The War on Warts

Everyone is so worried these days about the War on Waste. It is a serious problem. Indeed the other day I spotted a lady sitting at a table inside a cafe consuming her coffee in a takeaway cup. The takeaway cup was manufactured using plastic lined cardboard with a plastic lid. Fortunately for the war effort, her child was drinking from a similar container but was thoughtfully using a cardboard straw. Bam! Take that waste!

Yes, the War on Waste is a worthy adventure. But have you ever heard of the War on Warts? It is a long story. I give you exhibit A:

Exhibit A: Ollie the Australian cuddle dog sports a wart on the middle of his forehead

Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who everyone knows is actually an Australian cattle dog) has grown a large, pink wart on the middle of his forehead.

Warts on dogs are a part of the fluffy canine existence. There is a reason for that, and it involves Toothy the long haired Dachshund. Toothy is a vector for the canine Papillomavirus which is the virus that produces warts. All dogs have their kryptonite, and being a vector for disease is Toothy’s. I don’t hold that against him because he is a dog after all, and dogs do, what dogs do.

The wart story begins with the former boss dog, Old Fluffy. Now Old Fluffy was the best dog that I have yet encountered. We were best mates, and she used to follow me around all day long. I loved Old Fluffy, who incidentally was a Pomeranian.

Old Fluffy the Pomeranian with Toothy and the now deceased Sir Poopy

Old Fluffy knew she was the best dog ever, because she was the best dog ever. She ruled the canine household with an iron paw and trucked no nonsense from any other dog regardless of size or temperament. They all deferred to her and in her time she had encountered some tough dogs. Old Fluffy was gentle with all humans and she particularly loved kids, who could have roughly pulled her tail and ears, and she would have loved them all the more. But with unknown dogs, she used to go first for the throat and then for the eyes. When she was angered by another dog, it was a thing to behold. She kept the young Toothy under her wing.

Old Fluffy keeps the young Toothy on a short leash

Old Fluffy knew exactly how to control the irascible Toothy. She used to incessantly clean his face, and he loved it. It was a bit dirty, really.

Old Fluffy controlled Toothy by incessantly cleaning his face

Toothy felt the need to reciprocate the favour and he licked the wart on Old Fluffy’s back. He eventually licked the wart so much, that it became an open wound on her back. It was an unsightly sore and even after the wound opened, Toothy continued to lick the sore so much that it just got bigger. I suspect that Toothy was using Old Fluffy like a fast food outlet.

One day in a fit of despair, we took Old Fluffy to the veterinarian to see what could be done about her wart that had become an open wound. The vet suggested surgery and we handed over Old Fluffy and well over a thousand dollars.

Soon Old Fluffy was back home again.

Old Fluffy back home again after the surgery

She died a few weeks later because not only was she an old dog, but it was probably a bad call on our part to get her operated on and put under a general anaesthetic. Old Fluffy and I shared a final day together, she was not in a good way:

Old Fluffy and I share a few final hours together

Anyway, whatever the case may be, Toothy now has a taste for licking warts. Due to Toothy’s probing search for warts, Ollie now has warts. We on the other hand have the War on Warts. But given our past experiences with Old Fluffy, we don’t want to take Ollie down the veterinary to have the wart removed by surgery. What to do? Well, recently we have begun trialling home remedies for removing warts. It seems like a less invasive option than very expensive and risky surgery.

We’re now regularly dabbing castor oil on the wart on Ollie’s forehead and to my astonishment after only a week of application, the wart has receded to a mere minor bump. We will continue to apply the castor oil until the wart is completely gone, but at this rate I’d be surprised if there is anything left of it in another week. Castor oil I believe has Vitamin E in it among other compounds, which is effective on canine warts. And it is an amazingly cheap treatment. Risk of death through surgery is also low!

Excavations continued this week on the extension of the strawberry terrace.

Excavations continued this week on the extension of the strawberry terrace

We unearthed a huge quantity of rocks. Some of the rocks were originally much larger, however we then broke into smaller rocks with the electric jackhammer.

The author looks excited by the prospect of so many rocks which were unearthed recently

There is also a 4,000 litre (1,050 gallon) water tank on the same level as the rock pile. We lowered the height of the water tank by around 20cm (8 inches) because it is necessary to accommodate a future project.

The water tank on the terrace with the rock pile was lowered about a bit less than a foot

The area next to the water tank was then excavated so that we could add another similar sized water tank over the next few weeks.

The area next to the lowered water tank was excavated flat so that we could add another similar sized water tank

Observant readers will notice a green hose going into that water tank in the photo above. After about six hours of pumping water from the house tanks, the water tank is now full to the brim!

Then we removed all of the rocks in the rock pile! Rocks are precious and every single rock has a use here.

All of the rocks in the rock pile were moved by hand and wheelbarrow

Some of the rocks were used to create a rock wall on that terrace where the rocks were previously piled up.

A rock wall was created on the blackberry terrace that did have the large pile of rocks

The largest rocks were used to begin creating a rock wall on the recently established path to the chicken enclosure.

Larger rocks were used to create a rock wall on the path to the chicken enclosure

And all of the remaining smaller rocks were placed into one of the two steel rock gabion cages which retain the steep soil on the potato terrace behind the wood shed.

One of the two rock gabions behind the wood shed is rapidly filling up

Regular readers will recall that a few weeks ago a large olive tree had been pulled over by the local wallabies. It was an impressive effort by the marsupials, and it is unreasonable of us to expect that the tree would right itself, but one can only but wish! Anyway, we removed the huge olive tree and relocated it.

An olive tree that was vandalised by the wallabies was removed and relocated

The olive tree was huge and it was quite the effort to extract it from the ground. It is worth mentioning that it was the largest fruit tree that I have ever relocated, but I have no worries at all about the tree surviving the ordeal. It was soon happily in its new location adjacent to the poopyquat. Long term readers will know that the poopyquat is a kumquat citrus tree which was planted over the grave of Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund.

The olive tree was relocated to a garden bed next to the poopyquat

Another round raised garden bed was converted into a permanent asparagus bed (which now makes three beds of asparagus). The local plant nursery was selling two year old potted up asparagus plants for a reasonable price – and who can argue with that?

Another round raised garden bed was converted into a permanent asparagus bed this week

Onto the winter flowers:

The beautiful smelling Daphne is just about to flower
Silver wattle is a bright splash of yellow in the surrounding evergreen forest
How cool is this Hellebore flower?
Did I mention that Hellebore’s self seed prolifically?
Rosemary is an ever reliable herb
These Leucondendrons are not technically flowers yet, but I reckon they look great

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 575.8mm (22.7 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 544.4mm (21.4 inches).

76 thoughts on “The War on Warts”

  1. Hi Margaret,

    Congratulations on the move. And top work on the internet connection, I hope that it works as well as the previous connection. Ah yes, one of the downsides of the internet is that it operates at all hours of the day and night. Plus your country, like ours has a lot of different time zones.

    Sorry to hear about Michael’s turn for the worse, and fluid on the lungs is a very serious and life threatening condition. It is nice to read that he is getting good care in an ICU, and you have my sympathies and best wishes for his speedy recovery.

    The humming bird at the window is a good sign for your new place. Dogs are very adaptable creatures to change, so I wouldn’t worry about them too much, just make sure they can’t roam home again until they’ve bonded to the new property, but you already know that.



  2. Hello Chris

    Are dog warts completely different from human warts i.e. a different virus? Would castor oil work on human warts, hmm interesting.
    I am picking blackberries every other day, both to freeze and eat fresh. Wasps certainly go on them here and there are a lot of wasps around this year.
    My Jerusalem artichokes have no flowers but I think that it is early yet. Having said that, they don’t always flower and ditto it makes no difference to the number of chokes.


  3. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, no worries at all. I was pondering the matter further this morning, and what it appears to me to look like with renewable energy technologies today, is the industrialisation of the appropriate tech movement. That is what it looks like anyway. You see all those technologies began life way back in the days when hippies walked the Earth, with the basic – and I don’t know whether belief, or maybe fundamental design concept is the right choice of words – way to provide a semblance of the much larger system, but using primarily local resources. Of course because the local resources are only ever supplied intermittently regardless (have a think about the rocks which turn up here intermittently!), when scaled up on an industrial scale, the original outcome for appropriate tech is still the same, but biggerer and the intermittency problems never go away. Plus industrialising a technology takes it out of the hands of the back yarder.

    But when those technologies are mixed into a system that was developed with an entirely different fundamental concept – that being the continual supply of base load energy (and this concept can apply to all sorts of systems including but not limited to, say, organic agriculture for just another example), then the two technologies blend all of the different outcomes into one messy mix. And then suddenly things are not the same anymore. The technologies are just that different – they’re not compatible in any sort of economic sense. Good ideas are great and all, but if they don’t make economic sense and don’t pay their way, then they fall flat on their face. I’ve heard people attempting to talk around that subject by proposing micro grids, but few if any people in industrial countries really want to exist solely on off grid renewable energy systems. Then they bang on about how the technology is getting cheaper all of the time – which is an expressed wish fantasy. But most folks who propose such things couldn’t understand the complexities of harvesting their own food, so how could they understand fundamental differences in technological suites? It is an alien concept to most people and they wouldn’t have a clue where to even begin with any of it, let alone how to approach such a problem. You’ve heard the other excuses, so there is no need for me to go into them.

    I can’t speak for you part of the world, but down here, the naughty night cart men used to dump their raw contents into the Yarra and Maribyrnong River systems in Melbourne. Who would have thought it, but Melbourne was rife with Cholera and Typhoid during the summer. The wealthy folk used to retire up to this mountain range for the fresh air and possibly for an escape from the summer disease. They left their mark with some impressive old hill station gardens (in the English manner) in the more fashionable western end of the range, and even today development appears to be stymied over there. The ancient Asians were much smarter and from historic accounts they collected their manures and returned it to the soils via standard ingenious sealed clay pots. Of course such a system also breeds a tolerance to the usual biological suspects.

    Ha! Very funny. 🙂 The night cart men worked by night and were allowed to travel down the dark alley ways of inner Melbourne at night collecting poo from the old out houses at the rear of most gardens. I’m old enough to recall the typical construction of an old ‘out house’. I’ll bet that their occupation made it hard to get a date on a Saturday night.

    Yeah, I’d be interested to hear what you dig up on the Jerusalem artichokes as I have no idea why they didn’t flower last year other than they just didn’t – and people warn me about how weedy they are. And yeah, I suspect that the mason bees are in a similar situation to the native bees here, but I just plant as wide a diversity of flowering plants that they’ll enjoy. I have this feeling that the forests and fields that us folks encountered when we first turned up in either continent were greatly different than they are today. Early historical accounts refer to the vast extent of wildflowers. Our job should we choose to accept it is…

    Thanks for mentioning the Artognou Stone. Cool. And whatever else notable scholars say – from my perspective it is nice that things were continuing merrily along at that period of time. I have a deep suspicion that some folks may find such a concept to be abhorrent to their belief systems.

    Ouch! What a thing to display on a persons wall. One must never tempt the Gods because who knows who is listening. Best not to muck around in their business, and if you do, know what you are doing and take basic precautions.

    Really? Wow. You know that makes sense and I hadn’t understood that there would have been a land bridge between Russia and Alaska but I guess that makes a lot of sense. Many land bridges lie just below the surface of the oceans like the passage between the mainland here and the island state of Tasmania. It is almost 200 miles now, but most of the channel is very shallow at about 100 foot. Needless to say, it is a rough stretch of water.

    Well, people get restless too and that may be part of the story that you recounted. I get that.



  4. Hi Inge,

    I was relieved to read that persons more knowledgeable on the subject than I, make the claim that the canine virus is non transmissible to humans. That was a relief to read because the wart on Ollie’s head was hard to avoid touching…

    Well, it is funny that you mention that, but given that Castor Oil is a good source of Vitamin E, like any good observational scientist, I’m trialling the viscous liquid on several small eczema patches with an untreated patch for a control purpose, and I am already noticing a reasonable improvement. I have been eczema free for quite a while, but of late work stresses have caused a few patches to show their ugly itchy heads. Phooey to them. The oil may provide some relief to yourself? Dunno, it is worth a try on a small test patch? It is a very thick oil so apply it sparingly!

