Lemon to a knife fight

It hasn’t been a warm summer, although some days are actually warm, but mostly the weather this season has been cool. The day in question was an exception however and the sun shone with force. The editor and I had spent the morning splitting, hauling and storing firewood so that when the serious cold weather does arrive later in the year, we won’t be cold.

Anything involving firewood is hot and heavy work, even if you have machines to assist with the job. In point of fact, I’ve long since held the suspicion that if we didn’t have the machines to assist with the job, we’d work at a far slower pace than we now do. Tree logs are cut into rounds. The rounds are manually lifted, then hauled over to the log splitter. The log splitter takes a chunk off the rounds. The chunk falls to the ground. The process of splitting the round into smaller chunks is then repeated over and over again. It is sort of akin to cutting a wheel of cheese into smaller and more manageable sizes for the table. The chunks of firewood are collected from the ground and then placed in the bucket of the powered wheelbarrow. I walk behind the wheelbarrow as it meanders its way up the hill to the shed. The chunks of firewood are then stacked neatly in the shed. The process goes back to the beginning. The job doesn’t take hours to do, it takes days and days of work to complete.

By about 11am that day, whilst lifting the heavy rounds over to the log splitter, the sun was beginning to sting the skin on my arms, and sweat dripped liberally from my forehead. From time to time, I’d have to use the upper arm of my t-shirt to wipe the sweat from my brow. We began early, and worked up until about 2pm when the sun finally became too much to bear, stomachs were rumbling with hunger, and the day’s work was done.

Ordinarily lunch would be prepared, but that day we chose to purchase lunch at the local General Store. Coffee and a pie is not my usual lunch, however they were very tasty so exceptions must sometimes be made. Slices of carrot cake and cheesecake may also have been involved. In between stuffing the food into my mouth, I chanced to take in the surroundings.

The table we sat at, was outside under the shade of a tree. A choice locale on a warm summers day. The lady at the table adjacent to ours was notable because she wore a mask. The mask may have been filtering her choice of perfume, which had been liberally applied and as such I was unwillingly sampling it along with my coffee. It was an odd combination of tastes and is not generally to be commended.

Behind that table, another lady was speaking very loudly into her mobile phone. I could almost, but not quite hear the replies. I’m certain the phone call was very important. And in the far corner sat a group of mothers with their toddlers. The children were banging upon the table, and I’m sure they’ll make fine careers as drummers. Oh no! From that very table, a plate crashed loudly to the ground and smashed into myriad pieces. It has been said elsewhere that ceramic and concrete do not interact well at speed. Anyway, the kids smashing their instruments loudly was all very rock and roll.

Nature is loud. And just to prove it, a young magpie could be heard keening to its parents for attention or food, I know not which. All of this stuff can usually be blotted from my consciousness. Especially when good food and drink is ready to hand. And it’s even easier when my nose is buried deeply in a good book. Currently I’m reading W Somerset Maugham’s fine book: ‘The Summing Up’. The author is writing about his personal philosophy upon the art of writing and learning. And as the young magpie keened nosily in the background, I read the words: ‘I have made sacrifices to unworthy objects because I had not the courage to inflict pain.’

At that very moment it was if the long since deceased author had reached forth from the pages of the book, and smacked me in the head with his words and I metaphorically fell to the ground and waited upon the count to ten. Words are how we humans communicate, but it is their meanings and the subsequent construction of narratives which lends them their power.

During the past week I have been cogitating upon my recent encounter with the second deadliest snake on the planet. The risk of dying from such an encounter is admittedly remote, but then again neither is it impossible. The very long dead military genius Sun Tzu, in this instance would perhaps recommend to: Know thy enemy. And the dead bloke isn’t wrong, so I’ve spent time this week considering how the recent interaction came to be.

Long term readers will recall the valiant and now sadly missed fluffies: Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. Both canines earned their titles through services rendered to Fernglade Farm. They efficiently hunted and ate the rabbits which were foolish enough to attempt to set up house on the farm. Until the dogs demise, I’d never seen a rabbit here, unless it was half eaten carcass next to a very contented and well fed dog.

The current batch of fluffies by contrast, are candidly not up to the job. The other day I showed a baby bunny rabbit to Plum the fearless sheep dog, and the dog ran off in terror. I now have a problem with rabbits, and whilst the foxes and owls have reduced their numbers of late, nothing was as effective as the unrelenting forces of Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy.

You may ask: What have rabbits got to do with deadly snakes? Well, the rabbits dig burrows and warrens where the snakes can then take up residence. Without the rabbits and their excavating activities, there really is little opportunity for snakes to set up home on the farm. It really is that simple, and so now despite my natural disinclination, I’m going to have to hunt and shoot the rabbits – every last one of them. If there were any other way…

The weather this week has been cold for summer. Some days the sun shone, but other days it was an effort for the sun to peer through the gloom.

The mid afternoon sun barely shows through the murk

The humidity this summer has been an impressive thing to experience. One clear morning, thick fog collected in the valley below the farm.

How foggy was my valley? Apparently a lot!

Most of the work on the farm at this time of year revolves around harvesting and storing produce for use in winter and spring. Along with fruit, firewood is merely another resource which is to be harvested and stored for use later. We’ve been tackling a pile of logs which have sat in place for over a dozen years. Due to the ongoing snake risk, it has been an exciting job to undertake.

In order to reduce the level of excitement with that firewood job, we moved a great deal of firewood into a clearer area before then processing it through the log splitter.

Firewood rounds were moved into a clear area away from the pile of logs

We’ve spent a couple of days processing firewood from that old log pile, and after waking up in the middle of the night – possibly due to being over stimulated by the snake risk during the proceeding days – I called it quits on working on that log pile. We’ll come back to it in winter and finish the job when the snakes are less reactionary.

The pile of logs will be processed over winter when it is safer to do so

The birds are my great allies when it comes to snakes. And the snakes live in fear of the birds who will happily kill and dine upon the slithery critters. Part of my obligation to the birds for this service is that I provide them with fresh water with which they can safely drink and bathe over the summer months. Earlier today I cleaned and replenished this reservoir which sits high up on one of the water tanks. The reservoir is actually a fault in the molding of the roof of the water tank, but it’s also convenient.

A clean reservoir for birds to drink and bathe in, sits safely high above the ground on top of one of the water tanks

The firewood shed is rapidly filling up and I estimate that there may be only two more days of work to go before the shed is filled.

The firewood shed is about two thirds filled

Due to the cooler summer, the harvest has been all over the shop. Some crops are producing poorly and others are going off like a frog in a sock. Blackberries are having an amazing season and I have not watered them once all season. Most days we can harvest a colander worth of ripe and juicy berries, and there are uncountable berries left on the canes still to ripen.

An average days harvest of sun ripened and very tasty Blackberries

Most of the berries are made into Jam or Wine, and both are exceptionally tasty products.

Ollie is confounded by the sheer quantity of Blackberries

An old Peach tree of the Anzac variety is a reliable producer of fruit. Each year I pick many trays of ripe tasty peaches. They have one minor problem in that the flesh does not separate from the fruit as it is an old school heritage variety of tree. So I had a few trays of ripe tasty peaches which were going to go off and I had to do something with them. I made them into a very tasty peach jam.

Anzac peaches being converted into jam

Each fruit had to be cut away from the stone and then blitzed. 17 jars of jam took about 4 hours of work, but it is a very tasty jam. We’ve now finished the jam making processes for this season and it is nice to see the dozens of bottles of jam (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and peach) waiting to be opened and slathered on freshly baked bread come the cooler weather. Hopefully in future seasons as the fruit trees become more mature and productive, we hope to add fig and quince jams to that list as they are both worthy jams.

In addition to the jam making we also preserved enough apricot and plums this week for about three quarters of the years needs. We’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen (both indoors and outdoors) this week.

Long term readers will recall that the farm has no services connected to it. Most people living in the city take these services for granted and we have to provide them ourselves, or make do. It’s kind of fun and challenging to live that way, but sometimes it is a right royal pain. The internet connection comes via the mobile (cell) phone network and we have antennas installed on the roof to assist with that connection. In the past week I replaced one of the two very expensive antennas with a real el-cheapo antenna. And it just works better.

An el-cheapo antenna outperforms an expensive Yagi antenna. Go figure

The other day I encountered a very old English Oak tree which had hundreds of seedlings underneath it. I helped myself to a dozen of them, and potted them out and placed the liberated seedlings in the greenhouse. They’re doing very well and are looking forward to being established in their new home.

A dozen Oak seedlings were liberated from the awful fate of being mowed

Summer produce update:

The tomato plants are growing, but only one plant has so far produced some tiny fruit. This is very late in the season and reflects just how cold this summer has been.

Left row: Eggplants and Chilli’s + Middle row: Tomatoes + Right row: Globe Artichokes
This lone tomato plant has produced three tiny fruits

Ordinarily we’d expect about 100kg (220 pounds) of tomatoes, but this outcome may not eventuate this summer.

Despite the cooler weather, many plants are growing strongly due to the plentiful moisture held in the soil. The ten grape vines in the grape / strawberry enclosure are growing well and I’m having fun training the vines to climb along the stainless steel cables.

Not bad for two year old grape vines

A late frost combined with a sudden hail storm during November significantly reduced the apricot harvest to not much fruit at all. But the fruit which survived the harsh conditions looks good and is more importantly, tasty.

The apricots which survived the frost and hail storm are looking good and are tasty

Apples are produced far later than many stone fruits and as such are more reliable producers of fruit. I’ve never seen so many apples on the trees as this year. Sooner or later we will harvest the fruit and convert it into apple cider vinegar and wine. Even if the local parrots take half the fruit, there will still be a lot left to harvest. And the birds help to thin the fruit from the tree and reduce the risk that branches will snap under the weight of the fruit.

Apples, glorious apples!

The first zucchini (courgette) appeared out of nowhere this week.

The first zucchini (courgette) appeared this week

Only once before have we successfully grown peas, and a visiting mate ate them all. This year we appear to have produced a very good harvest of peas. I believe that our lack of success in earlier years was due to planting out the vines at the wrong time of year. Contrary to opinion, winters here are too cold for peas and beans other than the notable exception of broad beans.

Plentiful peas are hanging from the vines

Onto the flowers:

The Roses in the garden terraces are blooming
The Roses make a stunning accompaniment to the vegetables growing on the same terrace
This hedge of Lavender goes from strength to strength and the bees love the flowers
The garden beds are a riot of flowers and colour
Flowers from the culinary mint, Oregano are set against a backdrop of Agapanthus

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 78.8mm (3.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 73.6mm (2.9 inches).

76 thoughts on “Lemon to a knife fight”

  1. Yo, Chris – You hop up on the couch, here, and have a good lie down. I’ll pull out my notebook, say “Hmmm,” a lot, and write down obscure things. We’ll talk about snakes. I wonder if you were quit shaken by your encounter, because, you became conscious of your own mortality. I mean, we all idly think of our own mortality, from time to time, but just in a passing way. (Passing away? Is that a pun?) But I think most well adjusted adults, have a profound moment of clarity, where we suddenly realize that there is an end to all this. It really sinks in. Maybe, you had yours? Then again, maybe I’m just gassing around the stem of my pipe.

    You haven’t really set the scene. (Inquiring minds, of the reader variety, want to know.) Did you lift a round, and there it was? Did it slither out from under the log splitter? I gather you dispatched it, but you don’t have to go into those details.

    The afternoon sun beam, shining down through the murk, is very beautiful. My mum always observed that when seeing such phenomenon, it was, “Like a religious painting.” So often that I got quit a bit of practice doing my patented eye roll. Such an observation should be limited to once, every two or three years. Not on a weekly basis. It is a bit awe inspiring, but overkill takes the awe out of the inspire. The next picture evokes the phrase, “sea of fog.” One expects to see ships, sailing across it. Pirates? 🙂 .

    Firewood shed = money in the bank. Sweat equity? The black berries look very tasty, and the idea of peach jam is just yummy.

    The oak tree sprouts look like what I’m constantly snipping off in the garden. Or, digging up. There are plenty of oak trees in the forest park, behind the institution. Now why the squirrels have to haul their acorns, all the way down the hill, and bury them in our gardens, I know not.

    Fingers crossed for a good tomato crop. I ran across something I might try, this year. For the large tomatoes, that never seem to get ripe. The heartbreak of tomatoes. I’m going to try and put some black plastic, around the base of the tomato plants, to warm up the ground a bit more. Worth a try.

    Training grape vines. Do you use a whip and a chair?

    The apricots and apples are very pretty. The zucchini and peas look very promising. Your roses are spectacular, and worthy of the City of Roses. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Joe will turn, everyone knows he’s a stool pigeon through and through. You might be right about the moral fibre of the bird though, and who knows what secrets the bird knows. Maybe, the pigeon was delivering an important message and was way-laid by a concerned, but interfering Melbourne-ite? Perhaps the future of all mankind rests on the secret message that Joe the pigeon was carrying and now can’t deliver, and now were all in a whole bunch of dog poop sort of trouble – and the gobarmint has the message? What will they do with the message I ask you? Probably nothing good. So many intrigues and twists and turns to this story.

    Thanks for the music, the bloke has a lovely voice and the minor key gave it a very spooky delivery.

    Apologies but you did raise the awful spectre of sea shanties, and have probably never heard of either of these local classics. Firstly the local band singing about the sinking of the Titanic (the footage is good): Flash And The Pan – And The Band Played On 1978 and the New Zealand band Split Enz – Six Months In A Leaky Boat. That particular song was censored by the Thatcher gobermint during the Falklands War – quite the stir down here. And one of the vocalists is now part of Fleetwood Mac – I kid you not. Just to stir up my New Zealand friends up I always drop in casually that Split Enz is an Australian band, and the reaction I get is worth every bit of the hysteria.

    Bats don’t seem to be much of a drama down here, but the marsupials are about and they do good work consuming the early evening insects. The critters really need the big old trees with hollows in them in order to roost. The only time I’ve had a close encounter with one was when we were constructing the house and discovered that a marsupial bat had taken up residence in the huge pile of hardwood floorboards which were meant to be acclimating to the local conditions. It just happened to also be the wettest year in recorded history at 55 inches and so neither the bat nor the floorboards did well.

    Like everything, bats introduce risk, but life I’ve noted, is hardly a risk free affair. Mr Maugham is writing much about his time as a playwright, and the reactions he received from the intelligentsia of the day is quite interesting.

    Ooo, I’d never considered reading the fine print of toothpaste and you might be onto something there. I’m a bit afraid to look – surely the stuff is locally made? Maybe? Well that is interesting indeed – the packaging does not indicate where the stuff is made. Next chance I get, I’ll check the box label (unfortunately now reduced to ashes sorry to say).

    Yes, the derivative story continues unabated. Surely more productive games could be imagined? I did say that it was very likely that this game is condoned.

    Ah, sorry to hear that the library has not delivered upon Victorian Farm. It was actually a very easy read. And Ruth delivered a fire breathing sermon on clothes, and I agree with her sentiment. Deportment these days leaves much to be desired.

    I too believe that it is a city versus country person divide to consider a gift container to be waste, although not everyone I give stuff to does that. Those folks are more likely to get produce in the future if they return the containers in a clean state. Any society which prides itself on waste is definitely on a one way trip to histories dumpster. How could it be otherwise?

