Cow’s Backside

Food is such a fascinating topic. I enjoy growing food as much as I enjoy preparing and consuming it. My perspective is that us humans eat food three times per day (if we’re lucky), so it is probably not a bad idea to have an interest in the subject.

Since 2010, we’ve kept a batch of chickens at the farm, and not only for the chickens abilities to convert plant material into manure, but also for their plentiful eggs. And chickens are amazing and very useful creatures because they provide a good volume of eggs, whether they like it or not.

At the moment, it is mid autumn and the chickens are moulting (the technical word to describe them losing their feathers and then regrowing them again) so they’re not producing eggs at all. Chickens find it hard to regrow their feathers and produce eggs at the same time. Of course, I have the additional problem that I dispatched the Grey Silky chicken a few weeks back, and all fourteen of the remaining birds went on an immediate egg strike in protest. Chickens can sometimes do that, but over the next few weeks they’ll regrow their feathers and by the winter solstice in late June, they’ll have forgotten all about the Grey Silky and begin laying eggs again. Chickens time their activities in accordance with the season of the year, and they determine that by somehow taking note of the number of daylight hours and climactic conditions. Commercial egg farms get around this facility with chickens by keeping them under lights in large sheds. So the birds have basically no idea what time of the year it is, and they probably never begin the feather moulting process in the first place.

The eggs the chickens produce here are very good quality because the chickens eat well. Most days they get some time to free roam around the orchard, plus they enjoy garden and kitchen scraps. But more importantly the grains they get fed are top notch. Commercial egg laying birds could only dream of the pampered conditions that the chickens enjoy here, and I believe that I’d seriously struggle to identify the ingredients of the feed that most commercial egg laying birds are fed.

Anyway, the eggs here are good, and when I have to buy eggs like I do now that the chickens are on egg strike, I’m grateful that some farmers keep their chickens under lights and can still supply my needs. However, I’m also careful to purchase eggs from farms that I know look after their birds and feed them well. And fortunately there is such a farm in the local area. And the eggs are as good as the ones that the chickens lay here.

Now quality eggs have a rich yolk and a fine taste. They’re good. Eggs that are produced on the cheap taste really bland to my palate, but there are other costs to intensive farming of animals, such as the occasional outbreak of rare strains of salmonella:

Salmonella egg contamination could result in significant chicken cull

From an economic perspective, the eggs that the chickens lay here are quite expensive. It is not just the feed, but they also require fresh water, the ability to dust bathe, continuous supplies of clean bedding straw, and an enclosure that offers them protection from predation. And the costs for providing that add up.

Years ago I donated a dozen eggs to a mate. Rather than thanking me for the gift of the eggs, he quipped that the eggs were: “strong tasting”. It was clearly intended as a critique upon the quality of the eggs, and all it did was to ensure that I never again offered him the gift of eggs. However, the deeper message that I’d taken away from the critique was the understanding that people had become accustomed to consuming bland tasting eggs, and that was what they expected.

When I was a kid, my mother was single and due to economic circumstances, we ate basic foods prepared from scratch. And from a young age I learned to prepare meals for the family, as did my sisters. There were no soft drinks or processed foods waiting to be consumed, although processed foods began making a small appearance as the economic fortunes of the household improved, but despite that, the majority of meals were made from scratch using raw ingredients. Thus I know what basic ingredients taste like, because I had to deal with them from a very young age. Over time I feel that the quality and taste of basic ingredients has declined. It doesn’t help belay my feeling because whenever I grow a crop, the comparison in taste becomes much harder for me to ignore.

And people clearly accept this decline in the quality of their food.

The other day I was at a cafe when I overheard a lady complaining about her lunch, and by a strange coincidence her lunch happened to be of the same BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) toasted sandwich that I was thoroughly enjoying. For the record the toasted sandwich was excellent, however the conversation between the lady and the wait staff went like this:

“Excuse me was this spinach fried in garlic?”

In this part of the world, lettuce is only beginning to grow and will be ready to pick in about maybe four weeks from now. And spinach wont be ready to pick until mid to late spring! The poor wait staff looked like a rabbit in the headlights as she mumbled something inaudible and scuttled off and away.

The cafe has a history of sourcing locally and in season produce, and in the off seasons they substitute ingredients. In this case they had substituted endives which are considered a wild lettuce, and whilst they do have a bitter flavour they are full of minerals and are really good.

I thought that the subject would end there, but no it continued with a second interaction:

“There’s something with a strong taste in this”, and I presume an explanation was given, and the lady ended with: “Well I guess I’m not going to die from it.” As someone who had actually had a very bad case of food poisoning earlier in the year (strangely only weeks before the salmonella outbreak was announced), I thought that her sullen outburst was a bit over the top. This is what food poisoning actually looks like (from earlier in the year):

The author taken down by food poisoning earlier in the year

It is possible that the lady preferred bland tasting food as there seems to be a lot of those expectations about, and people have basically become accustomed to consuming it. On the other hand I recall the wise words of the potty mouthed UK celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, who once remarked that a person involved in a taste test that he’d arranged: had the palate of a “Cow’s Backside”.

As we get ever closer to winter, clouds are beginning to gather over the mountain range, and we may even yet get some rain. At least all of the nearby forest burns performed by the state government are producing some nice sunsets:

Clouds are beginning to form over the mountain range in what may portend some rainfall

The old girl Scritchy the former boss dog is feeling the colder weather. The other day I wrapped her up in my woollen farm jumper (which the editor tells me that I am never to wear off the farm) and she fell soundly asleep under the watchful eye of Ollie.

Scritchy the Ancient enjoys my warm woollen jumper whilst Ollie watches on

We’ve begun using the wood heater and firewood reserves:

We’ve begun using the wood heater for the season

Of late I’ve been experimenting with electric chainsaws so that we can take advantage of the supply of solar powered electricity during the firewood harvesting season (much later in the year). So far, the experiments are going well.

A magpie enjoys the grubs and bugs that I exposed when I cut this large piece of firewood in half

This week I have placed 3 cubic metres (3.6 cubic yards) of a 50/50 mix of compost and composted woody mulch into the orchard. All 300+ fruit trees have now been fed, pruned and weeded. It was a big job and each cubic metre of materials takes about 6 to 7 hours of work to place in the orchard. Other than that, there is little work required in the orchard other than mowing later in the year and possibly early the following year.

All 300+ fruit trees in the orchard have been fed, pruned and weeded

And all of the paths have been pruned. The prunings get thrown onto garden beds where they will break down into fine soil, or some lucky plants will establish themselves from the cuttings.

All the paths have now been pruned

I reckon the paths look good and it is hard to believe that we have had such a hot and dry year so far. In the next photo, the beds (excluding the round raised beds) have not been watered other than what falls from the sky:

The garden beds don’t look like they’ve just come through a record breaking hot and dry summer

Water is pretty scarce here at the moment, but it looks as though it might rain heavily later this week:

The yellow indicator next to Ollie shows how little water is left in the house tanks

Plenty of the local wildlife depends on this farm for its sustenance and water. As the weather gets cooler, the King Parrots regularly turn up for a feed.

King Parrots turn up for a feed. It’s good to be the King!

It would be nice if the wallabies stopped eating my lettuce. And I know it was them, because they also left stomp marks and a poo-calling-card!

A wallaby has eaten my lettuce!

But the other garden beds are doing well, and we’ve also planted winter crops in the tomato enclosure where the wallabies can’t get in!

Winter crops are just beginning to get started like these lettuce varieties and rocket
Parsley and chives are doing well. Leeks have just begun to poke their heads out of the ground

It is still leaf change time (unfortunately it has gone on for far too long this year):

Japanese maples have surprisingly deep colour
The smoke bush is nearing the end of leaf change

Onto the flowers:

A stunning geranium
This aromatic geranium has begun growing since the weather has cooled
This salvia looks nice with the backdrop of the trunk of the Japanese maple
Nasturtium are a favourite
But not much beats the roses for their colour and prolific nature

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 73.4mm (2.9 inches) which is the slightly higher than last weeks total of 69.2mm (2.7 inches) .

80 thoughts on “Cow’s Backside”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Locusts are a thing to see! Big fat grasshoppers sporting wings and bounding all over the place is what they look like, and mate, the birds gorged themselves silly. I doubt that they’d enjoyed such a rich source of protein for many a year. Up north where there are fewer trees for birds to nest in and more open grasslands, it was a pretty serious situation with crops. The splats on the front of peoples cars were epic too, and it put a whole new twist on cleaning bugs off the windshield (for some reason my mind turns to thoughts of the Blues Brothers).

    Like those quotes. 🙂 The first was my favourite. Back in the day I used to prattle on about environmental matters, and generated a lot of hot air in the process. Oh well, we’ve all been there. This plant business is far more complicated than I ever imagined it would be. How’s this one: Ego bursts upon the rock of action. Dunno, it might need a bit of work that one!

    Hope you liked the story this week? I can’t make this stuff up and people just hand me these stories. Sometimes I’d like to say to them: Do you know how you sound to other people? But then they might enjoy that observation. Having watched Fight Club, I am always polite to people who are serving me food. It’s only sensible. I’d imagine that you are polite to people whom wait upon you at restaurants?

    If it is not too personal, what was your experience with hunger about? My interest in food has been a long term passion and I have worked hard to ensure that I have never made it to the stage of serious hunger. It is always a possibility though.

    Haha! That’s hysterical and thanks for the correction. Some cheeky wag told me that the: “Glesca kiss” could also be interpreted as a head butt. Hey, that’s exactly how the words sound too. An unpleasant experience from all accounts and it would be wise to avoid such contact sports. From all accounts it’s a rough place. They apparently used to have quite the problem with knife fights, but I believe that that was in the past.

    But back to the accent. In a strange and weird twist of fate, long ago when I worked at the place where my off sider was of Scottish origins, quite a number of people reported to me, and this is where it gets strange: Two others were immigrants from Scotland, but their accents were minimal. but the editor used to stir me up by saying: “What’s going on there, and how is this even possible?” After leaving that job I turned my back on the big bad corporate world and now only work with small business. I quite liked some of the staff over the years, but others just wore me down, and the problems were remarkably abstract, and I’m not really sure they aligned with who I am, but you know it was good to have been there for many years and learned what it is all about – and about myself in the process, but doesn’t that happen to all of us?

    Yeah, good-on-‘er. Which roughly translates as: A rather fine attempt at replicating the broad Australian accent, my fair lady. 🙂 Funny stuff. Hey, I heard someone from your good country recently suggest that down here we are fast talkers, whatever does that mean? Given your experience and exposure to the accent, what is your take on that matter?



  2. Hi DJ,

    I’m typing on a laptop in the dark – it is a complicated story – and almost forgot your last sentence.

    Yeah, nah. At least I know that the leaf tourists will eventually get bored and go and do something else with their time, like say just for one example, make whiny phone calls! Hehe!



  3. Hi Damo,

    It’s true, despite how easy the process is, you are the only person who has managed to replicate our sake efforts. I doff my hat to you and your new found brewing expertise, good Sir! As far as I’m concerned if the brew smells right, it is right. The editor tells me to tell you to leave the wine in the refrigerator for two weeks to let the cloudiness settle at the bottom of the bottle. Then it is ready to drink. Of course a cloudy sake is eminently drinkable too and Mrs Damo probably has the technical background to know whether this is a good thing or not? The process takes about as long as beer making, but it is much easier as it has less steps. It is a real mystery to me how other people have completely botched it up. Oh well.

    Ah, now, more instructions from the editor. The mash will keep just fine over winter. But over summer you might have to leave it in the fridge or freezer, but by all means dry it out and see if it re-inoculates the rice, but try a control batch as well just to be on the safe side of things. Because of ambient air temperatures, sake is a spring or autumn produce, unless of course you splash out on a fine tolerance digitally controlled yoghurt maker (I’m guilty of owning such a device!) It takes all of the guess work out, but there is art to be learned in the guess work. 🙂

    Damo, I almost spat water all over my laptop!!! Far out and Hooley Dooley 75kWh!!!!!!!! That is a huge amount of electricity. The house batteries are only 30kWh. I’m left speechless. Exactly, an e-bike is the perfect use for an electrically powered vehicle. Nowadays I see plenty of people cruising around Melbourne on electric skateboards too, the other day I saw a bloke using a mobile phone whilst on an electric skateboard which happened to be weaving in and out of traffic. I was impressed and I’d have trouble doing any of those activities on their own…

    At Green Wizards the other day someone was telling me about a study of real world experience with electric car charging in Adelaide and the effect it had on the local grid. Apparently the local sub station blew when about something like six cars began charging at once, but I haven’t tracked down the study yet.

    Exactly, the costs outweigh the benefits, and that is when things get really strange. Did you see the link Lewis provided the other day with 210 reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire? It was exhaustive, but I reckon they missed one out, but I’ll let you figure out what it was!!! Hehe! Nah, just kidding, a person with a far smarter brain than I put the list together and it really is all inclusive! And yeah, there are pertinent lessons to be learned in there.



  4. Hi Chris – of course, another thing that people often don’t think about is when they go to restaurants to eat expensive rump steaks – they are literally eating cows’ backsides!

    That’s an awful lot of fruit trees you have. What do you do with all the produce? Just asking because I was working on mulching and pruning a few of mine yesterday and judging by the huge amount of blossom this year I’ll likely have a lot of pears, apples and apricots this year. There’s a faint foreboding of having too much fruit …

    I have also bought myself a nifty grafting tool that is like a pair of scissors, so am experimenting with growing apples on hawthorn. Loads of fun!



  5. Hello Chris
    I definitely agree about eggs, the difference between those that Son’s chickens produce and those that we have to buy during moult is huge.
    No, the image had nothing to do with swimming, I simply had a visual impression of arising from a whirlpool. Unfortunately a cloak has descended to cover the image with the word flu on it.
    Son came home to find Ren cowering beneath the chalet. He had been severely beaten up by his father Flyn. Bad facial wounds and a damaged leg. Son couldn’t get him to come out even when hungry. He was worried that the leg might be broken. Anyhow he is now out and the leg is not broken but Son is having to keep the two dogs apart.

    @ Pam and Margaret
    I am still feeling lousy, my eyes keep wanting to close down but no doubt I will improve.


  6. Hi, Chris!

    Did you let the chickens see you when you dispatched the Grey Silky? Probably it wouldn’t be a good idea. Do it in the woods or behind the house and tell them that a fox got her.

    Why don’t we note changes in the quality of our food? I think most people do, but some have little or no choice in what they can purchase and just have to go with what they can get. Or our palates become – like your cow’s backside – completely dull. Choice is a relative thing – some people won’t make changes – like moving to the country and growing their own food, or at least getting to farmer’s markets – and some can’t.

    You look laid out to be buried, with Ollie mourning your passing.

    Do you feed your fruit trees in spring, too? I am trying to get around to it here, but am so busy with the vegetables, and I finally have a real, and large, flower bed to work with in the garden, protected from deer, and am spending most of my spare time fiddling with it.

    That is the tidiest path. A joy to behold.

