You can’t stop regress

The farm is now a month on from the winter solstice. Spare a thought for us people suffering though the coldest part of the year. Even Scritchy the ultra tough miniature fox terrier boss dog is finding the conditions to be cold – and not to her liking at all!

Scritchy the boss dog warms her short haired body under the wood heater on a cold winters day

In the depths of winter the performance of the solar power system is always on my mind. In winter the sun is low in the northern sky and nature provides very little energy to the farm.

In 2011, which was only six months after moving into the half finished house, I realised that I could not simply chuck a couple of solar photovoltaic panels on the roof and everything would be cool for electricity. By winter the air temperature was certainly cool, but the solar panels on the roof were not producing enough energy for our daily requirements. I was certainly not cool. In fact, I was freaking out!

Back in those days, the little Honda petrol generator created a ruckus in the otherwise quiet winter forest as the pistons of the engine pumped up and down and valiantly turned the alternator. That combination produced electricity which was pumped into the batteries. Without that little generator spinning around and around and making all of that noise, we would have been in the dark.

I decided then and there that I had to maintain daily records so as to learn how this renewable energy stuff worked in the real world. In a desperate frame of mind, I contacted the many other folks I knew who were living day to day with this renewable energy stuff and I sought their advice.

From those complex discussions, I deduced that I would have to learn what the health of the batteries were, and how much electricity did the solar panels bring in every day of the year. And who would have thought it, but every single day of the year, the system performed differently to the day before it.

This renewable energy stuff is far more complex than it looks. In fact I often hear people make the most astounding claims about renewable energy sources and future possibilities. As a general bit of advice, whenever you hear such claims, think to yourself – the people in question are talking total rubbish. And if you really want to annoy them, ask them whether they have to monitor and record how much electricity they use in their household every day of the year?

Unfortunately for me, I do actually have to monitor the solar power system every single day of the year – and have done so for the past seven years. Such monitoring can occasionally make for a nervous existence during the winter months (or if something goes wrong like it did recently).

Fortunately at Fernglade Farm we’re made of tough stuff, and so every morning I check upon the batteries to see how full they are. Then in the evening I check how much electricity the solar panels have brought in during the day compared to how much we’d used. Then we make plans for electricity use for that night and the following day. Of course after so many years of living with solar panels I can look into the sky and at the weather forecast, and estimate fairly accurately how the system is performing.

The other day I became interested in how the system was performing this winter compared to previous winters. The following graph shows how the system is working during the months of June and July from 2011 to 2018.

Winter solar power from 2011 to 2018

Every year since 2011, we’ve had to perform some sort of work and/or upgrade to the solar power system. Honestly, it defies belief, but it costs a heck of lot of money to be able to harvest the reliable average of 6.8kWh of electricity per day that we do enjoy. And that is from the 5.8kW of solar panels installed on various rooftops.

You could say that my experience has led me to believe that I’m not entirely convinced of the argument that Industrial civilisation could be run from solar power and other renewable energy sources. Such claims sound like total rubbish to me.

Anyway, how does the winter solar power production compare to the rest of the year?

Annual solar power production 2011 to 2018

Observant readers will note that our average electricity requirements for the entire year is only slightly higher at 7.9kWh of electricity per day than during the two months of winter (at 6.8kWh).

Really alert readers will note that the output of the system increased dramatically between the years 2013 and 2015, but since then I’d have to suggest that further investment in the system produces little increase in output. It was quite interesting to me to see the concept of ‘diminishing returns’ expressed so clearly on the graphs.

Over the years it has become increasingly clear that during the winter months nature will provide only so much energy, and then you’re on your own. I can see that concept also playing out with the wildlife that lives on the farm. There is a lot of wildlife living here and they all enjoy a good feed (as do we) – but at this time of the year things aren’t so free and easy. I call that the late winter famine.

We’re watching how this winter famine plays out and will adjust our planting strategies in future years. I’m genuinely glad that we have access to fresh food markets otherwise things would be grim here:

Once we were broadbeans
The King Parrots have taken a liking to this variety of geranium
Wallabies have eaten the tops of these leeks and chives
Who or what eats potato leaves?
Even the local ferns are being stripped of their foliage

The plants will grow back as the weeks move ever closer to spring and summer. The rats on the other hand have been enjoying a charmed winter of fresh water and plentiful grains, because they were smart enough to break into the apparently rodent proof chicken enclosure. It wasn’t quite as rodent proof as I’d believed it to be.

I’d like to believe that I’m smarter than a rat, but given what I’ve observed of their activities over the years, I can’t definitively say that I am smarter. However, today I made a crushing blow against the rodent resistance and we laid a concrete slab over the area into which the rats had dug tunnels and gained access into the chicken enclosure (and the prize of the plentiful winter grains).

First we set out timber formwork over another quarter of the chickens run. Formwork is the fancy name for the timber that holds wet cement in place so that it can dry and cure into concrete.

Timber formwork and rocks were put in place ahead of the pour of cement

Observant readers will note one of two holes that the rats had dug so as to gain access. Anyway, they no longer have easy access as we mixed up the cement and poured it over the area.

The author looking pleased at the cement slab that we poured today in the chicken enclosure

That’ll stuff ’em, for the moment anyway. Over the next few weeks we will continue to extend the concrete slab until the entire area is covered. After that, I’m pretty certain the rats will come up with a new way to gain access to the chicken enclosure, but I have no idea what form it will take.

It isn’t only the rats that can dig in the soil. We’re pretty handy at that task too. Over the past few days, we finished excavating a flat site on the existing blackberry terrace. Over the next month or so we plan to construct a small garden shed on that flat site.

The blackberry terrace was extended so that we can construct a small garden shed on the now flat site

We also began extending the excavations on the next terrace above (which is the existing strawberry terrace).

Excavations also commenced on extending the slightly higher strawberry terrace

Of course nothing is ever simple when you excavate using hand tools and an electric jackhammer. We unearthed a huge old tree stump which you can see poking out of the ground in the above photo. I reckon old eucalyptus tree stumps take at least a millennia to break down. Despite the tree having been gone for decades, the timber is as hard as. We managed to remove half of the tree stump but had to call it a day as we were both tired from the exertions.

Still, I reckon it is looking good and you can place the two extended terraces into some context in the next photo:

The two existing terraces are in the process of being extended

One good outcome of the excavations is that we unearthed a huge quantity of rocks. Every rock has a use and this was a good haul:

We unearthed a good quantity of rocks in the recent excavations

On a completely different topic – If anyone has ever wondered why the charming Sir Scruffy earned his name? Well wonder no more:

The charming Sir Scruffy proves that he earned his name

I feel that spring is moving closer. Today working outside in the sun, mid afternoon it almost felt as if the sun were burning my skin and there was some toothy heat behind the suns feeble winter rays. The plants also confirm my suspicions:

The Manchurian pear buds are beginning to swell
Fern cam (TM) shows that the tree fern fronds are beginning to unfurl
This birds nest fern in the fern gully looks very healthy
The buds in this golden elm are also swelling
This hazelnut has produced catkins out of nowhere in the past few days

There are some flowers too:

I spotted the first dandelion of the season today
How cool is this hellebore?
More hellebore’s are about to make an appearance
Pink rosemary is a prolific flowering plant
Rhubarb plants happily flower and self seed here

The small birds have been also enjoying the warmer weather and I spotted this little red breasted robin in front of two massive eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Obliqua) trees:

A red breasted robin back-dropped by two huge eucalyptus trees

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 506.8mm (20.0 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 495.4mm (19.5 inches).

58 thoughts on “You can’t stop regress”

  1. Interesting, those power graphs. I graphed mine for a couple of years and I’ve only got a 3kW system, still on-grid. My daily use would be about the same as you without the panels. I can’t afford to go off-grid, so that settles that!

    Looks like you need to put wire around the top of those tank beds? I have to do the same with my wicking boxes, but thankfully rabbits aren’t as tall as wallabies.

  2. Hi Margaret,

    It doesn’t rain, but it pours, and you seem to be proving the truth of that old time saying. Best wishes for Michael’s procedure, and you know what, I reckon no time is good for such things. Is this the first of a few procedures for Michael? Things will settle down for you, at least someone else is doing the painting and carpets. But yeah, an empty house doesn’t hide the accumulated years of dust and dirt.

    At least humid summers have the benefit of being low fire risk for the vegetation. Summers down here are getting more humid too, but occasionally the humidity can drop below 10% and the wind picks up – and then all bets are off (as they say). I’m impressed that you are harvesting onions from your garden. And remember to keep a watch on those zucchini plants, otherwise they may take over! 🙂

    Your first sentence which read: “Things are continuing to progress around here” is unintentionally and also comically ironic given the title this week! Funny stuff and to be honest I was thinking of other things when I gave the blog that title.

    I hope you remember to take some time out between this very busy period for yourself and Doug?



  3. Hi Bev,

    Far out it is feral up here. About 7.15pm a band of very intensely heavy rain swept through the area. About half an inch of rain has fallen so far, but things appear to be quietening down a bit now. I can see on the radar that a band of rain is heading over your way too.

    I salute your efforts at running your household at about the same levels of electrical energy requirements as here. It is no small feat. Also, I’m actually really impressed that you took the time to record some statistics from your grid tied system. Most people have no idea, so you are way ahead of the curve. Did you learn much by taking the time to produce the graphs?

    You know, the trees are reasonably tall here, so you may do better on solar power than here when the sun is low in the northern winter sky and the tall trees add a bit of shading. But you can see as a comparison between the two graphs that the difference between winter and summer isn’t as great as you would think.

    The thing is, over summer we could wring more energy out of the system, but do you run all of the very complex components in the system at their upper limits? Dunno. Excessive heat destroys electrical components. That is a question that we have had to ponder. Honestly, the economics of the system makes no sense at all to me, so I wouldn’t worry about going off grid.