    I keep a good stock of rings, but even so, five years, ten years they’ll be done. You can only do so much. The lids are stainless steel so they probably have a half life of a few centuries and the glass is super thick and hasn’t been made since at least the early 1970’s – and they are still in perfect condition. But the rings are the weak point of the system. Oh well. Boxes of the glass bottles and lids can be purchased for a song mostly because people don’t value them.

    Ah, wise timing with the chocolate.

    Yeah well the guy with the goofy grin, glasses and epic wallet full of mad cash and then some, might want to have a good hard think about how to restore some soil fertility to those tracts. Of late, I’ve been coming around to the theory that the percentage of soil organic matter might always return to the mean percentage given the locale – and also that many of the annual plants we as a society grow for food are a one way trip to lower soil organic matter. But you know, the entire problem is eventually self correcting, which is quite awful to consider. One person could hardly know but a mere fraction of that size of land.

    Thanks Doc, I appreciate the time and yes, that is part of the story, although I am comfortable with the idea that one day I’ll no longer be around – it happens. The possible loss of the others is surprisingly harder to accept. Mate I’ve had a lot of loss in my life, and whilst you can develop mechanisms for dealing with that, it still costs. At a wild guess, my own loss will be easier on me than on others around me, and that is how life rolls. But the world continues to spin and the seasons change, and it would be an awful world if people were to live forever. So nah, you’re not gassing around the stem of your pipe. I’d imagine you encounter the full gamut of experiences at your place in relation to that matter?

    Hehe! I note that Simon also pushed me on this issue of details, and well let’s just say that I have no desire to self incriminate. You see from time to time well intentioned readers say things to me like: Watch out for the foxgloves as they’ll take over the forests. The idea of a forest full of flowers kind of appeals to me. But still, common sense would suggest that if I have to go out of my way to plant foxgloves, then they are hardly an invasive species otherwise I’d just go and grab some and replant them where I want them – but you know, people are well intentioned. So I tell the story in hints without going into all of the details – they don’t need to be told.

    Hehe! Good stuff with the eye roll, and on the other hand perhaps practice makes perfect? Your mother may have been objecting to the slight imperfections in the minutiae of your performance? It is very possible that she was inspiring you to achieve greater heights!

    The fog is awesome, and if the sea levels rose a good 500m (1,650ft) well I’d have a great ocean view. I doubt there is that much water on the planet to achieve that. I had heard reliable figures that the sea level has been 70m (230ft) higher than the current level – and that should be a sobering thought for people living next to the ocean. It has been a long while since I’ve seen the ocean due to the health subject which dare not be named, and next when I do, I’ll be interested to see what impact it has had along the coastline. I guess you wouldn’t see the ocean much these days either?

    The peach jam really is superb, and for a day or two afterwards the house smelled subtly of sun ripened peaches. It tastes good too, and I stuck to a low sugar recipe which was recommended in the classic book ‘Cookery the Australian Way’.

    That sounds about right with the oak seedlings. The seedlings reliably pop up, but most never survive due to the shade from the parent tree. And also the seedlings are generally mowed down under.

    Worked today until late today. Late January is often busy for me because there are very few working days – and I’m doing December work which is almost a full month. February is much quieter as I’m doing January work and people have been on holidays. Oh well, that’s how it rolls.

    It’s raining outside right now – a fine drizzle, but it looks like it will warm up later in the week. Spotted a rabbit inside the vegetable terrace tonight. They’re fast, I’ll give ’em that.

    The grape vines get a very dull talking too, and then if they continue to misbehave and grow where ever they think is appropriate, well let’s just say that the lecture continues apace. Eventually the vines tire of the breaking of the grapes, and then they do what they’re told. No chairs and whips were harmed in the process, but those ideas sound innovative. 🙂

    Thank you, and it is a pleasure to see the roses. And many of the varieties were picked for their fragrance. Delightful.



  3. Hello Chris
    An amazing quantity of logs! I could say the same about the fog.
    On the way into town to shop this morning, we passed a huge sign saying ‘stay at home’. As Son remarked, it seemed a bit late as one had to be out to see it. I suggested that ‘go back home’ would make more sense. I wonder what it cost the council to have the sign erected.
    I finally know someone who has tested positive for the virus, a school child.


  4. Yo, Chris – Joe’s secret missing message was probably … 42. 🙂 . The news cycle moves on. I haven’t seen much, lately, on the mysterious appearing, and disappearing, monoliths.

    Those are a couple of good tunes. Anything “Titanic,” fascinates. But the antipathy of the Thatcher government, to the second song, just escapes me. And due to your tip off, I was in a heightened state of observation, for any subversive material. Nada. Would have been nice if a crowd had gathered outside of 10 Downing, for a good old fashioned sing-song. You know, one of the causes of death for the Iron Lady, was dementia. Quit a few “world leaders” from that time period, suffered from the same. Explains a lot. 🙂 .

    When my eyes started to go, for close work, I just started carrying a loop. Comes in handy, scouting tat. And, checking out the origin of stuff I might put in my mouth. A few months ago, I mentioned a frozen, phony form of “meat pie.” Well, 762,000+ pounds of the stuff was just recalled. Glass and plastic shards. There was also a recent recall of dog food. Mold. Killed 70 dogs, and made a lot of others, sick. Neither of those products were made in The Land of Stuff. I started checking origins, when, quit a few years ago I picked up four jars of a well known American companies pickle relish. For $1. The lot. It tasted a bit “off”, so I was checking the ingredients, and noticed the country of origin. The Land of Stuff. What? We can’t make our own relish, anymore? Where it gets tricky is when I run across things labeled “Distributed by…” Yeah, but where does the stuff come from before being distributed? I’ve been down some complicated rabbit holes, to answer that question. You’ll see more of that, further down.

    I’m really looking forward to taking a look at “Victorian Farm.” And, I’m really curious about where they sourced it. I checked “World Cat”, last night, and there’s plenty of copies of “Edwardian Farm”, in the States. Some even in the Pacific Northwest.

    I always give back containers, in the hope that they will be refilled, again. 🙂 . No self interest, here. When I get my yogurt from Jeremy’s fruit and veg stand, I initially paid $3 more. But if I bring back the bottle and lid, it’s $3 cheaper, from there on out. Locally made.

    Here you go. About the farmland.


    Why did the phrase, “Feudal Lord”, come to mind? 🙂 . But what’s also interesting about the article, is the number and difficulty of rabbit holes the author had to explore, just to get an answer to a simple question. I went on a similar quest, trying to discover who REALLY bought Yardbirds, where the Club used to be. I pretty much discovered who the “front” people were. Working out of a duplex apartment. And that they had fronted for someone, in the past, on other deals. But who the real owners are? A mystery.

    I haven’t been to the ocean, since I worked for the library. I got a bit twitchy, driving out there. Miles and miles of flat beach land, with no convenient hills to scramble up, should the Cascadia fault, let loose. Especially after what happened in Japan.

    I envy you your peach jam. Think I might make an apple crisp, today. With raisins and walnuts.

    I tried to watch a few more lectures from “Crashes and Crises.” “Bankers Trust Swaps” (got bored) and a segment on currency (fell asleep.)

    I spent some time transferring “first frost dates” and “last frost dates”, to this years calendar. I have about four years worth, now. I was hoping some pattern would reveal itself, as far as a link to the El Nino, La Nina cycles. I also looked at several “official” frost dates. They were all over the board. And then my observations. LOL. The only thing I can say with certainty, is that we can have a first frost, anytime from October 1st, on. And our last frost can be as late as the last day of April. That’s something, I suppose … Lew

  5. Hi Chris,

    I have gone on several rabbit hunts, with mixed results. By far the greater success was trapping, but I do admit the clampy-jaws are not a particularly pleasant way to take out a rabbit, not sure if my older, more enlightened self would do it that way again…. Shooting is no doubt a cleaner death. Does this mean there will be slow-cooked rabbit curries in your future? Minced and made into burgers is also good I am told.

    I have lost count of the number of times I have nearly trod on various, deadly snakes. Normally whilst out hiking. Mrs Damo has actually trod on a couple of tigers, and we both got chased a few metres by an angry one near your Mt Bogong. None have ever tried to strike though. Walking noisily, kicking things with well protected feet and long, tough workpants makes me feel better.

    But you know what they say, if you go looking… I daresay the fluffy collective see, or at least sense them on a regular basis.


  6. Hi Inge,

    Ah, yes the amazing quantity of logs. Well, they sat there for a dozen years since the construction of the house. Way back in those days I followed the excavator driver around and cut the logs into about eight foot lengths, and then he used the machine to grab them and took them across the property and stored them neatly in that locale. And there they sat until I worked out how to turn them into firewood. In any normal forest, logs sitting on the ground that long would have long since turned into soil, but not those logs and not this forest – they were pristine.

    But in the dozen years since, rabbits had burrowed warrens in the harder to reach cavities and clearly snakes had occasionally displaced the rabbits and taken up residence. Neither species has a place on this farm, but for different reasons. The indigenous folks use words to describe their land management processes which roughly translate into English as: Cleaning up. As time goes on, I see the wisdom and truth in their words.

    Your son has a fine point with the signs – and it is ludicrous sign, but then plenty of people like signage as a response to all manner of situations. Hey, the signs down here have an implied threat: “Stay Safe, Stay Open”. Maybe it is just me, but that sort of language comes across as ill considered.

    Somebody is paying for the sign, you can be sure of that and it might be the local rate payers.

    Well, all I can say is that you alone must judge your personal risk for yourself in this matter, and up until now, historically that has been how such situations have been handled. I find no comfort to be found in the recent, err, changes to the social contract. And implementing such a cultural change without public debate seems disingenuous at best, but I could also equally be wrong, so tread warily and keep a sharp eye upon the changing and very fluid circumstances is the best response I can manage at this time.

    All the while I continue to build the infrastructure and soil fertility. If there was a better response, I’d be more than happy to hear of it.



  7. Hi Damo,

    Can’t say that I’ve ever taken an angry shot at a rabbit before, but I’ve been in the bush with people who have done so. It’ll be an interesting experience, that’s for sure and I have the added difficulty of not hitting any of ours, or our neighbours infrastructure. If I do, I’ll never hear the end of it…

    Between you and I, I’m a bit edgy in the surrounding forest just in case I encounter one of those bitey-clampy jaws which by now would have much rust and has been long since forgotten by whomever placed it there. I keep my tetanus vaccination up to date. I find relics from the old logging days and have even hauled away a burned-out vehicle wreck and potato cabin dating prior to the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. There’s strange mysteries out there in the bush, and one of my neighbours has the remnants of an old mill on their property just in the middle of nowhere, so you have to stay sharp. Possibly a timber tramway took the saw mill products off the mountain and to the nearby train line. I doubt Southern Cross Station had the fantastical wavy roof back in those days!

    I’m quite partial to a gourmet rabbit pie and of course as you’d expect I know exactly where to obtain such a taste delight. 🙂 Why would anyone expect otherwise? Tis a bakery challenge after all!

    Yes, you have mentioned yours and Mrs Damo’s experiences with deadly snakes before, and I can only say that both of you are tougher than Chris and Mrs Chris. We’re not worthy! Tiger snakes have an ominous reputation for aggression, and I have fortunately not seen one in this mountain range, thank gawd. Yes, your work pants idea is wise, and these days I wear oil skin gaiters when working in the forest. The old folks knew their stuff.

    You hit the nail on the head. Plum clearly knew the snake was there you could see her in the photo (last week) looking at it intently, but it was Ollie who alerted me to the reptile. And because I’m occasionally an idiot I crept up behind Ollie and gave him a double scritchy and he jumped backwards towards me in fright and we both almost fell into a human-dog heap. He’s got some size and authority that dog. Dogs have a far better sense of smell than humans and it may be possible they can smell the toxicity of the reptiles, but all I know is that neither dog decided to attack the snake, and for that I’m grateful. Administering anti-venom to canines is an expensive and chancy process.

    Hope things aren’t too hot over there? Sunday looks set to reach 38’C! Fancy that…



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Of course, how could the long distance message from Joe the racing Pigeon be otherwise than the number 42? Silly me to expect otherwise. Except and here I rip blindly from the narrative of John Carpenter’s frightening film: Prince of Darkness. This is sheer speculation, but Joe the racing pigeon had a message which began: This message comes from the future… Before then going on to tell us in revolting detail how we have to reign in energy consumption, worry about industrial scaled pollution, declining soil fertility, and the sordid details of the ultimate effects of rising sea levels. And now that the authorities are interrogating Joe the racing pigeon and his voice has possibly been silenced forever, so we’ll just have to enjoy the show as it unravels. Is this a bad thing? Maybe not, people only seem to want to know the future so that they can win big time on the lotto numbers and does that actually produce a benefit? From what I understand of the matter, and I’d be curious as to your opinion, most people who win the lotto suffer from the delusion that they’ve won the lotto once, so why not a second time? Of course this is a logical fallacy, and I used to work with someone long ago who won big at a casino, but then became a regular patron. Hmm.

    Yeah, it does make you wonder if anyone actually purchased the monolith discovered on the Isle of Wight?

    Glad you enjoyed the music, and the footage of the Titanic (and other better recorded ship submersing incidents). It’s not just you, but down here from memory few understood the decision – although the Falklands war was something of a naval and land battle, and the last in my memory. I recall delivering the newspapers which were all about the sinking of the General Belgrano, not to mention the British navy losses. Yes, one side benefit in those days of delivering the newspapers was seeing the news before most others did. The Space Shuttle destruction brought home to an avid sci-fi reader that the technology wasn’t as risk-free as the sci-fi books made it out to be, and my faith ended then and there.

    Dementia would not make for a pleasant travelling companion, although candidly it would be more of a problem for others than the sufferer. But then what would be the emotional load during a brief moment of lucidity when the sufferer peers forth from the murk? The editor told me of a story she heard regarding your pres-elect where he apparently introduced his grand daughter as his dead son, although neither of us has any skin or interest in that game. Two words: Good luck! And heck yeah, it does explain a whole bunch of stuff.

    A time comes for all of us when the eyes are no longer the sharp tools they once were, but reading glasses are pretty handy. So far I have no need for such things, but it is only a matter of time. And this year with mask wearing I’ve been unable to wear my usual sunglasses and protect my eyes from the degrading extreme UV from the sun. Oh well, such is life.

    Mate, I’m not even sure what a frozen phony meat pie is. It sounds horrendous. I recall that our UK friends not too long ago had a horse meat substitution problem in some food stuffs. And who can forget ‘mad cow’ disease? Ooo… Wise to check origins of stuff, yes definitely wise. Yeah, we have those dramas too with ‘packaged in (insert locale), but there is often further details as to Product of Australia, which I believe is a legal definition. But then for some visitors a few weeks ago I purchased sliced ham and bought the most expensive as it was 100% local content. It cost about maybe 40% more than the cheaper product, but I don’t ordinarily eat meat at home and made concessions to visitors needs so I might as well buy the quality stuff when I do. It all disappeared! The other ham products interestingly were cheaper, but they proclaimed a percentage of imported product. It is possible they referred to a blend of local and imported ham slices, but last I considered the matter, it would be difficult to raise a pig in one country and have it processed over several countries. Not impossible, just difficult. Common sense suggests that this would not be the case.