    Exactly with the Jerusalem artichokes. I have no idea why they didn’t flower last summer. It sure was hot enough. It doesn’t surprise me though because a lot of fruit trees are biennial and produce only in the off year – and the thing I’ve noticed is that the various varieties tend to fruit together just to be a pest (from a human point of view). I have a suspicion that the sunflowers may be the same, but who knows? Do you have any idea as to why it may be the case that they didn’t flower?



  5. Hi Chis,

    I would almost exactly agree with you, except in the place of “perfectly acceptable”, I would write “necessary…to pick and choose what technology you wish to burden yourself”, if our analysis above is correct. But especially the burden part, there is always a cost isn’t there?

    On the macroscale, we have a whole suite of technologies based on an overall diminishing energy density, some of which are advancing way beyond the overall hypothetical median level, and some diminishing, but the overall median is in decline.

    On the microscale (the individual or family level), in an age of expanding energy density, adopting all technologies without discretion may get you ahead, since the median quality is simply improving, and a gain in one may compensate for a loss in another. Today, however, that would be a losing strategy for most according to the law of averages.

    This will unlikely scale so uniformly in space. Those living in the city with communal access to many technology resources could probably drop their individual technology requirements to pre-industrial levels assuming (Big Assumption Here Chris!) those cities are prescient enough to put their limited resources into meaningful projects.

    In the country (commentary here from Fernglade Farm welcome!), your technological requirements are going to have to look way more asymmetric.

  6. Yo, Chris – I enjoyed this weeks post, warts and all :-). Didn’t know that about dogs. Beau had (what I now know) was a wart on his forehead. It didn’t seem to grow bigger and didn’t seem to trouble him. So, I just kept an eye on it. Eventually, it just bled, slightly, dried up and disappeared.

    One of my worst childhood memories is having a wart removed from my knee. Burned off. After that, I kept the occasional wart well hidden. Haven’t been bothered, in years.

    That’s a lot of rocks. :-). I was going to say, save them for “special”, but I see you’ve done sensible things with them. No fun at all. :-(. No follies in the garden. A tower. Or, a classical ruin.

    Keep it up and you’ll have “Sir Poopy’s Grove.” The original story will be lost, stories will be made up. It will become a destination for pilgrims. A cult will grow up around it.

    Rosemary is always very pretty. We have a few pots of it, growing around The Home. Some have gotten a bit “tree” like. So, I never have to grow my own.

    “When Hippies walked the earth.” A real geological time period, I think. In rock stratis, somewhere after “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” and “When Moses Was a Pup.” I think the Hippies (sweeping generalization alert: some Hippies in some places. Maybe.) Had smaller expectations on their alternative electrical systems. There weren’t as many “must have” (Ha!) gizmos. Needs had closer limits.

    “Industrialising a technology takes it out of the hands of the back yarder.” The disaperrance of the “shade tree mechanic.” But I must say I’ve noticed a mob of young gear heads (gearus caput americanus) hanging around Frank the Mechanic’s place. So the species is not entirely extinct in the wild. There’s been quit a dust up over farmers not being able to work on their own equipment, anymore. In harvest, fooling around with a “help” call center or waiting on a tech is not viable. There’s been a few court battles for access to their own tech. Cont.

  7. Cont. I poked around about Jerusalem artichokes. Oh, I knew they could be weedy (aka, invasive) which is why I have them rounded up in a barrel. Sometimes, they just don’t flower. Could be because the weather isn’t hot enough. Our nights have been a bit cool. I can try mounding them up and adding a bit of lime. They need alkaline soil. I probably overcrowded them. They, in general, flower late. One person had the opinion that the flowers are just a bonus.

    Land and ice bridges all over the place during the last ice age. An ice bridge from London to New York. Britain was attached to Europe. There’s some speculation that, based on a type of spear point, that some Iberians managed to make it to the new world. Jury is still out on that one.

    I was going to take a day off and got antsy in the later afternoon. So, I picked another gallon of blue berries. Safely tucked in the freezer. I also picked a big bag of apples. I’ll go at those, this afternoon. I figure I might get a gallon, plus, from that lot.

    I spotted another Hubbard squash. Maybe a third. Still only two pumpkins :-(. I’m going to try the castor oil on my scaley eyebrows. A recent development. Antibiotic cream only knocks it back for a couple of days. So, onto castor oil. Lew

  8. Hi Chris,

    We were out of town for 10 days in July to attend my nephew’s wedding and see friends of mine from college who live within a few hours’ drive of the wedding site (north central New Jersey). Then when I came home there was a whole lot of harvesting to do – potatoes had to be dug and crabapples and elderberries picked to freeze for later processing. Plus I had to do a full lawn-mowing with a very cranky lawnmower, see below. I still need to gather some more elderberries but otherwise the rest has been completed.

    Also I had to harvest lots of tomatoes and compost overgrown zucchini that were only suitable for use as a club. That’s what happens during 10 days out of town in prime zucchini developing season. I must remind my other nephews to marry from November through March. 😉

    Regarding the lawnmower, just before we left town, the kill switch cable broke. Mike took it to the local man who repairs small gasoline-powered mowers (not many such folks left). He ordered the part but it took almost two weeks for it to arrive, so we did not get the mower back till we’d been home for a few days. Then the mower became extremely difficult to start, worse than before. Mike says the piston rings are worn; the lawnmower man won’t repair them. We briefly discussed replacing the engine, which he would do, but then remembered how vibrations have wallowed out the holes through which the handles bolt to the body. Mike has replaced the bolts on each side multiple times. After 15 years of service, we realized it is time to replace the mower. Somehow I managed to get it started five more times (I only mow an hour at a time during the heat of summer) to complete a full cycle of lawn-mowing. It will now be retired and a new lawnmower purchased. It reminds me of your issue with your car awhile back and some of our difficulties finding parts for other appliances: it’s often not possible to repair something because parts are no longer available or because no one will or can do the work, or for some other reason that amounts to its being uneconomical as the current system construes it. I have no idea how long that can or will go on, but it’s possible, at my age (61) that it could outlive me. Like you, I have to hold that possibility in mind when dealing with stuff.


  9. @ Margaret: I saw when I returned from our 10 day trip that Michael was having health issues, and then read your latest update. May he pull through this crisis and return to his home!

    Also, welcome to your new place and I am glad the move went well!


  10. Hi crowandsheep,

    Yes, I believe we are in agreement, and either word works for me. Probably, you’re a bit more technically correct than I, because we humans use tools all of the time (we’re using one right now to maintain a dialogue).

    In your second paragraph, did you just describe the role of diminishing returns? It sure sounded like that.

    I agree with you, if only because in the long term any strategy will fail, and there is not much that we can do about that. Life is inevitably tragic, and we would do well to recall that meme. It is a useful meme, well I reckon so anyway.

    That assumption is a big call because often in a city environments, you aren’t as free to experiment with different technologies as much as you might believe. I recall days when water tanks collecting rainwater from roof tops within city boundaries were an outlawed technology. You have to be connected up to the mains sewer whether you like it or not. I reckon the houses are so large now that victory gardens are an impossibility if only because there is little land for such things and too many people to be viable. A deconstructed and deindustrial suburban existence would I believe look a bit more like Detroit, where houses are wrecked for their materials, to avoid them becoming a public nuisance, and for space for growing edible plants.

    Could you please expand upon what you mean by the word ‘asymmetric’ in that context?



  11. @ Claire

    Thank you. I am very happy to have only one house now. We still have to move the pigs and bees but our fortunate that we had all this time to move. Michael is slowly improving but it seems likely his recovery is going to be slow and will probably require sometime at a nursing home. He has a medicare advantage plan so only certain nursing homes will be covered and the ones we like so far are not. He was able to finally eat yesterday which made him very happy.

    I miss having vegetables from my garden as I only planted a few things at the old house but under the circumstances wouldn’t have been able to deal with it anyway.


  12. Hi Lewis,

    Very funny! I enjoyed your humour, warts and all! 😉 Yeah, you’re right about Beau’s wart – dog warts are strange skin conditions because they do disappear within a year (I believe). I unfortunately had to do something about the wart not for aesthetics, but more because of the wild card of the Tooth.

    Mark Twain had quite a chapter about warts and kids way back in the day. A bit before both of our times to be frank! The two adventurers had decided to use a dead cat and an incantation in a cemetery at midnight to remove some warts. It seemed like a good idea at the time until they discovered the character ‘Injun Joe’ murdering the young doctor – who was himself in the process of stealing a body. In a bizarre twist, the townsfolk seemed more troubled that a murder had taken place than that a couple of folks were stealing a body from a cemetery. My how times have changed. I recall a story that we have discussed before about a couple of serial killers bumping off people and selling the bodies off for medical research.

    I wish I had enough rocks for such a construction, but woe is me. Peak rocks, is a terrible thing. We’re having to dig deeper at an ever greater expenditure of energy merely in order to maintain the continuing supply of rocks for various projects. It is a real predicament.

    Stop it! 🙂 The spirit of Sir Poopy would love the attention. Don’t you reckon it needs a marker of some sort. What do you think it should say? Here lies Sir Poopy the brave, fox bane… Dunno. Have they discovered who the three folks in the huge casket recently unearthed in Alexandria were?

    I often munch upon the rosemary leaves (one at a time) whenever I walk past the shrub. Rosemary is an extraordinarily hardy plant in this climate. Do they have to take your plants out of the risk of heavy snowfalls?

    Hey, I totally get your explanation. It makes sense and I have taken a keen interest whenever old off grid solar power systems turn up in my awareness. Yes, absolutely, the systems matched their expectations, and usually they were not that great. The other thing to remember is that those systems were generally wired up by the owner (as I did), and not many people these days undertake that job themselves. There is a certain learned helplessness in the population which often makes things seem harder than they actually are. I’d hate to be around folks the day they have to shake loose that affectation. What a horror story!

    Also people forget, but the technologies that are connected up in large cities, tend to shape the users of the technologies. I suspect that the situation is not the other way around.

    Those farmers have options to purchase, restore, and maintain older equipment. As a comparison, that is a much easier option with farm equipment than with some newer motor vehicles due to the scavenging of parts and dispersed knowledge of the equipment. Yes, I have been following that dust up, and you may recall that I used to maintain and repair my own vehicles way back in the day. I wonder about that option and may exercise that choice if anything untoward happens to the Dirt Rat. Dunno. It is really good to hear of the return of the shade tree mechanic (I like that term and have never heard it before).

    You know, I haven’t noticed the weedy aspect of Jerusalem artichokes. They seemed quite contained really. When first I planted them I was worried that they’d take over the entire forest! Imagine a huge swath of Jerusalem artichokes. The bees and other pollinating insects would love it. Ah, interesting. At a guess, your soils would be acidic, like the ones here. It is not for no reason that you get lots of mushrooms in your corner of the planet. I might try feeding them with mushroom compost which is mildly basic, when I rediscover exactly where the tubers are again…

    Ah, of course. I only considered land bridges, but how silly of me, ice bridges would have been a factor too. What a massive walk that would have been, but then I guess there would have been other animals foolish enough to travel on the ice bridges. Out of curiosity is there any speculation as to what eventually happened to the race of Neanderthals? I understand that our ancestors were friendly enough with them that a fair bit of their genome is part of ours. A guy or girl could get kind of lonely out on the Steppes during the last ice age… 🙂

    Go the blueberries. There is something nice and rhythmic in harvesting – as long as the sun isn’t baking down upon your head. How is the weather going up your way? As a hint it is freezing cold down here and this week looks rather damp.

    We planted a number of squashes (I use that term only in the interests of furthering international diplomacy and harmony) last summer, but only a single Queensland Blue pumpkin (shoot! Sorry I slipped up. Hehe!). But I tell ya, it was without doubt, the tastiest squash / pumpkin that I have roasted and eaten. Of course it was also the first home grown pumpkin that I’d eaten. Good luck with your Hubbard squashes. Have you grown them before? We saved the seeds from the pumpkin and will plant that out again in a few more weeks. I reckon it will be an early spring here, although it is very cold and wet outside right now.