    There is a really scary sight – the level of water in your tank. I do hope you get the heavy rains. Ollie – you have bow legs. As if freckles weren’t enough. But heart is what counts, and you guard vigilantly – oh, young knight – over Dame Scritchy.

    I hope some of the flowers in my new bed can match up to yours someday.


  7. Hi Lewis,

    I was wondering when such Oil related matters would rear their ugly heads again. My take, and I’d be interested in your thoughts on the matter, but the debt can be worked around, a decline in active drilling rigs is whole different story, because all other issues to the side, drops in supply generally push up prices. And the drop off in active rigs may be an indicator that the short lived fields are playing out, I mean the decline rates of the wells by all accounts is quite rapid relative to conventional oil fields. Dunno. Debt can be manufactured and forgiven, geology is an entirely different matter. The drillers may also be playing the long game and driving up prices by reducing supply, I mean they might have a lot of debt to service.

    Yeah, I really wonder about the long term implications of our current policies relating to electricity. I mean renewables are great, they really are good, but they need to be supported with base load power. The batteries here provide that base load power, and in the grid down here that feat is replicated by coal fired power stations. The thing is, the batteries might last another decade, and people will shake their heads in dismay at how short lived batteries are, but they might only do that because they don’t realise that most of the coal fired power stations are slated to be retired within two decades. And I recall the furore around the stupid Y2K bug and that was only two decades ago. Time passes pretty quickly. Although it also might have fallen behind the couch.

    Interestingly the article you linked too (which was an excellent analysis of safety systems breeding in complacency, deskilling and risk), but most of the substations and transformers in the grid probably need to be replaced so that they can communicate with each other and a lot of those have provided sterling service for many decades. Talk about increased complexity and honestly I haven’t heard anyone saying that they’d be happy to share the cost burden of upgrading the current electricity grid. Many things are like that, and we as a society just try do things on the cheap and we end up with cheap outcomes. I’m having a fine rant! 🙂

    Now, a few hours ago I read the second last chapter, and Mr Richter is a clever author because if I’m not mistaken he just wove a story that had occult origins. And the cheeky rascal then went on to point a way forward and just for good measure he held a mirror up to us all and showed us exactly what he thought of us all. I’m completely floored, he was a clever bloke that author. It is an outstanding story.

    And incidentally, I believe Mr Greer’s response to you was a fine example of what we had been talking about recently on the subject of writing: “Show, don’t tell”. 🙂 Good stuff, and as always I have much to learn.

    Chuck (the author) surely must have led a fascinating life to have come up with so many out of the ordinary stories. Have you ever read a biography of the author? You may recognise that in this week’s blog, I have learned much, master, about being nice to wait and kitchen staff. And for that I have Chuck to thank. It all comes back to Fight Club in the end, you know! 😉

    Well, yeah, this is exactly what Mr Richter was writing about. Of course, it is obvious to me that there are officially prescribed categories of diversity, and for some reason, those official categories have become quite sexualised. Strangely enough as a society we’ve gone from one extreme to the other extreme. I’m quite old fashioned and don’t care who sleeps with whom, as long as I don’t have to hear about. Alas the talk these days is all about such matters. But as the author discovered talk outside these narrow ranges of officially recognised diversity, and mate people fire up and get angry or get all sullen and quiet. How about talking about class for just one example! Far out. Mr Richter held a mirror up to us all in the second last chapter, it’s all there for anyone with eyes to read and the merest scrap of independent thought to contemplate upon the matter.

    There sure is an interesting story behind that sale. The fit out is very French Renaissance, and that seems out of place given the rural location. The house is new and it was an empty rural block when we looked at and they ended up buying it. There is fertile soil there and good rainfall, but it is a really rural area and it is hard to make a buck on the land and the house is so out of character with the area that I just don’t understand it. I would have enjoyed having access to a natural spring. Oh well, one can but dream of such things, and in the meantime, buy more water tanks and dig a well. 😉

    Yeah, I can see how such a person could extend the life of an Empire by I guess making the hard and unpleasant calls and stomping the daylights out of dissenting opinions.



  8. @ Inge:

    You poor thing. No doubt you will improve. Better that it is spring and not winter. At least you aren’t a dog under a house. Poor dog.


  9. Chris:

    Jason’s comment caused me to remember that my first grafting attempt – on an apple tree – was a bust. Just as well, as I only realized after the fact that I had grafted from a tree that had quite a bit of disease problems.


  10. Hi Inge,

    Oh my, I’m typing here tonight on a laptop and it is pretty dark. I’ve just got the light from the keyboard illuminating the keys. I’m waiting for the editor… Long story.

    Yeah, I can taste the difference with the eggs too, and I do actually wonder what impact there would be upon the chickens health by missing out on their annual moult. Mind you, they might not live long enough to find out. I can’t recall what breed of chickens your son raises, but the only time that I’ve experienced commercial breeds of chickens, the birds were a bit odd and prone to the occasional psychotic episode (and that happened on a few occasions and they weren’t rescue birds either). Strange behaviour and I refuse to consider accepting the particular variety of birds nowadays.

    Sorry to hear that the flu continues and I hope you recover soon. Global travel brings with it some unpleasant side effects. The editor had a cold last week, and she is only just now recovering.

    Ouch. Flyn may have recruited assistance in the deed? Glad to read that despite Ren getting hurt he appears so far to be not permanently injured. I hope that he recovers fully from his injuries and that he is more circumspect when in the presence of Flyn in the future. How has Flyn fared in that battle?

    You may note that Toothy has not been provided with a title. One day he encouraged Scritchy to take on Sir Poopy. They caught Sir Poopy unawares and he limped for about a week or two afterwards. A month or two later Sir Poopy trounced Toothy, with the help of Scritchy (who has the uncanny knack of backing a winner). Toothy was batting out of his league, but Ren is made of different stuff I feel. I’d keep an eye on the two if I were your son as the business may not be finished.



  11. Hi Pam,

    I feel a bit bad now, the other chickens saw me take her, and whilst they did not see me do the deed, they’re smart enough to know that I had something to do with the disappearance. Such is life with a sick chicken and sometimes you face these tough decisions and there is no right way, you just have to act on experience and gut feel – and then just hope that you didn’t make the wrong decision. Have you ever owned chickens?

    I totally agree with your perspective. It is tough isn’t it? The funny thing was that what I’ve read historical accounts of what went on down here during the Great Depression, people headed into the city and despite living challenging lives there, they stuck to what they knew rather than heading rurally. However, as the Great Depression wore on, people slowly moved back into the rural areas, but then WWII came along and depopulated the rural areas again. In most country towns around here there are avenues of honour leading into and out of the towns. The trees planted (which are now quite advanced elms and oaks etc.) represent folks who gave their lives during WWI and WWII. The leaf change tourists are actually taking selfies with a war memorial in the background (although they may not realise it): Crackdown on tourists flouting road laws in autumn on Macedon’s Honour Avenue.

    Ollie has such a sweet nature for such a large dog, and there I thought that he looked to me like Smaug the dragon guarding its treasure. 🙂 He’s my dog that one.

    Actually I’m not sure of the right time to feed the trees and in the past I used to feed them in spring, but nowadays I feed them in autumn, but I do that more because of the available time to do so. There might not be a right time to feed the trees? Dunno. What are your thoughts on the matter? And a large flower garden is a wonderful thing! Go on tease me and tell me of the wonderful plants you have growing (or plan to grow) in there?

    The paths and steps are a joy and it makes it much easier to get about the property. Of course the wallabies enjoy using them too.

    Yeah, the water situation is not good, although I have a spare 2,000 gallons in the garden watering system which I can utilise if I have to. It is rain water and as good as the house water. But yeah, it would be nice to have some rain.

    Gangle freckles says hi Pam! 🙂 That was an action shot and he was speeding up the hill after having chased off the magpie in the previous image. He doesn’t have a hope of catching one, and the magpies are no fans of the dogs. They’re smart birds though as they leave look outs whilst the others feed.

    Thank you, and I’m certain they will.



  12. Hi Jason,

    A fine point! And an amusing perspective that had not occurred to me, but it is so true. I hope nobody spots me laughing to myself after having read your witty observation.

    Everyone asks me that question. So far after a decade I have had surpluses of some varieties of fruit, but the trees are still young enough and there is enough predation that I’m yet to experience a true surfeit of fruit. There is a lot of wildlife living here on the farm.

    Haha! Do not count ones fruit before it is harvested. Apricots, I have a dozen fruit trees of different varieties and a late frost can wipe out all of the blossoms leaving me with only the late varieties, when in other years the trees have supplied me with enough fruit to preserve and bottle for the rest of the year.

    Apples and pears. My friend, get thee a fruit press and some demijohns and you will never experience a surfeit of fruit!

    Grafting is an incredible skill and summer the grafting (bud grafting) is a very cheap way to purchase an orchard for not much cash. It is how the old timers did it back in the day. I look forward to reading about your experiments!



  13. Hi Chris,
    Well it turned out the weather forecast wasn’t quite right and I could have attended the shower which I heard was quite fun as showers go. My daughter sent me a picture from the restaurant of family members drinking the free mimosas. We did get quite a bit of snow but much melted and only about 2 inches stuck and mostly on the grassy areas. The high winds didn’t materialize either. Snow is gone now though while it was melting yesterday the contrast between the bright green and white snow patches was quite beautiful. Now it’s raining which it’s supposed to do on and off for the next three days with a total of 3 inches forecast. Wish I could send some to you. My daughter and granddaughters are arriving this afternoon for a couple days and we all are disappointed that outside activities will be at a minimum.

    We had our discussion of the Green New Deal yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised at the realistic reactions to the proposal. I don’t know if you read “Naked Capitalism” but they are proponents of Modern Monetary Theory which I can’t say I really understand but the claim is deficits don’t matter so programs proposed by the Green New Deal could be financed this way. Our group decided we would try to learn a bit more about MMT.

    Great pic of Ollie and Scritchy – now there are some dogs who appreciate comfort.

    Store bought eggs can’t compare to real free range eggs. I love watching the yolks color change as spring progresses. I’ve read the commercial egg producers are adding flax seed to the feed to make yolks brighter. I used to leave lights on in the winter but for no more than twelve hours so I would get a few eggs in the winter from younger hens though some breeds were better winter producers.


  14. Hello again
    Notayesman had a bit on Australia 25th April.

    @ Jason
    Apples on hawthorn!!! Has it been done before?


  15. @ Damo – (From last week). Well, now that I’ve led you down the garden path of entrepreneurship … :-). Re: op-shops. There was a woman over on Greer, this week, who has done just that. What started as a hobby has morphed into a business. Sounds like she pretty much gets her stock by dumpster diving and driving around on trash pick-up day.

    She repairs it and repaints, sounds like in the wild and geometric style that all the young folks seem to favor, these days. Of course, that trend will eventually fade, and the trick is to figure out what the next one will be.

    I almost sprung for a full set of the Camalude books, but it was one of those ghastly listings that ran something like “Books in photograph may not be the books you get. Readable (what’s their definition of readable?) , but may have underlining, margin notes, be a library discard …” etc. etc.. I usually end up paying more, but I stick to the listings that make it pretty clear the dealer has at least LOOKED at an item. I also steer clear of the tat sellers who, under “item condition” state, “see pictures.” Which are usually dark, blurry, and not very many.

    So endith today’s rant :-). Lew

  16. Yo, Chris – Well, you know my interest in food :-). I always say I have around 300 cook books, but then have to qualify that by saying a lot of them are on the history of foods, or how food was cooked and presented at different time periods. A few chef bios. Four or five books on old kitchen equipment.

    No argument here on the quality of eggs. Factory farmed versus smaller home flocks. I’d say my chickens probably ate about 1/3 to 1/2 commercial feed (but I bought the good stuff) and the rest was forage and their daily ration of rolled oats, yogurt and banana peels. Corn from time to time, though I understand that’s more like candy, to chickens, and really doesn’t give them much nutrition. I also added well broken up egg shells. Broken up as to not put ideas in their tiny little heads.

    The archaeologists are all atwitter (pun intended) as, they always thought that chickens in the Near East were raised mainly for cock fighting back in the B.C.s. Not for eggs. Makes sense as back then, chickens laid pretty seasonally. Well, there was great excitement when a lot of egg shells were discovered in a food trash heap, in Jerusalem.

    But, getting back to food in ancient times (when I was a wee small lad) vs today, no argument there, either. Although I’m beginning to rethink my take on bananas. I have always said that the first time I ate an organic banana, it made me think of my grandma’s banana cream pies. Well, it finally sunk in that back in my ancient days, the common variety of banana was a Gros Michael. Which was wiped out by Panama Disease. And, replaced by Cavendish. So, it may be the taste of a different variety, I’m remembering. Maybe. Here’s an article about Panama disease. There’s an interesting bit about Australian quarantine, down toward the end.

    You looked so gray, when you had food poisoning. Even your hair :-). The lady in the restaurant may have been pulling a bit of a scam. There are some folk out there that think if they find something to complain about, they don’t have to tip.

    That is one pretty sunset. A pity about the source of all those colors. :-(. That’s quit a surplus of wood. It always feels so good to have a surplus of anything, but I sometimes feel a twinge when I start digging into the surplus. I’m down to my last gallon of blueberries. Oh, well. I still have plenty of blackberries and strawberries. Probably enough to see me through to the next blueberry harvest. Maybe.

    Your going to have quit the forest of fruit trees. I wonder if sometime in the far distant future, someone will bull doze them away, because they’re “not native.” Our temperature got down to 32F (-0- C), night before last. Of course, our weather station is a couple of hundred feet lower, than here, and the cool air pools down in the valley. No frost here. But my friend Julia, who lives out of town had a light frost. We’re wondering if it hurt any of her fruit trees, which are all in bloom, right now. The bees have been busy, so, maybe, a lot of fruit is already set. Time will tell. We were talking about all the things you can grow, that we can’t grow here. She wondered if you could grow coffee, or chocolate? I also wonder about bananas? Cont.

  17. Cont. I can see the headlines now. “Man Keeps Patch Green Without Water.” That water level is worrying. May the god or goddess of rain bring you some (but not too much.) You mentioned that the house water was not rain water. Pray tell, where does it come from?

    The King Parrot is a knock out. As are the geraniums. I sent off for some blue geranium seed (a less showy, more wild variety) but they’ve been in transit for quit awhile. I wonder if I’ve been had? If they do eventually show up, I’m not leaving feedback til they bloom. Make sure they really ARE blue.

    LOL. The capped wells. Well, if you’re of one political persuasion, it’s because they’re played out. If of another persuasion, it’s some conspiracy. Either the oil companies are driving up prices, or the Enviros are preventing pumping. But never that we’re running out of the stuff. What I hear a lot of is that there’s still oceans of easily attainable oil, that some dastardly entity is blocking. We do have a large oil reserve, but, theoretically, it’s for the military. What’s interesting is that when there’s a run up for an election, whoever is in power usually releases enough of the stuff to run the gas prices down. Make the voters feel all warm and fuzzy.

