branch from time to time.

    Oh. That is an unusual time for a tornado. Down here I usually see them during summer, although the ones here are a minor event compared to tornado alley. Mind you, four inches of rain in an hour and high speed winds can be challenging for any systems and we got resoundingly thumped. I wish I’d taken a photo of the tornado that hit here. I remarked to the editor that the one that was rapidly moving in on Christmas day many years ago was an unusual looking cloud… Your new roof on the house is probably better anchored than the old roof which was probably held on with only a few nails. Because of the bushfire risk here, the designers specified huge quantities of steel strapping so the entire house is anchored to the ground. The design did my head in, but it has been tested and passed as adequate by a minor tornado. You know, it is one less thing to worry about for you. Pah! sorry to say but Tornadoes are like lightening in that they do strike in the same place twice – I reckon you’d be better prepared for that eventuality with the new roof, but that is just a guess and who is to know the details of the work.

    Ah, your Baltimore Orioles are a honey eater so no wonder they like sweets! We have red breasted robins as well as honey eaters and they move very fast so they tend to favour the higher energy feed! The beak is a dead giveaway with your Baltimore Orioles.

    Yeah, how anyone can remove all of the potato tubers from the soil is an act that is so far beyond my understanding. When I dig up potatoes I find both large and small tubers and they are so reliable they just produce new plants. Probably I’m a bit slack in digging them all up, but it is nice that I’m in good company. :-)! The tubers go down into the soil quite far too, so if the frost line was quite high, I don’t see why they wouldn’t survive a cold winter. Dunno, it is pure speculation on my part.

    Ollie is rapidly becoming the favourite canine… I dismantled the old strawberry enclosure this morning. Ollie turned it into a canine – marsupial cage fight yesterday. And honestly not much happened because he was uninjured and I woke up this morning to discover the wallaby happily back in the strawberry enclosure munching away on plants…



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Yay for summer temperatures in the 80’F’s. Those sorts of conditions will indeed make your garden bounce! It is 37’F outside again right now and a winter storm has only just touched down. A tiny bit of rain has began to fall, but tomorrow I fully expect an inch of rain to land. The forecast casually mentioned that the rain for tomorrow would be “heavy at times”. Those sorts of conditions strike fear, as heavy rainfall can cause a lot of damage.

    I still haven’t properly sorted out the land above the landslip area so as to reduce that possible risk. The editor and I today discussed a number of strategies to reduce the damage from very heavy rains and we shall be implementing them over the next few months. Infrastructure takes a lot of time to install, and it also can’t be installed out of context. I mean the whole lot has to work as a system, and not as individual systems cobbled together. It is complex.

    Need I mention the word ‘gelatinous’ when discussing jelly? Surely the feelings derived from that word say so much about jelly? Maybe? Probably not. Oooo, to me it brings to mind scenes from the horrific late 1970’s sci-fi horror film: “Alien”. An awesome film and it completely scared the daylights out of me. Who would have thought that the robot in the film had its own agenda? Even back then I learned that AI was not a thing to be trusted. Self driving cars – no thank you.

    Yeah, the pulp is not to be wasted and I had no idea that it was even disposed of in jam making. The closest I can imagine to jelly is quince jelly which is reasonably solid but is closer to a jelly than jam. Jam has fibre and chunks from what we make here. For your horror, I made medlar jam a year or two back and it is a very thick jam and almost has the consistency of vegemite, so I gather the fruits have an enormous quantity of pectin, but I don’t really know.

    Hehe! Ah yes, come the revolution! I was quite gobsmacked that another person unbeknownst to me would command me in such a manner. Sometimes I get annoyed but such acts of uncivility and I say: “My mum taught me to say: excuse me, please, and thank you”. The problem is people look aghast at such basic instructions in the gentle art of civility. I mean what else can you do? Do you have any suggestions? Hehe! Yes, it is hard to keep good help with such a poor attitude. Far out!

    Yeah animations can be for kids, and sometimes not. From my perspective it is simply another medium of expression and should be regarded in its own right. And you know what? I reckon a simplistic format can slide under a person’s radar. Dunno, what do you reckon about that?

    Far out! Who knew that the milk delivery was in an electric van? Cool. Did the van look like a light weight machine – possibly a three wheeler? One of the big problems that I see with electric vehicles is that people expect them to look like huge SUV’s without understanding that the quantity of energy contained in the batteries is far less than that of a fuel tank.

    Yeah, alpine or wild strawberries can taste like cardboard. Mind you, they are hardier than the more pampered commercially developed plant varieties. Hey, after the Ollie v Wallaby fight yesterday we decided to dismantle the netting around the old strawberry enclosure today. I could not believe when I woke up this morning and the wallaby was in there again. Like surely the wallaby would see Ollie and say to itself: That dog is bad news! and then bolt into the forest? But no, the wallaby just hunkered down and pretended to be a rock. Fortunately Ollie was distracted and failed to notice the wallaby. Anyway, those plants have to go! But first the netting – earlier today. We have plans to convert that area into a pumpkin (squash in US speak) and melon growing space.

