Yoghurt Retreat

It is a burden to be perpetually uncool. Sometimes I wish I was more like the cool kids because nowadays the cool kids seem to have issues with their digestion. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be a thing and I’m missing out. Unfortunately, because I’m uncool, food ordinarily goes in one end and then comes out the other, usually with no complications.

A month or so back, I read an article on the most respectable Australian Broadcasting Corporations news website which claimed that “about half of the Australian population complain of some form of digestive problem”: Gut health testing now just a post box away. Such a situation is extraordinary, and I for one wonder what is going on. There sure are a lot of cool people down under.

Interestingly, the article actually reflects what I’m hearing from people. Alarmingly for me and I’m not sure why, people really do talk to me about their digestive problems. I know far more about other peoples guts than I do about my own. This may explain why I feel uncool, because I have real difficulties sharing war stories about the intricacies of digesting yesterdays meal if only because I don’t have any stories.

Although now that I think about it, there was that one time when Scritchy the miniature fox terrier – who is the boss dog here – almost killed me, and she most certainly left me with digestive troubles. One evening a few years back, and I’m ashamed to admit it now, I was teasing the innocent Scritchy. I was holding Scritchy in front of my face and repeating (in a stupid sing songy voice of course) the chant, ‘who wants her beef jerky?’

Now at this point in the story I would have been wise to recall that it is Scritchy who is the boss dog, and not myself. Scritchy who despite her diminutive size is clearly an adherent of Sun Tzu, because she made an unprecedented move: She licked me full on in the mouth. Later that evening I became really unwell. Then was seriously unwell every half hour. The next morning found me recovering in the local day hospital after a shot of anti-nausea and a rehydration drip. The doctor told me that if I’d continued with my digestive problems, I probably would have soon faced the awful prospect of organ failure. Lesson learned, don’t antagonise the boss dog.

So digestive problems are to be taken very seriously. Scritchy also.

Given Scritchy herself did not seem to be suffering from any digestive problems at the time, I thought I’d ask her what her opinion was. She told me to naff off as she was busy being the boss dog and all, which appeared to me to be warming her body in front of the wood fire, and that perhaps I should ask Ollie who has too much free time on his paws.

Ollie and Chris’s Bushworld Adventures begin:

It seemed like sound advice, so I asked Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (whom long term readers know by now is actually a cattle dog) about how the dogs, all of whom appear to have very robust health, deal with their digestive health issues. Ollie replied: “Chris. Get here. We’re going to the bottom paddock to get my cube.” It sounded very authoritative and slightly scary, so I asked Ollie: “What’s a cube?” He replied even more assertively: “Chris. Get here. Now!”

So I put my hand (which was in a leather riggers glove) into his mouth and Ollie lead me down to the bottom paddock. As a fun side story, Ollie really does try to out-alpha me by gently grabbing my hand and attempt to take me for a walk. At the bottom of the paddock Ollie proclaimed: “Here’s my cube”, and then proceeded to consume a wombat poo.

Our canine friends consume the most disgusting things, wombat poo being one of those. I wouldn’t recommend consuming such foodstuffs as it would probably make a person very ill. But Ollie may well have a point, in that I feel that he may have been trying to tell me that us humans are currently trying to digest food which is leaving us with an inadequate gut flora and fauna, and that perhaps we need a far greater diversity of life in our guts than we may believe.

Anyway, what does Ollie know about such stuff, if only because like me he doesn’t have digestive troubles, so he’s probably about as uncool as I am. I would like to point out however, that I don’t eat wombat poo, which probably makes me appear uncool to Ollie.

It did however remind me of the troubles that I had with yoghurt a year or two back. We’d been making yoghurt at home for years, but then all of a sudden all of the batches failed and despite our efforts we were left with sour milk. And that is despite throwing everything we knew about yoghurt at the problem.

What we now believe happened was that a macrophage evolved in the kitchen. A macrophage is a virus that attacks and consumes specific bacteria. Now of course everyone knows that bacteria is essential to convert milk into yoghurt. But if the bacteria is dead, all you’re left with at the end of the yoghurt making process is milk. And that was what happened.

After consulting Sandor Katz’s most excellent book (The Art of Fermentation – not to be confused with Sun Tzu’s also excellent book The Art of War – as they say, same, same, but different) we went right back to basics. I managed to track down and purchase five different live yoghurt cultures which contained who knows how many different strains of bacteria in them. And then I mixed them all up and began the yoghurt making process from scratch again.

The results are in, and I now make weekly batches of yoghurt using fresh milk and about a half to a third of the previous weeks batch. The lesson learned for me was that in order to overcome the macrophage that killed off the original bacteria, you don’t just need one strain of bacteria, you need an entire symphony orchestra of bacterial strains. And if you extend that understanding a little bit further, the cool folks might want to consider the diversity of the flora and fauna on the foodstuffs that they’re taking into their bodies?

Earlier in the week we raided our newly discovered repository of rocks and have now completed adding rocks to the path between the house and the secondary firewood shed. We also levelled out the path by adding in more of the locally sourced crushed rock with lime:

The path between the house and the secondary firewood shed is now complete
The path has a lot of rocks. Next path on the agenda is the side track to the chicken enclosure

A few months back we converted one of the steel raised round garden beds into a permanent asparagus bed. There are now three permanent asparagus beds. This week we added a couple of extra plants to that new raised garden bed:

Several more asparagus crowns were added to the newest of the three permanent asparagus beds

A close up photo shows that the asparagus are enjoying the warmer spring weather:

It’s almost time to begin harvesting the asparagus spears.

We made roof trusses for the new garden shed and even had time to attach them to the shed timber frame. A roof truss is the fancy name for the timber used in the roof, which in this case is an “A” shaped design. I really like the symmetry of construction and we are using plenty of scrap materials in the new shed:

The author looks pleased at having made and installed the roof trusses for the new garden shed

After another couple of hours work, all of the roof battens were anchored onto the roof trusses. Roof battens is the fancy name for the horizontal bits of timber placed on top of the “A” framed roof trusses that you attach the steel sheeting to.

The roof battens and steel strapping were installed onto the roof of the new shed

Observant readers will spot the two straps of steel on each side of the roof. The steel strap is enormously strong and is used to hold the roof timbers onto the timber posts just in case the farm gets hit by high winds from a tornado. That did actually happen many years ago on a Christmas Day when a tornado ripped through the farm. Fortunately everything here is constructed with very high winds in mind.

A leaking water tank was repaired by the manufacturer. The repair job is not pretty, but it appears to be serviceable. A patch was plastic welded onto the tank over the leaking outlet. Welding plastic is very difficult, especially polyethylene.

A plastic patch was plastic welded onto a leaking water tank

Bone Wars continues… That bone sure looks as if it has been buried and then dug up again, but as Ollie is uncool because he consumes a wide variety of biological flora and fauna courtesy of the healthy soil.

Bone Wars continues…

In breaking plant news! I spotted the first signs of the strawberry season:

This strawberry plant has begun producing berries

The ornamental weeping cherry has begun flowering over the last couple of days.

An ornamental weeping cherry produces flowers in the warm spring sunshine
How nice are ornamental weeping cherries?

Onto the flowers:

The bulbs are continuing to arrive with the warmer weather
This maybe the final Hellebore flower in what has been a below average season for the plants
Daphne is the best smelling flower on the farm
Forget me not’s are arriving in profusion
This Anzac peach is putting on a good show. If only it produces this many peaches…
The bees have been all over the place recently, but none more so than this rosemary
Today, the first Rhododendron began flowering

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (38’F). So far this year there has been 664.6mm (26.2 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 658.6mm (25.9 inches).

64 thoughts on “Yoghurt Retreat”

  1. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Well I do realise that it a subject close to your heart – and for good reason. The situation is completely bonkers. And I reckon the situation will play out in interesting ways because there are diminishing returns to every policy – and we sure are nearing those. If you enjoy economics articles, I reckon trouble is brewing on the interest only loan front as they have to be renegotiated every five years or so and many of those are fast approaching that time.

    That’s very funny!

    The water pump situation has improved markedly. I will write about that over the next few weeks and chuck in a few photos as I’ve learned a thing or two about those machines. To cut a long story short – and who doesn’t love a long story? – some of the components could perform more than a single function within the water system. But they shouldn’t be asked to do that as they are only good for one function and the manufacturers have tacked on additional functionality which would be fair to say does work, but not as reliably as it needs to. I’ll bet you’ve seen that in IT and in business? Yeah, let’s add on a few extra functions – what could possibly go wrong? 🙂

    Haven’t started watering the garden here, but it is close to that time. Are you having a dry-ish sort of spring there? Even my tolerance for the regular frosts is beginning to wear thin. The old timers used to remark that cold years are dry years and I reckon they knew a thing or two about such rules of thumb. And yeah, watering grass is a waste of water.

    Sounds about right! Hey, did you see the Predator film that was set in the Antarctic? Yeah, let’s all go and check out this maze that aliens have built. The aliens couldn’t possibly get upset at trespassing humans…

    Go the triffids – but watch your back. 🙂 That was really funny too with that photo. Nice one. You might think that we’re all half asleep – and you’re probably right! Your weather sounds really nice. Mustn’t grumble but it is still cool here. 14 today, but very sunny. I’ll be interested to read how your seeds go and whether they germinate soon. I reckon the ground here is still too cold, but the time is fast approaching…

    Enjoy the red eye special – and track down a coffee upon arrival. Mmmm, coffee. Do you have expectations of being fed on the flight?

    Hope you enjoy my little joke this week? The editor almost deleted it because she thought that it was too stupid, but in this instance, stupid prevailed!



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Did you have to wait long at the walk in clinic at the hospital? I totally understand your upper limit on the wait time, and two hours is a reasonable test of patience. Just to take your mind off the horror that may have been the wait, from time to time I’ve come across people with the first name of Patience. It is quite a nice name but I didn’t know them well enough to be able to make any reasonable comment expounding upon whether they lived up to their namesake. Just to put a few giggles in your daily experience, many years ago I dated a girl who’s parents had nicknamed her older brother – who I used to hang out with – the most awkward nickname that I’d ever heard: Icky Boo Boo. I kid you not! It was rarely spoken about, but every time the subject came up I just felt uncomfortable.

