War on worms

People are concerned about the War on Waste. I’m not concerned about the War of Waste, because I’d have to suggest that as a species we’re pretty good at creating waste, which is a good thing for the ongoing war efforts.

The other day, I was thinking about the ongoing war as I watched a bull-ant drag off the carcass of a European honey bee, if only because there is very little waste in nature.

A bull-ant drags away the carcass of a European honey bee

Bull-ants are vicious little critters and despite their diminutive size, they pack an authoritative punch. I have no doubt that the ant and the bee fought an epic, (but ultimately futile for the bee) battle. And I’m almost certain that the ants ate every chunk of the bee, given the huge effort the much smaller ant performed just to haul the bee back into the colony.

In stark contrast, our species is really good at producing waste. In an amusing side story, a few months back I was at a cafe ordering a coffee, when the delightful barista (who I’ve known for many years) asked if I would prefer a ‘take away’ coffee, served in a plastic lined cardboard cup. To me, that was an unexpected question, so I gave her my best inscrutable face, which most likely came across as me looking a bit dazed and confused, and then remarked that: “Life was too short for take away coffee”. And to my utter amazement and delight, she heartily agreed with me (out of ear shot of other patrons ordering take away coffee of course!)

I like to support the ongoing war of waste efforts, and this week I delivered a sound blow for the powers that be. We replaced the dirt mouse vehicle (a Suzuki Swift) with a new dirt mouse vehicle (another Suzuki Swift). Inscrutable folks may wisely proclaim: Same, same, but different – and they’d be making an accurate assessment of the situation – although the newer dirt mouse is significantly lighter, has a smaller engine, and uses only two thirds of the fuel of the original dirt mouse (which didn’t use much fuel to begin with).

Over the past year, we’d spent a third of the value of a replacement vehicle on repairs to the dirt mouse, and we can’t sustain that sort of ongoing expenditure. We drew a line in the sand which proclaimed that we had spent enough on the old dirt mouse. The thing is, we have no idea whether the high rate of repairs would have continued into the foreseeable future. But my darker thoughts suggest to me that the machine was never designed and constructed to be repaired for the long term.

A new lighter weight and smaller capacity engine dirt mouse sits next to the old dirt mouse

Waste is such a strange concept. We work to earn money, so that we can purchase items that someone else produced. The item has ongoing costs to operate and maintain it, which means that we have to work in order to pay for that to. And then we dispose of the item at the end of its lifespan (or when we get bored with it). Given that situation, it is best to keep costs low in the first place, and then maybe you wont have to work as hard.

The car dealer told me that old dirt mouse is going to a good home, but they may have just been saying that to me in order to allay my feelings of unease about the waste.

Waste is a real problem at the farm, because I have no garbage services. In fact, apart from the road which the local council taxes me to maintain, the property has no services connected to it. We are on our own, and simply have to do our best not to make a mess of things. Readers may have noticed that we are neat! However, this also means that the war on waste is on our minds a lot of the time. And a few weeks back, I had to concern myself with how that war was impacting the worms.

Scritchy the boss dog was scratching the skin on her back. She didn’t have fleas or lice, and I couldn’t see any tick activity. So, I thought to myself that maybe she has worms. I looked into my collection of dog medicines, and discovered a couple of anti-worm tablets (which were not even out of date).  We obtained those tablets when we purchased Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who despite his futile efforts at impersonating a lap dog, is actually an Australian cattle dog).

The fluffy collective of canines are all different sizes, so in order to provide them with the correct dosage for the anti-worming medicine, I had to cut and crush the tablets up on a timber chopping board. Then I fed the tablets to the dogs.

Feeling satisfied in a job well done, I washed up the timber chopping board and knife, both of which had remnants from the tablet crushing activity. It was at that point, I realised that I’d just washed anti-worming agents down the sink and into the ‘worm farm’ sewage system. That was clever.

Fortunately the worm farm sewage system is quite large – and very full of life (I inspect it daily – and it is quite odour free). But no doubts about it, I killed a few worms in there through my act of ignorance. And for a few days, the dogs did the sloppiest dog poo’s that I had ever seen. And on reflection, Scritchy the boss dog, probably had an itchy back because she had been bitten by a bull-ant.

I’m going to declare that the weather this season is the most bonkers ever. In early spring, the farm got hit by daily frosts. The frosts were unrelenting, and I experienced the coldest weather here that I’d experienced in over a decade of residency at the farm (-2’C / 28’F). The seasons crop of apricots and plums were mostly destroyed, although the trees are doing well. And now, in between gloriously sunny and warm late spring days, we get epic storms that drop the temperature back to late winter conditions. This week was no exception.

A storm dropped the temperature and delivered solid rain

But in between the storms, the sun shines strongly and it is now hot enough to burn your skin if you are out in the midday sun. We’ve again set up an outside kitchen as there is no point heating the inside of the house on a hot day. In the next photo, you can see a tray of dog biscuits baking outside away using the solar power.

Low key outdoor kitchen

I’m not complaining about the storms because I appreciate the regular rainfall. These sorts of highly variable seasons favour the strategy of growing a diversity of plants. And this year looks as though it may be a bumper year for the apples and berries. The parrots are also enjoying the many berries – and I’m not enjoying that.

A mostly eaten sun ripened strawberry that a parrot has discarded because I frightened it

Regular readers will recall that last week we began constructing the steel supports over the strawberry enclosure so that we could cover the roof with galvanised steel mesh. This week, after two days of work, there is now a steel mesh roof over the strawberry enclosure.

Looking up at the strawberry enclosure from the blackberry terrace
The two terraces have now taken their ultimate form!

Unfortunately for us, the local parrots are very clever birds. In fact an argument could be made that they constantly test both our mettle and our metal systems. On the same day that we completed installing the steel mesh roofing, a parrot managed to break into the enclosure.

A juvenile parrot broke into the apparently bird proof fruit cage

It was polite of the parrots to alert us to this problem – which is now fixed (hopefully). (Postscript: There have been several break in’s since I typed that yesterday – and we have been rapidly Borg-like adapting to the parrots machinations).

A cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost and fine mulch was placed on the flat land on the next terrace above this fruit cage. We haven’t dug the terrace yet (a job for next winter), but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t use the small amount flat land to grow pumpkins (some people call them by their less polite name: squashes) and various melons.

The author sits on the yet-to-be-dug terrace where melons and pumpkins will be grown

The many varieties of elderberry have produced prolific flower displays. We’re turning those prolific flower displays into elderberry flower wine. It is an excellent drop and I recommend it thoroughly.

Elderflowers produce a superb tasting country wine
Two demijohns of elderflower wine cooking away in the late spring sunshine (and there are another two demijohns brewing away)

In breaking produce news:

The first of the seasons zucchini (courgette) plants have sprung from the soil
Corn is growing fast
Hopefully the apple harvest will be epic this year – and we will bottle them
Chilean guava’s also look set to produce a good harvest
Blueberries enjoy the warm and humid spring weather
These look like tiny little kiwi fruits
The future blackberry harvest is looking good too

Onto the flowers:

This succulent produces stunning and very bright flowers
The view from the kitchen window
We grow a wide variety of colourful daisies
Californian poppies and cat-mint make a great border
The bees love this salvia
How awesome are these poppies?

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 791.1mm (31.1 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 785.0mm (30.9 inches).

64 thoughts on “War on worms”

  1. Hi Margaret,

    Life has a way of rounding off a person’s sharper edges, and Marty clearly has experienced a bit of that. Mind you, I have noticed that some very high functioning folks have difficulty empathising with the plight of others, and to be honest that is as hard on them (the missed social cues) as it is on the people around them – and I’ve encountered a few people like that and can cut them some slack. Just for your info, I once had a girlfriend who displayed the tendencies of a hypochondriac, and that was a deal breaker for me because that pattern was set in stone, and it was I who unfortunately had trouble empathising (a rare moment for me). I’m not a good sick person, but that is largely due to a very wide streak of independence (which can be a bit of a curse on minor occasions).

    I really enjoyed that film and Dustin Hoffman played the character to perfection, but I also enjoyed how the brother (played by Tom Cruise) softened to him as the film went on. Gwen surely would provide a dash of colour to any family event!

    It was such a warm evening tonight that I opened both bee hives to see how they were going. Unfortunately, when I removed the very fancy lid off the horizontal bee hive, the bees had glued five frames to the base of the lid. As they do. But I was in such a position that I couldn’t see that the frames were stuck to the lid. I looked into the hive and my first thought was that someone had stolen the hive frames! Well, what a drama ensued because I lifted not only the lid on a horizontal hive (no small weight in itself), but also five full frames of brood, honey and bees. The bees are very annoyed with me now. Hopefully they forgive (hardly likely) because I extended their hive by another six frames.

    I concur, and Lady Gaga really smashed that role out of the ballpark. What a voice.

    Well you are in good company, because I don’t recall much of the late 80’s either… 🙂



  2. Hi Pam,

    Vehicles are a really tough thing for wild birds to comprehend. And the same goes for most of the forest critters. When I’m in the forest at night in a vehicle I rarely drive faster than 25m/h (40km/h) because you have no chance of stopping otherwise. Fortunately there is not much vehicle traffic up here, but it breaks my heart to see a squashed wombat, wallaby or kangaroo. Mind you, most vehicles (other than very large trucks) don’t come away from an unexpected encounter with a kangaroo without significant damage. Country people often scan the sides of the roads for wildlife as they drive along.

    Out of curiosity, have the wild turkeys mixed their genetics with the larger captive turkeys? I would have thought that the wild birds were a bit smarter and more agile than their – bred for meat – cousins? Dunno. Turkey is a rare meat down here.

    Ouch. My experience with the steel used in fireboxes has not been good. Although the outer lining to your cast iron oven may be some sort of enamel (whatever that is). As a wild guess, I reckon the warped components inside the combustion chamber may be plate steel which is a multi-layered material which can expand and contract at different rates. If it is flaking then the material is plate steel. The warping was one of the issues with our old wood firebox. Steel is a funny product, but there are some steel products that might extend the life of your firebox. Boiler plate steel comes to mind as does Bisalloy – even stainless steel plate is pretty handy stuff if you can get your hands on it. But you could go full on space shuttle and cement (using high temperature cement not the ordinary stuff) in ceramics or fire bricks… We destroyed the last wood heater – it was not pretty and there was some serious soul searching.

    Power out for two days… Ouch. Such weather makes someone pleased at a wood heater and/or propane! Yeah, the freeze and thaw really can damage the trees and provide a bonus supply of firewood. Stay safe, and don’t work under large trees.



  3. Hi Inge,

    I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I did let that bird go, and then the next one I also let go, but then I got Ollie to quickly sort out the third parrot. After that we had to spend another hour plugging up every minor gap that we could find. It was entirely our fault because we’d sealed the cage up well, but not well enough. The birds managed to get in, but they could not get out again. And after the final round of sealing minor gaps, tonight we managed to harvest a dozen strawberries – and all the while the parrots were hanging around the fruit cage telling us sad stories of woe. Clearly they had gorged upon strawberries for the past two years. What I’m probably going to have to do is plant out some strawberries (possibly in the fern gully) that the parrots can enjoy. I have to feed not only ourselves, but also every single denizen that lives in the surrounding forest. Not an easy thing to achieve. Other than the parrots, nothing else that I’m aware of gets trapped, but it is a delightful and courteous thing for you to do. And yeah, I don’t use bird netting for that reason that the birds get caught in it – and like you have noticed, they’re not happy about it.

    Yeah, the rats and mice all seek shelter in late autumn here too. I just hope that they don’t chew on the wiring or plumbing. It is precarious for them because they have to venture from their shelter and they are picked off by the owls. It is pretty brutal out there.

    Glad to read that you were unharmed in the slip. Just for your interest, we added sand to the paint on some of the steel steps, but timber can be a particularly slippery surface which I don’t use. In really damp areas in this part of the world, I’ve noticed that chicken wire is often used over a timber surface so as to give it a non-slip surface in all weather. It doesn’t look good, but it works. Rubber matting is a good idea, but the sun (down here) would break it down quickly.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Well the nectarines and peaches can initially suffer a bit from curly leaf – which is a fungus, but they recover really quickly and I haven’t seen any way around that fungi and I don’t even spray the trees these days as it seems like a waste of time and the trees do get hardier over the years. Mostly the serious UV acts as a sterilising agent and so most fungi retreat into the soil over the growing seasons. Of course plants grown in infertile soil are fair game for any hungry fungi!

    I took the English translation of the word: “strawberry” literally and placed a good layer of straw underneath the plants. According to Dr Louis Glowinski, who penned the most excellent book (highly recommended): “The complete book of fruit growing in Australia”, he suggests that the genus is derived from the Latin: Fragaria which means ‘fragrant’. But the name the author suggests is much harder to pin down, but he suggests looking at the old Anglo-Saxon name ‘streawberige’ and note that the word ‘streaw’ means to spread, scatter or stray, then he goes on to suggest that the inclination of the plant to produce runners is where the name derives from, and he doubts the coincidence of the word ‘straw’. Dunno, but the berries sure are good – and we harvested a dozen of them this evening. I feel a bit bad because we let two parrots go that had snuck into the fruit cage, but I let Ollie sort the third one out – which he did rather rapidly. We then had to put in another hours work closing up any small points of entrance into the fruit cage, and all the while the parrots were very grumpily making their presence known to us.