    Yeah, you are right. You do have to dig deep to find the repair shops. Down here, most dry cleaners also do clothes repairs. I had a zipper once break on my trousers at a clients. It was awkward, but to alleviate my feelings I just told them my zipper had broken and asked for a safety pin – which they couldn’t provide. It is best to own these disasters. But the local clothes repair folks replaced the zipper in no time at all. The editor is pretty handy with clothes repairs and modifications, but we are occasionally very busy, and it is nice to keep others in business too.

    The sound was very good on those old HiFi VHS tapes because the sound was recorded in a magnetic layer below the recorded video. And because the physical tape was so wide compared to cassette tapes, the technology recorded a huge dynamic range in the two audio tracks. Not many people noticed at the time, but it was good stuff. Back then people were in to vinyl, and then CD’s hit the market and suddenly it was digital or nothing. Digital was good because the sound was crisp and the quiet passages were not full of background hiss, it was different.

    Oh my! A gallon and a half of strawberries and I am salivating considering such a harvest! Total yummo! You’re teasing me with all this talk of blueberries and blackberries!!! Hehe! Nice.

    I’m working my way through the bottled apricots for breakfast and they’re good. The dogs aren’t keen on the sugary apricot syrup that the fruit is preserved in, but too bad, so sad for them.

    Tomorrow looks set to dump an inch of rain here. The forecast is suggesting that the rain will begin at midnight and run to the following midnight, but as previously mentioned it is gently falling now. It wasn’t far off snow rain earlier today. At least the water tanks are starting to rapidly fill up. I’m about 8,000 gallons away from having a full system, and I always feel better when the water tanks are full.

    It is cold too. The night time temperatures now are down to 37’F and it is at those times that I’m grateful for the work done earlier in the year on the firewood stores.

    The old blog is now permanently deleted and I’m going to have a look into RSS feeds tonight. That RSS system can be used to tell me when a blog that I link to has raised a new post. Otherwise I’m in the dark.



  44. @ Margaret:

    I wondered why you suddenly jumped to talking about baseball players and grape jelly . . . Considering how close we are to Baltimore, I’ve always wondered why I’ve only seen one B. Oriole here (the bird). It’s because I eat all the grape jelly.


  45. Chris:

    I think your wallabies are our groundhogs. Arnie the groundhog is back, and bigger than ever. He found a spot where Petey the rabbit – who had apparently gotten trapped in the garden when a small tyke – had finally decided that the big, wide world looked more appealing (I have a feeling he is going to regret that) and dug out. Arnie enlarged the hole WAY big and snuck in and ate all the pinto bean plants, but was so nervous that he ran right back out. The garden has a whole new layer of netting wrapped around it and no squirrel delinquents, rabbits, or groundhogs have been back in. The garden looks so ramshackle that you wouldn’t believe it, with all these emergency fixes. I had wrapped foil around some fence posts and my son had wrapped plastic sheeting around others and the only one it scared at all was Myron the baby deer. He likes to run up to the foil, stare at it, leap in the air, and run away; then repeat it all. He is a character.


  46. Yo, Chris – “The Blob.” I think they used gallons of Jello, filming that back in the 1950’s. Clean up on aisle 4! Typos in paragraph 4! Although, in the comments, probably not earth shaking. Yeah, overly jelled preserves are a problem. But, usually, a hot piece of toast or biscuit takes care of that.

    And, a final thought about all things jelly. An ear worm. “If I could shimmy like my sister Kate! (Ba-Boom-Boom) She shmmies like jelly on a plate…” An old tune favored by cafe singers and exotic dancers. Ideal for beaded dresses. Sets the whole thing in motion. 🙂

    My suggestion? Let them be aghast. I have occasionally said to young men who seem to be only able to communicate with strings of foul language: “Do you eat with that mouth? Kiss your mother?” Of course, being well on the road to ancient, you can get away with more.

    Full water tanks. Like money in the bank. Money under the mattress. A full wood shed. A loaded pantry. Now, that’s security.

    I don’t sign on to RSS feeds. I’ve got enough “stuff” coming at my computer.

    No deer damage, last night. I scattered around quit a bit of blood meal. And, a little self produced deer deterrent. :-). Of course, due to the blood meal, when I watered this morning it looked like a rather distressing crime scene.

    The neat thing about “Ethel & Ernest” was, their reaction to their first telephone. First TV. First car. I can remember seeing my first TV. A babe in arms, staring through the neighborhood hardware store window, late at night. In the snow. Lew

  47. Hi Pam,

    Your story about Arnie reminds me of the little kid in Poltergeist proclaiming: “They’re he-re”. Frightening stuff. I’d imagine not much could stop a groundhog, and is there a story behind Arnie’s name? Oh Petey, whatever are we to do with you and your rabbit ambitions of world domination? Clearly you are going with your gut feeling in that matter, and it is not telling you a good story about Petey’s future. Rabbits lead a nervous existence from what I’ve seen of them and the only ones I see here are running for their very lives. They’re much more plentiful down by the river on the flats in the valley below.