    The Victorian Farm book was really enjoyable and it just alerted me to how little I actually know, and also the vast breadth of skills required by a village in order to live a comfortable existence. Yeah, Edwardian Farm is certainly on the ‘to read’ list.

    Hey, we finished the firewood job today and both sheds are now chock full of firewood. Got up early today and broke for lunch at the completion of the job at 3pm. It was a late lunch, but you know, ending that job is a celebratory experience. Cheesecake slices may have been involved. 🙂

    Hehe! Self interest is exactly what I’m looking for in that matter. 🙂 Such a realisation is an acknowledgement of the social arrangements involving such niceties. How could it be otherwise? The throw-away society we live in just leaves me feeling cold and uncomfortable for its future.

    Thanks for the article and it came across as a lovely and lively bit of investigative journalism. Farming is a good way to lose a lot of money, but I guess that bloke has deep pockets. He can come up with all the nice feely happy vibes he wants for all I care – the basic problem remains the same: If food goes to the city and then the minerals are consumed and dumped in the ocean rather than being returned to the soils which produced the food, well that’s what I call a losing game. It doesn’t matter what spin people put on it, the outcome is baked into the cake.

    Has anything happened to the yardbirds building?

    Oh, yeah I’d forgotten about the fault line problem in your part of the world. Kind of puts a new spin on taking a spin down to see the sea. What happened in Japan? They have a very geologically active environment.

    How did the apple crisp turn out? It’s always exciting to get stuck into something in the kitchen. The peach jam took about 4 hours to make by the way. For your interest I used a 1 Fruit to 0.667 Sugar recipe as recommended in Cookery the Australian Way. I believe the fruit has a good quantity of fructose so you don’t need as much sugar as for other jams. It’s tasty stuff.

    There is a line in The Big Short which suggests that you are on the (dare I say it) money with that reaction. 🙂

    Lewis, you are setting the gold standard and I too am feeling the call of such garden diary notes. Valuable stuff, and you do get to see firsthand at just how variable mother nature can be. I claim slackness on my part!



  9. Yo, Chris – OK. I give up. What’s a “potato cabin.” The only thing Gargle spit up, was an Air BNB in Idaho (the spud state) shaped like a potato, and a recipe for Australian scalloped potatoes. Speaking of going down rabbit holes (we were, weren’t we?), the Queen Mum used to drive around Harry, formerly known as Prince, and he’d shot rabbits out the Rover window.

    Well, Joe’s message from the future would be kind of pointless. We know all that stuff, already, but many choose to either disbelieve, or ignore it.

    Gambling winnings come with their own set of problems. One of which is to be able to walk away.

    Ah, I can see why Maggie might have been a bit touchy. As she was personally responsible for 323 souls, going to the bottom.

    Oh, not to worry. Our pres-elect was just having a senior moment. And, his recovery was pretty fast. If he’d inserted “daughter of my” in there anywhere, it wouldn’t have been a story.

    My power trippy paperboy moment was the death of Marilyn Monroe. A sleeping city, bad news on the doorstep. Bye, bye, American Pie.

    Nice of you to “put on the dog”, with your visitors. If nothing else, it might have kept them out of the peas … 🙂 .

    Village life. Everyone has a roll to play, or several. Like cogs in a well oiled machine. In a good way.

    Congrats on finishing up the fire wood, for another year. Cheese cake was called for. Delayed gratification. An important skill, it seems.

    Well, I’m sure Farmer Bill has many managers to oversee the operations. If he chooses wisely, it may work out, ok. Why does Prince Charles, come to mind? You had said something about annuals and minerals going away. I had never quit thought of it that way. Even though I pretty much dig whatever is left over from the annuals, back into the ground. Not having a hot compost heap, the only thing that gets tossed is invasive weeds. And, even those get turned under, if they haven’t gone to seed. Or, I might toss the root, but turn under the leafy tops.

    I haven’t heard too much about the Yardbirds Building. Rents went up. Some people bailed out, others reduced the size of their spaces. As rent is mostly based on square footage. But I hear an entire flea market from Tacoma, picked up and moved to Yardbirds. I guess they lost their venue, due to You Know What. Rents up north would have been higher, and our boosted rents would appear to be a bargain.

    Japan. Earthquake? Tidal Wave? Nuclear meltdown? Ring a bell? 🙂 .

    The apple crisp (with raisins and walnuts). Well, it turned out rather dry and crumbly. Even though I plumped up the raisins. But still, very tasty. I had a couple of pieces, and dolloped yogurt on one, and some left over cranberry sauce on the other. Made it even better.

    Watched a bit more of the financial crisis lectures. The tech bubble (just because I take inordinate pleasure in seeing the tech boys take it in the shorts), rogue traders, and, the Orange County, California bankruptcy. Because I lived in Orange County for three years, and didn’t know anything about it. Happened well after my time. Orange County is the county just south of LA county.

    Next up, and finally, is the 2008 melt down. But, the lectures are due back at the library, and I can’t renew it, as other people are waiting for it. But that’s ok. I pretty much understand what happened in 2008.

    In general, I think, people that invest forget that what goes up, must come down. And, in the financial world, what is down, will go up. Such as interest rates. A lot of these disasters, were pulled off by people who really forgot that, built a house of cards, and … well, we all know what eventually happens to houses built of cards.

    Oh, it’s not such a big deal that I thrashed frost dates within an inch of their lives. Sometimes, I get onto something, and get a bit fixated. I was hoping for more solid patterns. But, within minutes, felt I could live with the not so solid, results. Frost will probably not come before the 1st of October, or after the end of April. I can live with that. Lew

  10. Hi Chris,
    All that wood must give you a real sense of security. Everything looks great except for the absence of tomato pictures.

    As I write this we are getting all our windows replaced – on a 20F degree day. So far it’s going fine but the noise! Hopefully what I write is coherent. We continue to have a noneventful winter which is just fine with me.


  11. @ Inge and all,
    We know more and more people who have had Covid and three, that we know of, who have died. Both of our girls have friends who have lost parents or grandparents. However, most we know of have weathered it just fine which is encouraging.


  12. Chris,

    Yes, shingles on roofs here mostly. 20 years or more ago the roofing companies switched form nails to staples. When my roof was redone about 20 years ago, I MADE them use nails. The neighbor who lost chunks of shingles? Staples. They don’t work.

    The take out sandwiches were good. The bakery items were most excellent. Good thing that bakery is not within walking distance.

    I’ve been saying for most of my current job that HR is Management’s Hammer. It’s not supposed to be that way, but it is a fact of life.

    Yes, I’ve got a carving project I hope to get done this week. The Princess needs it. She’s on her normal trip to see her brother. Driving in the fog. Did you send your fog to us? She’s in my car. I was going to refuel her car Monday, but there was a rhythmic grinding noise from the right rear and it was sort of dragging. Sounds like a brake issue. So I take it to the shop Wednesday.

    I’m also slowly working on a walking stick. We found it on a camping trip back in 1975, and somehow I still had it. Cleaned it up and now I’m slowly adding wood burned designs and faces and what not to it. The shape is unique, which is why it never got tossed into the woodpile. My sister had found it, then dad absconded with it because he liked the unique shape. So, when done, it will be given to sister.

    Sounds like the rabbit problem, as that brings a snake problem, is getting urgent. Avoid the snakes! And it’s NOT good that the one from last week was near the buildings.

    The fierce dog walking near the artichokes begs for an addition to the caption: “Left row: Eggplants and Chilli’s + Middle row: Tomatoes + Right row: Globe Artichokes”, and walking towards us is a dog recovering from a traumatic experience with a baby rabbit that terrified the dog.

    Your fruit and flower pictures are more than needed right now. Thanks. No snow on the ground. The sun does not shine, except for a few hours Monday afternoon. It’s cloudy or foggy or cloudy and foggy. Maybe a small snowstorm will come through Sunday. Officially, we’re ahead of normal for rainfall for both January and the rainy season,, which started October 1. We’ve also officially had 85cm of snow for the season, although none in January. That’s actually ahead of “normal”, too.

    The pictures of the roses were especially good. Those are some gorgeous roses.

    Somebody mentioned “mad cow”. William Shatner’s character in “Boston Legal” was always scared of getting Alzheimer’s, which he called, “the mad cow”. Every time he forgot something, he’d say that he knew he was getting “the mad cow”. I always thought “the mad cow” was what clobbered the fool who set foot in the bull’s pasture.


  13. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, it is nice to look at two full sheds of seasoned firewood knowing that winter will be here before we know it. Finished that job yesterday too, and it is a real pleasure to be done with that for the year. Had some good ideas as to how to make the job easier in future years.

    The tomatoes are an epic disaster, but oh well.

    Far out that is one cold day. Hope you are rugged up against the cold? Did the guys finish the job? And what kind of windows did you choose to replace the current ones (I’m assuming the former windows were timber frame single glazed? – at a wild guess)

    77’F and sunny here today. 🙂



  14. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, not wise to use staples when as you well know, nails do a better job – it comes down to the shape of the head of the nail spreading the load of holding down the shingle. I’ve seen nails used to hold down roof cladding, but those nails were quite long with a broad head and the shaft of the nail had a twist so that the nail bit into the timber battens. Those nails were particularly hard to remove from timber. Mostly nowadays we use screws to hold roof cladding in, but plenty of people like the cheaper ceramic tiles, and those maybe are nailed in, but still high winds can be challenging.

    Always tempting to know the intricate details of the contents proffered for sale at a quality bakery.

    Dunno about your experience but I’ve encountered plenty of people who fail to understand that HR is a paid function and as such they have an inbuilt conflict of interest. As you say it is a fact of life, but by way of comparison, HR as a separate function is not on anyone’s radar in small business. Far less hierarchy which is why I’m immersed in such an environment.

    Hope your ladies visit is an uneventful trip, and yup sorry about the fog he says as he mutters something or other about La Nina and atmospheric particles from epic bushfires early last summer. Hmm, FYI, the editor is also disinclined to spontaneous acts of refuelling – apparently that’s my job.

    Thanks for the telling me about the walking stick. What a fascinating item, and I’m curious as to exactly what sort of faces are peering forth from such an interesting item? A very thoughtful present. 🙂

    Nah, the rabbit problem is a long term problem that I should have addressed far earlier this growing season than I did so. A rabbit ate my French Lentils yesterday… A semblance of ecological equilibrium has descended in the shape of owls and foxes, but the rabbits dare far too much and are always one step ahead. Poisoning them is not an option as who knows what might eat the carcass, and the traps are not much chop as again that might also have unintended consequences, so I’ve settled on the least worst option. When all paths are bad, which do you dare tread upon?

    Glad that you are enjoying the photos from the land of summer. It is a pleasure to share the farm with you.

    Some of those cows must have been way nasty back in the day. Wasn’t there a particularly aggressive variety known as the Aurochs? Hey, some folks pay to go and run with the bulls, although there is always misplaced outrage when someone gets gored by an angry bull. I wouldn’t do such a thing.



  15. Hi Chris,

    Can’t say I am truly not afraid of snakes, I get anxious sometimes thinking about them (instinctual response?) and I don’t enjoy picking them up. Also, I have the occasional dream (nightmare?) where I am running away, or trying not to step on, a variety of different snakes. What does it all mean Freud? But, out in the wild, I am happy to see them from a few metres back (except for the chasing one at Mt Bogong – bad snake!).

    I reckon your dogs would hear the snakes, reptiles don’t strike me as something with a much of a scent. Hopefully your dogs maintain the good sense not to play with snakes. But what you can do? Sometimes pets get run over, or bitten by a snake. Cats on the other hand, they all seem to love toying with snakes – back on the farm, a batch of kittens must have got mongoose DNA. I remember watching 3 of them taking turns to paw a large red-belly. None of them got bitten, and the snake was having a hard time of it. Eventually it got the message and left the scene.


  16. @ Margaret
    More people are getting the virus here. Two incredibly noisy helicopters flew overhead the other day and I was told that they were transferring Covid patients to a mainland hospital.


  17. Hey Chris,

    If you’re happy to let one go, I’d love to buy one of those oak seedlings off you. There’s a house just around the corner from me which has a beautiful big oak tree that covers the whole width of the property a provides beautiful shade. The main street of Werribee is also oak lined. I don’t know why they didn’t do the whole suburb. A few years ago council did a big nature strip tree planting exercise. They put two trees on my nature strip. Can’t remember the species but these trees are barely able to shade themselves let alone the street. I’d love to have a big oak tree in my front yard.

    That was a nice quote from that author about making sacrifices to unworthy objects. I wonder if the pain you inflict can’t also be the pain you inflict on yourself by not putting up with mediocrity.

    I also heard a great quote this week which is apparently from the Talmud – You can educate a fool but you can’t make him think.

    I think that could be the catchphrase of the modern world.

  18. Hi Lewis,

    That was probably my fault as I’d inadvertently called Spud huts by their more fancy name: Potato huts. Turns out that like in the Victorian Farm book, itinerant farm workers had to sleep somewhere out of the rain, and so they did so in spud huts. I see them in all sorts of out of the way spots in that rich soil area only a bit to the west of here. I came across a very dull article on the huts, and then discovered a blogger who had been on the spud hut tour at the nearby Spudfest and mentioned that a real old timer once came with the purchase of an old farm: Spud huts. Having travelled to many countries in the third world, such conditions do not shock me.

    The Queen mum has some spunk to have done so. Those lot are a canny lot who have survived whilst living large for quite a while, and despite the words to the contrary, it may well be that Harry was invited to spend time in your country given they are pulling away from their recent new best friends. Stranger things have happened. Anyway when I first heard of all that drama, that was the thought that popped into my head all unbidden and stuff, but I dunno nuffin anywhoo.

    But what about the dramatic impact of Joe’s message from the future with all the gory and sordid details? Shrug and move on would be the most likely response, OK I hear you.

    Don’t you reckon then that that makes it all the rarer for a person to know and appreciate when they have led a charmed life – despite the hardships?

    Anyone who could rise to the top of such a murky cesspit of intrigue as politics, is possibly to be treated with suspicion just because of where they have climbed to? Sometimes, the word climbing in that context really conveys the general skills of the individuals who thrive in such a pool, or anyway that’s how I see the world.

    Lewis, I’m heaps younger than your pres-elect, and also the current incumbent, and I’m very high energy, but that job would be not good. For a start I’d begin disappearing people who basically annoy me for no good reason other than they are difficult people and are hell bent on making a nuisance of themselves. And then I’d make outrageous demands like: I’m sick of hearing about all this whining, so you lot have two weeks to sort it all out, or this will be the personal consequences. I have no tolerance for the sort of argy-bargy which goes on nowadays and produces a lot of hot air but doesn’t really resolve anything. It’d be popular, but would make for bad optics as they say, and fortunately I am disinclined to put my hand up for such a role. Anyway, the upshot is that the current and future incumbents appear useless in the face of multiple and pressing problems.

    Hehe! So busted! The local organic ham was really tasty and disappeared pretty quickly. We put on a good spread for visitors and use quality ingredients to boot. Fortunately for me this year, the peas are running late so that was not a worry. Going to save some seeds from the best performing peas and plant them out again next spring.

    Speaking of peas, a rabbit has eaten my French Lentils – not happy as they’d set lentils. Oh well, moving on.

    Yeah, you’ll see that in action in the Victorian Farm book. It takes a village to err, raise a village! I have nothing but respect for Ruth Goodman and her two trusty off siders.

