Heavy is the head

Years ago a bloke told me an odd story. There was no surprise that he was recounting an odd story because he was a bit of an odd bloke himself. Odd stories came naturally for him. He was no friend of mine either, just someone I’d bump into every now and then. And he’d invariably talk at me, and so to avoid the inevitable boredom, I became very good at avoiding him. But it’s a small world, and sometimes it is way too small and there is no easy escape from such encounters.

When I’d see the bloke I’d do my best to dodge him, whilst appearing to act all casual like. He was a bit of a nuisance, but otherwise mostly harmless. And a sensitive person can sometimes resent the precious lost minutes wasted whilst having to listen to such people drone on and on (and on).

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in my feelings. Another local guy I know had accidentally gotten the odd bloke all out of sorts. And that was when he ended up being allegedly bombarded with 300 emails. Yeah, glad I dodged that particular bullet. The editor once encountered the local guy and myself deep in discussion about the odd bloke, and she was laughing about it and said something or other mysterious about a spontaneous group therapy session.

Anyway, the odd bloke clearly liked writing letters, and the odd story he recounted was, as you might have guessed it, about him writing a letter.

The story goes that the odd bloke was flying on an aircraft between the cities of Melbourne and Hobart. And clearly he’d decided to use his flight time productively, by writing a letter of course. He proudly informed me that the letter was addressed to the Greens political party and he was strongly urging them to use their influence to address the most pressing issue of Climate Change.

He seemed very proud of his letter. At the conclusion of the short story I was rather surprised because the sheer irony of the situation may have been lost on the odd bloke.

Fortunately for the odd bloke, I’m not the boss. There are times that I feel genuine sympathy and compassion for the plight of our political leaders. Imagine the difficulty of having to consider the mess of competing problems and predicaments that face our society, and then having to steer a course through the mess. Only to be faced with letters from people like the odd bloke demanding action on a problem that he himself is contributing too.

Of late, a lot of people have become fixated on the environmental concerns relating to air travel, but given that in Australia, the activity is now down to 3% of its only very recent levels, I’d have to suggest that the government can cross that particular problem off its ‘To-do’ list. Now, what’s next…

It has been remarked upon that: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Why would anyone sane person want the leadership job of such a large enterprise as a country? I can well understand that our political leaders would have to face a barrage of whinges and demands, and all manner of oddness. Years ago I had to manage teams of people, and I can assure you that it is not an easy thing to do.

Back in my big bad old corporate days, teams were something I just had to deal with. That may explain why in these enlightened times I don’t employ staff. Over the years there were tears, drama’s and all manner of other weirdness from staff. The heavy emotional content just wore me down. Most people were really good, but when staff were bad, they were like super bad. And where is a convenient gulag to send the nuisances to?

Gulag’s are probably a really bad idea for miscreants, maybe. Anyway, such places are not really necessary, there are plenty of ways to get teams to do what they don’t want to do. It just takes a bit of mental energy and action.

It reminds me of a story relating to a cat I owned long ago. The previous people who looked after the cat advised me that the feline was a very fussy eater, and would only eat the most expensive of cat foods. This was a surprising observation, and no doubt part of the reason they were giving the cat away for free to me. I nodded sagely and took the cat.

Once the cat and I were out of earshot of the former owners, we sat down for a quiet conversation:

Chris: “So, what’s with the fussy eating routine?”

Cat: “I really like eating only the best foods. Those other humans said as much.”

Chris: “You’re alright, but you look like a normal street cat of uncertain parentage.”

Cat: “But those other humans said…”

Chris: “Forget about them. From now on, you’re going to eat the crap that my other cat eats.”

It took about a day to a day and half of an epic battle of wills with the cat, before the feline admitted defeat. Turns out the cat wasn’t that fussy after all, and ending up eating the crap the other cat ate. The technical word for that earlier state of affairs is spoilt. It is not a good thing to be spoilt. Spoilt is a funny word which is often misused, and I certainly wouldn’t feed spoiled food to a cat.