    But I reckon I managed to annoy the bees even more than the parrots tonight. It is an impressive effort as the bees pack some serious authority. I removed the lid to one hive only to discover that five frames had been glued to the underside of the lid and I placed those frames with the lid to one side (I couldn’t see that they were there). Well, you learn something new every day… Hopefully the bees forgive me as I gave them access to another six frames. When I looked into the hive box and saw the massive gap (the frames were relocated with the roof!) I thought that someone had nicked the hive and left the guts of it empty… That would be a huge error on their part, but you know…

    Ah, what a difference a world away makes. Bank cheques are as good as cash down here, if they are produced by the bearer. When I was in Indonesia last century, I purchased an item of furniture and it required a hugely thick wad of mad cash… That was a minor safety concern and also a lesson on the money system.

    I reckon some of the depression arises from males socially isolating themselves. I have a good collection of friends, but I had to work at that, and I know plenty of males that don’t have any (or even a few) friends and I wonder what kind of story is that? Dunno. But by and large it is their choice to isolate themselves and often they’re not particularly nice about those who don’t wish to do that.

    Yeah, I can see that about the speed lines and stylised patterns. The Art Deco buildings that I’ve seen were generally quite well constructed, although the fit out is usually pretty basic. A lot of the detail features were constructed out of plaster too so I wonder if they’d somehow learned to produce larger items of plaster?

    Definitely take the credit! 🙂 Someone has to do such things as the items don’t materialise via way of a replicator (mate, I had to really try hard to work in a Star Trek reference!) Hey, I move items on that still have a useful life, but I see no future with. And most of the time I drop them onto an auction site for $0.01 with no reserve, and just let the cards fall where they will. Despite having many sheds, I don’t like extraneous stuff hanging around either. Some farms look like junk yards to me, and I often wonder at the scrap metal value of those places.

    By most accounts the Japanese did not treat our POW’s very well at all – and the Thai-Burma railway was a good example of that. The film of the ‘Bridge on the river Kwai’, painted a picture which was not supported by reality. But then the Japanese were equally hard on their own servicemen and often sent them to extremes with few supplies (or deliberately to their deaths). The bombing was equally horrendous, but so too was the fire bombing of Dresden, or the random VII rocket attacks. A crazy outcome for a crazy time.

    I knew a person many decades ago that was fluent in German and he said that speaking German for a person a native English speaker was like trying to talk square words out of a round mouth. Now obviously, I really had no idea what they were on about, but it certainly left an impression. So yeah, I can well understand how a translation from German into English might not read all that well without a strong editor. What did you think about the contents and general thrust of the book?

    Have you been reading: This Victorian Life again? Hehe! We’re scoring pea soupers down here too… Speaking of which an inch of rain is set to fall over the farm over the next few days. It is called a ‘cut off low’ whatever that means, although it looks as if it originated down near to Antarctica (a cold place to be sure). Incidentally, the author was onto something as there are plenty of useful technologies that are useless without the suite that supports them. Take line trimmers for one instance. Most people use two stroke petrol devices, but then there is the ongoing support for the machine, not to mention the fuel and plastic used in the line. I use electric, but that still needs the plastic and electricity, but overall is a simpler device. Now a scythe will do the same job, but at a much lower technology scale, but then you might need a sharpening stone (or leather strop) and not to mention a competent carpenter to make the handle and a blacksmith to forge the blade and attachment.

    Mate, and that is just one of many items that we use each and everyday without the slightest second thought.

    Hope the bees don’t come and get me, I really annoyed them through my accidental blundering!

    Thought you might be interested in this article: Scientists unravel secret of cube-shaped wombat faeces . Blessed are the wombats.



  5. Fencing our food: Ha! After we first put up our deer fencing around the gardens, we found out the rabbits then took over the depredation role, and had to add tighter fencing. Now the voles are taking their turn, and we are currently at an impasse. Losses are noticeable, but not disastrous. I now call the garden fence the maginot line.

    And now a total non sequitur: I ran a cross this, and knew this group would find something to say about it. Maybe you’ve already talked about it in a past post I missed? Who knew? The crazy patchwork quilt of natural variation.

  6. Yo, Chris – The worming medication story is a good example of unintended consequences. But the bit of residue on the knife and cutting board probably wouldn’t create much of a problem.

    I’m calling it. Our first frost was last night. Not much of a frost, but a bit on the car windshields. Official temperatures have been at freezing (or, slightly below) for longer than a week, but our official weather station is down at the airport. Which is quit a bit lower in elevation than us folks up here on the hill. And, as cold sinks to low spots, I’d guess they get lower temperatures, down there, than we do, up here.

    So your oven is using power directly from the sun? :-). It just sits there and magically spits out dog biscuits? I’m sure some of the uninitiated out there, would like to believe so. The difference between “using the solar power” and “solar powered.” I meant to mention that at Cliff Mass’s blog, a few posts ago, there was an interesting exchange in the comments. I think it was one of the articles on the California fires. The worst one started due to a faulty electrical line. One of the Starry Eyed Folk gushed on about how that wouldn’t be a problem if everyone converted to solar. Clearly, someone who hadn’t dealt with solar, up close and personal. They were firmly trounced a few comments later by someone who obviously had dealt with solar power. I wondered if you were posting under an alternate name :-).

    The first picture of the strawberry enclosure makes it appear to be all high tech and futuristic. Quit appealing. Maybe you’re going at this all wrong. Perhaps you should use the enclosure to raise parrots, commercially? 🙂 Taste like chicken, I hear.

    The zucchini sprout looks so innocent. Little evidence of the havoc wrought by future abundance. The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye. A very small elephant, but still ….

    It could have been worth the cost of admission to have seen the look on your face when you glanced into the hive. The bees, being wise creatures, may decide the disturbance was worth the extra frames.

    German has a lot of consonants. Hence the square words in round holes. I do admire their language talent for using very long words … but they describe very complex concepts or thoughts. A whole “take” on a topic in one word. Cont.

  7. Cont. But as to the content of the book? Jury’s still out, as the jury’s (scientific) still out. Well, the author sure is enthusiastic about trees. Which may wear a bit by the time I turn the last page. Some of his suppositions are based on not much scientific evidence. Small studies that haven’t been peer reviewed. He may tend to anthropamorphize (knew I wasn’t going to be able to spell that) trees, a bit. But it’s early days.

    But back to the Victorian period :-). Lack of Victorian infrastructure can be as simple as not being able to waltz into a hardware store and being able to purchase what ever bit or bob of Victorian technology, you need. But as complex as the fact that sometimes the most common Victorian items, are the hardest to find. Common, so not valued, so thrown out along the way (that waste thing, again.)

    I must give them credit as, this isn’t really a lark for them, backed up by a lot of family money. They often have discussions as to what Victorian people “of their class” would have had or used. But there may be trouble on the horizon. I think they’re (shhh! Not to loud) … bike people.

    I laughed out loud when I got to your last line. I almost linked to the wombat poo article. But decided that you’d enjoy this, more …


    The discovery of Conan the Barbarians …. root cellar. 🙂

    And, now a word from your movie advisor. Steve Carell’s got a new movie out called “Welcome to Marwen.” What’s interesting about this movie is that it IS based on a true story. I watched a documentary about the fellow, last year.

    Peter Dinklage has two movies coming out on DVD. I’ve got them both on my library hold list. “Knights of Badassdom” (which may be a bit of a tongue in cheek send up of his “Game of Thrones” roll) and “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Which is a post apocalyptic story.

    Now here’s a bit of a plant mystery. I am clearing up the Tomatillo and I think I mentioned that, having only a single plant, and they’re not self fertilizing. Well. I’m finding quit a few full husks. I found two, low on the plant, awhile ago, and just figured it was a one (or two) off fertilization that happened when the plant was in the nursery. Now I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t more to the story. There are no other Tomatillos anywhere in the neighborhood.

    Most of the articles I’ve read on Tomatillos just say flatly that they don’t self pollinate. But a few hedge (with no explaination) just a bit. Just a hint that maybe a bit of self pollination, is possible. I wonder if the seed will be viable? Lew

  8. Chris,

    You’ve mentioned the cost of vehicles versus waste before, IIRC. That’s always a tough one, isn’t it? I tend to drive my cars to about the same point you do before replacing them.

    The hawthorn leaves are now raked up and put in bags. 3 LARGE bags, ready for next spring. I’ve got more leaves in the other yard, and if the ground is still workable, I’ll dig those in this weekend. So, it looks like I’m hedging my bets and will add more leaves both now and in March.

    We’ve got some little ants hereabouts that I call “mighty mites” due to their superlative strength and diminutive size. I think they’re called “sugar ants” by most people here. They swarm at weird times of the year and set up nests precisely where they interfere with the veggies or even undermine (and cause collapse of) my brick patio. Their bites hurt and cause an itch, much as do your bull ants.

    Your California poppies are looking good. There was a patch of them growing in my yard when I bought the house. 22 years later, they are still thriving. Their bright orange color is cheerful, isn’t it?

  9. Hi Steve,

    The news about the wombat poo discovery was all over (excuse the pun) the radio news today, so it was hard to miss. Mind you, wombat poo is actually sort of hard to miss, as they use it to mark out their territory and particularly enjoy making deposits onto large rocks – which they regularly top up.

    Hehe! Maginot line indeed. I’m slowly beginning to come to terms with the fact that large scale farms tolerate very little wildlife of any sort. It’s a bit of a worry because that is a very difficult situation to sustain. A few years ago I visited a commercial orchard, and they used to set off a loud boom every couple of minutes to scare the birds away. It sure scared me. But yeah, I sort of suspect that if you integrate wildlife, infrastructure like serious fencing (deer, rabbit, parrot etc.) is really quite expensive relative to the economic value of the produce. But then, I just picked a dozen ripe strawberries, and you can’t put a value on those…

    A huge and brief rain storm dumped half an inch of rain today in about ten minutes. It was an epic rainfall. Hope the winter is not too severe in your part of the world.



  10. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, you know it never occurred to me that my original plan with vehicles to simply maintain them was subject to diminishing returns. But then reality kicks in – and reliability concerns – with that strategy, so we changed strategies and will now only maintain the Dirt Rat Suzuki which appears to be a bit more sturdy (hopefully not inviting the forces of nemesis by writing that), and swapping the smaller Dirt Mouse Suzuki when it gets to that tipping point again. Mind you, who knows what the future holds in store for us all. Probably not good. Keeping one old vehicle going is a compromise.

    You’ve picked a wise path. Did you encounter a similar story to mine – or how did you come up with that strategy?

    Hawthorn’s produce a lot of leaves and I salute your leaf collection and processing efforts. Hopefully you managed to nick some leaves from elsewhere (no need to share the details!)

    Those sugar ants are native to down under (perhaps an unfortunate import to your part of the world?) I’m not a fan of those ants because they are too clever by half (whatever that means). They use and farm aphids to harvest sugars off fruit trees and you can see an infestation by the dark mold that forms on the leaves of stressed fruit trees – citrus is prone to that. I’ve been slowly altering the soil over the property to favour worms over ants, and so far my efforts have been fruitful (excuse the dodgy pun). The soldier ants bite and spray formic acid, so you end up with chemical burns on your skin. The bees hardly stand a chance, although a combined hive can easily fend them off.

    Californian poppies are cheerful, and they’re hybridising here to produce different colours. But they are so reliable – and I believe parts of the plant have medicinal uses.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Observation of the worm farm informs me that the small residue of anti-worming chemicals that ended up in there hardly caused any problems. I was illustrating a point with the story that poisons have a way of sneaking around to bite us on the backside, much like those pesky – but inordinately tough as – bull-ants. Incidentally, the manufacturer of the worm farm had to test their system for abuses, such as people flushing bleach and antibiotics down the drain. I see people using cleaners that declare themselves as ‘hospital strength’ and I often feel a bit of a shudder of concern that they know not what they do… It is a bit of a shame that we as a species are wasting our last line of defence against all of the microbial critters that want to consume us in very minor and pointless ways. I dunno.

    Speaking of which, I recently encountered a whole bunch of people who were suffering from hay-fever and I mentioned that leafy greens are an excellent remedy, and my words fell on deaf ears. Unfortunately I don’t like pushing help upon people, so I went off and did something else. Many long years ago I used to suffer from hay-fever, but I eat a lot of leafy greens now and they are like a sinus explosion because they reduce the inflammation (well for me anyway). It may not be true for everyone.

    Winter is closing in upon you. Soon you may even get some snow – which in your new location will be a novelty (as it is for me). We had a frost only a few days ago, so I wasn’t joking around that this season has so far been completely bonkers. And just for good measure, this afternoon half an inch of rain fell in only ten minutes. Outside was like a wall of water, and of course as you’d expect, the water tank inlet filters blocked up and so I had to venture outside with my trusty and very heavy duty umbrella and clean out the filters. Then I had to wander about the farm ensuring that water was directed where it should be going (which is not always the case in such weather). Needless to say, I got very wet. Technically, we are now enjoying a ‘cut off low’ which originated from the roaring forties and to south of that all the way down to Antarctica. And just for good measure: How about a day of skiing and big wave surfing a week out from summer? Yup, the storms are getting stormier.

    Hehe! Nope, you know about the solar electricity. 🙂 It wasn’t me, and that I can vouchsafe an opinion on. Honestly, the off grid people that I know and have spoken with over the years are a bunch of pragmatists because their houses live and die using this technology, so initially (like I did) they talk a lot of rubbish. Then reality kicks in. And eventually the state of acceptance arrives and they suggest that this technology is good, but it ain’t good enough to meet most people’s expectations. It is a bit like going through the Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief, except that it involves a loss of faith in technology.

    And incidentally, I didn’t comment at all anywhere about the Californian fires because emotions are very high at the moment. But when I look at the photos, I see one house setting off the fire in another house. I see un-managed forests. I see journalists and fire fighters outside burning houses doing who knows what when if it was that hot, they would be dead. Haven’t the lessons of the Great Fire of London been remembered? So, I keep my trap shut and hope not to offend anyone.

