Talkin bout Vegan

Some people have all the fun. I keep hearing about self righteous and proselytizing vegans, but all the people I know who pursue a vegan diet, are by and large, lovely people. They quietly go about their lives, pursuing and enjoying a plant based diet. Perhaps there are grumpy ones out there, but I feel slightly cheated that I am yet to meet one. Phooey, to my poor luck!

The other evening, the train was cancelled. And so I found myself as the only passenger on the train replacement bus headed into the big smoke of Melbourne. I was bored, and the bus driver was bored, so we struck up a conversation. We spoke about lots of interesting topics, and he casually mentioned that he had a friend who was a vegan. But then he felt the need to explain to me that she wasn’t of the self righteous and proselytizing type. He did feel the need to warn me against such plant munching extremists, and so I guess he must have met such a person in the past. But, with all the other interesting topics that we spoke about, I forgot to ask as to the details of the encounter.

I have definitely been ripped off, because I just haven’t met an angry vegan. Such people are so thin on the ground, I’m starting to believe that they may be an invention of a marketing agency working for the meat industry? Stranger things have happened.

As a side story, when at home we consume a vegetarian diet which includes milk, eggs, yoghurt and cheese. The eggs come from our chickens, and we’ve made our own yoghurt for so long now that I forget when we began doing so. Home made yoghurt is quite tasty, but from time to time I dream of the sugary sweet commercial yoghurts I enjoyed in my earlier years. Away from home, we eat whatever is on offer and don’t make the slightest fuss, as long as the quality of the food is good, and it is well prepared (not always guaranteed). I’ve nicknamed our diet ‘mostly vegetarian’.

Whilst in the big smoke of Melbourne the other night, I did spot a Vegan restaurant. The vegan restaurant looked suitably cool, and it had people coming and going, and they all looked cool. And so the editor I thought that we might try the restaurant in the near future. But then watching the happy and cool people sitting at the outside tables being fed vegan food, we noticed something really strange. The food was being delivered to the tables using lots of what looked to me like food grade cardboard and plastic drink containers. That was a deal breaker for me, because there is a certain bizarre irony in having concerns for animal welfare, and yet creating a lot of unnecessary rubbish when being fed.

Despite the unnecessary rubbish, I still failed to see any angry vegans, so I suspect the food was quite good. But alas, my old fashioned concerns mean that dining out for me normally involves ceramic, glass and washable steel cutlery. And I’m happy to pay for that.

Rubbish is such a strange part of our society that I suspect people no longer even notice it, whether they are angry vegans or not. The other day I took this photo:

Note the yellow steel cage protecting the temporary traffic light

In the photo above, you can see a yellow steel cage surrounding a temporary traffic light outside the World Heritage Listed, 19th century Exhibition Buildings and gardens. It is a truly beautiful building and gardens. Yet, earlier in the day I noticed a guy on a push bike dropping a food grade cardboard and plastic lined disposable coffee cup into the steel cage which protects the temporary traffic light. I’m pretty certain that the steel cage isn’t a rubbish bin, and I feel for the poor council employees who will eventually have to clean it out.

We have no rubbish service here at the farm, and so we are extremely careful with creating and/or bringing back any rubbish onto the property. And we have to have a process for every type of material that is deemed to be rubbish and/or materials for recycling. I guess that is why I notice rubbish.

About a year ago, the nice Chinese declared that our materials for recycling that we had been sending them for many long years, were too dirty and full of mixed materials for them to accept any more. Fair enough too, as it takes a lot of conscious effort to sort out all of the different materials, and it is much easier to just bung your rubbish into a steel cage on the side of the road.

The problem is, other than metals for recycling, as a society we’re not really recycling a lot of materials at all these days. You could say that the War of Waste (TM pending) is going very well, because we are drowning in the stuff, and a lot of it now is heading straight to landfill. And landfills have the unfortunate habit of filling up, hence the snappy name. Here is a recent update on the situation down here: Victoria’s recycling crisis goes from bad to worse as another plant shuts down.

I certainly feel that the situation is unsustainable, but at the moment it also seems very unstoppable. So, call me a naysayer, but I am seriously uncertain why people feel so positive about recycling when most of the ‘recycled’ items are going to landfill.

The weather here has been rather variable this season, and the past week was pleasantly cool and sunny. The cooler weather allowed us to work during the late afternoons, which is something that we had been unable to do recently due to the heat. Fear not though readers, this week will be hot again.

We completed constructing the final stair step in the staircase leading down to one side of the blackberry enclosure:

The third and final concrete stair (right hand side of the photo) on the staircase leading down to the blackberry enclosure was constructed

I also began the slow process of fertilising the fruit trees with a mixed load of composted woody mulch and mushroom compost. There are a lot of trees for me to get to, so I hope I get the job completed before winter sets in.

I began fertilising the fruit trees in the orchard with a mix of composted woody mulch and mushroom compost

Observant readers will note that I removed all of the grass from around the trunks of the fruit trees, and have also removed the lower branches. Despite the hot and dry summer, the ground cover still has a slight bit of green to its colour.

Speaking of pruning, there are two giant olive trees in the courtyard next to the house. The trees are like triffids, and they grow very fast and produce a lot of olives without any watering at all. However, they have become too big, and we began pruning the trees back. Clearly this job is not yet complete!

The two olive trees in the courtyard have begun to be pruned

That is one bad haircut that can actually be blamed on the hairdresser. All of the prunings were added to a garden bed, where they’ll break down and feed the plants in the garden bed.

The firewood bay that sits next to the house (and is well out of the rain) has begun to be filled. Another afternoons work should complete that job. Surprisingly, this bay can hold three bright yellow trailer loads of firewood.

The firewood bay next to the house has begun to be filled

It has been so hot and dry recently that we leave water out for the birds and the bees (plus all of the marsupials and other animals that live here). During the day, the bees line up at the water troughs for a drink of water:

Thirsty bees line up for a drink of water

We’re harvesting plenty of produce at the moment.

The almonds have not been watered all season and they are producing plenty of nuts:

When the outer fuzzy green shell on almonds split open, the inner shell and nut is ready to harvest
The inner almond shells are then left out in the sun to dry (note the green fuzzy outer shell in the bottom left hand corner of the photo)

Some of the corn plants are still growing, but we’re harvesting any cobs that look ready. With seed saving for corn, we cut off a small section of corn cob and leave them to dry, and the kernels will be planted next spring.

Some of the corn is still growing, but a lot of the cobs are ready to be harvested
How good do the cobs look? And the white kernels are normal for open pollinated heritage varieties

The tomato enclosure is producing heaps of food. The chilli’s and capsicums are really tasty (albeit some are a little bit on the fiery side):

The chilli’s point towards the sun as befits such a fiery fruit
Capsicums on the other hand point to the cooler soil (as they are not fiery at all)
The slim variety of eggplants are proven performers in this location. Larger eggplants can be a bit hit or miss
This is the first year that we have grown beans, and the vines happily climb up the sapling fence around the tomato enclosure
The birds have consumed a lot of apples this year

We had a good season for apples, but I have let the native birds eat most of the crop. The trees are still a bit young, and in these sorts of hot and dry summers, the birds are doing the trees a favour by thinning the fruit. I prefer that the trees grow and survive to produce more fruit in a future year.

The almost ready to eat crops (and also the far from ripe) are:

A canteloupe and a watermelon happily co-exist side by side
The pumpkins are getting biggerer!
This fig is the oldest fig tree and growing and fruiting despite the heat and dry weather. I do hope we get to consume these tasty fruits

Onto the flowers:

The slightly less hot weather has seen this nursery bed of geranium cuttings explode with growth
How lovely are these geraniums that surround the fencing in the dog enclosure. They have had no watering at all
Some geraniums are stunners like this one next to a lavender
And geraniums can be real show offs
The salvia family of plants grow very well with geraniums
A belladonna Lilly recently popped out these colourful flowers in a bed of catmint and Californian poppies

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 18’C (64’F). So far this year there has been 33.8mm (1.3 inches) which is slightly higher than last weeks total of 33.6mm (1.3 inches).

59 thoughts on “Talkin bout Vegan”

  1. Hi everyone,

    Just a minor bit of website administration.

    I’ve been increasingly getting spammed by entities that feel that I have a great need for pharmaceuticals and / or dubious financial products.

    My patience with them has worn thin, and I’ve now blocked them from accessing the website altogether. For all intents and purposes, the blog has disappeared off the interweb for them.

    I think the lesson there is something or other about not all voices being equal and all that.

    Anyway in the highly unlikely event that you lovely people have been accidentally blocked, please send me an email to the fernglade farm domain (any email address there is fine) and I’ll unblock you.



  2. Chris,

    Like you, I have yet to meet any proselytizing or angry vegans. Vegetarians that will eat eggs and cheese are a different matter. I noticed what a friend was eating for breakfast at an event recently: no fat and low protein vegetables and fruits. Not knowing that he had recently become vegetarian, I commented on the low protein and had him and 3 other people jump all over me that you don’t need MEAT to get adequate protein. I said nothing about meat. Teach me to say anything about someone’s food!

    I leave water out for the birds during the months when the water won’t freeze. The birds drink, the squirrels drink, and the hornets and wasps and bees drink. They all seem willing to share with one another.

    Thank you. I consider my logic chopping to be one of my strongest and best developed abilities. Sometimes the way I hash it up startles even me.

    The “why are we here” test. That’s a good name for it. I am starting to discover many uses for that test. If most humans tended to ask that question regularly, we might be able to get out of the mess we’re in with the planet. But, that would mean facing ourselves, knowing ourselves, and asking ourselves difficult questions. It is much easier to remain on autopilot and do what the crowd is doing.

    Our warming trend has been delayed. We might start getting late January temperatures about March 7, meaning highs about +1C or slightly higher. When it changes, I’m guessing it will be overnight. The forecast for March through May is warmer and dryer than normal.

    We’re having similar issues with recycling for the same reason. At least in your photo people were placing their rubbish somewhere. People just tossing their rubbish on the street or into yards is very common here.


  3. Hi Inge,

    3 teaspoons of salt is a lot for one loaf isn’t it! But, in my defence I was just following orders, I mean the recipe..To be honest, I actually really liked that loaf and might keep adding that much salt. I did some reading and apparently the additional salt is good for taste (each to their own), but also can help with structure of the dough, and the holding of gas, or something like that anyway.


  4. Hi Damo,

    That would be about as much salt as I would add to a similar sized loaf of bread – given the quantity of flour you quoted. The loaves I make are about one third the size of yours. Bread without salt included in the mixture, tastes a bit strange to my palate (almost a bit bland), but as you hinted at, the salt actually does something to the chemistry of the loaf – so it is not added merely for taste. Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to… I read about the background to all of the ingredients in making bread a year or two back when it finally dawned on me that I should grow my own bread wheat – and the why of it all. The finer details are now lost on me, alas for my poor overloaded memory.

    The moonscape makes that town a destination where otherwise people might shoot through it on their way to Strahan. The town gives me the creeps for some reason, and that is just a woo woo thing on my part.

    What an awesome question! 🙂 The biggest thing would be to construct the house with a skillion roof with about a 15 degree angle. Go on, ask me why – I dare you!

    Your DIY plumbing job was an elegant solution to the problem. Incidentally, I know quite a bit about water pumps, and the relays in the controllers are only rated to switch so many times per hour. Twenty times per hour would be quite often. Of course, the controllers and relays can do more, but that will wear them out. We get around that issue of rapid cycling issue by installing a pressure tank which holds water at pressure on the outlet side of the water pump. Of course you need to add a non-return valve between the water pump and the pressure tank, otherwise the seals in the water pump are put under constant pressure and they may fail early. Some water pumps like Grundfos include a non-return valve within the controller, but such a device is not guaranteed in a water pump. Welcome to my world of relying on water pumps – it is not a fun place full of rainbows and unicorns – unfortunately.

    Mate, you don’t need to convince me – I loathe renting because the rules are weighted heavily in favour of investors – and that makes you the investment. The last place I rented, I repaired the huge swaths of grass that had been killed off by the former tenant who poured poisonous chemicals over the grass and parked their car over it. I guess it saved them from mowing, and everyone seemed to be happy with dead and bare patches of sun baked clay. Fast forward more than a year or so, and I got an order to cut the grass which I’d lovingly repaired to better than its former glory over the entire property – we gave notice to vacate and moved into a half finished house. The grass was barely more than an inch tall. Mate, I feel your pain.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the video and I’ll have a look at it tonight.

