Secret forest business

I’ve had to take a bit of a break of a few weeks duration from all the rock breaking and hauling work. This break in that project also includes the excavations of clay by hand. Those activities are all hard work, and the editor and I have been doing the work for many months now. Unfortunately, my shoulder is sore, and it clearly needs a rest, so a rest of a few weeks from that project, it shall have. There is plenty of other work around the farm that doesn’t require massive exertions, but that sort of work still needs to be done. And, as always, there are the rats.

A lot of readers of this blog are located in some very far distant countries and continents, and they deserve a proper Aussie shout out: Oi! Greetings to you lot in far distant lands, and hope you are enjoying the weekly missives from Down Under!

People living in those far distant lands might not quite understand that in some parts of this continent, the farmers have had such a good growing season (because of the damp and cool summer), that they’re now having serious problems with rodents. One unlucky farmer appears to have contracted lymphocytic choriomeningitis, which is a form of bacterial meningitis, from coming into contact with rodent manure.

Who knew that rats were so tough? It was a bit like H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds, when the marauding Martians were struck low by the littlest critters of all, the humble bacteria. This is a good reason why you shouldn’t read the news on the internet just before bedtime. After reading all about the incident, I awoke later that night in the wee hours of the morning and wondered whether my sore shoulder was due to exposure to rat poop? Such thoughts are not conducive to a good nights sleep.

Fortunately, my shoulder is rapidly getting better so we can hopefully rule out lymphocytic choriomeningitis, and put the soreness down to moving too many large rocks in too brief a time. It was foolish to have done so in earlier weeks, but sometimes enthusiasm is trumped by reality, and that is when there are inevitable problems.

Enthusiam being trumped by reality is a common affliction these days. Enthusiasts convinced of our ability to power industrial civilisation through 100% renewable energy sources might want to reconsider their dogmatic belief systems. I mean after all, last Tuesday, a chunk of Antarctic weather broke free of that frigid continent, drifted north and brought with it, thick clouds and almost two inches of rain. The off grid solar power system recorded only 8 minutes of sunshine for the entire day. Yeah, good luck with those belief systems, reality can swiftly and surely kick them harshly up the backside.

14 Amp hours x 51.2 Volts = 717Wh for the entire day

I’ve kept solar energy records here dating back to 2009, and let’s just say that last Tuesday was kind of a special extreme weather day. Weirdly, the days following that extreme weather day were cool but sunny, and so I took the opportunity and read a lot of literature about Lithium battery technology, and managed to slightly fine tune the programming of the off grid solar power system so it can work just a little bit harder, but more importantly: Not work too hard. Important note – no amount of programming can make up for a complete lack of sunlight in the first place. The stormy skies were awesome to behold though:

Stormy late autumn skies produced very little electricity from the solar power system, but wow, do they look awesome or what?

The sore shoulder and wet weather gave me (and the editor) some free time to do a few things that we’d been wanting to do. One of those things was heading up into a remote and secluded spot in the higher reaches of this mountain range to enjoy a picnic and a walk.

The picnic was very tasty, and the editor and I took off on a side walk that we’d not previously walked upon. And despite having resided in the mountain range for well over a decade, we’d not previously noticed the curious side path. What the heck, we had plenty of time with not much else to do, so off we walked.

The editor and I have walked for weeks in the higher altitude and less fashionable north central area of the country of Nepal (Annapurna Circuit), and we’d seen the Rhododendron forests (albeit not in their flowering state). Never did we imagine that we’d encounter a specimen of that plant in our near backyard which was as old, if not older than the plants in their home country forests.

A hugely old Rhododendron which was planted as part of the government nursery annex way back in the late 19th century in a remote spot in the mountain range

With nothing better to do, two inquisitive minds and full bellies, we began walking around the area. That was when we encountered the oldest and largest Eucalyptus Obliqua (Messmate Gum), we’d ever seen.

A truly epic tree

The largest and oldest trees on the farm predate European settlement of the country, but they aren’t nearly as big as the epic tree in the above photo. And the large epic tree was hidden in plain sight. The loggers, when they first explored the mountain range must have encountered a forest full of such behemoths, and the need for hardwood in Melbourne and the goldfields was so great that they harvested all but a few. The tree in the above photo survived the care and attentions of the loggers (I’m guessing) because it has a hollow core (as do the oldest trees on this farm).