    I’ve read a couple of places that the price of health insurance companies shares, are in decline. Which may be an indicator that the demand for descent and affordable health care is finally reaching critical mass. Some surveys indicate that the major concern of voters is health care.

    Maybe, far in the future, historians will have so little left of our civilization, that they will decide that “Fight Club” is some kind of foundational document. :-). Chuck (the author) plays pretty close to the chest, on his bio. But bits and pieces indicate it was occasionally harrowing. His father was murdered. Etc..

    One bit in “The Town” that got my back up was that the daughters laid Dad out in the fine clothes they had bought for him, that he refused to wear. He probably would have been far more likely to have wanted to be laid out in his comfortable old buckskins. But never mind his wishes. What will people think?

    Oh, I meant to mention that a year or two ago, you did link to an extensive article about the commune folk you visited. Quit an interesting mob. Lew

  18. Chris,

    Yes, locusts, we get a few of them here. Some years we get a moderate amount of grasshoppers. I remember one time when dad was driving us to Flathead Lake in Montana, there was a mile that was infested with grasshoppers. They were all over the road, squished, and all over the windshield, and just everywhere. I can only imagine the ginormous swarms of locusts. And shudder.

    I totally enjoyed this week’s stories. The chickens on their egg strike was amusing and understandable. They’re strange creatures, and, contrary to what most city folk think, are full of individual personalities. A friend’s son raises some chickens in their yard. One has decided that she is part of the family, gets in the house and acts almost like a dog, and tries to keep the cars from leaving when the humans try to leave. Friend’s wife refers to the hen as her comfort chicken. Does that mean if they ate the hen for dinner that she would be comfort food?

    I’ve witnessed restaurant episodes similar to yours. Since we tend to frequent the same eateries and know the wait staff, there have been a couple times I’ve told overbearing customers that take it too far to bugger off, as the staff can’t really say anything. So, yes, I’m always very polite to the staff at a restaurant, tip well too. It takes no effort to be polite, the staff always appreciates it, and remembers us the next time. My wife and I also tend to be very organized for them, so that when we order anything, it is concise and informative. If it makes their job easier, it helps them and us.

    Fast talkers? Australians? Mate, I almost fell off my chair laughing about that idea. Now, we are known in New York for talking slowly here, but no, Australians don’t talk fast. Nor do the Scots or English I’ve met. But those from New York City or Boston? They could speak at half speed and still be hard to keep up with.

    Hunger… A friend and I had the misfortune of going on a weekend camping trip but miscommunicating about the food. I thought he’d bring it and he thought…So he brought a kilogram bag of nacho chips and a pack of 8 hot dogs. I brought my fishing pole. So the fish weren’t biting that weekend. Despite the lack of food, we did our normal hiking and what not, so we were burning the calories. We never made that mistake again.

    There’s also the room mate I had who’s job was grocery shopping for the house. He NEVER got it that the other 2 of us could NOT eat like him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, a small green salad and a chicken wing for dinner was all he needed. I could barely pay the rent (which included food), so was pretty miserably hungry for several months.



  19. Chris,

    So, I noticed that you pooed the trees, and the wallaby pooed the lettuce bed. Maybe the wallaby thought the poo was payment for the meal?

    Back on your restaurant story…So there were endives in the BLT? That sounds yummy! Most Americans like their food very mild. Now, there’s subtle flavors in some things, I get it, but cheeses that have no flavor, or eggs with minimal flavor, or flavorless vegetables? Well, I like the home grown stuff, or else organic on many things. The flavor is so much better. And healthier. And endives or arugula instead of iceberg lettuce sounds like a grand improvement in anything.

    Magpies would poke around my parents’ yard when I was growing up. I was about 10, it was a raw cloudy March day, and the first dog we had, Cindy a toy collie mix, was enjoying a soup bone. Two magpies decided they wanted the bone. One flew into a tree behind her, the other did the fake broken wing trick, getting close enough to the dog to be a threat to the treasured bone. When it had lured Cindy far enough away, the other magpie swooped in and grabbed the prize! Due to a minor miscalculation, however, said prize bone was too heavy for the magpie to fly off with. Cindy kept her bone, the magpies kept their lives but lost a wee bit of dignity. I had a good laugh and learned that “dumb birds” are anything but dumb.

    The smoke bush is gorgeous. I grew up with something that looked very similar. The tag from the nursery said “burning bush”. Spectacular color in the autumn.

    Also, you nailed the caption “This salvia looks nice with the backdrop of the trunk of the Japanese maple.” Very nice picture and contrast.

    Hopefully, the editor is recovering. And wishing some serious rain to head your direction!


  20. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for the vote of confidence in my Sake, and I have noted the editors advice. With luck, I can do a proper tasting of some clear wine in 3-4 weeks 🙂

    Yeah, those car batteries are huge no? And the story about a local substation blowing a fuse doesn’t surprise me. The Tesla charging spots have large, dedicated substation boxes with very noisy fans and a deep humming noise. Imagine the power draw to charge 6-10 Teslas in 2 hours (~450kw/hr)!!

    Your food story doesn’t surprise me – I am always a bit shocked at how rude many people are to those that are “serving” them. Maybe one day she will have some clam chowder soup*?

    For yourself, or anyone else interested, I just updated a new video to the blog of my latest boat exploits. This time, it was a “race” down the Waikato river with 14 other entrants. The one rule, your boat must be powered by a seagull outboard motor. Many people commented how surprised they were we made it. I am pretty proud of the effort, 140km in a river and my boat didn’t leak a drop and the motor didn’t miss a beat. Clearly, something to be said for incredibly simple and robust design. But, yeah, a longer hull with a v-shape wouldn’t have gone amiss either 🙂


    *cryptic fight club reference

  21. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Yeah, grafting is a simple and yet complicated business. I was lucky enough to have spent several hours learning the process with an old bloke who’s dad owned the orchard that the course was being run on – and get this, the orchard was nowadays being run by his daughter. I enjoyed listening to his stories of his dad sending him climbing up into the trees to pick fruit way back in the day! Nowadays a person would struggle to climb into an orchard tree given how puny and cosseted they are. Who would ever have thought that ladders would be a work safety issue…

    Have you attempted grafting since those first efforts?



  22. Hi Margaret,

    On the other hand, I feel that you dodged the proverbial bullet that day, but yes, it was awful to have missed the event. 😉 I had to look up what a mimosa was. You know that down under it is an Australian acacia tree with delicate fernlike leaves and yellow flowers. The photos in your case were perhaps a little bit different. On the other hand it is better to be safe than sorry with the weather. It finally looks set to dump some rain here tomorrow and Thursday and we could end up getting an inch or so of rain. Yay! You may actually have sent some rain down this way, and I for one appreciate your kind thoughts. 🙂

    Hopefully they enjoy their stay with you regardless of the weather. 🙂

    I’ve read a bit about MMT, and to be honest I can’t shake the feeling that I get in my brain whenever I hear talk of that school of thought that the adherents of the theory believe that it all doesn’t matter. Now, I could be wrong in that regard, but I feel that it may be a case of it actually doesn’t matter, until it of course it matters. The theory as far as I can understand it – and I’d be interested to learn your thoughts in the matter – is that a country can spin the printing presses so long as the excess money supply is channelled into financial assets which are used to provide credit at interest to consumers. I can’t say that people are winning with the strategy, but it is worth a go and it staves of a Depression by continuing the supply of credit.

    Hehe! The green couch is theirs and I’ve found that them having access to the couch means that they are less inclined to sleep on other chunks of furniture. Except for Scritchy, the bed is like a magnet to her… Some dogs are born bad. You would think that a dog of 18 years would be unable to jump as high as bed, but no, where there is a will, there is often a way! No doubts whilst we weren’t looking at the comments one day, she swapped notes with Leo and Salve!

    It couldn’t hurt giving commercial egg laying birds some flax seed. Yeah, fair enough too about the lights, I mean I obtain eggs at the moment from a commercial farm that uses lights. That is how things roll. The farm is good, because like your place (or mine), it isn’t over stocked like most commercial chicken farms.



  23. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for mentioning the most excellent economics blog. There is talk of the Reserve Bank implementing a rate cut, but until it happens, it remains talk. We’re heading towards a Federal election soon, so I doubt the rate cut talk, but I could be wrong. How much lower can a country go with its rates than the already historic lows?

    I hope you are keeping up your fluids and continuing to move around?



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Food is a pleasure and I applaud your library of food treasures! Hey, I’m tucking into a meal of the Afghan Shola-e Ghorbandi tonight and it is very good. I managed to earn the Ire of local today by the simple act of enjoying the warm morning sun and a coffee at the local cafe. Apparently I don’t work hard enough and the inference was that the editor takes up the slack in the household caused by my errant ways. Community is a wonderful thing and it hardly surprises me to hear people with no idea talking it up, but at the same time running a hundred miles in the other direction!

    I got side-tracked in a massive spread-sheet problem tonight for a client and I kept at it until past 8pm. It has been a long while since I’ve been so intrigued by a complicated puzzle like this one that I haven’t yet conquered. But I’m getting there and can see light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it is handy to flush some of the cobwebs out from the old brain.

    Back on food though, don’t you reckon that since society has had access to so many labour saving devices in the kitchen, that basic cooking skills have suffered. I tend to steer clear of too many devices in the kitchen, but I do like my 2.5 horsepower blitzer (a weakling reindeer!) That machine has some serious grunt factor.

    It looks like it may rain here tomorrow (finally)! Yay! I thought that it had been dry so far this year, but had not realised just how dry: Exceptionally dry start to 2019 in Melbourne. The city of Adelaide in the next state over broke a 160 year record for the same weather. Not good.

    Your chickens lived a blessed life and probably did far better than most of the chickens on the planet and the food sounds as good as what my lot enjoy. In Asia I noted that chickens often used to free roam through villages which I thought was really cool. And yeah, chickens definitely need no encouragement when it comes to the realm of naughty – which incidentally includes the acts of egg eating!

    Isn’t it amazing how long humans and chickens have co-habitated? They really are amazing birds and you have to admit that the first peoples to domesticate the birds would have been some hardy and highly intelligent souls to have observed the species natural advantages and then put them to good use? So the Jerusalem find does not surprise me at all. We tend to down play the achievements of our ancient forebears.

    Speaking of which, I finished ‘The Town’ today whilst enjoying a coffee in the late autumn warmth. Some may take umbrage to such an occurrence, but what of it. The books are awesome. It may well be that the author had a ‘Chancey’ moment in his younger days and then learned the error of his ways. People love a redemption story and I feel that at the end of the book, his surprise find may have led him to reflect upon the errors of his ways. Dunno. What do you think about that? I’d originally believed that the author inserted himself in to the book via way of the Chancey character, but the character really went off the rails, so I’m now not so sure. What do you reckon about that?

    We’d spoken about the fungus before when I mentioned that I came across red bananas for sale in the Queen Victoria Market. They’re really good too, but I doubt there is much to be done about slowing the spread of the fungus and I feel the bigger issue is that nature never intended to grow huge mono-culture crops, and not to mention in the same location year in and year out. The trees will probably take something from the soil that is not replaced, and then trees get susceptible. You may notice that I feed the soil and plant diverse crops, and then feed the soil more. What else can you do?

    Yeah, I was pretty sick that day. I was going to mention something about your robust health and then thought better than alerting the attention of the Gods, hubris and all that.

    Well tipping is not a thing down here, but I usually either pay cash or tip at restaurants nowadays. Over Easter, I made a point of politely letting the staff at some places that were smashed by the volume of people know that I’d dropped money into their tip kitty – and in turn they looked after me. It is possible that the lady was a grifter? Such things have happened and it is an ugly look.

    It is funny you mention the surplus side of things, but I never really feel comfortable with the harvesting from nature, unless there is a surplus which will prevail over the worst conditions that nature can throw at me. We’ve got the firewood business under control (hopefully). It has taken a long while to get there though, and there are improvements to be made even still. Ouch about the blueberries. I’m guessing a July harvest in your part of the world? Maybe. I plant to fertilise the blueberries here over the next few weeks.

    Don’t laugh, but I know of a local cherry farm where the bloke that ran it told me that his kids weren’t interested in keeping it going and that all of the trees would probably get bulldozed and the land subdivided. Bulldozers are quick. But I’d sort of hope not here, but you never know. It was good that Sayward understood and improved upon her relationship with the trees at the end of the book. She was wise to have set a fine example for the other townsfolk to follow with tree planting. I’m hoping the orchard on the sunny side of the property eventually forms a solid canopy as that will reduce the water and heat stresses with the trees. That is the plan anyway and it has plenty of years to go before getting there!

    Julia’s trees might be OK. It all depends on whether the fruit has set or not. She will know soon enough. Late frosts wiped out my plum and apricot harvest last year which ended up being a bit sad. Nowadays I usually get enough to keep me in stone fruit for the rest of the year, but late frosts make a mockery out of plans.

    I have grown coffee and it does really well, but the one August it snowed and that was that. I suspect chocolate would fare about the same as the coffee. However, carob does really well here and is extraordinarily heat and drought resistant. With a tiny bit more global warming I might just able to pull off the trick of bananas. They can grow them just fine down in Melbourne (if anyone thought to do so). I’ve got some marginal crops growing like the sub tropical tea camellia, or white sapote and I just give things a go. I have given up on walnuts. For some reason there is a fungi in the soil here that consumes the roots and trunk and they rapidly die.

    Thanks for the kind words about the rain! No, the house water is all collected via rain water. A couple of my neighbours have water bores (wells) but not I as I feel that it steals water from the large trees that surround the property and I really don’t want to water stress them – because they are massive.

    I reckon that some geraniums might do well in your part of the world. They shrug off minor snow and frost, so who knows? And the blue one’s look good. I hope the seeds turn up and work out.

    Is that confirmation bias – in seeking the news that you want to hear about the fracking wells? No doubts Oil will go up in price, and then it might see-saw around a lot. Is ruction the correct word to use here? They do that too with fuel prices down here and elections, we just don’t have the reserves to call upon.

    Insurance is definitely a case of the canary in the coal mine and it is always worthwhile watching to see what happens. Certainly they would be reaching for yield and who knows what that industry may have grabbed in the process?

    Oh, that is not good about Chuck’s history, and such events would shape the person that he eventually became. He is an outstanding author and kids can’t really pick the situation they find themselves in. That would be funny about the foundational document. It could be worse, imagine if they’d picked up Harry Potter?

    The grand daughters really had their final way with the old blokes choices, and yeah I reckon they did him a disservice too. But on the other hand Sayward exercised her will to ensure that Portious received the funeral that he wanted. So maybe it was a sign that the family had collectively learned something. I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed the series of books. Now that Damo has an interest in the Jack Whyte books I might start that one next. The Japanese book has not yet arrived.

    What interested me was that the intentional community had managed to continue for so long up there. You know, it is a good option, I just wondered how I’d keep the funds coming in if I lived in such a place. Honestly, I would have preferred to move to a rural area down in the island state of Tasmania, but life is a journey of chance (as I reckon you’d appreciate) and who knows where you end up – other than eventually in the ground. Is there anywhere you would have liked to live that you never got the opportunity to do?