    Ooo! What was the old ditty about four and twenty blackbirds in a pie? Maybe it should be parrots in a pie?

    No, not at all, I welcome the future possibilities of an over abundance of zucchini. They keep well – until they don’t, and that is one ugly mess of destroyed vegetable.

    Corn germination is now up to 46% (and hopefully rising). Honestly, it is early days and this Antarctic blast of cold air may do a bit of damage over the next few days…

    I do hope I haven’t annoyed the bees. Honestly, I’m really good to them and have given them a home with low expectations and plentiful feed. As far as I can understand things, that is about as good as it gets. They might want more though.

    It is interesting that you mention the Germans enjoyment of longer and more complex words, because Jack Vance was, and still is quite a popular author when translated into German. I’ve often wondered about that. Do you know of other English speaking authors who were big in Germany?

    Ah, the author of the book about trees, was perhaps grasping at straws? Sorry for the dodgy metaphor, but it did seem rather apt to me! Sometimes to illustrate a story, I’ll anthromorphise the dogs, so whatever works I reckon.

    Yah, all credit to the authors about the Victorian era life. You may have forgotten to mention what media exactly are you enjoying, although it may be a dim witted and forgetful moment on my part? I’m reading Beowulf at the moment and I’m having to change the way I read in order to make sense of the language used in the story, so that is taking up a bit of spare brain capacity. Not that there is much of that to go around! Oh well, one has to work with what they have been given.

    Wow, I wonder how Robert E Howard would have felt about having his root cellar dug up, all these years later?. I reckon he might have put it down to the work of an evil sorcerer plotting against his champion creations! Far out, he was a prolific author.

    I like both Steve Carrel and Peter Dinklage as actors. But yes, a good send up of Game of Thrones is definitely worth the effort – and I’ll keep a watch for those films. I appreciate the review! Margaret mentioned Robert Redford’s film ‘The old man and the gun’ and I noticed that that is only now being advertised down here.

    Yes, I’m having the same self fertilising issue with the maqui berry and I have no idea what to make of it. I have a bit of a suspicion that plants and animals are far hardier than we can imagine. I have read of unfertilised chickens producing chicks – it does happen, and maybe it is a safe guard built into the genes? Dunno, what do you reckon?



  12. Hi Chris,

    How nice to have the poppies just around Armistice Day! I have to say I find many of the tributes very moving.

    Congrats on your car purchase, long may it serve you. Good to have a practical vehicle you´re confident will fulfill your needs. We´re crossing our fingers ours lasts a good long time, as we paid cash several years ago and shelled out quite a lot fixing various things at the beginning. Now, we´re basically paying for regular maintenance. There´s a dust up now over a plan announced by the government to ban conventional fuel vehicles by 2040 or somesuch. The car manufacturer´s aren´t pleased, nor the labor unions. And electric car infrastucture is practically nonexistant.

    I´m curious about what you do to clean up your beds in the fall. Your flowers always look so lovely and lush. What a gorgeous view from the kitchen! Do they reseed?

    Now raining again for the next 2 weeks which makes leaf collection, and gardening in general more of a challenge than I´d wish. And we have an added distraction.

    I remember wondering about cleaning the beer making equipment, as we have a septic tank. Didn´t seem like something that would make the septic bacteria very happy. Lots to consider. There is no ¨away¨ as the Archdruid says.


  13. Hi, Chris!

    What a drama played out between the ant and the bee. From such things are fables written. What neat shadows in the photo!

    What a lovely car – I like it so much. I think that it is very nice that the design has changed so little. The old dirt mouse really does LOOK in good shape.

    Readers have noticed that you are neat!

    Oh, my – your worm and dog saga was just about too much for me. Poor, Chris! If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Or as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say: “It’s always something.”

    Thanks for the storm clouds. I love those.

    We were just watching a show about dismantling an 1870s log cabin in Kentucky. The original builders had also built a “summer kitchen” separately from the main house so that the house would not get so hot in the summer and of course the likelihood of the main house burning down was somewhat less – at least in the summer.

    The strawberry enclosure looks like a maximum security facility, except that there are no inmates inside, everyone wants to come in. The lavender is so beautiful by it. I would like to hear more about the parrot break-ins as can’t see how they do it. They must have some beaks.

    The corn still looks superb and there is – hopefully – lots of applesauce to come. We had nice blueberries this past summer and, for some reason, the birds never bothered them. I guess they were busy eating strawberries . . . I am completely bowled over by the succulent’s flowers and the view from your kitchen window is heavenly. Actually, I am just overwhelmed by all of your flowers. Thanks!

    I don’t know about domestic turkeys crossbreeding with wild turkeys. It would seem unlikely that should one escape from a commercial farm that they would survive very long at all in the wild; there are a lot of genetic problems in the breed most commonly used (a white one). I would expect that home-raised turkeys might be a whole different matter. They even look more similar to the wild ones. I have fairly often seen crosses in the wild of domestic ducks and wild ducks. They can be really interesting.


  14. Hello Chris
    Wet and cold outside, 39F at 2pm.
    Glad that I don’t have to deal with parrots, though I would have let them all go. Have also given up on using netting as everything entangles in it.
    Your photo of the half eaten strawberries could equally have been taken here in a different part of the world. I have a table where I sit out in the sun and there are often part eaten strawberries on it. Mice are the real nuisance as they nip off the green strawberries and leave them lying there, Why I wonder?
    Squirrels don’t eat strawberries. The young give them a puzzled sniff and then move away.


  15. Yo, Chris – According to what I’ve read, environmental chemicals are all around (and in) us. I try to not read too many of those articles, as I think they could easily become crazy-making (a highly technical and scientific term). I just try and avoid what I can, and not think about it too much.

    I generally maybe make a health suggestion once, and then let it drop. Some people have a hard time letting a new idea into their heads. Others would just rather continue their fat, happy and stupid existence.

    We had a couple of light dustings of snow, last year. Quit a pretty view from up here in my eyrie. It didn’t stick around, long.

    Oh, well, according to our Fearless Leader, all we have to do to attain good forest management is to have the citizens rake the forests, like the Finns :-). Can’t remember my Finn grandparents ever telling that story.

    Parrot pie. Well, first off, the nursery rhyme your thinking of is …


    One I was familiar with growing up. I checked my Australian colonial cookbook. No parrot pie. But there was a recipe for kangaroo pasty. And pigeon pies. No parrot pies in Alexander. A trip down the rabbit hole yielded lots of recipes for parrot pie. Even “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management” (a very popular English Victorian cookbook) had a recipe in some of the editions. I saw an article titled “Parrot Pie and Possum Curry.”

    English speaking authors popular in Germany. Apparently, American fiction is more popular in Germany than German fiction. Lots of theories as to why this is so. Not as polished and predictable as German fiction. America as font of pop culture. Etc.

    “This Victorian Life” (Chrisman, 2015) is a book. I wondered if the author would cite Ruth Goodman’s “How to be a Victorian.” Not so far. There’s a bit of a bibliography, but it’s mostly primary sources. I may have to reread Goodman, after “This Victorian Life.” I’ve got a copy on the shelf.

    Chrisman makes the point in a couple of places that Victorian design, in some cases, is better than what we have today, even in reproductions. Everything from oil lamp burners to pitcher and bowl wash sets. Thinking of some of the patent applications I’ve seen from that time period, I think the Victorians, in a lot of cases, WERE trying to build a better mouse trap. Not just a flashy new model, but things that actually worked better than previous items. Sure, it was about competition, but competition with a purpose? Cont.

  16. Hi Chris,
    Well that strawberry enclosure is certainly a fortress!! They are apparently as determined to get in as you are determined to keep them out.

    All the elderberries around here have white flowers. We have quite a few on the new property so an attempt at elderberry wine is in our future if I can get to them before the birds.

    The saying has been that corn should be knee high by the fourth of July which would translate into early January by you if not earlier due to your warmer temperatures. Of course all the newer hybrid varieties grow much faster so the corns usually at 3 to 4 feet tall by them.

    The new building has finally arrived so Doug can finally get his stuff organized and maybe even get his truck into the garage.

    Some may take this wrong but some of my sisters and I watch Rain Man occasionally and point out laughingly which scenes remind is of the individual brothers. Michael always was quite consumed by specific times of events, Marty (well all three of them) always has his backpack full of important “stuff” (though he refers to it as a shoulder pack). Patrick was a bit of a savant when it came to certain decades of popular music. Within a couple of notes he could tell you the name of the song, the artist and what year it came out. To say Gwen is flamboyant is an understatement and quite the opposite of Marty. The trick with them is to keep them from arriving hours early and getting in the way.

    I’m off to stay overnight with my youngest daughter to help her with Thanksgiving prep as she and her boyfriend are hosting a dinner for 27. I might mention,however, that Doug is preparing the turkey, dressing and stuffing and transporting it to the city on Thursday. I am making the traditional “Aunt Mary biscuits” Aunt Mary was my great aunt who passed away 30 years ago. She used to have Thanksgiving and would serve little mini biscuits that everyone loved. Imagine my shock when I found out that her secret recipe was – Bisquick. So you can see my contribution is not too difficult.

    Doug starts selling honey at the Christmas tree farm the next morning by our old house. The weather looks pretty good for the weekend which should help a lot. The first two weekends are always their busiest.


  17. Cont. The Victorians were also big on ornament, and a lot of it had some symbolic meaning. Sometimes, we know how they “read” symbols. Sometimes, that’s lost. I suppose that applies to any culture. How did people interpret things around them in a particular time and place?

    I watched a DVD the other night. “Get on Up”, a music bio of James Brown. Got my toes tapping. Better than the average music bio. Perhaps because Sir Mick Jaeger was the producer? There’s a lot of moving forward and back in time, but it was pretty easy to figure out “where” you were.

    I wondered if the Tomatillo’s were perhaps, crossbreeding with the tomatoes. Probably not. Different genus. I wonder if the seed will be viable. I’ll give it a whirl, and see. Maybe I’ve developed a self pollinating Tomatillo in my little patch? Unlikely. But, as they said in “Jurassic Park,” “Nature finds a way.”

    In the run up to Thanksgiving, I slaughtered my pumpkin, last night. Saved some seed and roasted the rest. Baked the orb. For a small pumpkin, it’s really got a lot of “meat.” Thick walls. Took me almost twice as long to bake it, as usual. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    Before I forget, thought you might like this article: Desert survivor drinks pasta sauce, windscreen wiper water and urine in six-day outback ordeal.

    Interestingly, to my eye that vehicle doesn’t look as if it may have the sort of low range gearing required to pull itself out of a bog in the middle of nowhere – or recovery equipment. I once read a story about two young cattle station hands who thefted off with the bosses vehicle way out back in Western Australia. They unfortunately apparently didn’t know how to operate the transfer case – which is the second gearbox which shifts a vehicle into low range gearing, and the car got bogged – and they died.

    Sometimes I see people tackling some of the more remote tracks around this mountain range and I wonder what they hope to see out the window of a moving vehicle. People’s reliance on GPS devices also means that they may not have developed a general sense of direction. Dunno. It is all a bit strange, and the average hobbit knows that adventures can come with dark and uncomfortable endings.



  19. Chris,

    My car strategy? I inherited it , basically. My parents grew up during the Great Depression. My dad, starting about age 7, was homeless and lived in 2 tents for 18 months or so, including a winter in Arizona at about 1,600 meters elevation. Yes, it got cold! So he grew up repairing, mending, scavenging, reusing, adapting and repairing. Did I mention repairing? So some of that mentality stuck with me, although I’m not even half the repairman he was. But I do maintain and use and repair things until it’s obvious that they are approaching their “use by” date.

    And the leaves. In addition to the 2 hawthorn trees, I’ve got a chokecherry tree, many hedge shrubs, red-twigged dogwood trees, several nut trees to keep the squirrels fed, a flowering crabapple and a Royal Anne cherry. A neighbor’s maple trees drop some of their leaves into my yard, too. So far, that’s is enough when I use them properly. Another neighbor grows about 70% of the leaves that I do,, and routinely offers them to me. If I ever expand the vegetable patch, I might have to take advantage of that.

    Those sugar ants are, well, ugh! I prefer to live and let live, but they’ve caused part of my brick patio to collapse, eat the roots of some of my plants, and leave a stinging wound after they bite. So I pour copious amounts of vinegar down their nests, which really slows them down. And I stomp them when they swarm on the concrete and bricks. Whereas the hornets and I seem to have an uneasy truce, these ants try to take over everything.

    The Vinegar Treatment: do NOT pour vinegar on any plants that you are trying to encourage. I’ve got some dead areas in my grass where I gave the ants the Vinegar Treatment. Took care of the ants, but killed the grass there… I prefer stomping them anyhow. Perhaps if I put it to music, I can copyright and market the “Sugar Ant Stomp”.


  20. Hi Coco,

    It is a bit eerie that poppies begin flowering here around Armistice day, especially when paper poppies are used in Europe. I note that the French use cornflowers – and they grow here too, although much later in the season when it is hotter.

    The new dirt mouse sure is lightweight, and if it proves as reliable as the previous incarnation of the species, and fingers crossed for that outcome, I’ll be pretty happy. People can do far worse (and I’ve done worse in the past). 🙂 The tank is 37 litres and it looks as though it has a range of about 800km, which is quite extraordinary.

    Hmm, well I don’t know much, but the infrastructure to supply electric vehicles in any large scale is simply not there at the moment – and renewable sources as they stand at the moment won’t cut the mustard. I wish it were otherwise, I really do. During the depths of winter I reckon my 6kW PV system will provide enough energy for about maybe 20km to 30km of driving and do nothing else. A much better use is electric water pumps and electric lighting both of which use very little electricity.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that other than cutting the plants back from paths, and chucking in the occasional feed – we don’t really do much for the garden beds. I rarely even water them. When the next 40’C day arrives (and it will), I’ll chuck some photos of the garden beds in the late afternoon and you can see for yourself how they perform. Shade, thick planting and deep soil is the trick really.