    Thanks. Wallabies are feral – as I suspect rabbits can also be. Next year, we’ll plant mustard greens in those beds as the wallabies don’t seem to like those. All things however, are subject to change at short notice and without warning! 😉



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Oooo! I just had to go and pour myself a nice chamomile tea to soothe my rattled nerves. A very intense rain event just dumped about half an inch of rain over the farm in a very short period of time. The winds were strong and I’ll have to go outside once the winds settle down and check to see if everything is OK. Batten down the hatches, lock the passengers in, one hand for the ship, and all that stuff.

    During this time of year, as the ever so slightly warmer winds from the centre of the continent intersect with the colder winds off the Southern Ocean, the resulting weather pattern occasionally blows a solid gale. It happens. That is the case today, and such intense rainfall was not mentioned on the forecast… Still the wind is not consistent enough wind to run a wind turbine. Oh well.

    I really like the sound of ‘terrace farm’. It has a nice ring to it and I could handle a bit of poshness! 🙂 To be honest, every time we dig a new terrace or extend an existing terrace (as is the case this week), I dwell upon the Annie Hawes books and how she just purchased a terraced small holding complete with mature olive trees and a well. It is not lost on me what a Herculean effort that job would have been for the original gardeners, and they wouldn’t have had access to an electric jackhammer. Breaking rocks with hand tools is very hard work.

    The chamomile has now soothed my nerves somewhat. So, where was plausible alternative location for the famous hanging garden? Curious minds want to know. Incidentally, do we actually know where Babylon was located? It has a soiled reputation that town…

    Fair enough. It is funny to me how mobile your population is. Such a trait is not that common down here, although my friends were scattered to the four winds due to the housing bubble. But you know, I guess I do know people who are immigrants, and also friends that have moved to far distant places. I guess now that I consider the matter, maybe it is just me that has wandered far, but ended up not too far from where I started. I don’t know how I’d feel if I lived in another state, my bearings would be all off. How did you adjust to moving to another state? Did you notice any major differences?

    I’ve seen that ‘textured vegetable protein’ stuff and even cooked with it once or twice. ‘Tes not natural, to amusingly quote Cold Comfort Farm! The thing that I get a bit weird about with some vegan food items is that the creators go about producing food that looks like animal derived products. Why not keep the food stuffs looking like vegetables? It reminds me of the efforts to produce lab grown meat – which they can actually do, but at the moment the feed stocks apparently make the process uneconomic. Who’d have thunk it?

    Cliff Mass is the go to guy for keeping it real. He walks a difficult ground given the emotional heat in that particular topic. 90’F seems like such lovely weather to me! The weather is feral outside the house right now, but at least the wind appears to be letting up…

    Musicals. I dunno… Hehe! Fast forwarding through them is sheer genius. Someone once took me to see the production of Hair, and your trick would have been quite handy, although very difficult to implement with a live play. Although to be honest some of the songs were quite good, even if I found their content to be a little bit naive.

    Hen pecked! Hehe! You don’t much hear that term these days. 🙂 Your sentence was very polite all things considered, but also very judgemental – which I approve of. Funny! Mate, you know, I see a lot of people doing the strangest sort of things because they think they have to, or that their partner demands it. Or occasionally I’m quite astonished to see their partners actually demanding it. Far out the rain is hammering down on the roof. What a storm. Once upon a time winter rain used to be gentle…

    I liked the saying! Down here they say: Happy wife, happy life. Which is more or less the same sentiment. One thing that helps the editor and I, is that we share a similar cultural background and values, although we don’t agree on everything – and that’s cool, nothing says that you have to. One thing we don’t tend to do is to make ambit claims upon each other. I have seen that in action – and of course I encounter that in my line of work. Because I don’t do that myself, it was quite the shock to me when I first encountered that technique. Now of course I have since learned that people who make ambit claims are among the worst at following up on those claims. The two techniques are incompatible, or so I’ve learned, so people who pull that ambit claim technique can be safely ignored. I call such people: “Askers”.

    Oh. Well that is interesting about the freeways. I didn’t know that. I’ll bet the land was originally sold or leased on the cheap to the big box stores? Interesting. Down here the small towns just died and went straight back to a local (plus tourist) economy almost overnight. And the big box stores never really set up along the freeways. They setup in either the biggest regional town or outer suburban zone as they tend to be clustered. The small towns never had those sorts of stores in the first place, but unless they’re a commercial centre, mate the commerce has been gutted and the towns folks often have to commute into the big commercial centres. I’m fascinated by the difference, because there really is no commerce along the freeways down here other than the ubiquitous petrol stations (road houses).

    I’m starting to get an ear worm of Jim Morrison singing: “going to a roadhouse, going to get a me-al”… I’ve only ever eaten at roadhouses when I was in the middle of nowhere (as can happen in remote parts of this continent) and it was that or nothing. Strangely enough, I can’t speak for today, but back then, the more remote the roadhouse was, the better the food quality. Go figure that!

    Still raining. By sheer chance, earlier in the week I had brief contact with the guy living up north who has an off grid house and also an electric vehicle. He is the only person I’ve ever heard of who does that, of course it is much sunnier on average where he is located being further north than here. It is a Mitsubishi I-Miev (or something like that) and he reckons it requires 0.15kW per 0.62 miles. So my average winter energy generation would be enough to drive 6.8 / .15 x 0.62 = 28 miles. That doesn’t seem that far does it?



  5. Hello Chris

    It seems self evident to me that solar panels produce the least electricity at the times when you need it the most. I guess that hydro in countries like Norway, works quite well.

    Having lived at one time, with no electricity at all for 6 years, I have few illusions. We had plenty of firewood for an open fire in the living room; bottled gas for cooking and paraffin lights + candles. Oh and a battery radio. That was all and it was very hard work with 2 children.

    Today is our hottest day yet. 83F indoors even though a breeze is blowing through. Intolerable outside. Leaves are turning yellow and falling from silver birch and hazel. Silver birch doesn’t surprise me as it is always the first to shed in Autumn but hazel is normally the last, often as late as February. I can only assume that being a shrub, it lacks root depth.

    On Wednesday I am taking things away for an August auction. Not the best time of year but the dry ground means that we can get stuff out and get Son’s truck near enough to load up.


  6. Yo, Chris – Another picture for the calendar. :-). Is the robin clinging to the bark, or popping his head out of a hole?

    So, you were a bit naive about solar. So is everyone else. Now your not. Props. :-). Oh, I think “civilization” may keep chugging along, but not industrial civilization, as we know it. Sweeping adjustments will be made. One can either whinge and moan about it, or, get with the program. I’d say the rolling brownouts, here and there, and water rationing are a preview of most of our futures.

    It was fun playing “Where’s Waldo” with the King Parrot. I’d say that’s a California sized geranium. Our geraniums here are a lot more modest.

    Could be the deer got to your potatoes. They sure liked mine. I slacked off a bit on scattering blood meal, about, and they saw their opportunity. They didn’t do too much damage.

    So, Peak Rocks has been temporarily postponed. These look to be fairly manageable size. I imagine Chris sitting atop the pile, cackling “My Precious” and rubbing your hands, together. :-).

    Maybe in your spare time, you could construct a Tower of the Winds? See, Athens. Build a little wind generator into it. Just as a folly.

    Funny you should mention Annie Hawes. She has come to mind as I have just started a biography of a woman named Patience Gray. She was a food writer who has quit escaped my attention. I guess, later in life, she moved to an isolated and rustic patch on the very tip of the boot heel of Italy, over looking the sea. I may be wrong, but I’d guess the terraces Hawes bought were probably constructed over generations.

    Your storms sound like a bit of fun, as long as they do no damage. But it reminded me of a painting. I’ve got a print of this, but it’s still unframed. A contemporary lithograph from the 1930s. Unfortunately, not signed.

    One of my favorite American regionalist painters. He did a lot of paintings involving weather. Cont.

  7. Cont. Here you go. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon :-). The ruins of Babylon have been identified and are in Iraq.

    The DVD I saw was about Stephanie Dalley’s theories. She thinks they were in Nineveh (also in Iraq.) I think she made a pretty good case. The area where she thinks the gardens were is kind of an enormous, terraced amphitheater with water features.

    Moving to another state. Where to begin. Well, it’s a culture shock. The weather. The densely packed freeway/shopping center/ housing tract landscape. It took me quit awhile to be able to drink the water. Because of the bend in the California coastline, north and south felt like east and west. :-). Moving to a small town after living in mostly large cities was also a culture shock. But, at least the weather was the same and I could drink the water :-).

    “Hair” was one of my favorite musicals. I darned near wore the record recording, out. I can still belt out great swatches of the lyrics. The naughtier bits. Funny how that works :-).

    I had to look up “ambit claims.” “An extravagant initial demand made in expectation of an eventual counter offer and compromise.” Oh. Haggling. I see a lot of that in the tat business. I see it in a lot of areas, and don’t have much patience for it. Tell me what you want and I’ll either say yea, or neigh. “Make me an offer” is likely to have me turning on my heal and heading for the exit.

    Railroads or freeways, the route always results in a lot of land speculation. And, insider information. Fortunes are made … or, lost. Oddly enough, my neighbor Elonor and I were just talking about that, last night. She used to work in a cafe, here in downtown Chehalis, right on the old highway. Weekends and holidays were wild. Bumper to bumper traffic. And, when the freeway opened, it all disappeared, literally overnight.

    The big box stores are usually given tax breaks. And, infrastructure support. If a town doesn’t go for it, they just move to the next town up the road. Lavish employment is always on offer. “Family, living wage jobs” is always the battle cry. Which never quit materializes.

    Just a theory, but I’d guess that isolated road houses have to pay a lot in shipping. Hence, more tucker made from scratch or sourced locally. Just a theory.