  25. Chris:

    We did have chickens that we kept for eggs long ago. They were delightful Rhode Island Reds and all had personalities, as yours do, and names. One by one – it took quite a few years – they died or got taken out by foxes or neighbors’ dogs. They had their fenced chicken yard, but we tried to let them out, as you do, to roam around while we watched. None of our own dogs at the time were interested in being chicken guards, so these things happen.

    As they died, we didn’t replace them; too many other commitments at the time (children, etc.). And you have mentioned the expense. I was making up their food, and it did not come out cheaper than Purina Chicken Chow. I can’t remember my chicken food recipe . . . Right now, we have so many projects going on that I could just scream. No more chickens for now.

    Don’t those tree-change folks have anything better to do than sit in the road? At least the local councils are raking in the dough with fines.

    I haven’t done any more grafting. I don’t want to bother the trees while they are setting fruit. And I am wondering if the duct tape was a bad idea . . .

    I would think that trees can be fed anytime. If they don’t want to eat, they don’t have to.

    One of Charlene the White Squirrel’s daughters, Florabelle, has become a complete bane of the garden; the other squirrels have given up. Besides the 8 foot deer fence, there is chicken wire over that fence and chicken wire cages around certain delicate seedlings. It looks like Stalag 13. Florabelle loves chicken wire and considers it an interesting challenge. I must admit that she keeps me outside, as I have to go out constantly to check and see if she’s in there. My son suggests setting up a fake hawk and moving it around. I put a real hawk feather, a huge one, on the main gate as squirrel bane, and Florabelle laughed and climbed over it.

    We have baby figs! Every year I wonder about that fig tree, but it always comes back. Also, I have planted the seeds of the Mutant Zucchini from last year that was a cross between a white patty pan squash and a green zucchini and which turned out to look like a white zucchini. It has a chicken wire cage around it.

    I will tell you about the flowers in the bed when we see what survives my gardening techniques – and Florabelle. I have stuffed it so full of seeds and small plants that I am wondering. But the soil is very nice and I have fed everything, too. One thing that isn’t in there are scented geraniums. I have tried every garden place around but one and nobody carries any. One garden shop owner told me that the grower she buys from has them, but requires her to buy a very large minimum, which she cannot do.


  26. Hi DJ,

    I can see that you might get locusts too, especially in damp years when there is plenty of grains in the fields. Yeah, that is pretty much what it looks like. It is very protein-ous after the squooshing – a bit like a scene out of an Alien film, except that the gelatinous stuff can’t melt through steel. Mate that stuff makes me shudder.

    Thanks and that is funny as! Comfort food, yes! There is truth to the old adage of never naming animals that are intended for the table. 😉 Still, fluffy would be a good meat bird. Yum!

    That is the thing isn’t it? The customers are exploiting the power imbalance with the staff and I’m very uncomfortable with such things. Most of the locals around here are pretty good on that front, but even so some can take it too far from time to time. Respect! There is nothing worse than standing behind someone in a queue that is dithering about what to order. Well, it could be worse if a bunch of people were standing behind you and you can almost smell and feel the psychic wall of pressure being exerted. And all the while the rotter is standing at the counter and saying: “I don’t really like that, does that sandwich have lettuce in it? Oh, I don’t really like that. Can you take it out of the order?” Hunger would fix that story pretty quickly!

    Thanks! Can’t recall where I heard that fast talking business. It didn’t sound right, but who am I to argue? And yes, New Yorkers. It is hardly surprising to me that I’ve never had anyone from up that way commenting here.

    What a mistake to make! And if ever there was a lesson to learn it sure was there.

    I’m very dodge about shared kitty’s for groceries in share houses. Very dodge. I once had a house mate who went through a hard to explain quantity of toilet paper. Eventually I’d confronted them – and they were evasive. Anyway, it got cut from the shared funds, and I horded by toilet paper in my room. It sounds petty but it was an amazing amount of toilet paper to use.



  27. Hello again
    The interesting question is ‘how low can negative interest rates go?’ or should that be ‘high’?
    Not a mark on Flyn and he didn’t have help.
    I forgot to ask Son about his chickens breed/breeds. Will try to remember.
    Yes I am keeping on the move and maintaining an adequate intake of fluids. Daughter has arrived safely home in Australia and is going down with the same bug now. Son has a friend who is also afflicted but the poor devil has 2 broken ribs. I am finding it agonising to cough so that poor devil must be passing out.
    My pond has dried up completely. I am longing for rain as having to water everything daily when feeling lousy is not fun.


  28. Hi Chris,
    Glad about the rain for you – in the nick of time it seems.

    That’s kind of my take too on MMT but I’d have to invest quite some time to get a real understanding of it and frankly I’m not sure that’s how I want to spend my time.

    I figures if the chickens were living at the equator they would get 12 hours of light all year so I wasn’t really subjecting them to something too unnatural. When we first started raising Cornish Cross meat chickens (aka Frankenbirds) we were told to keep lights on 24 hours a day and food in front of them at all times. Well that didn’t last long. In fact we found that they were much healthier when we limited the amount of feed they had during the day as well. They got a certain amount and no more and they sure ate it fast. I’d cut up extra zucchini and cukes and toss them in before their late afternoon rations and as they were very hungry they would actually run around to get their share which I figure helped their problematic legs.

    There’s a book that you and Lew might enjoy, “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World”

    My daughter and the twins are at a day long civil war program at a museum not too far from us which was one of the reasons they are staying here. It’s still supposed to rain part of the day tomorrow but at least it’ll be warmer. It’s only 45F today.


  29. Yo, Chris – My first response to the Ire of the Local was a rather salty version of “go away.” LOL. You could say your a stay at home dad, who just needs an occasional break. :-). How are your acting chops? Wonder how long you could keep that rolling? I’ve made a recent discovery (even at this late date.) Sometimes, when someone is sending me up, I just say, “Don’t care.” With a shrug. Really takes the wind out of their sails. :-).

    When I said kitchen equipment, I was really thinking of the weird and wonderful kitchen hand tools, of the past. Sometimes I’ll run across something and wonder what it was used for. Old kitchen kitch is quit a collector’s niche. And some people get an itch to own every form of one tool. Say, every hand egg beater ever manufactured. I read an article about a fellow who collected ice cream scoops. I saw a picture, recently, of an entire wall covered in colorful old dust pans.

    The Chancey character might have been someone Richter knew well. Maybe a family member. Or, as authors often do, maybe a mix of two or three people. Or, Chancey might have been a personification of things Richter saw in society, and didn’t like. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a Richter biography, floating around, out there. I’ll have to check. I’d like to time travel to Sayward’s estate sale. I’ll bet the daughters and grand daughters got rid of “that old stuff.” Better yet, just put it out on the curb.

    Yup. Mono crops are not such a good idea. The phrase “All one’s eggs in one basket”, comes to mind. I think I’ve also read that cocoa and coffee are having problems with disease. Globalization. Not only do human diseases spread world wide, but also plant diseases.

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for the blueberries. Last year they came in, really early. Same with strawberries. Yeah, I was thinking the same about Julia’s fruit trees. Depends on how much fruit was already set. I’ll pass on your info on what you can grow, and what you can’t. Sayward and her trees. We had (have) a tree planting holiday. Arbor Day. I see Australia has a version of it. Don’t hear much about it, anymore.

    I think it got a boost when the City Beautiful Movement got rolling, in the 1890’s.

    People grow a lot of geraniums, around here. The fancy ones. I don’t think they’re too hard to grow, as I see them, everywhere. I think I mentioned that there was a pretty little simple flower that popped up next to my back porch, every year. Much to my surprise, it was a wild geranium. I didn’t realize that they came in simple, wilder forms.

    To me, it sounded like Sayward had to really dig in, to get the funeral that Portious wanted. When Sayward went, I bet they didn’t slip her beloved pipe, into her box. These days, there are more legal methods of nailing down your final wishes.

    Oh, gee. Places I’d rather have lived. Australia? :-). And, I have problems separating “long haul” from “a couple of years.” I’ve never quit “got” the tourist thing, and think you need to spend a couple of years in a place to really get the … flavor of a place. England. Japan. But never the big cities (other than visits). I prefer the small, out of the way places. Lew

  30. @ Margaret and Chris,

    MMT? Coo, I studied that a decade or so back, and read a lot of analysis on an investing forum by someone that I trusted to do quality research. Since then I found the old Archdruid Report and remembered what my dad and I were thinking throughout the 1970s about peak oil.

    So, on the surface MMT *should* work. Methinks that this is one of those “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not” type of things. Put it together with peak oil and to me it becomes clear: MMT works just fine so long as there is a permanently growing economy. So, as long as there was an “infinite” supply of cheap and dense energy (oil, natural gas, coal) economies could grow seemingly forever, especially in the industrialized countries that owned the “wealth pump”. Of course, MMT also came into being when it was obvious that REAL economic growth based on real wealth creation of goods was failing. MMT switches the economy from an increase in goods and services to an economy fueled by debt.

    On the downside curve of peak oil, these economies cannot possibly grow forever. One of the main tenets of MMT is that the economy can “grow” its way out of the debt burden. Once the growth has ceased and becomes a decline, eventually the bills will become due.

    Currently, IMHO, the resultant money from the printing presses has been entering the financial markets. However, both business and consumer debt is getting out of control again, and at some point there will be another crash similar to that of 2008-2009. Maybe there will be a good recovery, maybe not. But eventually, the financial markets will NOT recover from a future crash, economies cannot grow and will decrease, leading to a potentially deflationary cycle. The debt load cannot handle deflation, so the government debt stemming from MMT will be a HUGE problem. And once the excessively printed money ceases to go into the next round of investment bubbles, it will drive prices upward, as the money must go somewhere. Nearly simultaneously, the overburden of government debt could cause defaults and currency revaluations, which will add to the inflationary problems.

    To fight the deflationary cycle, interest rates would be slashed again in good MMT fashion, resulting in more negative interest rates. It’s really not a pretty scenario. And my discussion didn’t include the contributions to the fracas that could occur when businesses and individuals have to default on their debts also. These would make things worse, most likely.

    Anyhow, that’s what I remember about MMT and some of the problems inherent with it.


  31. Hi Damo, Inge, Margaret, Lewis and DJ,

    Thanks for all of the lovely comments, but it is the mid-week hiatus and I’m feeling a bit tired tonight. With the editor having been sick (now mostly better) I’ve been doing everything to keep the good ship afloat, and I’m not complaining, but I am tired. It happens. Will speak tomorrow.

    Lewis – Yeah, a polite ‘go away’ would have worked wonders, but memories are long and I encounter the bloke all of the time, which is how he knew me and the editor well enough to have a good dig at me. I do think that such comments are more about the people making them and the choices they’ve made than anything about me. It might even be an unpleasant form of regret for them? Dunno. What do you reckon about that? I didn’t say anything, but only because nothing came readily to mind that wouldn’t have been trouble. 🙂

    Oh. Well collecting the set of kitchen devices, I can see how that would work. Speaking of ice cream scoops, I stopped in the big smoke tonight to get a very excellent gelati (lemon and passionfruit in a waffle cone). Yum! Dinner was Crab Taco’s and the crabs had been cooked in a Tempura style and the taco shell was a soft shell and full of vegetables and a hot sauce which seems to be a thing down here of late. It was very tasty.

    I guess an author’s life experience can direct the dialogue, actions and emotional content of the characters. You’d learn a lot by observation, a bit by absorption, and another chunk by listening. What’s your take on that? I tend to just encounter stories and then I ponder the hard question as to what they mean? Sometimes that can be useful, but the problem is when you come at a problem with whatever stories and biases that you carry around with you. Dunno. I read somewhere that not many sci-fi stories can project a future beyond a few limited narratives. Have you ever come across a genuinely original and alien concept in sci-fi? The rapture seems to have burned its way into the imagination of a lot of sci-fi writers and I think that it would be a genuinely boring and also a very big dead end.

    No doubts you are right about what the kids would have done to Sayward’s belongings – you can’t stop progress they would have said whilst doing the act of dumping them on the side walk with a sign that says: “Free to a good home”.

    Never heard of Arbor Day. I could be missing out. Arboretum’s are strange places that make me feel uncomfortable – and I am accustomed to having trees about me. There is something undeniably artificial about them. Have you ever visited one?

    Cut a blue geranium and plant it, give it a tiny bit of water in summer and it’ll grow. They are that easy, but you might have to be a bit light fingered! Someone I know used to remark to me that the best gardeners are occasional thieves. Frank Meyer would agree! 😉

    There is even a native geranium around these parts. Extraordinary plants that I feel are under rated.

    Yeah, the characters glossed over the details, but Sayward really knew what Portious wanted, and she ensured that it happened, despite what people thought. It was interesting how a minor side story of Portious championing the needs of Del’s children although not much was ever discussed about the issue.

    It all depends on how much interest your executor of the will has in ensuring that the outcome comes to pass. I have how I want it done in my will, but I can’t necessarily ensure that other people will make that happen. And if they don’t they’re hardly going to get into an argument with me! 🙂

    Nice! The tourist thing used to mystify me too, but I played along and did my duty. I never liked getting sick or having to find where the toilet was in exotic locations, but then I have a very practical mindset. I could have lived in the island state of Tasmania on property, and once considered doing just that, but I could discover no way to pay the property taxes once there and forever would I be a blow in.

    Got half an inch of rain! Yay!!!!



  32. Yo, Chris – Rejoicing all around! The Editor is better and you got rain. Seriously. Both good news.

    Yup. You’re right. Other people’s bad choices probably cause them to throw negs (called “throwing shade” in some quarters) at people who didn’t fall into the same trap. Or, instead of “bad” I should probably say different choices that look better than the one’s they’ve made. LOL. I was reflecting a bit more on the question you had about living in other places. I think I had problems coming up with concrete examples because at this stage of my life, it does no good to mull over the could-a, would-a, should-a. Best to focus on what’s current, and what’s possible. I do believe there’s a whole school of thought, about that. Something about yearning after things you can’t have, that leads to unhappiness? :-).

    I think author’s draw inspiration from just about everywhere. I understand some of the better ones carry around little note books to jot down whatever they observe, or dream up.

    Are there new sci-fi concepts? That Great Course I watched on sci-fi seemed to think it was an evolving genre. Things opened up in new directions when more women started writing sci-fi. There was the whole cyberpunk movement. But the basic plots? Hero’s journey, etc.. Maybe not so much.

    Portland has an arboretum. I think we visited it on a school trip, or two. But I really don’t remember any impressions. Seemed to be just more of Forest Park, with the addition of little signs near the trees. When I think about it, maybe your discomfort comes from the fact that they’re kind of like zoos. Only for trees?

    Yeah, why keep Sayward’s crappy old, one of a kind, handmade furniture, when you can have really spiffy new Victorian factory made furniture that looks like everyone else’s? :-).