  13. Hi Claire,

    What a nice time of year to be on a road trip. Is it hot and dry up in the north east this summer? Yum! Enjoy your harvest too. Out of curiosity, what do you use your elderberries for? We make elderberry wine which is very tasty, but that uses the flowers. The local parrots love the elderberry seeds.

    Well, you know, your story sounds a lot like the machine wasn’t made to be repaired to any large extent in the first place. You’d be surprised to hear, but the little red Honda push mower has even had the aluminium case re-welded, but sooner or later we too will face your decision. It is a real conundrum because between you and I, I have absolutely no idea if the newer machines will have the same longevity as the older ones. Thus we reached back in time and recently purchased the secondhand much larger locally manufactured walk behind mower. My money is on that machine outlasting the Honda because the components look more durable.

    I’m genuinely surprised to hear that small machine repair folks are hard to find up in your part of the world, but it sort of makes a weird sense. Not to brag, but the local farm machine repair shop is an indispensable business down here for repairing small machinery. They’re pretty good too because they’ll give an honest assessment as to whether it is worth spending further cash on the machine. If the rings are shot on your machine there is no or little compression and the machine just won’t run well – or even start.

    When I was a very young adult, there used to be shops where engines were taken in and rebuilt. People still do that, but mostly nowadays people junk vehicles so it is a bit of a dying art form. One thing I’m rather alarmed about is the turnover that people desire with vehicles. I can’t say that I agree with that desire, but I’m in the minority opinion in that matter.

    Triffid alert! Oh yeah, don’t ever turn your back on a zucchini plant… 🙂 Have you ever tried the three sisters approach to growing corn?



  14. Hi Chris,

    I’ve heard that putting duct tape on warts works as well. What would we do without duct tape. Loved all the pics of the fluffy collective past and present.

    I already gave the Michael update in my comment to Claire. I’m off to the hospital this afternoon to spend two nights there. Looks like if things continue to p rogress he’ll be out of ICU today or tomorrow.

    Took the dogs out for their first early morning road walk today and they did quite well. Yesterday I got some bird feeders up and this morning there was a hummingbird. Our neighbors stopped by last night with a bag of sweet corn they grew. There aren’t many neighbors – next door and across the street and others are well down the road. The family who brought the corn came with their 9 year old son who is the oldest of their six children and their new kitten. Luckily Leo and Salve are used to cats and were well behaved.

    Well it’s off to continue trying to put this place together before I head up to the hospital.


  15. Hi Chris,

    So the question was whence all the high tech a full generation after peak energy density per capita?

    Consider a column graph with all technologies located on the horizontal axis, with the vertical axis showing the required energy inputs for each technology. For example, microprocessors have a much larger value than spades, giving taller columns for the former. The integral, or adding up all values, gives the total energy available E, which, at the current time, is dominated by fossil fuels.

    Actually, this is a three-dimensional chart with time as the third axis, with the value of E as your only constraint. If the value of E increases in time, more technologies can be added to the mix, or more energy added to individual technologies, so your chart may get more complex in time. I am also using technology in the broadest sense here. That glass of milk is also a technology. Add whatever you like that requires energy inputs.

    However, if the value of E is decreasing, and you still want to add new technologies to the mix, or increase the energy inputs to existing technologies, this implies you are going to have to sacrifice in certain areas because the value of E, the sum of energy inputs to all technologies, is non-negotiable. Therefore, if you want to keep increasing inputs into microprocessors while E is decreasing, you are going to have to sacrifice the inputs into spades, or wherever. Sacrificing inputs means decreasing the quality, while producing the same number of spades, or maintaining quality while reducing spade production.

    I put it to you, therefore, that the crapification of basic technologies (hammers, milk, etc.) is a direct consequence of the decrease in the value of E, and the steady and/or increasing allocation of inputs into high tech. A quality spade is either unavailable because inputs have been allocated elsewhere or as expensive as an ipad because production is low and there is supply and demand (as dubious a concept as that is). A cheapo spade breaks as soon as you smash a Porsch at a May Day demonstration.

    Asymmetry: A distribution of technologies is likely skewed, with fewer high tech requiring larger inputs and many low tech requiring lower inputs. I was suggesting country goers need a more skewed distribution of technologies at an individual level than city slickers who may rely more on centralization. For example, a car versus no car type situation, since slickers should rely on public transportation *smash*.

    I am not so sure though whether centralized energy distribution by the state with everyone at the city level relying on lower energy at the individual level is a net gain, since what I am describing is essentially glorious communism, which proved to be at least as wasteful as glorious capitalism.

    Many cities have or have had internal communities living at semi-pre-industrial levels (e.g. Christiania), with occupants making use of the wider resources. These occupants I believe are referred to as “damn hippies!” in the collapse literature. But they tend to attract the attention of the Officers of Justice and Goodness once reaching critical mass.

  16. Yo, Chris – The Alexandria caskets have quit dropped out of the news. I check two archaeological news sites, daily, so if anything surfaces I’ll let you know.

    The Rosemary here seems tough as old boots, as far as winter goes. There was an enormous bush at the abandoned farm, where I used to live. It had been through all kinds of ice storms and close to zero (F) weather. Several times. Maybe they ride out the rough times because they’ve got so much oil in them?

    Well, there certainly are a lot of novels about that have to do with the end of that learned helplessness. TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It.). Quit a few are self published (pretty easy to do, these days) and they vary in quality.

    Go back to the old farm machinery? LOL. The new stuff is air conditioned, has GPS and is internet connected to … well, everything. Harvest your corn and watch a movie. Huge light arrays so you can light up a 300 acre field and work far into the night. And they harvest enormous swaths at one go. Logging equipment is heading the same direction. Cont.

  17. Cont. Speculation is, they bumped their way in boats down the coasts and along the ice bridges. What happened to the Neanderthals? Lots of theories. Probably a combination of things. Shrinking habitat. Climate change. Our ancestors. Smaller populations to begin with. There is also emerging evidence of another elusive group called the Denisovans. We apparently picked up a gene from them that allowed us to live at high altitudes. Yup. Lots of long, cold, dark winter nights at the end of the ice age.

    I finished “Atlas of a Lost World.” It had some interesting concepts. “Deflating land.” Land that is being scoured down through wind or water. Nutrients played out. I figure the same thing happens in our garden boxes when the soil level falls. The author ruminated a bit on the movement to end one geological era and name it something else. “The Anthropocene” “New Man.” He quit prefers Hubriscene :-).

    So, at one point, scientists didn’t think travelers made it into North America before one date, due to being penned in in Alaska because of the ice. But the author makes the point that they probably saw several species of migrating birds that came from somewhere on the other side of the ice. They could figure out that there was viable land, somewhere south.

    I can remember when any earlier date was quit dangerous to a scientific career. And then Monte Verde was discovered in S. Chili. A solid 14,500 years ago, with indications of activity even further back. But it took years to be accepted.

    Well, I quit overdid it, yesterday. I decided to go pick more blackberries on the slope behind the home. Late in the day. It’s quit shaded up there. Still warm. I knew at one point that I should quit. But, I pushed on. Have to get that gallon! Well, I barely managed to stagger down the hill and sat on the edge of a raised bed, with my head between my knees, for quit awhile. I have to remember that I’m not 60, anymore!

    Right as rain, after awhile. When I took Princes for her walk, we flushed out a deer! The big buck with quit a rack of antlers. We shoed him back in the woods.

    Weather has been hot, upper 80s and low 90s F. As per Cliff Mass, we’re not getting a lot of smoke from California and east of the mountains. But, Friday, the temps are going down, a bit, and we might even get some rain. Lew

  18. Hello again
    A slight amount of rain today.
    My query about castor oil was purely academic, I don’t have warts.
    Have no idea as to why Jerusalem artichokes sometimes flower and sometimes don’t. They are incredibly weedy and like to travel. Grown in pots, they will move to the edges and then become unhappy when they encounter a barrier.


  19. Hi Chris,

    We use the elderberries to make wine, and a very good wine it is!

    I suspect you are correct that the old mower was not intended for repair beyond replacing things like the blade and air filter and changing the oil. With so many cheap new machines of all types readily available, the reaction of most folks when any machine needs anything more than a very trivial repair is that it’s better to purchase a new one. Occasionally the repair will cost enough more than a new machine that it is best to purchase the new one (I had a washing machine for which this was the case), but more often it seems to be an excuse to buy the cheap new machine at the nearest big box store. And often enough part of the reason those machines are cheap is that they aren’t easy or possible to repair. Both those factors feed in to a reduction in the number of people who specialize in repairs.

    The old machine was not a cheap big box store model – we bought it from a local lawn and garden store. Considering that I may not have taken care of it as well as possible (it only had one service done to it before this year beyond oil changes, and I hadn’t known how to properly winterize the machine), we probably did well to get as many years of service out of it as we did.

    Earlier today we bought a new lawn mower from the same lawn and garden store. It’s still a push mower but it does have self-propel capability and large rear wheels to make it easier for me to push in my old age. The salesman gave us several pointers on its care that I hadn’t realized were important to do and will, I hope, cause it to last for as long as we remain in this house. Plus I’ll have the mower checked before each mowing season by the service folks in this store. Since neither of us wants to learn how to do this, best to pay them to help us keep the mower in good shape.

    I’ve tried growing pole beans with corn but was dissatisfied because I wanted to eat the beans as green beans, but they formed too high for me to reach them. Plus the entangling vines made it harder to weed the patch and to harvest the corn when it was time for that. If I were to try this again I would choose to grow a dry bean with the corn and time the planting so both mature at about the same time. I have had better results with growing squash vines among the corn, although they do tend to run to the outside of the patch where there is more light. I have volunteer butternut squash vines growing with the corn this year and they have already formed some squashes.


  20. Hi Chris,

    May I just say that that was one brave paper straw. I hope you are not calling its virtue into question. (straight faced emoticon)

    Winter has been declared as officially over. The oak tree sprouted lovely fresh new leaves at the end of last week. So it is spring. There was such a heavy frost in surrounding areas yesterday morning that it looked like snow. Social Media has loads of pics of shrivelled up plants. We weren’t touched at all.

    I have tried approaching the idea that “that on a long term average, something like over 90% of the population is usually involved in subsistence agriculture” from every direction I can think of and I have to say that I cannot see a way to agree with you. It was a circuitous journey during which I learnt a lot of new things about the region I live in. (Out of a total households 14,450,161, households 19.92% are involved in *any* type of agricultural activity.) Anyway, the short version is that 90% of the population has never had access to land.

    I don’t have chickens. I was interested in the wormwood as a rat deterrent. I asked my local plant guru if my grey leafed plant was wormwood and she was so snooty and scathing in her response that I didn’t listen past her saying that it wasn’t.

    Have you considered replacing some of your eucalyptus with pasture?

    Regards Elbows

  21. Hi everyone,

    Many thanks for the lovely comments. This evening I am exhausted and am off to bed early. I promise to reply tomorrow, but until then – sleepy time! Not sure what the emoticon for a sleepy headed person that has done too much accounting work of late. Did you know that professions and your day to day experiences at work change your world view? Well, that’s what I reckon anyway…

    Lewis – I’ll bet they’re combing through that huge casket for any sign as to who the occupants were. I was amazed at how deep the casket was laid into the ground. Or perhaps the buildings had risen above them? Dunno, I couldn’t tell in the images of the casket being removed.

    Of course about the bumping along the coast in boats. That makes total sense and it would have been an easier journey. My first thought was that they walked across the ice and land bridges, but boat technology is a very old technology indeed and some of the journeys the Polynesian’s undertook were epic for the sheer distance travelled across open water.

    Incidentally, I was quite fond of the title: Hubriscene. It is genius, and rather appropriate. There seems to be a lot of that gear about the landscape.

    Hey, we just passed: Australia’s population hit 25 million, newest resident likely to be young, female and Chinese. And I couldn’t believe it, but yesterday I heard someone claiming on the radio that our population could be much larger, and all we need to do is innovate. I’m not sure that strategy has worked so well in the past, but I could be wrong.

    Mate, I’m off to bed. Me tired.


  22. Hi, Chris!

    Poor Ollie! So young to be so warty. And it would be right in the middle of his forehead, like the little girl with the little curl. Look at that gorgeous pack of three young – and one old – fluffies. And an old fluffy in her summer coat is a sight to see. Sir Poopy did look an awful lot like a Pom. Toothy – pull your tongue in!