    Yes, everything in those beds re-seeds and even the annuals re-appear every year.

    Yeah, it is raining here too (and it looks like winter outside right now). A chunk of cold air from Antarctica has turned up…

    Bleach is quite a strong cleaner, but beer probably needs something to sterilise the bottles. Hot boiling water would probably be worth experimenting with. Beer has a lower alcohol content and so other life-forms can survive in the mix. Did you know that one form of life converts the sprouting grains into sugars, and then another one takes over and converts the sugars to alcohol?



  21. Hi Lewis,

    I hear you about the crazy making bit, but am a bit slack about such things and simply try not to use much stuff in the first place – and then make my own versions of stuff so that I at least have some of inkling about what is in the products. Sometimes knowing the difference can be a bit unsettling too. There have been reports about something called ‘micro-plastics’ and they are in an enormous quantity of products. Do what you can do is a good strategy. I mean what else can you do? And I rather suspect that these things are only a moment in time.

    It is hard letting go isn’t it? I dunno. People have to display the ability to follow through upon the desire to help themselves before I give assistance. Others may rudely call that a ‘poo test’ (that is my technical term). Sometimes change can occur because people are interested in the things that I do – and usually it all comes back to food – which is a primary interest of mine! 😉

    Nice. Hey they’re having snow falls this weekend in the higher altitude parts of the continent (not at this low altitude though). Of course, you may consider our gentle high altitude climbs a gentle walk through the foot hills in your part of the world! Which is probably quite an accurate assessment of the situation. To scale the highest peak down under is a hardly an arduous walk…

    Hehe! I saw that about your fearless leader. I wonder if he was confused with the first nations talk of cleaning the forests? Incidentally, forest fire fighters down here actually do actually use rake hoes and it is very hard work. It is a good idea, and yes it would probably work, I just don’t believe that anyone wants to resource it and pay for the labour.

    Kangaroo meat is really nice tasting – just don’t overcook it because it is – as you might expect – very lean, and is better served rare otherwise it gets very rubbery, very quickly. And I have seen possum on a menu, but never got the opportunity to sample it. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be good. Strangely enough there is not much of a push to consume kangaroo meat, although for the life of me I have no idea why.

    The parrots would probably be a bit like muddy carp in that you have to wash the mud out of their systems – unfortunately the parrots are all too happy to eat the dog poo here. I haven’t had to pick up dog poo for many years as it just disappears.

    It will be interesting to compare how the two different authors view the challenges of the Victorian period. Dunno, but I have a bit of a suspicion that when less stuff is available, then manufactured items may well be made to a higher quality than the stuff nowadays. Dunno. I suspect that they’ll be more readily repairable too, just because they have to be. And producing a better product is a worthy goal, although it may not be an economically viable goal at the moment.

    About symbols, a couple of years back we had a conversation about pineapples as a Victorian symbol and how there was a bit of competition among the elite to be the first to produce a pineapple (in a heated glass house of course) and supply it to their betters. So the symbol, which I’ve seen embossed into Victorian era items has a meaning larger than the symbol itself reveals. I reckon a lot of that sort of story is now lost to us. And I can’t even imagine what someone would make of a Victorian era chair discovered a millennia into the future. Imagine that! It would make for a good short story.

    James Brown was quite the performer. And I heard a recording of an interview with Sir Mick a year or two back – and he sounds half his age, so he must have looked after his voice all these years. It would be a strange thing indeed to have worked with his peers in the band for all those decades. You’d hope they remember some of them! Mind you, my memory recall is good, but not great. It would be a scary thing to have live with a perfect recall.

    Bees can travel quite a distance, so you never know whether someone in your local area also has a tomatillo. But I reckon they’ve probably self pollinated. I’ve read a similar story – and it may have been with walnuts – and the trees will still produce nuts, just not in commercial quantities. I hope not to see full sized dinosaurs or other megafauna in my lifespan. I’m just not sure that I’m personally equipped to deal with such serious threats to my being! 🙂 And I’d be pretty annoyed if some huge beast squashed the recently constructed fruit cage. Imagine a dinosaur stomping the living daylights out of your garden (or using it as a kitty litter tray!)

    Roast pumpkin! Yummo! I assume you cook and eat the skin? I usually eat the skins of roasted pumpkin, but I’m not sure whether that is done everywhere as I was quite surprised to see people peeling the skin and then roasting the pumpkin meat. Did you score any pumpkin ice cream for dessert?



  22. Hi Pam,

    Bull-ants are vicious little tykes that are all too happy to attack first and ask questions later. They inject formic acid under the skin, and then just in case that wasn’t bad enough, they spray the bite area with formic acid – and so you end up with these horrific chemical burns. If they were the size of a dog, we’d all be dead and ants would be the dominant species. Fortunately for us, they’re only little because they pack a serious punch! And the lone bee didn’t stand a chance, but a hive can fight the ants off and I’ve seen stand-offs between the two species. I treat both species with respect, unless I’ve done something incredibly stupid like the work on the hive the other night…

    Thanks. It’s a sweet little car, and keeping costs low is a good response if you have little choice about keeping one in the first place. The old dirt mouse was in good shape, I just spent too much keeping it that way, and had no idea when that game would stop, so I chose a different strategy. What do you. You’re lucky to have a mechanic in the family.

    Hehe! Being neat is also a useful strategy given the fire risk…

    Ah, SNL, I’ve never seen it, but the sentiment is true. 🙂 Someone wiser than I once remarked that the things that you own end up owning you and I guess owning is having a something? And there may be a bit of truth in that.

    Far out, winter has returned here with force. The other day I tried to take a photo showing just how heavy the rainfall was, but who knows how that will turn out. The water tank filters failed so I had to put the camera away and grab the umbrella. Needless to say I got rather damp. I saw a weather article that suggested that snow will fall in the high altitude areas (much higher than here) and big wave surfing is an option and only a week out from the start of summer.

    Some of the older houses that I worked on had outdoor kitchens and outdoor bathrooms (not to mention a dunny at the very rear of the property adjacent to the cobbled laneways for the nightcart men). Fires in kitchens spreading the rest of the house was a serious risk for the old timers – and Victorian era houses were from the 1880’s onwards so it is a similar time period to the Kentucky log cabin. I’ll bet that part of the world was a quiet place in those days!

    Hehe! That’s funny. 🙂 The parrots are very displeased with me, and they want their fill of strawberries. Years ago one of the parrots chewed through one of the solar power cables which are thick copper. I encase all of them in thick plastic conduit nowadays.

    Hey, you can sometimes hear the laughing Kookaburras sharpening their beaks upon the large trees. Like a very slow version of a noisy woodpecker.

    Thanks! And corn germination is now at 46% (and hopefully climbing). Do you net your blueberries? We plant more area to flowers every single year – it just seems to work. If I had enough time (which I don’t) I could cover the entire property with them! Imagine that! Cool.

    I heard a story on the radio today about geese. ‘Arsehole’ geese become internet sensations as farmer writes honest for-sale post. The poor maligned creatures! Hehe!



  23. Hello again
    Are you joking? I have never before heard of anyone roasting pumpkin peel. If not joking, more info. please. Do you roast it while still on the pumpkin or do you roast and eat separate peel? Can the peel be too thick or too old?


  24. Chris:

    That was quite a goose story; very funny. Thanks! Geese can be dodgy characters. I remember sitting on the banks of a pond once with my year old son and having a wild Canada goose run up and start attacking us. As I was sitting on the ground with my son on my lap, I had a heck of a time getting up. The best I could do were some kung fu moves with my feet. There was no apparent nest around, but who knows; and maybe some of them are just bad tempered.

    I always imagined that parrots would taste fruity . . .

    We have given up using netting anywhere – like Inge. I have had to rescue so many birds and snakes out of it that it is just not worth it and I can’t always be around to watch out for those unfortunates.

    Here is a way to freeze zucchini. I haven’t been able to try it as something has always gotten too much of our zucchini to have excess.



  25. Yo, Chris – Food as a primary interest? Can’t imagine :-). In one of those coincidences that occasionally seem thick on the ground, around here, I was reading along in “This Victorian Life” last night. Now, the book doesn’t have an over abundance of photos or illustrations, but in the chapter on food, there was this:


    Yup. There it is. Mrs. Beeton’s parrot pie. The Victorian’s did have a flare for presentation. I like the way the little claws poke out of the top crust :-). Cont.

  26. Cont. And there was Mrs. Beeton’s presentation of wallaby…


    Hmmm. The last was from the Sydney Living Museums folks. Looks like an interesting site. I’ll have to check it out, later.

    Nope. Didn’t eat the skin of the baked pumpkin. Didn’t look to appetizing. Rather like parchment paper. I got about 3 cups (8 oz) of mash, out of that little pumpkin. I cooked up the quinoa, last night, for the pumpkin / quinoa muffins. Which is going to be my desert. Actually, you had a wizard suggestion. A bit of pumpkin ice cream on a split, warm muffin will make it even more desert like.

    Judging from the state of the bananas, there will also be banana muffins in my near future. There was more quinoa than I need for the pumpkin muffins, and I was wondering what to do with it. Ah, there is also recipes for banana / quinoa muffins on the internet.

    Just out of idle curiosity, I ran across the Master Gardeners, yesterday, and asked them if quinoa grew around here. Yup. I guess they’ve got some going in a test patch that the Master Gardeners have up in the east part of our county. I’ll have to look into that.

    Oh, I don’t know. Having a dinosaur around might come in handy. A small truck load of fertilizer delivered to your garden patch in one fell swoop. Soil compaction might be a problem.

    Well, it’s the lead up to the big day. Anything I can get done today, I won’t have to do, tomorrow. Funny how that works.

    That was quit an article about the woman who got stuck in the bush. Any day now, we’ll have an article about someone out cutting a Christmas tree who goes astray and gets bogged down in the snow. The list of “things to take along if you’re plunging into the wilderness” was quit sensible. Lew

  27. Hi Inge,

    Your weather reads like a typical winter’s day here. Brr! Mind you, it is only 50’F outside right now at about 3.30pm and I decided to light the wood heater to get some warmth into the house because it looks like tonight and tomorrow will be even colder. We’re having an Antarctic pool of air circling over the state. It looks impressive on the satellite pictures, but the dust storm they’re having in the state to the north of this one (New South Wales) is quite epic: Dust storm hits Sydney, NSW Government issues air quality warning. What you are seeing is soil from the drought affected areas in the west of that state – and it is the storm I’m feeling that is swirling that dust into the air for them. The air is clear here and crispy cold.

    Bird netting tends to net birds, so I haven’t used that stuff for many years. With the fruit trees, I’m simply trying to out-produce the birds requirements, but whether that strategy is ultimately successful yet remains to be seen. It may be easier some years than other years too, because the frosts took out a lot of blossoms on the fruit trees a month or two back.

    Noooo! But yeah, I’m not sure why wildlife pick green fruit. Dunno. Some fruit they let drop to the ground so that it can begin fermenting, and I have suspicions about why they’d do that. Mice and rats are smart as.

    Strawberries are apparently very low in sugar and given how early in the season they are, I reckon that sounds about right to me. The plants use fragrant chemicals with which to disguise the lack of sugars in the berries. It is very clever.

    No, I’m serious about consuming roasted pumpkin skin. It has always been fed to me cooked that way, and now I roast pumpkin with the skin. When we make pumpkin soup, we also blitz the skin into the soup, but I use a very large and powerful food processor (with very sharp blades), so it is not like there are chunky pumpkin skin chunks in the final soup. I tell ya though, the soup is like a pipe cleaner for your guts! 🙂

    We may consume different varieties to you, and the most common ones I see for sale (and we’ve grown) are Queensland Blue Pumpkins and Japanese butternut pumpkins. Dunno.

    Not much surprises me on that front, and I know people who peel mushrooms before consuming or cooking with them – or I’ve seen people grating carrots (I usually remove the hairy root systems from carrots but that is about it).



  28. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks. Hehe! The parrots are very clever birds, and they know more about my business around the farm than I do – and they are watching all day and every day for the slightest opportunity. Clearly they enjoy eating strawberries, although I hadn’t realised the extent of their enjoyment.

    Interesting. I have quite a few different varieties of elderberries – and they are so easy to strike from cuttings that it becomes worthwhile having some secateurs with you whenever you spot an interesting variety! Some of the more interesting ones I’ve come across have the pink flowers, but I also have a yellow flowered variety. Plus the leaves show a remarkable amount of variation.

    Well, from what I’ve noticed, the elderflower wine tastes about the same as the elderberry wine, so next spring it might be worth you comparing the two wines – if only for research purposes, of course. The parrots are right onto the berries, so I hear you about that. Mind you, I still haven’t worked the elderberries into my diet as there are other more tasty berries ripening at that time. I prefer the red or black currants, and gooseberries, but really there is not much more tasty than Chilean Guavas (Ugni molinae). They seem to survive frost and snow, so you never know they might work in your area in a protected spot (Ah 10’F / -12’C is apparently the lowest temperature they can take). No birds or animals show any interest in the guavas, which is a bonus.

    That makes sense about the corn. This is only my second year with that grain and they were rather slow to grow last year – but seem much faster this year. I think starting them from seed has reduced the transplant shock they’d otherwise suffer from. That really sets things back here and I’ve begun everything outside this year – which is a nerve wracking experience because I just don’t know how it will go, and making mistakes like that can cost me years of saved seeds and plant breeding. But, if it works, then…

    Did it take long to get the building constructed and is the shed on a concrete slab? I’m amazed how quickly they get constructed.