    One good turn deserves another, and I thought you might enjoy this story of a long occupied (since the 1850’s and 1860’s) market garden in what is a suburb of inner Melbourne. The land was never built upon because it is a flood plain and adjacent to the Merri Creek (which I used to live very close too): Gardening for Life.

    The almond trees are still quite young, but I reckon this year I’ll harvest about 100 nuts between the three trees – and that is despite any additional watering. There are actually four almond trees, but the wallabies did a nasty pruning job on one of the almond trees and well, it is a bit smaller than the others… Fresh almonds are really tasty. I grow a couple of other nut trees including: Horse Chestnut (for soap nuts); Chestnut; Bunya Nut; Hazelnut; Pistachio; and the really long shot cold tolerant Macadamias. I have seen Macadamia trees produce nuts this far south despite them being tropical plants – they’ve survived snow and frost.

    Mate, the bees are the only pollinating insect out and about when the almond trees flower, so yeah, the two go hand in hand – unless of course we discover that we have to perform the job ourselves that the bees once did for free? Yes, once we were bees! I have a suspicion that the European honey bees will recover when they are allowed to once again form wild hives in hard to access tree hollows. When they get to that point, people will be less inclined to take all of the insects winter food sources and also the bees will able to construct whatever sized cell that they feel is appropriate – we often constrain the bees with the wax sheets used in the frames. Larger sized cells produce larger bees, and currently we constrain the size of the bees.

    My mind is considering the potentialities of sorghum syrup – it maybe the best bet here, but it isn’t the only sugar game in town. Salt is the problem.

    Fair enough, and I get that, you can’t go back to your former digs. It was a bit like the discomfit of having to have lunch near to where you used to have your shop and were known. I’d be uncomfortable with that too. I once went back to work at a workplace that I’d resigned from, because they really needed the help. The thing was, nothing had changed, and after a short while, I left again for much the same reasons.

    Yes, absolutely, get as much alpaca poo as you can get in the back of your ranger. 🙂

    Nowadays, even the old timer plumbing seems to really struggle with fatbergs, so pages out of the phone book would be like heaping kindling onto the fire! I reckon fatbergs are fascinating, and they are only possible due to the animal heavy diets that people consume nowadays. It is not lost on me that the mid-winter feast was quite animal heavy because it saved the household from having to feed some of the animals after the mid-winter feast. Sometimes I look at that historical situation like a form of food preservation technique.

    I thought that the weather here was crazy. The good prof. Cliff Mass included a tidy and appropriate quote from the old bard. It was very good. Did you get any snow yet?

    How did the bread turn out? There was a bit of discussion about adding salt to the bread dough mix, and I am curious as to your opinion and what you did? Incidentally, I have the window open and can smell the loaf of bread for tomorrow baking in the electric oven outside right now. Yum!

    Glad you enjoyed the video. Making bread is so easy, and it always surprises me that more people don’t give it a go.



  6. Hi DJ,

    Well I’m glad to read that you too have missed out on the opportunity to be lectured at by an angry vegan. It makes a person wonder what other things that they’ve missed out upon?

    You seem to have made up for the lack by being pounced upon by angry vegans. 🙂 Lucky you! I don’t feel that people understand the meanings of words these days, and we are being trained all of the time to associate certain emotions with certain words – and protein is one such word, sorry to say. That is what years of being exposed to marketing will do a person.

    The birds and insects do all play nice together during such hot and dry times don’t they? And it is very nice of you to leave water out for all of them, including the hornets – which sound a bit like European wasps to me, which are in other parts of the mountain range, but not so much here for some reason.

    Ah-ha! Yes, living consciously – or as much as a person can – is a fraught task. Actions and consequences are but one example, and they’re a real buzz-kill. I’m honestly not sure where we are going in the future, but it sure will look different than today.

    Hey, the change in seasons is very abrupt here too. Sometimes you can almost feel that the season has changed, and I’m not sure what it is that leads me to feel that change, but you know, it must be qualitative from some respect. Do you notice that too up your way?

    Far out, that is not good about the rubbish. Since tip fees went up, people have begun bringing rubbish up here and dropping it by the side of the road. Look at the pretty forest, let’s dump rubbish there…



  7. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the video link. I enjoyed it.

    Well, I’d have to suggest that there was a minor logical error in the presentation: It is unlikely that trends can be extrapolated in a linear trend. Most resource curves follow a bell shaped curve, and plenty of those items have no substitute products – sorry to say.

    It was a very timely video!



  8. Hello Chris
    I have only known one vegan, he was my boyfriend for a while and remained a friend for the rest of his life. He was very nice but had a weird body odour, it was sort of sweet smelling and I didn’t like it.
    There certainly are some very angry vegans in this country. I wonder whether they take antibiotics? Consider the mass killing that that would cause in their bodies.
    The whole question of rubbish disposal has become a nightmare in this country. As far as I am concerned, I consider that if you don’t want me to have to dispose of something then don’t manufacture it in the first place.
    Still getting days of glorious sunshine but the temperature drops below freezing at night.


  9. Yo, Chris – Nope. Can’t say I’ve run into any rabid vegans. Perhaps, we’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. I’d guess that lot are mostly found among the young. The one’s that haven’t been slapped down enough by life, to have some good filters, in place. I have some pretty decided opinions about food, but other than the odd comment, at appropriate times, here and there, keep it to myself. I’d say my food philosophy pretty much runs parallel to the Editor and you.

    I agree with one of your other commentators. At least the rubbish isn’t all over the street. Perhaps (just perhaps) the citizens are signaling the city that that might be a spot (or, close by) for an official rubbish bin?

    Your green beans are really good looking. I think last year I mentioned, that I’d missed part of a vine and ended up with enough seed for this year. Drying on the vine is the way to go. Easiest seed saver gig I ever did! The apples are a knock out. But I don’t know about encouraging the birds naughty habits. You may have to resort to a bit of netting, when you decide you want some for yourself.

    The pink and white geraniums, are quit pretty. Ditto, the lilly. Cont.

  10. Cont. The market garden video was really interesting. I’m glad the garden will continue on, with good care. I noticed the pedestrian bridge, over Merri Creek, in the background. Quit picturesque.

    Now, about those almonds. Sure there’s not only 98? Or, 102? :-). In your long and very tasty list of nuts, I noticed there’s no walnuts or philberts (aka hazel nuts). Is the climate not suitable?

    Speaking of bees, you probably saw this. But, just in case you didn’t ….

    I wonder if they sting? Any volunteers? 🙂

    Snow. Well, not yet. I was up a 6am, and it had started snowing in Portland and Woodland. Nothing in Kelso/Longview. Just in time for the Monday morning commute, in Portland. No fun at all :-(. We’re supposed to get snow, after 10am. There’s quit a bank of clouds, to the south. But it seems stalled.

    LOL. Have I baked bread yet? I mentioned the possibility, less than 24 hours ago. Don’t want to rush into, anything :-). And, I’ve still got a dozen boiled eggs, to deal with, first. Lew

  11. Chris,

    Yes, protein is such a word. Quite unfortunate, as there are so many protein sources around. I know that if I were to eat what my friend was eating for breakfast, I’d feel like I hadn’t eaten within an hour. We all have different dietary needs.

    I enjoy how the birds and insects and others will work together to some degree. I’d put the water out for the birds, then noticed that everybody was using it. And since I talk to all the living things in my yard (and elsewhere, which makes some people look at me like I’m totally loony), the birds and squirrels are unafraid of me and my wife. The chickadees especially have adopted us. Whenever they’re around and we step outside, they perch nearby and start chirping until we verbally respond.

    Even the wasps and hornets (yes, very much like the European wasp) communicate. Although I do destroy their nests and put out traps for them, they seem to understand that I don’t poison any of my lawns or plants, so that there are plenty of small insects for them to eat. If I get too aggressive towards them, rather than attacking me in a swarm, one or two might fly at me and hit my hat, sort of as a warning shot, which I acknowledge and then back off. It’s an uneasy peace, but we do coexist and communicate somehow.

    I agree. Dunno what direction we are going, but the future will look much different than it does today. Being close to the earth might help us adapt better than most, but who knows?

    Change of seasons here is often abrupt, too. And yes, it is very possible to tell it’s about to change, even if it’s a few weeks off. The easiest change to notice is that sometime in the last half of August, there will be a night or two that “feels” like autumn, even if the temperature is still 30C at 11 p.m. The more time I spend outdoors, regardless of the weather, the more likely I am to notice the coming change. Paying attention to what the birds are doing helps with that.

    Oh, rubbish! Areas remote from the cities are perfect for dumping rubbish, right? City folk think that nobody lives there, at least nobody important. What a mistake! In many “remote” areas with which I’m familiar, if a stranger’s car broke down, a local would be there offering help within minutes. Dumping rubbish in those areas could become hazardous at times!


  12. Hi Inge,

    Oh yes, I do recall you mentioning the body odour before (a memorable story), and I guess it sort of makes sense given the diet consumed by the person. I’ve never encountered that before in another person, and I’d have to suggest that it would probably be a deal breaker for me too. Interestingly, us humans are all on a continuum when it comes to that odour capacity, and certainly I’ve encountered some very whiffy people from time to time. I’ve also noted that for some blokes, decline in personal hygiene can sometimes also be linked to matters of concern in relation to mental health. It is a fascinating topic, and I have read that some guys relish going: “cave man” on that front. I don’t particularly care one way or the other as long as I am not confronted by the essences (especially when I’m consuming food)… Mind you, a long time ago the editor and I were at dinner with several other people, and someone allowed their youngster to run around and around the table with a soiled nappy. Not good, and a memorable experience – which may also have something to do with mental health issues.

    Exactly, I salute the vegans because they make a tough choice and for good ethics. But at the same time it is not lost on me that plastics and other oil products are usually derived from long dead sea creatures. And yeah, I do wonder how the fungi and bacteria that cover plants enjoy being consumed? Us humans live in a world where we eat other entities just to survive. I reckon the trick is to find the path of least harm and then get involved in producing food (not that many are interested in that activity which is about the only thing that troubles my mind).

    Exactly. I am in total agreement with you – and the landfill situation is bonkers here too.

    Today was a glorious early (your spring) autumn day here too, but alas, summer looks set to stomp the living daylights out of me as another heatwave is rolling on in.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Where are these angry vegans I keep hearing about? I’m beginning to feel that my little joke about some marketing agency coming up with the concept, may not be that far from the truth? No doubts at all in my theoretical idea, that the meat funded marketing agency would pay shills to continually poke the members of various vegan interweb forums… Imagine doing that job? Bonkers. It is almost as bad as churning out University assignments for students who could have done the work themselves had they but applied themselves.

    I’m starting to sound cynical, so onto a more positive note, I see that the Centurion survived the recent mind bogglingly huge Tasmanian bushfires. It is a really big tree: Tasmania’s 100-metre tall tree survives bushfire but not without damage. 100 metres is 330 feet. Big tree! They make trees big down there in remote spots of that huge island state.

    Top work and I reckon Michael Pollan spelled out that particular diet pretty well. Like me, he ain’t dogmatic, and his words seem to come from a good place. We consume a lot of fruit and vegetables, because we grow a lot of fruit and vegetables. Raising meat for the table is a complicated process involving converting plant material that you’ve grown into animal material, and I really do doff my hat to those who can follow through with that. It’s a hands on process, and it also has the tidy effect of reducing the amount of meat a person eats, but at the same time the quality is often far higher compared to shop bought stuff.

    Did I mention that a heatwave is coming? Hold onto your hats folks, this one is going to be unpleasant: Heating up in southern Australia. Sucks to be us! 🙂 And Inge is enjoying record breaking winter warmth too! Those would be hot temperatures for late winter here, let alone the UK. They’ll probably be growing olives and table grapes again soon in the UK. 🙂

    That is very true about the rubbish and you don’t generally see it littered about the streets. For some reason, some spots in the forest around here seem to be a magnet for rubbish dumpers, and I understand the local council may have put trail cameras up in those areas. I just wish that we weren’t having rubbish foisted upon us in the first place – it needn’t be that way. Had to laugh at your comment, because the steel cage has indeed become a rubbish bin! And it isn’t lost on the population.

    Oh yeah, save them seeds! And beans do make it look as if we know what we are doing. Beans are crazy easy to save seed from aren’t they? And the broad beans which we’ve been planting for many years are super reliable – and the only bean that grows through the winter. I leave them in the sun to dry (we have a lot of sun at the moment).