    I have heard of the castor oil treatment for warts. I myself have found castor oil to be very helpful for stomach pain (ie a hernia) when rubbed generously over the painful area once a day till it feels better.

    What great terraces. What a lot of big rocks. What great boots!
    Geez, don’t let my son hear that you have a jack hammer. How on earth did you move that huge water tank, even if it was empty?

    I don’t quite know why, but I laugh every time I see the rooster ornament (beautiful though it is) on the chicken house. Perhaps it is there so that you don’t forget which of the many sheds the chickens belong in? Lovely paths.

    Is a leucondendron a rhododendron relative?


  23. @ Margaret:

    Welcome home! And I am so glad that Michael is improving, slowly though that is.


  24. @ Lew:

    I sure do like that thought about “Sir Poopy’s Grove”. I actually find it very plausible. And you have enthralled me with your stories of our ancestors.

    Goodness – all for the love of blackberries you have done yourself in! I’ll bet Princess was thrilled with the deer.


  25. Yo, Chris – A chef, a agroecologist and an ethnobotanist walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke :-). Actually, it’s a book, except for the bar part. Although, I’d guess bars will be involved. :-).

    In the Library Luck of the Draw, I’m coming up on several books on food. “Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture.” (Goodyear, 2013). That one is going back, mostly, unread. It’s pretty much about weirdness, far out on the Foodie Fringe. Life is short. Other more useful books, beckon.

    Now, back to those three guys in a hypothetical bar … “Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail.” (Friese, Kraft and Nabhan, 2011.) The guys decided they wanted to take a look a climate change, but do it from a bit of a different perspective. By looking at one crop. So, who chiles? Well, that plant has been around a long time and has adapted through several ups and downs of climate. And, besides, they’re all long time, self confessed Chiles Heads. I read a bit of it, last night, and it looks to be a good read.

    I’m interested in chiles, as, I always feel like my knowledge of them is quit lacking. When running across them, I always approach with a sharp stick, whip and chair.

    I picked enough blackberries, yesterday, to round out that gallon. Now I can sleep, again. Lew

  26. Hi Margaret,

    Well duct tape is a new wart cure all! I’m not doubting you, but I’m just trying to imagine getting the delightfully natured Ollie to keep a chunk of duct tape on his forehead for any length of time. It might be quicker and easier just to go for the soldering iron option… Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that.

    Did Michael come out of the ICU today? How are his spirits? It is very nice of both you and your sister to spend so much time with him during his ordeal in hospital.

    Go Leo and Salve! I’m sure they too are delightful dogs, and enjoyed every moment of their walk. Did they look longingly at their old digs? We had Bone Wars here today because I passed by the butcher in my travels this morning to pick up the weeks supply of milk. They’re now all sleeping off the effects of an entire day’s worth of Bone Wars…

    Nice neighbours! What a thoughtful gift of the sweet corn. And in a strange twist of coincidence, we continued excavating the site for the corn enclosure today. So much digging, and so many rocks… We hit a seam of an old lava flow. Talk about hard work.

    Best wishes for the great unpacking, and I do hope that Michael recovers.



  27. Hi crowandsheep,

    Your erudition is beyond me and I admit defeat and slowly retreat from the field! 🙂 In some respects I am very old school because I consider that a well made and long lasting shovel as a tool is of higher value than a microprocessor. However, you do raise an important question, and when it came to computer games, mate, well, I was impressed with Galaxians on the VIC-20, or Asteroids. But when the Commodore-64 hit the streets and I could battle my way through six hours of the continuous and lengthy battle with uncounted monsters in the lower dungeon of Ultima VI in order to defeat the boss monster and win the game, I for one was impressed. It kept me entertained, and then there was the game Elite on that same computer which was awesome. Anyway, I enjoyed them. Most of the arcade game machines at the time shared equally slow processors and they happily took my hard earned funds.

    Now as to your question, I sort of feel that as energy per capita declines, people have to get chucked off the ship in order for the ship to stay afloat. You may have heard the quip that: ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. Upon hearing that quip, I thought to myself what happens if you are a land lubber, and you don’t own a boat? Fortunately, there are a few real world examples of what happens in such circumstances. As a hint it is not good, if only because one cannot swim for too many hours. Mind you, experiences vary with that and it always surprises me to learn that some folks these days do not know how to swim.

    Spare the spade, and also spare the Porsche, if only because I feel that they are one of the more attractive vehicles that are manufactured these days (I refer to the sportier two door variety). New vehicles are surprisingly ugly constructions, not that anyone notices…

    The damn hippies may just have something, although the ones I’ve met are generally: ‘more hat than cows’. I initially typed that out back to front, and it is important to recall that many folks over stock paddocks to their detriment. One cow = 2.5 acres!

    Yes, your point. You know, when people whine to me about their base supply connection charges for services in the various big smokes littered around the planet, I have to suggest to them that: ‘It costs a lot to look differently’. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but this stuff makes no economic sense at all. And I’m not joking about that.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    I’m amazed, but late this afternoon, the solar hot water panels kicked off and put a bit of heat into the hot water system. I noticed that this event correlated with the return of medium rated UV. The winter greens have even begun growing again too! Yay!

    We ended up digging soil all day today for the new corn enclosure. I originally intended to do some accounting work, but my brain is fried and digging soil all day long seemed like the better option to me. Anyway, in late afternoon the plumber dropped by and checked out the hot water system which is connected to the wood heater. Last Sunday as I was writing, the water pipes were banging as the cold water in the system hit the hot water at the back of the wood heater. Not good, and it sounded like something was about to break in a not good kind of way. We all discovered some things about how the wood heater system here actually works and like everything else here it is simple, yet inordinately complex. And after over a decade of living here, I still learn things that surprise me about the systems. And such was the case this afternoon with the plumber. We may also chuck a small hydronic radiator into the battery room so as to warm up the batteries. The chemical reactions get a bit sluggish over the depths of winter and they are in an unheated room. It may help things…

    Oh, anyway, hopefully we finish off the digging tomorrow of that terrace extension, and then we can begin the more enjoyable aspect of construction of the enclosure. We plan to get a corn ‘three sisters’ enclosure done and also another shed on the terrace below that done over the next month. Is it overly ambitious? Maybe… Probably… One must reach for the stars in order to simply get to the next town in a low energy world! 😉

    Yeah, I suspect that you are correct about the plant rosemary. They are as tough as old boots. Down here the herb is traditionally used in lamb roast. Do you cook with it much? Bay trees also seem tough as, and the leaves are used in pasta sauces. Although for some reason I recall that the leaves were usually removed from the sauce before serving and I was told as a child that the leaves were toxic, but I can’t imagine that would be the case if they were chucked into food in the first place? Dunno. What are your thoughts on the matter?

    I don’t believe that I’ve ever read a self published novel. Can you make any reading recommendations in relation to that? A fair bit of music is also self published these days and the national youth radio station down here supports them by providing a forum. Some of the stuff is very fresh and it is a good way to go for people wanting to get a voice out there. I mean, this forum is an act of self publishing, I guess? Although, I started just so that you and I could have a regular gab fest. 🙂

    I know that about the old school farm machinery, but it is an option. And smart folks could do the bio-diesel thing, although I’m not that smart with machinery, if only because I’ve never put any brain cells towards the problem. We are very old school here and I like doing things the old school way because you are less likely to get done over in all manner of ways. It is a good way to go. And I like the human pace and scale too as there is something rewarding in that.

    Seriously cool. I hadn’t heard about the Denisovan’s before and what fascinating reading. Now I noticed that there was a reference to interbreeding with: “as yet unidentified ancient human lineage”. Fascinating stuff and the stuff of endless speculation.

    Well, you know, it offends peoples sensibilities to know that folks have been and gone before them. We tend to feel that the present circumstances are an unshakable truth, and that somehow we managed to achieve the pinnacle of evolution, but I don’t reckon that is playing out so well, if only because we treat the biosphere which supports us like a giant sewer or supermarket for our wants… Monte Verde is a fascinating story. Australia has apparently been occupied by humans for somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 years, so I hardly consider that humans elsewhere sat on their backsides and ventured nothing. The desire for new territory is part of the human condition as it solves a few problems that we haven’t yet matured enough to deal with.

    Mate, it isn’t just you. I call that: “gotta go do it syndrome”. Guilty as charged! It is not much fun is it?

    Did I not mention that Pomeranian’s are tough as? The slightly larger versions have many wild dog traits because they’re not that far removed. Sir Poopy was a wilful dog, although we managed to achieve a happy accomodation. And you can tell that because their ears are usually pricked upright. Lesser dogs have ears that flop downwards. I’m nervous of big bucks because they are huge. The fluffy collective have that task written into their job descriptions!

    Good luck for the summer rain. I spotted Cliff Mass’s essay and will check it out later.

    Yeah, food weirdness is not good. I recall the recent forays into the world of molecular cooking – and who can doubt the genius of such an adventure? My tastes are that of a well fed peasant so molecular cooking does not appeal! People who want to hunt and gather their entire diet leave me feeling that way too as it tastes a bit strange to my palate.

    My knowledge of chilli’s is sadly lacking as well. You lot scared the beejeezus out of me last year with all of the warnings about the jalapenos. But when I finally steeled myself up to the critical moment of the taste test, they weren’t so bad. The horseradish is much hotter!



  29. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all about the castor oil. Given it has useful amounts of Vitamin E, I’m trialling it on a patch of eczema, and thought that I’d mention it to you because of that skin condition. You never know what might assist.

    Perhaps there are nastier Triffids in the plant community down here because I have seriously never noticed that the Jerusalem artichokes are any more invasive than any other plants here. I’ve noticed with the plants that they tend to invade unoccupied areas that the outcome tends to differ according to how I’ve treated the disturbed soil.

    More digging today. I hope that you are not bored by our incessant digging? Hopefully, we finish the digging component tomorrow. We uncovered more rocks today, and last week I mentioned to the editor how grateful I was that we actually have rocks as a local resource.



  30. Chris:

    This is great:

    “One must reach for the stars in order to simply get to the next town in a low energy world!”


  31. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the recommendation about the elderberry wine. The flowers make a superb wine, champagne, or cordial too, but I am tempted to now try the berries in a wine. The local parrots won’t like that at all, but there are plenty of elderberry shrubs and we plant more every year because they are such hardy hedge plants.

    Well the design and manufacture of machines certainly determines whether they are easily repairable or not. Often, it is not in the manufacturers interests for you to be able to easily repair an item, because they can’t then sell you a new item. It happens, and it is an inherent conflict of interest in the process. But not every manufacturer follows that path, and finding out which is which is a real nightmare. You know, in the big scheme of things it is only a moment in time because we can only do it now due to the energy sloshing around the place.

    Ha! Well, don’t you reckon that it is akin to killing a plant three times before knowing something about it? Hey, I wasn’t talking up my experiences with the previous wood heater which was removed about two years ago. We killed that wood heater in a very definite manner. But we also learned a lot in the process and are very careful with the replacement. I’m a stickler for servicing of machines and I take all of the machines for a service every year. Yup, every single one of them. It is not for the faint of heart that strategy, but I reckon it works out in the long run. Maybe… Dunno, really. People have argued it out with me in the past, and I don’t know, I just don’t want hassles from them.

    Actually who would have thought that draining the fuel out of the carburettor is a good idea before winter? An old timer once told me that fuel ain’t what it used to be, and ethanol is clogging up the guts of a motors fuel delivery systems, if it is left to sit for too many months.

    Exactly, hand the activity over to someone who knows what they’re doing. A commendable approach. And I must say that self propelled is a really good idea. You won’t regret it. 🙂

    Thanks for the advice and you’ve given me much to ponder. Lucky you having volunteer squashes growing about the place. Nice! Do they grow true to type? I’ve heard things about that family of plants, but have so little experience that I’m basically unsure.



  32. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for koala bearing my ramblings. Just a small clarification. The value of a microprocessor/spade above refers to the magnitude of the energy inputs required for its production (more for a microprocessor I would presume). Its Value, as such, is in the eye of the beholder. If you are ever in town, do check out the computer game museum ( They even have the greatest computer game ever invented—NBA Jam—the Michael Jordan of video games.