    Of course, my social discomfit is probably nothing compared to your physical discomfit. So how are you faring? I hope the wound has slowed down in its oozing and that plans for the retreat are going full steam ahead. Although that would be unlike the supposed full steam ahead of the Titanic. That little event didn’t end so well.

    Speaking of garden follies (and the budget may not stretch that far – lead me not into temptation!) the first episode of this seasons Grand Designs UK is the conversion of a folly into a house. I haven’t seen the episode for all sorts of reasons, but the photos look awesome: Aylesbury Vale.

    I’ll see what I can do about the golden egg, but I make no promises… 🙂 The Elder folk would extract a terrible price for such a gift.

    Jurassic World sounds like quite the enjoyable romp of a film. And what? The formula was modified. If the dinosaurs were producing the film they may have had to add the disclaimer to the film that: No actual humans were harmed in the production of this film. I can’t believe that there was naughtiness in the end that set the story up for a sequel. It is a neat trick!

    Hey, did you see that the clever Japanese landed a couple of robots onto an asteroid? The photos look rather blurry to my eyes, but that may be an age thing. I dunno. I hope they release some high resolution photos of the surface as that would be cool. Space is a harsh environment and best suited for robots. Humans have no longevity up there. The robots are interesting too because the gravity on the asteroid is so low, the robots jump rather than wheel along the surface.

    It seems like a big call for an author to have broken the code to reading Ptolemy’s map (circa 150CE) of Britain. Isn’t that map a reproduction based on Ptolemy’s work which was done a millennia later? King Arthur sure did get around the place and smote his enemies. I don’t generally subscribe to the belief that twelve battles was too great a win for any one talented individual. If only because as Arthur’s prestige rose, also would his physical and martial support. The main problem is that like Alexander the Great, he fought for too long. A ruler with that sort of well known score has to know when to back down and use his mojo to manage the kingdom. It would be really hard to know when to do that, and what did the ancient Greek’s write about “Arete”. Both characters had it in spades, but it also comes with a price which I reckon as a gut feeling, they both happily paid.

    As to the author, and no disrespect to that person, I have noted that there are an awful lot of armchair theorists floating around the environment. Results are a whole different matter, but you know, you do need those people, but perhaps not as many as there are nowadays. But the results work may be a bit grubby and not for everyone.



  3. Hello Chris
    The ornamental weeping cherry is glorious. We seem to have similar temperatures at present. Today the sun is shining from a clear blue sky but last night the temperature went down to 39F.

    I am puzzled by the incredible amount of both allergy and lesser gut problems. Mind you we have an incredible number of added chemicals in our food plus the chemicals that people use in their homes. Have just read that this plus double glazing, means that the air is more polluted indoors than outside. Many people seem to have forgotten how to lead a natural existence.

    There are now plans for a cycle track from John o groats to Land’s end, so more properties will be tracked over. My brain has stopped going over things compulsively and I am feeling better.


  4. Yo, Chris – Well, why not an excursion into gut health? Ought to get a few good poop jokes, out of it. Ought to appeal to the 12 year old, among some of your readership. Who me? :-). What we delicately call “digestion”. A euphemism to be trotted out, depending on audience. And, this being a Family Friendly Blog (Tm), appropriate, here.

    My neighbor Eleanor and I were talking the other night about how some things that weren’t discussed in the past, are now discussed with great candor. She opined, from her 92 years of wisdom, that that was, generally, a good thing. Well. As I agree, she didn’t get much argument, from me. Funny how that works. 🙂

    But back to the Vast Panorama of Nature that sloshes around inside of us. To quote Lucy Van Pelt (Peanuts, Tm) “I’ve been kissed by a dog!” Apparently, dog slobber should only be applied externally. I think it’s been proved pretty conclusively that dog slobber has healing properties. Even the Romans had several dogs with overactive salivary glands lurking around their healing temples.

    Here, we spell it “feces”. Adj. – “Fecal.” (Which reminds me … and before I forget. When I mentioned that ya’ll call cookies, biscuits, someone asked what you call biscuits? Inquiring minds want to know.)

    When I first read the article about the Gut Foundation Australia, my first thought was, “Do they have a vested interest?” in stirring up panic among the people over their gut health? As if we don’t have enough to fret about :-). Not that I don’t believe a certain amount of the population has gut problems. But, that perhaps there’s a bit of over the top gut gazing, going on.

    When I watched that Great Courses, “Food, Science and the Human Body,” two or so lectures were devoted to our microbiom (Do you know that in some quarters, fecal transplants, from a healthy person, are all the rage?). And then I skimmed Katz, and he was discussing the same things, via fermentation. But, yes, it’s a regular Game of Thrones, in there, with kingdoms of micro organisms rising and falling.

    But, one of the bottom lines is that we are perhaps (especially children) too clean. Or, germ obsessed. And, all the processed food, chock full of preservatives probably isn’t doing our guts any favors. And, the varieties of foods and way they are processed, blah, blah, blah. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? :-).

    The asparagus look yummy. Lucky you. My third attempt at getting a bed going seems to have failed. Sigh. The garden shed is really shaping up. Having re-watched an older film last night, “Into the Storm” (tornados) I’d say the steel beams are a good idea. I have it on good authority that chewing gum works as well as a plastic weld :-).

    The shot of the weeping cherry and your place is quit nice. Fern Glade Farm calendar worthy. Your place from a different angle. The Forget Me Nots are really pretty. Mine are booming along, but I don’t know if they’ll flower before the frosts arrive. Ditto the Love In The Mist. Planted late. But, we may have a long fall. Dr. Mass predicts at least a week of nice weather, due to a high stalled in the Pacific, off our coast. He said any storms would be funneled up to Alaska, …”where they belong.” Of course, the Alaskans may have different feelings. Cont.

  5. Cont. Well, the trip to the walk-in clinic was … different. I got in quickly, but could probably have been out in 1/3 the time if they hadn’t been having computer problems. But, I got to trot out my “Technology is wonderful … when it works”, line, several times. Always gratifying to play to a new audience.

    I have no idea why the young man forced an entire bottle of wound packing material on me. I suppose it will show up on a bill, somewhere. But I intend to take it along when I see my regular Doc on Tuesday. And, when he said “well see you again in three day”, I said, “No, you won’t. I’ll be going back to the main clinic, on Tuesday, per my doctor’s instructions.” But, things are still looking good, and maybe I’ll only have to get it repacked a time or two more, before graduating to just slapping a bandage on it.

    Something odd/interesting occurred to me while I was waiting, yesterday. Well, all through this song and dance, I’ve been dragging a book around with me. “Under the Eagle” (Scarrow) which I had read years ago, and decided to reread. It’s a ripping yarn (and mystery) about the Legion and the Roman invasion of Britain. Something I can dip into and out of and not lose the plot. Any-who. The odd thing (I think) is that not a single doctor, nurse or receptionist has asked “What ya reading?” American’s not being known for being shy, I can only think it’s a total lack of interest. Which I find a bit sad.

    The Aylesbury folly is great fun. I’ve always wanted to live in a castle. Even if it’s a miniature. And, if I squint and pretend, those turrets can be towers. I’ve always wanted to live in a tower. In this part of the world, we have a few brick silos. Long abandoned. I always thought they’d make a great dwelling. Grand Designs, here I come!

    There probably was a Ptolemy map (or, maps) at one time. But they’re now reduced to lists of place names with travel times, in between, and a … primitive method of longitude and latitude. And, those lists were transcribed many times over. With all the errors that can creep into that process. And, at some point, the whole task of copying getting tedious (he was dealing with the whole world, as he knew it), some copyist along the way got lazy, and dropped the L and L readings. But not, luckily, the British bit. Laying it out on one big map, doesn’t work. But laying it out on five maps, each a different scale, and much falls into place, in relationship to one another.

    I always thought Arthur’s “twelve battles” was a little too neat a number. Right up there with “40 days and 40 nights.” :-). If I rummaged around in my memory, I could probably come up with some other Measures of Time or Objects that Are a Bit Too Neat. Adding zeros to things was also popular. Lew

  6. Chris,

    Gut flora? Cool! Very important critters that are paid scant attention and abused as much as possible in industrial society.

    Lew mentioned the overly processed foods that many overeat. Then there’s the overuse, still, of antibiotics, which kill off the gut flora. Add in the routine use of antibiotics on the commercial meat supply animals, trace amounts of which we ingest, and it’s a veritable perfect storm. Oh, and sugar abuse, too, which can kill off the good flora and enhance the baddies.

    A gent, I believe in the UK, tried an experiment a few years ago. He had his gut flora checked, then ate nothing but McDonalds crap for a month, then retested his gut flora. There was none left. Dead gut, pretty much. A few years later, there was a more controlled study in the USA that was similar. Same result: fast food kills off the gut flora, fast.

    Recent studies have shown that gut flora, or varying lack thereof, can have a large effect on one’s emotions. No wonder we have so many emotionally screwed up people running around!

    I pretty much have a handle on what types of things I MUST eat in order to keep the digestive system operating about right and to keep my mood from going into the bad zones. My coworkers think my diet is nuts, but it works. It includes, as a matter of course, a moderately large variety of things that will keep the gut flora happy. Oh, and a move to more organic goodies, too.

    Later this year I’ll start experimenting with making sourdough bread. Gluten free, to start, as I border on celiac. (This gluten free dietary restriction helps me eat the right stuff for the gut flora!) We’ll see how that goes.


  7. Chris,
    That ornamental weeping cherry is pretty. There’s a flowering crabapple in my yard. Unfortunately, some years it more “crabs” than flowers, but when it’s in full bloom it’s spectacular. The blossoms are a similar color to the ornamental weeping cherry.

  8. @ Lew,

    Good to hear you got that repacked. Getting to poke the technology was a nice bonus, I wager.

    I think it was Chris who speculated that removing that thing probably took more out of you than you thought. I agree. When I got the cyst removed from my neck, my wife was out of town tending a seriously ill relative. The doctor told me I’d be fine, would feel good “in about an hour”, and that returning to the office job would be peachy.