    My garden is booming along. I think it may be time to start harvesting some of the garlic. In one day, a Hubbard squash vine grew right up a tomato plant. I know it wasn’t there yesterday. The pumpkin blossoms are full of pollinators. Several times, this morning, I saw two bumblebees and a honey bee all jostling around inside one blossom. All Peaceable Kingdom, and stuff :-). I saw one little green pumpkin. It is unfortunate that it’s on a vine that launched itself over the side of the raised bed, and is so, hanging in space. I don’t think that one is going to make it. Unless I construct some sort of support net. Which seems a bit over the top. I hope I get 5 or 6 other pumpkins in more safe positions. Lew

  8. Hi Inge,

    That is certainly part of the solar power story, but the other part of the story is that we have reached the point of diminishing returns with further investment in the generation system during this part of the year, but overall what I take out of the story is that we have learned to live within our means and accept the limits that comes with that knowledge and experience.

    But of course, your larger point about not actually requiring electricity in the first place is more correct than anything that I wrote. I salute you and am very impressed with you and your story. That point is not lost on me either, and honestly from an historical context the amount of energy that we get to enjoy every day from the sun is quite unprecedented even when it equates to less than a quarter to a fifth of the average expectations. It would be nice if people remembered that in their own lives and then backed away from the dependence on fossil fuels…

    83’F inside a house is about as hot as I ever see here but the house is built to withstand the heat, 84’F is the hottest that I’ve ever experienced inside this house and that was after 3 continuous days over well over 104’F (measured in the shade outside). Are those sorts of inside temperatures your usual summer experience? For some reason I tend to think of the UK as a green and rainy island – and that would make you doubly green and rainy island given that you are off the coast!

    Best of luck with the auction. Actually, I reckon it is a good time of year. As a general observation of people down under, I find that more people tend to head out and socialise during the in-between seasons, rather than high summer or the depths of winter. I don’t know how that equates in your part of the world?

    One inch of rain yesterday, and another half inch of rain today. I looked out the window at one point today whilst I was on the phone to a client and I thought that sleet was falling. And the wind…



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Last night was feral. The wind howled whilst the rain fell – heavily at times. Actually the rain fell so heavily at one point the lights from the nearby town were obscured and the house was plunged into total and absolute darkness (well, outside at least). One inch of rain fell, and then another half an inch fell late this afternoon. I let the chickens out for a little bit, but the rain picked up again, and the chickens all ducked (excuse the pun) back inside their toasty dry hen house. And they promptly took themselves off to bed.

    Hey, get this. 3 eggs today! Hashtag: Just sayin… 🙂 I couldn’t believe my eyes when I collected the three eggs. Oh, those naughty rats. We have not had a single egg in over four weeks, until today.

    I took myself off the farm and visited a nearby town today and ordered a new 1,050 gallon water tank to add to the newly excavated terraces. One can never have too much stored water. All the other water tanks on the farm are now full and over flowing. The funny thing was that the guy at the shop said to me that people don’t generally order water tanks at this time of year – and we had a chuckle at the foolishness of people as we tryied to imagine filling an empty water tank during the middle of summer!

    Haha! The robin in question is sitting on top of a steel plant cage which protects a camellia (a flowering variety) from the predations of the wallabies. The red breasted robin is an interesting bird because he hangs with the blue fairy wrens, so I assume that they all consume the same diet.

    That is a great point. You know, the more I read about history, the more I get to learn that people keep on chugging along. It is a bit like your reference to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (more on that later), but one of the references was from something written by a poet in the 4th century. If a society can afford poets, well, there may be less people floating around due to the fall of Rome and all that stuff, but it doesn’t mean that people completely disappeared. We may not like how it looks though, but I reckon a few good demijohns and the odd still and all, will make for a very happy remaining populace!

    It is funny that you mention the geraniums, but there is a local native geranium and it too is a very unimpressive plant. On the other hand the imports go gang busters and they look great and readily self seed. I’m actually hoping that I have enough diversity of genetic material that they begin hybridising and producing interesting colours. But that may be a fools errand too.

    The “Reservation Blues” book turned up in the mail today. I’m looking forward to reading that book. Speaking of books, as the resident book expert (also known as a book worm – how I long for such an auspicious title!) Mr Greer mentioned a subject yesterday evening and I was hoping that you may have read a book about it and could possibly recommend a book on the subject? Dunno, but I’d appreciate pointers as I’d never heard of the place before and it sounds mysterious (as you could well imagine given the person who made the reference in the first place). Anyway, the place was: Findhorn, the very strange farm in Scotland. Absolutely never heard of the name before and will have a look later tonight, but I’d really appreciate some assistance and your opinion on the matter? Thanks!

    I’d never considered the deer and the potatoes, but it is possible. The other day a large ceramic water bowl was knocked over by some large animal and that is a very odd thing for them to do. Anyway, I righted the bowl and then refilled it. The water tanks are now all full here and I’ll fill the newly ordered water tank with pumped water when I get the call that it is ready to collect.

    Hehe! My preciousess… Rocksses, rocksses, yum, yum, yum! Not enough rocksses… It is nice to discover a flow of solidified lava that can be broken up and moved! That isn’t always the case. 😉

    Unfortunately someone has already constructed a temple of the winds in this mountain range. It is very nice and surrounded by a moat and I have visited it a few times. The current owners undertook a lot of repairs on the structure and it looks really good. The path across the moat and into the temple is fascinating as the stones stick up out of the water.

    Incidentally the Archimedes screw pump would probably work really well with a wind turbine. I’ll have to think about that for a bit.

    Oh my goodness, Patience Gray’s father sounded like he had an explosive personality. Nobody wants to ever meet such a person. Ouch for her. What a life she led, and I rather enjoyed her sentiment which I feel is true regardless of sex: Women, she felt, did not want to acquire, but to learn. What a delightful person she would be! Have you read: Honey from a weed? And would you recommend the book?

    Unfortunately, I feel that I don’t have generations to get this ship in good shape. Alas for that racehorse of time, for it is always off to the horizon leaving us in its dust and wake and hankering for more. Oh well.

    I liked the image of the approaching storm and it is a beautiful painting. The naughty farmers appear to have overloaded the horses, and then didn’t think to unburden the load by jumping off themselves and leading them. There was a bit of damage in the city last night. A crane almost 100ft in the air had blown back on itself and the immediate area was evacuated of a few hundred people. The photo is impressive: Hundreds evacuated for second night after crane threatens homes. Far out!

    Thank you for sharing your story about the relocation. Interesting. Yeah, there is a bit of shock and adjustment, isn’t there? People often mention to me about possible social isolation up here, but far out, we’re known far and wide, and there are just so many people in our personal business. Rural areas are very social. I’ve always felt that the cities are a more anonymous and isolating experience.

    To be honest I enjoyed the music to Hair, although I am yet to see any dawning of a new age of Aquarius. It may have fallen behind the couch? 😉 People seem much the same to me now as then. Ah yes, the parachute scene was quite unexpected, and it was a selling point. Mind you, I quite liked the music from the Blues Brothers to, even Rocky Horror has its own unique merits. It is all good, I just want to be entertained.

    Haggling takes a lot of practice and also a certain lack of concern for any and all parties feelings. I’ve always suspected that the best outcome in that situation is when nobody is happy. You know, as a technique it doesn’t really get trotted out down here, but when it does most people are supremely uncomfortable.

    Yes, a sad thing that. I noted a legal case down here recently where a listed company apparently sought to replace leave entitlements for an additional 2 cents per hour. Yes, I did wonder whether management also included a pay cut for themselves.

    What a clear insight about the roadhouses. I believe you may be totally correct! Nice one! 🙂

    Enjoy your garden. It sounds delightful to me! You know I have found that hanging melons and pumpkins (dare I use the word squash?) tend to ripen on the vine just fine. But I don’t have a huge experience with the plants so I could well be wrong and was just lucky. Dunno. Hey, the honey bees work harder when there are other pollinating species around.

    I read Cliff Mass’s report on your dry summers and it is an astute observation. I didn’t know that about the SE of your country. Mind you, Florida is Dexter land… 😉



  10. Hi, Chris!

    Hi, Toothy, Scritchy, and Floormop! Where’s Mr. Ganglechunks? He’s usually front and foremost.

    I have sometimes gotten a feeling that the inhabitants of Fernglade build new outbuildings with just a bit of a thought in mind that they might put more solar panels on them? Sort of a chicken and egg dilemma maybe? “We sort of need a new shed and we sort of need a place for more solar panels – let’s build a new shed!” Not a factor if “diminishing returns” have been reached. It must be “peak” something.

    In case I missed something before – why do you lay large rocks down within the frame before you poor concrete? And where are the chicken footprints?

    That is like no robin that I have ever seen. Very different from ours or the European ones. I assume that none of them are actually related.

    I was discussing with someone the other day how relatively easy it would be for people to go back to being one-car households, as most were (if they even had a car) before the 1960s. He refused to believe it. People would have to adapt to certain things (my rural neighbors who drive into town and back three times a day, seven days a week would definitely need to make adjustments), but all we have to do is ratchet things back. I don’t think people like ratcheting things back. Ha! “Ratchet” goes with your “regress”!


  11. @ Margaret:

    One of my sons used to juggle – balls and things, no cats! – and I quite often envision you as a juggler – even of cats. Best of luck with all the latest, especially Michael; the house stuff will fall into place.


  12. @ Lew:

    I think you are right about the old terraces being constructed over generations. My husband and I started the garden terraces here years ago and our son has taken over construction (in a big way!) of new ones. We will eventually run out of space though. Peak space!

    Your Curry painting looks just like the derecho we had here once. Was he the Curry of Curry & Ives?


  13. Chris, oh, yes, the solar dilemma. Partner Paul has hydro for winter, and a small solar setup for winter, so small that it is the shoulder season of late autumn before the rains come, before he can set up his hydro that makes him edgy. He lives with very little power and does it very well. Me, on the other hand, I am somehow using more power this year than last. It may have something to do with the 13yo’s newly acquired bath habit. So many baths. Maybe I should start charging her for electricity.. I only know how much power i use by studying my power bill, which is gratifyingly detailed and tells me my average daily use for each quarter. It is approximately double yours for one extra person.. must do better.. on the other hand, if we were forced to use less power, by circumstance, we would. but we don’t. It’s a dilemma.