    Yeah, it is funny how you have to cobble all of the systems together as you discover their failings and weak points. To be honest, it isn’t lost on me what an opportunity it is to be able to scrap a system completely and then construct it betterer, except that the mice (and your groundhogs) eventually find their way in again.

    Myron the baby deer sounds like a charming character!



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Haha! I watched a trailer of a young Steve McQueen taking on the might of the Blob! Don’t walk, run, seems to be the watchword of that day. I’ll bet the film crew had a bucket (excuse the bad pun) of fun making all that gooey mess. The film may have started the genre of the teen horror flick? Wow. The film made a killing (again excuse the bad pun) at the box office. The final lines of the film are a bit eerie really and isn’t it also a morality tale about the dangers of exponential growth?

    Oh yeah, the grammar police can be let loose on the main essay, but they have no place showing their hand in the comment sections. I’d have to suggest that a more carefree and Laissez-faire attitude may prevail in such important matters! I really must get the emoji’s working… Hey, I finally worked out how to get the Blog Feeds from other websites going on this website late last night and have added a new page which shows the title and date of the most recent two posts in the blogroll. Oh, that sounds all rather technical doesn’t it? But it does work.

    Alas, some people have an innate ability to dance, and perhaps we should organise sister Kate to teach us all how to shimmy? It couldn’t hurt, could it? It is interesting to me that some cultures teach their kids to dance, but well, all I can say is that Anglo cultures can be rather repressed on that front. Peasant dances like the Zorba are easily picked up!

    Hmm, there are some benefits to being ancient, but rebuking the young is not a task that I enjoy. I have taken note that tensions in the culture down here seem to have risen a point or two lately, and I put that down to a lack of buy-in. Some folks feel despondent, others strive, others take, and some are very angry indeed. It is an old story, but as inequality widens, the gap that people peer into, looks rather like a chasm. I tend not to give a rise if the odds are not in my favour. Some people have trouble weighing odds.

    Exactly! Such is the stuff of security. A garden full of edible plants and a head full of useful practiced knowledge is sound strategy.

    Total respect for the deer repellent activities. It really is hard finding a balance between the needs of the wildlife and your own needs. And the mid point constantly shifts. Had to laugh about your crime scene joke. Very funny! A black light would be quite useful in such circumstances. On the other hand that is probably the sort of problem that psychotic pig farmers have to deal with… DNA tends to hang around. A long time ago I watched the series Deadwood, and I vividly recall the ease that Mr Wu’s pigs used to consume difficult people. A truly horrid concept, but a fascinating plot point.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that people will not miss such technological toys when they are eventually taken away. Those toys are subject to the law of diminishing returns!



  49. Chris:Arnie the groundhog – Knight of Perserverence – was named after Arnold the Pig on “Green Acres”, that spinoff of “Petticoat Junction”. They don’t call them “hogs” for nothing.Petey is the most laid-back rabbit I have seen, probably because there are no longer dogs – or cats – here. He takes a nap in a shrub that I walked by all the time on my way to the garden.One has to be taught to dance?!Alert! The typing for my comment has gone wacky and an unsolicited happy face has just appeared in it. Let’s see if it goes through.Pam

  50. Chris:The comment has gone through, but not as typed. I had paragraph spaces in there.Pam

  51. Hi Pam,
    Hehe! Thanks for the explanation! Hehe!
    I’m writing tomorrow’s blog, so will reply then. The smiley is part of the emoji’s I addded to the comments earlier this evening:😀
    There is also a comment notification button. Far out this stuff is complex. Oh, the box for comments is now weird… Oh well…
  52. Hi everyone,
    This is a test of the comments with the emoji’s enabled.
    I don’t reckon it is working too well.
    Perhaps I need to go back to the drawing board on this one.
    Nope not good at all


  53. Yo, Chris – Steve McQueen had quit the film career. For some reason, he was big in Japan. He always played The American Scientist, in horror movies.

    One of our residents left yesterday, to live closer to her daughter in Missouri. Maria was a German war bride. I wish I would have gotten to know her better. I did a rousing “Toot, toot, Tootsie, good-bye…” (well, the first two lines, anyway) in the parking lot.

    I pounded in the stakes for the deer fence, yesterday. I’ll put up the netting, today. Hmmm. Now I’m wondering if the deer fence I got will shade my garden, too much. Should have maybe gone with chicken wire. Oh, well. I’ll give it a whirl.

    I checked out the strawberries, yesterday. Much to my surprise, no slug damage. Got a generous handful. Gave them a taste test. Very tart, but good strawberry flavor. Froze up the rest of the strawberries. 7 quarts, all together.

    And, from The Wonderful World of Archaeology. From Tintagel in Cornwall, birthplace of King Arthur (?). A slate window ledge from the 7th century, with doodles on it. No “Artie loves Ginny”, unfortunately. Lew

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