    Got to the office in 10 minutes and had to change the dressing due to the oozing. The receptionists said I looked bad. My boss said I was “pale”, which was also a running joke between us. Then the new woman who sat near me and decided it was her God-appointed duty to make sure I wasn’t doing something stupid while my wife was gone, well, she said if I didn’t go home, she’d beat me up and figure out how to get me home. I went home. Took a week to feel about 90%.

    I told my wife about it. She called me a “lunkhead”. Then she made it a point to meet my friend and told her to slap some sense into me whenever it’s necessary.


  9. Chris,
    Thanks for mentioning the Coolgardie Safe. I’ve never heard of it before, so I looked it up. Simple and it works.


  10. Hi Chris,

    True gut flora story – Mrs Damo has problems digesting rich meats, although in her very young days there was no problem. Her current theory is a tick bite might have caused the allergy/reaction. Apparently this is a thing, although rare. At any rate, she can eat chicken and fish, but even trace amounts of pork will cause all sorts of interesting digestive problems for her. Red meat is not as bad, but still bad enough she doesn’t eat it.

    Personally, I used to drink a litre plus of raw milk a day (living on a dairy). Within a few years of leaving home, and subsisting on supermarket milk, I starting getting sick every couple of months (severe gut pain). Extensive scans and expensive specialist visits found nothing then mum suggested I stop drinking supermarket milk. So I did and the problem went away. Cheese and yoghurt is no problem for me (although not copious amounts). I have wondered if I started drinking raw milk again if I would have a problem but I lack enthusiasm to test the theory!


  11. Hi Inge,

    The weeping cherry has gotten better every year. I have a few of them growing, but that one is the oldest. It is an extraordinarily hardy tree too and I have never once watered it – even in droughts. Little cherry trees are popping up all around that area… I’m unsure whether the seedlings are forming off the roots of the parent tree – or were dropped seeds. Dunno. What do you think about that?

    The tomatoes will soon be coming to an end with those sorts of night-time temperatures. It was another cold day here today and it only reached about 48’F. Brrr! I only started the wood fire at about 5.30pm though as the house holds its heat well.

    People seem to have an enormous number of chemicals and exotic materials in their home and some of those off gas. It costs a lot to make materials inert. In the house we rented in a nearby town, they had plastic carpets (a lot of houses do nowadays because wool is unsurprisingly more expensive) and where the summer sun hit the carpet, the carpet was fraying and fading. All those chemicals don’t just disappear… This house is well insulated but I generally leave the windows open during the day – even in winter. It makes little difference to the inside temperature, but the fresh air is beneficial.

    We installed real timber floors and use Tung Oil to coat them, but even that wears off and who knows where it all ends up.

    It always takes a little while to incorporate outrages into one’s world-view. Well, I find that to be the case anyway. Best to focus on strategies going forward. At least cyclists won’t hang around any one area for long.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Everyone loves a good poop joke. 🙂 Actually the editor mentioned that I’d had a poop theme of late. I hadn’t noticed, but it is probably a true observation. Digestion sounds like a much more refined way to discuss these most delicate of matters.

    Way back in the day, what did they say must not be discussed in polite company? Oh that’s it: Politics, Sex, and Religion. You and Eleanor are onto something, because looking at the news websites those topics get thrown around with abandon. Have the aristocrats forgotten what maintaining decorum was all about? Probably. Hmm, anyway maybe it is some form of reaction to not being able to discuss them previously? I note that some canny tricksters are combining all three topics – which is an impressive achievement and beyond my narrative skills.

    That reminds me that dog saliva apparently is antibacterial. Well there you go. It’s official. However, disease can still be transmitted from dog saliva and some specialised people have actually taken the time to study that. I could have told them that was possible… I was going to put a link to the very informative web page but they started banging on about getting dogs teeth cleaned at the vet. Bones from the local butcher are much cheaper and just as effective. Dogs like to chew.

    Very funny! I like the word game. Biscuits are called … … … biscuits! 🙂 You never hear the word ‘cookies’ here, although as kids we may have been exposed to the cookie monster.


  13. Hi, Chris

    How beautiful is your weeping cherry? It frames the view of your house so well. I’m envious. I only have a middling ornamental crabapple, though the flowers are glorious. I just wish it would grow faster!

    Lew, in Australia, what you call biscuits are known as scones. Usually served with jam and cream, which is a Devonshire tea!


  14. Lewis (cont),

    I see Hazel has answered your question and that answer would never have occurred to me. Scones are good – especially with tasty jam and fresh cream. Yum – one of my favourites.

    You are spot on and I too reckon they may have an axe to grind, merely because their future is dependent on more gut problems. However, I suspect that the gut problems go hand in hand with the general decline of life on the planet. I mean it is not as if our food doesn’t come from the soil which should otherwise be teeming with life. I read an article that you might be interested in: What happened to all the bugs? Scientists search for answers. The contrast between the life here on the farm and what I observe in Melbourne is stark. There are times on my walks where I see only a few insects, and occasionally none at all. The problem with the gut is same, same, but different!

    Yeah, fermentation is a much easier way to go than faecal transplants which I’m rather uncomfortable at the thought – but I have heard a doctor talking about them and saying that in some cases it did assist patients. I consume a lot of fermented foods – and just for one example none of our wines have any preservatives in them, and I tell ya I can feel the difference when I’m consuming elsewhere. The main problem with preservatives is that they effectively have to poison bacterial and fungal life – and people consume a huge amount of preservatives – and your gut flora and fauna falls to the preservatives in the food. There are easy ways to avoid doing that scenario, but it involves cooking from scratch and I know a lot of people that can’t manage that. Like all domestic occupations it is a real worthy skill, and I have a deep suspicion that people take a certain sort of pride in being rubbish at cooking.

    This is old ground for us two, but you know it is worth digging over the old ground from a new perspective. We’ve all learned stuff over the years and the stories grow in the telling. 🙂

    Asparagus is a funny plant – it really likes deep and rich soils. Really deep and really rich and a bit basic. As a friendly suggestion, your trenches may have been too acidic. We eat a lot of spears and the cold winter has confirmed that we were unwise to use so many raised garden beds for greens. The greens are doing better in the random garden beds and we’ve been picking from there. Next year, we intend to be more ruthless with the tomato enclosure by replanting it entirely in greens whilst there is still enough warmth in the early autumn in the soil for them to germinate.

    The contrast of the white house and the weeping cherry was something wasn’t it? But the other photo with the Acacia Melanoxylon (Blackwoods) in the background really shows the colour of the cherry flowers. Forget me not’s are very weedy here, but I’m quite fond of weeds. 🙂 Nah, I reckon they’ll die back and reappear the following autumn but with flowers. You’ll have to remember not to cultivate the soil and disturb the roots. A lot of herbs regrow that way from the roots. The 28’F frost looks as if it has killed off the largest Vietnamese mint which was always a marginal plant here. One must reach for the stars (or is that asteroids) from time to time because the tea camellia appears to have survived although it looks a bit worse for wear. The frost has dropped a huge volume of blossoms off the fruit trees, but I spotted a few tiny little almonds today so I’ll take a watch and wait approach and see how it turns out. This year has been unusually cold. Speaking of which, if a person chooses to live in Alaska, well far out the area is not known for palm lined and sun drenched beaches…

    Hehe! Mate, I’ve seen those sorts of computer problems too and only recently. My patience was wearing a bit thin on that occasion but one must remember to be a gentleman and act with good grace even when the pit of your stomach is yelling at you to throw their computer out the window and force them back onto a paper ledger. I’m old enough to have seen and used those. They’re surprisingly good.

    Glad to hear that things are looking good for the cyst and that your spirits are soaring. 🙂 It appealed to my very being that you are going to take the unused portions of the bottle of wound packing material. It makes you wonder how much waste goes on at that clinic? Still mustn’t grumble as they took the time to attend to your needs and that surely is a good thing.

    Thanks for the ultra sneaky book recommendation. Tidy work! My ears pricked up at the merest inference of a good read! 🙂 I go out of my way to visit cafes that I have had long acquaintance with and it is a truism that you’re never alone with a good book and a coffee (and a muffin if they’ve got one). A long time ago I had a job that sent me regularly interstate and I always ate dinner with my book for a companion on those weary and dull trips. Of course the owners of the restaurant wanted nothing more than to move me on, but books can take your mind on journeys the body will never take.

    How cool are castles? And they do attract maidens in distress which may be a good thing. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the episode if you get your hands on it (hint: it’s now available if you know where to look). I quite like the show because it follows a familiar formula of the ups and downs of undertaking a stupendous folly like that one…

    I agree, 40 days and 40 nights would have been quite enough time to die of either thirst or starvation. Or, perhaps someone would have bopped the journeyman over the head because they nicked some berries off a persons juniper bush… Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…



  15. Hi DJ,

    Thank you! I make a habit of growing both ornamental as well as trees with edible produce. I have a suspicion that the trees are given a bit of an injection of additional genetics from the extra diversity. Crab apples are lovely trees. Really lovely. And did you know that you can get new trees by simply planting the crab apples? The old timers used to make jams out of the fruit down here because the crab apples are really high in pectin. You should see the medlar jam we made last year – it is as thick as a paste.

    As I mentioned to Lewis, the problems with the gut are mirrored in the problems of the reduced life in the soil and gardens etc… Same, same, but different. 🙂 We are living through a major extinction event – and we barely even notice it.

    Well sugar makes a person acidic which is a favourable environment for fungi. Who wants to be a fun-guy or a fun-gal, because some of those pesky fungi’s are really hard to get back in balance if your system becomes too acidic. It is like everything, we all have to find the middle way.

    Ouch! Well preservatives, which are used heavily in the industrial food system, are basically mild poisons. Their job is to kill off microbial life, and they’re pretty effective at it. The thing is, sooner or later, something turns up to enjoy a good feed – and if we lack balance and defences then… If I pick produce here, it starts to spoil very quickly and I’ve had to learn about that story over the years.

    I hadn’t heard that about peoples emotional states being affected by what they ate, but yeah, it probably happens.

    Top work and excellent observation. It does make you wonder how many people listen to what their body is telling them about its experience?

    Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with gluten. Ouch. If you have any space for growing grains in your garden, there are some old school varieties of wheat which may not give you as great a reaction to gluten as you may be getting now. It is worth looking into.