    Never thought about a celebration that way before, but yeah that makes sense: delayed gratification. A very unpopular requirement these days.

    It is an odd notion, but it is really hard to balance what is coming into the soil in a vegetable garden or large vegetable farm (or any farm for that matter) and then ensure that what is lost is replaced. These days fertiliser is obtained from natural gas, and any increase in demand or reduction in supply has to upset the apple cart. I don’t see any way around that story, and if we continue to dump minerals in the ocean, then eventually that balance comes unstuck. If it was to work properly the movement of minerals would more closely resemble a circle. But even still under the very best systems, chucking a body in a cemetery will lead to mineral loss which accumulates over time. It is a one way street that story.

    Tacoma ring-ins? Unfortunately, every time the name Tacoma comes up, that destroyed bridge springs to mind. The poor dog must have been too frightened to leave the vehicle. Have you had a chance to visit the relocated Tacoma flea market? Don’t you reckon they should change their operating name?

    Of course, with only one reactor on the continent which is very far from here, I forget about that particular incident over in Japan. The Japanese have a very similar energy mix to our friends over in New Zealand, and we supply the Japanese with a lot of natural gas. Yeah, where does one go when all paths lead to bad ends?

    The apple crisp sounds pretty nice to me, sometimes texture must give way to taste. And a crumbly crumble with yoghurt is just the thing for a snack.

    I hear you about the 2008 crisis being done to death – it’s known, and the root causes appear to be being now recycled, so possibly what happened once, may happen again. I dunno, the only sense I can get from how all that panned out was that it was all condoned and that the alternatives were worse to contemplate.

    But exactly, jump from the ship whilst there is still a seat remaining on the life boats, but do so not knowing whether you’ve timed it all correctly. Some people fixate upon timing the exact top of the inverted bell shaped curve, but I don’t see great credit to be gained by someone having done so. It might give them bragging rights, but for all we know – they were just lucky. And houses of cards are likely to be upset by ill winds like that bridge in Tacoma.

    Actually the frost dates are important to have a good general knowledge of, but if a late frost knocks off your apricot blossoms and/or developing fruit well, you’re stuffed regardless. A garden diary is a really good idea though, but at the moment I’m still extending infrastructure.

    It’s going to get hot this weekend: 95’F Sunday and 100’F on Monday. I’ll be curious to observe whether the plants grow during this short hot spell.



  19. Hi Damo,

    I dunno, but yeah like you it is an instinctual response of fear. I grew up hearing that the only good snake is a dead snake, and that doesn’t help either as it is deeply programmed from a young age. There is only so much core programming that a person can alter… Oh well.

    Hehe! Mate, I’m unsure that I’d ask Freud what your dream meant – the response might alarm you. 🙂 But as a bit of a hack, I’ll give interpretation a bash. OK, so I’m thinking that your dream had something to do with the latest model Suzuki Jimny. Seriously, the snakes are representative of the fleeting moments of life, and your fear of treading upon the reptiles is a physical representation of economic realities. From that perspective, it’s a wonderful dream. 😉

    You and Mrs Damo have single handedly put me off wanting to visit Mt Bogong. 🙂 Not sure I’d enjoy such an experience.

    Actually I don’t really know the dog’s mechanism for their awareness of the snake, but they knew it was there for sure. Both Plum and Ollie alerted me to the snake. They seemed more curious about the reptile than having any desire to play with it, but you know I’ve got friends who have lost dogs to snakes, so that is a likely possibility. And I doubt a dog could bite and kill a snake without being also bitten.

    Word on the street is that cats are immune to the venom from the Black snake – not that your lot would have known that, but cats are fast. But you’re right it’s risky here for dogs, and a neighbour’s dog was killed by a kangaroo a few years back. That dog enjoyed chasing cars too and you can even see it on gargle street view for all posterity – chasing the car.

    It’s going to be an exciting weekend!



  20. Hi, Chris!

    Mama mia! The wind is blowing so hard! Let’s see what I can get done before the power goes out.

    We have mice in all our woodpiles. The ones by the front door and the back door are the danger points. The huge piles on the edge of the woods one can skirt. At the moment there is a ‘possum living in the front woodpile and a squirrel in the back one (these are big piles) besides the mice. The snakes zero in on the mice and we must always be wary – except in winter. Amazing how afraid we are of “what might have been”. I guess that is to drive home the lesson and to keep these poor old brains on their toes.

    I had a bag of rock phosphate (for phosphorus for the garden) on the front porch. In it I had left a can that I was using to measure it with. That can used to have canned chicken in it and I thought I had thoroughly washed it before using. Well, somebody chewed holes in the bag to get to what they thought was chicken and dented the can and left a big tooth mark in it. It was a sturdy can. My guess is Petey the Possum, though it could have been the raccoon. How dumb was I to put a chicken can outside?

    That photo looks like a sea of fog.

    That is a super deluxe bird bath. Our birds would swoon to see that. They only have dog water bowls for baths.

    I have never seen a frog in a sock. Does that occur often in Australia?

    What perfectly beautiful little oak trees.

    I am sorry that you are still having tomato troubles, and lentil troubles now that rabbits are taking over. You might need some of our coyotes, which are getting pretty bold and looking for small pets around our houses. They were howling up a storm behind my neighbor’s house early the other morning and I sent him an email to be sure to chaperone his little white poodle when she goes out (they have no fence). I wasn’t sure he understood how dangerous those coyotes can be. I’d rather have bunnies.

    Are those potatoes with the grape vines?

    Thank you for the flowers. They are perfect for meditating and I do so.


  21. Hi Simon,

    No worries at all, and we can work something out in regards to an oak seedling. But yeah I don’t get those street planting exercises. Have you ever been to Canberra? They have an horrendous desire to plant streets with all the same species and most of the eucalyptus trees give very little shade. The affect looks artificial to me and slightly ‘off’. Sorry, I’m on my soap box now, and there are heaps of native plants that give deep shade and food and housing for the local wildlife, but you know, people what they want. An oak would look good.

    Far out! I was intending to recommend that particular book to you as it followed the authors life journey in the art of writing, and included many salient observations. He had a keen eye that bloke.

    I’ve had to also cogitate upon your observation. In the context of the blog essay, the pain I inflict is in three parts, and so it is a complicated subject: The rabbits; myself; and the neighbours including the general public. Each group shares the pain differently, and there is a cost for me to act, and so each group pays a different price. Hmm. But there is truth in what you observe too, because to not act – is an active choice, incidentally – however to do so produces a lower outcome. There are no good ends from this course, just ends.

    Thanks for the quote, heck yeah! I ran a graduate program long ago for a former well known basics clothing manufacturer, and getting graduates ‘to do’ was easy, getting them to think was a bit harder. 😉

    I tend to feel that in times of crisis there is hope for other paths to come into being.



  22. Hi Pam,

    Hang in there, and hope the roof is tied down well.

    Exactly true of the firewood piles here too, although the mice and rats are predated upon by the owls. And we have the not insurmountable problem for the mice and the snakes that reserves of water are hard to come by around the farm. But yes, when dealing with firewood piles, just like you do, I am very wary.

    The fear itself is ingrained don’t you reckon? I dunno, maybe it is just me and in reality only a handful of people die from snake bite down under each year, so the risk is not that great, but neither is it impossible. However, the dogs run a whole different set of risks, and mates of mine have lost dogs to snake bite.

    Not at all, the various critters have senses that you and I can barely understand. Dog’s sense of smell is so far beyond ours that I’m afraid to ask Ollie what he actually thinks of us humans – the response would probably make me blush. And your possums are frightening little toothy nightmares, unlike the large but herbivorous possums down here. Those local critters are frightened because the owls pick them off, and it is brutal out there in the forest at night. But anyway, please keep Petey ‘the toothy’ Possum in your part of the world.

    🙂 At least I know what the place would look like if sea levels rose another 1,650ft. I’d have an awesome ocean view, but I suspect the storms would be pretty crazy.

    Thanks, and the bird bath is a moulding problem with the plastic water tank roof, but it works a treat for the birds. The birds enjoy the safety of the elevated water source. I removed the water bowls on the ground recently due to the snake risk, and am cogitating about this matter and how to go about providing the local wildlife with water.

    Hehe! You should definitely attempt to place a frog in a sock, and then you’ll know. Never done it myself, but I suspect the frog won’t be happy. It’s a saying down here.

    Way back in the day, we would have had a wild dog equivalent to your coyotes: The dingo. There are still populations of dingo’s about the continent, and sometimes they turn up unexpectedly: Wandi the purebred dingo thriving in sanctuary after high-flying ordeal. The dingo actually fell out of the air – and survived.

    Not sure I’d want to encounter an angry mob of coyotes intent upon eating Plum or Ruby. I doubt they’d have a chance with the large and well rested Ollie who would get very grumpy about threats to his girls. Candidly the odds are not on the side of the poodle, but then you never know the poodle has the senses of a dog and might smell the pack long before anyone else does. But, you know it is like people around here free roaming their chickens, and they all get picked off sooner or later and I’ve had a fox come within maybe 15ft of me to grab a chicken in the orchard. But the fox was alone, and not a pack of coyotes, and so I could chase him/her off.

    No, those are strawberries growing beneath the grape vines. Outside of an enclosure I’d have no chance of harvesting anything from either plant.

    Respect and thank you for saying that. 🙂

    Looks like it will warm up here on Sunday and Monday, and I hope the vegetables grow. It is sobering to have a season where you’ve done most things right, and the climate is dead set against your best plans. Oh well.

    Stay warm!



  23. Maybe you want terriers for your rabbits. Sheepdogs, cattle dogs, dogs you can trust around livestock don’t like to do the work you want. From the pics the old collective was heavy on terriers.

  24. Rabbits- maybe this has been covered here, but have you considered a cat or two? Their style of carnivory is a bit different than dogs, and rather persistent. We have two “barn cats”, that don’t get cushy top shelf pet privileges, but do get a sheltered place in the barn and enough kibbles to keep them around, but a bit hungry. Anyway, the number of rabbits (and mice!) has fallen off noticeably since this mutually beneficial arrangement was negotiated.

    Dogs and cats will get along ok as long as the respective temperaments are aligned, and the alpha male of the pack (that being you) sets the right tone.

    Anyway, the other option you mention, of using the Tika ( what calibr, .177 or .22?) to dispatch them points out one more aspect of living within the local limits, that of omnivory- we do have the physiology for it after all. I recall you don’t eat a lot of meat, but it is certainly high calorie fare, and its highest use ( in my human centric opinion) is for it human use. Rabbit is tasty, and while Australia will never get rid of the invasive scourge, you would be at least doing your share!

    Just curious, what native carnivore was lacking ( or slacking) when these rabbits came from Europe? Seems there would be some sort of reaction to the new prey.

  25. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, someone over at Mr. Greer’s (1/19, 12:10am) linked to a very good article on turning oak acorns into meal or flour. Interesting. The variety of oak can effect the quality of the flour, and, the difficulty in processing.

    Thanks for the link to the spud huts blog post. How cool! I think they look quit cozy. Especially the brick ones. Needs must, I think I could be happy, in one. After all, my sojourn in my 365 square foot house, was, mostly a happy one.

    Oh, I agree with leading a charmed life, and, stopping to appreciate it from time to time. I have certainly (though, sometimes in hindsight) fallen face down in good fortune. Many times. But I try and not speak about it, out loud. Hubris, and all that.

    Oh, sure. If I were King of the World, things would be different. A lot different. 🙂 .

    As soil is to gardening, so are good ingredients to cooking. Cooks of all varieties (at least, the good ones), stress this.

    Maybe, they’re French rabbits with a taste for French lentils? Maybe if you had grown German or Italian lentils … I see there’s quit a section in “Victorian Farm,” on rabbit trapping. But, I see it involves ferrets. You think in a city as large as Melbourne, there’d be at least one rent-a-ferret. Or, maybe even a rent-a-Mongoose? 🙂 .

    Well, as you can probably suss out, “Victorian Farm” was waiting for me at the library, yesterday. It came from Texas! But, here’s the mystery. That copy was not listed in the WorldCat. So, where did our Interlibrary Loan Department, access the fact that there was a copy in Texas? As far as I know, that’s the source our ILL Department uses for tracking down things. But, I filled in at ILL, a few times. They’re deep into the black arts. Perhaps they used a scrying mirror?

    But to the book. I was thrown for a hot minute, as, the series as televised, goes month by month. The round of a year. The book is laid out in subjects. Does your copy have a Christmas celebration section? Looking at the cover blurbs, that was added in later editions.

    So far, I’ve just read the introductions, looked at the pictures and read the summing up by the hearty crew, at the end. Notice the last paragraph of Ms. Goodman’s summing up. There’s the nugget of an idea, that later became her book on coal, and it’s impact on domestic life.

    Who knew Jethro Tull as an agriculturist who invented a seed drill, and not just a rock group? 🙂 . Can’t think of a single song that group came up with, that caught my fancy.

    They made a couple of references to the first in the series, “Tales from the Green Valley.” Which I’ve never paid particular attention to. But then they mentioned that it’s a farm from about 1620 … That caught my interest, as that was the year our Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. I see it’s on U Tub, and I’ll have to get around to watching it. There was also a series called “Colonial House” (part of the “House” series), where a bunch of people “live like the pilgrims.” Didn’t care much, for it. Too much modern sensibility, intruded. Other entries in the series, were stellar.

    Also picked up the copy of a newish series, “Prodigal Son.” A fellow is a police profiler, for the New York Police Department. His father is a jailed, notorious serial killer. Looks like a good one.

    I got curious about the dog on the bridge. Tubby, the three legged dog. Went down with the bridge.


    Clearly a dog that did not look out after his own interests.

    Stocks. Sounds like, mostly, “best” is the enemy of “good enough.” If I dabbled in stocks (which I don’t) I think I’d tell my broker, when something was on a roll, to sell when it hit a certain price. Take my profit, and not look back.

    I ran across an interesting article, about your historic incident, with the ship, Catalpa.


    Now, why a major news source, chose to run that article now, I know not. It’s not as if it’s a slow news day. 🙂 . Lew

  26. Hi Lew,

    I can heartily recommend Tales From the Green Valley to anyone who enjoys this blog. It was my first Ruth Goodman series, and perhaps my favourite?? They actually wanted to live in the 1620 house, using only 1620 tech for the entire year, but the do-gooder HR people in London didn’t let them. Part of me suspects, Ruth being Ruth, that they did anyway 🙂

    The other Ruth series I loved was ‘Secrets of the Castle’. A bunch of French people are rebuilding an entire castle, using only tech from the era. Fascinating, and it completely changed my perspective on how people lived back then (the castles and peasant huts were not drab and dreary).


  27. @Lew

    The CNN story on the escaping Irish prisoners was a good one. I had never heard of it, and I live down the road from the beach they used to escape the clutches of the evil British Imperialists! Might go check out the museum…


  28. Hi Chris,

    Your dream analysis is very insightful, and says more about me than you. Life is turbulent and fleeting, perhaps I should just be happy with the brief, affordable, Jimny ownership I experienced 5 years ago and leave it at that 🙂

    Don’t believe the Cat/Black Snake venom story. #justsayin’

    We are getting some nice cool weather now, the Fremantle Doctor is back after a short, hot and sticky absence. Good luck with your weekend, Sunday and Monday looks a bit grim!