    Nah. The birds are cool, and they can only build up a population that is so large before the winter knocks them back hard. It is a bit brutal, but that is how their population works (and as a species we are not immune from that story either). Anyway, my plan is to out compete the birds and also grow decoy crops – like the many elderberries (which I’ll hopefully plant more of in the near future). I could well be wrong with my strategy, but basically I can’t afford to net the trees and I’m also burdened with the fact that they have to grow huge in order to survive the many heat waves and droughts that they are going to have to face. If there was an easier way here… Earlier in the season I was predicting a warmer and wetter summer, so at least that is a 50% hit rate on my prediction.

    Thanks! That particular geranium is a little ripper, and the lillies are lovely too.


  14. Lewis (cont),

    You know what I liked about the old bloke that ran the market garden? He made the new leaseholders prove themselves a little bit at a time for a few seasons. A solid strategy. Yeah, there is a bike path that runs along the creek. It wasn’t that long ago (and certainly in my lifetime) that the creek contained quarries and a whole lot of rubbish. The rubbish was removed by volunteers from what I understand of how it came about. And the CERES (the new leaseholders) property may originally have been a landfill site. They run a great nursery and raise a lot of seedlings from seed.

    Hehe! Yes, such accuracy is the dark side of working with numbers for a living. We’re counting the harvested corn cobs too, although I may not have mentioned that. Walnuts are a pain. In nearby areas I see hugely old walnut trees, but here I’ve killed four of them now – and so I’m writing them off as some sort of joke that is lost on me. I may try a walnut from seed in the future, but there are less complicated plants. Nope, we’ve got four hazelnut bushes growing here, and one of those was a chance seedling that is doing very well.

    The massive bee was pretty cool, and it had been in the news down here. The researchers discussed the sting and mandibles: World’s largest bee not seen for 38 years rediscovered on remote Indonesian island.

    Did you get any snow? We could certainly swap some heat with you as we’ve got plenty to spare.

    I’m curious, why did you boil a dozen eggs all at once? There is definitely a story in there.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Nice one, and the merest mention of the word ‘protein’ has people thinking about meat – as you now know to your detriment. Plenty of plants contain protein, and not to mention calcium and iron. A long time back when it was more convenient, we used to regularly donate blood (it is a donation only thing down here) and the blood bank folks sometimes asked whether the editor and I had been chowing down on the meaty products from a barbeque the night before.

    Hey, I get hungry too if I don’t start the day with my home made toasted muesli, fruit and yoghurt combination. By late afternoon if I start the day without that meal, I’m running low on energy too, and I can feel it. Food is a funny topic, and it is a bit of a shame that we can’t use the heat from some people’s rhetoric with which to cook the stuff!

    I can now understand the magpies calls to the other magpies warning that there is a predator stalking (or flying) around. And sometimes if I’m outside, the magpies will track me down and seek my help – especially where the foxes are concerned. The birds are more alert than the dogs even, and you know what, they know what I’m up to when I’m working about the property, and they don’t hassle me at all.

    The Kookaburra’s are interesting birds too, because they’ll watch for me digging or cutting firewood, and I’ll reward them by chucking any grubs I find in their direction. I over fed a Kookaburra once, and it had trouble flying, but eventually manage to resolve its chunky gut issues. They’re reputed to catch and eat snakes, and I’m comfortable with that. I’ve seen them consume parts of a snake and I can see why they have such large beaks.

    Yeah, the bees and wasps are firing a shot across the bow so to speak when they are banging you in the head. It can be hard not to swoosh them away with your hand but that only makes them angrier and more like to sting you – and the hornets (or our European wasps) can sting multiple times. All very unnecessary as once is enough thank you very much.

    That is the general policy of keeping close to the land. I’m always surprised at how little people know about gardening or raising edible plants. It is definitely a worry.

    Mate, just when I thought autumn was upon me, bam! A heatwave will arrive from tomorrow onwards. I do hope we get some rain soon as there isn’t much on the forecast for the next month.

    I reckon townies feel that the forest is somehow all state government owned land, but in this corner of the mountain range it is mostly privately owned, but not all properties have a house on them, and some properties are quite large and a casual glance would lead a person to think that nobody lives there. It is pretty quiet up here, which I quite like. Not sure that I’d want to live in town again.



  16. Yo, Chris – There’s also the angsty vegan teen, that I see a lot in movies and used to see a lot on TV. Cinema short hand to signal how “difficult” a child, is. I recently watched “Puzzle” and there’s a scene around the family dinner table. Son has brought home his girlfriend, who’s vegan. Now, the girlfriend is very gracious, about the whole thing. No big deal. Plenty of other things she can eat on the table. It’s the son and mom who go at it. Exasperated son: “We’ve talked about this. I’ve explained it to you.” Mom offers fish. Clueless mom. Not a vegan issue, but I remember on one of those house documentaries, (Edwardian House, Victorian Slum, etc.) a 8 or 9 year old boy wouldn’t eat any of the historic fare, except for cheese and bread. Everyone is all concerned. My response would be, let the little sucker starve.

    Go, Centurion! Someday, someone can live inside that trunk. Back in the day, a lot of that went on around here. Handy digs while they built the cabin. I must say our cedar stumps were a bit more capacious.

    You can keep your heatwave. Some of those forecasted temperatures are stunning. And will stun. Given the choice, I’d much rather deal with cold, than heat. Not that we have much of a choice :-).

    Clear, cold and sunny all day, yesterday. Ho-hum. Portland got slammed and points further south. I heard that Interstate 5 was closed for awhile. We’re still showing “slight chance of snow” in our forecast, for the rest of the week.

    Rubbish dumping out in the woods, is a problem here, too. Vast tracts of our forests are owned by timber companies. They used to be a lot more accessible to the public, for some uses. Hunting, mushroom picking, brush picking, etc.. It’s mostly closed, now. Due to possible liability and, rubbish dumping.

    It’s commendable that volunteer groups, cleaned up the creek. A lot of that goes on, here. There’s even a well organized “adopt a highway” program. Just about any group can take responsibility for keeping a certain chunk of a highway clean. They get a nifty little sign. In our county, non-violent offenders from the county jail are used for a bit of county maintenance. Including highway clean up.

    Have you tried scoring a few walnuts from those local trees? They may be more acclimatized to your local patch, than the plants you get from the garden store? And, maybe plant a lot, and if there’s more that get established than you can use, do some of them in. In the dark of night. :-).

    The eggs. Well, quit by accident I finally scored a steady supply of eggs. From one of the women that works at the veg store. I get a dozen from her, a week. (She also has dressed chickens, rabbits and duck.) Which is slightly more than I use. I decided to go with a standing order, rather than “tell me when you need eggs.” Less chance of margin of error.

    Sometimes, there’s a dozen eggs in my monthly commodity food box. Not very good eggs, but I mix them in with the good stuff. Occasionally, I manage to foist some of the surplus on my neighbor. But she didn’t need any, last time I offered. So, I ended up with close to 4 dozen eggs in the fridge. Hmmm. Tomorrow is “egg” day. I usually stop at the veg store, before I stop by the Club and see my buddy Scott. Scott may get eggs, tomorrow. :-).

    The commodity box is a bit of a problem. There’s stuff in there I probably shouldn’t eat (food foibles). And, we do a bit of swapping around. But I have a real problem turning lose of “free” food. I should have just put those eggs on the swap table. “I am the egg man … I am the egg man … I am the walrus! Kook-kook-achew.”

    Speaking of music, (we were speaking of music, right?) I just happened to get “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the library, this week. And then it won a lot of Academy Awards. But I’ve always liked the music of Queen, so, I sat down and gave it a look, last night. Better than the average film music bio. If you like there music, even better yet. Lew

  17. @ Damo – Now, I haven’t baked bread in quite awhile, but what I do remember is that I’d throw and egg in the mix. Somewhere, I heard that it improved the texture and decreased the “crumb” problem. Seemed to work.

    Also, if you don’t have one, a “real” bread knife seems to help. Lew

  18. Hi Chris,
    We have only one friend who is vegan but many who are vegetarians and none of them are fanatic about it. The guy who is vegan found that the diet worked well for him. I think he lost 50 lbs and has kept it off. One vegetarian couple believes that if you’re going to eat meat that which you hunt for yourself is best. They make some of the best food too. As your probably recall Doug grew up with meat as the focal point of the meal and he continues like that to this day. Now that he’s on the very low carb Keto diet the meals are even meatier. I’ll whip up some vegetarian meals and freeze them in smaller portions for lunch for myself. There was one teacher some years ago that I knew who was a vegan and an animal rights fanatic (not a good combination). She couldn’t see any difference between how we raised our meat animals and factory raised meat – it was all just the same level of bad.

    Visited younger daughter over the weekend in Chicago and helped her plan her container garden for this year. She and her boyfriend have the roof of a garage to use and did quite well last year but this year want to expand. It’s full sun though and keeping the containers moist enough is an issue. She wasn’t aware of how much mulching could help that.

    Like DJ we are in for a stint of very below normal temperatures once again (about 30 degrees F below normal). We had one day just above freezing and then it rained much of the night so now there’s much melting and flooding on many roads which has now frozen over as the temperatures have dropped to well below freezing and will stay that way for almost two weeks. There have been some pretty bad accidents due to the ice. Our neighbor has a small herd of beef cows and he was out yesterday spreading sand all over their paddock as he’s very worried about them falling on the ice and breaking a leg.

    Sure am hoping you get some rain soon. All your plants are amazing considering the lack of rain.


  19. Hi Lewis,

    The War on Spam is progressing well, brother Lewis! There have been a few casualties with the robots, and they despair and clamour (and generally make a lot of unpleasant background noise) to be allowed back onto the website. But no, we shall ignore their braying and move on with our lives. Days now go by without spam, and this is a good thing because last week the robots were feral – and some of the comments were the length of small novels. A waste of bits and bytes, as far as I’m concerned.

    I have a low tolerance for such things. It reminds me of a few years ago when a guy began trolling my business online, and it is a simple process for him to do, because all he had to do was begin to leave bad reviews for the business all over the place. And it is amazing how large the interweb echo chamber is, as one website copies the data of another website. It is like one big show bag in that it looks good from the outside, but inside it does contain some serious rubbish. Anyway, the whole thing was a nuisance because a client pointed the situation out to me.

    What do you do? I don’t get work via the interweb, as new customers turn up via word of mouth. So, I contacted the websites to say that review is trolling and the guy wasn’t even a customer. How can somebody review something when they’re not even a customer? Bonkers. The nice website folks suggested replying to the review. I told them to take down the ‘free advertising’ that their website provided. Where they didn’t comply, I logged onto their websites and deleted the entry – or changed the entry so much that it no longer pointed at or referred to my business. I was amazed at how many websites had proliferated out of nowhere. The whole thing was a serious waste of my time.

    The stupid thing about it was that the guy trolling me left enough of a trail that I could track him down and tell him in no uncertain terms to stop doing what he was doing, or we’d meet up in person. And I gave him his address. The guy was a coward as these people often are and why leave enough clues on his socials for me to find him. So, I guess the upshot is that I have no tolerance for robots and trolls and I award them no clemency.

    I’m genuinely surprised that the normal rules of social engagement seem to be ignored on the interweb, and even worse, we have somehow allowed commercial interests to set some of the rules of social engagement for their own benefits. That is a truly bonkers situation. Take the situation where someone announces that their dad has just died, and people can click on a ‘Like’ button. Yes, very nuanced. Outside of a few website I really don’t spend too long or travel too far on the interweb. Take that ya robots!

    It does sound like a meme used for dramatic effect, doesn’t it – and I like your observation that it is code word for ‘difficult child’. Such commentary from ‘the clueless mum’ is usually a reflection upon the individuals own choices, rather than that of the person not desiring to consume the animal products. What do you reckon about that? If the mum put a bit more thought into it, she’d quickly realise that vegans are cheap to feed! Winning. I’m still yet to meet an angry vegan… Talk about missing out on life.

    Starving them out is a good tactic. I’ve had people tell me that such and such a cat or dog is a fussy eater. When I’ve looked after those fussy eaters, I starve them out for a day or so, and then they chow down with the other dogs (and I did that with a cat too). And after a week or two, the animals smell cleaner, look happier, and at food time, you can see it in their eyes that they reckon this food is the best ever. Incidentally, as an interesting side note, I have noticed that people who have gut issues, often have pets with gut issues. It is uncanny and I doubt that it is a coincidence. And I’ve often wondered whether their kids have gut issues once they leave high school? Dunno. Certainly it would produce an interesting thesis, and everyone would sagely nod their heads, declare that we have to do something or other about this, and then realise that it is all just a bit too hard. One thing the long term future will provide – is less gut issues in people, and I guarantee that.