    At the very least, the sourdough starter will inoculate your guts with a wide variety of fungi (yeast is a fungus). I’ll be interested to hear how it goes for you.



  16. Hi Damo,

    Far out. You know, I’ve heard that gut story that Mrs Damo suffers from, but somewhere else. The thing is, what I was told was that the change in the ability to easily digest those particular foodstuffs comes upon rather suddenly. And ticks are a likely suspect.

    Pork is a complex and rich meat to consume and it makes me feel mildly queasy, although being a mostly vegetarian I do enjoy the occasional small chunk of pork belly. Yum, so good, but so bad! It’s complex… 🙂 The local pub went through a pork belly phase on its menu, maybe about half a year ago. Now they seem to be doing pavlova’s! Yum! You’d probably like the local pub.

    Absolutely. Raw milk is absolutely chock full of a wide and diverse range of bacteria. And if the paddocks have healthy and deep soils then the milk is even better for you. Not many folks would even realise that milk varies in quality throughout the year. We drink un-homogenised organic milk as that is the best that I can get on a regular basis. It makes petrol look cheap. I’m hoping to get some raw milk off my mates in early summer when their paddocks are at their best, and add a bit of that to the yoghurt culture as a bacterial booster.

    Not many people can consume copious amounts of cheese without, well let’s say it delicately this way: complications. Cheese is merely a way to preserve milk without refrigeration so that it is available out of season.

    Yeah, it is complex and I reckon the trick with that is that you have to know just how well the dairy farmers manage their milking. Not everyone is careful in that regard – thus the need to pasteurise the milk. ;-)!



  17. Hi Hazel,

    Thank you and the cherry tree is lovely isn’t it? They’re enormously hardy too and I’ve never once watered it. It seems to be coping well with the continual frosts. How have you been going on that frost front? I may lose my apricot crop this year, but time will tell and the cold weather looks as if it is not letting up. I spotted a very tiny almond today so there is hope that some of the early fruit will pull through. Maybe…

    Crab apples are beautiful flowering trees. But yeah, I hear you about wanting the trees to hurry up and grow. What annoys me is that some parts of the orchard grow faster than others and I reckon the grass is slowing them down a fair bit, but still they do move past that grass competition. Eventually…

    Thanks for solving the scone problem. I didn’t have the faintest idea, but I do like scones and jam and cream. Yum! But I draw the line at microwaved frozen scones as they just don’t quite taste the same to me. Standards must be maintained! Fortunately there are some decent places in this part of the world – as I’m sure there is in your part of the world. I tempt you with the concept of lavender scones. Yum!



  18. Hi, Chris!

    What a serenely beautiful view of your veranda. The photographer has “posed” the cherry tree perfectly.

    I’d say it’s way less of a burden to be uncool, unless you are young.

    The Scritchy Kiss of Death! Kind of makes me wish I hadn’t kissed so many dogs . . .

    I often wonder what wonderful – and not so wonderful – things are living on the food that I consume in the garden without washing it. Like – did a squirrel lick that first? Or a bird fly over it?

    What a perfect shed frame. May the finished product be so lovely!

    I would love to see someone weld plastic. I thought the two pieces were just sort of melted together. Hi, Gangle Freckles!

    My goodness – baby strawberries already. I can see that your bees have plenty of food. I am glad that you mentioned forget me nots. I think it might be the time to plant their seeds here (not sure) and johnny jump ups come to mind, also.

    I didn’t know asteroids had gravity.

    As if one venomous head wasn’t enough . . . and Richmond, Virginia, one hour away from me – and only last week. It is interesting how healthy the copperhead looks. There is hope for the rest of us who deal with two heads!


  19. @ DJSpo:

    I have to eat gluten free, too. And I cook vegan for my son – though I am vegetarian – and so far I have not come up with a very nice sandwich bread, even using my sourdough. Though I do ok cooking my husband’s normal rye sourdough bread.

    My sourdough starter had gluten when I first made it up 3 years ago, but has not had any added since, so I reckon it’s gluten free now. It is a potato-based starter.


  20. Hello again
    34F last night.
    I am just back from picking sloes for sloe gin. Drat, someone has beaten me to it. Once upon a time I had no competition at all. A conundrum:- should I be irritated or delighted that others are learning to forage? I did just about, get enough to go with one bottle of gin.
    I don’t know about your weeping cherry. If new trees are coming up from the roots, it may be invasive which is not usually good.
    We don’t use the word ‘cookies’ here either; it is biscuits or scones.


  21. Hi Chris,

    Well spring has certainly sprung at your place. The shed and all your other projects look great. We have ordered an already constructed shed which appears to be good quality and will handle all the overflow from our much smaller garage type building. We had two large buildings at the old place and a large three car garage. These two buildings we presently have should be sufficient for Doug’s workshop and all the various equipment (mostly his though we both benefit from most of it). We’re just getting too old to even consider a construction project of the sort you and the editor have undertaken.

    I originally thought I could get a jump start on a new asparagus bed this fall but unfortunately it’s already too late in the season. The challenge here is the lack of convenient sunny places. I’ve picked a few spots that might work. There is a pretty sizable sunny spot but it’s at the far end of the property so getting water there will be an issue. That’s where I’ll put asparagus and maybe winter squash as it can really spread out. The last owner left a variety of big pots and I’m thinking of using some of them – especially for herbs that don’t winter over. My youngest daughter had some luck this year with pots of basil, peppers and even cherry tomatoes grown in pots on their deck on top of the garage at their place right in the heart of Chicago.

    It is interesting – all the gut issues. You may recall that I do better if I don’t eat products with gluten. Another of my sisters has found the same thing. She also has eczema and keeping gluten and other processed carbs out of her diet helps there as well. My brother, Patrick, was plagued with digestive issues – so much so that he often wouldn’t eat until he got home from his job as he was afraid he would have an accident. Of course we tried to convince him of some dietary changes that might help but he just couldn’t follow through.

    Last night Doug and I went to a program at our library on GMO crops. Now I’ve read up a lot on this issue and was quite familiar with the issue. One thing I hadn’t know was that Roundup is also classified an an antibiotic. Given the more recent news about the effect it has on soil micro organisms it made sense. Now that it’s found in food and it can have the same effect on gut micro organisms as well it seems to be yet another cause of digestive issues.

    On another note, have you ever read “One Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka? I’m just about finished with “One-Straw Revolutionary: The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka by Larry Korn. Mr. Korn spent some years on Fukuoka’s farm in Japan. In this book there are some interesting comparisons between his “natural farming” methods and traditional Japanese, organic and permaculture methods.


  22. @DJSpo

    What kind of flour will you use for your gluten free sour dough? I’ve read that people with a gluten intolerance can tolerate real fermented sour dough bread made from wheat as well. Do you make any other fermented foods?


  23. @Inge

    Yes compared to your coast Lake Geneva is very calm. That path has been there for a long time and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never walked even a part of that – a situation that I’ll have to rectify.


  24. @ Hazel – Thanks, Hazel! We have a baked good, called scones, but they’re pretty distinct from what we call biscuits. Which are more … white bread like, or, flakey. Sometimes also called rolls. And, we won’t even get into cinnamon buns. :-). Lew

  25. @ DJSpo – Re: Oozing. I prefer to say I’m leaking :-). That seems to be subsiding. I’m tired of scrubbing out shirts. Cold water, a white vinegar soak and dish soap, seems to do the trick. If not, I drag out the big guns. Hydro peroxide.

    I heard something, somewhere, sometime about guys and their approach to health, which I pretty much think sums it up. “If a guy pees blood, he’ll just pee in the dark for six months and hope things get better.” Works for me :-). Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – Just back from having my “wound repacked,” as they say in the biz. I’ll see the Doc on Thursday, and hope it’s healed enough that I can just start slapping bandaids on it and go on my merry way. Must be healing up. Didn’t hurt as much, this time.

    That was quit an article about beneficial insects. We’re in town, but pretty close to the countryside. There seemed to be enough pollinators around, this year. But, not to many honey bees. Mostly bumblebees. We see lady bugs and dragonflies. The dreaded cabbage moth. I seem to have some grasshoppers that have taken up residence in one of my garden spaces. I think they REALLY like my horseradish leaves. But I find the disappearance of the squirrels ominous. There also doesn’t seen to be many birds, about. From a completely unscientific survey, I’d say, in general, most populations are “light.”

    Getting back to the wonders and splendors of gut health, after I had that major dental surgery two years ago, between the anesthetic and antibiotics, my digestions wasn’t right for about a year. And, I tried eating mass amounts of all the stuff that was supposed to take care of the problem. Without going into too much detail, tough little rabbit pellets was the order of the day.

    Another thing I noticed, years ago, back in my dating days. Any time I’d get (ahem) up close and personal with another person, I’d usually have very mile flu like symptoms for a couple of days. I think I saw an article, way back when. Something along the line of “That Lovesick Feeling? It’s Just Microbes.” I suppose if one swaps a bit of flora and fauna on a microbial level, a certain amount of the immune system kicks in.

    I have all my useless flowering things 🙂 at one end of one of my garden beds. So I don’t disturb the roots. Some things I mark out with plastic forks, so I don’t disturb them until they’re well on their way. But, as my garden space is so tight, I do have to take care. Where I step, etc..

    I have a wee bit of a prejudice against ornamentals that don’t produce. Says the guy growing flowers in precious space at the end of his garden bed. Nothing to harvest except visual beauty. Lots of people plant flowering cherry trees, here. We also have a lot of Hawthorne trees. I don’t know anything about their history. If they’re a native variety. But, I can remember even when I was a kid, really old Hawthorne trees, in abundance. Holly is widespread. An introduction. But, the growing climate must be ideal, as they can get enormous. And, are even grown (mostly in western Oregon) commercially.

    “Milk varies in quality, throughout the year.” Everything is so standardized, these days, that we really don’t know what we’ve lost. I also read that eggs, left to their own devices, vary during the year. Back in Ye Olde Days, chefs who knew what they were about, did, or didn’t make some recipes at some times of the year, based on the quality of the eggs, due to the time of the year. It’s a wonder to be so knowledgeable. To approach ingredients with such … consideration.