    Now, to go further back to my original admittedly foggy suggestion that the old peak oilers (only possibly) overlooked, is the strategy to focus on the reduction in quality of fundamental goods as a Direct Consequence of high tech. I think actually that this idea is as old as industrialism itself—rather than machinery was it not what the Luddites objected to was mass-produced crap? Correct me if I am wrong, but your motivation for landing at Fernglade Farm was more the desire for fresh produce, although you have also gone off-grid in the process? Well, Hermann Melville applauds your logic:

    “For say they, when cruising in an empty ship, if you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least.” — Moby Dick.

    The ugliness of cars has neither been lost on me nor is it on those within a 15-m radius of my musings. I prefer old timers if it must be, but they have already undergone a process elucidated during the Victorian Era by Charles Darwin: Natural Selection. Is the great turnover of cars actually because, like in the wee hours of a country dance, they all look rubbish?

    No economic sense: what means this? There is thermodynamics and nothing else. But I overstate the case, since thermodynamics requires that you draw your figurative box around something and the energy within your box must be conserved. I put it to you that economics is the accounting for all the energy inputs not included in your box. No economic sense is the polite way of saying, “sir, your perpetual motion machine smells.”

  33. Hi Elbows,

    Naughty you! 🙂 And well done for the amusing observation! How silly is it all? And I personally do not understand sitting inside a café at a table consuming foodstuffs from takeaway containers. I’m not at all into such things. I suspect that it may be a fear of germ thing, but I don’t really know why people do it.

    Oh my goodness! You are miles ahead of down here. Seriously, you can see the sap rising in the deciduous trees and the buds are swelling, but there are no leaves whatsoever. How good does a heavy frost look when all the colours are washed out of the landscape? Heavy frost sometimes collects in the valley below the farm and it looks beautiful when the first few rays of sun poke their tentative and uncertain rays into the washed out landscape. Glad the heavy frost missed your place. It looks like that there will be virtually no snow here this winter.

    Of course, apologies for my poor English language skills. You are entirely correct. I meant that flippant observation from an historical perspective of deeper time. In the way distant past, there just wasn’t the sorts of energy that we enjoy today sloshing around the landscape.

    Oh! Well you may have me there as I have always believed that the plant is wormwood. Did your local plant guru provide any clue in between all of the ‘looking down ones nose at another’ business?

    Haha! Now as to your eucalyptus question, well that would be giving away my long term plans and secrets, but needless to say that eucalyptus aren’t the only sheriffs in this here town! I have access to a rather large number of local indigenous trees and am playing around with them and learning their measure. 😉



  34. Hi Pam,

    Greetings from the fluffy collective! It is now almost 11pm here and after a day of digging, the fluffy collective are planning to go to bed. I thank you and promise to reply to your comment tomorrow.



  35. @ Lew:

    At last I have blue in the garden – one beautiful blue bachelor’s button, on my one plant that came up. I planted blue morning glories, too and only one of them came up and it looks healthy and has climbed up 9 feet high, but no flowers yet. The only other blue flower is a very nice balloon flower plant that I did not plant that came up on the edge of the yard. It does have very pretty flowers – and the deer have not touched it, and they will eat almost anything. Good to know!


  36. Hello again
    I am not bored by the digging nor by anything else that you write.; It is all fascinating.
    I always removed bay leaves before eating a meal. Had never heard that were poisonous but had been told to remove them. I always assumed that that is because they remain hard and inedible.
    We are being endlessly badgered to agree to having smart meters installed for electricity and gas . No-one sane would agree. It has just been pointed out that this will enable the tariff to be altered throughout the day depending on supply and usage.
    Son uses a special fuel in the mower, that does not need to be removed; it can be left in all winter. I will ask him for details.


  37. Hi Chris,

    Single use plastics are an insanity. I view them as our time’s equivalent of lead based cosmetics that the noble folk used in the 18th century. But… banning only plastic straws is a good proof-of-concept, thin-edge-of-the-wedge idea. Once the laws are in place won’t it be very easy to extend them to include all/other single use plastic items? (besides when someone says “don’t get me started on xyz topic” they really want you to give them an excuse to talk about it or don’t they?)

    Our respective more-english-than-the-english boarding schools will be tut-tutting. (Somethings gone wrong with the signaling again!) I got it that you meant the depths of pre-history. I don’t imagine that it was very much different back then from now. Farming needs stability and like they say courage can mistaken for stupidity. If you are going to thrive in the country or in the inner city you need to be a self reliant sort of person. My guess is that your cheeky chap from last week was most likely suburban and had been indoctrinated to believe that he couldn’t do anything himself and needed to pay a professional to do every little thing for him.

    That plant guru lady can get it wrong sometimes and so do I. This is what I have.
    Maybe it isn’t the same as your wormwood. Chuckles.

    Cheers Elbows.

  38. Yo, Chris – When the energy of this capita, declines, I generally take a long nap :-).

    This just in from Vindolanda, the discovery of a set of Roman horseshoes. In Latin, hipposandals.

    Spring has sprung, Down Under? To quote an old bit of doggrel, “Spring has sprung, the grass has rize, I wonder where the flowers is?” :-).

    Yup. When the brain hurts from dealing with accounting systems, one can give it a rest by contemplating hot water systems and terracing systems. Oddly, my little daily meditation, yesterday, was about just that. What it boiled down to was “go do something else to give (whatever) a rest.”

    I really haven’t cooked much, with rosemary. The odd piece of fish, now and again. But it’s there, if I need it. I think removing the bay leaf is more about texture. Bay leaves are tough as old boots, and when you get one along with your soup, all you want to do is get it out of your mouth.

    Hmmm. I’ll have to think about a self published book recommendation. Most of the one’s I read are kind of apocalyptic in nature. A lot of them never seem to have been run by an editor. There always seem to be pages of loving descriptions of armaments of one type or another. After awhile, I feel like saying to the characters, “Was it good for you too? Gosh, I want a cigarette.” 🙂 Lots of sublimation going on there, I think. Cont.

  39. Hi Chris,

    As far as squash goes, the authorities on squash genetics tell us that the squashes most folks grow in their gardens in temperate climates are one of three species. (There is a fourth but it needs such a long growing season that few people outside of the tropics grow it.) Zucchinis, crooknecks, pattypans, acorns, and most pumpkins are Cucurbita pepo. Hubbards, bananas, buttercups, and some pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. (@Lew: most of the classic PNW squash are this species.) Butternuts and cheeses are Cucurbita moschata. A good seed catalog will tell you which species each squash variety it sells belongs to. If the seed catalog didn’t tell you but you have a seed saving book like Seed to Seed, it will tell you how to tell which species you have from its stem, leaf, flower, and seed characteristics.

    As with other plants, squash varieties that are different species do not cross (most of the time) while varieties that are the same species can cross and should be expected to do so if the pollinators get a chance to do the job. So I can grow naked-seeded pumpkins (and just about any other pumpkin) and butternut squash together and be reasonably certain that they will not cross. However, I can tell from the leaves that the butternut volunteers in the corn patch (probably ‘Waltham’, a variety I used to grow) are a different variety from the butternuts I planted deliberately, ‘Butterbush’, so I should not save seeds from either.

    As for the volunteers, that’s because I have a long and hot enough growing season for the butternuts to be able to volunteer. This may not be the case for you unless you grow a variety with a short enough maturity to allow that.

    Hope this sheds light on the behavior of our squash friends!


  40. Cont. The Neanderthals might also have had pressure put on their numbers by disease. After man came to North America, a lot of the herbivore mega-fauna were decimated by tuberculosis, brought over from Asia. And, who knows what else. So, the carnivores went into decline. The climate was rapidly warming, so cold adapted animals kept moving into smaller and smaller ecosystems in the north. There were huge, glacial floods. There may have even been a large solar flare. Or, even a super nova in a nearby galaxy. In general, not a good time for large animals that were not so nimble.

    Chiles should come with warning labels. :-). Besides the eyes, trips to the letrina should be approached with great care.

    I think some “invasive” plants get that reputation from a bit of poor management. Sure, the Vinca and even the pansies would run wild, if I didn’t give them a bit of a dig out, from time to time. I think I told you the story of the running bamboo I planted, which, educating myself about it’s life cycle, wasn’t invasive at all. I just had to pay attention to it for a few weeks in the spring. I notice it’s now a bamboo thicket. Years later. Years of neglect.

    “Per ardua ad Astra.” “Through adversary (struggle) to the stars.” The motto of several air forces, around the world. When I was a wee small lad, I knew an antique dealer who had a brass seal (for wax sealing letters or applying seals to documents) with a very fancy porcelain handle. It had a family crest on it, and, the family motto. I was fascinated with it. Wonder where it ever ended up.

    I think I’ll bake muffins. Banana. Sounds constructive. Turns out one of the “helpers” here is from New Zealand. We “connected” over a lively conversation about Anzac biscuits. Lew

  41. Hi Pam,

    As a long term reader I respectfully ask you this question: Why would an amusing story on dog warts elicit so many comments? Surely dog warts must be cool? Possibly not… Ollie doesn’t seem to mind his warts, and I was relieved to read that the virus has not jumped from canines to humans – yet. Nobody wants dog warts because that would surely affect ones chances of a date on a Saturday night? Hehe!

    Anyway, Ollie is unhappy this evening because for some reason he vomited onto the sheet which covers the green couch earlier. Of course Bone Wars was involved, and he’d consumed some rocks and other unidentified organic matter which did not agree with his digestive system. I know this because I had to remove them. Anyway, I then disinfected the spew site (I could trademark that name don’t you reckon?) with tea tree oil which is a very powerful natural anti bacterial and anti fungal. The room here now smells like tea tree oil to me and on balance I’d have to suggest that this is a nicer smell than dog vomit. Oh, I almost forgot. Ollie is unhappy because he is now sitting on the green couch, but he has managed to get as far away from the tea tree oil as possible. This is no easy thing for a cattle dog with gangly legs and stuff.

    Old Fluffy loved humans and hated every other dog on the planet. She was a very beautiful dog and people used to stop me on the street and ask to take photographs of her. And she was such a showman that she would sit and oblige them. It was all very weird because underneath the urbane manners and charming companionship she was absolutely and unequivocally one ruthless little personality. I’ve never met her canine like since and she certainly set the bar for standards for the fluffy collective.

    Toothy was her creature, and I tell you this, he was unable to pull his tongue in. I was mildly worried that Old Fluffy was going to wear out Toothy’s face. It was a serious concern.

    Castor Oil is an interesting oil isn’t it? Well, did you know that it is reputed to be a drawing agent? Surprisingly the plant itself is toxic as. In a funny story the editor once dared house mates to consume some of the – unpleasant looking and toxic fruits – and they became ill. But in small doses it works wonders.

    Yes, we have elected to avoid the perilous phase of Peak Rocks by digging deeper into the soil where rock load bearing, actually I dunno what they’re called, maybe rock thingees, are to be found! And one of the rock gabion cages is now almost full and ready to be sewn up. It is nice to avoid Peak Rocks for a little while longer. 😉

    The water tank was moved using a trolley and also rolling it. They roll easily. Hopefully they do not roll downhill as that would be a problem and this has happened and it went legal. An unfortunate incident.

    Tell your son that he can get a ‘clay spade’ for his electric jackhammer. There are also bits that can be used to break rocks. Sorry for mentioning that! 🙂

    The paths are great and they really make it easy getting around the place in a wet winter.

    The two plants do sound the same don’t they? What I can’t understand is how the hellebores are growing and flowering at this time of the year when they live in full shade? So many questions…

    PS: Finished digging for the year today! Yay!

    Glad you enjoyed my little glimpse into the future! 🙂



  42. Hi crowandsheep,

    Exactly! This is the question: How much can a Koala Bear? Not much really from what I’ve noticed. They seem to me to be like grumpy old men that have hit the tavern early and hard and I’m left dealing with the consequences! Mind you, Koalas look very cuddly and all, but they have wicked sharp claws and bad attitudes. I keep a blanket in the back of the car just in case I have to deal with them and convince them that it is probably not a good idea to go staggering off in a drunken haze down the middle of the road looking for their favourite tree (manna gum), which they may have forgotten all about.