    Oh yeah, those cedar stumps are massive – you once provided a link to some of the images. Far out!

    I’m not looking forward to the heat wave and it begins today until Sunday. Yuk. Although, if ever I encountered the sort of icy roads that you are seeing, I’m not sure that I’d know what to do. I guess you are keeping trips to the shops at a bare minimum?

    The funny thing about the closure of those forests – is that it is pretty easy to just walk in there, although few people are used to walking long stretches whilst carrying lots of stuff on their backs. I feel that if ever we face a dystopian future then people have this vision that they’ll still be happily driving everywhere.

    Yes, naughty people with community service orders are used to perform similar tasks down here too. And it is good that volunteers can band together to perform a specific task – and then disband.

    Seedling fruit trees is a good idea and I’m considering that as a project for next year. Along with growing lots of oak trees from acorns – they do most of the work themselves. Hehe! Yes, some people have complicated feelings about thinning, I’m not one of those people. I may get into the orchard today to continue weeding, pruning and fertilising – what else do you do in the heat? I’m giving my brain a well earned rest from accounting work for a few days. One needs to take down the cobwebs every now and then.

    Good for you with the eggs (an excellent find), and the regular order is far better than the every now and then order that people seem to prefer when it is convenient for them. As an interesting side story the coffee grounds are a bit like that. Every now and then someone intercepts them, but when they are confronted by the sheer volume – they generally don’t return… Hehe! One of the barista’s once remarked to me that ‘people talk a big game’ – which is sort of like your ‘more hat than cows’ comment (which always make me smile).

    That’s funny! 🙂 Thanks for the movie review and I have heard nothing but praise for the film. The editor saw Queen play when they toured in the 80’s and they really rocked from what she tells me. I think it is hard for people now to understand just how complicated and different the song Bohemian Rhapsody was at the time, and Freddie’s vocal range was bonkers. The editor was a fan from way back in the day, and sometimes I cheekily stir the editor up by suggesting their latter albums were their best work (don’t mention the album ‘A kind of magic’ here!) Hehe! Ah, you can’t be too serious… Although she doesn’t seem to think that I’m being terribly funny with that stirring… Oh well.



  20. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the link to the Story of Stuff. I watched it a few years back and it is really well told. I’m not entirely sure that people have taken the message on board, although I admit that it is hard to avoid many types of plastics which come with packaging whether you want the stuff or not. How is your collection process going given the situation with recycling? I’m really very impressed with your set up.

    Exactly, most of the people I know that follow a vegan diet, do so because it makes them feel better, where other diets weren’t working for them and were making them sick. And not one of them has ever lectured me about the diet that I enjoy. And yeah, cooking is a serious skill, which I reckon (sweeping generalisation alert) plenty of people aren’t that good at. A bit of a shame about that given how much food we actually eat. The editor has told me that she suspects that there is a bit of misplaced pride in not being able to cook or maintain the domestic economy well (the Princess fallacy). That was an alarming observation, but I can’t say that I can refute it. Dunno, deducing peoples core motivations can often yield surprising insights.

    Oh! That is a nasty combination. Can’t say that I’ve ever met an angry animal rights person either. I’m starting to think I need to get out more? The thing is though I tend to nip those conversations in the bud so to speak, by asking the simple question: Oh, do you have pets, or raise your own animals? Mind you, that probably wouldn’t work with the messy combination that you encountered, so I’m with you in the “one bad day” approach to raising animals. Far out, one of chickens is now ten years old, and you know what other people would have done with her long before now! 😉 Oh well, we do what we can.

    In the messy combination person, I’d probably side track them by asking whether they grew any of their own fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains? I’m very dubious about the chemistry behind liquid smoke, and the other thing that I’m mildly bothered by with vegan food is that it aims to reproduce meat dishes (without the meat). That is very telling to me as they could simply just enjoy the plant based diet for what it is.

    Well done them, and using a space like a garage roof is a great idea. I’ve seen someone else do that and it works. Absolutely, the mulching will work wonders to keep the plants cool and retain some moisture in such an exposed spot. You may notice that I keep very few plants in containers here. I hope they enjoy a summer full of fresh vegetables and herbs from their rooftop garden.

    I’d never consider how the icy weather would be on the livestock. Stay safe, and I would send you some of our heat if I could (I surely would! 🙂 Blame the pun on the fact I heard Simon and Garfunkel playing the other day in the background).

    The plants are doing it easier than we are. I’m going to head out into the hot sun today to do some more work in the orchard.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Ouch about the stranded train. The passenger in the photo did not look as though she would survive long if she had to venture outside for any length of time. Yes, and very glad to read that they were not stranded up in the remote Andes – things could get ugly real quick!

    Hey, thought you might be interested in this epic chunk of the force of nature down under: Queensland floodwaters flow to outback South Australia and Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Technically, it is a flood with no rain.



  22. Chris,

    Yes, the birds generally know what’s happening before anybody else around here, too. Although I did watch a crow once who beat the smaller birds. He sorta wandered around, more or less from my yard toward a tree across the street that had several bird nests and babies. Whenever the parent birds noticed him and acted agitated, the crow changed course until they had calmed down. This went on for nearly an hour. Eventually, the crow made it under the tree, flew up and came out with 2 baby birds, one per foot. 20 meters or so in an hour. I was quite impressed with the crow’s guile and singlemindedness.

    I was weeding near the sidewalk another time, and a young crow had found a nut and had landed about 10 meters from where I was working. (The nut was pilfered from my walnut tree, naturally. Between the squirrels and the crows, I’ve never gotten a single philbert or walnut. But they stay happy.) The crow couldn’t get the nut cracked to get to the meaty inside. Suddenly I heard a “thunk!” on the sidewalk next to me. Yup, the crow had flown up with the nut and dropped it next to me. I took the nut back to where the crow had been, opened it, and returned to work. The crow enjoyed the walnut, as well as the training session he gave me. I have no illusions about who’s in charge here. (Hint: I’m extremely low on that pecking order.)

    Mate, kookaburra’s are way cool! We had a short unit on them in school when I was about 8, as we sang a song about a kookaburra on an old gum tree in music class. Later, my grandfather gave me an ancient shortwave radio that worked, and I discovered the old Radio Australia international broadcasts, among others. Each broadcast began with a voice saying “This is Radio Australia”, followed by a kookaburra laughing and a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

    We were in the woods one time, and I accidentally riled up a nest of European wasps. Several bit the back of my neck, the first notice I had that they were even in the area, and one stung me under the eye. That HURT! Fortunately, someone there had a bunch of ice and some baking soda, so my mother made a baking soda paste and put it under my eye with a plastic pack of ice atop it. That worked and there was no real damage.

    There’s good sides and bad sides to living in the city. The noise and the neighborhood cats leaving me fecal “gifts” and digging up vegetables are the two worst things. But, living near a bus route cuts down on driving and stress, and we’re very close to a lot of needed shopping areas, which also cuts down on the driving. And we can walk to the nearest branch of the library.

    The next wave of snow should hit after 4:00 a.m. Wednesday and last into Thursday. Maybe 15 cm before it decides to quit. This is the 4th snowiest February on record (63 cm so far) and one of the coldest. It looks like we’ll have 2 nights over the weekend near -14C, then a gradual warming that might get us to daily temperatures above freezing by about March 8. This is only remarkable because all of this started in February, not late November, December or January.


  23. @ Margaret – Yes, I saw “The Story of Stuff” a few years back. A great piece of work. I see it’s got close to 6 million views, on YouTube. I think it gets televised, pretty frequently. And, used in multi-grade classrooms, quit a bit. I wonder if they boot leg the DVD on the streets of Hong Kong? :-). Lew

  24. Yo, Comrade Chris – Your efforts in the war on spam bots and their ilk (robo calls) are appreciated by us, here on the Home Front. We who cannot serve, can only sit and wait. And maybe knit socks, scarfs, and send copious amounts of Anzac biscuits to keep up morale. A great full world salutes you! Medals will be issued. On second thought, maybe only certificates. Given the National Debt, and all.

    Given the libel laws in Australia, your troller was really, well, quit stupid. Or have I committed libel by saying that?

    The mum in the movie just missed the details, as she was pretty overwhelmed. What with a demanding husband and two demanding kids. Expected civic duties, etc.. Every one is pretty stunned when mum starts getting her own life, and tells them they have to start picking up their own socks and getting the occasional meal, for themselves.

    The latest “easy-out” theory of kids and foods is that they are soooo traumatized by some encounter with food, that they are suspicious, and rejecting, of all new foods. I read an article the other day about a mother with three kids. Each different kid would only eat 5 different foods (mostly, of the junk variety.) And getting food on the table was such a slog. To cut her a (slight) bit of slack, the whole mob (including Mom) was autistic. But they were all saved, by watching Gordon Ramsey’s cooking show. Somehow, the magic of Ramsey inspired the little darlings to at least poke at an asparrowgus (why can I suddenly not spell asparrowgus? I could in the past…) spear or brussels sprout. But your right. Given our long term future, a lot of foibles will fall by the wayside. As my grandfather used to say, “Come the Revolution! …”

    Your launching into a heat wave, and they’re still banging on here about “slight chance of snow.” It got down to -0-, here, last night. That’s C. Sounds so much more dramatic than our wimpy 32F.

    Well, trespass on private forest land can get you stiff fine, and maybe even a bit of jail time. For repeat offenders. And, what with the proliferation of drones, patrolling private land is getting pretty easy. I think I told you about some people I knew who were having their acres surveyed by drone, to put on the real estate market. And, quit by accident, caught a fellow on film poaching a deer on the back end of their place. I never heard how that all sorted out, but he was recognized, the the real estate dealer got a nice shot of his license plate. :-).

    Some of Mercery’s vocal range was due to his having four extra teeth in his mouth. Larger mouth, larger vocal range. Or, something.

    Well, I baked a “loaf” of bread, yesterday. Going to need work. Nice color and flavor. Great color. But less than 2″ thick. Not exactly sandwich, territory. But, I think I got some of the problems figured out. For starters, I don’t think I used enough yeast. Or, not enough got in the mix. I was a bit worried that my yeast was old. So, I took the cup of water, put in the “yeast food” and a bit of flour. Well, it started bubbling happily, away. But then, not all the water was used, so, not much of the 2 tsps. of yeast made it into the batter.

    So, why didn’t I throw more yeast into the batter? Well, sometimes when I’m in the middle of a recipe, I’m charging in one direction, with a bit of blinders on. Also, the yeast was putting on such a show, I thought, well, they’ll “go fourth and multiply.” Just to get all biblical. Didn’t happen.

    I got a pretty good initial rise (four hours worth. Coolish kitchen.) But then came collapse. I think your pans may also be a bit smaller than mine. More territory to cover. I’m also going to increase ingredient amounts. I also wondered about time and temp. You suggest one hour at 300F. Most bread recipes that I looked at, have higher temps, and shorter cooking times. Thoughts? Well, once more into the breech … Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    My vegan friends seem pretty reasonable. They don’t want any meat in their houses, which I respect, but they don’t mind folks bringing stuff with eggs and/or cheese in it to their potlucks, and they are very good cooks so I always enjoy eating their food. Count me in as another who has been fortunate enough to not encounter any angry vegans in person. Some of them get pretty strident online, but it’s easy enough to ignore them there.

    Last week we went to Florida to visit my mom. The most eventful part of this particular trip was the weather we traveled through (Florida itself was very warm and sunny, a taste of summer that I appreciated given our long, cold winter).

    The day we left, it had snowed overnight, so we delayed our start until late morning to give the road crews enough time to clear the snow off of I-55. Good thing we did. In St. Louis we only had about 1.5 in / 3.8 cm of snow, but about an hour or so south there had been closer to 5 in / 13 cm of snow. And another hour south of there experienced an ice storm. We stopped at the New Madrid, MO rest stop (this is near the epicenter of the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812), where I got a close look at shrubs coated with ice. As best as I could estimate, the ice layer was about .25 in / .6 cm thick. We saw ice almost to the border of Missouri and Arkansas; beyond that it had been warm enough for only rain.