  29. Hi Mel,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Thank you for sharing your most salient observation about the contrast with the former fluffy collective members and I concur. Nice one.

    Further to your observation, of the dogs I’ve heard of that have been bitten by snakes, they were predominantly terriers – although that wasn’t my experience with that breed of dog.



  30. Hi Steve,

    I’m partial to cats, but haven’t owned one since I lived in the city. We have a huge diversity of bird life here, and it is possible that a cat would put a dent in the population. The birds actually perform good work around the farm, and supply plenty of bird poop as a handy side effect. The smaller birds actually consume most of the pest insects, so it is a mixed bag and I trade one problem for another problem. A locust plague swept through here years ago, and the local birds destroyed them – it was brutal. And I can still recall the locusts jumping merrily in the sunlight. The vehicles of the time had to place mesh over their air intakes.

    Haven’t ruled out a cat, and kudos to you for your arrangement with the barn cats.

    Ah, .17 as they are reputedly more accurate and incidentally faster, but I don’t really know and will see how it goes. Spotted a rabbit sitting in the shade of a tree today as it was a hot day. They’re way too comfortable and the other day one ate all of the French Lentils – not happy.

    Actually I was intending to feed the rabbits to the chickens – they’d love it. I see that rabbits fed to poultry were first boiled. Hmm.

    It is actually my fault they became established here. I should have done something about them earlier in the growing season late last year. Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way.

    On the mainland of the continent, the remaining marsupial carnivores were wiped out by (at a guess) the introduction of dingoes (our coyote equivalent) which most probably arrived via trade with the Indonesians. And dingo and wild dog numbers are way down and are the rarely seen, and anyway dingoes tend to look more like Ruby and Plum and so they might not be effective for rabbits. We have foxes and I have noted that as the rabbit population builds, so too does the fox population. Foxes don’t hunt and eat rabbit unless other more tasty options are exhausted. Oh well.

    I guess the thing I take away from all this is that it is not a mistake I’ll allow a second time – if I can help it.



  31. Chris:

    Thanks for the update on Wandi the Dingo; I remember his ordeal as a pup. He has grown up to be a very handsome young fellow. It is interesting that they say he is full-grown at 6 months. With a domesticated canine, that wouldn’t be so until about a year old, longer with a really big dog.

    I don’t think the fear of snakes is ingrained. As a child I would handle small snakes at our suburban house, of course, much to everyone’s horror. They did have to instill in me a wariness, though, because there were so many poisonous snakes at my grandparents’ lake house.

    I still love the black rat snakes here (up to 6 feet long) and other non-venomous ones and can remove a small snake if it gets in the house (that is where they are not my friends) by grabbing it by the tip of its tail – if I can tell what it is. Go, Crocodile Hunter! Probably to my dismay someday.


  32. Hi Damo,

    No, not at all! Don’t give up the dream, I sure haven’t. Although $35k plus a long wait, is stretching the budget a long way for what is essentially a very small and very focused vehicle. But still, dare to dream – and enjoy your dreams! 🙂 As a side note, I mentioned the cost to the editor on the basis that it is best to seed ideas well in advance of them being realised, and she gave me a look that could best be described as: WTF?

    If I crash the Vitara or it just gives up the ghost, I’ll probably get a recent model 3 door Vitara (but not the current model which is candidly a different beast from its predecessors). I’m not sure that there are any more small and ‘economical’ vehicles out there with four wheel drive and low range gearing. It is certainly a massive hole in the vehicle market.

    Even the old Jimny’s are scoring something of the halo-effect of the current model. The prices make little sense to me relative to their age and use.

    Au contraire. I now raise to you the awful spectre of a Wikipudding page: Red-bellied black snake, which for the record states: “Laboratory testing has found that cats are relatively resistant to the venom, with a lethal dose as high as 7 mg/kg. The article also suggests that feral cats prey upon the species.

    I now retire from the field with my head high! Of course dogs are toast, so cats must have some sort of adaptive response to the venom.

    Lucky you, and the Freemantle Doctor would make for pleasant dinner company. Yeah, Monday just got upgraded to 41’C. No way…

    I shall be listening to the radio on Saturday, and who knows what outrage may occur!!! 🙂 Let’s just say that I have some suspicions.



  33. @ Lew:

    My son and I made acorn flour a few years back when we had a good fall of white acorns – they are the sweetest. If I remember correctly, we shelled them by smashing them with something heavy – it seems to me that our nutcracker did not do the job – and then soaked them in water. At first I put them on the stove and heated them up in warm water, but decided that was not the easiest thing as the water has to be changed a number of times (5? 6?) after soaking for quite awhile (maybe overnight?) to leach out the tannic acid. Taste one after a few changes to see if it is still bitter.

    Then I dried them out in the dehydrator, first as whole nuts, and then smashing them up as they dried out more. It turned out to be really nice stuff, but what a chore! I added the acorn flour as a portion of my regular flour in baking and it was good stuff, with a real protein bonus. But will I make it again? Not likely. And Charlene the White Squirrel seconds that.


  34. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for mentioning the article on oaks and acorns and I’d heard that the acorns had been used for food but knew little of the details. I’ll read it after replying. Those canny folks over in the UK also make an oak leaf wine, which is meant to be not too bad.

    Glad you enjoyed the article on the spud huts, and I see them dotted about farms over in the part of the world – they’re quite commonly found although many of them are in disrepair. I had to pick between one very stuffy article on the subject which whilst quite learned, lacked the enthusiasm of the blogger and didn’t mention that an old timer lived in one until he died at the age of 90 back in 2004. I’m with you, although on a farm I require the shedding, but the house need not be a large or palatial affair. Part of the reason that farms make no money is because people expect to live large with a large house, big car, regular overseas trips – all off the income of a farm, and as a story it doesn’t work. I believe that many people realise this and so they come up with some concocted story which suggests that they’ll be socially isolated on a farm. That’s bonkers because everyone around here knows as much, if not more, about my activities than I do. One can be socially isolated in the city, but not out in the bush where there is a level of curiosity about peoples activities.

    Yeah, your small place sounds ideal – and easy to keep clean. And possibly it may have an undocumented side effect of keeping in check a collectors, collection of stuff. 🙂

    Just remembered that last evening at about 11pm I happened to see one of the brightest shooting stars that I’ve yet seen, and it was reasonably slow moving as it fell to the ground to the south of here. Pretty awesome. Hope it burned out before it reached the ground…

    Hubris is a thing to fear for sure. Wise stuff. I tempted the weather gawds as I remarked flippantly yesterday that Monday isn’t so hot and we’re yet to see a day over 40’C / 104’F this summer. Not saying that it’s my fault, but the signs are pointing in that direction. 106’F forecast for Monday…

    I hear you about that, and dunno about you but I would be an unfortunate choice for such a job.

    Gordon Ramsay is big on the quality of the ingredients in his shows, but what do the old timers say about making a silk purse out of a sows ear?

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying the book, and yup it was Victorian Farm that gave me the idea for setting out the snares which so far have been ineffectual. All the while the French Rabbit is consuming my French Lentils. Cheeky scamp, and I saw him sitting in the shade of a tree today. He appeared to be rather well fed as do most of the critters living here.

    Rent-a-mongoose! What a business idea – our fortunes are already made. They do look a bit toothy those mongoose critters, so you do the critter handling, and I’ll do the business side of things, take bookings and stuff. 🙂

    Actually I noticed in the Victorian Farm book, they used what looked like nets which the rabbits get trapped in, and I’m assuming the ferret drove the rabbits from the burrows?

    Sounds like the library might have a second system in operation? Perhaps telephones were even used to fulfill your order? Can you ask anyone there how it came to be? The copy I has, does have a Christmas section and they all look like they were having a lovely time. The book does jump from subject to subject giving but a taste of each, and it is unsettling how little we now know. And yes, I noted that about coal, but would have missed it had you not previously mentioned the subject.

    And yeah the name Jethro Tull was brought to my attention too. Interesting, and as usual only six degrees of separation is in there. Don’t really know much of their music but I recall that one of the artists was an excellent flautist.

    I see that thumbs up have given elsewhere for the ‘Tales from Green Valley’ series. One thing Ruth did not introduce was modern sensibilities, in fact in many parts she derided them. The editor read the section on clothes with considerable interest.

    I have heard of this Prodigal Son series – and the premise sounds good. Are you enjoying it? And has Freaky turned up yet?

    Thanks for the history of what is known and speculated upon the hapless pooch Tubby. Down Under that word is an unflattering description of a person.

    Not looking back is something that few can do – I’ve heard people speak in all seriousness of lost opportunities if only blah, blah, blah. But they didn’t and it comes across as a social validation technique and is not that much better than tall fishy tales of ‘the one that got away’.

    Who would have thought that the Ballad of the Catalpa is still banned today. Some grudges are held for far too long.

    What possibly happened today? 😉



  35. Hi Pam,

    Wandi looks like a lovely dog, and if I’d found him wondering around, I might have kept him… Dingoes howl just like your coyotes. A stirring cacophony don’t you reckon? Stirs the hairs on the back of your neck…

    Domesticated dogs are a mixed bag of genetics and breeding. I never knew that about the difference in growth rates. Actually Plum and Ruby are the first two puppies that I’ve known, most of the other dogs were rescue dogs, although at six months I guess Ollie was also a puppy. Some of the rescue dogs came with baggage, but you know they’re all lovely in their own unique ways – and I’m pleased to have known all of them.

    Well done you with the snakes. If it means anything, one of the things I’ve taken away from the cogitation time since that incident was that in future I can do better. And also now that I’ve considered the subject we have other options ready to hand other than the one I chose on the day. Perfection is over rated, but that does not mean that we can’t do better than merely average. 🙂

    You go Girl! And I have nothing but respect for that action.



  36. Yo, Damo – “Tales from the Green Valley” is on my list of things to watch. I’ve seen a episode or two (or three) of “Secrets of the Castle.”

    America has had large Irish communities, from way back. Hugely influential in Boston (name Kennedy ring a bell?) and New York. They’ve always been big contributors to one Irish cause or another. A lot of the funding for the IRA came out of America. Lew

  37. @ Pam – A handy skill to have, if we have a famine, or something. And a skill you’ve passed on.

    There was a small bag of “nut flour” in one of our Magic Food Boxes, a couple of months ago. Almond, pecan, coconut and walnuts. A very fine meal. I’ve been adding a bit, to this and that. Banana muffins, pancakes, etc.. Given the price, I wouldn’t buy it, myself. But it adds an extra bit of “something” to baking.

    Sometimes, I put toasted walnuts in a small plastic bag, and smack it with whatever’s handy (wooden potato masher, etc.) Shelled walnuts (at least here) are often very inexpensive. Lew

  38. Yo, Chris – Oak leaf wine. And old family recipe, passed down from the Druids. 🙂 Spike it with a little mistletoe, for that extra “zing.”

    I’m glad you went with the fun blog entry, for spud huts. Somehow, old guys living on in spud huts, reminded me of the hermit in the garden. But these guys were probably more useful, than decorative. Want me some twirly potatoes on a stick!

    Expectations. Great or otherwise. As with family businesses, it seems like the second and third generation go all wonky with flash. All those toys you talked about. And a certain amount of keeping up with the farmer Joneses.

    Yup. Living in a small house sure reigned in my collecting. But then, I wasn’t doing much of that, at that time. But then, I moved to the squat on the main drag, had hundreds of square feet of empty space. Re-entered the tat trade and … Well, “nature abhors a vacuum.” “Horror Vacui”. Attributed to Aristotle. It’s physics 🙂 .

    My Idaho friend and I have been commiserating on downsizing and cleaning out. I saw her “drawers of stuff, she hasn’t looked at in years” and raise my “two drawer file cabinet” that this computer sits on. It’s full of paper (all neatly organized into labeled file folders) but I haven’t opened those drawers since I moved in here. Three years? What would happen if I just pulled everything out and dumped it? Would anything be missed? Probably, not.

    Shooting stars are so cool. If it had reached the ground, you would have heard about it. Maybe, literally. I saw one, low on the horizon, a couple of weeks, ago.

    Well, your upcoming spell of hot weather might goose your tomatoes into production. Maybe. Our weather, for the next week, is rain, with clearing periods. No fire hose. Maybe one night of below -0-C. There is a “slight chance of rain and snow,” along about next Monday. We’ll see. And, we’ll see what Prof. Mass has to say.

    “Heavy sits the crown…” Every once in awhile, I run across an article with pictures of presidents, when they start there term of office, and after. It does take it’s toll.

    Rent-A-Mongoose Amalgamated Inc. LLC. Or maybe just Acme Rent-A-Mongoose. The division of labor you proposed, is fine with me. I was never good at the fiddly (but necessary) paper work details, of business.

    I’ll be unlikely to be able to discover anything about the arcane workings of Interlibrary Loan. Not an insider, any more. Even a simple inquiry, such as, “What days do the couriers deliver?” now, is met with waffling. But, of course, a lot of that is due to You Know What. The courier will arrive, when it arrives. And civilians, shouldn’t worry their little heads about it.

    “Freaky” has not shown up in the catalog, as yet. Nor “Greenland” or “Breach.” But I keep checking. I’m dipping, occasionally, into a book called “Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the RomanWorld.” (Southon, 2019). She was a great granddaughter of Augustus, sister of Caligula, fourth wife of Claudius (also, his niece), and mother of Nero. Which didn’t end well. She also had Marc Anthony, in her genetic woodpile. Just for poops and giggles, here’s a family tree …


    The stuff of nightmares, that gives historians the fantods.

    Well, I’m liking “Prodigal Son.” It’s pretty gruesome, in parts. Serial killers, you know. And the family dynamics are really messy. Lou Diamond Phillips is in it, and he’s matured into quit a fine actor.

    Oh, “tubby” used to be a pejorative term, here, too. But, since the People of Size have got themselves organized, one doesn’t hear it much, anymore. I suppose that children’s semi-classic, “Tubby the Tuba” will be canceled. 🙂 Lew

  39. Hi Chris,

    You clearly need to spend more extolling the virtues of the new Jimny to the editor. Does she know how cool they are?

    And to think, just a few years ago I scored a modified and upgraded Jimny for $5k. Luckily we don’t have any inflation! As for the new
    ones, hmm, well, I find it really hard to justify that amount of dosh.
    And Mrs Damo (incorrectly) prefers the old style, so I think it might be a non-starter for us. Still, perhaps a minor recession combined with modest promotion and a test drive or two – who knows what a few years from now could bring…

    Even more crazy, the work car park is full of late model 4×4 Rangers, Hiluxes and Navaras (even the odd LandCruiser). And you can bet most have a new second car at home as well. Don’t worry, I am sure my frugality and saving will pay off one day…..

    I see your wikipedia article, and raise you a stern rebuff from Mrs Damo for blindly accepting wikipedia quotes at face value, who pointed out the average venom dose from a red-belly is 37mg, more than enough to kill even the fattest tabby, medium sized dog and perhaps a small child. Beware! Some doses can be as high as 97mg, which will kill large dogs, but probably not an adult. Either way, the cat is dead, if it is lazy enough to actually get bitten 🙂

    Looking forward to tomorrows broadcast – although I confess most band names are unknown to me, however I expect to recognise most songs when I hear them. How high will Dan Andrews beer song get? No idea on #1. I only had close guesses back in high school…


  40. @Pam

    You might be right, Mrs Damo seems completely unphased and has been known to “pat” the odd snake out in the wild.