    Well, I’ve never seen a blue geranium. But from what I can see in the pictures, they don’t have the woody stems. More like the wild variety that doesn’t lend itself to cuttings. WARNING!!! RANT AHEAD!!! Boy, do I feel had. I started poking into the tracking on the geranium seed and discovered that the packet from Idahoseed is coming from China! Should be here in the next day or two, but I’ll doubt I’ll even open the package. I did some minor poking on the Internet into Idahoseed, and, another name I found in the small print. Solution Seeds Farm. That might have been a tip off, if I’d dug deeper. The word “solution” in any corporate aspect, usually is bad news. There wasn’t any reviews on the geranium seed, but if I had checked the reviews on the 184 other seeds they offer, I would have had a clue. Lots of “Didn’t know this was from China” and also claims that things never germinated or were chives instead of the blue carnation, as promised. Why Amazon lets this go on, I don’t know. Maybe because there’s no one (like a real person) to contact? Or maybe because in the fine print, the company makes so many disclaimers that their tail is covered? Anyway. I found another dealer on E-Bay that “appears” to be in the US. E-Bay also has a fairly easy way to contact the seller. I asked if the seed was grown/harvested in the U.S.. I’m also a bit concerned about the color. They had lots of pictures. But picture 1 & 3 looked blue (the sky blue I want) but 2 and 4 looked violet. So, I asked about that. We’ll see if I hear back. Oh, well. On the positive news front, my bachelor buttons buds are beginning to show blue. And, my April slug count was 458. 🙂

    When I flipped over the calendar, I see the big, twice a year community garage sale (flea market) at the fairgrounds, is a week from Saturday! How exciting! Treasures! (Maybe).

    NPR throws up a US medical system horror story from time to time (usually on slow news days. They aren’t that hard to find.) So, here’s one from a couple of days ago, for your edification and amusement :-). It’s about a snake bite.


  33. @Lew

    I think it would be a pretty viable business if you can keep the rents low. On many occasions when Mrs Damo and I have needed to sell a house worth of items on short notice you can always tell who the ‘professionals’ are. I remember one guy just bought every piece of furniture we had left and stacked it high on his trailer.

    So far, I have been lucky with the online book sellers. But yeah, trying to decide which one of twenty options to pick when they all have the same stock photo and condition description copy/pasted into the listing can be frustrating 🙂 I think it only really bothers me if I am looking for “keepers”. Most of the time I am happy for it just to be OK condition as I will only read it once. One of my favourite book series (Patrick O’Brian) is starting to look a little worse for wear. I have read all 20 books three times, and will definitely read at least once again, but my set is a mix of different print editions, and the beautiful cover artwork doesn’t match (the horror!!). At least 3-4 of them are now only just borderline readable as I got them in a very poor condition. But even the ones I bought new are starting to get that aged feel to the paper. I have very wasteful thoughts in my mind about replacing at least 7 of them so they are all the same edition 🙂 I even looked into a new hardback set, but the amazon reviews made it clear it was a cheap, scanned-text to print deal, with spelling errors and incorrect words all through the text. I would have thought the publisher had access to the original typed manuscripts in electronic form already, but evidently not…


  34. RE: MMT

    There has being a lot of discussion about MMT on as well over the past 6 months or so. Fundamentally, I don’t see how it is really any different from your standard deficit spending/Keynesian economics school of thought.

    Perhaps, MMT proponents like to insist a bit more strongly on the point that it is impossible for a sovereign currency issuer to go bankrupt *if* all their debts are denominated in said currency. After all, if you have written yourself a hundred IOU’s you can’t repay, does it really make sense to declare bankruptcy? You are both the debtor and creditor in this situation.

    Where it all falls apart in my opinion, is on the import/export side of the ledger. If you are a country which more or less pays it own way in the world, and imports far less than it exports, than I think MMT can work for you. See Japan – a country which has supposedly being “failing” for decades now, but when you visit in person it is clear they are doing far better than most western countries. A strong work ethic, and an economy that actually creates value probably has something to do with this.

    I suspect the US falls into this category as well, although for different reasons – the current trading rules and wealth pump arrangements will remain in place for decades to come. As long as everyone else wants US dollars, the US economy can run large deficits and buy goods on the world market with money they literally create from nothing.

    For other countries though, I think MMT can only “work” if there are large amounts of under-utilised resources. For example, in Australia we have a significant under-employment problem, and large sections of land that are under-utilised, or not even used at all. If MMT, helicopter money, or whatever you want to call it, could be deployed to more productively engage those resources, then it might work (a green deal or whatever?). But only if the end result is an economy that produces more than it does right now. If, instead, we print all that extra money, and do not end up actually producing anything extra, of course inflation must rise, and most likely in the form of a falling currency and rising prices on imported goods (which in Australia, is almost everything).

    In the much longer term, as DJSPo pointed out, what happens if external resource constraints (rising energy production costs/climate change impacts etc) place an upper limit on what your economy can produce? In such a scenario, I think it would be impossible for anything but rising inflation to occur. The trick is to try and tease out real resource constraint problems against more traditional income inequality and distribution issues. I suspect it is a little of both right now, and that for the lower-middle classes at least, things could be improved with the right policies.


  35. Hi Pam,

    A fine choice, and I too have known some Rhode Island Red (RIR) chickens, and even a very personable RIR rooster. His name was Miguel (named after a character from the Dexter series) and if all roosters where like him, I’d keep them, unfortunately they can be a bit of a pain. Yeah, I hear you, these things happen and a few years back a fox took one of mine too as I was elsewhere at the time. The magpies came and told me that there was chicken and fox trouble and I had to deal with it pronto. I managed to catch up with the fox who was fast, but not fast enough (due to being weighted down by an Australorp). Anyway, I took the poor chicken back to the hen house, but she died soon afterwards from either fright, wounds, or perhaps even both. I’ve never known a chicken friendly dog either. Sir Poopy was the closest, but one day he chased a chicken to death and that was that and I knew his stripes.

    The food is an expense. I have it on reliable authority (Gene Logsdon) that 16 chickens requires half an acre to be set aside for grains for their feed for the year. Can’t honestly say that I’m doing that. Chicken chow sounds like a truly unidentifiable and mysterious set of ingredients but I’d be happy to be advised that it was otherwise. Hey, I get over loaded too from time to time. It is really hard to expand and maintain infrastructure, and also fulfil the demands expected of a person. Render Caesar’s stuff unto Caesar, and all that business.

    That is a bit of a mystery about the leaf change folks. There are signs warning of the consequences to them, but signs are just signs without actual real world consequences.

    Dunno about the duct tape being that much of a problem. The old bloke that took the course told me that way back in the day they used whatever material was available. Interestingly, he recounted stories about his dad sending him off to the horticultural college in the big smoke (which still operates today). But it was his descriptions of the sheer size of the fruit trees that grew back in the day that really captured my interest. Some of the trees here are getting large.

    Florabelle has such a beautiful name which I’d have to suggest is at complete odds with her noxious and odious behaviour. Florabelle my little impish friend, I see bad things for you in the future should you not tone it down a mite. As a bit of advice, just because you can, does not mean that you should.

    Have you ever tasted fig jam? It is one of my favourite jams. Woe is me this year, because the price of figs at the markets has been astronomical due to the drought. The trees here are slow growing. And last weekend I pulled one tiny fig tree out of the ground thinking that it was dead, but no – although it was too late by then. There are still about seven fig trees left, so no drama and these things happen.

    Scented geraniums are one of the hardiest plants in the garden beds. I have three types (sorry for teasing you) and one of them smells like lemon sorbet when brushed against. I pilfered it from a garden somewhere long ago… 😉 It has survived snow, but perhaps not the sort of snow and frost that you experience.



  36. Hi Inge,

    What a fascinating take upon the world of negative interest rates. That is a policy that I would describe as: Use it, or lose it. But you’ve aroused my interest about the topic and I shall do a bit of background reading. Hmmm. … … The cynical side of me suggests that IOU’s are perhaps not a good store of wealth, and such negative interest rate policies are an attempt to disavow policies intended to bolster deposits. Did you notice that the policy was used during the Oil crisis of the 70’s? That tells me a lot. I have a suspicion that such policies are employed to punish sovereigns that pursue policies of money printing. It is all a bit silly to have the money supply exceed the actual real world wealth. But I defer to your expertise and am curious to learn your thoughts in this matter? Everyone is talking economics tonight so you are in your element! 🙂

    Flyn is clearly not to be trifled with. Although is your son entirely sure that Flyn was the culprit? You had mentioned that Ren has been on expeditions of late involving other people – and that can have unanticipated and unexpected outcomes?

    Apologies, I was just nagging you out of concern for your continuing health.

    Ouch! You have my sympathies for your continuing dry spell. About an inch and half of rain fell between yesterday and today. How strange is it that there is nothing for months, and then a whole lot all of a sudden? At a wild guess (and I’d be curious as to your experience in the matter) I suspect that your summer rain, like mine, will be heavily affected by ocean temperatures. Warmer ocean surface temperatures will lead to greater rainfall, but I have noted that there is a lot of melting of ice this year further north than where you are and that may cool ocean surface waters in the short term.



  37. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks and about an inch and a half of rain fell yesterday and today. It is frankly a relief to me because burn off restrictions were lifted yesterday and the potential for something to go seriously wrong with foolish people doing foolish things was something that should not be readily discounted. You are only ever as good as the weakest link.

    Cool and I appreciate that we are on the same page with this MMT talk. Of late down here there has been talk of an amusing test for ideas. It’s called the: “Pub Test”. Other countries may use the term: “Sniff Test”, but it is all the same thing. MMT sounds good in theory, unless you have to buy something from another country that doesn’t operate under the same set of spells. 😉

    Hey, I really like your theory about the twelve hours of light and chickens. Yeah, works for me. I’m not entirely sure of the veracity of the claims, but I believe the species originated in Asia where things are closer to the equator and thus warmer, so yeah I can see that. Very thoughtful and wise. Someone once suggested to me that they are birds of jungle origins because they prefer shade to the full sun. I often feel sorry for them stuck in chicken tractors out in the full summer sun down under. It would be hard on them.

    Thanks for the sneaky book recommendation! 🙂

    We haven’t crossed over yet in terms of seasonality, but we’ll get there and soon I’ll be complaining about the cold and you’ll be telling me what a nice day it was up in your part of the planet! 🙂 It was about 50’F here, so we’re close to that point now. I feel that your trees would be doing it hard with the changeability of the weather.



  38. Hi DJ,

    Oooo. The moons have aligned and all that, because the first use of negative interest rates was in the 70’s in Europe which was during the Oil Crisis. And MMT came into fashion as a school of economic thought during the Reagan era. I still recall all that fascinating talk about Reaganomics and supply side something or other, which all amounted to deficit spending and led us to the dark magic of MMT.

    Exactly, MMT works until someone from outside the game pokes a really large hole in it and cries: Hey me matey’s, this here Emperor ain’t got no clothes on. And it is using the expanded money supply to purchase things from abroad that the vulnerability sneaks into the story. Damo mentions this too in his comment below.

    Well the alternative is that the economy can also ‘print’ its way into oblivion. For example if you have a whole bunch of paper wealth, but nobody wants to swap you a water pump in return for the bunch of paper wealth, then what are you actually holding? Fire bricks? To be honest it has a lot in common with a game of poker. Alas for me as I was born without a poker face option which some people have and use to their advantage.

    The thing is, if people fail to acknowledge the game, the ever expanding money supply works its way into the real world (and away from financial products) and there is only so much stuff to go around. Take property prices just for one example. Too much money and not enough property supply equals rising prices. Financial assets on the other hand are ephemeral by their very nature and nobody really knows what they are or what they are worth. Exactly too, debt is a real problem and if interest rates are allowed to rise, then the burden of servicing the debt becomes a monster that consumes itself. The whole thing is one big ugly nightmare, but even so there are policy decisions that can be made to step back from the abyss. You could tax very wealthy people for just one example and then retire the debt thus reducing the money supply all in one foul swoop. You could even target such taxes at people who are not playing by the rules and spreading financial contagion.

    I don’t really agree with you about a deflationary possibility if only because we’ve expanded the money supply so much in recent decades. I’d posit that a more likely scenario would be a crash leading to a reduction in the supply of money. But like after 2008, the presses could be spun again, and around and around we go, and where it stops, nobody knows!



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you and the editor is better again today. We’ve also had about an inch and a half of rain between today and yesterday. Last night the rain was so heavy that I woke up listening to the drum and thrum of the rain on the steel roof. The water tank filters eventually clogged up with organic matter washed off the roof and drains, so we lost a bit of the water, but not too much as to be a problem. On the other hand, the roof and drains have had an excellent clean. I took a photo of the gunk in the water filter for the next blog – just to horrify everyone.

    Ooo! It is raining again right now as I type this. Scritchy had to go outside to the toilet so I followed her and we just stood around in the rain and enjoyed the night time air and the celebratory chorus of the frogs.

    Thanks for the useful term. I hadn’t come across it before and thought that it had originally had occult origins, before being taken up in unexpected quarters. Hey and didn’t some school of thought prescribe against ‘coveting’ which is a one way trip to unhappiness and/or hell. Hey, I do wonder whether the warning that “what you contemplate, you imitate” is a problem for the whole coveting thing? I mean if you spend all of your time saying to yourself that it is a bad idea to covet something, aren’t you at the same time bringing it into your awareness as a remote possibility? It seems like a fraught policy to me – or have I completely lost the plot here with this train of thought?

    Inspiration for stories can hit at unexpected moments, but notebooks are always ready to accept them. Over at Ecosophia there was a competition for a concept called: “Love in the Ruins”. And a month or two back I came up with a story idea where a person had died and not realised it yet, and the ghost recounted some stories of its former relationship and how they were drifting apart but set in a dystopian future. And the twist in the story was when the ghost realised that it was in fact dead, realised the increasing distance in its relationship was due to that and had to move on and join a procession of ghosts in the paddock (that were an occasional recurring scary theme in the story). Alas, ideas are one thing, but time to write them out in all their glory is another thing altogether. Can’t say that I’d read that story before, but you are better read than I, do you reckon it sounds OK? Fiction is not my thing – due to lack of practice. The editor tells me that The Twilight Zone is being remade? Could it be so?

    I spent a little while today trying to imagine a genuinely alien sci-fi world, and my brain kept coming back to swamps. I’d call that a fail. Why swamps I ask you?

    Some Thursday nights I go to the pub, but tonight I felt a bit out of sorts. I’ve delivered on two large projects in the past two weeks and I reckon they sucked some of my essential brain pan juices and now I need to recharge the batteries. Zombies would enjoy essential brain pan juices – apologies for my poor zombie / kitchen pun. I might dig some soil tomorrow. Hard physical work refreshes my brain like nothing else. Oh well.

    Oh yeah. Arboretum’s just never feel right to me somehow, but yeah, I reckon you are spot on.

    The funny thing too was that the timber that Sayward’s furniture was not only custom one off items, but it was probably made from far higher quality timber than what replaced it. The author listed some of the timbers in passing. Had to laugh but the word “Swedish” popped into my head for some strange reason! 🙂

    Bachelor buttons are most definitely blue. Have I mentioned to you that they turn up in most unexpected places down here? Yes, seeds are not seeds. The ones from China probably wouldn’t have made it through customs here. I hope the seller replies in the affirmative?

