Saturday morning I picked up the newspaper at the local general store. The sheer waste from the take away coffee annoys me no end. But how else do you support local businesses that are important to the local community, other than spending money in those businesses?
The newspaper is getting thinner too. Back when I was a kid I used to deliver those same newspapers to houses in my area using only a push bike. Before the sun had dared rise above the horizon, the push bike was loaded down with two huge panniers filled with newspapers. On weekends, the newspapers were so fat and heavy, that I could only carry half of the runs worth of newspapers. The nice newsagent folks would leave a drop of the second half of the newspapers at a halfway point along the route. It saved me having to ride back to the newsagent.
In these enlightened times nobody would think to send a child out on such an errand on a cold wet winters morning. It wasn’t even that long ago. As a kid, on wet winter days, I got soaked with rain, but then used to drop the newspaper onto the front porch of subscribers houses, and coincidentally out of the rain. Nope, in these enlightened times, some dude delivers individually plastic wrapped newspapers from the window of a moving vehicle. With such concerns for comfort within the newspaper business, it is little wonder to me that journalism as a trade has hit such lows.
On Saturday we cleaned up (in the Indigenous sense of those words) a small patch of forest. The epic worldwide-attention-capturing bushfires of only a few months back have not been forgotten by the folks living in rural areas. I looked into the valley on Saturday afternoon and it looked like a scene from Mordor! There were just so many smoke plumes issuing from properties nearby.
Cleaning up forest is really hard physical work, which is why I feel that so many people are opposed to undertaking this important task. When the government does the work, they do it on the cheap and the outcomes are poor. To me it seems an awful lot like worrying about getting kids out in the cold mornings delivering newspapers on their push bikes, where a lazy haze appears to have settled over the community. Anyway, hard physical work demands a proper lunch.
A proper lunch in this case comprises half a small loaf of freshly baked bread, deviled eggs, and a salad full of produce straight from the garden. The editor is an excellent gardener and cook, and quality food is one way to my heart. Over lunch I read the newspaper. From one end to the other end, the newspaper was filled with stories of disease. Honestly the newspaper should relabel itself: “De morbo cotidie” (or Latin for “The Daily Disease”). Nobody at all seems to be reporting on the sheer wastage that is take away coffee cups, and why is that?
At times like these, the editor and I need a distraction, and I’m guessing other people need distracting too.
About a year and half ago I began playing a game with the editor which we’ve called: The Tooth-Off. I don’t have a hope of ever winning the game, for reasons that will soon become clear, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun trying to win the game. Life is a bit like that. We all eventually lose the game of life by dying, but whilst we are all alive and kicking, it might not be a bad idea to remember that it is an option to live.
The Tooth-Off game may have begun about two years ago. The editor and I were at the local dentist for a checkup and clean. The dentist was praising the condition of the editor’s teeth. Turns out the editor had orthodontic work done when she was a child. In those days this was a very rare experience and a serious stretch for her parents.
The editor is fond of recounting a story where as a child, the orthodontist was suggesting to her concerned mother that if they just made a few more minor adjustments, her teeth would be perfect. The editor had had enough of the tooth torture, and put a stop to further visits. The teeth are real good.
I on the other hand had a single mother and two older siblings. You’d think we were broke back then, and we probably were. On a single parents income, my mother bought a house for us all to live in and kept food on the table, but my mother was also concerned about teeth. Every year for as long as I can recall, she took me to the same dentist for a check up and clean. Every single year I watched the dentist get older, whilst I got bigger. There was a bit of comfort in that, and when he retired I was at a total loss as to where to next go to the dentist for a checkup and clean. But orthodontic work was not in the realms of possibility in the household budget. Not that I needed it anyway.
So both of our teeth are pretty good, although I grudgingly admit that the editors teeth are better than mine. So after the dentist praised the quality of her teeth two years ago, I thought that I’d up the ante. And so I began making a big show about brushing and flossing my teeth. I even went so far as to use activated charcoal regularly to whiten my teeth. That stuff works, and as a pleasant side effect for other people, activated charcoal reduces flatulence. Winning!
All the while I was attending to my teeth, I’d be stirring the editor up about how I was going to win the next Tooth-Off at the dentist. Spare a thought for the long suffering editor…
Then the fateful day arrived last year and we both visited the local dentist for a checkup and clean. With numerous plans in mind, I went into the dentists chair first. The dentist and nurse exclaimed how good my teeth were, and it was at that point my nefarious plan sprung into action. I explained the Tooth-Off game and that we were contending for the title of Champion Tooth of the household. We all had a lot of laughs, which is a bit weird for a visit to the dentist, but there you go. And they agreed to my plan which was to tell the editor that I had won the Tooth-Off game.
I sauntered out of the dentists room and into the waiting room. My head was held high, and I carried myself with the natural swagger that comes from the sheer confidence of knowing that the outcome of a game was totally rigged in my favour. The editor pretended not to notice. She was called in to the dentists room.