    Those of you in the US probably heard about all the rain in the mid-South last weekend; we drove home through that area, following I-65 from Birmingham AL up to Nashville TN and then I-24 from Nashville up to Clarksville TN, where we spent Saturday night with friends of ours. By the time we got to northern AL, every stream we crossed over was flooded, and water pooled in low spots in fields. In TN, where we drove through the Appalachian mountains, water coursed down the rock faces lining the highway. We’d heard about landslides in Mississippi and there was danger of them in TN as well so I was a little apprehensive during the drive on Saturday, but it didn’t start raining till we were north of Nashville, and didn’t rain hard till we were at our friends’ place. (About 12 hours after we drove through, there was a landslide which covered part of I-24, but I don’t know if it covered the lanes in the direction we traveled or on the other side.) On Sunday as we drove back to St. Louis we drove over the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio Rivers, all in major flood stage, an impressive sight.

    Speaking of Bohemian Rhapsody, our friends played the DVD for the four of us on Saturday night. All four of us are Queen fans and greatly enjoyed the film! Since I don’t pay any attention to movies I hadn’t realized it was a recent release or up for Oscars until I read that the actor who played Freddie Mercury won the Best Actor award.

    It’s quite a bit warmer here than where Margaret is, but that will change by the weekend. The NWS has started making noises about the potential of a snowstorm here on Saturday night and Sunday morning, followed by very cold temperatures, which would be well below normal for January and will be much more so for early March. We’ll see!


  26. Hi all,

    When I bake bread, I don’t use any salt, but I do add some olive oil, about 2 Tbsp to a loaf. I start with warm water, add about 1/2 Tbsp of sugar, dissolve it, add about 1/2 Tbsp yeast, then let it sit for 10 minutes or so (to start bubbling) before adding the oil, stirring it in, and then adding the flour. I generally let the dough rise once, punch it down, let it rise again, punch it down, then put it in the bread pan and let it rise enough to make the height of bread I want. When it’s cold in the house like it is now, I warm up the oven to its lowest setting, turn the oven off, and let the bread rise in there. The process goes faster that way.


  27. @ Lew
    Bread:- Sorry that its centigrade but I am sure that you can turn it into fahrenheit. My bread is in the oven for 35mins. 10 at 220C and 25 at 190C. I tend to rise it in the oven at its lowest possible setting which is intended for plate warming. These figures can all be minimally reduced.


  28. Hi DJ,

    The world of bird is a brutal place. Crows are about as smart as it gets. The magpies are closely related to the crows and so they’re pretty clever. Birds will most certainly consume other birds – people are always surprised to learn that chickens are not vegetarians by choice! I feed my chickens a bit of mincemeat every week – and they love it. Are crows and ravens the same bird?

    Hey, speaking of Kookaburra’s, I forget whether I previously mentioned that a few weeks back I spotted a Kookaburra that performed a daring and audacious raid upon the nest of a blackbird. As the Kookaburra flew from the nest with a young bird in its beak, three blackbirds were chasing it. It wasn’t long after that, that the Kookaburra’s set to giving their memorable laughing chorus in celebration of their heist. I don’t get involved in the birds business, except where the foxes are around.

    And speaking of which, tonight we discovered a rabbit near to the tomato enclosure. I set Ollie and Toothy onto the chase and they came back empty pawed, but excited.

    I hadn’t realised that Radio Australia had stopped broadcasting over shortwave two years back. And it looks as though China’s state-owned broadcaster took over the frequency.

    Yeah, you never know where the nests are for European wasps and I’ve seen them in hollow logs and also in the ground. They can be so easily disturbed. Strangely enough, I usually see more of them in drier years – and this summer is shaping up to be a ripper. What was the baking-soda paste that you applied to the sting? I picked apples from a wild tree many years ago and put my hand on a whole cluster of European wasps, but they were so intent on eating that they left me alone. I’m not much of a fan of those insects, and they seem to inhabit the more fashionable end of the mountain range and only occasionally turn up here.

    Those are all good points about living in the city, I’ve just sort of found my place up here, so to speak. The car use is an issue, but I rarely head more than an hour from home these days.

    It is bonkers that you can be having the snowiest February on record and we just experienced the hottest summer on record for the continent (I’ll drop a link in my reply to Lewis).



  29. Ya! Comrade Lewis! 🙂

    Putting on my best Boris voice: Thank you for the socks, although it is bonkers hot here at moment, but it is important reminder that: “To Everything There Is a Season,” and hopefully this one will turn soon and then socks will be more fully appreciated. Anzac biscuits on other hand are immediately useful comrade, and I have fortified myself with these tasty morsels and steeled my resolve and fought off the unrelenting waves of spam bots. Nasty things, and they have lost access to the website – permanently. And now all is quiet on the southern front. It’s a bit hot though…

    Your joke about the certificates was very amusing and yet so true!

    We don’t have free speech down here, and the consequences for not speaking in, I don’t quite know what it is called, but perhaps: guarded language, can be quite severe. Just for one example of how things can go horribly wrong, horribly quickly, I read an article today about a whistle blower who apparently used to work for the tax office: They want to ‘cook him slowly’: ATO whistle blower facing six life sentences unprotected by new laws. According to the article the bloke is facing a sentence of 161 years (a notable achievement). As an opinion, it seems a bit over the top and has apparently equalled the notorious Ivan Milat’s sentence (you don’t want to encounter that bloke on a dark night anywhere). There is definitely a lesson to be learned in there.

    Oh! I failed reading comprehension, comprehensively (!), because for some reason I thought that the ‘Puzzle’ was a TV series. An interesting film and thanks for re-mentioning it. It is on the to watch list. It is nice that films can still tell new and interesting stories. Incidentally, the editor and I watched “Green Book” at the cinema last night. And we really enjoyed the film and story. Viggo is an excellent character actor and he was very convincing in his role. At its core, it is basically a ‘buddy film’ based on two real life unlikely friends. Plus, after the film I indulged upon a hamburger with beetroot and egg. Nothing could be finer, although there was a bit too much salt on the chips for my tastes. They did add rosemary to the salt mix and that was a nice touch.

    Far out. All five of them, including the mum were on the spectrum? Well, it would certainly be an interesting household to spend some time. Wouldn’t it be funny as a thought experiment to drop them all here and tell them that they have to head into the garden in order to pick food for tonight’s dinner – which they’d have to make themselves? OMG! The patterns are all wrong – we’re going to starve! Hehe! Your grandad was absolutely correct, but I don’t think anyone is going to enjoy the diet! I can’t even begin to imagine what eating so much junk food would do to a person’s body? Oh well. At least they enjoyed Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows. I quite like the chef’s approach to cooking by understanding the ingredients and how they combine – his sense of the subject is very ‘vertically integrated’ and he gets out into farms and wild places to source food. A very knowledgeable bloke and the family could have done far worse.

    Yes, 0’C does sound rather dramatic. Haven’t seen that particular temperature myself for a few months now. Oh, that’s right: Summer 2018-19 was hottest on record, BOM says, with little relief expected for autumn. I just had to delete a particularly choice expletive – I almost broke my own rules! Hope you get some snow. I like snow (in small quantities).

    You don’t see too many drones down here, but the editor was buzzed by one with her friend in a country town north of here about a year back. We suspect that the cheeky scamp was up to mischief with his camera. Where is a good sling shot when you need one?

    The editor did say something about prosthetic dental work for the actor who played Freddy. Whatever the case maybe, Freddy sure did have a huge vocal range.

    I’ve noticed that not all yeast is of a similar quality, and you may have to try a few different sources before you get one that works for you. It is cold up your way, and yeast love the heat. Bread rises pretty quickly for me at this time of year, but it is much slower in winter.

    The collapse moment is always awful – and that usually happens to me when I’ve turbo risen (TM pending) the dough by using an oven on low heat. For me, they rise well, but then the top may collapse in a little bit. It doesn’t happen with loaves that I’ve allowed to rise over a longer period of time in a warmer kitchen, but that is usually about the time you did. Hmm. Sometimes loaves can be a bit like soufflé or meringue, and you can’t move them around very much (especially if they’ve been turbo risen) and the transition between mild heat for the rising and full on oven temperature can be problematic. So maybe cook them at higher temperatures for shorter periods of time? I tend to cook at 350’F / 180’C for an hour as that ensures that the insides of the loaf is cooked well, but larger loaves might require a bit more heat, or a longer cooking time at low heat. Dunno. It is all an experiment in microbiology and chemistry.



  30. Hi Claire,

    Perhaps the angry vegan is a meme, that doesn’t exist in IRL (interweb slang meaning: In Real Life)? Of course we may all not be getting out and about enough – and they could be everywhere? Still, I doubt it. Oh yeah, I too love visiting places where the people are good cooks and know a thing or twenty about food. My mates with the big shed are like that, and they always put on a good feed.

    You are going to laugh (maybe). I spotted a rabbit here earlier today in the tomato enclosure. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And the dogs were walking around more or less saying: It’s a hot day, nothing to see here, move along. I’ve been busy feeding and weeding the orchard and did a couple of hours of that this morning and into the early afternoon. I’m feeling it now (due to the heat).

    At a guess, I’d reckon that winter would be the best time to visit Florida?

    5 inches of snow is a massive depth of snow. Excuse my inexperience with such snow, but can you even drive through that depth of snow? Your trip down through the south would have been fascinating.

    Thanks for explaining where all of our rain has ended up! Just kidding, and am glad to read that you made the drive safely. Floods are no joke at all and driving through flooded roads is very risky as cars can float away with very little water. It happens a lot down here when there are floods.

    Queen is a great band, and Freddy had one heck of a voice.

    What a winter you are having in your part of the world. Down here the summer has begun to have consequences for consumers: Vegetable prices on the rise after floods, drought and heat cause supply cuts.

    Interestingly, I don’t add olive oil into the dough for bread loaves, but I when making pizza bases and focaccia loaves (I made one for dinner this evening). The oil has the effect of making the internals of a bit softer and fluffier (a very technical phrase). I do add a small drizzle of olive oil over the top of the loaf as it helps brown the loaf and also sticks the grains to top of the loaf as it rises and before it goes into the oven.



  31. @ Inge – I tried a hotter oven, last night. Very slight better results. I think I may be using the wrong type of flour. Or something. I’m sure it’s some small tweaks, that I’ll figure out, eventually.

    No problems with the centigrade temperatures. I found a nifty convertor on Google. I frequently use it. Lew

    @ Claire – Thanks, Claire! Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – Of course “Green Book” was going to win. It was a buddy film AND a road trip, picture.

    Guarded language (aka, thinking before you speak) is a good way to put it. I noticed in “Bohemian Rhapsody” that there were several points where Mercury has a bit of dialogue where he pauses … and then says something with quit a bit less “kick” than I would have spouted. I wrote it up to the time portrayed, and the culture. A bit more reticent. A bit more manners.

    Seasons. Turn, turn, turn. Phooey! As I was on my way out the door, yesterday, it began to snow. But, I soldiered on. I made the library my first stop, instead of the usual last, as, if it got worse I figured they’d be slamming the doors. It snowed until 1, but none of it ever stuck. And, the flakes got progressively smaller and smaller. It got down to 22F (-2.22C), last night. No further snow in the forecasts, but, you never know.

    I did read the article on flooding in Queensland. Water is funny stuff, and does funny stuff. Here, sometimes when we have flooding, when the major river (The Chehalis) gets higher than the creeks and streams that feed into it, they begin to run backwards.

    Bread. Such simple stuff. So many variables. I gave it another whirl, last night, and didn’t get significant change. A slightly higher loaf, but not by much. I also may be using the wrong flour. I used “all purpose” and, according to what I’m reading, I should try a higher protean flour. Bread flour. From what I’m reading on the Net (and, in my cookbooks), when I search “bread won’t rise” (and, variations: “bread collapses during baking.”), one reason given is that all purpose flour can be used “in a pinch.”

    I’ll give it a rest, for awhile. And then keep tweaking it, until I get results I can live with. Not so onerous. Even the failures are quit tasty :-). Lew

  33. Hi Lewis,

    It’s just you and me tonight! I’ve been feeling a bit tired this past week, so I took the day off work today and just mucked around, ate some good food and visited an organic orchard and enjoyed a lovely chat with the bloke that runs the place. For some unknown reason, this year I’m really enjoying organic plums. Maybe the heat has made them tastier than in previous years, but it could also be explained away by a loss of some of my taste buds in my advanced years? Who knows, but this year the plums have been excellent, and so we headed off to avail ourselves of a goodly quantity of them. They’ll taste really good with muesli and yoghurt for breakfast. Yum!