    The hunt for treasures continues at the local flea market! Take no prisoners, and score some ill gotten booty from those Spanish Galleon’s as you sink the scurvy dogs.

    Without doubt that story about the medical bill was the most horrific story that I’d read today. Not because the young lady had been bitten by a snake and now has a deformed toe, but because the bill was crazy. And the fee gouging is enough to make the average crim blush at the sheer audacity of huge! Whatever will they think of next? I suspect that Pet Insurance has had that effect on veterinary services down here.



  40. Hi Damo,

    I’m with you. I don’t see the difference between MMT and standard deficit spending either. It looks the same to me but with perhaps a bit more channelling into the murky world of financial products. The realms of finance can be strange indeed because the names often obscure the true nature of the beast. There are only so many variants of money lending behaviour. It used to throw me for six when I first had to get my head around these things, but then once I realised they were variations on a theme, the implications became quite clear.

    Incidentally you inspired me to play the song: Simian Mobile Disco – Audacity of Huge in the background. Not sure it means anything, but it sort of sounds appropriate when considering the economics of MMT.

    But yeah, spot on too. It is fine as long as you can exclude players from outside the game of MMT. But if you need things from people that aren’t players in the game, then you’re in a whole bunch of bad trouble. Oil is a good example of that need.

    The other thing I noticed about how MMT is playing out, other central banks have either pursued a similar policy, or they have no choice other than to play along, or get left behind. But not everyone is getting in on the act. And I have read reports that reserves of precious metals are increasing in some countries as the IOU reserves are getting offloaded without too much ructions.

    Inflation is indeed rising as you yourself may well have noticed. Take house prices for example, I posit the theory that such gains in house prices were in fact inflation. In the dark past nobody thought of their house as an investment. It was something to keep the rain off your head. The superannuation policies which funnels employees wealth into financial products and away from the real world of goods and services is a way to counter inflation. Bright brains are looking into this situation, but historically, it usually leads to a crash. How long the charade can go on is a very complicated and interesting problem. Not sure myself as I wouldn’t have bet that it would last even as long as it has.

    There is another option which you may want to consider and is playing out right now. Stagnant wages and rising real costs, and thus we slowly build increasing poverty into the system as it currently stands. It may all end in a whimper you know. That is a possibility.



  41. Chris:

    Like you, I was aghast at the snake bite story that Lew sent. Those folks were very lucky. If they hadn’t been insured to the hilt and if the insurer hadn’t met their obligations, they could have had a lien put on their house, should they own one. But now everyone else with that insurer will have an increase in their premium.

    I have a snake story, too. The other day I looked out the window to see a 5 foot (1.5m) Black Rat Snake about 3 feet (almost a m.) up a tree trunk. I knew they could climb as I has seen one climb our log house a couple of times in the past. I watched him for the hour and a half that it took him to get 40 feet (12m) up the tree to a big, dead branch full of holes. Last year it had a woodpecker’s nest in it. This year Florabelle the squirrel and her sister had been taking naps in it. The two squirrels had seen the snake coming up and were yelling at him and running up and down the tree. Even as big as he was he could only eat tiny baby squirrels, so they were safe from him. This is their first spring, so maybe they had not seen a snake before.

    Once the rat snake got to the branch, I had to go do some stuff and couldn’t watch him for awhile. When I came back he had disappeared, apparently into one of the holes. I didn’t see him again. What I want to know is: How do they get out of trees? Do they drop down? It’s a terrible thought.

    A note on Black Rat Snakes: We love them here. They tend to keep the copperheads away, being very territorial, and they eat copperhead eggs. So I was very happy to see him, drop out of trees though he may. It does make me glad that we have window screens.

    As another note: The same snake and I had a go-around the next day when I saw him climbing into the truck engine (when it was about to be driven) and I scared the heck out of him – I am sorry to say – with a broom and a hose.

    Great news about the editor, and the rain.


  42. DJ and Damo,

    Thanks for your thoughts about MMT.

    I was already concerned about the damage all our squirrels would do to the garden.


  43. Hi Chris,

    Daughter and twins have left so clean up begins. As it’s still raining I can’t get outside work done anyway. It actually didn’t rain yesterday but was still cool and cloudy. Between dogs and kids there was much mud involved. It’s been cloudy and often rainy five out of the last six days which isn’t good for young pigs or bees. We’ve been spared the worst of the rain – about 2 1/2 inches so far A few hours south there’s been significant flooding. You must be breathing a sigh of relief after your rain through.

  44. Yo, Chris – What! You weren’t out in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, keeping those drains open? Slacker! (Some guy at the pub slipped me a fiver to write that.) :-).

    Nope. I don’t think you’ve lost the plot, at all. Covet is such a funny word. Doesn’t lend itself, easily, to day to day conversation. Mostly only heard in religious venues. Reading the King James Bible (as a literary exercise) isn’t such a bad idea. The language does have sweep and majesty. Not so surprising as that was written just a couple of years after Shakespeare was doing his writing.

    Well, your ghost story reminds me of the movie, “The Sixth Sense.” There was a small glut of “person doesn’t know he’s a ghost” movies. “The Others” and “Jacob’s Ladder”, come to mind. I think you have to live with the fact that most stories have been told. But the trick is in how you dress it up for lunch and take it out :-). Without falling into the trap of lipstick on a pig :-).

    Yeah, furniture after Sayward’s time was a whole different territory. Getting good large pieces was a problem. More glues were used. More veneer. But sometimes design or aesthetics overwhelms material and manufacturing methods. Hmmm. What do I mean by that? Well, sure they used more glues, but they were good glues. Some hold quit tightly, to this day. And veneers? Mechanization made the creation of veneers a less costly and time consuming process. It optimized the use of rare and expensive woods. Smaller pieces could be used. So is the “cheap” wood used in the bits that don’t show, about being cheap, or is it best utilization of available materials? Also, people further down the economic scale could enjoy some nice pieces of furniture, which were handsome and useful. And affordable. It’s a quandary.

    My bachelors buttons are really interesting. They decided to move house. This years clump moved all the way from the corner I had them tucked in, across the bed and further north. I’d say, when they went to seed, the prevailing winds must have been from the SW. I had a very nice, short exchange with a lady in the midwest, and my blue geranium seeds are on the way. The real thing.

    Yeah, I’m looking forward to the flea market. I hope it’s better than the last one. Didn’t find much, and it just seemed … low energy.

    My friend Amanda (I talk to her at the Club, most Tuesday afternoons, when she volunteers on the counter) is a veterinarian. We had a bit of an interesting conversation yesterday about job prospects. She works for an independent veterinarian, but isn’t very happy. She goes to conferences and keeps her resume out there. The problem is, as with so many other businesses, the industry is dominated by three corporate chains. Who she doesn’t want to work for.

    That was an interesting story, about the snake bite. Interesting that Dad is a medical ethicist. And, it seems that the family made all the right moves as to coverage. They didn’t have to pay much out of pocket. But watch their (already high) premiums go right through the roof. Even when you think you have good coverage, it’s so easy (and designed to) make a misstep.

    I made walnut butter last night. A first. Hmmm. Needs tweaking.

    You might find this article interesting. Not only does it have to do with lithium batteries, but is also a good view of how Amazon works … or doesn’t work.


  45. @ Damo – Yes, we have guys like that around here. Sometimes, they show up on last day of an estate sale, late in the day, and make an offer on whatever is left. Maybe a low offer, but they take everything. The only problem with that is, the dealer might end up with a lot of stuff that just won’t sell, for any price. Final disposal can be a problem, and if they have a tendency to hold on to it, the road to madness and hoarding.

    Yes, books can be a problem. Ideally, I’d like every book I own to be a non book club hardback (book club editions usually have poorer binding and paper. And, little resale value.) With a pristine dust jacket. But why? When I first thought about reading along with you, the Arthur series, I’m thinking in those terms. LOL, I’m trying to wrap my head around just picking up paperback reading copies, and calling it good. But can I? There’s also the thought that eventually, all those books need to be moved. Lew

  46. @ Damo,

    Thank you for your observations of MMT. Having had only one source for what knowledge I have, another opinion is indeed a welcome treasure.


  47. Chris,

    Agreed, at some time all of this printed “wealth” will make it into the cost of everything else. That will not be a fun inflationary spectacle.

    On deflation…I think that until the bubbles all pop for the final time, the deflationary cycles will be relatively short. What you’re calling a reduction in the monetary supply due to asset bubbles collapsing, I’m calling brief deflationary cycles. Interest rates appear to be much lower now than they were in 2008. Hence, there is less interest rate cutting that can occur to “spur the economy” before the effect of the printing presses takes over. Inflation probably will be the overriding name of the game, as you have suggested. Eventually, it will all settle out in lower standards of living for all, for all the various reasons which have been discussed.

    I’m glad the editor is improving. And the rain you’ve been getting has got to be a relief. Maybe not a total cure yet, but at least a big help.


  48. Hi Pam,

    I was a bit aghast at the snake bite story too. How would they put a lien on a person’s house? Surely the individual would first be billed, and then the hospital would then have to take the person to court? Bear in mind, everyone here pays 2% of their income towards health costs (which covers basic things, but you still have to pay some costs – it is not a free for all system) and the government purchases most pharmaceuticals and then distributes them, so the workings of your medical industry is a mystery to me.

    Florabelle lives to raid the garden another day! You know, I sort of suspect that despite Florabelle’s deprivations in the garden, the name that you’ve given her is very endearing and I do wonder that if she just toned things down a bit, then you’d all live in peace? The question becomes though: Is the naughty little minx up for easing off on the damage to the garden? Is it youthful hijinks or a lifestyle choice?

    Snakes climbing trees! Yikes! Up north they have pythons and they can climb trees and everything else, and there are always stories in the newspapers about some python that has consumed a pet. Not good.

    Yeah, I can see why they’d want to get into a toasty warm engine bay. The rats do that here, although they occasionally attempt to sharpen their teeth on wires and hoses.



  49. Hi Margaret,

    Visitors are a good excuse to do a pre-clean up and then a post-clean up – although personally I’m not sure which takes longer? Sometimes the big cook ups for visitors presents a monster cleaning challenge in the kitchen. But mud is on an entirely different plane of cleaning challenge. Good luck!

    2 1/2 inches is a good quantity of rain for you and when plants do begin the growing season, I have a suspicion that you might not have to water them much! Thanks, the rain is a relief at 1 1/2 inches and today was dry, cool and sunny. We began extending the corn enclosure by about 10ft today so there was a lot of digging. Another day of digging should complete that job. But scratch below the damp soil surface and the clay and soil are bone dry.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Well local opinion being what it is and all you probably heard the right of it! 😉 It was a funny feeling hearing the rain drumming on the steel roof, knowing full well that the water filters would back up with organic matter, and then not wanting to face the cleaning job in the middle of the night during a heavy storm. It wasn’t too bad actually, and most of the water ended up collected in the water tanks. For some reason the storm produced a strong rain front, and then it eased off to a more reasonable rate of rain fall.

    It is funny, but there are some devices to install that catch the organic matter, but I’ve tried a few and they fail too in really heavy downpours, so manual cleaning is the way to go. Every year I climb onto the roof and clean the guttering, but stuff falls into the drains all of the time. I plan next year to use the electric leaf blower to clean the drains out. Of course if it is a really wet summer, nature may just do that cleaning job for free.

    The word ‘covet’ doesn’t really lend itself to daily usage, I hear you. I did read the book once out of curiosity a couple of decades ago and yes there is always something to be learned by reading other peoples works. Hey, the book on Japan turned up in the mail today. It is such a conundrum: Do I read Jack Whyte or the book on Japan (which is admittedly far shorter in pages)? What do you reckon I should do? Of course, you could attempt the altogether different option and insert a tricky book recommendation as an entirely different possibility?

    It looks like it might rain here again tomorrow and then later in the week. Interesting. I could see quite a few different burn offs in various locations on the mountain today. Restrictions have been eased on burning off and there is obviously pent up demand.

    Now we’ve had a bit of rain and all of the maintenance has been done, I can begin work on the infrastructure. And today we began extending the corn enclosure by another 10ft. Of course, we had to do a lot of digging and moving of soil and I reckon the job is about half way done. We can usually excavate about 6ft of new terrace per day. I could get an excavator in which would do the job in a couple of hours, but then I’d run out things to write about for the blog. And how much fun and interest would that be? Anyway, I enjoy the slow human pace that we do the job at, and it gives me time to collect all of the rocks that we’re un-earthing. And we dug out a huge rock today, which was squirreled away for another and very different project. Moving such rocks around the place is putting some strain on the old wheelbarrow and it is looking worse for wear. I may have to replace that old work horse soon.

    Yeah, the first film that popped into my head was also The Sixth Sense. It was a very good film and I didn’t pick the ending and it was quite the surprise. I was thinking less about dead people and more about a breakdown in a relationship caused by the misunderstanding that one of the parties in the relationship was deceased. A slightly different spin upon the matter, but yeah: same, same but different. Do you feel that the stories that we tell ourselves and write for others are limited by the nature of what we are as humans, and also by our culture? I guess our patterns have been honed for many long millennia.

    Oh, talk about sympathy for the furniture devil! I’d never considered that aspect of the situation, but then I have experienced declining quality in such things. I recall a bookshelf where particle board was used to stiffen the frame, however many years later I purchased what was purportedly the same item, but now cardboard was used to stiffen the frame, so things could be taken too far (as is usual).

    Oh yeah, bachelor buttons spread far and wide from what I see. Yup, a delightful addition to the diversity of the pasture plants.

    Better run, will speak tomorrow!



  51. Chris:

    That Florabelle is a minx. Since she has been somewhat frustrated by our efforts to keep her out of the garden she has now taken to watching when my son goes in with the wheelbarrow or mower, and sneaking past him while the gate is open. She must know that we don’t eat squirrels. Mind you, I have done nothing to encourage familiarity, feeling that wild things should stay wild. The only thing I do is put out sunflowers seeds in the the direst winter weather. I’m not sure I would do that if it wasn’t for Charlene the Sacred White Squirrel.

    We now have a sufficient – in fact, a very good – supply of hoses around the place. I feel that we are covered in case of fire, though in the winter we have to depend on the one tap that reliably stays free of ice, but with hundreds of feet of hose that should be okay. It is also pleasant that they are set up all over the garden within easy reach. Before, I spent quite a bit of time dragging hoses around.

    Ten more feet of corn – nice.


  52. Hello again
    I wrote a comment yesterday and promptly lost it. I was feeling too unwell to repeat it. Head full of cotton wool and eyes that just want to close. Not much better today. Here are just 2 small bits.
    Flyn was definitely the only attacker of Ren.
    Son’s chicken breeds are Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons, In addition he has a Barnevelder cockerel. He says that the chickens that produce the best/most eggs are the ones that eat each other!