    Well, if you can’t laugh along. I mean it is not as if you didn’t actively support your brothers. And at times they would have been a right handful. I’m not sure, but the film was meant to be part drama and part comedy, but with an element of tragedy and the slow building of relationships. It was a really complex film, but presented as a simple story. Ouch! Arriving early for an event is the number one unforgiveable sin, but in their particular case… Oh well. Others would be roped into assisting, but I’m not sure how that would play out. 🙂

    27 people for a Thanksgiving feed. You are a better person than I! No, bisquick… I’m still laughing about that. You do know that I bake biscuits from the raw materials… Thanks for the laughs, and I’ll bet they taste good too!

    Good luck with the honey sales and hope Doug doesn’t notice too many changes with the old place. The bees appear to have forgiven my blunder with them the other day – although I may have timed it well because with the pool of Antarctic air over the state, they haven’t yet had the opportunity to come and get me. I had a very aggressive hive once and it took them two days to calm down after inspecting them. I wasn’t displeased when they finally took off into the forest.



  29. Hi DJ,

    Respect and to be honest I have no idea how your dad may have survived those sorts of extreme weather conditions in a tent. But the skills and values you inherited are excellent. I still recall in the 70’s when people used to suggest to: Re-cycle; Re-pair; and Re-use, but then in the early 80’s supply side economics became a bit of a thing, and such talk got quietly dropped off the radar and then people looked down their noses at it. I’ve often wondered whether there is a bit of guilt when people do that? Dunno. A bit sad really, because I do recall people suggesting that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do other than what we appeared to have done. And like the values you wrote about, they’re not a bad idea at all.

    But knowing when to let go of an item or system is a tough one, and you can’t be sure and all you have to go on is past experience and opinions of people more experienced in these matters than yourself.

    Top work with the leaves. Yes, I’m always amazed that people see organic matter as a waste product. I’ve seen people hauling loads of the stuff off to landfill, let alone chucking food scraps into bins. They know not what they do.

    Far out! It never occurred to me that ants might consume root vegetables. Not good. I haven’t tried the vinegar option but will keep that as an option to test. They don’t like humic acids that’s for sure, but worms do.

    All the grass dies off here over high summer anyway so the vinegar wouldn’t be a problem, and I have to knock it all flat due to bushfire risk. Doesn’t matter, as the chopped and dropped dead grass forms a mulch over the soil surface (and it keeps the roots of the plants alive underneath it cooler).



  30. Hi Pam,

    The naughty Canada goose. I trust your kung-fu manoeuvres chastened the fowl (sic) beast? I’ve heard reports that that species of bird has spread far and wide. They look a bit like our magpie geese (which are not seen around here due to lack of standing above ground water sources). I don’t doubt you about some birds being bad tempered as I’ve known some pleasant, but also some not very pleasant at all roosters. One rooster, who I nicknamed Brian (after Dexter’s brother in the fictional series) used to attack me without warning, and he was very rough with the smaller chickens. He was crowing all night one night, and after being woken up several times, I got out of bed in the dark and sorted him – permanently. A dark hour for dark deeds. The atmosphere with the chickens was far less charged after that.

    You go first with the parrots!!! Hehe!

    Bird netting is appropriately named don’t you reckon?

    Thanks, but I don’t have a chest freezer and the freezer component on the refrigerator is quite small and I really don’t keep much in there. Strangely enough, down here – other than meats – you rarely see any preserving methods that involve freezing. That isn’t a criticism either, it is just a notable difference that I’ve often wondered about.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    They don’t make them like that parrot pie anymore. And I’d point out that the family sized pie consumed a dozen parrots, but only four pairs of legs at each quarter…I can’t recall where I read it, but I was reading about the chef (described as a celebrity chef): Heston Blumenthal. And I can’t quite recall the exact details but he may have been discussing how some very old dishes (of which one of his apparent hobbies is recreating) don’t translate well into today. The one that I may have recalled involved having a single plucked but alive chicken in among roasted fowl. Certainly the resulting confusion as a live chicken arose from a dish would have had a certain sort of ‘shock yo momma’ value. I’m probably a bit squeamish for such a dish, and I do rather like my chickens.

    Speaking of which one of the chickens is really dumb. She is a lovely looking chook, but she just lacks a certain sort of ability to not put herself in situations where she is at risk of harm. She is a grey Silkie chicken, and most silkie chickens are sharp as a tack and very hardy birds, but not this one. Of late she has decided that it would be a good idea to sleep in the chicken run, rather than the attached hen house in a comfy warm box with straw. And on nights like tonight when the very air itself is full of water direct from the ocean to the north of Antarctica, then sleeping in the chicken run is a rather direct way to an early grave.

    So, I know chicken feet are considered a delicacy in some cultures. Do you reckon people ate the skin on the parrot feet in the pie? I don’t see why they’d taste any different to chicken feet (which I have not tasted).

    Hey, there was a good recipe for trifle in Mrs Beeton’s extensive book. Hmm, trifle is good!

    The roast wallaby was awesome, and I have met locals who swear that they’ve tasted wallaby, and the tail was used to produce a stew much like an ox tail stew. I reckon wallaby would taste pretty similar to gamey deer, if only because they fill the same ecological niche. I don’t mind venison at all, it is a tasty meat, but I do prefer it with a gravy sauce.

    Cultural differences are interesting, and I’ve always as far back as I can recall consumed the skin on roast pumpkin. By the time the skin has been roasted, it’s quite soft and very tasty. Nothing much surprises me about such differences and I have known people who refuse to consume the roasted skin of potatoes – for another example. And they sure are missing out. But then, Queensland Blue and Japanese Butternut varieties are what you usually see down here and they’re mostly smooth skin varieties and hardly look as though they’ve contracted a very bad case of warts (as some pumpkins do).

    I do but my best, and pumpkin ice cream on a pumpkin / quinoa muffin sounds really tasty. You could easily convert your muffin recipe to something very similar to a sticky date pudding (yummo and an excellent idea).

    How does the quinoa compare to wheat based flour? Or does it have a consistency like tapioca which I used to see used in puddings when I was a kid, but you don’t see it so much these days. A bit of a shame as tapioca pudding was delightful, but that may have been the golden syrup dressing.

    Gene Logsdon wrote about growing quinoa in your part of the world in his grain book. Corn was my first tentative foray into the world of grains (probably because it is the easiest and largest of the grains), but I did discover some bread wheat happily growing over near to the old chicken enclosure. The grains are quite large and it is not as if I had to do anything at all to get the grain plant to grow…

    The thing is I have to convince the editor that we’ll need another two terraces, rather than the single terrace that she has already agreed to. It is a lot of labour to dig them into the side of the hill, but they do work and have held up very well in the torrential rain this week.

    Some of the lavender plants have been trashed by Ollie who is keen to deal to the parrots. Fortunately we appear to have thwarted the parrots efforts (for now) and are now harvesting a dozen ripe strawberries a day. One of the grape vines has produced a tiny little cluster of grapes… I don’t even recall the small plant flowering, but they are growing fast. Actually, they’re growing faster than I imagined. We have plans for the wires to train the grapes along too. Usually I’m not into espaliering because it is too much like hard work, but grape vines probably demand it.

    Accidental dinosaur compaction of the gardener might be a problem too. Go on, did anyone get accidentally squashed in the Jurassic Park movies? Imagine that part being a persons defining role (dinosaur squash). An actor died recently that had the honour of being killed by an Alien, a Predator, and the Terminator. I recall his role in the 80’s film “Weird Science” which was quite amusing.

    Hehe! Good luck with the big day, whatever may occur! The rain was so intermittently heavy today that I spent it indoors getting all of my little administrative tasks up to speed. How other people keep on top of the many administrative tasks that are required of them is beyond me, mind you there is usually a do nothing ‘default’ option that isn’t really recommended. I went and exercised my democratic obligations this morning and put in an early vote.

    If you have a chance, there is a delightfully written article on the recent by-election in the seat of Wentworth which used to be held by the former Prime Minister. Politics is usually a very boring topic, but this is great stuff and I thoroughly recommend reading it: Inside the dogfight over Australia’s wealthiest electorate.



  32. Chris:

    Geez – I forgot that you couldn’t add a freezer to your power load. So you wouldn’t have the problem that I just had which was that the plug to our chest freezer in the basement was slightly pulled out of the wall by some accident and nobody noticed until there was a pool of water in front of it. Due to the fact that the food inside was just barely thawed, I think I found out in time to save everything. Whew!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating that today!


  33. @ Lew:

    Apparently Mrs. Beeton would cook (and eat?) anything and never wasted any body parts. One would have liked to have known Mr. Beeton. Shall we presume that he was the one providing all this gourmet fare?


  34. Yo, Chris – Some old recipes don’t translate, from the past, very well. Errors in transcription, changes in ingredients and technology. I’m always impressed when an author trots out old recipes, and states that they’ve road tested them … sometimes, several times. I’ve got a cookie (biscuit) recipe book that’s taken from a hand written recipe book that covered the period of about 1918-1925. The author discusses her tests, what worked and what didn’t. Changes she made to make the recipes work.

    The live chicken recipe sounds like cruel and unusual punishment. I just read an article (it being Thanksgiving) on a town in Arkansas (that has a lot of turkey packing plants) that had annual turkey (mostly flightless birds) drop and scramble, involving an airplane. Recently banned. Much to the chagrin of some of the locals (“…the turkey festival just isn’t the same…”). Back when I worked in shopping malls, there were all these urban myths (?) floating around about turkey drops (“Hit the parking lot and exploded like bombs.”) and Santa’s chute not opening (“Years of intensive psychotherapy for those poor children.”)

    Maybe the silkie is being kept out of the hen house by the other chickens? With my mob, it seems like there was always one hen who was “it.”

    I will not get sucked into another go around of what constitutes a pumpkin, and what constitutes a squash. :-). But I’d say our pumpkins are round and orange and have very thick, parchment like inedible skins. Anything else is a squash, though the jury is out on cucumbers.

    OK. Keeping in mind that a cup, here is 8oz. the pumpkin / quinoa muffin recipe I used calls for 3/4 cup of quinoa (cooked) and 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour. The only tweaks I did to the recipe was … well, it called for 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds or pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) to be sprinkled on top. I just mixed in 1/4 cup of each, into the batter. I also doubled the amount of pumpkin pie spice. Glad I did. Still pretty mild, but, acceptable.

    I tried a half muffin, plane, just to get a take on the taste. Pretty good, if I do say so, myself. Even though it had baking powder and soda, not much of a rise. Sweet (but not too sweet), dense, with a fine crumb. Cake like. Throwing a bit of pumpkin ice cream on top, took them to a whole new level. Yup. They’ll pass as desert.

    Yup. Used to see a lot of tapioca pudding around, when I was a kid. Not so much, anymore. Seems to have fallen out of favor. Perhaps because, after awhile, it was perceived as “hospital” food. There was lots of very bad tapioca served in hospital. Now it’s jello, though I doubt that will fall out of favor.

    The rich of Wentworth apparently haven’t got the memo that poodles are rather passe. Here, they are perceived as a breed only favored by elderly gay men who are prone to fluffy expensive jumpers. One of those stereotypes that has some truth to it. Used as a rather lazy short hand in a number of movies and TV shows. Poodle mixes are popular here. Cockapoo comes to mind. Some have been around for so long that there’s a bit of a push to recognize some of them as official breeds. Cont.

  35. Cont. That was an amusing article about your recent political race. Pretty much the same rough and tumble here. And, the same phantom hopefuls and odious gatekeepers and minders. About the only difference I noticed was the amount of campaigning in and around the polling places. In most places, here, that’s forbidden.

    I think Wentworth is a bit like Orange County, California. Where I lived, for awhile. Orange County is wealthy and conservative. Republican. Think John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. Not only did that county produce Reagan, but also Nixon. Well, after decades of that sort of thing, it’s fallen to the more liberal. Which has cause a bit of a ripple of fear to pass through the conservative establishment. My (liberal) roommates, at that time, referred to it as being trapped behind the orange curtain. We later decamped to more hip and with it, Long Beach.

    Well, besides the muffins, I cranked out a couple of pints of cranberry sauce, last night. Not a full scale canning, just a nice freezer jam. So, the bird is in the oven. Though not a bird this year. A pressed loaf of white and dark turkey meat. Two pounds, but I know from experience a lot of that is going to be gravy. But, it will serve my purposes. Enough for a few slices and enough to pull off a reasonable facsimile of dressing. For a veg, I think I’ll use some of those potatoes and peas I grew in a white sauce. Lew

  36. Chris,

    My dad and my uncle had to be tough growing up like that. No matter how acclimated one is, when it is cold, it is cold until the fire gets things heated up.

    True point about knowing when to give something up. I haven’t found anything really definitive to govern the choice, either. Know formula or any kind of decision making tool can tell exactly when and what to change. Experience (one’s own and listening to the experience of others) helps, but it still comes down to a “feeling” sometimes. And that really does not make my overly mathematical logic circuits happy to admit!

    The rain woke me up this morning. It was +1C and raining in buckets. By noon it was +11C and sunny, so out I went to rake up more leaves. I got those dug into the garden, and have about another hour of raking to do and then I’m done. The final batch will go in the compost bin.

    I see a lot of people just throwing all sorts of organic matter into the garbage. Spokane has a “green bin” that costs like $4.00 per month to have the solid waste people pick up. ANY yard waste, including twigs and small branches, can be added to that. The bins are carted to the Giant Compost Pile and their contents added. I’ve tried to find out what happens to the compost, but haven’t been able to get an answer yet.

    Leaves, however, are another matter. City Solid Waste advertises the dates for leaf pick up in each neighborhood. People then pile their leaves in the street on the appropriate day, and Solid Waste picks them up and adds them to the aforementioned Giant Compost Pile. Seems to me a lot of people who could have some type of vegetable garden just can’t be bothered.