  14. Hi Chris,

    Well yes, it’s pouring here right now but in about two weeks most will be behind us so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

    I’m going to forward this to some of my friends who still think renewable s will solve all our problems. There are many solar farms being proposed around us – all on productive farmland. Rarely, if ever, is there any mention of using less energy (sigh).


  15. Chris:

    I was just picking some chard, cucumbers, beans, and basil and had a thought about gates. When I open and close our gates, I have to put down what I am carrying and unlatch, and relatch, the gate. There is hardware that will catch the gate and it will latch itself, but I’ve never looked into it. Do you use any such things?


  16. Yo, Chris – It was a dark and stormy night? 🙂 Eggs: Farmers, 3, rats 0. Shot for a blue geranium. Probably as difficult to pull off as a blue rose. But, in the land of the black swan, I suppose anything is possible?

    Oh, yeah. Findhorn. There are books … :-). At the time, all a bit mystical and hippy-dippie. Might be something to it. Or, maybe not. I should keep an open mind, I suppose. Wonder what Wikipedia has to say?

    Screw pumps apparently go way back. The archaeologist who did the Hanging Garden work has a theory, that a certain variety of palm could be directly applied as the trunk was a corkscrew configuration. Much later, but I’ve always wondered about ram pumps. Never seen one up close and personal. But, they struck me as noisy. Everyone in three valleys would know you were pumping water (and, where you lived).

    I haven’t read “Honey from a Weed” and will probably get around to reading it. Our library doesn’t have it. So, it’s interlibrary loan or just buy it.

    The crane article was interesting, but my question is (maybe I missed it in the article) what in the heck are they building that’s so large, close to a really nice mixed small business and residential area? The news report video, also didn’t say. Maybe the buildings identity is a state secret? More disturbing was the idea that power had to be cut. Going to be lots of spoiled food in the fridge. Cont.

  17. Cont. Where I lived before, my landlords mother (who lived to be 100) asked me, every time she saw me if I didn’t get lonely. Well, no. Rural isolation can be a problem, for some people. Not me. I quit liked it.

    Ah! You can tolerate Rock Operas. That’s what they were called, back in the day. “Jesus Christ Superstar”, was another. “Joseph and the Technacolor Electric Dream Coat” (?). There was one that was, as far as I know, never performed. “Naked Carmen.” On spec? A bunch of performers were pulled together on one record. An update of the opera Carmen. It had some musical numbers that were real toe tappers. Oh! And “Fire in the Streets” which actually made it to the silver screen. I’ve still got the cassette.

    A whole two cents an hour? As we say here, “Don’t spend it all in one place.” :-).

    When I was talking about our downtown dying overnight, when the freeway opened, I was trying to remember a comment Elenor made. I asked her again. She said the downtown businessmen said it was like getting their throats cut. Rather graphic and visual.

    I wan’t going to mention the next bit, but since you brought it up … :-). Someone donated a book to our little library here at The Home. “Pumpkins are Orange.” (Breckenridge, 1997). Apparently, it’s a humorous novel about an attempt to grow a pumpkin that weighs more than 1,000 pounds. In figuring out what the book was about, I ran across this on the back cover. “The title comes from the fact that squash and pumpkins are often hard to distinguish from one another. However, pumpkins are the only ones that are always orange.” (Actually, they’re not. Some pumpkins are a kind of beige.) Lew

  18. @ Pam – Nope. No connection. John Steuart Curry painted in the early to mid 20th century.

    Nathaniel Currier and James Ives printed lithographs (hundreds of titles), throughout most of the 19th century. Artists (many) worked for them. Besides lots of bucolic, country scenes, they also did famous persons, current events and historical event pictures. Lots of religious things, too. I think there’s something like 5 different versions of Noah’s Ark.

    They also did a lot of what I call “Victorian Cheesecake.” :-). Idealized young ladies and women, usually titled by their names. “Amanda,” “Jenny,” “Mary,” etc.. They were in business for so long, it’s interesting to note the costume and ideal body shape changes, over time. I have one from 1840 called “Eliza.” She’s quit svelt. And, just a little naughty. She kicks up the hem of her dress and you get just the slightest hint of her petticoat. :-). I also have two ladies from the 1880s. They are decidedly more … plump. Almost bovine. Pudgy arms and big cow eyes. Lew

  19. Rats- We are smarter in some ways, but they are very persistent. That in itself is a worthy attribute. When I built our coop, I subscribed to the deep litter concept, where bedding is laid down right on the soil, and spread deeply, to encourage microbial magic of some sort. Our chickens have always been pretty healthy, so it is working in that sense. But it turns out that the rats tunneled a great distance under the concrete slab that adjoined our coop, and emerged right next to the goodies.

    I slapped some stopgap patches of sackrete along the edges of the coop, which stymied them for a while, but in the mean time, a barn cat moved in, so we are feeding it ( but not too much, to keep that edge of hunger!) and it has taken up residence. We still have a little bit if mouse sign, but no rats, and way less mouse sign than before. They were brazen little buggers till the new sheriff arrived.

    I guess in one way, the rodents still exact a toll, as cat food is not free.

    Terraces- I am a very occasional blogger, but our terraces deserve an entry. I’ll do a post once this next phase of work is done. So far, the final configuration of our terrace work is still evolving, but it’s kind of fun studying the slopes, soil types, rain drainage patterns, and access routes to make sure the final project is worth the effort.

  20. Hi Pam, Jo, Margaret, Lewis, and Steve,

    Thanks very much for the lovely comments. I promise to reply tomorrow evening – until then…

    Lewis – I’ve seen a ram pump in action at: Moora Moora co-operative community which seemed like a nice set up to me, and we went up to visit the place on an open day. One of the head honcho’s was nice enough to take us on a tour. I’m not entirely sure about the workings of ram pumps, but they do rely on a larger flow of water downhill to push a smaller volume of water up hill (there are always losses). Anyway, they are in a slighter wetter part of the world that here and I reckon they had a spring which provided the energy for the ram pump. The details are a bit hazy because it was a few years ago now. The community has been on going since the early 1970’s so they must be doing something right. Housing was cheap from memory, but then people run from those sort of social arrangements.

    Hey, the crane was taken down today. I suspect everyone in the area breathed a massive sigh of relief. There was talk about legal action. But yeah, the crane appears to be out of scale with the area. The skyline is full of them. It is something of a Faustian bargain for the good folks of Melbourne.



  21. Yo, Chris – Moora Moora looks like an interesting place. I’ll have to spend more time looking around their website. It looks like they have 2-4 houses for sale. Hmmm. :-).

    It’s been hitting 90F, every day. So far, we’ve had a good breeze, so, it’s tolerable.

    I turn 69,tomorrow. So, I’m definitely “pushing 70”. :-). It just so happens that tomorrow is my monthly lunch with my buddy Scott. So, I think I’ll opt out of the usual birthday pizza and go from shrimp nachos. I’ll also be scouting the day before the annual Antique Fest kicks off, so, it will be a satisfying day.

    I’m further into the Patience Gray book, but we haven’t arrived in Italy, yet. Up to where she writes and publishes her first cook/food book, “Plats du Jour.” It sounds like she goes a bit heavy on foraging mushrooms. Not a bad thing. Heck, I manage to use half a pound of shiitake, a week. Lew

  22. Hello again

    I forgot to mention that we didn’t have a telephone either.

    Even hotter today and supposed to get even more so tomorrow. This is now the same as 1976. It is certainly not our normal Summer weather; you are quite correct in assuming wet and green.

    I note that you queried Findhorn with Lew. I had a friend long ago, who spent time there. She said that she had never before in her whole life met people who worked so hard and that there was nothing there that wasn’t adequately explained by this extreme hard work. I just checked Wikipedia and other sites and note that the locals commented on the huge amounts of horse manure that was used. So there you are.

    August is a time when people tend to go away on holiday and that does affect auctions here.

    @ Lew + you Chris

    The auctioneer was only interested in one of the items that we took. A mahogany bow fronted chest of drawers. I knew that the drawer handles were Nelson handles and gather that someone will buy it just for the handles. I did ask what sells and gather that it is pretty much only collectables, particularly militaria. Mind you, he declined a book of cartoons by the artist who did the Kitchener poster!


  23. @Lew

    Happy Birthday to Lew!
    Wishing you many many happy returns of the day.
    We hope that you bake yourself a big banana cake and share it with your friends.
    “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”
    The best memories are birthday memories. May you add more to your collection today.
    Hope you impress the Garden Goddess and grow lots of pumpkins this year.
    Enjoy celebrating your special day.

    – All of us in the Tucked household.

  24. Came across the following and thought of your problem with the rats:

    Good luck fighting nature…
    I once lived in a house once that had a problem with mice (both common and a local desert variety). Caught a few, but mostly they cleverly avoided every type of trap known to man & often found a way to get to the bait.

  25. Hi Pam,

    Gangle chunks was supervising the collection of rocks. He’s an intelligent canine and knows that rocks are important items given that the dreaded peak rocks is now in play! Hopefully we uncover some more rocks in the excavations tomorrow. Floor mop! 🙂 I’ll never think of the charming Sir Scruffy the same way again. Thanks for the name.

    Exactly too. You know us all too well. 😉 Roof space is valuable real estate down here because not only can it hold solar panels, but it also collects rainwater for storage. Another tank is on order and hopefully we get it in place before the rains fail.

    Peak sheds perhaps? Are you at peak sheds yet? Although one can have diminishing returns with additional sheds… How they did such things in the old days is well beyond me, but I see old farm houses that have huge sheds behind them. The sheds were always close to the main house too.