    I live in a world of softies and good time folks, because despite the brutal autumn (it is the official first day of autumn today down here whatever that means) temperatures of 37’C / 99’F, we stopped past the nearby organic sourdough bakery and sat in the shade of an old apple tree and enjoyed lunch – and there was nobody else there! It was like the Mary Celeste… Sorry to tease you, but I enjoyed a very tasty BLT on sourdough bread. So good, and so tasty. I’m not a fan of the heat, but the quiet that it brings is like a soothing balm on my soul. Dessert was a tasty lumberjack cake. Food is good!

    Hehe! Yeah, you are so correct. The film ‘Chef’ managed to cover those topics, but add in one of my favourite topics: Food. Wine aficionados fell over themselves about the film: ‘Sideways’, which managed to cover some of the same topics but replaced wine as a theme instead of food. It is all good though.

    Really? Call me an imbecile or naive, but I thought that after all the hoo-hah at the awards (and an apparent stopped walk out), the Black Panther film was an historical documentary about the Black Panther Party. Not at all, I just watched the trailer and my mind boggled at the space ships and cgi. I respect the Marvel world and story lines, but you know, films about super heroes are hardly what I’d describe as empowering, if only because they’re not real. As an opinion, I do wonder why actual history was belittled by using the same name in that manner? The whole thing seems very weird to me.

    Thank you! I have had much practice with guarded speech, and use the Code of Conduct here as a shield more than anything else. It is there to protect me in a complex environment, not you guys who enjoy freedoms that I can only dream of. Of course things may go awry from time and I may have to utilise some of the teachings of Sun Tzu – he knew a thing or three, that long dead bloke.

    Not to make light of serious matters, but sometimes I do wonder whether people have read George Orwell’s most excellent (and also a form of guarded speech) book 1984, and they thought to themselves: This is awesome, let’s do this mother! 🙂

    I recall that back in those days Freddy had to be guarded with his speech because there was a fair bit of hysteria surrounding his personal proclivities. I’m confident in who I am and am straight, but mate when I was younger plenty of people tried to beat me around with that name – it is what happened in those days. The funny thing about being a brutal pragmatist, is that I took myself off to a dojo and trained at martial arts for many years, and then kicked their backsides! I have noticed that plenty of people don’t appear to enjoy the same feelings of confidence that I do, and they externalise their angst. But back in those days, I’d have to suggest that they were allowed to express their deep feelings of inner uncertainties in the public sphere – often violently and plenty of religions who were battling their own internal conflicts condoned the matter. There has been a major and very high up conviction down here in regards to that. I can see that some people are itching for a fight to relieve their internal tensions, and I feel sorry for that lot.

    Glad you made it to the library and they hadn’t closed despite the snow and cold temperatures (which are as cold as I would ever encounter here). Exactly, you do never know about future snowfall or heatwaves. How did you go with your other errands?

    The heatwave here is a bit bonkers. In order to soothe my nerves (other than the lemon wine), I sat down to look at the photos from this time of year during previous years. Strangely enough, it is tracking about the same this year as previous years. One of the benefits of writing the blog is that I have taken an inordinate amount of photos – and they’re good for making comparisons. Who’d have thought that things are about the same. What I’m dwelling upon is that the improvements that I have made to the soils and systems over the past twelve months (and preceding years) have been offset by the warmer climate – and so the fruit trees are bigger and there is more produce, but the plants are about at the same state of stress as last year. There is something in that story.

    I can see how water would run backwards in those circumstances. Floods are dangerous events and often they create more damage than seriously hot and dry years like the one I’m experiencing. Although I feel the need to add in the disclaimer about bushfires which may change everything at short notice – no need to tempt the Gods.

    Ah! I’d never heard of all-purpose flour before our discussions. I use untreated bread wheat flour which is better suited to bread loaves. I buy flour from a local mob and if you have time, it might be worth while surfing through their shop because they supply many different grains: Un-treated bread flour.

    Exactly, even the failures are tasty! People forget what real bread tastes like. I’d like to get some bread wheat in before autumn, but there is so much digging to do to complete the next terrace. It might not happen. Incidentally one of the benefits of looking back at old photos was being amazed at just how much was achieved during the past twelve months… However was it all achieved?



  34. @ Lew,

    I use a 9″x5″ loaf pan for baking bread. For that size pan, the proportions are:
    2 1/8 cups warm water
    1/2 Tbsp yeast
    1/2 Tbsp sugar
    2 Tbsp olive or other vegetable oil
    4 1/2 to 5 cups flour

    If you are using all whole wheat flour, this could be one reason behind the lack of rise you observe. Whole wheat flour, because it has the bran and germ in it, has a lower proportion of gluten in it than does white flour, so it does not rise as high. I generally use about half whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour in my breads. To my taste, this is better than either all white or all whole wheat bread.

    All purpose flour, at least the brands I have used, works fine for bread. King Arthur flour is very good. You may be able to find it locally, or you can order it online ( Only buy the amount of whole wheat flour that you will use up within a few months; the oils in it will turn rancid. If you have enough freezer space for your whole wheat flour, it will keep longer than that. White bread keeps almost forever ;-).

    Start with the 2 1/8 cups of water in a large bowl. The water should be around 100-120 F, so that a few drops placed on your wrist feel warm but don’t burn. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let it sit 10-15 minutes. By now you should see at least a bubble or two and smell a yeasty odor coming up from the liquid. If you don’t see the bubble(s) or smell the odor, your yeast died and your bread won’t rise. Get new yeast and start over.

    When you are sure your yeast is alive, add the oil and stir it in to break it up some. Then add the flour and stir it in. It won’t be easy to wet all the flour, but keep at it until you get it as well mixed as possible (a little unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl is OK). Then put the lump of dough on a floured surface – I put flour on the countertop and dump the dough on there. Knead (fold the dough over on itself and push on it to flatten it some, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat) for 5 to 10 minutes in order to develop the gluten properly so it will rise well (too short a kneading time = poor rise). You will probably need to add more flour to the surface from time to time to keep the dough from sticking to it.

    After kneading, put the bread into a greased bowl. Let it rise until it is about doubled in size. This could take as little as an hour or less in a warm house or multiple hours in a 60ishF kitchen – which is why I let it rise in a warm oven in the winter. If you allow the bread to rise in an electric oven, heat it up at the lowest setting, then turn the oven off before you put the bread in (even the lowest temperature on a modern oven is high enough to kill the yeast). If it’s an old gas oven with a pilot light, leaving it in the oven with the pilot light on should be sufficient; that’s how my grandmother did it.

    After it rises once, punch it down, in the same bowl, and knead it a few times, then let it rise again till about doubled. At this point punch it down once again, grease the loaf pan, put the dough in it, push on it so it fills the pan, and allow it to rise again, till the top of the dough is about even with the top of the pan or a bit above. Then it’s ready to bake.

    You need to bake it in a falling oven to get the right crust. I preheat my oven to 450F, put the proto-bread in, and leave the oven at 450F for 10 minutes. Then I turn the oven down to 350F and bake it for another 30-35 minutes. If you’re using a smaller pan, you should bake it less time. My oven runs cool; if yours runs hot, you might use temperature settings of 425 and 325F or reduce the time at the lower temperature.

    Hope this helps you achieve bread success!


  35. Yo, Chris – The Lumberjack cake sounds quit nice. Except for the coconut. :-). Another one of those recipes that calls for boiling water and soda. Which I had never run across until I delved into Australian cooking. Hmmm. I wonder if McGee’s book has anything to say about that. I’ve still got it home from the library. Nothing wrong with a nice BLT. I’ve been known to indulge, myself, a time or two. With plenty of mayo!

    Speaking of mayo, when I boiled up all the eggs, I decided to do some egg salad. Which involves mayo. Which one can make from eggs. More uses for all those extra eggs! Now I hadn’t made mayo, by hand, in years. Last time, I think I used an electric mixer. This time, I have a blender. An Oster. So, I mixed up some mayo, in that. At first, it tasted rather “off.” I think because I used bottled lemon juice, instead of the real think. But, a night in the fridge (right in the blender bottle (?) and it tasted fine. Has really held up well, in the fridge, too. Almost gone, and so are the boiled eggs. Been smearing it on my flat bread. :-).

    Oh, I have opinions on “Black Panther”. But given the current climate, and as a White Fella, in a semi-public forum, I’ll express no opinions, either positive or negative. How’s that for “guarded speech?” :-).

    Speaking of guarded, or unguarded speech, looks like Prof. Mass is opening the carbon initiative can of worms, again. But he makes very interesting points, which will not sit well in some quarters. The SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) are a pretty small, vocal minority. And, according to some recent studies, even among self identified “liberal” people, well, they’re getting pretty fed up with them.

    I got all my errands done, as the snow finally settled into a light small “sifting” mode. None of which stuck. But, oh, my, the wind was sharp and cold. For the rest of the week, it’s going to be clear days, and cold nights. Last night the temperature hovered just a degree or two over -0-C. Tuesday, the Master Gardener is going to show up, and we’ll discuss plans for this year’s gardens. Mostly, see who has which patches. I don’t expect any surprises, or big changes, but one never knows …

    I see your Simply No Knead Co., and raise you Bob’s Red Mill :-).

    Unlike Betty Crocker, there actually is a Bob. Just the other night I heard part of an interview with him, on National Public Radio. I need to look it up and listen to the whole thing. There mill is just down in Oregon, and is employee owned. Safeway carries some of their products, but there’s an independent grocer over in Centralia that carries the full line. Their prices aren’t that bad, either. I’ve got both their standard cookbook, and, their baking book.

    Looking at their recipes, on line, I noticed that for the all purpose flour, there’s no what I’d call, raised loafs. Their artisanal four has a recipe for an “Amish” loaf, and, two no-knead recipes. For round, flatish loaves.

    Something occurred to me, yesterday. Well, back in the Dark Ages, like, 50 years ago, I used to bake a lot of bread. People asked me for my recipe. But, there really was none. What I think is, maybe, the wheat used for flour, and the milling methods are quit different, these days. Anyway. I’ll probably get up to Centralia, next week, and get some of the artisanal flour. And, maybe some rye.

    How was it all achieved? A day at a time. 🙂 Lew

  36. Chris,

    Crows and ravens are different species, but very closely related. Ravens are somewhat larger and, at least in this area, do not fare as well in urban areas as do the crows. I can count on 3 fingers the number of ravens I’ve seen at this house in 23 years. Each of them was being chased by a rather furious murder of crows.

    The state of short wave broadcasting compared to its heyday when I was a teenager is sad. Many of the stations advertised that they were ceasing radio operations because everybody can listen to their programs via the internet. Listening via the web just isn’t the hobby I wanted, the radio thing was.

    The baking soda paste works better on bee stings than on European Wasp (EW) stings. It was simply a case of adding water to the baking soda so that it was moist and sticky, not runny, and apply to the affected areas. Apparently it sucks the poison out, or so my mom was taught. I’m sure the ice helped too.

    When some of our nieces were about 18 months old, one of them got zapped by one of many EWs where we were. Just above the ankle. We were right on the Columbia River behind Grand Coulee Dam, so I had my wife take Niece to the water and place mud packs on the sting and lightly rub. After 10 minutes of that, she walked Niece knee deep in the water (this was summer, so it wasn’t cold water, but that river never gets warm) for another 15 minutes. That seemed to do the trick.

    Snowy February…2nd snowiest ever, officially, with 71cm of snow falling in the month. About 122 for the entire season so far, which is pretty normal. After the 12cm we had earlier this week, there is about 35cm on the ground, which is nowhere near a record. Lows for the next several nights should be near -17C, which is VERY cold for March. And all of the arterials have been plowed and treated with chemical de-icer, so that all the arterials are bare pavement.

    Driving in this stuff…Every car I’ve ever owned was able to drive in at least 30cm of fresh snow. The problem for lower slung vehicles is that they can high center and just not have enough momentum to plow through and over deep snow. The 5 inches you asked Claire about, while a definite hazard due to it making the roads slick, is not a deterrent simply because of its depth, at least in this area. Upward of 38cm in one storm will paralyze things here. In fact, Spokane has enough newbies from California, Seattle and other areas where driving in snow is not normal. Anything over 10cm has these and others in a dithering panic, or else being stoopid and driving as if the roads are bare and wet. Auto repair shops like those drivers.


  37. Chris,

    I saw you mention Orwell’s “1984” to Lewis. I have been saying for 17 years now w.r.t the USA government, that “1984” was meant to be a novel and NOT a how-to manual.