    Well, I slaughtered my two little pumpkins, last night. :-). They are so brilliantly orange, they practically vibrate. I need to put on my sunglasses to look at them. Hurts me eyes. Also buried a big bag of kitchen scraps and egg shells. Threw a few worms and soil from a more productive part of the garden, on them. Spread the wealth. Lew

  27. Chris,

    I don’t think I’ll have room for grains, unfortunately. After leaving the workforce, I’ll add a lot more berries and also be able to make the vegetable patch somewhat larger. I might attempt growing chickpeas again. The first go at them was an abysmal failure, probably due to soil quality.

    The overall discussion has gotten interesting. I’ve always leaned toward viewing the relationships between apparently unrelated things. Years of reading Mr. Greer’s writings, as well as increased observation, has me convinced that a lot of the things mentioned this week are symptoms of the same thing and are closely related.

    I think you’re exactly correct when you mentioned that we’re witnessing and part of an extinction event. Or events. The mountain chickadees moved into the area because there’s a niche that needed to be filled. Cedar and Bohemian waxwings used to be prevalent here in late winter, clearing crabapples and any other type of berry. I’ve seen nary a one for over a decade. The Puget Sound orcas are at their lowest population in decades. As 50% of their diet is salmon, and the salmon are fading, their days are numbered. Ditto the salmon runs in the region within a few decades: the Yakima Herald newspaper had a series of articles last month about water temperatures in the Yakima River, a tributary of the Columbia. Water temperatures were over 80F for 6 weeks. Salmon and trout need temperatures below 69 in order to survive. Yes, things look bleak for many species.

    The gluten thing, well, I discovered that in late 2007. Just a fact of life to which I need to adapt. Perhaps the older wheat varieties would be okay, but I figure we’re both healthier the fewer grains we eat, even if they’re organic.

    Isn’t figuring out how to adapt what we need to do, especially during climate change, peak oil, etal?

  28. @ Pam and Margfh,

    I’ve found that any gluten free breads I bake just don’t make a good sandwich. Toast? Yes. Grilled cheese sandwiches? Fine. Anything else and they tend to fall apart. Most of the commercial gluten free “breads” have way too much starch at the expense of grains. Nor do they hold together as anything other than toast.

    Store bought sourdough is a no-no for me. Whereas the fermentation process apparently takes care of the gluten issue, the commercial stuff adds “essential” gluten into the mix after fermentation. 80% of the time that brings on the icky symptoms.

    The restaurant my wife and I visit weekly for a lunch date ferments all of their bread. I’ve eaten loaves of it with no problems, although I will order gluten free bread for sandwiches just in case.

    As to what grains I’ll try? My standard flour mix is equal parts sorghum, chickpea flour and either millet, amaranth or brown rice. Things promise to be hectic here until mid November or later, so my sourdough attempts will have to wait until then.

    I’ve attempted fermenting vegetables, but something went wrong and the trial was a failure. I have yet to figure out why. Fermented foods really aren’t something I eat much of right now.


  29. @ Lew – How true about guys and doctors. I don’t have a problem going to see the doctor at all. Well, my wife says that first she has to tell me I look like warmed over possum poo (which neither of us as ever seen!), then she has to threaten to beat me to a pulp because I’m obviously ailing. After those rituals have occurred, I go straight to the doctor with no struggling or whimpering whatsoever.


  30. My word what a stunning cherry tree! And the shed is looking mighty fine, as well.

    We´re fortunate in that we eat pretty much anything. Last week, I had a gyro from a newish local burger place. It´s been years since I last ate something you could describe as ¨fast food¨. It was OK, but the sauce was wrong, not that lovely garlicky yogurt stuff I was wanting. And I would kill for a decent pita bread. When I make them, they don´t puff, but the commercial ones are mostly inedible.

    I used to make yogurt and should really start again. Mine was never the thick consistency of the commercial kind, but it was tasty. Do the ¨probiotics¨ really survive stomach acid? There´s a lot of talk lately about new brands of milk being available that are organic and pasture based, so maybe I´ll give it a go. Have to support better farming practices.

    Enjoy your asparagus and strawberries! Yum.

  31. Hi Pam, Inge, Margaret, Lewis, DJ, and Coco,

    Many thanks for the lovely comments. As many of you now know I tend to duck and weave on Wednesday’s – unless of course I’m fully here (wherever that is!) 🙂 I’m genuinely pleased and amazed at the level of interest and engagement in this topic. I hope to reply tomorrow! Until then…

    Lewis – I’ve just discovered that Ollie the very large cattle dog who is moulting his winter coat, doesn’t like being groomed. I used a bit of psychology on him and started grooming Scritchy and Toothy in front of him instead and jealousy soon overcame his fear of the brush. And he thought he was the smarty pants in the household.

    Glad to read that the wound is closing and healing. That is a good thing! Hopefully the trips to the clinic don’t get in the way of your retreat?

    I was in Melbourne today and I recall seeing one sad looking bee landing on a what looked like a dandelion – but with no flowers. I took that as an ominous sign for the continuing good health of the bee. Did you like the mention of the ‘windshield test’? I rather enjoyed the use of the skill of observation to determine that things are not good, but plenty of folks seem to have chimed in and made claims about it being unscientific. I took the windshield test today too – the results are in and they’re not good.

    Interestingly the birds I did spot today in Melbourne were all birds that are not originally of that area: Rainbow Lorikeets (the name is well deserved); Indian mynahs; and Ravens. An interesting collection to be sure, as they’re all highly adaptable birds.

    I was wondering whether the bumble bees are less affected by spraying because they’re individuals (or only very small colonies) and any one affected individual has less chance to bring poison back into many hives. Dunno. And also, they arrive much later in the season when things have warmed up a bit.

    Yeah, I do recall you mentioning that effect on you at the time. The effect of the medicines is spread rather than localised because that is really hard to achieve. We’ve spoken about restoring the life in soil over the years and that takes a really long time to achieve. I suspect that there are not many quick fixes. Dunno.

    Haha! Well I’d never considered that aspect of relationships before. I have heard some reports that healthy people smell more appealing to others, but I have no knowledge as to how such a thing was tested. It seems like a big call.

    Mate, I’m exhausted tonight. Totally done in. I’m off to bed.



  32. @ Pam – A couple of The Ladies have the bad habit of picking out of my bowl when I’m out harvesting blueberries. I usually say, “Maybe you’ll get one of the tangy ones! The ones I pick off the ground where the dogs pee.” That usually slows them up. They never quit know when I’m sending them up, and when I’m serious. Some of them are still wondering about the Witness Protection thing. :-).

    Roman ruin, I think. Sometime, for fun, Google “Castles in the United States.” Some are older, but there’s quit a bit of new construction. Some are a bit too fairytale/Disney, for my taste. But, others are more substantial. Lew

  33. @DJSpo – I worry more about the expense, when it comes to medical care. I get a pretty deep discount at the clinic I go to, due to being generally poverty stricken. I have my Medicare part A & B. But I have a feeling there will still be costs. How much, I haven’t a clue.

    Inquire ahead in the medical world about costs, and everyone acts as if you’ve broken wind in church. Lew

  34. Yo, Chris – I’ll probably find out tomorrow if I have to nip back, during the retreat, to get my “wound” packed. It would only be once. We do have open blocks of time at the retreat. It’s about a 30 minute jump down the freeway. But, once in place, I’d rather not. Maybe I can push it one extra day, and have it done when I come back on Sunday, before noon. We’ll see.

    Bumble bees as survivalists. :-). Each one tucked into it’s own little underground bunker.

    The blueberry harvest is finished. Made a final pick of the bushes and all I got was a hand full in the bottom of a small bowl. Maybe we should have a blueberry festival? The bushes are turning a very pretty crimson and yellow.

    An interesting and useless factoid to contemplate. At the retreat, there’s tucking us 8 to a cabin with bunk beds (burning question of the moment? Up top or bottom?)

    The smallest unit of soldiers in the Roman legion was a section. Of 8 men. With bunk beds. On march, those same fellows shared the same tent. 8 sections were overseen by the Centurion … oddly called a Century. But, I suppose with support staff, it was close to 100 men.

    Those long barracks blocks you see in pictures of the standard Roman fort, you can usually count the 10 rooms for the guys, a room for the Centurion. Maybe an equipment room. They all shared a “mess”, where that was, I don’t know.

    So, I figure we’re going to this retreat to gear up to invade Britain. Or, maybe Australia. Information is classified on a need to know, basis. Lew

  35. @ Lew, “Inquire ahead in the medical world about costs, and everyone acts as if you’ve broken wind in church.” Ain’t that the truth! And there’s always hidden costs. That’s the biggest concern I have in leaving the work force.


  36. Hi Pam,

    It was very thoughtful of the ornamental cherry tree to grow in that spot. 🙂 A lot of self-seeded cherry trees have also popped up in that location and I’m looking forward to seeing what a forest comprised of flowering cherry trees will look like. The local pub has an enormous old cherry tree at the front. You could cut floorboards from the various trunks…

    No doubts you are correct in that matter of coolness, and anyway I suspect that the more uncool a person is, the more interesting is their life. Of course I have not made a statistically valid sample…

    I’m not sure that I’d give Scritchy a dog kissey tonight as she has a tick seed on her neck. Dogs…

    Hehe! Yup. So true. Whenever food is gifted or fed to visitors it gets washed. Seems like common sense.

    Might not get to any more of the shed this week as it looks as though it may rain tomorrow. Grand Final day looks as if it will be cold, but most likely dry.

    Not at all. The guy had an extrusion gun that heated and fed a string of polyethylene at something like 260’C / 500’F. It looked like a weapon off the Millenium Falcon. The weld was applied between the tank and the patch and the materials bond.

    Gangle Freckles says: G’day Pam! 🙂 Gangle enjoyed a warm spring day and spent most of the day chewing on a fresh bone straight from the butcher this morning.

    There are even more baby strawberries and flowers today. I may have to consider getting the roof over that enclosure… Hey, the forget-me-not’s self-seed here, but they do disappear over the winter so maybe now is the time to get the seed into the garden. They enjoy a bit of shade too.

    Hehe! Good luck dealing with the two heads. That would surely be a massive challenge. 🙂 Has the snake disappeared?