  37. @ Chris and Pam,

    If I may… several years ago we had a family gathering at my in-laws’ home in the mountains. A neighboring relative had geese and turkeys that had wandered into the yard where we were visiting.

    One of the 4 year old boys wanted to wander outside, so I went with him. We walked laps around the house, saying “Hi turkeys” to the turkeys on one side of the house, and then “Hi geese” when we walked by the geese on the other side of the house.

    The turkeys were friendly and walked up to us and were cute. Emboldened by this, the little guy decided to get close to the geese. I wasn’t the only person to tell him to leave the geese alone, but, well, he just had to. He ran shrieking to his mother when two geese stretched their necks and hissed at him. He started laughing, though, when I imitated the geese, hissed at them, and the geese ran away from me.

    After that he stuck close to me and gave the geese a wide berth.


  38. Hi Pam,

    No worries at all! Batteries are a paradox,in that you can have them installed, but the more you use them and the more you ask of them, the shorter their lifespan will be. My lot is already pushing up nine years of continuous service, but I baby them. Mind you, I’m cooking a loaf of bread in the outside oven right now. And that is another reason I don’t run an air conditioner because the constant load on the system would wear the components out earlier than they otherwise will.

    We do have an air conditioner, it’s called opening the window and letting in the outside air! Hehe! I used to make that joke about cars, because until about two decades ago, you used to have to option air conditioning in vehicles. Vehicles are very efficient glass houses.

    That isn’t good about the plug. Oh well, what do you do? The dogs would be a culprit if that happened here. Ollie is still a bit of a puppy and when we first got him, he seemed to be oblivious of his surroundings. The older dogs have taught him that he will be immediately bitten if he doesn’t take more care around them. Fortunately, he is a fast learner and the older dogs only remind him of the errors of his ways every now and then.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too.



  39. Hello again
    I can’t leave the question of pumpkin skin alone. I have grown Queensland blues and their skin is hard. You really say that you eat it?


  40. Hi Lewis,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    It is raining cats and dogs here. I checked on the weather radar around lunchtime to see whether there were any storms in the near future. And no, I didn’t see any, so I headed down into the paddock to do a job with the solar power panels located down there. I basically added additional fuses into that circuit so that if one solar panel failed, it wouldn’t take out the entire circuit of six panels. All of the other panels in the system other than these are wired up with individual fuses, but not that particular circuit so I thought I better go and do something about it.

    Anyway, I managed to drop a crucial nut which was used to bolt the main feeder cable. The nut disappeared because I managed to drop it down and into one of the cable conduits (the plastic outer protective flexible tube that the cables sit in) and it disappeared below the soil level. Gravity can be a bit of a bummer.

    Of course I didn’t have a spare 5mm (1/5th of an inch) nut in my collection, so I went all McIvor (or A-Team take your pick) and modified the component to take a 6mm bolt and nut. Problem solved, but it took a while to fix… And with my eye off the weather radar, a huge storm blew in from the south. To cut a long story short, I ended up looking like a drowned rat. And today was very cold here.

    Some parts of the country have bushfires. Other parts have significant snowfalls. I’m getting a dump of rain off the Southern Ocean. Other parts are having heat waves. The weather this week has gone beyond bonkers to, I dunno. What do you reckon I should call weather that has surpassed the level of extreme bonkers that it was last week? Double secret bonkers? Unfortunately, that doesn’t have a nice ring to it though…

    When you wrote that ‘ingredients change over the years’, my mind instantly went to flour, and just how different a product that it is now compared to back when millers were less concentrated. Out of curiosity, have you ever come across a Depression era cookbook? I’ll bet that makes for a fascinating read.

    The chicken recipe did sound a bit weird, and I for one would be very uncomfortable being presented with such a dish whilst at table.

    Oh, I thought that the Turkey Drop was some sort of urban legend. OK, well it is a complicated matter. From what I can glean of the situation, the town relies heavily on turkey abattoirs, presumably for employment. The editor has actually visited an abattoir, and I should remind you that we’re mostly vegetarians. But still, I reckon it would be a difficult thing for peoples mental health to work in an abattoir, and one way out of that difficulty is to treat the turkeys as objects. So things such as a turkey drop, I guess, can make an awful lot of sense, if you had to view the birds from the lens of them being an object. And the throughput at such industrial facilities would be quite shocking to the senses. I hear a lot of people – and this is not a criticism but an observation – getting up in arms about animal husbandry practices when they’re done on an industrial scale. And the practices are not pretty at all, but you know, people want cheap meat, so something has to give. I sort of feel sorry for the towns folks, because to me it looks like they might be caught in a double bind as they face conflicting demands (to treat the turkeys as sentient animals, but then to also bump them off and process them by the tens of thousands), but you know I’m an outsider to their situation and I’m only guessing and could well be very wrong.

    I had to head out in the filthy weather (the sun has now set) and dump the grey silkie chicken into a nesting box with another silkie chicken who I know is kind to her. She was damp but not too wet. However, if it keeps going this way, the grey silkie will get sick and die. It happens, and birds are rough as guts with the weaker members of their flocks. Maybe that is what it took for that family of birds and animals from the dinosaurs to survive the Chicxulub meteor and then all of the millions of years since then?

    I can only but try with the ongoing pumpkin versus squash saga. Hehe! Bad Chris.

    Spices are funny ingredients that have delightful fragrances, but yeah, they can sometimes be very underwhelming in the end product. I’m always guilty of putting in too little spice to a mix. It happens.

    Really? Hospital food? I thought that tapioca pudding was better than that. Kind of reminds me of aircraft food which can be a real mixed bag. Fortunately I don’t fly anywhere these days and haven’t for a very long time. My personal nightmare would be stuck on a cruise ship where a nasty case of gastro had broken out and was spreading… What a horror story.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the poodles and the jumpers. 🙂 Jumpers aren’t cool! Down here, poodles are generally a ladies dog, and incidentally a standard poodle (the big ones, not the little yappy things) rate as about the smartest domestic dog around. And for some reason relating to the hair, people do cross them like you say. I’m very unfussy about dogs and just take whatever is on offer at the time, as long as they’re not stupid and show a willingness to fit in – and most dogs are pretty smart.

    Glad you enjoyed the article as the author intersperses fascinating insights and observations with complete fluff to keep your attention and also to help you draw the conclusion that the whole situation is bonkers as. The minders were odious (an excellent word choice) and do they not realise that by attempting to control the situation, they only control a minor portion of the larger pie? Dunno.

    Hey, I had to run the gauntlet of political touts outside the voting office. I just gave them my best assertive and yet dazed and confused stare. That’ll stuff ’em! Why are they forbidden outside your voting offices? There is a story there…

    Yeah, absolutely. Wentworth is small, exclusive and quite well off. I couldn’t live in either area as the people would probably annoy the stuffing out of me. If the ruling conservative party didn’t get the message that their poo stinks from the loss of the safest of seats to an independent, well more fool them. We have a state election tomorrow which should be interesting, although I do understand that there is no political answer to the predicament that society faces, although some political answers can be better than others… Oh well. Historically some political answers have had very high body counts.



  41. Hi DJ,

    Absolutely, those two would have been as tough as old boots to survive such cold winters. Mate, it has barely gotten past 44’F here today and the wind howled and the rain blew hard. What a day to have, and only a week out from the official start to summer (whatever that means), so yeah, we had the wood fire going all day and inside the house is toasty warm. Although I unfortunately got caught outside in the rain late this afternoon and ended up quite wet as I couldn’t drop the work that I’d started. It happens. And this morning I was thinking to myself that I could possibly get the mower out for a few hours in the afternoon. Nope, not happening… Who would have thought that your afternoon was warmer than here! Far out.

    Gut feeling is as good a guide as any to those situations, but still it illustrates the point that there is indeed little certainty when faced with those sorts of choices. And you never really know when your biases are overriding your experience – or maybe they are one and the same? Dunno.

    That is pretty good value for a green waste bin. Not bad at all. I’ve visited a landfill site where they collect and process green waste. It is truly amazing to see. Most of the stuff goes through a humongous industrial mill. I assume that it is a hammer mill. From there the stuff gets moved on a conveyor belt which separates out the organic matter into (let’s use the technical term) chunk sizes. The separation process is easy because the stuff falls through increasingly larger holes as it moves along.

    Then here is the amazing bit. There are huge piles of organic matter steaming away. In fact, the operators usually have to spray the piles with water so that they do not ignite. After a while, the stuff is sold off to local councils and people such as myself (over 700 cubic yards in a decade, but I have lost count). I tried to find some images online of the small hills of mulch but the scale of the operation makes it too hard to see unless you’re looking at it yourself. The place smells sort of earthy to me.

    You’re probably right about the leaves. It is bonkers really, because people are using fossil fuels to send their soil minerals offsite. I can’t even begin to explain such thinking.

    Geese are pretty tough creatures, but they’re not that tough and yes, they can be a bit more bark than bite. Mind you, some animals can be more bite than bark – and my mind shudders to think of people taking selfies with cute Bears in the background… Not good. The kid may have learned a good lesson, and hopefully he hasn’t learned to fear geese?



  42. Hi Inge,

    Yeah, I’m not kidding about eating the pumpkin skin. Of course if the skin was a bit damaged for any reason, I wouldn’t eat it, but such damage is likely to be further into the pumpkin too, so I just cut that out and feed it to the worms.

    The skin does have to be roasted and attached to a chunk of pumpkin flesh, so it is not something that one would consume raw. The roasting process makes the skin a whole lot softer than what it starts out like.

    Are you intrigued enough to try it out – purely for research purposes?



  43. Hi Chris,

    My mother-in-law used to make elderberry pie which was pretty good but definitely needed either ice cream or whipped cream.
    I would think corn would do much better direct seeded rather than transplants. The seed can rot in the ground though if it’s wet and cool.

    The building was already pre-built but we had to get an excavator prepare the site. It fits in well and Doug should finally be able to organize all his stuff better.

    Well it was my daughter who hosted Thanksgiving. I just went in the day before to help her out some though she and her boyfriend has things pretty well under control. Everyone brings something too so they didn’t have too much food prep but rather cleaning and setting up tables and drinks. My sister of the many husbands and boyfriends had a big announcement yesterday – she’s getting married again (this will be number 4). We were all pretty taken aback as she had said after the latest break up that she was mostly done with men and certainly marriage. The day went well though and ended with karaoke as my daughter has a karaoke machine and pulls it out at the drop of a hat. Doug is at the tree farm selling honey now and I’m just working up the energy to do something. It should be a good day for him as the temperature has finally risen and the day after Thanksgiving is a big tree day. There is more significant snow in the forecast for Sunday now – originally 5 to 8 inches but that at least been dropped a few inches.


  44. @Pam

    Some years ago we decided to raise heritage Narragansett turkeys. Well they pretty much were out of their pen whenever they wanted to be. If we didn’t get them herded into their coop fast enough they would fly up to roost on the top of some very high fences and you would have to get something to gently knock them off so we could get them in. One night we came back later than we expected and it was totally dark out and all the turkeys were roosting way up high again. I had the brilliant idea of using a flashlight to see them better and it really freaked them out. They were running all over the yard and we ended up short two. There are flocks of wild turkeys around here on private land and the conservation areas. After we had lost those two there were reports of a couple of much lighter grey turkeys in with the wild turkeys and for a couple years afterwards you could tell which turkeys were their offspring. Often wild turkeys will come up to visit our penned up turkeys as well.


  45. Yo, Chris – The best I can come up with, off the cuff, is “Weird Weather.” Capitalized. But that doesn’t have much oomph, either. Flour was different, eggs were mostly free range and milk was whole and unpasteurized. I think some old recipes that seem a bit bland, is due to those changes. I’ve noticed when I use “good” ingredients, there’s a subtle (even to my dead old taste buds) layering of rich flavor. Or maybe my mind is trying to justify the extra expense? :-).

    Measurements were a bit slap dash in Ye Olde Days. A lot of the adjustments to old recipes are in that department. There used to be a lot of rosewater, in recipes. When vanilla became cheap and available in early Victorian times, it pretty much replaced rosewater. Shelf life might have had something to do with that.

    I do have a few Depression Era cookbooks. Lots of more thrifty substitutions. Less complicated foods, as to number of ingredients. Although most cookbooks before the Depression emphasized thrift. But there were always a few “for special” recipes.

    I felt pretty safe doubling the spice amount in the recipe. I think most recipe writers (and publishers) error on the side of restraint. A hangover from the horror of “to spicy food.”

    My Thanksgiving was fine. Not a great meal, but ok. For a number of small reasons. The turkey wasn’t … “real” turkey. Which altered the taste of the dressing. The darned white sauce didn’t want to thicken up. My muffin / ice cream desert was quit good … but it wasn’t pumpkin pie :-(. Lesson learned. If I don’t want to be mildly disappointed, stick with the traditional, tried and true.

    Objectifying people works, too. It’s called genocide. I must admit after reading the article on turkey “processing”, I was looking a bit side ways at my turkey loaf.

    When I was a wee small child, we had a pastor who had two standard poodles. I had never seen such beasts, before. :-).

    Here, you can’t even have campaign signs, within so many hundred feet of a polling place.

    Tapioca is a fairly easily digestible starch. A bit bland, for touchy tummies. Lew

  46. @ Pam – Here you go. All things Mrs. Beeton. 🙂


    There was a 2006 PBS movie called “The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton.” Pretty good, but played up some, really, unknown aspects of her life for dramatic effect. Were she and her husband really at such odds? Did he really give her syphilis? She died of puerperal (aka childbed) fever, at 28. Lew

  47. Chris,

    You jinxed me again. Yup, I got to the point of no return outside, with temperatures in the mid 40s F, and it started to rain. 😉 Well, a light rain for my final 5 minutes, so no big deal.