    We lay rocks into the cavity before pouring the cement because the cement slab needs to be thick, but not as thick as you’d think. And the rocks work like keystones for the cement, and they’re also much cheaper than cement. Also, rocks don’t tend to rust out like reinforcing mesh. 😉

    The robins and wrens are pretty sweet and they bounce through the garden beds happily munching away on any bugs that are unfortunate enough to have been spotted by the birds. The birds are really brightly coloured down here for some reason – even the really remote alpine birds. Who knows why?

    We considered that one car option recently, but the second vehicle is like a spare part for us. There is really little option out of the monetary economy and that requires a car, so around and around we go and where it stops, nobody knows!

    Absolutely. The old timers used to use a spring load on the gate (don’t get your fingers or hair caught in that contraption) as an automatic closer and we definitely use the self closing latches. If I remember I’ll chuck a photo up for you over the next few days. Yes, definitely use them on gates. Hey, we may repurpose a steel fire screen for the next gate… Have welder, will do battle with steel (of course your son welds so that is very handy)!



  26. Hi Jo,

    Hehe! Had to laugh at your story of Paul getting edgy worrying about the hydro output. Far out, I hear you bro, and have the same issue with the solar. He’s lucky to enjoy running water, the creeks here run underground in some dry years.

    It is all good really, we had to learn how to live using very little electrical energy, but you know, all the heating comes from firewood sourced from on the property, so that is an advantage. Baths are good, and the bath here looks over the valley (fortunately the wallabies are not easily outraged) – and the hot water is heated by the sun for about two thirds of the year, and the wood fire for the other third. Your 13yo would not enjoy cloudy warm days because solar hot water does not work so well on those days!

    Of course, you know supply is a factor in shaping our usage. Absolutely! Top observation. 🙂 !

    My, you’ve had a lot of rain in your part of the world over the past week or so. It has been feral here too.



  27. Hi Margaret,

    It is nice that there is light at the end of the tunnel for you! It is the problems that just keep going on and on that tend to wear ya down. I don’t really speak much about work, but I have one of those jobs at the moment, and there is so much to do around the farm before summer kicks off.

    I took out that tree stump in the photos today. That took a few hours…

    Solar farms are massive and yes, it is not like the land isn’t already being used or has alternative uses. There was one proposed about an hour and bits drive north of here, and it is epic in size. I always say that this renewable energy stuff is good, but it is not good enough to replace the usual fossil fuel suspects. Thanks, that is high praise, and I do hope that they enjoy the statistics. Remember I’m at 37.5′ latitude south, so it is a fairly sunny part of the world too. 37.5′ north is quite a lot hotter than what I experience.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    You’re a professional bad influence. Well done! Maybe, I should start the next blog with: ‘Twas a dark and stormy night? It certainly sets the tone for some serious silliness. 🙂

    Hey, speaking of eggs. Another 3 this morning. I haven’t had this many eggs in over five weeks. The problem is that I don’t have enough time to put down another cement slab over another quarter of the chicken run. It will have to wait until next week, and I suspect the rats will tunnel into the chicken run. The prize of copious grains and fresh water is too tempting for them not to continue extending their tunnels. Incidentally the food requirements for the chickens have reduced to about a three quarters to two thirds of what the chickens previously consumed.

    I read the Wikipedia entry on Findhorn (as you suspected 😉 ) and they had an interesting initial start. Well, I have done my fair share of hippy dippy and two years of that was enough for one lifetime. The thing that interests me about their story is that they began that hippy dippy way, but then something changed and they had to find it within themselves to do better. I reckon there is a story in there somewhere – and that is the story I wanted to get to. Plus, I’d have to suggest that people over stock horses – otherwise surplus horse manure would never be available – and the Findhorn folks were pragmatic enough to change how they were doing things.

    I had a look around and there is a mob down here that make screw pumps and clearly they would work well with a wind driven energy source. The tolerances between the screw and the shaft would have to be good though.

    Speaking of noisy, the little petrol generator produced enough noise that everyone around here knew my business.

    Honey from a weed sounds like an interesting book and I await your inter library loan and review.

    Exactly too! The construction is way out of scale with the surrounding area which is densely packed Victorian era workers cottages. Mate, Melbourne to my eyes it looks like it is under some sort of construction siege, but you know, we sell space because that is the thing that people from outside the country want to buy – and the net effect is that the economy floats along. The thing is though, the locals – especially the young who may have grown up in that area – are priced out of the market and also when the space is all sold – few people seem to want to ask the question about what exactly will be left?

    I have a strange suspicion that people are far more isolated in cities than in rural areas, although city folk can take quite a while to adjust to the different social goings on and social obligations. I’ve incurred one of those social obligations at the moment and there was no way out of it. It has been an interesting experience to say the least, but you know I’ll survive and come out of it all well on the other side of the experience. It happens.

    I’m planning to bounce off to the pub for dinner.

    Promise to chat more tomorrow. 🙂

    Until then!



  29. @ Lew:

    Happy Birthday, Lew! Are we sure that shrimp tacos is a wise choice . . . ?

    Thank you for the Currier & Ives information. I didn’t know any of that, though I have a couple of their prints hanging on the walls.


  30. Chris:

    No way are we at peaks rocks. We only have two sheds here: a barn one and a tool shed. Two more are planned: one for firewood, and a storage shed. The barn is full to the rafters with firewood, also a lot of the 40ft x 8ft (12m x 2.5m) front porch (the wood frames the front windows). There is a mountain of wood covered with a tarp behind the barn, too.

    Wow – thanks for the rocks-in-concrete idea!

    We have brightly colored birds, too. Right now there are bluebirds, goldfinches, and cardinals in the garden, and a red-headed woodpecker next to it. No parrots, though. I take that back – once we had an escaped green pair from somewhere hanging around. They disappeared and I always hoped they headed south.

    Will tell my son to keep an eye out for fireplace screens.


  31. @ Inge – That’s interesting abut the auctions. Or, it’s interesting what I’ve learned about auctions. Some auctions “pick and choose.” Some do “whole house clearances.” Which seem to be mostly “on site” auctions. Then there are “farm auctions.” Those specialize in animals auctions, or, on site clearances. Where all the household stuff is kind of an afterthought. I’ve never really thought about that sort of thing, before. Niche auctions :-). Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – 95F (35C … nice when the conversion is a round number). There’s some loose talk around that we may see 100F, over the weekend.

    What does Chris collect? Outbuildings! 🙂

    Egg: Farmers 6, Rats 0.

    Heck, I really can’t poke to much fun at Findhorn. I’ve been known to talk to my plants, on occasion.

    Cha-cha-changes. We heard yesterday that our long time maintenance guy, Jeff is to be let go. Apparently, the temporary Warden and he have a “history.” And, he fully expected to be given the ax. So, we’re going to have some guy who can apparently “do everything” who is going to be overseeing three buildings. And, of course, he doesn’t live in the area, as Jeff does.

    I check out a book remainders website, from time to time. . I did a check of “Roman Britain.” One thing that popped up was “Merlin and the Discovery of Avalon in the New World.” “…the evidence reveals that he died and was buried in what is now the United States.” Who knew? 🙂

    If you want to have a bit of fun, check out the Wikipedia listing for “Pseudoarchaeology.” The listing for “pseudoscience” is also fun. Once, every thousand years or so, one of these whack job theories do pan out.

    Off on my Tat Scouting Expedition. Who knows what treasures lie in wait? Lew

  33. Hi Chris!

    Well done on reinforcing the chicken house from marauding rodents. And the terracing. There is a region here called the Ribera Sacra with terraced vinyards that date back to the Romans. Very satisfying those projects that stay in place long term, not like pulling weeds or cutting the grass.

    This summer is shaping up to be Botrytis, Mildew and Blight, which sounds like a Dickensian law firm. Humidity, heat, then a little rain, repeat.

    I´ve always suspected that the church invented Lent as a cover for the hungry months of early spring, so people could feel virtuous and hungry instead of just hungry.

    Saw a documentary on Netflix called ¨Sustainable¨ about organic family farmers supplying restaurants around Chicago. While it covered all the dire negatives of industrial farming, it managed to be so sensible and hopeful I was really impressed. Had a bit about ancient grains, too.

    @ Lew, Happy Birthday!
    @ Inge, hope things cool down.
    @ Margaret, best of luck with the house and family issues.


  34. @ Coco:

    That’s so funny: “This summer is shaping up to be Botrytis, Mildew and Blight, which sounds like a Dickensian law firm.”


  35. Hi Lewis,

    Back again, and the pub was nice. I’m quite fond of the place, but for some strange reason it was really busy last night and their computer system crashed. Manual ordering works just fine, but alas our drinks were served but our meals were forgotten. But the kitchen came through with the goods in the end – and it was good! 😉

    My blood was boiling yesterday because I encountered the very first software application that demanded that I install a mobile phone application in order to merely login to the software. Well, that was a new one for me. Anyway, I sent them a support query and apparently you can also use a PC application which was not mentioned and they used all sorts of disclaimers about not supporting that methodology and you shouldn’t do it, blah, blah, blah. Wow. I was genuinely gobsmacked at their assumption that everyone would have a smart phone. I’d have to suggest that such an assumption is not very smart…

    Ah yes, I do recall Jesus Christ Superstar. A catchy little ditty, but you know I have studiously avoided it. Honestly, musicals are a problem for me because, you know, the patterns just aren’t right. And who wants that? Oh my! Well, here is a surprise. Apparently the Naked Carmen has been performed. Whatever will the nice folks at Google think about the internet search that I just did and the images returned? I’m sure they’ll get over it quickly. It looks like a passionate play, but again, the visual elements combined with the musical elements just sort of feels a bit like ‘Blizzard mode’ to my brain!

    Absolutely. I was once forced by an employer to sign an agreement that I would work longer hours for less money. It was an eye opening experience and I decided to and in fact moved on to another job within a few weeks (that was the debt collection job). Yes, it never quite pans out as one would expect, does it? As an interesting follow on, when I resigned they were in a state of disbelief that more hours and a lower rate of pay weren’t an attractive proposition. Mate, I’ve seen a thing or two in my time.