    On the other hand, even ancient stories typically mention snakes in a negative light. I imagine on the grassy savannahs, our ancestors were probably more worried about a hidden snake you can’t see, then the huge lion or tiger that you can stop with a spear.


  41. @lew

    That reminds me of an old movie with Brad Pitt, where some American-Irish tried to smuggle stinger missiles from the US to Ireland on a fishing trawler.


  42. @ Lew:

    I always keep a bag of walnuts and a bag of pecans on hand and when I make muffins every couple of days, I throw a few of those into the mix – before I add berries, if any – and blend the mix up with a stick/immersion blender. Sometimes we just don’t want a bunch of bulky nuts in the mix, but want the nutrition and protein (I am feeding a vegan here).


  43. Hi Lewis,

    Apparently the oak leaf wine is a thing, and who knows you may be correct! Although talk of ancient Druids brings little facts to the table. 🙂 I guess there were advantages to not writing anything down, but those are offset by the disadvantages of not writing anything down. And lore would have been easily lost if there were none trained in the lore. A bit of a shame, but who knows what was lost – no point crying over spilt milk as they used to say. Old Julius had something to say of the ancient druids, but it wasn’t that much. I sort of imagine that all the current knowledge stored on nifty and efficient electronic devices will eventually travel the same path and fate. I’d personally like to see germ theory passed into the future, but what I’ve observed of the hippy’s and other back to the land folks, doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

    Now it may surprise you, but we get mistletoe birds here, and high up in one of the very tall eucalyptus trees on the farm is an old mistletoe epiphyte. There are a lot of species of this plant down under: Mistletoe.

    The odd hermit or two on a farm would be very useful, and long term itinerant farm labour eventually has to form long term relationships with the various farms they work at. Apparently locals are too good to work at farm labouring jobs: Pacific Island workers bound for Victoria to complete coronavirus quarantine in Tasmania under state deal. I dunno. Such work doesn’t pay well, but still.

    Mate, I didn’t mention that unmentionable Dickens book! 🙂 You’re brave for having done so. But yes, my take on the world is that amassed wealth rarely survives three generations.

    As to the toys, that’s merely talk and not likely to produce any firm outcomes. I don’t see the value in them as the toys appear over priced for something that has to earn its keep.

    Who knew that Aristotle is ascribed with the idea that nature abhors a vacuum? Empty shops rarely are enticing to customers, so there might be something in your collecting actions at the squat which indicate that you knew this deep down. I don’t know whether you have strip shops (as in rows and rows of shops on a main street as distinct from gentleman’s clubs) in your part of the world, but the vacancy rates of late due to the health subject which dare not be named, is a really bad look, and in some areas I note that it has reached about 30%. And I’ll just chuck in the word: kenophobia, so as to sound as if I know what I’m talking about! I don’t really.

    Hehe! That’s fun to observe downsizing from a safe and comfortable distance.

    Oh really, I didn’t know that about shooting stars. I guess there are collectors? What surprised me about that particular shooting star was how bright it was, and also how slowly it fell to the ground. My guess was that it burned out several hundred feet above the ground, but we kind of lost sight of it because of the trees.

    Actually, the chillies and eggplants seem to have benefited from slightly more heat this week and are beginning to grow. Honestly I have no idea whether either plant will produce any fruit, but whatever seeds are produced, we’ll save. We grow a diverse range of plants, so if the raspberries aren’t doing well, the blackberries make up for that etc., and that is how things roll.

    Hey, finished bottling fruit for the season this afternoon and now have 48x large bottles of preserved stone fruit. We’ll pick the remaining stone fruit trees tomorrow before the really crazy hot day on Sunday and Monday. Otherwise the fruit will begin fermenting. And there are so many blackberries this season that we’ll do another run of jam tomorrow. I’ve never seen so many berries of such high quality before. We’ve been discussing preparations for the winter with those berry canes, but will also have a look into what others do. It’s complicated.

    Oh, and we moved a huge quantity of large rocks this morning before calling it quits as the afternoon sun was pressing down on us. A new project has surfaced out of the murk and it requires lots of large-ish rocks. Had to take the power wheelbarrow down for a service though as the machine has worked hard enough this season and needs some care and attention. And I can’t manually bring large rocks back up the hill these days. I used to do that, but the physical wear and tear was not worth it.

    Yeah, I read the good Professors blog on climate in your part of the world, and sort of interpreted it to mean: Nothing much to see here. We’ve had sudden stratospheric warming over Antarctica and it produces very turbulent weather in my little corner of the continent, but further inland, it has little impact. He did mention the possibility of lowland snow – which is fun for you.

    Good stuff, I’ll have to nab a mongoose somewhere or other. I once encountered a ferret who appeared to have escaped from a research facility, and I left the ferret to go about its business. My gut feeling suggested to me that the ferret would have been OK as it was hiding out next to a river and at the very least there would have been rats for it to dine upon. I don’t really know whether I did the right thing there.

    As to paperwork, mate I know paperwork! 😉

    Fair enough and I imagined that you’d still have contacts inside the library system whom were happy to spill the beans on the nitty gritty. The postal service down here appears to operate a bit like that now. Deliveries from what I can guess are down to only a few days a week. Still the folks at the local post office are really lovely, plus I can score a coffee and fruit toast if the mood takes me.

    It was a bit eerie inspecting the Great Cameo of France. I feel that it is only fair to say that the most members of that family had a good head of hair. Hmm, to be given the Agrippina name certainly suggested a short lifespan and a complicated and also perhaps difficult personality. Mind you, did either (younger or elder) profit from their intrigues? There is a story in there for your current politicians who see the prize as the end goal, when it is merely the beginning.

    I’ll mention the series Prodigal Son to the editor.

    Hehe! It’s been long since I’ve heard the word tubby used as a pejorative description. When I was a kid in school, the other kids were pretty harsh critics of anyone who fell into that category, and mostly we were all sticky chickens – possibly a result of a combination of diet at the time and activity.

    I’m not into cancel culture at all, and you may note that I write what I see fit to write, and also run my own platform.



  44. Chris:

    Arrgghhhh! I have been pushed into it. I have had to order a smartphone (I still have an ancient flip phone). We have (had) service with a Very Large cellphone company. We have always paid our bills by check. This last time they claimed that they never got it – though we kept showing them the cancelled check, showing that they had cashed it. Yesterday they cut off my service. We do have a landline and I used that.

    The only way to get a decent plan with the new company that we chose (who my son has been with several years) was to buy a smartphone. The plans that go with flip phones are way more costly. I have been lucky to use the old thing all these years, I know that.

    Amazing what a chill it gave me to know that I won’t have my new phone till next Wednesday. I can make do without it at home, but don’t like to travel all those country miles in our old vehicles without one, so I will be taking my husband’s or son’s with me on my-one-day-a-week Monday shopping.

    There. I have behaved, and mentioned no names.


  45. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Well the editor thinks that they bounce around a bit upon the road, as back in 2004, believe it or not we test drove the Vitara and also a Jimny, and the Jimny did not acquit itself well by way of comparison. The thing is, nowadays the worm has turned and the Vitara is no longer what it once was – and it is no longer even small like my little 2004 3 door model, and so any win may be a default win for the Jimny. But the old Vitara is not dead yet, not by a long stretch. Plenty of life left in the old beast. I suspect that in around that year, we experienced a peak in manufacturing quality across the globe. Things may have slipped since those heady days.

    Anyway, I too find it hard to justify such a high price tag. They’ll eventually fall out of favour as all things go through that life cycle. You’ll probably say that about the blog one day: Oh yeah, it was much better back in the day! And I might say that about the blog too. Hehe!

    What? I defer to Mrs Damo in relation to the snake bite and feline interaction, but as to this question of old versus new Jimny, I have to admit to having serious qualms. Very serious concerns. The venom proof may not have been in Wikipudding and I freely admit that, but in this case, the newer model is actually a far better machine. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to the broadcast too. Such discussions are like catnip to me as I’m a self-confessed music tragic and have listened to the countdown since 1993. It’s possible that WAP may win, and I do wonder if folks understand that the song is a form of offensive comedy? People get all out of sorts about that song, beats me why.

    Not sure you’d be interested but here are my votes:

    Amy Shark – Everybody Rise
    DMA’S – Criminals
    Duke Dumont – Love Song
    Duke Dumont – Therapy
    Glass Animals – Heat Waves
    Nothing But Thieves – Real Love Song
    Slowly Slowly – Melbourne
    The Avalanches – Running Red Lights [Ft. Rivers Cuomo/Pink Siifu]
    The Chats – Dine N Dash
    The Rubens – Heavy Weather

    I reckon Glass Animals will be right up there. But yeah, we have no idea either and just go along for the enjoyment of the ride.

    And the editor and I piss ourselves with laughter every time that Dan Andrew’s mashup song gets played. Yes, get on the beers seems like good advice to us too! It is a civic duty after all. 🙂

    Mate, it would be even funnier if it wasn’t so crazy over in this corner of the continent. What do you? Get on the beers, perhaps? 🙂



  46. Hi Pam,

    Oh no! That was my drama too at this time last year, and I was filthy angry, but soon got over it. I’ll be very curious to hear your opinion, but I found the smart phones very complicated to use by learning to just push buttons and work it out on the fly. I got an Android device because I had no desire to climb aboard the fruit cart. Anyway, the devices are not intuitive at all, unlike your old flip phone which is a basic device that performs basic functions. It at least is understandable.

    Once I learned how to use the stupid device, I then had to sit through lots of interweb articles as to how to shut down the device so that it operated at its most basic functions. I’m surprised at the level of connectivity of the device in its default settings and what information it supplies about you to others.

    Like you I would have loved to have held out, but climb aboard or become a non-person seemed to be the way the world was turning. What do you? As the old timers used to quip: Ya can’t fight city hall.

    I hear you about that. Car break downs back in the day were a real drama. Some aspects of the new phone technology is actually pretty good.

    If I could suggest one thing with the device – get a protective case. I bought a tradies phone that has super tough glass and can survive being dropped from 6 foot onto concrete. I’m careless with such devices because I don’t really care about them, but have no option not to have one – otherwise I can’t earn a living. Oh yeah, my point was that most phones have cracked glass because, people drop them onto concrete, but you may prove to be the exception in this case.

    Thank you for not mentioning names, the laws down here do not provide for free speech, and even me agreeing with you, if you had so named names, is an actionable thing. It is a bonkers situation and I appreciate your restraint. 🙂



  47. Hi Chris,

    Yeah, WAP will be up there for sure, a great song! Your top 10 list is pretty good (Duke Dumont, Avalanches, Rubens!!). A few others are telling me they reckon Glass Animals is going high as well. I can’t offer any opinions on the matter, but am looking forward to the countdown either way 🙂

    The past few hottest 100’s haven’t being quite as good IMO. 2015-16-17 top 10’s were on point! 18 and 19 were OK, but, maybe not as good as their old stuff 🙂


  48. Hello Chris
    Son and I are both fine. Thanks for enquiring.
    Son acquired a bottle of oak leaf wine many years ago. He never knew its origin but thought it excellent.
    Son has kept ferrets for years and when he lived on the mainland he used to take them to his bosses estate to catch the rabbits. The burrows were netted and the ferrets sent in.
    I haven’t seen a rabbit for a number of years. We don’t know why they have gone but it may be due to the return of buzzards to the Island.
    Hard frost today and the sun is shining.


  49. Chris,

    I’ve seen different types of roofing nails. There’s the short ones that are smooth, and long ones that are smooth. Then there are the short ones that have grooves, sort of like rifling on a shot bullet, and grooved long nails. My preference when doing any roofing work was always the long groovy nails.

    Okay, our bakery items last week…A chocolate fudge turtle. We shared it, half a turtle apiece. Then there was some kind of largish cookie, that was also very thick and covered with a lot of chocolate with some caramel syrup added on. We split that and ate half a cookie apiece. It was very sweet. If we get another, we’ll quarter it and eat it over a period of days. Both treats were excellent with a fresh cup of coffee.

    Quite fortunately, the HR person who does our retirement and benefits packages actually tries to be user friendly. I got the information we needed in what is acceptable time frame for everybody working from home in that department. But otherwise, my reaction to anything from HR is rather rude and unfit for print. As I told a coworker recently, you can’t expect me to believe that HR is “objective” when management’s contract negotiators work for HR and the first thing they always say is, “What are you gonna give up so you might get a (paltry) pay increase and so we don’t gut your medical plans?” Coworker then understood that HR is management’s hammer.

    Coo, Princess’s trip has turned *difficult*. As in emotional. Brother’s friends are now contacting him with condolences, a month AFTER other brother died. He was just starting to come to grips with it, but he is now feeling devastated again, as is their sister who is with them. I’m keeping as close an eye as I can on the situation and am ready to go where I might be needed. To quote Marvin the Paranoid Android: “Life. Don’t talk to me about Life.” 😉

    At least the fog has disappeared and Friday makes consecutive brilliantly sunny days. Which always helps.

    The faces on the walking stick depend on the stick’s natural contours and “character marks”, you know, the knobby bits that would take forever to smooth off of the wood. So the knobby bits can become eyes and noses that get some darkening or outlining and enhancements from the wood burning tool. Other areas almost beg to have, say, a viking face wood burned in. Sometimes a mythological being appears. It all sort of depends on how the stick and I “communicate”, as it were. I end up with designs that are unconventional, to say the least.

    I like Mel’s idea about dog breeds. Methinks he’s onto something.

    Yes, the aurochs was the huge aggressive beastie from Europe. That’s one critter I wouldn’t have wanted to meet if it were in a bad mood.

    Thursday I went into the office and got all my personal stuff boxed up and otherwise cleaned up the old cubical. A junior tech happened to be there so I got her lined out on what to do going forward, such as starting now. Got home, saw that Big Boss had emailed me late on Wednesday, a day I didn’t work, suggesting that he and I talk “about the transition”. After saying a lot of choice things to my living room, along the lines of, “Bugger that, I gave you 21 months advance notice and you decide to be a manager my final 6 days?!?” Well, I calmly replied to the email that I had met with the junior tech and the transition was done. Then I found they’ve instituted a new phone number for my program, so I changed my work phone’s outgoing message to direct people to the new number. After I emailed the entire tech group and the Big Boss that I’d done that, Big Boss replied, “Oh. Well, that’s a good idea.” So, for my final week, any work that comes along is Somebody Else’s Problem and I am to be a resource.

    It feels more like I’m almost done now. 🙂


  50. @ Pam,

    So sorry to hear about your cell phone situation. We did the upgrade to smartphone and 4G in September. These things have a few good aspects, but they are frustrating. The Princess hid hers under some cushions last week so that she wouldn’t throw it through the television.

    One suggestion, if I may. Back up your contacts to the cloud or at least a thumb drive. During an “upgrade”, some of Princess’s contacts were disappeared. We had them on the old phone, so were able to hand enter them again.

    Our Very Big Cell Company is already pushing 5G. But, but, but, Spokane only has 5G service in a tiny area in the downtown business district, and not all of the business district is covered yet. Then the 5G signal doesn’t do as well as even the 4G, so it will require more than twice as many utility poles and 5G antennas versus what currently exist. I’ve been on the periphery of the permitting process for some of these utility pole projects.