  38. Hi Lewis,

    Lumberjack cakes are really nice – and oops, I forgot about your dislike of coconut. 🙂 The texture is halfway between a muffin and cake, but probably slightly closer to a muffin. The bakery also does a mighty fine carrot and walnut cake. The editor has made lumberjack cake before and it was very good, but I’m a bit hazy on the recipe as I wasn’t involved. Who knew that boiling water and soda were a thing down here? My grandmother always used to put way too much soda into cakes and they had this mild background flavour of soda which to my very young taste buds, tasted a bit strange in a chocolate cake not to mention the little silver lollies she was fond of putting on top that you don’t see these days outside of desserts of Indian origin. I try not to cook with soda for that reason, and strangely enough the Anzac biscuits are better without the soda – because it caused them to sink and flatten as they cooked, and I only discovered that they kept their shape without the soda – when I forgot to add it to the recipe many years ago. Then I had the pesky problem of reverse engineering the kitchen success… I’m not sure that I would have made a good scientist because like you sometimes I just like to change the recipe to see what will happen. How else does one learn?

    We picked all of the corn today. The stalks were a bit of a problem last year, and so this year I ran them through the 2 horsepower electric chipper chopper. We had to modify the old machine because it had been ‘nanny state-d’ too much which meant that it kept clogging up. Fortunately, we’re not above pulling the machine apart to see why it was clogging up – and then we hacked into it with the steel cutting blade on the angle grinder. It works great now, and is only slightly more dangerous than it was before the modification. You wouldn’t dare put your finger in that machine though. Ouch!

    Hey, the soil in the corn enclosure was pretty good given it is less than a year old, but the root systems with the corn were not very deep, which is not ideal for such hot summers. It really takes about three years to get the soil in garden beds well established in an old school – less molly coddled – manner. You were right too, I was wrong, and we’re going to move the tomatoes next year into a new spot. We just haven’t had enough space to do proper crop rotation, and have been dodging the necessity by bringing in more organic material every year. It wasn’t plant disease that convinced us about rotating the crops, but the self seeded volunteer tomatoes are out competing the varieties we want to grow and we had no idea which plant was which when they were very small and had to wait until they fruited.

    BLT’s are worthy indulgences! Yum! And egg salad is excellent too (that was enjoyed here for lunch today on freshly baked bread). The Oster’s get good reviews, so you’re onto a good thing. Hey, sometimes recipes need to ferment overnight before they taste any good, and your mayo may have been like that? I know the three bean salad we make has to sit overnight and ferment – and can’t be consumed freshly made. Nope. I had a mate years ago who used to work in a pub kitchen, and he was a talented cook, but hated the hours because it killed his social life and left his talent behind. Anyway, he used to make his own sauces and dressings, and the idea had never even occurred to me until he showed me how easy the process was. I’ve seen lemon juice used in cheese making, so it has an interesting chemical reaction with the other ingredients. A few lemon trees are a worthy addition to any garden, although I’m not sure they’d enjoy your winters, although they’ve survived 28’F here, but it gets lower up your way and that could be a problem.

    Thanks! That is a fine example of guarded speech. 🙂 People are quick to anger these days. I’m not really a fan of super hero movies because they’re inevitably boring, and it would be a pain to have to sit through one. What a fun idea if the super heroes lost to the baddies?

    Cliff Mass nailed the topic and the projects that he suggested are worthwhile projects. Will it happen – probably not, because the people with the most to lose simply want to abnegate costs onto someone else. You know, I’m in the middle of a heatwave and even the island state of Tasmania has had weather records smashed today (Hi Jo!). There are out of control fires over in the eastern side of this state. And imagine for one moment that I stick my hand up and suggest that maybe we could do better for our descendants, and here is a way to do it – nobody wants to take a hit to their lifestyle, and that though alone gets me out in the hot summer sun working on a day that is 37’C / 99’F.

    I’ll tell you a funny story. This afternoon I had to walk 200 litres (52 gallons) of water up the hill to the fern gully. It is hot and dry and some of the ferns are in their first year (planted June last year), so they are not well enough established to get through this sort of heatwave and they need a bit of help which I can provide. Aircraft flew over head as I carted water up the hill by hand. Anyway, nature put on a delightful alternative display because once I began watering the ferns, butterflies came from all around to enjoy the cool moist air and also grab a drink. The aircraft looked a bit lame compared to the dozens and dozens of butterflies happily going about their business.

    SJW folks are like snakes trying to bite their own tails. Eventually the circle becomes so small that they disappear into insignificance.

    Fingers crossed for the Master Gardener inspection, and I do hope that you score another plot? It couldn’t hurt to ask and show some enthusiasm… 🙂 Turning up and recognising opportunities is an art form! 🙂 It is funny that you mention that…

    Far out, the Devil came down to Washington and he knew he’d been beat… Bob’s red mill is awesome. I had no idea that so many products could be turned into flour. Yes, the artisanal flour is the way to go. I’m frankly in awe.

    Haha! Back in the dark ages! Very funny. You’re spot on about wheat and flour being different these days. The varieties of wheat have ‘progressed’ to smaller plants which are easily harvested by combine harvesters and so the germ, oils and bran are excluded from the flour so as to keep the flour from going rancid. It is not the same product at all. Historically the plants grew as high as five feet, whilst now they are about one foot. The thing is the root systems of the current plants are likewise smaller and so they are more inclined to suffer from heatwaves and droughts. I have a variety of bread wheat which I’m hoping to plant that grows to three feet, but time is fast running out for me to get them in the ground to over winter.



  39. Hi DJ,

    The poor Raven, but then the magpie family that lives here will chase off wedge tail eagles (which must be at least five to six times their size). Obviously it is because the wedge tail eagle call sounds a bit weak, like a chick calling to its mother hen! Seriously, this mighty bird with a wing span of about 3m soars in the thermals and calls out: Cheep, cheep, cheep! Birds are extraordinarily territorial and the blackbirds, give the smaller wrens and robins a hard time, so they reap what they sow.

    Mate, I hear you about SW. When I was a kid, all of my mates had 5W AM 27MHz CB’s and some of them had 12W SSB (upper and lower bands) and you could talk to people all around the world when the conditions were just right. We’re sort of doing the same thing with the interweb, but at a much higher energy cost. UHF CB’s nowadays are very dull by way of comparison.

    Thanks for the tip about the baking soda. We use anti-histamines if stung and I’ve often wondered about the side effects of such chemicals but have been unable to clarify the matter. They do work really well, but the natural sources are unfortunately relatively dilute (honey and leafy greens come to mind), although on a day to day basis they are worthwhile consuming.

    The cold water is a good idea. As a kid, I once burned my hand badly on a kerosene lamp, and I was in the middle of nowhere and camping next to the Jamieson River, which is way out in the alpine area. Every time the skin on my hand ached, I dunked my hand into the cool alpine water of the river and that really helped a lot. Yup, the cool really helps.

    Speaking of cool. There ain’t no relief for me today on that front as it reached 37’C / 99’F earlier today. Despite it all we worked outside for most of the day, but kept to the shade and tried not to do anything too strenuous. We got to test out a new electric chainsaw, which sounds bonkers, but works really well. We have so much electricity over summer that it becomes a sort of use it or lose it game and I’ve been experimenting over the past few years with electric tools – which have only a fraction of the power of fossil fuel powered tools, but still they can be really good and are probably better for me to use due to the emissions of the fossil fuel tools.

    Far out! Second snowiest sounds quite frightening to me! 1.22m of snow is bonkers! And -17’C is brutally cold in anyone’s language. Stay warm, and if I could manage to get some of the heat from here up your way… We’re on the hottest summer on record, so it’s awards all around. It is all very impressive isn’t it? At least your river systems will enjoy a good drink when the stuff all melts.

    Go the auto shops! Are you seeing an influx of new residents? Three of the nearby towns here seem to be rapidly expanding their populations and I do wonder about how the infrastructure will cope with that? Especially water which is the limiting factor on this dry old continent.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Forgot to mention. One of the side benefits of writing controversial blogs about vegans is that the number of comments have been reduced this week – although I hardly think the blog was controversial, but there you go.

    Anyway, I’ve had some free time this week to sort some stuff out.

    One of which is that I purchased the first of Jack Whyte’s Camulod series of books which will have to wait until Mr Penumbra is read.

    And the other is that I purchased an extraordinarily high quality razor, which I’ll have to learn how to use with a strop. Do you have any advice for me? I’m frankly a bit nervous of the thing.

    Who said, old dogs can’t learn new tricks? They were talking porky pies!



  41. Hi, Chris!

    I have been so sick, and haven’t even read this undoubtedly wonderful post. Hope to be back here soon (things with screens are bothering my eyes). So – see you later, alligator.

    If you want to find me, I’m in the bathroom . . .


  42. Hello again
    There was a ferocious fight outside late yesterday evening. I assumed that it was one of Son’s dogs against something else but Son says that his dogs weren’t out and that it must have been 2 dog foxes. If so, I am surprised as something growled and I have never heard a fox growl.
    My rhubarb has just started to show and I have hastily added compost and manure. Have also been re-planting strawberry runners. So much to do as the weather warms up though it is supposed to deteriorate again.


  43. Hi Chris,
    I’m not sure about the state of our recycling drives. We took the last few months off due to weather and a pretty significant reduction of people bringing stuff in. Supposedly the county is taking over the monthly recycling drives but that’s primarily for electronics. Our organization may be working with them to recycle other items.

    The old owner left quite a few pretty large pots here which I intend to utilize.

    I saw a news clip about printable vegan meat substitute that is being developed and may be available next year – yum.

    I mentioned a few weeks ago about a tooth from hell that I’ve been dealing with on which I’ve already spent around $3,000 on it. I had to go to an endodontist who had done the root canal over two years ago to check it out. She now has tv screens in the exam rooms and it was set to play Netflix documentaries. “Meat Eaters” was the one playing while I was waiting basically about hunters. When she came in I commented that if a vegan or vegetarian had been sitting in the chair they wouldn’t be very happy with this choice. This brings me to one of my major pet peeves – the proliferation of screen. My regular dentist also has TV’s in the exam rooms and the vet as well!!

    Anyway I had good news about the tooth. I don’t know why but apparently some lack of bone is causing the pain and it just needs to be watched. Besides several xrays I had the fancy scan that among other visuals also provided a 3-D one. I’m thinking that this is going to cost a pretty penny but when I went out to the front office they said I was all set. “What is today’s charge?”, I asked and they said nothing. The receptionist added “run”.

    Doug and I saw “Green Book” yesterday and we both enjoyed it. I imagine some of the confrontations may have been sugar coated a bit. We are not fans of super hero movies either and there just seems to be more and more of them – so much so that it’s often hard to find something worth watching. In the city there does seem to be a better selection but I’m usually not there to watch a movie and at any rate they are quite expensive as well.

    Hope you survive the latest heat wave as we go through the coming cold wave here. We are still encased in ice and snow though we do get a day here and there that’s warm enough to melt a bit of it.


  44. Yo, Chris – Well, it got down to 28F (-2.22C) last night. And, colder temps are forecast for the rest of the week. So, no, I don’t think lemons trees are in my future :-). Not unusual temps for winter, here. For the next week, day time temps will be in the mid 40sF. “Slight chance of snow” is back on the menu for next Tue/Wed.

    Harold McGee (“On Food and Cooking”) didn’t have anything to say about boiling water and baking soda. Interesting stuff. If something (whatever your cooking) is on the acid side, you don’t need baking powder to get a rise. Commercial baking soda was developed during the 1840-50s. Before that, people used potash extracted from wood ash.

    Well, now that you’ve tampered with the chipper chopper, if you lose a finger, you won’t be able to bring a successful suit against the company :-(. Restore the safeguards, before lawyering up :-). My heirloom corn did something rather interesting. From about 4 – 6″ up the stock, all away around, it sent down what I can only describe as another set of support roots. And they were tough as old boots. Well, I suppose if you’ve got a 12′ stem, you need a bit of extra support. I still roped them in, in high winds.

    I got the Oster, when I was allowed to raid my old landlord’s mother’s kitchen, after she passed on. I even found the old manuals and recipe books that came with it. I’ve used it a few times, for this and that. It’s pretty nifty.

    That was a nice bit about the butterfly display. Worth hauling all that water. I hope you remembered to give the yabbies, a splash.

    Oh, I think I’ll hold the line at 100 square feet, in gardening space. That’s enough for me to take care of. Keeps me creative, as far as use of space.