    Stop teasing me. I’d be dirty as for that museum and would be lost in there for hours. Well, greatest ever is a big call, and I remember the days of ‘Pong’ on people’s television sets, but was quite the fan of Donkey Kong. So much of my hard earned mad cash as a kid went into arcade games. Fun stuff. Of course that primed me to avoid gambling at all costs.

    Motivations are a foggy business, and they are subject to change at short notice and without warning. The evidence I give you is this: Could I ditch the old blog? Hell yeah! Done. So motivations today, may not be a person’s motivations in previous decades. And who knows what can be learned by getting out there and getting ones hands dirty? That my friend is the real question to you? My desire is to bulwark. There said it. Does that make sense?

    I am seriously interested in the car issue. I see trends, but because I don’t willingly expose myself to the sort of media that provides those stories, well I can’t say how the trends arose in the first place. Be very careful because nobody knows the sort of messages that get into people’s heads and whether they are in your benefit. That story is very complex.

    OK, you’ve got me there. What I meant was that comparatively this stuff makes no economic sense, which can also be interpreted as meaning that this stuff is no replacement technology. What do you make of that observation?



  43. Hi Chris

    Glad to hear that the castor oil was effective, as a handsome chap like Ollie must have been mortified to have his good looks spoiled!
    We actually had some rain! Yay! Admittedly it was only 14mm, but I’ll gladly take whatever the sky dishes up.
    Lew, I’ve heard that saying too, but with a New York accent. “De Spring is sprung, de sun is riz. I wonder where de boidies is? Some say de boids is on de wing, but dat’s absoid, cozy I had hoid, dat de wing is on de boid!”

    Cheers, Hazel

  44. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, that was really lovely to read. Some projects here just take a lot of time and possibly may not be interesting. We finished the digging today, and that may be it for that activity for the rest of the year. Yay!

    The sun shone nicely today, but the wind… Fortunately, the wind wasn’t as bad here as elsewhere around the nation.

    That makes sense about the bay leaves. They do provide a nice taste to sauces. Perhaps adults told me that lie as a child just to ensure that I didn’t eat the leaves – which I probably would have given a go at! 🙂

    The other beautiful thing about smart meters is that you can be disconnected from a network remotely. That is one handy tool. I often wonder at these changes because I never really see the benefits being sold for the change in the first place. Down here recently the federal government has decided that everyone’s medical records should be on a centralised database. You can opt out of that system, which I have done so, after reading that something like 977,000 people would have access to the records. I may have gotten that figure wrong, but you know if I haven’t then that is almost 1 in 25 people down here. A recent case has come to light: Cricket Australia’s sacking of Angela Williamson reveals perils of ‘opinion creep’. Complex huh? Anyway, with the smart meters, someone may decide to switch you off so that someone else can continue using the service and you’ll never know the details.

    Interesting. Down here, I drain the fuel because the guts of the fuel system get clogged up otherwise if the fuel sits for too many months.



  45. Hi elbows,

    I believe that way back in the day, the colour green dye had arsenic compounds in it, and that may have had similar affects. Not good. It is possible that banning plastic straws is a test case. I don’t really know, but the entire edifice of single use plastics will eventually stop, if only because we will run out of cheap energy and it will no longer be possible to do as we have done.

    Fair enough too, and that is a great observation about ‘don’t get me started’. Like it! 🙂

    Hehe! Yup, how funny is it to have more English than the English schools. Oh well, it was another one of life’s little experiences, and it wasn’t all bad. I assume similar institutions operate in your part of the world? They have a place. A while back the editor and I were discussing the relative merits of ‘finishing school’ after having been to an unusually run party which was like other parties that we had been to before. Hosting is a real skill. If people wish to swim with sharks, I feel that it is probably not a bad idea to learn to swim in the first place. Dunno.

    Well, you know sometimes I see a certain sort of misplaced pride in people’s inabilities to perform complex functions such as running a household. I’m not sure about that misplaced pride myself, but I reckon it is perhaps not a good thing. That bloke fell into that category for sure.

    Thanks for the plant identification. The plant comes from the same part of the world and looks pretty similar. I’ll put some brain cells towards the problem later this evening.



  46. @ Inge:

    They gave us no choice about having a smart meter. I talked to the power company beforehand. It was: “Have it installed or you get no more electricity”. I also contacted a county council member; she was sympathetic, but no help. And when the very polite fellow came to put it in we talked to him, too, though by then I knew that it would do no good. Interestingly, an out of state company was hired to install them.


  47. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! I suspect that many of us will be doing likewise. 😉 But then I ask you, is this a bad thing given that we’ll all get there sooner or later? After all, it is a journey that we must all take… Hopefully not for a while yet though, but you never know what lies around the corner waiting for you like a fluffy shark with really nasty sharp and bitey teeth.

    The hipposandals are amazingly well preserved. It interested me that the speculation was that they were thrown into the ditch due to the hairline fracture in the sandal. Surely the Romans were not that wasteful? And for some strange reason, when I first read the Latin word: “hipposandal” I was put in mind of a hippogriffin. They were both fearsome creatures, but one was more fearsome than the other!

    Hazel has provided another interpretation of that doggerel, although I fancy myself hearing it in my mind spoken with a New Jersey accent.

    Your meditation was spot on! Did you gain any clarity? My brain feels better after two days of digging clay. I’m unsure what that says about the profession of accounting… I even skipped the pub this week. A sad loss to be sure, but one must do what one does.

    On the other hand, after two days of digging clay, we have now completely excavated the new terrace extensions. The water tank has been put in place and filled. All is good with the world. A storm looks set to hit here tonight and I would not want to be digging tomorrow due to the rain, although you know, I might just enjoy another day digging. Physical work around here for me is like meditation is for other people. It works and I get time to just mull things over. Sometimes I get insights and other times absolutely nothing. I once walked for five days on the Great South West Walk. I carried everything I needed on my back and met nobody else on the walk, and I got no great insights out of the experience other than enjoying the peace and tranquillity of that forest and river which was nice in itself.

    A lot of herbs are like what you wrote. Hey I grow several varieties of willow here and I’ve never thought to use the bark, but I could if needed.

    That is the funniest thing that I’ve read all day: “pages of loving descriptions of armaments”. I’m sort of feeling sorry for you that you were ever exposed to such things! Hehe! Anyway, it all sounds rather sordid and phallic to me. Whatever will they think of next? I just finished the most recent “Into the Ruins” quarterly publication today and quite enjoyed the stories particularly the last one which was written by Damian who comments here under the name “Damo”. He’s a good bloke. Also finished the first book of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn today and am now onto the second one. I was enjoying the book over a coffee and a Scottish bread pudding which was smothered in thickened cream and was just lovely.

    The UV hit moderate today and so the sun felt as though it had some warmth in it. Tomorrow according to the forecast it looks as though I will be house bound. And outside right now it is pitch black and there isn’t even the slightest inkling of a robbers moon.

    Of course, I completely forgot about the introduction of disease via migration channels. So obvious. Yes there are many historical parallels. That makes sense. I don’t know much about Solar Flares and that sort of stuff and will leave it for others who are better read on the subject to debate. 🙂

    Oooooooooo! Nooooo! That is an aspect of the chilli predicament that had not occurred to me. Ouch! What a horrendous experience. Fortunately, the chillis that I’ve grown here are weaker than a beer in a temperance tavern. 😉

    Bambo is a pretty handy plant and that sounds like good advice. People say the same thing about agapanthus, but I have never seen a single volunteer agapanthus plant in this part of the world. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of eucalyptus trees – although I better not say that too loudly or the trees will come and get me.

    I’d hate to say it, but I reckon the brass seal stamp may have been recycled. Sorry to say, but it is high grade ore – as I’m sure some aircraft in the future will provide. Although I read recently that some aircraft are now made of some sort of composite material these days. I thought that composite materials were a form of plastic?

    How did the banana muffins go? And were any distributed into local channels? My memory is hazy, but didn’t you once make Anzac biscuits? Glad to hear you met a New Zealander, they’re lovely people and it is a beautiful country.



  48. Chris:

    Well, we all have warts of some sort . . . I think that most of us have had dogs, and with warts, at one time or another.

    Tea tree oil is great stuff. Lucky you to live where it comes from. You are a funny vision, Ollie – you on your fragrant green couch!

    Whew. Glad Toothy still has his face. I noticed that he still has all that hair, too.

    Gee, if you keep digging up your load-bearing rocks don’t you risk sliding off the mountain?

    My son doesn’t have a jackhammer. I am not sure that he realizes that there is a “home” version of them. I think I hope that he doesn’t find out, sort of like a drum set . . .


  49. @ Claire:

    From what you said about squashes (thanks) I can see why we got that plant that is producing weird white patty pan zucchinis. I am saving seeds from it anyway.


  50. Hi Claire,

    Ah yes. It is funny that you mention the story of squash genetics and I appreciate your explanation because the latest seed catalogue was split into those categories and I was looking at them and thinking to myself that there must be more to this story other than cross pollinations. I’m only going for a few varieties, but I don’t really have the garden space to adequately prevent cross pollination so things are going to go mutant on the squash front ever so slowly. I already get some weird looking cabbages and I spotted some of those growing today. The leaves are still tasty and the plants are extraordinarily hardy. Some farmers grow brassica species in the valley below so, I mean what do you do?

    We finished excavating the corn terrace today and hopefully may get some of the posts in over the next day or so, but the weather is turning back into storm land. Oh well. What do they say about make hay whilst the sun shines?

    It is interesting that you mention the length of the growing season, but I tend to pick varieties that are either smaller or have a shorter growing season. But also I find that every patch of the farm has different lengths of growing seasons, and we’re trying to adapt as we learn about the place. I put in a new asparagus bed recently and that was one of those types of adaptations. This stuff is really mind bendingly complex, although it may appear to be simple.

    Thanks for the excellent explanation. We ate our home grown Queensland Blue Pumpkin the other day and the taste was superb. We did roast it and turn it into pumpkin soup.

    PS: Part of me is being cheeky calling squashes by the name we use down here of pumpkins! 😉



  51. Hi Hazel,

    Ollie is of a gentle disposition and the other dogs were teasing him mercilessly about the wart on the middle of his forehead. Strangely enough, I suspect that the castor oil hurts him (apparently repeated applications of Vitamin E becomes painful for canines after a while), but he is a true stoic because he sits dutifully and takes his medicine. Fortunately for him, his rugged good looks have been restored to his former glory. Unfortunately, he now feels that the recent attention means that he deserves more food than the other canines… Dogs!

    Yay for the rain! 14mm is a nice score and I do hope that it is the beginning of more rain up your way. Incidentally you look set to get some of the storm tomorrow! 🙂 Rainfall = Happy days!

    I read your doggerel, and in my minds ear I heard a New Jersey accent! Fun stuff.



  52. Hi Pam,

    What you say is true. When I was a kid adults used to tell me that kids got warts from playing with frogs. Now I can recall catching tadpoles as a kid in the local creek and drains and certainly if I’d come across a frog (or a toad for that matter) I would have tried to capture it. Surely the adults were lying? Hehe! Wasn’t there some fairy story about kissing frogs? Surely warts must have been involved?

    It is good stuff that tea tree oil. I grow a lemon scented tea tree here and it is a beautiful small tree, and the leaves from that particular tree make a superb herbal tea. They’re really good. A few weeks ago, the tree returned to a single main trunk as some of the other trunks fell away in a very brief and windy storm. It will regrow.

    Hey, I could smell the stench the moment I walked through the door. Ollie…. He’s doing his best to hang his head as far from the tea tree oil as possible.

    I’m not sure that Toothy agrees with you as he misses his old fluff mum. He really has tried hard to train the other dogs over the years to perform that face licking service, but they don’t want a bar of it. The current boss dog Scritchy looks horrified at the mere suggestion and gives a single desultory lick and then walks away.

    Hehe! I’ll be careful about not sliding off the mountain, although you can never be too certain about such things. Alas for Peak Rocks…

    Let’s not mention the drum kit or the jackhammer!!!! Thanks for the laughs, although I suspect that you may have been slightly serious with the last sentence. Oh well.