  37. Hi Inge,

    Your nights are identical to the night time weather here. Did you spot any frost in the morning? We’ve had one frost after another this spring. The weather this year is very different to last spring, which was quite hot and dry. So far I haven’t had to water any of the plants and it looks as though it will rain again tomorrow. I’m not complaining though as hot and dry comes with significant risk.

    I’d feel a bit of both, but you know foraging is on a first come, first served basis. Did I ever mention the time I was manning a stall at the local sustainability festival and a lovely young couple approached me and demanded that I tell them where all of the gleaning opportunities were to be found in the area. I’m a very honest bloke, but on occasion when people really annoy me, well prevarication is the order of the day. What the young couple failed to understand was that I could have shown them, but they displayed a general lack of the social graces and so I sent them on their way in a disappointed state of mind. Of course they knew I was holding back, but you know that’s life and they had their chance. I’m really unsure what they possibly thought may have been in it for me? Dunno.

    The forest can certainly stand a few feral ornamental cherry trees and I do believe the birds may enjoy the sour cherries that they produce.

    Yes, biscuits and scones are what they’re called down here too. You never hear the word ‘cookie’ used down here.



  38. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, yeah the shed is coming along nicely. It was such a lovely day here today that we went off to the local tip shop to pick up some additional materials for the shed and do some other errands in the nearby town. I was really pleased to discover some steel flashing for around the door and also a bit of extra steel ridge capping for the very apex of the roof. Plus it just feels nice using stuff that other folks have chucked out. The funny thing is that all of the steel was brand new, but just off cuts and odd lengths that people couldn’t get their heads around how to use them. I’m sure you see a lot of that too.

    No worries at all, and a pre-fabricated shed is probably the way to go. And one can never have too many sheds! 🙂 In fact it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have too many sheds. Roof space is valuable real estate here!

    I don’t know how it goes in your part of the world, but asparagus crowns are sold during the winter when they’re dormant, so it may be that you’re not late, you might actually be too early? Dunno. How do you reckon your new place will go during the winter? Will the conditions be much the same as the old place? Do you have much wood put away for the winter?

    The pots are a good idea. The 28’F frost the other week destroyed the Vietnamese mint which had been growing for years and years. I’m waiting to see whether a new plant pops out of the ground. Hey, interestingly too, some of the avocado and pecan nut trees also lost their leaves in that particular frost (only some though) and now they’re re-growing them. It is interesting to watch and see how they cope and adapt.

    Top work for your daughter with the basil and cherry tomatoes grown in pots. A very wise way to go.

    Ah yes, thanks for the reminder about your experience with gluten. Yeah, it is a tough protein to consume. You might be interested but since I’ve been making homemade (and very much alive) yoghurt, my eczema has more or less completely cleared up. I read somewhere that other people had noticed that occurrence too. Mind you, I use very expensive organic full fat and un-homogenised (i.e. the fats are not stirred into the liquid) milk to make the yoghurt. It is good stuff and I recommend giving it a go? Dunno.

    Well, you know Patrick would have had a view of the world I reckon, and his understanding may have gotten locked down and getting him to change his worldview would have been a very difficult and complex process – if you could even manage such a thing. On the other hand there would have been times when both Patrick and Michael would have been fun central!

    You know I don’t honestly know enough about the technical side of that particular chemical. My understanding, and I could be very wrong, is that the chemical doesn’t kill the bacteria and fungi, what it does is stop the exchange of sugars from the plant to the soil life and the exchange of minerals between the soil life and the plant roots. Effectively both life forms starve and die. If that is indeed how it works, then it is probably contrary to the sort of goals I’m trying to achieve here. And who knows whether that effect will extend to your own personal flora and fauna. I honestly just don’t know.

    Master Fukuoka’s book has been circling around my awareness for quite a long while. I haven’t read it because it delves into esotericism which I’m not uncomfortable with, but I just sort of want to understand what I’m doing here. Given that, do you recommend Larry Korn’s book? I’m always intrigued by Master Fukuoka because he pinched some of my locally growing nitrogen fixing plants and how is that for a coincidence?



  39. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, I get that about the grains and I’m only very slowly increasing the areas under intense cultivation, so it is also complex for me to consider the growing space for grains too. We’ll see what next April achieves on that front.

    Berries are a good idea as they have very rapid returns – as does the chickpeas (which I really enjoy eating). Legumes are good to get a bit more nitrogen into the ground and a bit of protein in your guts anyway so they’re always worthwhile. It is hard to know exactly what minerals are missing from soil – which is why I always err on the side of adding more organic matter.

    Thank you! The discussion has been interesting for many years now, and I do enjoy the discussion rather than the sort of simple point scoring and social games that goes on elsewhere. I don’t know everything, and it is really helpful to get other people’s opinions and stories.

    Exactly, the two stories sound different, but they are unfortunately one story. When you think about it a bit it is sort of what you get… You know, for some reason people pull willows out of creeks and river systems and then other people complain when the water temperature gets too high over the summer and the trout die off. Then yet other people have to raise and release hatchlings into the waterways. You see, what nobody has failed to recognise is that if you muck around with the environment enough, you end up in the situation where you eventually have to spend all your time and effort managing it. The First Nations folk here knew that. Before the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires we apparently used to have native cats (Spotted Quolls) in this forest, but you know…

    Fair enough about the gluten – and to be honest you just have to do what works for you with food.

    Aren’t we all? 🙂 Possibly not…



  40. Chris:

    The copperhead has not been seen again. Yesterday I told my husband that we had probably scared him so badly (that snake looked really scared) when we encountered him that he had fled the area. Husband says: “Yeah, sure.”


  41. Hi Coco,

    Thank you on both fronts. The weeping cherry is about eight years old now and it is as very hardy as well as being a very beautiful tree.

    I like ‘see food’ too 🙂 and like you I can eat pretty much most food stuffs. The ‘see food’ is an old joke about seeing food and then eating it. Mmmm. Yummo! Gyros is a delightful meal. During the 1950’s and 1960’s we had a lot of immigrants from Greece and they brought the Gyros with them. We had the lamb / sheep. I’ve tasted those versions where the marinated lamb has been slow cooked whilst rotating over an open bed of charcoals. That is meat done properly. I’m salivating…

    You know even the thin yogurts will have good stuff in them. And I suspect that the commercial products use some sort of congealing agent. Dunno. My lot has whey in it and I pour that off and feed it to the dogs in their breakfast. They love the stuff and it is quite high in protein. Try to get your hands on some Bulgarian starter culture.

    Apparently many of the bacteria that form yoghurt can survive at low pH so yeah, it is a distinct possibility they might be able to survive in your gut. Of course pro-biotics can mean virtually anything, and why would a commercial producer supply you with a broad spectrum of life forms – and how the heck do they keep them all alive in the first place?

    Well yeah, whatever the livestock are eating – and the amount of exercise and cleanliness of their environment – will actually effect the quality of the animal products. Pasteurisation is necessary with milk because not all dairy farmers can maintain and supply a clean milking environment (or equipment) and cows often go to the toilet whilst being milked. I don’t know how it works nowadays, but back in the day the dairy farmers were paid based on the quality of the milk product and the cleaner they kept their systems, the higher the returns for the farmer. It is difficult to keep a dairy squeaky clean.

    Thanks! And I look forward to getting some strawberry harvest this year.



  42. @ Lew:

    If you don’t want a top bunk you can give them that old bromide about how high altitudes make your nose bleed.


  43. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I enjoy eating the horseradish leaves too, but something here also enjoys eating them and I have no idea what it is. The leaves get stripped back to their frames. The leaves surprisingly have a little radish sting to them which I quite enjoy. I found one horseradish root this year, and whilst it is not as big as a sugar beet, it is seriously getting up there. I grew a huge patch of the plant and gifted a few chunks to someone that I know who also loves the plant. I’d like to try ginger too, but I may have to grow it as an annual plant because the winters would be very hard on ginger.

    Well you know, we need flowering plants as much as edible plants and the two really go hand in hand. But I’m not pressed for space and can pretty much do whatever with the flowering plants. If I was pressed for space, my perspective would match yours to the letter.

    Went to the local tip shop today. And scored! Yay! I was looking for a couple of chunks of steel sheet for two different purposes on the new shed, and the tip shop delivered on both counts. I was pumped and when they told me the price I was even happier. It is going to rain tomorrow so I hope I get a chance over the next few days to continue working on the shed, but if not, next week should be fine too.

    Also whilst I was down in the nearby town I visited the local irrigation supplies shop. I love that shop and they’re really lovely and helpful people. So I picked up a couple of parts for the garden watering system (and for the new shed water system) and to my complete surprise they had everything that I was after, even stuff that I didn’t think that they’d have. Of course I’ve only recently learned what to ask for with that system, but there you go. Then after I got back home, the afternoon sun was nice and warm so I began chucking all the new parts into the water pump systems. And then before I knew it, it was dark and I had to work under lights in order to finish up. And whilst I had the work lights on me, a young owl swooped me – the cheeky scamp. I’ve been hearing the young owl with its parents flying around the place at night – hopefully they’re eating the rats. But yeah, swooping me is perhaps not cool. The young owl got a surprise when I noticed it and it flew rapidly away from me. I reckon they got a sugar glider one night because there was this awful scream from over near to the chicken enclosure. The gliders go there because they clean up the grains that end up outside the chicken enclosure.

    Hawthorne shrubs were historically used by the English as farm fences (and hedges I guess). The thorns are impenetrable to stock. I still see the shrubs on farms fence lines around here. I believe the berries were a traditional method of regulating irregular heart rates but I have no experience in that area. It is an interesting plant and the birds spread the berries far and wide around here and you can sometimes see the shrub pop up in unusual locations. One turned up in the orchard here and I’m just letting it go about its business (whatever that is). Holly gets big here too – and again that was used as fencing and hedging but way back in the day. What remains is the ghost of those old timer systems. They’re good if people take the time to get the systems up and running.