    I remember one time I was fishing at a local lake in probably late April. I was underneath some tall pine trees and noticed a thunderstorm moving my direction. Fast. The trees would’ve probably kept me dry, but being under the highest objects in the area isn’t a great idea. And even though I’ve always gotten along well with the thunder gods, so to speak, why tempt fate, right? The car was 1.25 kilometers away over rough terrain, mostly flat but some rolling hillocks. I took off running like the 9 Nazgul were hot on my trail. When the hairs on the back of my neck starting floating with minds of their own, I dropped my tackle box, threw my graphite fishing rod as far as I could, and dived for the lowest spot I could find.

    The thunder went past, the scare was over and the rain started. By the time I got back to the car, it had turned to torrential hail. After the hail slowed enough so that I could see to drive, there was 5cm of hail everywhere. Oh, I didn’t catch any fish that trip, either.

    Raking leaves is over for this year. There are 6 full bags, probably 40% of the entire leaf harvest. The remainder is split about equally between the compost bin and having been dug into the garden. By planting season, the compost bin should have gotten to the point that the leaves will be compost fit to add to my containers.


  48. Hello again
    Oh I’ll certainly try roasting pumpkin skin; I’ll do it when I next have a roast dinner. It won’t be for a while though because we have no pork at present. We are waiting to send the next batch of pigs to the slaughterer.

    @Lew also
    Political campaigning on the day of the vote is not permitted here either.

    I used to make an elderberry fool with custard. Any bowl used would become permanently stained purple.


  49. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the big thumbs up on the elderberry pie – with ice cream addition. You’ve made me curious to try the berries.

    Yes, I’m finding that quite a number of the summer plants are doing far better direct sowed – and that is despite the cold and rainy weather this week and the continual frosts earlier in the season. For your info, I’ve been re-seeding the corn bed, so who knows as it is only early days still.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by pre-built? Does that mean it turned up in a flat pack, or was it brought onto the site in prefabricated sections? I see both going on down here, although you may have noticed that I’m a bit old school in that I usually construct from the raw materials.

    It is very wise to get the guests to bring up food. As a comparison when we entertain groups such as the Green Wizards, we tend to do all of the catering, but keep things tasty but low stress. But yeah, there is a lot of cleaning, which I don’t mind.

    Haha! Sister of the many husbands maybe still hasn’t found what she is looking for, but I do hope that she eventually finds it. You never know, and age can mellow people – or they may run out of options. I read once a quote from an artist who remarked to the interviewer that they preferred their life in an emotional turmoil because it kept them well fed on an artistic front. I don’t feel that way, but I also acknowledge that the world is a very big place.

    Hopefully the attendees recalled that they had to stay somewhere at least near to the correct octaves for karaoke? Hehe! 😉

    Far out, that is a lot of snow, and would make selling honey a real drama, mostly because the honey would freeze and there would be few if any customers.

    I know you are interested in politics. I have heard people from overseas describe us lot as 7-11 (very amusing) due to 7 Prime Ministers in 11 years. Anyway, don’t spare a thought for the Prime Ministers, because we have plenty more where they came from. The state election was held today, and it was apparently a bloodbath for the party who caused the most recent Prime Ministerial demise… Given what happened today, I’d be nervous for my job if I were that lot at the Federal level. I’d have to suggest that the population down here has said that enough is enough, get on with your job and start sorting things out. Voting is compulsory down here.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    I reckon we can go with ‘Weird Weather’, although I’d have to suggest that it might not capture the public’s imagination as much as a snappy title would! So yeah, your gut feeling about the lack of oomph is close to my thoughts on the matter.

    I dunno about you, but all this talk about climate change is usually discussed in terms of what things will be like at the end of the century, and I have noticed that many people can happily dismiss that as being so far in the future that they can put it in the ‘not to worry about too much’ basket – whatever that is.

    Went to the Green Wizards meet-up today, which was a lot of fun. They’re a really great bunch of people. Unfortunately, our fearless leader is departing to move to New Zealand, which is a real bummer for all of us. The editor has been in my ear about taking over the leadership of the group, but I’m uncomfortable with that, as I already have a lot on my plate and have no desire to lead the group, although I would also be unhappy if the group disbanded due to the loss of leadership. It is a real conundrum, but I’m prepared to see what happens and hopefully it continues apace. I’ve offered to assist with administrative aspects of the group – and every club needs a secretary me thinks. What do you reckon about that? I’d value your opinion on this matter.

    I reckon you’re spot on about the change in the flavour of ingredients affecting the outcome of the cooked foodstuff. I sometimes find purchased eggs to be a bit bland tasting. A mate once described a dozen of our eggs as tasting a bit ‘strongly’ – whatever the heck that means. Mind you, feedback like that ensures that no further eggs are offered to that particular person. 🙂 What do you do? I’m not joking around when I say that the eggs here cost about $10+ per dozen mainly because I feed them quality grains, plus greens from the garden and free ranging in the orchard. Your guess that the ingredients taste better is true, because they do, and I’ve killed plenty of taste buds in my time too… I’m told that like brain cells they don’t regrow. A bit of a shame that. Imagine how sharp we were before the loss of all of the brain cells… It might explain a thing or two… Hehe!

    Hmm, I can see that about the rosewater, and it is chock full of vitamin C. I could grow vanilla orchids / pods inside the house as the local gardening club sell them. The spice guy at the market sells me vanilla pods and I just chuck them in vodka to produce vanilla extract. It is easy as, and I don’t have to recall to water the plants. I doubt that they’d survive outside without some serious global warming – which possibly shouldn’t be ruled out. Incidentally, the tea camellia is doing very nicely in its new home in the tomato enclosure. Interestingly, the other camellia shrubs look as though they have become better established too this year. Finicky plants. Did you take a tea camellia with you when you moved to your new digs?

    Thanks! I see thrift in a lot of recipes still in use. It is not lost on me that desserts such as tiramisu is a good use for stale biscuits. Chuck enough marsala wine on them and that brings them back from the dead. But the English used to make bread and butter pudding (yummo!) using stale bread too. As they used to say, everything including the squeak. I live in amazement at the food waste that people generate. And composting is not particularly complex.

    Well that is news to me. Was there a time when food was feared because it was considered ‘too spicy’?

    OK, what is ‘not real turkey’? Is this like when men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri! 🙂 I really hope that my previous comment hadn’t put you off your turkey game – which I reckon would be pretty good, given your skills in the kitchen?

    Mate, I have trouble with white sauces too and I usually chuck in flour to thicken them, but sometimes that ends up clumpy and requires a huge amount of whisking. But yeah, there is something to be said about meeting expectations by sticking to the tried and true (whatever the heck that is…)

    Oh no, sorry about mentioning the turkey bit… Oh well, these things happen, unintended consequences and all. And a bit of guilt to boot. My antidote to this line of thinking is to respect the bird by cooking it properly and carefully which I’m sure it got under your ministrations.

    Yeah, I had that at the back of my mind about people too, I mean it is a recurring theme in history and that is not lost on me at all – as well as the implications. We just had a state election today and it was a bloodbath for the party that controls the Federal government. I don’t reckon the party in control of the federal government can easily dismiss that message from the electorate, but you know, they might give it a try: Victorian election result shows Labor landslide with big swings in Melbourne’s east. The Liberal National coalition are the federal folks that I mentioned. The labour party put in place a procedure to stop the sort of internal fighting that has consumed both parties for the past decade. I heard that overseas we are called 7-11 (very amusing), for 7 Prime Ministers in 11 years. Hopefully we can move past this silliness and get on with the job at hand and maybe some new and interesting silliness. That is what we pay the tricksters for anyway.

    I hope the pastor with the poodles wasn’t part of that cliche? They have an odious reputation down here due to the recent Royal Commission and the resulting fall out and responses. Not good.

    Mate, I seriously had to run the gauntlet at the polling booth – it was feral. Elsewhere the posters get defaced. My favourite is when the people doing the defacing draw gap teeth and a Devil’s horns and tail. Always gets a laugh from me, but then small things and all that… Do they deface political posters in your part of the world? For some reason down here they seem to include photos (often touched up) of the candidates.

    Oh, that makes sense about tapioca, although from time to time, we all get touchy tummies (food is good and that is a sad but fortunately rare day for me).

    The train ride in and out of the city today was nice. I stood up the entire way in, and the conductor said to me that there were plenty of seats in the carriages, so I remarked to him that I’d sat on my bum all week and that was enough for me thanks very much! Hehe!



  51. Hi DJ,

    One can only do their best! 😉 And compared to the week I’ve just had, five minutes of rain sounds like shorts and t-shirt weather to me! Hehe!

    You got lucky with that thunderstorm, so yes, both the Nazgul and the thunder Gods protected you that time. Although, let’s not say that too loudly in case they are listening and decide to come back for a second shot and get you. It happens…

    It is hardly surprising that you caught no fish on that trip given the weather. Animals are sensitive to thunderstorms – probably due to the rapid change in air pressure that accompanies the storms. May I remind you of Scritchy, storm detective. Hey, I checked the camera and scored two good shots of lightning during the storms, but far out the weather has been very ordinary this week so not much has happened. But again, note to self, don’t tempt the weather Gods as things could always get worse.

    Hail is a funny thing, because at this altitude it often arrives as tiny ball bearing sized hail stones, but closer to Melbourne which is much lower in altitude, the stones are big enough (golf ball sized) to write off vehicles. The results of such a storm are impressive to see on a vehicle.

    I agree, the leaves should be quite interesting to see how the fungi and other soil critters have dealt to them over the winter. Out of curiosity, do you chuck any old garden soil in the bags too? That will probably speed up the process – even a hand full or so to each bag will make a big difference.



  52. @ Margaret:

    What a wonderful turkey story. Thanks so much! They are some of my favorite birds. It is such a sight to see such big birds way up in the trees and to hear them gobbling in the woods is such a treat.


  53. @ Lew:

    That was fascinating biography. It always amazes when I see how often photographic portraits were made at that time, the 1850s. Mrs. Beeton certainly accomplished a lot for someone who died at 28, especially in that time period, when women did not often work at careers.

    If my figuring is right, there were eventually 20 children in the blended families after her mother remarried when her father died. No wonder she was an expert on organization!


  54. Chris:

    Heeding your advice – I mostly heed your advice . . . – I have just been out to the garden to eat some greens as I have some sort of sinus thing. Unfortunately, about the only ones growing right now are my winter-dependable chickweed and some chard, none of the spicy mustards (though we have horseradish root; its tops have pretty much had it, though). I was so desperate that I ate some catnip; yuk.

    I also am remembering your recommendations to stretch.


  55. Yo, Chris – Well, humans (as a species), don’t put much stock in dangers that are not in their face / up close and personal. Sweeping generalization. We have a hard time gaging where to put time and money, which can be in limited supply. Also, at play, I think, is perhaps the worry of “betting on the wrong horse” and appearing foolish.

    About the Green Wizards. What? No “will to power?” :-). Nietzsche would be miffed. But, seriously, sometimes it’s time for groups to fade away. They might revive, later. Or, it might be better thought of as a winter activity. You’ve offered to be support staff, I think that’s sufficient. I think I’ve mentioned that after quit a few years of “carrying the ball”, I carefully avoid getting sucked into AA stuff. I’m done. There are younger people who would benefit from the experience. There are times in my life where I’ve stepped down from positions, or, avoided promotions. And, other times where I really went after things.

    I just spent $5.59 for a dozen eggs, yesterday. Julia occasionally throws a dozen my way, but her “girls” have stopped laying (pretty much) for the winter. I got the eggs from our local “health” food store. Certified organic, free range, anti-biotic free and fairly local. Just the next county, over. I don’t run through a lot of eggs. It’s usually an every other weekly, thing.

    The tea plant finally expired just after the move. Apparently didn’t like the new digs. I also have a Christmas cactus (out of two) that is going into a long swoon. The patient’s prognosis does not look good, but I’m trying this and that.

    I just buried two bags of kitchen scraps. Got a bit ahead of me. Harvest time, and all. One of the ladies would like to do that, but she just doesn’t have the strength, anymore. I guess they tried a community compost heap, at one point, but people kept putting stuff in it that shouldn’t be put in it. And, again, no one with enough strength to keep it turned. Then there’s the hole contingent (usually not anyone who’s gotten near a spade) that thinks it draws vermin or would smell. Some unshakeable beliefs, there. Or, the feeling that right-minded “nice” people package up the garbage and send it “away.”

    Oh, the whole looking down their noses at “too spicy” foods was a lot of ethnic prejudice, in a lot of cases. Italians, Chinese, Mexicans. Which has been overcome, a bit. Not the prejudice against other nationalities, but the prejudice against the food. I’m always a bit amused when some racist rolls in ethnic foods. There’s some major disconnect there, that I find amusing. Then there was the whole fixation on “digestion”. Spicy foods were seen to excite women and children. And, we can’t have that! Get your digestion right and you’ll live forever. That’s still around, in a slightly different form.

    Oh, I put myself off my turkey game. The loaf I used was half dark, half white turkey meat, pressed into shape. Maybe ground? Hard to tell. Oh, I know what goes on in factory farming. I mostly steer clear of it. But even in a rural county, it’s hard to find meat from animals who were raised humanly, other than one bad day.