  53. @Inge

    As with Pam we had no choice with the smart meter. They have just installed them at the old house and the new. I am not happy.


  54. Hi Chris,

    Doug has just about finished with the pig pen and plans to bring them over this weekend. Salve and Leo are thoroughly enjoying their new home and are quite exhausted. I don’t think I mentioned that there is (well now was) an above ground pool here which much to the dismay of some family members we did not want. We were willing to have someone just take it away for free but decided to try to sell for $200 and we did!! There is just a little bit left for the buyers to take away. Of course we now have a deck just standing there in the middle of the yard and a large area of rocks which was underneath.

    Michael has been up and down through this long hospitalization (we are now on day 12). Yesterday we thought once again we were going to lose him but he rallied again last night. I stayed for two days (returned yesterday afternoon) and my sister from Chicago is back there. She says he really at a crossroad today. His oxygen levels are not in control at all and he has a great deal of congestion in his lungs and is retaining a lot of fluid as well. He’s gotten so much therapy but things really haven’t improved overall. He needs to be able to sit up and walk and if he can’t do it he’s not going to get better. As it is if he gets out of the hospital he can’t go back home but rather will have to go to rehab for quite some time. It appears his Medicare advantage plan only has a limited number of places in their network. I have arranged a room at the care center where my mother-in-law stayed but it’ll have to be paid for out of pocket. There’s money in a trust for him so if it’s a month or two we can swing it. It’s really a good place for him as it’s near me and one sister, we know the care is good and it’s small.

    It’ll be nice to be home for at least a couple days. Our property is really quite beautiful and it’s therapeutic to just sit on our porch and enjoy it.


  55. Hello again
    I asked my son about the mower fuel; all he knows is that it is called Aspen, he also uses it in his chain saw. The chemical details would not be within his understanding. All he knows is that it can be left in situ far longer.
    @ Pam also
    So far they can’t make us have a smart meter but oh they are trying hard. I am sure that compulsion will come as it will be so handy to cut us off if convenient.


  56. @ Pam – After gassing on about how manageable invasive plants are, I might draw the line at morning glory. At my old place, I did put some in a couple of pots and let them grow around the inside of the kitchen window. Quit striking.

    Don’t know why they won’t bloom. My heirloom Johnny Red corn is making me fret. 7 feet tall and looking very healthy. But not a sign of a tassel or developing cob. I’m throwing various types of fertilizer at them.

    I’m wondering if your blue ballon flowers are, maybe, Love in the Mist? They form a lacy ballon like growth around the flower, and, have a ballon like seed pod. Lew

  57. @ Clare – Here, usually I just see squash varieties divided into “summer squash” and “winter squash.” The “winters” maturing later and being better keepers. Over the winter.

    I intend to save seed from my pumpkin and Hubbard squash. I worry a bit about cross pollination. But, I’ll give it a whirl. A record, yesterday. FOUR bumblebees tucked into one squash blossom. Lew

  58. @ Hazel – You sound very “straight out of Brooklyn.” :-). One must separate their “deeze” from “dooze.” It’s one of the American accents I quit like. Lew

  59. @ Chris – As far as self published novels go, I had forgotten about the one by our friend from “The Daily Impact” blog, Thomas A. Lewis. “Tribulation: A Novel of the Near Future.” Then there’s another one. I’ll have to hunt up the author and title. Interesting because it takes place in this neck of the woods. I guess Amazon has set up a quit lively self publishing industry that I’ve been reading about, in bits and pieces.

    Yes, I also thought the Roman horseshoes, tossed in a ditch was a bit wasteful. Early expanding empire … lots of resources. But who knows under what circumstances they were cast aside?

    Yup. Read my little meditation, daily. And, manage to hold it in my head for about one hot minute :-). But, I figure it might get stuck in my brain, somewhere. Funny what surfaces from time to time.

    Alas, my last “Into the Ruins” is still in its mailer. But your information about Damo’s contribution encourages me to get it out. I quit like his comments here. We haven’t heard from him in awhile. Cont.

  60. Cont. The banana muffins turned out pretty good. In my never-ending quest to Food With Recipes, I added some diced apple. The two bananas I had were a bit on the small side, so, I took two very small apples from the tree, here at The Home and added them in. In past, I thought the muffins were a bit on the dry side. The apples really improved the moisture content. I gave three to Steve, one of the other blokes, here at The Home. For services rendered in, from time to time, keeping The Ladies off my back. A bloke, a truck … dangerous territory. According to reports, I’ve agreed to haul chairs to a Music in the Park, gig, tonight. A few days ago, I was asked, and gave a firm “no.” Apparently, they think wishful thinking will triumph. Not going to happen.

    New Zealand is beautiful. I follow a couple of TV series, filmed there, that I get from the library. Then there’s the “Lord of the Ring” film series. Do they have as many lethal insects and beasties as Australia?

    I told the lady from New Zealand that I substituted plumped up dried cranberries for the coconut in Anzac biscuits. She didn’t seem to shocked. As I told her, “It would be different if I were shipping them off to the Dough Boys.” :-).

    It was 97F (36.11C) the last two days. It’s only supposed to get to 80F, today. And, even cooler over the weekend with, maybe, a bit of rain. Then, back to warmer temperatures, next week. The chili book has been talking a bit about chill hours, as you have. I really hadn’t heard much about that, before now. So, I’m poking about a bit, on line. Wikipedia has a pretty good overview. Cliff Mass has a new post up about our wild fires and climate change. His usual cautious exploration.

    I’m off to pick a gallon of blackberries, early, before it gets too warm. That will give me four gallons in the freezer. Which was my goal. For no apparent reason. Lew

  61. Hi Chris,

    Taverns, sharp claws and bad attitudes? Your description of the species has me speculating of its very as yet unrecognized presence on the European peninsula. Yes, I am witness of such mid-morning staggering and hazes in these parts, the only question being a timeless one: up early or up late?

    It is a fine museum. Very accessible. Beat some donkey’s kong out of some kids.

    Foggy!!! Why…I…Chris, the entire field of economics is based on the assumption that everyone’s fixed set-in-stone motivation is to maximize one’s own economic position in a highly rational manner (fancy how economists would take that position).

    Well I believe you have expertly dissipated my original point. I am left here bellowing from my soap box without audience. I will concede that some of the dirtiest hands belong to the cleanest, sharpest of minds. Tell me, is the key to keep the mind cleaner the dirtier the hands?

    I think it is very possible to shut down power stations and replace them with renewable energy sources. It is also possible to saw off the very branch upon which you sit. Industrial scale renewable energy:
    1. Our salvation?
    2. Good supplement to the energy mix?
    3. Waste of fossil fuels?
    4. Life extension of industrialism?
    5. Feels good?
    6. Useful in fuel supply shortage?
    7. Any others?

  62. Hi Margaret,

    You two are moving fast getting the pig pen up to scratch already. Out of curiosity, are you planning to put the pigs into a trailer and drive them down the road? I’d imagine they would get up to all sorts of mischief if they were allowed to walk the distance. On the other hand Leo and Salve may prove their mettle against the pigs… My money is on the pigs!

    Pools are a lot of work and they use an enormous amount of energy. And to be honest, even down here where the summers are hotter, often the water is just not warm enough and the pool is freezing cold. Top work selling the old pool. Nice one.

    Michael is sure going through a tough time. Time will tell how it all works out, sorry to say. I wish him a speedy recovery. Not much is better for removing fluid from the lungs than rehab, so fingers crossed for him that it all works out. And yeah, getting upright and about would be a good thing on that front.

    It is nice to be able to just sit and enjoy your new property. And a veranda is a perfect perch from which to do so. There must be something in the water today, but I too took myself for a long walk about the property and just enjoyed what I saw and made plans for the future. Living in a rural area gets under your skin doesn’t it?

    Picked up the new water tank this morning and hopefully will get it in place and filled tomorrow!



  63. Hi Inge,

    Lucky you to have access to such a fuel. I had a sniff around as I’d never heard about the stuff, and I suspect that it is not sold down here – or is sold only in very limited supply. Fuel is an interesting topic, and down here we can have up to 10% ethanol (derived from sugar cane, I believe) mixed into the syrup. At one stage vehicles were sold that could run on up to an 85% ethanol mix, but that wasn’t a phase that ran for very long as far as I understand things. I believe the country now imports 91% of all Oil, and the rigs in Bass Strait only apparently provide light sweet crude which is not good for diesel or bitumen or the heavier grades. Interestingly we also apparently have low strategic reserves and I do recall times not that long ago when diesel has been unavailable at the pump.

    Given you live on an island, have you ever experienced fuel supply shortages?



  64. Hi crowandsheep,

    There are a few of those about aren’t there? It may surprise you to know that due to the Koala Bears toxic diet of manna gum leaves, they normally sleep for about 20 hours a day. It is quite rare to see them walking around at ground level, and usually they can only be spotted sound asleep high up (there is a pun in there for sure) in the crook of a tree branch. Incidentally manna gums apparently drop hardened sugar lumps from their wounds which I believe historically used to be consumed by bush kids as a sugar treat.

    I would love to visit that museum but alas, the distance is beyond me. Two hours away anywhere is a long way for me!

    Economists most certainly have gotten that concept wrong. Take co-operation for just one instance, because that doesn’t work so well in their models. Someone once wisely quipped that the: “map is not the territory”. They may just have a point.

    Thank you. Yes, I dodged you and neatly dissipated the argument all at the same time because, well, let’s just say that it is a more complex situation than meets the eye. Please feel free to enlighten me or correct me, but somewhere in the past I recall someone quoting an old timer farmer complaining bitterly that: “I don’t see anyone around here with dirt under their fingernails.”

    You know, the old timer farmer made a very astute observation. Often as a people we confuse technical capabilities with economic feasibility. I do not believe that industrial civilisation can be run on renewable energy. I’d like you to prove me wrong… I’m coming to terms recently with the concept that the two technologies suites (base load supply versus renewables) are incompatible.



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the recommendation about the book and I will check it out. I do rather enjoy The Daily Impact because the author inserts goodly doses of dry humour, which is much to my liking.

    Your Amazon behemoth is a fascinating beast. It arrived here to great trepidation and concern especially from the bricks and mortar retailers, but I don’t believe that it has enjoyed the great success that the fanfare promised. A lot of Australian companies have ventured into other countries, and China is one such that springs to mind. Many of those companies have lost a lot of money and it is only speculation on my part, but cultures are different and some things and processes don’t translate well when they are transplanted.

    The thing I was wondering about the story of Vindolanda was whether the fort had a working blacksmith? I would have thought that such a person would have been a crucial person in such a community and waste of metals would have been a bit of a no-no? Dunno. I was surprised to read that swords had been found in the anoxic soil, but that makes a certain amount of sense given that nails were also dumped into a pit and then buried. I see that a bound child’s remains were found in there too, and were dated back to around 1,800 years ago. I’ll bet there was a story there. Has anyone speculated on that story?

    It is funny what surfaces from time to time when treading through the cool waters of deep thought! I often get glimpses of what projects should be done around here next. Getting the projects actually done is the hard bit. Speaking of which, today the dirt rat and I, along with the bright yellow trailer, ventured to a town south of here and picked up the new water tank. It had been on order for a few weeks.

    I hope to get the new water tank in place and filled tomorrow. I keep reading about the drought up north and my mind doesn’t hesitate with the cheeky refrain of: “coming soon to a town near you”. On this matter I’d like to be very wrong.

    Damo is an excellent author of fiction and he tells a fast moving and enjoyable tale. His story was the: “The Last Farang”, and I recommend it. Frankly I can’t write fiction anywhere near as good as that. He visited here about a month ago, but has since dropped off the radar, even on his blog. I hope he’s OK as he’s a really nice bloke and we had a grand old time during the visit. I’ll have to see what is going on there.

    Hehe! Yes, yes, I can see that you would add diced apple to a banana muffin recipe! 🙂 Your flair for kitchen interpretation is to be commended because I would never have considered that. How many apple trees surround The Home?

    What? No way? That sounds to my ears like coercion, whatever that means. How exactly did Steve come to the rescue in this instance? Wishful thinking, backed up with concerted whining can be a lethal combination of dark forces for you to counter. Where you successful in swatting away the needy? Anyway, Music in the Park sounds way too much like a musical to my ears. Out of curiosity were you invited along to be feted for your logistical support?