    Yeah, the quality of animal products really does vary with all sorts of things. Milk is a good one because when the cows start eating capeweed I notice that the milk gets a mildly sour taste which I don’t really like, but the cows have to eat something. But the pasture they’re fed on effects everything about the animals and it is hard to keep it consistent. I really like the local feed shop for the chickens feed and am fully aware that I would have to put at least half an acre to grains if I couldn’t get the feed for them. Or somehow train the dogs to guard them in the orchard all day long. Because we eat a lot of produce out of the garden, my diet really does vary with the season. I must confess to enjoying the summer / autumn breakfast fruit over the winter / spring breakfast fruit…

    Hehe! Top work with the pumpkins and you doubled my output from last summer. So much growing space for one big pumpkin. 🙂 Hehe! Funny stuff about the vividness and the sunglasses. What did they used to say: The future’s so bright, have to wear shades… I’ll bet your pumpkin tasted good too? And a big hit of pumpkin cleans the internals in a most definite sort of a way.

    Do you find out whether you have to nip back to get the wound packed? I hear you about not wanting to dash back, but then if it has to be done, it has to be done. The alternative in this case is worse.

    Well, because the European honey bees have specialised roles in the hive, if contaminated pollen and nectar gets returned to the hive, then other bees get a good dose of unpleasantness. The bumble bees and other indigenous bees if only because they’re all spread out, they might dodge that problem. Mate, I tell ya doomsteaders and preppers bore the daylights out of me. They never quite get around to recalling that eventually they have to produce something worthwhile that is needed. They just don’t get it.

    A blueberry festival is a fine idea and I’m honestly in awe of the harvests that you get of those delightful berries. Hey, some of my lot have produced flowers today. So early. Fingers crossed that they know what they’re doing. Actually the entire bushes are really attractive aren’t they?

    You’re a better man than I, as those sleeping arrangements are my nightmare. I’m a bit spoiled for space, and that has perhaps has indeed made me spoiled… Of course I do realise that the word ‘spoiled’ is not a good thing, if only because it can be interpreted also as being ruined… Oh well.

    You’ll be fine. As a suggestion, take quality ear plugs. Up or down. Oh no. What a decision. Mate, I can’t even formulate a coherent opinion on the matter. If pressed for a definitive response, I’d suggest down only because of the convenience.

    As a suggestion, go for Britain, but then it is heading towards winter. Anyway, the supply lines to get down here would be a bit too long for a military force. The Japanese may have bombed Darwin during WWII, but they had really stretched their supply lines a long way, not that we knew that at the time.

    Speaking about up north, an early cyclone has formed near to the Solomon Islands. I believe it may have been a record for them because of the time of year, although we had one in July 2015: Season’s first southern hemisphere tropical cyclone .



  44. Hi Pam,

    Was that a mutual scaring? I’ve accidentally done that trick when I’ve almost bumped into people in warehouses. I jumped out of my skin and so did they! Hehe! What do they say about where there is one, there are more?



  45. Yo, Chris – I really couldn’t taste the horseradish leaves, as I tossed them into rice with a variety of other veg. I’ll have to give them a whirl with rice and not much else. The young leaves I picked didn’t have much damage. Not so much I couldn’t just rip it out. The slugs seem to really like the horseradish. It’s quit the lure. :-). That also seems to be where the grasshoppers hang out.

    Congrats on the successful trip to the local tip shop. Score! Ah, the thrill of the hunt.

    The sugar glider might have been bi-product damage. The owls were probably hoping for a stray chicken and a nice chicken dinner! :-).

    Eggs are fascinating. I have a copy of Ruhlman’s “Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient.” Chock full of egg lore and recipes. Michael Ruhlman writes several cookbooks … all good. I found his “Ratio” quit useful and thought provoking.

    I’m off to get my “wound repacked”, this morning. I’ll find out what’s what, then. Fingers crossed. Then, home, nap, finish packing, and away I go! I will now be observing radio silence, until Sunday or Monday. Talk amongst yourselves. 🙂

    “Future’s so bright, I have to wear shades.” That’s a song lyric that will nag at the brain until I run it down. Lew

  46. Hello again
    It has warmed up today 41F last night and 70F this afternoon. Woken this morning by the fog horns.I don’t think that we have had any frost yet but I am not an early riser, only when I am being taken shopping and then I have to use an alarm to get myself up early, ugh.
    Have to admit that the only time that I told my son of fungi whereabouts was when the ground was carpeted in them.
    I thought that milk was pasteurised to prevent TB. My sister had TB so I do only drink pasteurised milk.
    What are gyros? I have never heard of them; shall have to look them up.


  47. Chris,

    We just hit my busy extended weekend. The wood carving club I attend has its annual public show. I have responsibilities. I’ll be occupied with that for the next few days. I look forward to returning next week.


  48. Hi Lewis,

    Well it’s official. I’m a numbnut. No, please don’t argue because when all is said and done, I cannot deny the claim! 🙂 Your longer comment ended up in the ‘Trash’ area on the comments page for some unknown stupid computer reason, and so all I saw was your second comment. Far out. Occasionally comments do end up in the Trash and I can’t work out why. I might have to take a look at that tonight. I was going to write tonight, but I reckon I’ll do that tomorrow night. The brain has just not kicked into gear this evening. It is like what you wrote long ago: Sometimes you’re hot, and sometimes you’re not. And tonight my brain must be in the way deep freezer. 🙂 Hehe!

    Of course there is a reason for this brain freeze. I met a couple of neighbours this morning who told me that the burn off restrictions maybe coming into force in two weeks. Only two weeks!!!! Oh well. Today was very cold and drizzly and I dropped what I was going to do and instead spent the day cutting up the humongous branch that had fallen at the bottom of the shady orchard. The trunk was several foot thick in places.

    Anyway, I burned off all the leaves and small sticks and then cut the entire length up for firewood for use next year. At a rough guess the huge branch contained about a month’s worth of firewood. I moved all of the cut up chunks into the sun for further drying over the next few months. And then just because I hadn’t done enough work, I took the self propelled mower out for a spin and ran it over the entire area where the branch had fallen. The mower is a handy tool because it chops up all of the organic matter into much smaller pieces which readily break down into quality top soil.

    Then the rain hit big time and the editor remarked (from a dry location) that I looked like a half drowned rat – which was very true! As the rain fell, I chucked a few bins of used coffee grounds over the area. I’m observing that the more I manage the understory plants in the forest whilst building soil there, the healthier it looks – and the thicker the eucalyptus canopy.

    I forgot to mention – I had to do the job today in the cold and rain because the huge branch fell in front of one of the bee hives – and if the weather was better, they’d happily investigate what I was up to. And the first rule of beekeeping is: Don’t annoy the bees. Which is rather unlike the first rule of Fight Club which was from memory something like: Don’t talk about Fight Club. We can talk about the bees, but they’re a law unto themselves and their purpose packs a sting…

    Far out, glad you tracked down the lyrics. The song sounds so bright and cheery, but was actually an ironic and dark take on the world. I actually hadn’t picked that, but you may have heard the little ear worm way back in the day to. I found it interesting that they refused to sell the rights to use the song. And the list of entities courting them did not make for pleasant reading. You know, it is nice that not everything is for sale and I support those folks decision.

    Thanks for the tip about the horseradish leaves. We have both slugs and grasshoppers so it is probably one of those two. One of the reasons I’m a big fan of that plant is because it has the ability to produce fresh greens in high summer when other less hardy greens are falling by the wayside. The tuber sure would contain a lot of energy that the plant can draw upon.

    I started giving some thoughts to setting up the irrigation and watering systems for the blackberry / strawberry / corn enclosures today. Last October was so hot and dry, but I have a suspicion that we are seeing the normal October dry season right now. Anyway, time will tell.

    Thank you and it is nice to head out on a hunter gatherer excursion in order to see what goodies can be obtained! 🙂

    Probably, the owls don’t have the slightest chance of a chicken dinner. Unless they change their stripes and fly about in the early evening which is not out of the question. But then the owls have to contend with the Wedge Tail Eagles and all of the other daytime birds which may decide to give the owls ‘what for’. Nobody really wants to get a: what for! Honestly, the whole thing is a delicate balance and I’m loath to change anything.

    Eggs are interesting and the protein content of the eggs would change as the chickens diet also changes.

    Best wishes for the retreat and I look forward to a full report! 🙂

    Cheers and have fun!


  49. Hi Inge,

    It was very cold and drizzly here today and it didn’t get much past 50’F and so your weather sounds very nice indeed to my ears. 70’F is a beautiful daytime temperature. So nice! It is now only 37’F outside and it looks as though another frost will happen tomorrow morning. I can’t recall a spring like this one for many years.

    I took advantage of the very cold and drizzly day to cut up a huge branch that had fallen at the bottom of the shady orchard many months ago. The Aboriginals used to call what I did down there on the edge of the forest: ‘Cleaning up’. It is such great way of describing the process and for the life of me, I can’t think of a better way of describing it. The Eucalyptus leaves are so full of oils that burning them or chopping them up into smaller chunks really does initiate the release of a huge array of minerals into the environment.

    Out of curiosity, has anyone recognised your woodlands and forest for what they are, and tried to study it and/or take samples maybe so as to replicate it?

    Early mornings are just not on. We are in complete agreement upon this matter. It is very uncivilised, but alas we do appear to be in the minority on this most important of matters. It is little wonder to me that people are grumpy if they have to get up so early.

    No worries at all and I get that. I rarely speak about the fungi here because the implications for misidentification are pretty serious.

    Oh! Well I had always believed that TB was contracted by being in immediate and intimate contact with a person who suffers from it. Back in the day houses were quarantined for good reason – and a little bit higher up the mountain they used to have a sanatorium where sufferers could breathe fresh mountain air far away from everyone else and hopefully recover. Maybe… The lake for the water supply for that place is still in existence.

    Generally milk is pasteurised in order to kill off bacteria that may have contaminated it. Raw milk is a good thing, but you have to know what conditions the cows are milked in. And we are all a little removed from such processes (with the exception of Damo who lived on a dairy farm as a kid) these days.

    Gyros or gyro are really tasty. Yum! Think lamb slow roasted over a charcoal spit. Cut chunks of lamb are chucked into pita bread and lettuce, tomato, are added. Coco, mentioned that it is optional to add a yoghurt and garlic dressing. That is the traditional gyros. I’m salivating now thinking of this delightful food.