    Sigh. The sorrows of white sauce. :-(. Yeah, I should have tossed in a bit more flour. LOL, but by that point, it was about the last thing I did and I was pretty tired of fiddling with food. And, the attendant clean-up. I noticed it thickened up, as it cooled. Also, overnight in the fridge and it thickened more. Last night I took what was left of the peas, potatoes and white sauce, tossed in some sprouts and mushrooms, heated it on the stove and slopped it over a layer of my ubiquitous brown rice. Topped off with a sprinkling of green onion. That was pretty yummers, and by that point the sauce was where I wanted it, in the first place. I also think, no matter what the Net says, there’s more of a trick to using almond milk for white sauce, than advertised.

    Standard poodles are not part of the stereotype. So no problems of that nature, with the pastor. But as an 8 year old, I pretty much wrote him off when he opined that dogs didn’t go to heaven.

    Here, to remove or deface campaign signs is against the law. But, it happens, and I’ve never heard of anyone being prosecuted.

    Well, I guess I’ll wander on up to Tower Street, in Centralia. All the tat stores are having a Small Business Saturday (keep it local!) and everything is on offer from 10-50% off. There might be treasure! Lew

  56. Hi Chris,

    The building was delivered by truck completely built. Doug’s working on getting it anchored down to be on the safe side. The building is 16′ by 31′. If we were a lot younger building like you do might be an option. Also we really need the space before winter arrives with a vengeance as most equipment needs to be and even if it doesn’t it last much longer under roof. Now the forecast is for 8 to 12 inches tomorrow and tomorrow night with wind. This is quite early for a storm of that size.

    We always have people bring food to the larger family events. It’s fun to see what shows up too. My daughter put together some very attractive courtigge trays too.

    I’m not sure what my sister’s thinking is regarding the continuing succession of men in her life. I know my niece isn’t too thrilled as she says she and her brother develop a relationship with these guys and then they’re out of the picture.

    Most of the karaoke singers have their favorites to perform. My daughter’s boyfriend is terribly off key and loud but he has no qualms about performing anywhere. Much hilarity ensues as soon as he begins. My oldest daughter has a particularly good voice though she claims it’s not as good now that she’s in her mid 40’s and I suppose that’s true. We always request that she sing “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxotsTtwKDQ
    She can sing it in both English and Italian and hit the high notes as well. Youngest daughter has many favorites including Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”, any Peter, Paul and Mary song as well as selections from numerous musicals. One of my sisters does a good rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”. Our mother played an eclectic selection of music and we grew up singing along. Many of us know the complete lyrics to the musicals, “Evita”, Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Mis” among others. I’m not sure you’d like some of our family parties and to be honest some of our spousal units aren’t always thrilled either haha. Patrick loved to sing and karaoke. Now his voice was a bit off key but it never stopped him.

    I’m more interested in the entertainment value of politics as there’s not too much I can personally influence other than being an informed voter and communicating with my government representatives. I hadn’t heard the 7-11 reference before – pretty funny.


  57. Hi Pam,

    Glad to read that you don’t heed all of my advice – if only because I get things occasionally very wrong – and that might not be good for you to experience. 🙂 Chickweed is meant to be a veritable super food it has so many goodies in it, and doesn’t it grow well all by its self. Your horseradish sounds done for the season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dig some roots up and enjoy the explosive effect. Haven’t tried catnip before and I appreciate you road testing it and will heed your warning. Plenty of water will help, and coffee believe it or not may dehydrate you but it is also an anti-inflammatory. Hope you feel better soon.

    Yeah, I stretch every day – this getting older business is sometimes good, but you know it can also be very over rated.



  58. Hi Inge,

    Best wishes for your road test of the roasted pumpkin skin. My only advice is not to under or over roast it! Ooo, and yeah it will go very nicely with roast pork. Crackling. Yummo!



  59. Hi Margaret,

    I had to work the dimensions backwards into metric so that my brain could wrap itself around the sheer size of the building. Well I’m impressed to say the least. 4 and a bit metres x 9 and a bit metres. I assume that some sort of crane was involved? Years ago I watched a portable building on a truck work its way through the forest up this way. A bloke sat on the top of the building at the front with a chainsaw and UHF radio and had to stop the truck every now and then to cut off a low hanging branch that otherwise would have smashed the building. I’m not sure I would have been comfortable doing that job.

    Sometimes time pressures dictate the wisest course of action and that sure is a lot of snow + wind forecast. Did it arrive and was it as bad as expected?

    What exactly is a courtigge tray? Is that the local name for finger food?

    Who knows? Has anyone though to ask – or is it a touchy subject? I’ve been a kid in that circumstance and after a while it becomes hard to know when to form attachments. But life goes on, so it isn’t really as complicated as it might at first seem. Strangely enough, and I can’t speak for them, but for me I have a certain leaning towards stability if only because I’ve experienced the other side of that continuum.

    Hehe! Good for both of them, and being able to sing for your older daughter is a real skill. Not everyone can that’s for sure and to stay good it has to be practiced like any muscle or skill. Thanks for the song. Yes, who can forget the massive Coolio hit? Janis was quite the performer who passed on well before her time. Incidentally I was getting the films A Star is Born and The Rose mixed up in my head a week or two back – very different films.

    I’m going to dodge you on the musicals, my mind is blurring at the thought and my attention span is slowly fading away to elsewhere!

    What were we talking about? Oh yeah, honestly, the get togethers sound like a lot of fun.

    Yeah, me too but I am interested in the human side of the story as they appear to have lost themselves in some sort of self-reverential bubble. Whatever are they doing with minders – and why are the minders in control of the scenario – and who pays for those folks? Advisers are good and all, but sometimes you have to tell them to go take a leap. All good questions. Funnily enough…



  60. Hi Lewis,

    Maybe it is a sweeping generalisation, but I think not. I’ve often wondered whether there is some underlying reason possibly relating to a condition of comfort, and then whether there is a critical mass of folks who are uncomfortable and backed into a corner and feel as though they have little to lose? Dunno.

    Betting on the wrong horse is a nice way to put the situation. Honestly, I’d be happy to see people betting on any other horse because there is so little diversity in the paths that people appear to be choosing. And take one foot off that well trod path and people start worrying, I hear a lot of that pressure and it is sometimes expressed as: “Don’t you worry that…” and is spoken with a concerned tone. But really, such questions are more about them and not much about me at all – and honestly, I don’t ask other people such a question using such a tone. But the problem becomes that the inherent fear stops people from doing anything differently because inevitably at the core is a fear of having to give a perquisite up. I said to the Green Wizards group that the fear of having to give something up is far greater than the actuality – unless of course it is basics like food, warmth and shelter where the actuality is a far greater problem than the fear.

    Well Nietzsche can enjoy his opinions – but it goes without saying, although I intend to say it, that Nietzsche lost his marbles, so his worldview could use a bit of softening! Bad Chris. 🙂 I kind of feel sorry for Nietzsche because he was onto something as he intuitively understood that there had been a significant shift in western thought and he struggled with it. Anyway, that is how I interpreted his claim that God is Dead. I suspect that God / Gods would have other ideas on that particular shift in consciousness, and I don’t really worry about such things because I feel that the way humans interpret the world is rather circular in time – we’re basically the same creatures who lived many millennia ago. What do they say: Everything old is new again?

    Thanks for your thoughts about the group, and my offer of assistance (technically club secretary) was an unexpected middle ground offer on my part – we’ll see how that goes, although I’m not entirely sure that people understood my offer. I have to be careful not to dominate any group because I’ve lead effective teams in the past and gotten paid for that. It is hard to shake free of that easy option for other people, but to shake free gives space for other flowers to bloom (to quote a garden analogy). When I was younger I felt differently, but now I don’t necessarily offer an easy path for others. It is nice that we grow as we age. I like that. I intend to write tonight about leaders letting go, or anyway that is the story.

    Yeah, that sounds about the right price to me for your time of the year. And nice choices with the eggs too! Chickens really do go off the lay over winter, and so like all other products derived from nature it is nice to understand the flow of the seasons. We went for five weeks this year without a single egg, and whilst I feel that the rats were breaking into the enclosure and consuming the eggs (before we laid the cement slab over their tunnels), I can’t be 100% sure that that was the case.

    Christmas cactus’s are delightful plants, very playful (you may be surprised at a late recovery?) Ouch, well I’ve killed at least four tea camellia’s (and maybe more), but this current one has survived -2’C / 28’F outside which is almost unheard of – and it is the real deal sub-tropical variety. Mind you, it will probably turn toes up on the next stonking hot summer day…

    It is hard to know what to do in such a circumstance with the garden organic matter. When I used to live in the inner big smoke, I took my food scraps to a nearby community garden (plots were rented out) and placed it in their compost pile. But the systems were not good and the compost pile was actually a refuge and food store for rats, so I had to bone up on worm farms and set up a system in my own backyard (which worked a treat after a few early failures). Mate, I hate to be the one to tell them that there is no away, sad to say.

    Hehe! All things come and go and eventually get absorbed into the culture – and food is such a fine meeting place. When I was a kid people were way down on the Greeks and Italians, but the delightful ethnic food won over plenty of fans. Then they were way down on the Vietnamese, and I really enjoy Vietnamese food. And when I was in the gritty Industrial parts of the big smoke I noticed and used to frequent Ethiopian restaurants and enjoyed their cuisine too. I guess my take on all of that is that food is good!

    Mate, I too find it hard to purchase meat that has been raised (is ethically the right word? Dunno maybe not because it so loaded) with the concerns of the animal in mind. Mind you, my mates of the big shed fame raise animals for the table and I enjoy a feed at their place – and can respect the gift that the animals provided. Incidentally, the last time I visited their place I’d noticed a serious increase in the fertility of their paddocks – probably because of the diverse manures and nitrogen fixing shrubs they’ve planted.

    I have a dark suspicion that some foods are better consumed the following day (stews come to mind), and the description of your next day feed sounds really nice to my ears.

    Hehe! Well I know people with standard poodles, but they are usually female owners down here, so I thought that I should clarify the cultural difference. If you were being cheeky as an 8yo, you could have suggested that bad pastors get reincarnated into standard poodles! I’m sure the humour would have been lost on him, but it might be true.

    Really, it is an art form down here. I was flat out last week otherwise I would have taken time out to take some photos of the more choicest of altered campaign posters. Some of them showed real artistic flair – as well as a certain sort of raffish devil may care attitude.

    Keep it local is a sound strategy and I always try to do my best on that front and am known by name and sight by quite a number of businesses that I frequent. If there is time I usually take the time to have a chat – unless that is not socially appropriate and/or they prefer to keep a respectful distance – which is cool with me as I do my best to respect their values as long as that is reciprocated – which is a complex cultural stance possibly a bit Bourgeois? It certainly can’t hurt.



  61. Yo, Chris – That bit about being backed into a corner. Well, they’re rioting in France. The first report I heard on the radio mentioned high gas prices, as the reason. And, I thought to myself, I bet there’s more issues involved. That lots of current things going on has people a bit on edge and, in their case, gas prices were just the final straw. (Sweeping generalization, alert!) But then again, the French seem to have a tradition of taking to the streets at the drop of a hat. Although I don’t think they’ve ever rioted over milliner. Although, given their interest in fashion sense, I wouldn’t be surprised. Libovitz’s books (“Sweet Life in Paris,” etc.) on moving to France (pretty much at the drop of his hat) has a mention of the French’s proclivity for demonstrating in the streets. Usually, unions. Apparently, the French don’t spend enough time with their screens. That would take the wind out of their sails.

    I hope there will be eggs available all winter at the “health” food store. Probably will be. I’d guess they use some lights to keep the girls going, all winter. I did with my small flock. But I think you can strike a balance of not pushing the hens, too hard. Not to run them 24/7. I kept it to the low end of the suggested amount of light hours. I always had enough eggs for me, in winter. Just not so many to give away. Of course, I had to fiddle with the timer, quit a bit, as the days got shorter and then longer. Adjusting for Daylight Savings Time was a bit of a nightmare. Given I wanted to stick to a regular schedule, as much as possible.

    That was a wizard idea, throwing a bit of garden dirt in plastic bags of leaves. Get a bit of microscopic breakdown going. A bit of pre-digestion. Speaking of wizards, when I was out tat hunting, yesterday, I ran across a Royal Doulton porcelain oversize mug, called “The Wizard.” He was on my “someday E-Bay” list. A pretty good price, too. Looks like someone’s idea of Merlin.

    On raising animals. Ethically isn’t too loaded, I don’t think. At least, not to me. Kindly? Respectfully? I think we’d all be better off if we looked at meat more as a special occasion kind of a thing. Or, more of a condiment. I have friends who announce that they “can’t get along without my meat!” Sure you can. There’s very little in the world that you “can’t” get along with. I get that when I suggest just a bit of moderation.

    There was a bit I read in “This Victorian Life” last night that was a bit of “who knew?” and “unintended consequences of technology. There was a chapter on Victorian watches and time keeping. The author and her husband had each acquired pocket watches. The old gear jobs. They both eventually, quit working. So, they found an old watch repairer who seemed to know what he was about. It turns out the old gear watches are having a bit of a problem with modern life. If subjected to enough magnetic field (as created by cell phones or metal detectors) and the tiny gears become magnetized and stick together. They can be demagnetized, but you have to be vigilant. The husband found a kind of metallic fabric that he was able to line his watch pocket. It effectively makes a Faraday Cage, to protect his watch.

    Well, I’m off to the Club to gas with Julia, for awhile. I’ll probably swing by the library on my way over and scope up another couple of bags of leaves. Lew

  62. Hi Chris,

    My mistake – the correct name is charcuterie tray – a fancy name for a tray of cured meats and cheeses which can also include nuts and fruits.

    The storm is just about to arrive. We’re still supposed to get about 12 inches (about 30 cm) of snow today and tonight. Doug is not selling honey today due to weather forecast and the fact that he had to get the snow blower on the tractor. he also rearranged things enough that his truck is in the garage. Not too much fun to get all that snow off.


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