    I spent a couple of weeks travelling around New Zealand in a campervan. It must have been last century because it was a quiet country full of epic scenery and it was long before the Lord of the Rings business. On the west coast of the south island I recall the feeling of looking down south along the west coast all the while surrounded by sub tropical vegetation and seeing snow capped mountains in the far distance. It was a mildly surreal view to one who lives in an old worn out land. That was many years ago and who knows how things have ‘progressed’ since those days.

    Strangely enough one of their biggest pests is an introduced critter from Australia: The possum. For some strange reason those critters were deliberately introduced, and given they have no natural predators, well, what a surprise, the possums extended their reach far beyond imagination. And New Zealand now exports possum fur items. I thoroughly recommend possum fur clothing because the little naughties are a serious pest and are happily munching away on their forests. And it is amazingly soft. The same possums are in fear for their very lives when they turn up here on the farm. The owls are both brutal and effective.

    But over there they have very few critters that can kill you. Of course there are feral boars (which I wouldn’t want to encounter) and then there are stags (again which I wouldn’t want to encounter without the fluffy collective to back me up). They’re both pretty tough customers, but no, nothing that will sting and bite. The south island is a chunk of Gondwanaland, whilst the north island is fairly new geologically speaking and all that seemed to get a toehold was the birds. Apparently originally there were quite a lot of them too. The Maori people apparently ate every last Moa Bird. They look an awful lot like emu’s and we have plenty of those birds if they wanted to reintroduce such a species… Don’t you reckon that it is interesting that Ice Ages produce such large megafauna? There must be something in that.

    Dried cranberries are a nice substitution in Anzac biscuits and I would have done no less – and not noticed the difference. Hey, I once substituted fresh black currants for cranberries in a recipe and I was applauded for the dish – but never offered a reality check. They taste the same to me.

    It rained here today and so I spent most of the day inside. As to chilling hours, mate, that is the problem that you may never have heard about. Many varieties of fruiting plants require up to a thousand hours and sometimes well beyond of winter temperatures below 44.6’F. Apparently the hours don’t have to be contiguous. Now this problem came to my mind a few years back when during one warm winter some orchards in South Australia failed to set fruit because they didn’t get enough chilling hours. Now let’s see if I can find any articles on that… …

    West Australian cherry growers forced to adapt to a decade of warmer winter temperatures


    Apple and pear growers facing reduced chill, milder winters may need to seek new varieties

    You may wonder why I decided upon higher altitude for an orchard…

    Goals are there to be achieved! I often set goals for tasks, but unlike some organisations that I have worked for, I only set goals that may possibly be achieved. I’ll bet you’ve seen some strange top down budgets in your retail days that are clearly unachievable, but were decreed all the same?



  66. @ Lew:

    No – the volunteer blue flower is not Love in the Mist, it’s this:

    It does seem awfully late to not have even one cob on your corn, but that would be the case in my spot, maybe not in yours. I am not a successful corn grower! We have gotten cobs, but they always look like they came out of “Green Acres”.


  67. @ Lew:

    I so hope I remember this one for next spring: ““Spring has sprung, the grass has rize, I wonder where the flowers is?” :-).”

    Hipposandals, my foot . . .


  68. Hello again
    No we haven’t had any power shortages, only weather accidents to power lines. I guess that we probably have an underwater cable from the mainland. We do have a water supply coming that way, to supplement our own.


  69. Yo, Chris – Wikipedia has a pretty good article under “Chiling Requirement.” A Google search for “chill hours” has quit a few articles.

    It’s interesting that Amazon is experimenting with opening a few brick and mortar bookstores.

    Articles on the internet, too numerous to link to :-). “Roman military blacksmiths.” “Blacksmiths, Pompeii” is interesting. A couple of smithies have been excavated, there. And, I almost forgot Vulcan, Roman god of smiths.

    A couple of years ago, I saw an hour long documentary on the buried child at Vindolanda. Of course, now I can find no reference to it on the Net. :-(. Lots of speculation as to what happened. Intentional murder? A kidnapping gone wrong? An accident, covered up? But he (or she) was tucked away in a disused part of the fort, at that time. They think.

    We have one small apple tree (and one small pear) on The Home property. I wonder if it’s a couple of three varieties, grafted onto one tree? Different branches have different looking (and ripening time) apples.

    I find an emphatic “no” works best around here. But, there is I think, a lot of “magical thinking” that also goes on. One of the ladies had a kitten she couldn’t keep. I said that a.) I wanted a female and b.) was still thinking about it. The next thing I know, she’s at my door, under the impression I wanted the cat. I was gentle. I think the woman who told her that thought, “Oh, he’ll see the cat, fall in love with it, and it will be just like a Hallmark movie!” Well, no.

    You mentioned owls. I used to hear them a lot, out at my old place. For the first time, I heard one up in the woods behind The Home. Best keep Princess on a short leash :-). Cont.

  70. Cont. Lots of speculation on what did in the megafauna. Not much on how they got that way. General theory is that with the decline of the dinosaur, there was plenty of forage around for the herbivores. As they got bigger, so did the carnivores. There’s also a theory that plant eaters need longer digestive tracks. Larger animals can better keep themselves warm, in an ice age. More fat storage for lean times. Etc..

    Most recipes seem to just call for chucking in dried cranberries or raisins. I’m really a fan of plumping them up. Just a few seconds in the nuker with a bit of water on them. Lend a moister, softer dimension to … whatever and release a bit more flavor. I think.

    Well, I picked the last gallon of blackberries for this season and they’re safely tucked in the freezer. Took me about 45 minutes to pick a gallon. They were just about perfect. Still pretty firm, but came off the stems with no problems. Plenty around the fringes, so I didn’t have to go crashing through thickets of stickers to get at them. Lew

  71. @ Pam – I’ll have to look around The Home. We may even have some around. And, you can eat the roots! Lew

  72. Hi Inge,

    Undersea power cables are amazing technologies, and that sort of makes sense about connecting your island up to the mainland. It is really impressive technology, and I have to send DC voltages over about 300 feet in the longest run and it is no small feat (excuse the play on words). There is a cable that links the electricity grid here to the island state of Tasmania. They have a lot of water and so if they’re not in a drought, they can supply electricity from hydro electric sources, and a few years ago the cable broke somewhere out in Bass Strait… Of course it happened during a drought and the people in the island state ran very low in water for the hydro dams and had to bring in massive diesel generators to make up for the supply that we would have sent them. It was an interesting story and it took many, many long months to fix the break in the cable. To be honest I was amazed that cable that long would be worth running in the first place.

    Is your island connected up to the mainland for fresh water via an undersea water pipe? Wow. It would never have occurred to me that such a thing was remotely possible.



  73. Hi Lewis,

    I wasn’t kidding around about the chilling requirements for plants being the story that few people have gotten their heads around with this climate change business. It is really complex and I suspect that in the future many varieties will have to be selected from scratch. This means that we will sooner or later have to go back to the sort of experimental research stations that we used to put time, energy, and resources into in the not too distant past. In a strange twist of circumstance, about two decades ago I happened to meet someone who had rescued a huge variety apple trees from an abandoned research station. It was a very enjoyable meeting and we talked rubbish for much of the afternoon. For some reason over the years I’ve had a few chance encounters like that, but that maybe because I am usually not in a hurry and I try to hear people out.

    I hadn’t heard that about Amazon, but clearly if the company is doing that, it tends to indicate that there may be upper limits to the sort of business model that extends its tentacles. Bricks and mortar is a tough gig. If I had to do that path, I’d try the pop up model just to test the market. Commercial leases are a sticky business.

    I do hope that with all due respect that the Roman God Vulcan confines his activities to the northern hemisphere, because I still have much work to do on that front before I can breathe a sigh of relief. Oh well, life is uncertain.

    Thanks for the link for the video on the child’s remains found at Vindolanda. Unfortunately, I have to write this evening and will try to watch it over the next few nights. There is certainly a story in there, although what it is beyond my ken.

    How cool are the multi-grafted trees? Earlier in the year and despite being extraordinarily busy, I attended a grafting course run by a very old timer orchardist – and I loved every minute of it. I have no experience with multi-grafted trees, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t be a good idea when land space is limited.

    Oh yeah, I hear you. I call people who use that sort of magical thinking by the unfriendly nickname of: “askers”. There seem to be more than a few of those about. When I first encountered them as an adult I was horrified because I would never think to do such a thing to another person, but after a while I came to learn that people who can do such a thing rarely are the sorts to follow through on their requests. And surprisingly they never seemed to have hurt feelings about emphatic no’s. I don’t generally employ that strategy because if I’m asking for something to be done, generally it is because I reckon it is a good idea that it gets done. Mileage may vary though! 😉

    Owls are great birds to have around. They are one of the reasons I don’t poison the rodents. Eventually the poisons get into the owls systems and then they go elsewhere and the rodent population rejoices at their newfound freedom. Princess is probably not in too much trouble with the owls, but you never know. They’re fast and silent and they always manage to look annoyed whenever I’ve blundered into their business.

    I guess the megafauna had a lot of time on their hands after the demise of the dinosaurs to evolve into ever larger forms. It is funny, but I can see that the wallabies work hard to keep the forest open at ground level, but I can’t even begin to imagine what sort of opinions about the forest that a three tonne wombat would have expressed. Probably get out of the way…

    Nuke cookers are good for getting a bit more moisture into dried fruits. Do you see dried cranberries in your part of the world as a sort of standard dried fruit? We tend to see sultanas which are a dried table grape. We have plans to grow table grapes on a future terrace. I reckon they’d do well here.

    Go Lewis! Yum! Fresh blackberries. Top work filling your coffers. Blackberries are such givers and they taste really good too. We turned most of our blackberry harvest into blackberry jam – which we’re still eating and will probably continue to do so until the next harvest in late February or early March.

    I installed the new water tank today and discovered that the valve leaks. What a nuisance that was. I reckon it may be a warranty matter, but I’ll give it one more test before contacting the manufacturer. Oh well, nobody said life was meant to be easy!

    Also I had a bit of a shock this evening. I thought that I’d accidentally deleted all of the early 2018 blog entries before I had a chance to post them on the new website. Well, silly me, I’d just dated them all 2017… They tell me that good help is hard to find…



  74. Hello again
    I am somewhat ignorant about the infrastructure here. I believe that electricity, gas and water come across under the water. At the shortest point we are only one and a half miles across but I don’t know where the pipelines are. We do have our own water supply on the Island and the crossing water pipe is a recent addition. Although the Island is thus supplied with mains gas, it doesn’t extend out to my area.


  75. Yo, Chris – Yup. We’ve got “Askers”, around here. But there’s a slightly different variety that can also be a pain in the …ear. They want to be useful and helpful and don’t want to take “no” for an answer. And it can descend to the level of nagging.

    Oldsters can get pretty bull headed, and defend their independence, fiercely. I offer help, once, and if declined, let it drop. Eleanor and I have talked about this. We’re in complete agreement :-).

    Dried cranberries are easily found, here. Raisins have always been around. I think some of the cranberries are of foreign origin. Got to watch your step. I saw some dried “blueberries” and a careful inspection of the package indicated they were actually dried cranberries (from who knows where) with “blueberry flavor.” Dried fruit became pretty popular due to the antioxigent (sp?) craze. At least I haven’t seen any with added sugar. As in, incrusted with a sugar coating. Might be missing a bet, there :-).

    Water tank with a leaking valve. What a bummer. That’s not supposed to happen until 2 days after the warranty expires. Quality control isn’t what it used to be.

    The temperatures were quit a bit cooler, yesterday, and it rained enough that I could skip a watering. I spent about an hour weeding, last night. The rain helped make it a bit easier to pull them. I’m pretty happy with the soil, mostly. Nice and loamy in most spots. I also saw the odd worm.

    My corn, and it’s lack of development is quit the topic of discussion, around here. I’m putting on a good face. “Oh, well. If it doesn’t develop, I’ll just chop it up and work it back in the soil. Lots of good bio-mass, there.” I’ve considered buying some cobs and wiring them onto the stocks … Lew

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