  50. Hello again
    Cattle get TB and still have to be put down for that reason.
    A zoologist friend once said that my woodland should be thoroughly looked at. Unfortunately he went to Canada and died young. Natural England who have total power where my woodland is concerned, are unspeakably ignorant. Their desk wallahs take a walk through every now and then. Actually due to some work that they insisted on and which left me financially out of pocket regardless of their financial grant, there are now inpenetrable areas due to bramble. I could snarl on and on but I won’t.


  51. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the laugh. Desk wallah is a new one for me! 🙂 I’ve met actual wallah’s in India and they appeared to know their jobs pretty well, but your point is taken. Yup, there is a huge chasm between desk knowledge and first hand experience.

    It sadly happens here too. Not many people actually understand the forest, and the people who decide upon the controls, generally live in urban areas (which they never quite realise may once have been forests or extensive wildflower meadows). I honestly don’t know what to make of the situation. But I do know that eventually things will change, and probably for the better.



  52. @DJspo

    The only fermented vegetables I do are kimchi and sauerkraut. I also brew kombucha. Thanks for the info regarding flours.


  53. Hi Chris,

    Doug has filled up the present building (which is much smaller than what he had) so another building is really pretty necessary. My gardening equipment/supplies need a home too. We would like to be able to put cars in the garage before winter.

    The time to get asparagus crowns is very early spring. I thought I had seen some for sale on the internet for fall delivery but discovered it was more for different areas of the country.

    We’re only seven mile west of our old home so winter should be pretty much the same. The way to the closest town (also seven mile further) is on a very open highway subject to much drifting.

    Yes, frost can be pretty damaging. I picked more berries this week but they will only be available until frost and the first one is forecast for tonight – somewhat earlier than normal. Only going to 32 though so may not be too bad. I noted that there will still lots of blackberries coming and wouldn’t mind getting more of those.

    It’s going to be interesting to observe what grows and what doesn’t around here and I have more time to actually pay attention to it. We found we have three chestnut trees on the property too!!

    I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s become really difficult to find milk that isn’t ultra-pasteurized. I tried some different cultures and they just didn’t work at all.

    I’ve enjoyed Korn’s book as he lived with Fukuoka for several years while a young man. He does a pretty good job describing his philosophy as well as describing the differences between Fukuoka’s methods (really more like indigenous methods) and other methods. I was particularly interested in his thoughts on permaculture. I’m going to include this link to a three year old podcast of an interview with Korn. https://www.rootsimple.com/2015/10/064-one-straw-revolutionary-larry-korn/


  54. Hi Margaret,

    I had to laugh at your comment: “another building is really pretty necessary”, if only because I’m in the middle of building another such thing myself! Hehe! And I’m laughing with you too. It is really hard being on a farm with not enough out-buildings. Forget about the house, who cares if it is small or what, but the out-buildings are everything in a rural area. We moved to the necessity for another building when I brought back the self propelled mower to the property a few months back. 🙂 It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

    That makes sense given your cold winters. The crowns are available here during the winter because the ground is rarely frozen (and even then it is only briefly for a couple of hours). Did I mention that Ollie decided to chew some of the asparagus yesterday? There were words spoken between Ollie and I. It is nice that Ollie is a quick student. He was just hungry, and being 66 pounds he needs a lot of feeding, but not the fresh asparagus spears… Leo and Salve would never do such a thing! Would they?

    Oh, that’s an interesting comparison. We’re a little bit closer to town, but not by much. By ‘drifting’ do you mean frozen roads, snow drift, or hoons in vehicles spinning their tyres? We sometimes get that later form on the steeper bits of the road. They chuck a bit of oil on the road and then light the car tyres up by spinning them. One would think that such an activity is only possible when a person can afford to replace their car tyres…

    Top work with the blackberry picking – and they make one of my favourite jams. Very tasty. I used to feel conflicted about blackberries, nowadays I just pick all of the berries and that seems to put an end to their dreaded reputation. Although I have seen land where the bramble berries have taken over and it is not a nice thing for the local ecology. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that foxes tend to eat the black berries here too.

    Three chestnut trees is a very good score. They’re beautiful trees, and the nuts are even tastier roasted. Yum! I wear welding gloves when I handle the burrs of those nuts which are really unpleasantly spikey. But yeah, observation is the way to go. And you have the advantage of having experience to draw upon to make sense of your observations. Does the new place have a horse chestnut by chance?

    Of course, I do recall you mentioning the problems with ultra-pasteurized milk. Down here they sell that stuff in sealed cartons where it has a long shelf life. I have no idea what sort of consequences there would be for that sort of heating process but surely it wouldn’t be good for the proteins.

    Thanks very much for the link to the podcast. I enjoyed listening to it on my way into the big smoke today for the Green Wizards meeting. I really enjoyed the podcast and all of the techniques and philosophy sounded eminently plausible. I too enjoyed the critique of Permaculture and the comments made sounded pretty fair to me. There is always middle ground between these things and you know, it is really up to the likes of you and I to pick and choose what works well. I mean something’s work well here, whilst others don’t and one of the great things about avoiding dogma is that you can just get on and give things a go – and then see what happens. It might just work! I for one found that a food forest as described elsewhere (and in the podcast) created a lot of opportunity for rats and bugs that enjoyed eating the bark off the fruit trees. But can a modified form of it suited to a cold and humid environment work well, you betcha.

    The Green Wizards meeting today was excellent too. Good fun.



  55. Hello again
    I have been having a think about woodland and have decided that it can either be managed or left to its own devices. Doesn’t matter which but there mustn’t be chop and change about. My woodland was managed from the early 17th century and then ‘Rural England’ came along and stopped all work on it. So it did what it wanted for about 50 years. It had just about settled into a routine of its own when ‘Rural England’ changed their minds and demanded and tried to finance work on it. They dictated exactly what was to be cut. Those areas are now an overgrown disaster and are impenetrable.
    So manage or don’t manage but no mixing.


  56. Hi Inge,

    I totally agree. There is a bit of middle ground, but you have to know what you’re doing – and that is not always the case with myself, but I am learning. It is interesting that you mention this topic, as I am busily writing about it right now and should publish it tomorrow morning!



  57. Hi Chris,
    Actually neither dog has eaten any of my garden plants though they enjoy grass from time to time. Of course when they eat grass it often indicates a bit of an upset stomach and comes back up a gain – usually in the house.

    Glad you enjoyed the podcast. I have a couple friends who have taken the permaculture course at over $1,000 and are now certified to teach. That they do but they themselves only grow a small amount of food as they are busy teaching instead. One teaches a permaculture course at one of the nearby community colleges, however, and that is offered at a much lower price. Rather than an entire week of intensive training it runs over a semester on Saturdays like a regular college course. I do a session about raising chickens and goats on one of the Saturdays. Growing a food forest or going the natural farming route as Fukuoka did you have to be able to play the long game.

    What was your Green Wizards program about this time? I’m jealous you have a group like that and it seems to have gone on for quite awhile.


  58. @Inge

    Masanobu Fukuoka found the same thing with his orchard. Trees that had been pruned could not be left to their own devices but rather had to be continued to be pruned but those that had never been produced quite well on their own.


  59. Yo, Chris – No worries about the lost post. Lose a bit of my deathless prose, and the world still spins. :-). Besides, any future misunderstandings can be blamed on the lost post. “Oh, I’m sure that was covered in The Lost Post. :-).

    I remember when the big branch came down and almost took out your bee hive. Either the bees or you must be living right, to avoid that disaster. A months firewood? That IS a big branch.

    I just give the slugs on the horseradish a little spritz of ammonia, and no more slug. I must say I am still surprised that I have noticed no damage to any plants I’ve sprayed.

    Well, I’m home from the retreat and I think a long nap is in my near future. I had a good time and met lots of interesting people. Their were some very weird, unexpected connections. I get the prize. I was talking to a young man and we discovered that I knew his dad and step-mom, back in the 80s. AND had babysat him a few times! There was also a library employee. After my time. Financial officer and accountant (!). He’s visited all the branches and we know a lot of people in common. It was nice that he wasn’t a “licensed” librarian, as they can be a bit starchy about non-degreed library workers.

    The whole thing is a volunteer effort, and, all together about 120 were there. Mostly from Seattle and Tacoma. But also Portland, and points south. There were a few people from Florida and Boston. There was quit a contingent from Canada. Those people had a horrendous time at the border. I heard a rumor that a couple were turned back.

    The food was very good. I pretty much stuck with the vegetarian fare. A little heavy on the kale, arugala (sp?) and celantro (sp?), but still, very good. I volunteered for three hours dish washing in the kitchen. Meal prep time, so mostly pots and pans. Also did some food prep. Learned some knife skills. I was NOT responsible for the small kitchen fire. Oh, well. No harm done, though the asparagus had a slightly charred flavor.

    I was assigned to be in THE farthest cabin. Turned out there were only three of us, assigned to it. Which made for a tight little group. One of the fellows has a stroke of genius (which I told him, several times) and put a multi colored disco light on the porch. Made it so easy to zero in on, in the deep dark woods. And deep and dark they were. Hiking around in the dark with a tiny flash light, was an adventure. We saw lots of bunnies and deer, so I figure there were no cougars around.

    I wondered how much “technology” would be in evidence. Turned out, the reception was VERY spotty. No one had a breakdown or went screaming into the woods. No one threw themselves into the lake. Several people stated they were rather relieved, and several said it made them think about their relationships with technology. I don’t expect many of them will follow through, on that. Old cynic that I am. :-).

    I saw no fungi of any kind. Not enough rain yet. We had, generally, glorious weather, until last night. Then came the rain, but not bad enough to keep anyone away from the bonfire. We’re a tough lot. Or, just foolish.

    Well, I’ve banged on enough about the retreat. If anyone has any more questions, just ask away. Lew

  60. @ Pam – The bunk beds were ideal for me (and my back). Solid wood slab with a foam pad on top. Given our cabin was a bit underpopulated, I pretty much had a choice. I slept up top, the first night. Comfy, but getting up there and down was an ordeal.

    So, the next night, I just said to myself, “Well, Lew, you’ve proved your point. Now get sensible and move to the lower bunk. Which I did. Lew

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