  53. @ Margaret – we got the heavy rain you mentioned. The soil was already completely saturated from the 2 inches of rain on 30 April before the inch of rain on 2 May (yesterday). The Mississippi River will go into major flood at St. Louis as a result over the next few days, higher than it got earlier this spring. And it’s supposed to rain next week again.

    @ Lew – that snakebite story was sobering. Mike’s on Medicare now, but it’ll be almost three years before I’m old enough for it. All I can do is take as many reasonable precautions as I can in the meantime. (But did you notice the girl was wearing sandals when she got bit? Not appropriate footwear for a walk in the woods. I wear hiking boots for such things. This is one of the sensible precautions I take. Would more people take them if they didn’t have insurance?)

    @ Margaret and Inge – my turn for a house-guest, a friend of Mike’s who arrives Sunday morning and leaves on Wednesday. Yes, I’ll be cleaning over the next couple of days! Inge, I’m glad you are feeling better!

    @ Chris – haven’t commented because this is when garden and yard work get heavy. The rain has not helped matters at all: the grass grows but I can’t mow it because the soil is too soft, the garden beds can’t be dug until the soil dries out a little. I have to get all the remaining seedlings and seeds planted this month if possible, though it could go into the first week of June if needed. But really, it just needs to stop raining here and start raining where you are, till both of our soils are at the right moisture level.


  54. @ Pam – You can keep your 8′, tree climbing snakes! They probably get out of the trees by dropping on unsuspecting passing humans. To break the fall. :-). But, if they keep the copper heads away and eat their eggs, a useful snake. The Romans often kept a “house” snake, around. There were often paintings of snakes around their household shrines. Did you see the article about the record python in Florida? 17 feet!

    I vaguely remember reading about the Delphic Oracle. But there wasn’t as much detail, as the article you linked to. High on fumes. I wonder if there was a lot of competition, for that job? Lew

  55. Yo, Chris – I do like the sound of rain on a roof. The last place I lived had a metal roof, so I was covered. :-). Ohhh, a pun? Being on the top floor, right under the roof, I can hear the rain in the kitchen. I think when it bounces off the metal cap that probably covers the stove vent. Very melodic.

    Well, you could read them both at once. No, really. They Whyte needs to be read straight through, so you don’t loose the plot. But the “Just Enough” is the kind of book you can dip in and out of. When you need a little break or change of pace. I’ve been dipping in and out of it, for weeks. Mileage may vary.

    We’ve had our first brush fire (I think) of the season, here in the county. It started along 1 1/2 miles of railroad tracks in 6 places. A train was probably dragging something. Burned three acres. Closed a couple of major roads, for awhile.

    That’s our local newspaper, by the way. I don’t know if I’ve linked to them, before. You might poke around, a bit. Don’t let that “Daily” Chronicle fool you. They only publish 3 times a week :-). Often referred to as “The Daily Comical”, around here.

    Time to send the wheelbarrow to the glue factory? :-).

    My gosh, you do ask the big questions. :-). The question is, are what seems to be big leaps in imagination, really big leaps, or are they limited by being human and our culture? Sometimes you run across something that seems to be breaking whole new ground. But is it really? Maybe one of those unanswerable questions that could be argued over, for days. The uncertainty could keep you up, nights. :-).

    The path of “Sixth Sense” completely caught me by surprise. But then when I was halfway through “The Others” and “Jacob’s Ladder”, I started wondering “I wonder if they’re dead and don’t know it?” LOL, so “Sixth Sense” was a spoiler, for the other two. Lew

  56. Hi Lew,

    For the “read it once” paperback books, we usually take them back to an op-shop when done. Only the favourites are kept on the shelf – but that list also keeps growing….

    I finished book one of Skystone the other week and have moved on to other stories for now so you and Chris can catch up 🙂


  57. Hi Chris,

    I feel stagnant wages and rising real costs is a real possibility, but only up to the point when pressures lead to significant political unrest. At which point severe economic crash, political revolution and/or war is a real possibility. Or, like late republican Rome or the 1930s – all three!

    Sober stuff, but then I remember there is still a bit of feijoa and apple crumble left on the bench. It won’t eat itself!

    Unrelated note, there is a new season of Grand Designs floating about the traps. This season has a little twist! 4 or 5 episodes are out now, but I have only seen the first 2.


  58. Hi DJ,

    I feel that it is a complicated matter which may already be playing out, although we may not recognise it for what it is. I plan on writing about that topic next.

    Exactly, if say house prices fall, then it is hard to argue that we’re not in a deflationary cycle. Although I’d posit that tools are subject to entropy. I sometimes have fond feelings for my old wheelbarrow which has served me well for over a decade and a half. Nowadays it sports a natty 6 ply tyre, but the steel is in not such a good condition and has tears and rips and I wonder at what point will the contraption give up? Entropy is I feel the reason we get to experience diminishing returns, and even abstract economic tools eventually fall prey to the worm of time. But that also doesn’t imply that they can’t be used until they utterly and spectacularly fail. Speaking of which, I plan to use the wheelbarrow tomorrow when I recommence digging and extending the corn enclosure.

    Here’s to hoping that the old wheelbarrow keeps chugging along for another day – or year for that matter!

    Thanks for the nice words and the editor is about back to normal today. Looking at the forecast, next Thursday may provide some more rain. When we were digging yesterday, the top layer of soil was moist, but the moisture did not extend very far at all. Still, we picked up some new plants today and walked around and discussed future plans. The season has turned into a new episode (or perhaps series?)



  59. Hi Pam,

    Minx is such a lovely word, and here is to the minx’s of the world despite their occasional awful garden deprivations. 🙂 Florabelle is no different to the wildlife here. They watch us silly humans and all our antics and work out how to take advantage of them. I have remarked to other people that the wildlife knows more about my business than I do! At about a bit after lunchtime earlier today I was in a garden to the west of here and they had an old fig tree. In that fig tree I spotted a happy Pied Currawong munching on the many over wintering figs. The bird judged me as being not a threat as it continued to enjoy the figs – which frankly looked delicious.

    I too let the wildlife get on about their own business and just try to work out how to manage to obtain produce with all of them about and doing their stuff. It is a complicated business – and they learn, sometimes faster than I. However, when you think about it for a little while, all of that wildlife is converting plant material into manure which in turn feeds the soil. Sometimes when I observe the state forests in the surrounding area, they appear very quiet to my senses.

    Isn’t it funny that we are half a world away, but at the same time we confront some of the same problems? Yes, I too have water taps (spigots?) all over the place accompanied by their many hoses. I try not to use water to mollycoddle the plants, but some of the annual vegetables need a drink in order to survive the summers here.



  60. Hi Inge,

    Losing a comment reminds me of the bad old days when the blog used to sit on the Blogger platform. I lost a few lengthy replies for no reason that I could determine, and was very grumpy as a result. It was one of the reasons that I switched platforms and just paid for the website. Someone wiser than I once suggested that: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! 😉

    I really do feel for you in your time of need and can only hope that you return to good health soon. The editor is about back to her usual self today, and I’d have to put that down to us excavating soil yesterday, which most certainly has the surprising side effect of eliminating gunk from lungs.

    You’ve presented me with a canine mystery. So Flyn was unscathed, but you’ve also determined that he definitively delivered the fierce rebuke to poor Ren. Interesting. Putting on my Sherlock hat, it could be that Flyn delivered a message of revenge. And did not the Bard write that: “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.”

    As a gut feeling, Ren may not be the sort of dog to take such matters lying down. In that case I’d suggest that Flyn maintains a healthy level of vigilance. Be not paranoid my furry friend, but be vigilant to the possibilities!

    All excellent breeds, although I have only second hand accounts from reliable sources of the Barnevelder variety of chicken. Chickens have a different moral compass than humans. I used to feed them a vegetarian diet, but nowadays about once a week I chuck in a lump of minced meat and the birds rapidly destroy it. It was observing the birds consume a colony of mice many years ago that changed my mind about their preferences.



  61. Hi Claire,

    Wearing sandals whilst hiking is not something that I have ever done. Leather boots provide a good level of protection, but full length heavy cotton pants can also help matters greatly with snake bites. But mostly, I’ve noticed that few folks who visit this place take much note about where they are placing one foot after the other. I’ve watched whilst people stepped on all sorts of plants – let alone wildlife! Snakes often bite because somehow we’ve really annoyed them and it is a defensive action rather than an overtly aggressive action – although some snakes have a bite first and ask questions later approach to the world.

    You may have sent the last batch of rain down this way, and if that is the case then thank you! 😉 Despite the recent rain, the soil is very dry. But too much rain can be as much of problem as too little and I’ve seen those years too so I hear you and hope that things settle down in your part of the world.

    Honestly, in such wet years I had to wait to get seedlings in the ground by early December (your June) and I was a bit distressed by that more than by dry years like this one. The thing is, the plants in that wet year produced maybe about a fortnight later than what I would usually expect, but they grew just fine and the water tanks remained mostly full for the summer. That was such a weird year 2010/2011 and during one stretch of 5 days, 10 inches of rain fell. I’m wondering now due to the huge amount of smoke released into the atmosphere recently due to epic fires whether such a summer will repeat itself again in six months time? Dunno.



  62. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, yes, well I may have mentioned to you about the annual flea market down in this part of the world a few months ago? Speaking of low energy, the editor (who is a fan of the flea market) suggested to me that it was being now run along the same lines this year as a primary school fete. Not a bad thing, but it is a very different experience to a flea market where the avid treasure hunter pits their skills at the difficult task of scoring a treasure.

    Tastes change and all that. Interestingly, I’ve spoken to a few plant nursery folk over the past week and they rather casually mentioned that demand for trees has seriously declined of late. And when I explored the subject with them, they often attributed the lack of interest in trees to the much smaller property sizes nowadays (I have mentioned before that to my eye houses have appeared to have consumed the suburbs). Shrubs and smaller flowering plants seem to be doing OK.

    Never tasted walnut butter before. You’re words are not inspiring me with confidence. Do you like peanut butter? I wonder if almond butter is a possibility? Or chestnut butter? Did you tweak the recipe at all?

    Thanks for the article on the exploding lithium batteries. Hmm. Some of the folks living with ‘off grid’ power systems used to swear by the lithium batteries and how they could draw down on the stored energy reserves without suffering from voltage drop which happens in lead acid batteries. But then I noticed that over time they began mentioning that some of the cells in their battery banks died – and these were not cheap batteries like in the article. And I also noticed that the batteries required a battery management system that monitored every single battery cell voltage to something like an accuracy of three decimal places. And I was concerned that there was not enough margin for error. It is not as if I didn’t cook one of the main battery interconnectors a few weeks back through a minor problem. With lithium batteries, that situation may have possibly ended with a thermal runaway and nobody ever wants to experience one of those. But you know, I’m not keeping up with the times man, for they’re a changing get with the new technology dude, blah, blah, blah.

    Very funny, and it was nice to read that you were covered by the steel roof cowl! 🙂 The wood heater flue stainless steel cowl does a similar trick (not the pun, but the sound). When I checked the flue a couple of weeks ago, the cowl looked as though it was in good nick. Most nights now are cold enough that I have the wood heater going, but I don’t place too much fuel in there – mostly because it takes a lot of effort to create the fuel in the first place. Speaking of which, the electric chainsaw mystery continues its merry way in the background, and after much discussion, the latest machine acquisition is now in the process of being modified so that it has a longer lifespan. It has been an interesting journey that one.

    Did you just add in a fourth option? My mind has been blown! Read two books at once! Well I never… I’ll try it, but mate, I’d have to suggest that the patterns are not quite right! 🙂 I hope I make it through this learning curve unscathed and mentally untarnished.

    Mate, the ground cover was green and a very happy Douglas Fir looked to me in the photos as if it was thoroughly alight even in those green conditions. Ook! I quite like Douglas Firs as trees. I might test some of the leaves and branches to see how they go during the next burn off. They grow here very well. Thanks for mentioning the fire and I’m glad that it was extinguished.

    That is very funny about the name. Like it! I once read some cheeky wag suggesting that in the past the Melbourne Town Hall, where I assume important council business took place, was cheekily described as: “The Clown Hall”. Some people have a bitey tongue, but then so do zombies – and is this a good thing I ask you?

    The trusty steed of a wheelbarrow has certainly seen better days. But a glue factory? Mind you, the horse in George Orwell’s animal farm never enjoyed the comfortable retirement that was its due. Hey, when I was a kid I recall adults telling me that ‘fluffy had gone to the farm’, and I knew it was a lie but all the same wished that it was true.

    Thanks for considering the big questions! But did you just advise me not to worry about it? If that is the case I’ll take you advice on board because I can see no clarity in the murk in that matter. Even animal films get anthropomorphised and I don’t watch animal films on the basis that they all have the Old Yeller finale. And who in their right mind wants to pay to watch that? Although admittedly I seem to be in the minority in that regard.

    On the other hand the finale for The Sixth Sense came entirely out of the blue and was not even hinted at during the film. A tidy piece of work and a fine piece of story telling.

    Went on a massive hunter gatherer day today in search of an Irish Strawberry Tree. It was the conclusion of all of my discussion with folks working at nurseries over the past week. Finally tracked one down at the last possible location (isn’t that always the way?) Nurseries are dangerous places because there is such temptation – like a book shop (or auction house for some!) except involving plants. One nursery eased the pain of lack of the particular tree by serving freshly made scones with jam and cream. Always a good way to soothe the savage beast, and they make the jam in their own kitchen. Yum! Finally ended up after a circuitous route involving stops in nearby orchards to pickup supplies (I won’t mention the apples that were laying on the ground unpicked). Oh! I picked up some locally grown turmeric roots which I’ll plant out here and see what happens – it is meant to be just within this climate zone. Anyway, finally ended up in a nearby town where unbeknownst to us they were having a Spudfest. There were people everywhere and I was amazed that so many people could celebrate the humble potato. Despite the hordes, we managed to get some tasty lunch and return back home again.

    And in a surprising turn of events, an organised bike ride was being conducted over the main dirt road in this side of the mountain range this morning. I’ve never seen such a thing, and the participants didn’t look as though they were enjoying themselves…



  63. Hi Damo,

    It is always a possibility, but I do plan on writing about that story next. I feel that many people do not recognise the changes for what they are, but the powers of marketing are strong with that one. 🙂

    Feijoa and apple crumble. Yummo! Wise words, and such a treat serves to placate the angry hunger Gods! 🙂

    Are you sure about that or are you referring to Australia or New Zealand? The UK show would be about up to series 20 this year. Fancy that, huh?

    Yes, yes, but did you enjoy Skystone and would you stump the cash for the remainder of the series? Hehe! Such important questions often decide the fate of a collection!



  64. @Inge

    This illness is dragging on way too long – a bit worrisome.


    I was wondering how things card by you as it sounds like you’ve received more fUn than us. At least it’s somewhat warmer by you. Anything that started growing is pretty much at a stand still right now though I see my new asparagus bed has sprouted overnight.


  65. Hi Chris,

    Today and tomorrow will be sunny and warm so we’re scurrying trying to catch before Monday when it turns much cooler and rainy for the next week.