    Incidentally, it is nice that you still have cassette tapes working. They demagnetise as part of the normal degradation process, so remember to look after them.

    From time to time I deal with people who are involved in leases with shopping malls, so yeah a freeway bypass is a similar arrangement. It is just my opinion, but I would never take up one of those leases. The stories I’ve heard give me chills. I reckon that once really cheap energy goes away, the town centres will be reinvigorated only if they have maintained their free standing (or joined strip) shops. I remember when shopping malls first began throwing their weight around, but honestly the whole ‘do unto others’ applies as much to them as everyone else. It is not for nothing that George Romero filmed his zombie films in shopping malls.

    Haha! Too funny, of course squashes are oranges! Well, maybe… That is really funny because today the editor and I picked up the heritage open pollinated seeds for the ‘three sisters’ corn arrangement. We were like two kids in a candy shop with the seeds and eventually we just went: ‘just pick one’. And walked away with dozens of seeds. The temporary corn enclosure was excavated a little bit more today and we thought that the job would be complete, but we removed some huge rocks – and that takes a lot of work with the jackhammer. Another day or two should finish the first stage of that job. We sort of have to get the seeds in the ground by early September because today felt like the first day of spring to my senses. Everything was just different this morning. Not that anyone else notices…

    Anyway, we bought some pumpkins for the ‘three sisters’ arrangement which you would call by their lesser name of ‘squashes’. But I reckon they’re pumpkins, so there! Hehe! 🙂

    Moora Moora is a very interesting place. At one point they had far more women residents than men, and they put out the call to adventurous spirits and that is how myself, the editor (who is a girlie) and my mate ended up on a tour. My mate who was single, was complaining about not being able to afford a house and we all went up to have a look at what was going on up there. Alas, my mate did not buy in, which would have been a good option. But you know, these things work out as they should and he now lives in Perth, Western Australia, with his very clever and lovely wife. I don’t see them much anymore for obvious reasons – like it is 4,000km away (think New York to Los Angeles distance)! 😉

    Congratulations and a very happy birthday to you! 🙂

    How were the shrimp nacho’s? I do hope that they were worthy of such an auspicious occasion? And I do hope that you didn’t receive the traditional number of friendly birthday punches! That would hurt after a while! Ouch! Hehe! Your birthday sounds delightful to me and I hope that it was an enjoyable day for you?

    I can understand your reliance on shitake mushrooms as they are excellent – and a good source of protein. There is a radiata pine (Monterey Pine) plantation not too far from here and I often see cars parked near there, and I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but after a while I realised that the people were in the pine plantation harvesting mushrooms…

    Has Patience made it to the Southern chunk of Italy yet?

    Far out, 100’F is hot for here too. You have my sympathies. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t get too hot.

    Hehe! Outbuildings are very necessary items. It is funny but sometimes my mind wonders around in the land of ‘what would it take to replace the things that I currently can go out and purchase’ land. Ouch! My mind recoils from the horror of that train of thought. But, outbuildings are surely a necessary part of that picture. 😉

    Hey, hey, hey! Farmers 8. Rats NIL! Winning (for the moment)…

    Doesn’t everybody talk to their plants?

    No. Ouch. You know memories are long and occasionally temporary folks can extract revenge for real or imagined injustices. Yes, it is all being done for: ‘your convenience’. It is a sad outcome for Jeff, but all things change and sometimes not for the best.

    Merlin buried in the US? It seems like a big call to me, and a rather inconvenient logistical situation. However, trade in those days was significantly wider than first thought given the art work of the sulphur crested cockatoo bird that we discussed recently. Even our coyote equivalent, the dingo, which Ollie the cattle dog has some genetic input from, were originally introduced from Indonesia. It is not as if they evolved here. The native marsupial dogs were killed by us lot (The Tasmanian Tiger).

    Happy birthday tat hunting! Did you snare any desirables?



  36. Hi Inge,

    Telephones are on my mind, because yesterday I encountered a bit of software that I have to use that now requires a smart phone. I was very, very annoyed and said some rather ungentlemanly things about them. However, the authors of the software provided an alternative, but packed it to the rafters full of disclaimers. This may be a new thing? Dunno. It is very presumptuous!

    Your summer weather reads as if you are down here. That is exactly how it goes here every year. It is notable when the summer rainfall is sufficient that things stay green, but those are exceptionally damp years and it is quite astounding having to deal with 56 inches of rain. Plants struggle to grow in those sorts of years. I’m working towards understanding how to grow things at either end of that continuum as well as the many points in between. It is certainly not as easy as I once thought that it would be!

    The Findhorn folks are certainly interesting, and I was wondering where they source their motivation from? I mean I understand the story here, but does it translate elsewhere? Therein lies the magic of the story, plus the copious quantities of horse manure and their understanding that nutrients must cycle. How it is possible that I can simply head down and pick up a trailer load of the stuff is well beyond my understanding. But then I guess we (as a society) send our manures out into the ocean, so I shouldn’t expect better.

    Did the auctioneer put up for sale the other items that you took other than the mahogany bow fronted chest of draws?



  37. Hi Patricia,

    Welcome to the discussion (or welcome back, just in case my memory fails me which is a distinct possibility and I blame the pub last night for any memory loss!)

    Thanks very much for the cartoon and sharing your story. 🙂

    Absolutely, and that is why I keep suggesting that the rodents are smarter than myself. We used to lay out traps for them, but that turned – like your story – into some sort of feeding exercise for our twitchy nosed distant mammalian relatives.



  38. Hi Pam,

    You live in the enviable state of ‘easy rock’. Of course this geological state of affairs should not be confused with radio stations that play only music from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. Of course the new romantic era music of the early 1980’s would probably confuse the definition of ‘easy rock’, but there you go! Jokes aside, I seriously do envy you your ready supply of rocks. We’ve unearthed a huge quantity of rocks during excavations over the past few days, and they have so many uses…

    Hey, fortunately, none of the rocks were big enough, or hard enough to bring the extension of that terrace to a screaming halt. But there is still another day or so of digging to go there, so I mustn’t call the situation too early…

    Hehe! Oh yeah, one can never have too much shed space. Imagine if you’d have to collect all your grass clippings for use in animal winter bedding? I’m not sure I have the soil fertility for that trick yet – let alone the shed space, let alone feed.

    No worries. Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand, and aggregates. Aggregate is the fancy name for rock, so the mixture binds pretty well to rocks. On house slabs they used to use sand as a filler, but nowadays I notice that they tend to use polystyrene. I didn’t build this house on a concrete slab as the ground is simply too cold over the winter and the house would freeze, but most houses down here are built that way.

    Your birds are lovely too. And yes, I hope that the escapees worked out that they had to head off into the south of your country. I’ve seen parrots down here in the alpine areas – which are frankly pretty cold over winter – and I wondered what they were consuming. There are some parts of the island state of Tasmania where the trees in really alpine areas are massively stunted, but also are very ancient.

    The firescreen is a good idea – and you’ll see that one here in about three or four weeks time. Not all firescreens are appropriate but I reckon this one is a goodie.



  39. Hi Coco,

    I envy you your flat land, but there is also something very pleasing to the eye in terraces. I would love to see that part of the world and I’d be in total awe of the work done over the many long years. We couldn’t afford flat land so close to the big smoke of Melbourne, and beggars can’t be choosers as they say! 🙂

    We did more excavations this morning, but haven’t quite finished the terrace. I’m planning to grow a ‘three sisters’ arrangement of corn, beans, and pumpkins in that area. It felt like the first day of spring to me today, which was a bit early.

    Hehe! Very funny! Those sorts of weather conditions are really difficult on a garden and you have my sympathies.

    That is a very astute observation about lent and I never would have considered that aspect of the situation before. I tell you what, the local wildlife have made this year a particularly notable hungry period. We plan to address this with next winters plantings, but until then…

    There really is something about the ancient grains. They probably didn’t go into the story, but some of the ancient grains have far larger and far deeper root systems than the current ‘bread wheat’ varieties which were bred to be easy for mechanical harvesters. The larger root systems mean that they get through drought seasons better on just rainfall. Of course in really wet seasons such as what you are experiencing, rust is a problem. It is early days for me with those plants, but we’ll see.



  40. Hi Steve,

    I take your point about the rodents. What do the old timers say about 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration? 🙂 The rats seem to have that in spades! And yeah, your story matches my experience exactly, and I felt exactly the same about the soil magic and the chickens – because it is true. Deep below the chicken litter I see the most interesting fungal growths. However, the chickens are now enjoying their deep litter mulch which sits on top of a nice slab of concrete. Unfortunately I was unable to continue extending the cement slab this week – and I reckon I’m going to live to regret that… Anyway, 8 eggs so far. Rats NIL! Yay!

    Cats are good on a farm for that job. The neighbours cat often hangs around the chicken enclosure at night and he’s a big tom cat. I’d like a cat, but I really worry about a cat decimating the huge diverse population of birds that live here and have no idea how that would play out. Perhaps the place lacks balance on that front? Dunno.

    I look forward to reading about your terraces. Yeah, they are really interesting constructions. You know the thing I’ve noticed is that within the land here, is that it is always risky to change the flow of water anywhere across the landscape. We muck around with that at our peril, as it is a very complicated process and I’ve made small changes in the past which have impacts elsewhere and further down the flow. With a bit of experience, I can sort of guess what may happen, but it is never a simple process.



  41. @ Pam – How to tell if a Currier and Ives print is an original, or, a 20th century reproduction. At least, 9 times out of 10. Get out your magnifying glass. If the picture is made up of thousands of tiny microscopic dots of color, it’s a reproduction. Like a newspaper photo that’s made up of little dots of black and white. if the image is not made up of dots, it’s an original lithograph (probably.)

    The Currier and Ives colors in their lithographs were applied by young immigrant girls. They sat at long tables and each young lady applied one color and passed the print on to the next young lady, to apply another color. Who said Henry Ford invented the assembly line? :-). Lew

  42. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, The Daily Impact has a new post up about the current state of climate change. There are a couple of comments from Australians, caught up in the drought. Quit horrifying.