Smug was the look that I observed on the editors face when she returned from the dentists room. Turns out that the dentist and nurse checked out the editors teeth and decided that they couldn’t lie. I’d lost fair and square. The editor became the Tooth Champion yet again.
I’m not really sure what the lesson learned here is, and perhaps I’m just spinning a funny anecdote to take peoples minds of the craziness that is nowadays. Oh! Hang on, what about: You can’t always win, despite your best intentions. Yup! That sure sounds about right.
The forest clean up this week, took the entire day. The fire was still burning the next day. And over the next week we’ll spread the ashes as fertiliser over the entire area. It looks a bit rough right now, but in another six months the area will look superb and the previously non-existent top soil will be slowly developing.
This little section of the mountain range has some of the largest trees on the entire mountain range. There are trees on the property that pre-date white settlement, and one even shows the scars caused by the Indigenous folks cutting out a canoe. It’s a big tree. The large trees (Eucalyptus Obliqua) can live for up to 400 years and grow to a height of 90m (295 feet). The trees here are not quite that tall, but many are huge enough and around 50m (164 feet). They deserve a chance at surviving the next big fire that sweeps through here.
Loggers worked these forests from 1860 for about a hundred years. They harvested the really huge trees during that time. From time to time we discover the remnants of their activities, and you never know when you’ll stumble across an unusual item in an out of the way location. This week, we discovered this rusting eye hook and chain.
Friday was a particularly sunny and cold day. The air temperature barely passed 17’C / 62’F and the sun shone from blue skies. It was a great day to test the output of the recently completed solar power project. The project comprised 18 x 190 Watt solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Each panel outputs about 5 Amps. To cut a long and unnecessary explanation short, the maximum output I’d expect the 18 panels to produce is 45 Amps. The conditions were so good that day that the panels produced 52 Amps. Solar power works best on cold and sunny days. However, for some reason I’ve heard people suggesting that hot deserts are the place to stick masses of solar panels. They don’t work so well in really hot conditions despite the intense sun. I guess real estate must be cheaper there.
Plum, the Australian sheep dog, will possibly be the next boss dog. Scritchy is getting older and unwell, but having lived to 19 years of age, she has had a very long and enjoyable life (at least the half of her life when she lived with us). Plum has also taken on board the task of sourcing her own food. This week she caught and ate a field mouse.
The trio of trouble that is the fluffy collective of: Ollie; Plum; and Ruby, run around the farm all day long. When they are not running around, they are exploring and/or fighting – possibly both at the same time. At night time, they are exhausted and sleep soundly. As I am typing this blog, the fluffy collective is sound asleep right behind me on the green couch. This is what I have to deal with:
In the past few years, we have been staggering the planting of the winter greens. In the raised garden beds there is a good example of that staggering process in action. The reason you stagger planting times is so that the growth and harvest can take place over a longer period of time – giving you something to eat right throughout that time.
During summer, we didn’t plant much on the two highest garden terraces. There are four 20m / 66 foot long rows (two per terrace) of fertilised garden beds. A week or two back we began sowing these rows with winter seed crops including: Broad beans; Peas; Carrots; Onions; Broccoli; Beetroot; Radishes; and Wheat. Other than the wheat, the seeds have mostly germinated and are beginning to grow. The wheat seeds were two years past their expiration date, but I thought that I’d plant them out regardless (so far four seeds have germinated). It is nice to have so much growing area.
A week or so before sowing the seeds, I fertilised the top two terraces. They’re looking pretty healthy. However, quality soil takes at least three years to develop in the cool temperate climate that I live in. The top two terraces are less than a year old.
In the above photo, you can clearly see the 14m / 45 foot long caged in Strawberry and Grape enclosure. Those two plants have to be fully caged in as every single bird and animal on this mountain range loves Strawberries and Grapes. It is worth noting that in my experience here, no other crop has been so thoroughly subjected to predation as Strawberries. There was just no other way to grow the crop. Historically this area was planted out to berries and potatoes, thus proving that bird and animal memories are long indeed!
The Strawberry and Grape enclosure needs a bit of work. The older Strawberries have to be removed and the runners planted out in their place. The older Strawberries do not produce any berries at all and that usually happens once a plant gets to about three years old.
It is quiet up here these days. Really quiet. And the local wildlife is loving it. The other day I spotted a Koala not far from here. People say Koala’s are cute and cuddly, but they have bad attitudes due to being mostly drunk on a diet rich in toxic Eucalyptus leaves. Approach with caution…
Most nights I’ve noticed a little Southern Brown Tree Frog enjoying catching and eating insects which are attracted to the lights of the house:
The other day I spotted an Eastern Spinebill enjoying the nectar from many of the Salvia flowers. Their long beaks can get to the nectar at the base of the flower.
And the lush garden beds provide plenty of feed for the various birds and animals that live on the farm:
Onto the Flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 406.2mm (16.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 403.2mm (15.9 inches).