    The first outdoor farmer’s market was today. It doesn’t look like as many are primarily selling vegetables this year. Instead lots of value added products. My favorite vendor of vegetables retired last year sadly. However it’s early and maybe someone new will come in to take his place. One is get my herb plants.


  66. @ Damo – Thanks for putting off the rest of the series, until Chris and I can catch up. Your a gentleman and a scholar. :-). I bit the bullet and ordered all nine books off of E-Bay, yesterday. Might be here as early as next Wednesday. Looks like a fairly good set of the small paperbacks.

    I remember there was some dispute as to what order to read the series. Here’s the Wikipedia list. Wikipedia being the unimpeachable source :-). Might not want to read too closely. Might be a spoiler, or two.

    I’ll echo Chris’s question. Did you like it? Lew

  67. Yo, Chris – You’ll have to explain how your flea market became a primary school fete. Sack races? Three legged races? Egg and spoon competitions?

    I suppose there’s all kind of reasons, for the decline of planting trees. McMansions that cover a lot, property line to property line. At the other end of the economic spectrum, More people living in apartments, or, rental houses (landlords often restrict what you can do with the yards.) Some of the same reasons the market for nice pieces of larger antique furniture has collapsed. The real estate industry used to advise planting trees to increase saleability. I wonder if that’s the case now?

    Oh, I love peanut butter. But if I don’t keep it out of the house, I’m liable to pack on the pounds. Not unknown to stand around in the kitchen, in the wee small hours, spooning it right out of the jar. Or smearing it on something that’s equally dangerous to my weight. :-). Oh, yeah. You can turn just about any nut into butter. There’s even a book out there, called, I think “Nut Butters.” Which I don’t have. Did I tweak the recipe. Well, not really. As there are several recipes, on the Net. Salt (about 1/4 tsp. per pound of nuts) seems standard. I think the problem might be, not enough oil, but the amount of the olive oil I put in, (not too much) effected the flavor. I need a better grade of oil. Hmm. I wonder how butter would work? I also had a small bit of maple syrup, left in a bottle. But, I think that made it too sweet for my taste. That was mentioned in some of the recipes.

    Thermal runaway sounds like a personal problem :-). The part of the article that got me, was the whole internet “we’re only a platform,” business. In other words, we have no responsibility. I’m glad to see that that nonsense, is slowly being brought to heel.

    On reflection, I think it’s easier to read multiple books if one is fiction, and the rest are non-fiction. Non-fiction seems (to me) to be easier to dip in and out of.

    Some names of a civic nature, invite tinkering. LOL. I’m sure Melbourne doesn’t have a corner on Clown Halls. 🙂

    Of course, you could elevate your old wheel barrow to the heady heights of “yard art.” Mileage and taste may vary. Also, tolerance for the twee. I just about gag any time I see (and, I’ve seen several) a metal bed frame, in a front yard, full of flowers. Flower bed, get it, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. The last place I lived, there must have been 5-7 abandoned wheel barrows, about. I was always tempted to haul them out of the blackberries, fill them with flowers and “fly” them in formation on the front lawn. The problem I saw was keeping the grass down, under the things. Hmmm. On a bed of mulch? Opportunity missed. :-(.

    Irish Strawberry Trees? I’ll have to look that one, up. Oh, I can be quit tempted in nurseries, too. But I finally squashed that a bit by not buying anything unless I’d already dug the hole. I think Scott worries about my tat, in the same way. When I tell him I’ve bought a piece of tat, he’s taken to asking “Do you have a place for that?” I picked up a nice little piece of Dalton Lambeth, the other day. And, yes, I have a place for that :-).

    Turmeric! I am soooo jealous. I use a lot of it, and it’s expensive. It “can” be grown here, but as with ginger, is a real song and dance. A tub on wheels, a deck, lots of moving in and out. The Spud Fest. Sounds like you stumbled into some towns yearly spasm of civic ho-ho. I mentioned before, that every little town around here has one. I try to keep informed. There’s usually just one road in and out of those little towns. Thanks for reminding me about the bicycle rides. I need to look up the date, and put it on the calendar, for the STP (Seattle to Portland), annual bike ride. I don’t stir out, that weekend. Besides the traffic congestion, there’s the acres of spandex. Some things can not be unseen :-(.

    Oh, you asked a question, and I forgot to reply. Yes, they have relaunched the “Twilight Zone.” Seems to be a retelling of some of the original stories, and some new stuff. Reviews are mixed. A lot of the original stores, that were told neatly in a half hour, drag, when stretched to an hour. I can’t say it’s high on my “to watch” list.

    I’m watching season three of Victoria, and one of the sub plots I watched, last night, was the cholera epidemic in London. It’s all fictionalized, of course, but it goes something like this. Queen V decides to visit a cholera ward. Is appalled. A nurse (Florence Nightingale, of course) tells her that the only doctor she thinks is on the right track is a Dr. Snow. Queen V. has met him, briefly, once before. The poor man has such a bad stutter, he can’t get his ideas out. Queen V. demands of her Prime Minister, another audience. The Prime Minister states “He’s quit an eccentric. He doesn’t eat meat. Or fish!” But, Queen V wins through, is impressed by Dr. Snow, and the pump handle is removed. Fiction, yes. But I do wonder about some of the details. The stutter and his eating habits. Fact or fiction? Hmmm.

    And, finally, a short article about employee offered health insurance. The last time I was involved with a plan like this, was when I worked for the library. Every year, the administration struggled with finding some kind of a plan that had the same coverage, with the same deductables and premiums (part of which the library paid.) No one was ever happy. Lew

  68. Hi Chris,

    Nope, it is a new UK series – it is called “Grand Designs – The Street”. He is following a bunch of self-builders all on the same street. A local council has relaxed development requirements so each house can be unique. Each episode follows two builders at a time, but is pretty much same setup as the normal show.


  69. Lew & Chris,

    I must have found the same wikipedia page before ordering as I got mine in the ‘right’ order. I think order of publication makes most sense, all other opinions can be safely ignored! I didn’t order nine though, just got the first four (skystone, singing sword, eagles brood and saxon shore) which apparently make the first ‘series’.

    I really liked the first book, a great page turner and I was pleasantly surprised by the direction it went. If I was going to complain, I am not a huge fan of past-tense, 1st-person narratives. I really hate the “but I was soon to discover this was the least of my problems” or “little did I know..” type lines, I prefer to not have things spelt out so clearly or foreboding. Hey a chekov gun is one thing, but to have the gun actually speak about the dangers of unsecured fireams is a bit much.

    But yeah, minor nitpick really, I read the book very quickly and am keen to move onto the next one 🙂


  70. @ Margaret
    Thanks for your concern. The wretched thing seems to be viral and at least I am not getting worse. A friend’s daughter has had it for over 3 weeks now so it appears to go in for a long run.


  71. Hi Margaret,

    Go hard! And yeah the work in the garden always has to fit in around the weather. I do hope that you get some warm and dry weather soon. Did a lot of digging today and removed some pretty huge rocks. Me tired.

    There is more money in the added-value products so I can see why things would turn out as they have for your farmers market. But sometimes you just need the basic raw ingredients. I wonder about that story too.



  72. Hi Damo,

    Awesome and thanks very much for the tip! Happy days – and you can only hope for the best, but expect the worst. 😉

    Had a chance to watch yours and Mrs Damo’s amazing river trip on your self built boat. Not saying that your boat has earned it’s stripes, but it sure looks that way to me. The scenery was amazing.

    Thanks too for the book review. You are kicking goals here! Hopefully I get to open and begin reading the book later this week.

    Better get writing.



  73. Hi Lewis,

    Oh! Well in the past the flea market was just a giant flea market, now it appears to have gone more towards the carny side of the force. Is this a good thing, I dunno.

    The lack of land surrounding houses doesn’t appear to be a concern to people. When I lived in the inner big smoke, the old Victorian era terrace houses had a long and narrow backyard where I used to be able to grow vegetables and fruit trees. The top soil was exceptionally deep because people had been doing that activity for well over a hundred years, plus I suspect that the fruit trees had tapped into the clay sewer pipes. I assume that back in the day, they may have had chickens and the outhouse would have been right down the back up against the cobblestone lane-way to make it easier for the night carts to retrieve the doings without offending anyone’s sensibilities. Of course the house was quite small by necessity. The thing that annoyed me was that over time the neighbours constructed large two story garages with loft rooms above the garage. And then they added a second story to their houses. And as a result the long but narrow back yard was in shade for a lot of the year. Not ideal growing conditions. As people got wealthier the houses ate the land – and then continued to do so until it was considered the norm and nobody recalled why a property would even have spare land in the first place. So yeah, few people don’t purchase trees these days. I had a lot of trouble trying to track down an Irish Strawberry tree and the bloke running the remote nursery was well past retirement age.

    Incidentally, a bloke I know assures me that the contents of the night carts used to make their way back out into the rural areas. I’d read accounts that they used to get dumped into rivers, but that may well have been something that only the occasional unscrupulous operator did and used to discredit the return system. I mean it is not like the rural folks had access to mineral fertilisers in those days…

    I’ve noticed that about the decline in price for larger antique furniture. Over the years I’ve picked up quality timber tables for only a fraction of their price. It makes no sense to me, but if nobody wants the stuff and I need it…

    A mate of mine once told me that he did that trick with Nutella, but yeah why put temptation in the way of virtue. Have you ever tried chestnut butter? Hey, the pecan tree has finally decided to grow this year.

    Hehe! Not something you ever want to encounter in the flesh. It apparently happened on a commercial aircraft in the early days of using those batteries. My off grid contacts tell me that the batteries were over charged.

    The no responsibility nonsense gets thrown around a lot down here. There were some very ugly stories about the some of the franchising models apparently encouraging such things recently.

    I’ll give it a go with the non-fiction and see how it all works out. Sometimes my brain is too fried after work to sift through very scholarly work – I’m just not up for it. But give it a couple of days and the scholarly work makes far more sense.

    Surely you jest! Yard art… That’s funny about the flower beds – very droll. Down here it is a bit of a thing to have rusty old horse drawn farm machinery sitting out the front of a larger semi-urban property. Can’t say that I see such things in rural areas, but I reckon in the semi-rural areas it is a sign that: I’m so wealthy that I can take up valuable land and display my progressed values to all and sundry with this rusty old horse drawn farm machine.

    Irish strawberry tree. It is a real plant of Mediterranean origins. Hey, I feel the same way about trees! Thus the lack of space for cemeteries of failed projects and/or rusty garden art. 😉 Good for you too and there is always space to be found for a treasured choice find!

    It is a bit marginal for ginger here, but they tell me turmeric will make it through the winter. I might try ginger next year using the PNW strategy of digging the roots up for the winter. But given the rate that global warming is accelerating, I might not have to worry about digging it up for the winter in not too many more years. The two turmeric roots set me back about $3, and I should have bought more of them…

    Yeah, nah, STP is just like leaf change tourism. Run for your life, zombies ahead!

    Thanks for the review. The editor told me of the story of the gremlin sitting on the wing of an aircraft and chewing bits of the wing whilst a hapless passenger sat helplessly watching the goings on.

    Hehe! A notorious crim down here who turned into a best selling author once amusingly quipped: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Mind you he also rather scarily suggested that: “Australia is a big place and shovels are cheap”. Having dug soil and rocks for most of the day, I can’t say that I’d use a shovel to dig, when of course as everyone knows the mattock is a far superior digging tool. Mate, far out we did a lot of digging today. You wait until you see the photos of the bonkers large rocks that we dug up. One of them was so big we could barely move the rotten thing, but it was in the way of the path, and I couldn’t just leave it there could I? 🙂

    The other side of the insurance story is fascinating. Did I read correctly that people on such large salaries are crying poor? Yup, a dollar ain’t worth what it once was.

    Better get writing…



  74. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. Well, I guess that Nutella would be a kind of philbert (hazel nut) butter. I’ve never had chestnut butter. Or, a chestnut, that I can remember.

    The usual way I go about reading nonfiction, is, first I read the dust jacket. Then I take a look at the table of contents. See if there’s any pictures, take a look at them and read the captions. Read the introduction and first chapter. If the whole of the book doesn’t interest me, I might follow up on various topics in the index. I might skim some text, or, even skip whole chapters. Some nonfiction authors are prone to throwing in whole sections of “fill.” :-).

    Old horse drawn farm machinery is probably moldering away in a back pasture, out of sight. Just in case it’s ever needed again. :-). I’d guess the thrifty, tidy farmer who doesn’t have a tendency to hoard, probably sold it off as scrap, long ago.

    My, the strawberry tree fruit takes 12 months to mature? I see the leaves look nothing like a “real” strawberry. I’m surprised we don’t have the here. At least, not that I’m aware of. It sounds like they would grow in our climate. If I remember, I’ll have to ask the master gardeners, about that. So. So the fruit taste like strawberries? Sure look like them. Our strawberries are just in bloom, now, and I’ve noticed a few green berries.

    I’m often surprised by the incomes of those who “cry poor.” Toward the end of my employment, it seemed like the library administration was always scrambling around, trying to find something comparable to the previous year. And, I really think they tried hard. But the staff wasn’t very understanding. Same coverage often cost more, and they seemed to think the library administration should make up the difference. There was also dental insurance, for awhile, but it was pretty useless. Beyond teeth cleaning, they pretty much rejected claims, out of hand. And, you couldn’t get a grip on them to squeeze out what they were supposed to cover.

    There are a couple of Conrad Richter biographies. Oe looks pretty good. Only $12 or so on the Net. I’ll either send off for a copy, or get it through interlibrary loan.

    I just got one of the Great Courses, through ILL. “The Architecture of Power: Great Palaces of the Ancient World.” Don’t know if I’ll watch all of the lectures, other than the Roman ones. But, last night I watched the ones on Egypt, Crete (Minoans), and Bronze Age Greece. Cont.

  75. Cont. LOL, I was waiting for a “slow news day” to talk a bit about other Roman evacuations, besides Britain. When I was watching the series about the Roman emperors, they had a bit about the province of Dacia. Which really hadn’t registered on my radar, before.

    Dacia thrust north of the Rhone River, about where Romania is now. It was surrounded on three sides by tribes. Rome acquired it in 106 CE, and abandoned it in 274 CE. Not as long as Britain, but a fair amount of time and investment.

    Something was nagging at the back of my brain. Waldgirmes. Rome had established (according to texts) several fortified trading towns, north of the Rhine River, in Germany. The long term plan was that these would be Roman population centers. After the Varus disaster in the Teutoburg Forest, in 9 CE, everything north of the Rhine was abandoned. Waldgirmes has a half finished forum and basilica. Pieces of a large equestrian statue (probably Augustus on a horse) have been found scattered around the site.

    You know, Augustus, in his will, advised his future emperors, not to extend the borders of the Empire, as he left it. To avoid over reach. Some paid attention, some didn’t. But the Rhine and Rhone Rivers, pretty much became the northern borders of the Empire. To push beyond it, invited disaster. Lew

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