    I was gong to write an acrostic poem so that the first letter of each line read “Boo $!^!^&%”, where the “$!^!^&%” is the name of my Very Big Cell Company, but my creativity wasn’t up to the challenge this morning.


  51. @ Damo – Sounds about right. Usually, people just threw money at the IRA. But, this being the land of shot-em-up, arms smuggling was known. But missiles might be a bridge, to far. Maybe. Lew

  52. @ Pam – I throw all kinds of things in my banana muffin recipe. It is very forgiving. 🙂 . I always add sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Though you get a lot of people asking, “What are those green things?”

    We often get packages of dried stuff, in our Magic Food Boxes. Raisins. Once prunes. The best was a mix of dried apple, figs, cranberries, raisins and walnuts. A lot of those hit the swap table, and I loaded up. I rehydrate those, and use them in the muffins, too.

    I eat oatmeal, every day. Never get tired of it. I make it in a big bowl, so I have three days worth. First, diced raw apples on one side, with a sprinkling of brown sugar. On the other side, just about anything. Walnuts, dried cranberries (I ordered 25 pounds), some of that trail mix. Always topped with frozen blueberries. Then the oatmeal goes on. I have it with almond milk and a sliced banana. Tasty. Lew

  53. Yo, Chris – I got curious about all this chatter between Damo and you as to Jimnys. Not to be confused with our “Jimmy’s”, which are older GMC pick up trucks. Had one. Loved it. Anyway, you might be interested in this article …


    Your right about manufacturing reaching a peak, several years ago. I had one Ford Ranger, and then another. The second had a higher center of gravity. When I first got it, taking corners too fast, was an adventure. Also, I noticed, a lot more of the bits and bobs were plastic.

    We have mistletoe, all up and down the west coast. Mostly, in oak trees. That was an interesting article.

    Also, the article on farm labor was enlightening. We pretty much have the same problems, here. But having a shared border with where the farm labor mostly comes from, it’s not such a problem with transportation. But, now, the problems are with immigration law and You Know What.

    Toys. ATVs, boats, jet skis, numerous vehicles … the list goes on and on.

    Yes, we have a lot of strip malls, here. Although some do contain “gentlemen’s clubs.” And other outlets for “adult entertainment.” Vacancy rates are a bit hard to find, but I did find this …


    Covers through the second quarter of 2020. But, it’s all retail space.

    Must feel satisfying to have your bottling done for another year. Can we expect pictures of pretty fruit, glowing from behind glass?

    Oh, I think you did the right thing, with the ferret. “Not your circus, not your monkey.” Or, ferret in this case. A brief run down a shallow rabbit hole, indicates there are plenty of ferrets in Australia. They were introduced, but so long ago, controls are now impossible. There are at least 150,000 of them, kept as pets. Some of your States ban them, but …

    I really didn’t make any close friends, at the library. But, if I can catch a worker out, away from the library, I can usually pump them for information. We’re still getting daily postal deliveries, but I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. A lot of papering over, I suppose. Decline. Don’t want to spook the peeps.

    I’m keeping an eye on the weather. Sounds like if I blink (or, take a nap) I might miss the white stuff come down. But then, we have about another two months where snowfall is possible.

    For another look at the Roman imperial family (but, a few generations before Agrippina’s time) see, this …


    See the section marked “South Wall.”

    Well, both Agrippina’s had a good ride and a bad end. Ditto, the many Julia’s. Does the end justify the means? 🙂 .

    Well, the “Prodigal Son” series kicks off with a pilot episode. Might take a look at that, and then decide. Or not. Resist temptation.

    Yesterday (the 21st) was our national Squirrel Appreciation Day. All lift a glass to the squirrels!

    I saw an article about some dust up, between your government and Gargle. Didn’t really understand what it was all about. But there could be interesting repercussions.

    I have a new Eleanor Duty. A little something I can add to my CV. LadyBug Rescue and Relocation. I stopped by the other night, and Eleanor had managed to trap a ladybug, in a canning jar, with holes punched in the lid. I was asked to nip down, and release it into the wild. So, while humming a few bars of “Born Free”, that is exactly what I did. Lew

  54. Chris:

    Well, now I am embarrassed – if only momentarily – at making such a fuss as when I borrowed my husband’s smartphone, which is the same one I have ordered, to call my mother today she said that she could hear me really clearly. She is quite hard-of-hearing in person and this will be a real blessing.

    And I shouldn’t fuss either about it being complicated because my son will shut down all those nasty apps and functions that clog things, so I won’t have to.

    A protective case and screen protector has been ordered, too.


  55. Hi Pam, Chris,
    Regarding the smartphone thing: I moved the other direction and ditched my smartphone addiction last year (after 15 years on a employer-paid fruit phone) and moved back to an old Nokia. Here that is fortunately still possible!
    I think it has cleared my mind considerably.
    The only thing I really miss is the Maps function. The rest is fine to live without. It is also half price in monthly fees, compared to a “standard 4G subscription”. (not to mention the 5th generation…)

    However, many apparati have stopped working when gobernmint pulled the plug the last decades. All analog TV broadcast was stopped, and a few years later the digital TV changed to HD-only, so that all our receivers turned into useless electrotrash.

    As a society move to more and more energy-intensive, high-complexity technologies, stoked on the promise of New! Better!, blind to the upgrade/downgrade paradox…

    Wish you good luck with your phones!


  56. Hi Chris
    The decision to wait for cooler less active snake season to complete the large rounds firewood harvesting is well made.

    From the looks of the fruit products bounty in your area you have plenty to do in the preservation realm. Really nice crops coming in.?

    Years ago My parents put up quite a quantity in wide variety of mainly soft tree fruit peaches , apricots , sweet cherries, and Concord grape juice, along with jams and jellies of of the same varieties. All pressure processed in glass containers. In latter years some deep frozen after home freezers became common.
    Most fruit was obtained from area farms that allowed U pick.
    The most popular was my mother’s apple sauce made from a tart green to yellow variety named “Transparent”. It was grown as a pollinator and not harvested much. The apple sauce was really good . It needed to be sweetened a lot in the processing and was a lot of work. I got drafted for cranking the hot cooked apples through the Foley food mill after I grew old enough to help. All told their were over 120 jars a year of fruit was processed most years.

    I think dispatching rabbits with .17 of .22 Cal rifle is a good solution . My oldest son shoots invasive ground squirrels on one of his friends hay fields and really likes the 17 cal for accuracy and long flat trajectory of the round. Rabbits In our area are somewhat balanced out by the coyote predations.
    Urban coyotes are a hazard to unattended small dogs in some areas.

    Sorry Editor I vote for the Jimny . There are few material things that are as satisfying as a new desirable motor vehicle. I wasn’t able to experience the enjoyment of them until my children were grown. Then I went somewhat off the rails. With three newFord Broncos three years apart and culminating in the purchase of a sports car at age 55 for my birthday. All with out suffering of any manner of my family’s needs. Besides you and friends will probably like to take it to town for lunch on occasion.

    Last Monday my wife got a call from our daughter that there was opportunity for my wife to get a Corona vaccine shot and she needed to take the opportunity right then. It was from a friend who worked in a clinic in a nearby town. The vaccine which is very fragile was shipped in a quantity beyond the clinics internal need and being offered to the public.free.
    She went right over and was able to get the shot within an hour and even with a 15 minute patient observation for reactions arrived back home within an hour. The clinic told her to call any friends and relatives that were 65 or over for and wanted the shot. Also the latter required second shot would Also be available. Well, the people in the same cohort as my wife all called others and the next day it was a mob at the clinic until the supply ran out. This shows what the interest is.
    Interesting and unsettling times we are in.

    More latter
    Cheers Al

  57. Hi Damo,

    A long music day, with another to come tomorrow from 10am here and possibly 8am over your side of the continent! 🙂

    Yeah the WAP girls went hard for the shock yo momma effect, and got noticed for the results. It is so weird that people don’t get that the song is one big joke and the ladies set out to spoof everyone. Oh well, not my circus.

    I feel kind of smug that Glass Animals was in my pick, but candidly I had no idea. It is a really lovely song of loss and longing and as such probably appeals to me.

    Damo, a mate of mine once confided to me that he didn’t respect music that wasn’t recorded before 1970, and he was serious about that and had a very good vinyl collection. And then another mate once remonstrated that I had not progressed as he had – and that seemed to involve family life and an awful lot of computer games. Another much older person once said to me that he’d like nothing more than to remove the gobarmint funding for triple j – and I don’t reckon he was making a joke.

    You know, I can’t speak for you and I’d be lying if I suggested that I liked everything played on triple j, but my take on the world is that neither should a person immerse themselves fully in the past. To experience – and that sometimes means to sometimes be challenged – is to live. We have such a short time upon this planet

    Some years have absolute standout songs, and I note that it is not possible to write if you can’t at the same time observe the world around you – that’s life.



  58. @ DJSpo:

    This is creative enough: “Boo $!^!^&%”, where the “$!^!^&%” I love it!

    Thank you for the contacts suggestion. I actually keep all my contacts written down in a notebook, but then I am not in business, so there aren’t all that many. And, in fact, you are almost not in business, either. Almost there!


  59. @ Lew:

    I eat oatmeal every day, too, for breakfast and as a bedtime snack so I don’t get hungry in the night. It is good for the digestion, also.

    I also put dried fruits in my muffins, but I never rehydrate them first. It seems to work fine.


  60. @ Lew:

    Say it is true – National Squirrel Appreciation Day! Charlene the White Squirrel is thrilled. She thought that was only a local holiday.

    How very sweet of Eleanor to save that ladybug. They dry out and die if they are inside all winter. That is one more beneficial insect to help your garden.


  61. Hello Chris again
    Actually I am keeping quiet because I tend to rant about everything at present and you really don’t need it on your blog and much of it about you know what, would be unacceptable anyhow. Incompetance gets ever more rife here.
    Whoopee! I can here that Son has arrived and is clearing more of my overgrown garden.


  62. Hi Inge,

    No worries and I was mildly concerned for the both of you. How are you coping with the lock down?

    The editor and I had one of the toughest and strictest on the planet for many months, and it sure was one seriously weird year last year. I’m eternally upbeat though and believe that things could yet become far stranger.

    Thanks for the confirmation as to the oak leaf wine – and I aim to test that in a couple of years time. Candidly there are not enough oak leaves yet to produce the necessary mash for the wine.

    Your rabbit trapping description exactly matches the description that I read in Ruth Goodman’s book: Victorian farm. I doubt anyone around here has such skills, and I will resort to more basic responses. I spotted a rabbit in the fern gully late this afternoon.

    If you need any rabbits, don’t worry, we have plenty of them down here.

    As a contrast, the weather here today was warm to hot at about 88’F with little breeze to speak of. It’s cooled down now, but tomorrow night is a whole different matter and there will be no cool respite before Monday reaches 106’F.



  63. Hi Lewis,

    The little workhorses have an enviable reputation, and I see that a discrediting campaign put an end to the authors lust and the manufacturers reach. Damo and I are not setting our sights low here. 🙂 There are many things I need, and one or two things I just want! Hehe!

    Thought you might be interested in what is going on in the kids heads these days: Glass Animals’ Hottest 100 win: ‘Heat Waves’ and the power of online fandom. A lovely song to boot of loss and longing.

    Yes, as to manufacturing peaking at about the same time as conventional oil extraction peaked is something that is not lost on me. It can hardly be a coincidence. Interestingly I’m starting to put some brain cells towards restoring some of the older electronic items here and have a radio project in mind as a test of my skills in that area.

    New vehicles are just too large for my tastes. We developed all of these engineering and mechanical marvels to save fuel and then just squandered them all by producing ever larger cars. People love them though, so maybe it is just me?

    I don’t actually know which bird delivers the mistletoe seed here. Over in your part of the world, isn’t there a mistletoe bird?

    Ah yes, being on an island has some advantages in relation to border controls, but trust me international travel has slowed to an absolute crawl here. If you are not down under it is hard to understand the abrupt change because it is culturally very alien. There are many articles about citizens wanting to back come home, but are having serious troubles doing so. There is probably a new article on the subject most days of the week.

    Mate, and you guys were already having a retail-pocalypse and it is the same down here (although a more recent incarnation). No doubt zombies will appear soon, and that will also neatly prove my prediction – thank gawd! The year is fast progressing and the prediction has been made…

    Yes, expect pictures including the electric boiler unit (I also have a stove top unit without an electric element). It feels good, and we made another batch of blackberry jam today just because there is so much berry fruit this year.

    I don’t really understand the reasons for ferrets being banned in Queensland and the Northern Territory. But clearly something went wrong up in those northern states. I believe that the Northern Territory may still have marsupial quolls and maybe that has something to do with it? Dunno.

    Yeah exactly, it is hard to prevaricate on a face to face basis.

    Be careful what you wish for, it is possible to get more snow that you bargained for. Me suggesting that this year has been cold to date has produced a 106’F day on Monday – it’s not my fault, but some blame can be allocated due to the awful hubris displayed here.

    The walls are amazing, and I see that they had a barbarian princeling as a hostage, err, sorry honoured guest.

    Nope, the end does not justify the means, unless of course history suggests that they lived to a respectable and venerable age and were largely untroubled by the mischief they created? It is possible, for a very few. But not those folks – knives and poisons were never far away.

    No, resist not with the series. I’ve already hyped it up with the editor based on your extensive analysis and she has committed to watch it. Of course I may not be involved and disavow myself if the poop hits the fan! Not to worry though, names won’t be mentioned. 🙂

    Here’s to the squirrels, and may you keep them in your part of the world and my orchards remain largely untroubled by their antics. But I could recommend some parrots that I know well?

    The gargle thing is interesting and I’m watching that one play out. You may have noticed that I ditched their platform a while back and have expected them to become trouble sooner or later. Some things should not be allowed to become too big. So what is the definition of extortion: “Extortion is the practice of obtaining benefit through coercion.” Hmm, the words spoken do sort of have that sound to them, but I could be wrong and they did promise to be a good citizen.

    Respect for services rendered to the insect world, especially the really useful predator species such as ladybugs. Nice work!



  64. Hi DJ,

    I see that you passed no judgement as to the short roofing nails, but even my meccano taught engineering skills suggests that longer nails are perhaps better in this instance than shorter ones? And yes, I’m all for the groovy nails as they twist into the timber and are extraordinarily hard to remove using a crowbar.

    🙂 Chocolate fudge turtle ups the bakery ante by a significant degree. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, we share the bakery treats too, and often the fluffy collective are also on hand to help out if and when required. We eat a lot of cakes and biscuits and stuff, but it is all shared around and everyone seems happy with the outcome. I’ll bet Thordog demanded his fair share, and then some, back in the day?

    Yeah, sometimes HR is good for your interests, and sometimes they have other interests in mind – it would be an odd path in which to travel and I’d not be up for such a flexible mindset. It’s getting exciting for you! Hope you have some projects lined up – after the walking stick is completed? Of course you might want to take some time out and just chill, and need I mention that it is probably not an ideal time to go travelling…

    Life is hard, I hear you about that. When my old mate died recently, a whole bunch of people came back into my life, and truth to tell I’d gone through the grief process a long while back. They bring back the memories of those days and earlier. That’s not a whinge either, it is just kind of how life rolls.