    Yeah, Bob’s Red Mill is pretty good. I’m finding their cookbooks, a little less useful. Slightly. OK. They are a business, I get that. I made carrot / raisin muffins, last night. Their recipe calls for unbleached white flour, whole wheat pastry flour, barley flour and flax seeds. All of which they happily provide. I got online and found a recipe that only called for unbleached white flour. It worked just fine. A little … gooey, but very nice muffins. LOL, I was supposed to have three cups of carrots, but the two cans only yielded 2 cups. I made no adjustments, and they turned out fine.

    I have no advice when it comes to straight razors. Other than, make sure you keep it rust free. As I mentioned before, Thoreau’s brother died of tetanus, due to a rusty razor. Keep those shots current! As I mentioned, I’m pretty old school, myself. But drew the line at a WWI brass safety razor :-).

    Coincidence. Someone, just yesterday was calling for a good book on the Arthur story. I thought of the Camulod series. But, it has no illustrations. Your in for a treat, I think. I also think, on reflection, that it’s a bit of a Roman Britain, “World Made By Hand.” 🙂 Lew

  45. @ Claire – Thanks for the bread making recipe, and tips. I printed it out. Next time I’m in a bread baking mood, I’ll give it a whirl. Lew

  46. Hi Inge,

    I hadn’t known that a male fox was called a fox dog, but had known the equivalent female vixen name. Interesting. Can’t say I’ve ever heard an adult fox dog call or growl, but the vixen screams are unforgettable, as are the yips of fox cubs (and I hear those two calls every now and then with the yips being more commonly heard at a reasonable distance). New and interesting aggressive confrontation sounds out in the forest are always worth considering and investigating. Do you find any fox scats? They’re easy for me to spot here, especially in blackberry season. It is possible that you have some wild dogs in your area?

    The nearest neighbours dog was baying last evening so it was obviously distressed about something. It is some sort of poodle cross and it is usually very quiet, and their house is far enough away that I can’t see it or usually hear them.

    I took Sir Scruffy out to the toilet last night and a huge wombat was in the driveway (it had come down to the house for a drink of water). It was the size of boar. Sir Scruffy and the wombat studiously avoided each other and pretended that they did not exist.

    Spring is such an exciting time of year. We had a tiny bit of rain a few minutes ago and then it was gone – and the rain evaporated. The eastern half of the state looks like there are fires everywhere.



  47. Hi Margaret,

    Hopefully the county doesn’t expect your mob to provide unpaid services in relation to recycling? I have no idea what is going on here with any items other than metals for recycling, but my gut feeling tells me that it is not good given what I’ve read. Is there money in recycling electronic items?

    The pots are a good idea. I have no experience with greenhouses, but could you plant out less cold hardy varieties in your area and then use a trolley to move them into a greenhouse (or shed) over the winter? I imagine the lack of light might be a problem for the plants once inside, but don’t really know.

    I couldn’t find any references to printable vegan meat substitutes. It sounds a bit dodgy… I heard a news report about lab grown meat, and it is hardly surprising, but the researchers are having trouble making the stuff economically, although they were working on that.

    It is nice when things work out like that, and to dodge the expenso-dentist and enjoy a keep calm and carry on approach, sure beats long, painful and expensive hours in the dentists chair. Run, Margaret, run! Sometimes if you know the source of a bit of pain and you know that it is nothing to worry about, well, it lessens the worry that it might be something far worse.

    Yes, screens are almost everywhere down here too. They drive me bonkers and I have to really concentrate just so that I can blot them out of my consciousness. We don’t actually eat at restaurants where there are screens on in the background and neither the local pub or café have screens on their walls. There are so many distraction and pacifying tools in play these days. What can you do other than shrug your shoulders and try not to indulge?

    You may be right about the sugar coating of the confrontations. But the film was really good. I dragged the editor along to see it and she was a bit apprehensive and probably wouldn’t have picked that particular film, but she enjoyed it too. Dunno how much you pay for cinema tickets, but adult tickets in the city are $17 each (and we enjoy a membership discount which we have to pay annually for).

    What, another cold wave? Has your winter been record breaking? A cool change is meant to arrive here later this evening.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Fair enough, one can but dream of fresh lemons in the depth of winter. The fruit is not much good during summer as it dries out. I usually pick the fruit off the tree and throw them into garden beds. I once visited a garden that grew many varieties of citrus and they enjoyed frosts down to 16’F / -9’C but it was at the bottom of a very protected and sheltered valley. Up your way, it would be the sheer length of time that it is cold, added onto the winter winds that would pile on the wind chill over winter and kill off the citrus. This next sentence has nothing to do with the paragraph, but we enjoyed freshly oven baked scones and raspberry jam and cream, all in a nice garden setting this morning. Microwave scones are not good…

    Speaking of the weather, it is hot here again today which is hardly surprising. But the eastern half of the state has quite a large number of bushfires (it is not good over there) and the weird thing is that you can see the fires (I’m assuming that it is the smoke from the fires) on the rainfall radar. I can’t say that I’ve noticed that before, but I do recall that the radar system was upgraded recently.

    Anyway, we enjoyed a very brief rain shower this afternoon. We went outside and stood around in the rain whilst supping on a nice cup of coffee with Anzac biscuit. The rain was over as quickly as it had begun, and within a minute or two the hot ground had evaporated any trace of the rain. There will be another brief wave of rain in another couple of hours. Oh well.

    I can see that about the potash derived from the wood ash. Wood ash is valuable stuff – it was used in soap making too, and I’m uncertain of the veracity of the claim, but I have heard of people using it to soften their water supply (although you’d want to use the stuff sparingly I reckon). Does the book read well and is it approachable? The reason I ask is because one review described it as: “the Rosetta stone of the culinary world”, which seems like a big call to me.

    Mate, the chipper chopper is a very old machine and I doubt they make them as sturdy as this one nowadays. I was really impressed with the strength of the steel used in its construction, which may be indicative of the steel I see and use nowadays. Not sure I can do a good enough welding job to get the bit I cut off it back onto the machine. The machine just didn’t work properly with the stupid bit of steel that was in place.

    Hey, yeah, the corn here did a similar thing and I was unsure whether I may not have planted the corn kernels deep enough in the soil in the first place. But I do feel that your deduction is closer to the situation. It looked like there were lots of little tentacles reaching into the soil at the bottom of the stalks.

    It would have been a dreadful thing for someone to chuck the Oster out whilst they were going through a deceased estate. I often wonder how much stuff gets chucked out during those times. It isn’t only material items and devices either – how much knowledge gets lost between one generation and the next, especially about useful practical things?

    Actually I forgot about the yabbies… I’m thinking about installing a large stock water trough far down below the house for the wildlife to consume water from. They need a bit of help in summers like this one. I swear that I believed earlier in the season that this summer would be more humid, but this year is something else altogether… Bonkers.

    Fair enough, and a smaller plot is easier to manage and keep fertilised and watered. I’d imagine that all that snow you’ve been getting this winter will do good things towards filling up your reservoirs?

    A healthy degree of cynicism about such things is a good idea – especially if they’re the suppliers of all of those muffin ingredients. 🙂 And yeah, carrots are good fillers. Had a zucchini cake once that was quite good and reminded me of a carrot cake. Neither cakes taste of the base vegetable due to the goodly use of spices.

    I am lead to believe that the carbon content of the steel used in the blade means that I might not have to worry too much about rust, but a healthy fear (which I do have of the thing) is probably not a bad idea. I must get my tetanus booster shot.

    Cool. I look forward to reading the book – and am using the first book as a ‘toe in the water’ for the larger series. Just finished book four of the World Made by Hand series yesterday, and will begin Mr Penumbra tomorrow. Should be good fun and thanks for the review.

    Better get writing…



  49. Hello again
    ‘Dog fox’ not ‘fox dog’. I listened on the internet to every sound that foxes make and it was definitely a dog that I heard. Shall quiz Son about his dogs again.
    I never see screens when I am eating out or anywhere else for that matter.
    Weather is wild and wet this morning.

    @ Pam
    I hope that you recover soon.


  50. @Pam
    Sending healing energy your way.

    It’s getting harder all the time to find places without screens, sadly.


  51. Hi Chris,
    I had a greenhouse at the old place. Keeping it heated was a big issue so it wasn’t used too much.

    Don’t be too jealous but as we went to the movie before noon and we got the senior rate it was only $5 each. The other theaters we go to are $7 and $6 for seniors after noon. We are naughty and sneak in a couple of snacks and water instead of buying the extremely inflated food at the theater or just go without. There are a few advantages to getting old.

    I’m not sure if this winter will be record breaking overall since the early part was warmer than normal but there have been a lot of daily/monthly records broken. I see by the end of the week we’ll be above freezing during the day with some rain. Unfortunately it’s going to be pretty cold on Tuesday, the day of Marty’s move but at least no precipitation.


  52. Yo, Chris – It got down to 26F (-3.33C), last night. If we only had overnight lows, like that, once in awhile, we might be able to pull off more warm weather plants. But, when it goes on below freezing for weeks at a time? No lemons for us!

    Pity the poor people that live in the eastern part of your State. But they can keep their brush fires. Weather radar seems to be getting better and better. Seems there’s always some new tech tweak that squeezes more information out of what they’re seeing. I’ve mentioned before, that it’s pretty amazing that they can now pick up migrating birds. That was an interesting article about the thunderstorms. It’s the particles in the air, that create friction and static. Same for volcanic eruptions and dust storms.

    I think people used to brush their teeth, with wood ash. Charcoal. Probably finely pounded with a bit of mint thrown in :-).

    Tentacles. That was the word I was fumbling for, but couldn’t spell. :-). Makes the corn look a bit other worldly. I gave up on chopping up that bit of the stock.

    I think, at least here, more people hold onto stuff, rather than toss it. But, if I hadn’t been given permission to clean out that kitchen, those things would still be sitting there. Useful stuff, along with a lot that should go to the dump. Op shops have problems with people unloading (or, trying to) stuff that should go straight to the tip. They put up pictures for this weeks auction. Sure, there’s some useful stuff (to somebody) in there, but it really looks like someone cleaned out a garage … and storage shed.

    I sometimes have a problem keeping “junk” (from my point of view) out of the library. Did I want some old newspapers abut our floods? No. Did I want a huge pile of old National Geographics? No. Someone “gifted” me with four huge volumes of tax tips and financial advice, that’s over 20 years old. I put them on the “free” table, and if they don’t disappear in three or four days, will bin them. Quietly, and well disguised. A book on making early American furniture, turned up. Doesn’t bring anything on Amazon. As if anyone here will be building furniture, any time soon. It’s always “someone” might find this interesting. Well, someone never shows up, and in the meantime, valuable real estate gets taken up. I’ll probably donate the furniture building book to the library, for their book sale.

    Maybe you can find a nice Roman marble sarcophagus, for your stock trough? :-). They were all the rage, in England, at one time. For stock troughs and garden planters.

    Yes, we’re looking pretty good for water, for next summer. Reservoirs are full and there’s a good snow pack.

    My neighbor Eleanor, who I gave some muffins, came up with the right word for my muffins. Spongey. Which is what I was fumbling for. Gooey, didn’t seem quit right. I think it’s because I’ve started using unsweetened apple sauce, in place of oil. And, I beat (with the electric beater, the sauce, eggs, sugar and vinegar. I noticed that it really gets quit frothy. I also plumped up the raisins. The canned carrots also had a pretty high water content. Even though I drained and squeezed out as much water as I could.

    Hmmm. Am I going to buy a copy of “On Food and Cooking”? It’s pretty pricey. Maybe if I run across a good, cheap, used copy. At least, that’s what I’m thinking now. I don’t know if it’s a Rosetta stone, but it is encyclopedic. 800+ pages. It has a great index. Lots of illustrations. He also has boxes, at the bottom of some pages that have additional, or interesting bits of information. Well organized. We’ll see.

    Off to the Club for my Sunday morning cuppa. Will take some muffins to gift to Julia. Lew

  53. @ Claire
    I note that you raise your dough 3 times, I have never heard of this before. I do it twice and this is what most recipes say. Does your recipe make a significant difference?


  54. @ Chris and Lew,

    Those things you are seeing on your cornstalks that look like roots are, in fact, roots – they are called prop roots. Whether they help keep the corn stalks from blowing over I don’t know since mine blow over in a severe thunderstorm. But then it takes a severe thunderstorm, not an ordinary thunderstorm, to blow them over, so perhaps the prop roots are doing just that.

    @ Pam – hope you feel better soon!


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