    We’ve talked before about how irritating it is that a lot of these tech companies just assume that everyone in the world has a smart phone. Usually, it’s an e-mail account dunning me for a smart phone number “for your convenience in case you loose your logon password.” I noticed they finally wised up and now there’s a button for “I do not have a mobile device.” But where that leads, I know not. I just keep punching “Remind me later.” Also, that driverless car developers, when asked how pedestrians are to be avoided say that the car will detect the smart phone that everyone apparently carries. I wonder if they’ll slip one into every stray kangaroos pouch? Chip all the feral deer?

    LOL. Re: musicals. The patterns aren’t right? Oh, like some of that head banger music you listen to? :-). When the original opera “Carmen” was written, it was kind of considered to be the rock opera, of it’s day. Not classical (Italian) opera. And the subject matter was (for the time) a bit risque. But the melodies have staying power. They pop up in the most unexpected places. Like on my DVD cleaning disc.

    Yes. Some employers just think they have you by the … ears and are gob smacked when you take a walk. When I quit working at the Yelm library, everyone kept asking me why. Of course, here, to go back to being a clerical substitute also meant I’d have to give up my health insurance. In the interest of being a bit discreet (as I was working for the same outfit) I’d just say I was restless and liked the constant change of scene. But I kick off my reasons with “Well, the official story is …” Just to let them know that there was more to the story. Which was, the building head was a whack job.

    You might poke into the Three Sisters a bit. There’s a bit of time succession to the planting. Nothing onerous. Let’s see. From memory. Corn seed at the top of the mound, beans (or was it the squash?) at the four cardinal points. Beans in between the squash. If you want to go full on Native American, you’ll throw a dead fish under each mound :-). Cont.

  43. Cont. The shrimp nachos were quit good. I finally ended up just making up a big plate of them at home. I haven’t had dairy in awhile, and wondered how that would go. Well, it’s the next day, and no ill effects. Chips, shrimp, green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic and herbs. A big glass of milk. “The Flash” season three in the DVD player. Alien invasion!

    Patience has not made it to Italy, yet. They spent a year on the Greek Island of Naxos. Which even in the 60’s was quit isolated and “primitive.”

    The tat scouting went pretty well. I spent about 2 hours at the big antique mall and had a bit of a list. Which I whittled down. One Czech deco vase I decided against because I discovered the reproductions are thick on the ground. An an enameled box, I’m passing on, as the company product is “designed in England.” But they’re really cagy about where they are produced. My guess would be China.

    There’s a pair of Scotty dog, copper plated deco bookends. Two Fenton vases. The Four Seasons. And, a few other bits and bobs. So, off I go. Lew

  44. Hello again
    A gentle rain has been falling and oh how it has freshened the air, lovely. Unfortunately I only realised this when I went out to bring in my dry washing, sadly no longer dry.
    House now at 78F which is a bit better. Actually I am really astounded at the improvement in the feel of the air when I breathe.

    Coco is spot on about Lent.

    The auctioneer refused to take anything else. As Son said, very annoying when one has to bring everything back. I don’t have a great deal of faith in auctioneers’ assessments. Years back when dealing with the contents of my mother’s house (for her, not myself) I was told by one of the big London auctioneers, that her dining table would make about £200. I knew that that was nonsense and I was correct, it made £1,200.

    Being on an island here doesn’t help, transportation on and off is costly. The ferries charge vehicles an exorbitant amount.


  45. Hi Lewis,

    Many thanks for the timely reminder of the Daily Impact story. I do so enjoy the authors writing! I read the story yesterday and it reads to me like a horror story, but ran out of time to comment. The stories in the comments are horrendous but I did mention to you about a week or so ago that some parts of the country can no longer obtain feed for their cattle. The price of feed bales has gone through the roof, and I noted the other day that farmers in that part of the country were requesting bullets with which to put down their stock. The stories on the Daily Impact were reasonably consistent with what I have been reading about the ongoing drought up there.

    Who knows what sort of rabbit hole the “I don’t have a mobile device” button will lead you into? No doubts it would be some sort of list of subversive activities. Have you ever wondered what kind of world it is where gardening and not owning a mobile device would be considered a subversive activity? It makes the mind truly boggle!

    Went to the Green Wizards meet up today and we had a grand old time of it. The food was good! Yum! And the discussion was on mining and it really introduced me to the grubby realities of that business. What I noticed was that the graphs displaying yield tonnes and for the energy invested were eerily similar to many other graphs that I have seen lately including those of the Limits to Growth folks. What an interesting time that we get to live in!

    Hey, the ‘remind me later’ button for mobile device options was removed on the particular software and that has become a compulsory choice. I’m going to have to put some brain cells towards resolving that problem over the next week.

    Touché! Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my little “the patterns just aren’t right’ excuse. 🙂 I’m still giggling about that. If patrons disappear in whatever shape or form they take, then the arts have to pay their way and earn their keep. I don’t generally feel that there is anything intrinsically preferential about one art form over another. Some are certainly better than others, and some artists just capture the mood of the day. Take the band Nirvana for example – which I’m sure you loathe. When I was a young adult, the darkness of the band and its lyrics spoke to my economically troubled existence. The lead singer was apparently even more troubled that people driving around in BMW’s were enjoying his angst.

    My experience may have been different to yours because no adults ever took the time to talk to me about classical music. In fact they actually went out of their way to feel culturally superior, so I stuck to my head banger music choices – and I still listen to youth radio today. On the other hand, I can hear real beauty in Vivaldi’s The Four Season’s for just one example. Not to mention some of the baroque pieces which are quite celebratory and uplifting to my ears. And who could forget the challenge of Strauss’s: Also sprach Zarathustra. But what do I know…

    Ah yes, it is wise to keep mum about ones plans – just in case someone sets out to foil them. It’s maybe just me, but I have noticed that employers rarely desire candid feedback. 🙂 And they sure do get annoyed when they hear it.

    The dead fish will be a problem with the three sisters arrangement, but fortunately I have access to lots of manure (for the moment). I was wondering about the logistics of that planting arrangement, but I can imagine that there are a lot of discussions about it. I scored big time today as one of the Green Wizards brought in a large jar of open pollinated wheat seeds. What a score and I’m grateful for the assistance. Now I just have to dig in the next terrace before Autumn when the seeds have to get in the ground…

    I was wondering how your mostly vegan guts would go with the fish nachos, but glad to hear that you sailed through the challenge without ill effect. Glad to read that you indulged in “The Flash”. Good stuff and a thoroughly delightful sounding birthday.

    Far out man! Today in Melbourne it reached 19’C / 66’F. It is not out of the ordinary for this time of winter, but it sure is at the upper end of things. Tonight the weather looks set to rain from about midnight onwards, what a crazy climate this part of the world has.

    I’ve heard that about the Greek Islands in those days. Tourism has cast a long shadow these days. Far out, the Greeks got pummelled with a huge wildfire recently which ripped through a coastal town. Not good. Hopefully Patience gets to the bottom of Italy sooner or later, although it is nice to not be in any hurry. The author has a great name too, and I hope that she lives up to it? Imagine the irony if the author were plain old hard work.

    Yeah, I’d be a bit cagey about the origins of that enamelled box. A lot of products have the claim “Australian owned” which doesn’t quite mean that it was produced here… I bought a pair of quality jeans over the internet at full price a few months back and they look and feel like fakes to me. The editor is pretty good at identifying materials and they’re a close match but the cotton lacks the necessary stretchy elastic additives to the cotton and so we reckon it is no cigar. Because they’re not stretchy, they hurt me, unlike all my other pairs of jeans… Ouch!

    The pair of Scotty dogs sound pretty good as bookends. I recall the days when the old cast iron irons were bronzed or copper plated and used as bookends. What a waste. They’ve probably all been recycled into something else by now. Go the Fenton vase – I assume these were blue?



  46. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! It happens… There is one thing to be said about washing horses in that they can be moved around rapidly. 😉 The sun shone strongly here today and in Melbourne it reached 19’C / 66’F, although it was a few degrees cooler up here in the mountains.

    Think of it like a second washing provided free by nature. You should see what happens when the hot and dry summer winds blow dust onto clothes drying in the sun.

    I read in the news that the UK is having a reprieve from the heat, but there was an ominous suggestion that the heat is set to return.

    Thanks and it was a great observation on Coco’s part and it brings the ritual into a proper historical perspective. We really stuffed up the winter planting this year. It is quite instructional to completely stuff up your food supply. It tends to focus the mind.

    I get that about the island. Being up in a mountain range has similar logistical problems and everything is just more expensive and has to be dragged up here usually at no small cost. Nice work with eventually getting a reasonable price for the table despite the initial advice.

    I once had an arbourist inspect a tree as I was a bit uncertain about it. Anyway, the arbourist completely missed that the top third of the tree was hanging in the air by a paper thin layer of bark – due to the activities of a termite nest high up in the tree. People get things wrong – I should know that! 😉 It is when the assessment comes with severe consequences that you have to chuck a few more brain cells towards resolving the situation!



  47. Yo, Chris – I’m always up for a subversive activity, or two :-).

    Well, the stars align. Some of the things you’ve mentioned today, a recent post by Mr. Greer. Green Wizards. I discovered this book … :-).

    To make a long story, longer … I was rummaging around in our library catalog. I had read something I liked and decided to check out the subject classification. “United States — Social Life and Customs — 1971-” There were a couple of titles that I was unaware of, and that sounded interesting. So, yesterday I received …

    “United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties & Handmade Bitters. A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement.” (Reighley, 2010). From the back cover: “Americana. It’s more than mere nostalgia; it’s a conscious celebration of community and sustainability. It’s a movement born in response to the ever-accelerating pace of modern life and Internet technology overload. All over the country, people are returning to an appreciation for the simpler things in life, which are brilliantly surveyed in “United Statesof Americana” – the first comprehensive handbook to all things Americana.” All that in a 250 page, oversized paperback :-).