    Ditto here with sunny skies, but Monday looks a touch unpleasant at 41’C… I can’t whine really, some years we get 11 of those days in a summer, and this is the first of them and the season is getting on in length.

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. So did any Viking faces appear out of the murk of suggestibility and were so burned onto the stick? I see the wood more or less speaks and suggests? Nature is very much like that. And projects around the farm reveal themselves in due course – to see all up front would be hard on a persons brain.

    Yes, Mel is definitely onto something with the dog breeds and I had not considered that aspect of the story before.

    Weren’t the germans in WWII trying to reintroduce Auroch’s back into the wilds? Crazy stuff, and I recall that the final few were with some farmer in the UK. As you’d imagine, they were problematic to say the least.

    Final week is exciting, although trepidation might also be another way to look at it. You’ll be fine, it is a real risk with the male of the species for them to pin their identities upon their work. My grandfather did that to the extent that he never got around to enjoying retirement. It was a strange thing to observe, but then I was very young and barely an adult at the time and murky motivations were often hidden behind words. Friends, purpose, activity is not a bad antidote. 🙂



  65. @ Pam – If I end up having to get a “device”, I’m going with the one that AARP advertises. I got my flip phone, from them. Great customer service and support.

    I may make more banana muffins, this weekend. Maybe. I’ve got two bananas in the freezer, and two on the counter, heading south. So, I can do a double batch. I replace the oil called for, with unsweetened apple sauce. It’s a one to one swap. I’ve also started using 2/3 all purpose flour, and 1/3 bread flour. I’ve noticed that I can actually see a bit of gluten forming, and seem to get a better rise. Best way to eat them? Cut in half, heated a bit, with a dollop of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey. Yum! Lew

  66. Yo, Chris – Oh, I see. “Glass Animals” is a boy band, like “Backstreet Boys”, or “Menudo.” 🙂 . That bit where everyone is taking pictures with their devices was … not exactly creepy, but, well, the way the world is, now. Given recent events, snapping pictures of yourself, and everything that moves around you, is often, not such a good idea. Delete on-line accounts, to your heart’s content, the the companies still cough up the goods for the authorities.

    I must say, the Jimny’s gas mileage is impressive. Just about as good as my Ranger.

    We don’t seem to have any particular bird, that spreads the Mistletoe berries. Anything I looked at on propagation, here in the States, just said “birds.” Speaking of wildlife, I just ran across the fact that you have tree kangaroos. Really? I see a lot of the species have gone extinct, but you still have them in a couple of flavors. Kangaroos that climb trees. Who knew?

    I think strip malls will do ok, in the retail apocalypse. Small businesses of all kinds seem to come and go, in them. A lot of them had restaurants, of one type or another, but, most were pretty much set up for only take out before You Know What. And, if no small businesses are on tap, the owners usually turn them into self storage. A big business, here.

    With the difficulty of forecasting lowland snow, we could get anything from a light dusting, to 3′. Looking at Prof. Mass’s most recent update, we’ll get snow, for three or four hours, tomorrow morning. We’ll see. It was 27F (-2.77C), last night. Still a lot of frost hanging around, and there were warnings for freezing fog. It’s foggy, now.

    There’s a lot of possibilities for those children on the Ara Pacis. Augustus’s sister, Octavia, finally got tired of being a pawn in the marriage alliances, and finally put her foot down. Firmly. According to reports. But, she raised her kids by Antony, Antony’s kids from his first marriage, and Cleopatra’s children, by Antony. Also, one of Herod’s (the famous one) kids. And, a few North African princes. Her house must have been full of young people.

    Well, Agrippina the Elder was exiled to a small island, and either starved herself to death, or was starved to death. Agrippina the Younger (Nero’s mum) was done in by Nero. Leaving apart the final outcome, the plot to do mum in was a comedy of errors. Collapsing boats were involved.

    “Prodigal Son” isn’t as slick and sun drenched as “Dexter.” It’s mostly set around gritty old New York City. But the twists and turns to the plot, constantly surprise. And the supporting actors are all top notch.

    Last year may not have been a good year for honey bees, but there were plenty of Ladybugs, around. Yup. Beneficial. And I find them to be cheery little insects.

    I read a bit more of “Victorian Farm.” Some things I skim over, a bit. I don’t think I’ll ever be planting winter wheat, or building a pig sty. The walled garden and greenhouse section was pretty interesting. I thought Ms. Goodman’s observation about cleaning tools was spot on. That the Victorian’s had a different tool, for every different job. That idea extended to their table settings. As you climbed the social ladder, the number and uses of utensils, got mind boggling. Fish knives? Grapefruit spoons? Ice tea spoons? And, of course you had to know the proper time and use of each item.

    I think if Ms. Goodman had her druthers, she’d rather deal with wood, than coal. Like computers, coal didn’t make less work. It made different kinds of work. The constant cleaning of coal smuts. Also, using wood ash products, one could get clothes clean in a cold wash. With coal, you had to use a hot wash, and more commercially produced chemicals, to get things clean. And, if you take the long view (but, who knew?) wood can be sustainable, but there’s only so much coal. Not that the Victorians could imagine the end of coal. Lew

  67. Hi Pam,

    No need to feel such emotions. After all, I wrote an essay on the very subject a bit over a year ago. 🙂

    Usually I’m pretty cool about things, but the lack of option kind of annoyed me. There are always options I guess, but to link a device to my income was felt a step too far.

    Wise to get the same phone, and the editor follows a similar policy in relation to getting into the geeky nitty-gritty of the devices.

    Gotta run as I have to write.



  68. Hi Goran,

    A smart move – and addiction to such devices is a very commonly observed thing. Did you go cold turkey with the change? And no need to answer, but was there any particular event which triggered the change in you? And exactly, you may note that I don’t play computer games these days.

    Ah yes he says amusingly to you to not mention 5G! 🙂 Somehow that has captured the imagination of all manner of people. I find it very odd that every cause which is at odds with the dominant narrative – no matter how minor – seems to have 5G fears attached to it. Perhaps I am cynical in that regard.

    5G will not make it up to where I live due to the distance between the tower and the user – it makes no economic sense as there just aren’t that many people living up here in this remote spot.

    So true, we don’t get any TV reception since the analogue signal was switched off – but we don’t have a TV so it was hardly even noticed. If the analogue radio signals were switched off that would be difficult and I’d have to do something. I haven’t experienced digital radio in a vehicle but my gut feeling tells me that it would be a choppy experience unless the data was pre-buffered which I can’t imagine would happen with a digital broadcast.

    So many undocumented downsides, and the costs are piling up behind them.

    It’s quite hot here today at 37’C at around 6.30pm. I spoke too rashly about the cool summer in last week’s blog.



  69. Hi Al,

    Thanks and with the snakes as it is with city hall – ya can’t fight them, pass the beer nuts. 🙂

    There is a photo for tomorrow’s blog of the fruit harvested on the kitchen bench. It’s a nice splash of colour. And you’ll also see the electric hot water bath stainless steel pot used to seal the preserved fruit bottles. Out of curiosity, did your folks ever hand over those preserving skills to you? And it is possible that the solar power system could handle a chest deep freezer, but I’m reluctant to stress out all of the electronic components in the solar power system.

    That’s a good number of jars. We put away 48 x 900ml bottles each year of fruit, but then the orchards produce something to eat most of the year – the farm is just marginal for citrus over winter and they crop well. But it is right on the margin of error and some citrus does well, whilst others not so well.

    The advice I received and acted upon was the exact same as what your oldest son recommends. Sometimes the foxes do a reasonable job of keeping on top of the rabbit population, but they also prefer other game and so foxes bring both costs and benefits. I’ll just keep on top of the rabbits soon.

    Thanks for the vote of support with the Jimny. 🙂

    Yes, the vaccine is producing quite a lot of interest, and hopefully it is effective. There are people in far higher risk categories than the editor or I and we will stand back and let them go first.

    It’s very warm here today at 37’C and doesn’t look as though it will cool much tonight. Tomorrow is hotter and forecast to reach 40’C.



  70. Hi Inge,

    That’s very considerate of you. On the other hand, you’ve commented here since the very early days, and it is not your usual wont to rant, and so what I’m hedging around, is that in my books you have a great deal of social capital. And I’m always curious as to how things look in other parts of the world. Our news is becoming more localised over the past year, and news from afar is not as easy to come by these days.

    The incompetence on display down here over the past year has somewhat surprised me as well. The old timers might have quipped that the centre cannot hold.

    I am thoroughly enjoying the book you recommended. As you may note, I’m a slow reader by general inclination, but I can sincerely say that I am busy and read for the sheer enjoyment of the act of reading.

    Better get writing. Hope the clearing works in the garden went smoothly. It is a big job most years, but the organic matter recovered from the work is good feed for new garden beds.



  71. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, you may have missed my point with the link to the band. It was the methods surrounding the rise in awareness of the song, and also there was a sub-story in the article where it appears that games platforms are planting ideas into very young and impressionable heads. Now I fully accept that life can be strange, but narrative is a powerful tool and training in relation to that tool is mostly overlooked or ignored. However, I have heard some very strange stories of late, some mostly harmless, from parents as to what their kids are saying – and have long wondered where those narratives were being planted. Parents often talk to me about such matters, mostly because I don’t have kids and don’t tend to be judgemental. I thought that it was interesting to come across one source of narrative.

    Mate, I see people walking around with their heads buried in their phones, and have been at events where people experience the world around them through their screen devices – instead of simply looking and observing with their innate senses.

    I couldn’t find anything as to what bird spreads mistletoe seeds around here either. The plants can be pretty high up in the canopy, so it must be one of the larger birds I’m thinking that eats and poops the fruit.

    Glad you like the tree kangaroo’s. They look similar to the marsupial quolls and possums to me. And as usual, such oblique references led to an article on the Eocene which appeared to be much warmer than it is today.

    That’s my thought too about the strip malls. I’d also like to chuck in the idea that even the larger purpose built malls might do OK for a while once their capital cost falls and they can be repurchased for cents on the dollar. That’s just a wild hunch and not a prediction, but who knows? The maintenance cost and property taxes of such a large building would be phenomenal.

    We don’t have the self storage culture that you guys do. There are purpose built businesses which handle that need, but they are not that ubiquitous.

    I see that the good Professor has forecast lowland snow to 500ft above sea level, so you might miss out on the snowflakes? I’ll bet the good Professor has had some interesting interactions with snowflakes?

    They say history is written by the victors and just reading between the lines, Mark Antony seems like a bit of a …. , and Octavia the Younger reads quite well by contrast. Of course we have few records with which to form that opinion and for all I know the lady could have been quite the shrew or virago. But I have no doubts that her house would have been a lively affair. Sometimes you just need some new blood added to a situation.

    I too was wondering about the fate of Agrippina the Elder and did she volunteer for her fate, or was she volunteered? My gut feeling suggests to me that the old timers didn’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story. A sinkable boat is hardly creditable for an Emperor even an incompetent one, if he’d wanted to do her in, he just would have hired someone to do the job, and we wouldn’t be hearing about such fantastical blunders.

    Thanks for the review, it is on the editors ‘to watch’ list and a report shall be forthcoming sooner or later at some unspecified point in the future.

    By way of comparison, the European honey bees down under have flourished with the cooler and damper conditions this summer. Mind you, outside right now is a steamy 99’F. On such hot days with no air conditioning, it is very useful to have an outdoor kitchen and we have pumped that facility all day long.

    Plum ran around outside for about an hour like a nutter in the early evening heat and now appears to have cooked her head. I fed her a bit of salty beef jerky as she may have suffered some heat exhaustion.

    The winter wheat was of interest to me, but I did note that they also scored a crop planted out by the previous incumbents, but left a crop in place to offset that gain at the end of their occupation. But yes, the sheer quantity of skills that the three of them were required to acquire in the space of a year is a bit mind boggling. This is one reason I laugh at the preppers with their stocks of canned food, or the takers who have unwavering beliefs that they’ll be able to take over and slot right in, no problems at all. Without the skills they’ll die a hungry death. This stuff is neither simple neither is it easy.

    I had that impression too, but I noted by the end of the book, Ruth Goodman made the observation that she would miss the smell of coal. Wood is the most sustainable fuel going around, especially when the exigencies of winter are considered and sun and wind may be nowhere in sight. And it was of interest to me that in the book, mention was made that coal had to be retrieved from ever further depths, and that may have been in the story of the horse Ginny. I have often wondered if WWI and the fall of the British Empire was precipitated by their over extraction and declining returns on their coal resources? Dunno, it is just a gut feeling. But nowadays oil has to be employed to extract coal, and this does not make for comfortable consideration.

    Better get writing. Far out it is hot here.



  72. Yo, Chris – Silly me. I thought it was about the music. 🙂 . But, to your point. Young minds. I think it was a certain church based in Rome that developed the concept that if you catch them young, they’re yours for life. Something advertisers caught on to. Back in ancient times (the 1950s), early Saturday morning cartoons, were rife with food or toy advertisements. Calculated to create wants. But, now, those advertising opportunities, aimed at the young, go far, far beyond a flickering black and white image, on a screen.

    It must be a good year for kangaroos. They keep hopping, er, popping up in the news. I’ll see your tree kangaroos and raise you a white one.


    Not an albino, but a true white kangaroo. Is it an omen?

    Some of the large “ghost” malls have been repurposed. If not for dystopian film sets, than for other purposes. Our little mall, here, (Lewis County Mall) is pretty much stripped of retail or services. It’s where our multiplex is. And, government, Federal and State, has taken over chunks of it. The State unemployment office is there. And the Federal Veteran’s Administration. Thinking about it, in the end-of-the-world (new ice age) film, “The Day After,” a huge mall and fast food joint provide plot points. Of course, so does a library.

    Our weather forecast, here, is what one would call “changeable.” Who do I sue for whiplash? 🙂 . We were supposed to have snow, this morning, but if fell off the forecast, sometime, yesterday. Still on for Tuesday and Wednesday (maybe). Now, Monday has been added to the possibilities. I’ve decided to ignore the whole thing and take it as it comes. The weather will do, what the weather will do.

    Agrippina the Elder. Did she jump or was she pushed? Launch a thousand dissertations. The author of the book I’m reading makes a point that sources are scanty. And, sometimes in fragments. On top of that, the sources are often written years after events. And all the authors have agendas, of one type or another. And, even powerful women only show up as cautionary tales, or, as reflections of what was going on with powerful men.

    Well, I finished the first season of “Prodigal Son.” Full of surprises, right up til the end. And, at least there weren’t too many loose ends at the end of the season. I hate it when a season ends, on a cliff hanger.

    I also picked up an interesting book at the library. “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm.” (Dartnell, 2014). Don’t know where I heard about it. Maybe at Mr. Greer’s? “This is a survivors’ guide book. Not one just concerned with keeping people alive in he weeks after the Fall – plenty of handbooks have been written on survival skills – but one that teaches how to orchestrate the rebuilding of a technologically advanced civilization.” The author takes as his starting point, a meteor strike, nuclear exchange, or pandemic. But after the rubble stops bouncing, what next? I’ve only read the introduction, so far. And may set it aside until I finish up with “Victorian Farm” and “Agrippina.”

    H gets her bath today, so I’ll also have a pup running about the place like a nutter. Due not to a fried brain, but a waterlogged one. Lew

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