Such one on one responses work, but they don’t scale very well. They work better at a local level with people you know, or cats. But then here we are today, and air travel is down to 3% of its former level. Only a few months ago, I would never have imagined such a thing was possible. Strange days. With managing people, all I know is that I wouldn’t want to have to be the captain of this here big ship otherwise known as our society.

It has been a very damp and cold few days at the farm

The weather has been both damp and cold this week. It was very unpleasant being outside exposed to the drizzle and rain. Not much work was done around the farm. Some weeks are like that.

As we get closer to the winter solstice, the daylight has reduced and it is getting colder. On Saturday there was only half an hour of peak sunlight for the entire day, and Sunday was little better at about three quarters of an hour. Peak sunlight refers to the energy collected by the solar power system, where one hour of peak sunlight falling upon a 200W photovoltaic panel, will produce 200Wh for the entire day. This technology is good, but it is not good enough to run an industrial society.

With the days getting shorter in length, we turned our minds towards the garden light system. A few years ago, we had a string of LED lights installed on bollards located all around the garden. The lights had a cheering effect and the solar power system is smart enough to switch them on once the sun has dropped below the horizon and then run them for a set number of hours.

Observant and alert readers will notice that the previous paragraph is written in the ‘past’ tense. The garden light project was an epic failure. When the wildlife didn’t knock the lights over, the garden outgrew the bollards and they became hidden.

Down and out – one of many LED garden lights

Something had to be done, and so we began by replacing the largest garden light which is out front of the house. The old bollard was dug up and replaced by a much taller light pole. Due to the crazy wet weather, the cement took two days to set.

Out with the old and in with the new – LED lights

Once the cement had dried a bit we could install the remaining sections of the light pole. It looks pretty good now, and the LED light is more importantly sitting high above the vegetation.

The beginning of correcting the mess that is the garden LED light system

Whilst we were mixing cement (all by hand in a wheelbarrow), we also poured a new cement slab for the bee hive box to sit upon. Of course due to the prolonged wet weather, we had to protect the cement whilst it cures. The existing timber pallet that the bee hive sits upon has been slowly rotting and beginning to break apart during the wet weather.

A new concrete slab for the bee hive box to sit upon is being protected from the rain whilst the cement cures into concrete

Bee hives are interesting things and during winter, the house keeping bees sometimes eject out the dead bees. In the next photo there is also a dead European wasp. The wasps sometimes seek shelter in bee hives (or they attempt to steal honey) but it is a precarious option.

The bees have ejected their dead workers – and most likely killed this European wasp

The soap that was made a few weeks ago is now slowly curing. You know when it is ready for use because the soap changes from a cream colour to white.

The soap made only a few weeks ago is continuing to cure

Despite having days when the solar power system produces very little electricity, we are always looking out for new and useful ways to use the stuff. This week we tested out an induction cooktop, and it worked really well.

Testing out the new induction cooktop

Wet weather is a problem for puppies and young dogs. I have never known a puppy or young dog that has not attempted to, or succeeded in destroying their bedding. And it is only after the animals have experienced the full cold effect of their first winter that they stop being so stupid with their bedding. Fortunately I have access to a ready supply of coffee hessian bags and their kennels are thickly lined with the hessian bags.

She might look well behaved, and she is at this moment. However, all such things are subject to change at short notice and without warning

Bone Wars continues, and old Scritchy puts up a good fight.

Bone Wars continues, and old Scritchy puts up a good fight

Produce and other news from around the farm:

We have harvested a lot of Kiwifruit and there are plenty more
We missed harvesting these Medlar’s and it might be a bit late now
The Snow Pear next to the dogs is always the last tree to lose its leaves and the first to regrow them
A lone Fig
There are plenty of Pomello / Grapefruit
Mandarin’s are just beginning to become ripe
Something is ripping the wheat seedlings out of the ground
A pea has managed to climb onto the custom made steel support frame

Onto the flowers:

Lavender with a Smoke Bush in the background
Stunning Salvia’s
I thought that the Rose last week would be the last for the season
Turns out that I was wrong
Beautiful Geraniums

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 558.2mm (22.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 497.0mm (19.6 inches).