    But, given the recent discussions (and, things like “The Revenge of Analog.”) It’s kind of interesting. Of course, a lot of it may turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan fad, but throw enough pasta against the wall, and some of it is going to stick.

    Oh, Nirvana had a toe tapper, or two. Who can forget the deathless prose of “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” And, being local boys, I did follow their careers. One of the points of above mentioned book makes is that a lot of the head bangers, in a search for “authenticity” (whatever that is) have moved in a musical country/western, folk music direction. As Mr. Greer mentioned a few weeks ago.

    Constructing terraces: I’m sure there’s an Ap, for that :-).Cont.

  48. Cont. Nope. The Fenton vases are not blue. They are clear glass with an acid frosted finish. They’re not that old, but have a nice Deco design to them. Sure, blue is my go to, but even I know that all that blue needs to be relieved with a bit of black, white or gray. :-).

    Without belaboring all the nonsense I picked up, just a few highlights. I did find a print I quit liked. Nicely framed. Only from the 1960s. By a fellow named Eichenberg. He mostly worked in black and white. It’s of St. Francis and is called “Sermon to the Birds.” Francis is surrounded by dozens of different kinds of birds. He’s looking rather gaunt and kind of swooning in a bit of a religious ecstasy. Not to everyone’s taste (judging from the number of times he’d been marked down), but I like him.

    I also found a small (8 inches or so) piece of modern (probably Chinese tat) of a cast iron kitty … with wings! He makes me smile, every time I look at him. He might have been inspired by these books.

    And, some other stuff I won’t bore you with :-).

    Well, it’s been a rather frazzled morning. I have three e-mail accounts, and, I’m apparently locked out of my primary account. For my protection. I’m going to lose a lot of stuff if I can’t get back into it. They keep sending a code to another account, I keep using it (two attempts so far) and it’s not working. Looking around on the net, it appears Yahoo mail isn’t much interested in their free accounts anymore, and if the automatic “remedies” don’t work, you’re apparently SOL.

    So, I went down to water my crops, to discover dozens of people (Master Gardeners seminar of some sort) thundering around the gardens. Too many people that I don’t know. Social anxiety kicked into high gear and I even snapped at the Garden Goddess. So I’ve just retreated to my apartment until calm is restored.

    I’ll just wallow in my books and tat. :-). Wasn’t going anywhere today, anyway. Chehalis is having some spasm of Civic Who-who. Summer Fest! I’ll pass. Lew

  49. Yo, Chris – Late report :-). The e-mail seems to have healed itself. Go figure. Devine intervention from St. Francis? Makes about as much sense as anything else.

    Also, my friends in Council, Idaho have a big blaze, going right outside of town. The sent pictures. Really scary. But, if the wind keeps blowing east, they ought to be ok. They’ve got an evacuation plan, in place, if necessary. Lew

  50. Hi Lewis,

    It is a funny state of affairs when something as simple as gardening could be viewed as subversive. Strange days indeed. Hey, maybe Joel Salatin is correct about everything he wants to do is illegal? I have noted that the red tape burdens on small businesses have become enormously complex and onerous of late and appear to be getting worse. It does distract a person from the important task of trying to sell stuff or produce something that someone else wants to buy. But then the red tape is a form of wealth transfer.

    I read a few reviews of the book and most were very positive about the content. Don’t you yourself reckon that the contents speak about a desire for simpler pleasures and entertainments? Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the rate of change. In some respects I feel that such rapid change is an attempt to destabilise people and keep them a bit off balance, but you know that might be simple paranoia on my part too? And it is interesting to me that the book mentions burlesque because I feel that is a reaction to the over supply of porn. People, especially parents of young kids need to be very careful in that regard as I’ve heard tales of addiction which was something that my generation never had to deal with, and neither did yours. I’m no fan of that pacifier tool because the consequences for individuals are not good.

    Yes, given they were locals… Hey, you may not be aware of it, but when the band made their big global break through, they were happily touring away down under. Tickets to their gigs were about $27 from memory. In an honourable manner, and despite the hype, they continued their tour down under. Lesser folks would have acted, well, lesser. And I heard the band interviewed on the radio at the time and I just felt sorry for them because the interviewer did such a lame job – and the band was clearly bored and wanted to be elsewhere. I reckon that communication format is a tough gig, but the interviewer really killed the vibe of that one.

    Yeah, I missed that comment. I’ve quite enjoyed a few cross over rock – country tracks. One of the best that I can recall of that in recent years was: Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You). It is a beautiful song and the images on the video show a land in decline, but still, you know, kicking along.

    There is definitely no app for that! Hehe! Nice one. I dare you to recall one app that generates hard work – other than some sort of scam that forces you into a legal mess with huge legal bills that you have to work very hard to extricate yourself from. I read about that sort of situation recently and the apparent scam artist looks like he was chucked in jail and then will potentially be deported. The story left me with the chills.

    Of course, not all vases can be blue. Did you just suggest that the patterns should not be aligned? 🙂 Just kidding, of course one has to view the collection as an entity in itself as well as enjoying the individual pieces. I would hate to have to curate an art gallery. Imagine the hate mail you would receive? What a horror. Anyway, St Francis, he was alright that bloke and someone has to consider the animals and nature, if only because very few people do. He also has a long face, but he sports a far better head of hair than I! Hehe! I’d have to suggest that much could be learned and preserved if a few more people took up the life of a penitent. He was a very astute bloke.

    What a lovely book the catwings book appears to be. Nice. I really quite enjoyed Ursula’s A Wizard of Earthsea books, although the final book dealt with many realities…

    I only get bored when people begin talking about their belief systems in batteries, and you are hardly at risk of doing that. Mind you, I often wonder about the folks who talk up the free hand of the market too. Clearly they confuse it for a resource discovery and refinement process when in fact it is an allocation process. But you know, they might have something. But I sort of doubt it…

    Oh! What does SOL mean? I get the feeling that you mean ‘on your own’ or ‘up the creek without a paddle’ – or something like that? If worse comes to worst, I can set you up with an account login for this website and then you don’t even need an email to comment. Dunno. Good luck! Let me know and I’ll see what I can do here.

    Hopefully the Garden Goddess forgives you your outburst and peace gets re-installed in the garden? Gardens are peaceful places. But you know, wallowing in books is OK too, if that is what is required of the situation.

    I hope the fire in Idaho has been contained, or that the wind dies down. Mate, I had a look at the images and it is as dry there as it is in the drought affected states to the north of this one. I dunno.

    Better get a wriggle on and get writing!



  51. Hello again
    The rain is absolutely tipping down which is great for the moment.

  52. Hi Inge,

    Far out! I read your weather report and ‘Strong winds and heavy rain’ sound good given how dry it has been on your island of late. Incidentally, I noticed that the weather report was given in metric units and that surprised me. Stay safe in the wind and rain, and I hope that there is not too much damage on your island. Down here, heavy rain after a prolonged dry spell can cause a lot of erosion as the vegetation cover can’t protect the ground. But also the soil itself hardens in dry times.



  53. Hi Chris,
    We’ve had quite a bit of help from family and friends moving stuff from here to the new house. Had the farm manager and his wife over to dinner on Friday to show them how things work. This will be an interesting living arrangement as the manager and wife will live here full time but the rest of the, unrelated, family that owns the tree farm will be staying from time to time. Apparently the manager considers them like family. Yesterday the buyer brought over his son’s boy scout troop over to see the pigs and learn about bees. They are camping at the tree farm this weekend. He and his wife came in to plan who was using what bedroom. We settled up on some furniture he bought and the propane left in the tank. So everything is working out quite well. The weather, while dry, has been delightful. Tomorrow my sister and I take Michael up for his pacemaker. We’ll have a new internet provider at the new house and are hoping it works OK. The fact that we’ve seen repair trucks from the company several times on our trips back and forth certainly makes us wonder. However there are few options out here. As long is this one does reasonably well we’ll be satisfied and the price is much lower than what we have now. Hope to have time to pop on here this week.


  54. Yo, Chris – Somewhere, recently, I read a comment (Greer? Daily Impact?) from a chemist who was talking about all the hoops he had to jump through to keep his credentials current. It was pretty nightmarish. Everywhere along the way, he was being dinged by one government fee, or another. While his hours increased and his wages declined.

    Here, people often grouse about, or poke fun at, all the mysterious charges on bills. Gas has hit $3.50 a gallon, here, while in Idaho it is about 30 cents less. Because Washington State has more taxes applied to gas. People are feeling very “hemmed in” and that kind of pressure manifests in all kinds of unhealthy ways. For the individual and society. Abusive behavior to self and others … running off and joining weird religious fringe groups, criminal enterprises or (so far) fringe political organizations. It’s not going to end well.

    Looking back, burlesque was kind of fun. A little naughty. The old music hall kind of broad humor. When I think about it, it was art and entertainment for the working class people. Which to the upper classes meant it was outre (just to throw a little French, around.) We’ve kicked around a bit the line between “smut” and “art.” Pretty flexible.

    I think I’ve mentioned the Deco ladies I collect that are mostly ceramic, and were usually part of floral display pieces. I’ve got a shelf of them in one of my display cabinets and often refer to it as the burlesque show shelf. :-).

    “SOL” is a pretty common phrase here. My Dad used it, quit a bit. I thought it was old, and a quick trip down the rabbit hole indicates that it dates back to WWI, at least. Not very family friendly, so, the phrase is often spelled out. “S— out of luck.

    I called my friends in Idaho, last night, and asked if they were camped out on a cot in a school gym, somewhere. Nope. The prevailing winds are pushing the fire away from them. They’re not even getting smoke. The official name of the fire is “The Mesa Fire.”

    Patience Gray is finally edging herself toward Italy. :-). And, here’s where they’re going to end up.

    Actually, the Solento region, but there’s not too much information on that. Lew

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