It was hard to photograph the canopy of the tree, but even in the above photo you can see the clear blue skies and the lack of competition high up in the canopy of the huge tree. The old tree would have seen some things in its long life that’s for sure. It is very possible that it was a seedling at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution. By way of comparison, most of the trees on the farm (with a few notable exceptions) are relative youngsters. Most of the largest trees on the farm, whilst still massive, were probably seedlings in the aftermath of the 1939 Black Friday bushfires, when almost five million acres of the state burned.

Most of the largest trees on the farm are now about the average upper life span for a human being

Most of the largest trees on the farm are now about the average upper life span for a human being down under, at about 82 years old. With a bit of luck and good management, those trees can live for several hundred years more, and end up as big and regal as the truly epic tree in the photo above. Time will tell how that story plays out. I however may not be around to blog about it.

The early European settlers often remarked at how the countryside resembled an English country park. That was no coincidence, because the Indigenous folks had been managing the land for that very outcome for many tens of thousands of years. It didn’t take the loggers too many years to undo all that work. That’s how things go sometimes and hey, I use timber too, so I’m hardly in a position to suggest that I’d do better.

It is just that sometimes, if a person only but looks really closely at the environment and ponders things for a bit, you just know we can do better. And so despite my sore shoulder, the work of cleaning up continues because it is important.

We did a bit of cleaning up and had a burn off

The ashes from the cleaning up process will get spread around and they are a potent fertiliser.

Sometimes the forest reveals epic trees, sometimes it reveals secrets. A few years ago I encountered a small stone circle in the forest, in the middle of nowhere. During the excavations for the house site one or two large rocks were rolled down the hill and into the forest. One of those rocks hit the stone circle and scattered one or two of the rocks in the circle. Over the past few months as the mood took me, I’ve begun repairing the stone circle.

Ollie is clearly uncomfortable in the centre of this mostly repaired stone circle

The stone circle is a mystery. The rats on the other hand are unfortunately not a mystery, and recently they’d deduced how to break into the chicken enclosure. The other evening I observed several very fat and healthy looking rats with glossy coats enjoying the chickens grain feed. I decided to scare the rats so as to discover how they were entering the chicken enclosure.

The yellow arrows depict the locale of the rodent break in

A close up photo displays my hubris at allowing two minor access points for the rodents.

The yellow arrows depict the locale of the rodent break in up close

The upper hole in the above photo was sealed with strong aviary mesh, and the join of the overlapping aviary mesh was sewn shut with strong steel wire.

Some easy entrances into the chicken enclosure were sealed shut

Time will reveal the effectiveness of the rodent exclusion measures.

The cool and damp summer has produced prolific growth in the many garden beds on the farm. Some of the plants in the garden beds had candidly exploded onto the paths and staircases. This was a real pain, because getting around some parts of the property had become very difficult. We’ve begun cutting the plant growth back to the edges of those garden beds.

The plants hanging over the edges of some of the garden beds have been cut back

The cuttings are chucked into new garden beds where they will break down and produce decent soil.

Cuttings from the existing garden beds get chucked onto new garden beds as mulch and soil food

Feeding the soil is an important activity. Over the past few months the number of commercially purchased bananas with some sort of fungi in them has become more frequently seen. I’m now discovering the fungi in the fruit about once per fortnight.

A banana with some sort of fungal condition
The fungus has travelled the length of the banana

I have absolutely no hope of growing bananas in the cool climactic conditions enjoyed at the farm. However, some marginal crops are growing really well in the greenhouse including: Ginger and Turmeric.

Plants in the greenhouse casually ignoring the late autumn weather

The very last of the seasons orchard crops (persimmon) was harvested this week. And we also made a huge batch of soap.

Persimmons and a batch of olive oil soap are almost the same colour

And dare I mention it, but leaf change is here (as are the tourists).

Leaf change in the shady orchard, and Ruby

Onto the flowers:

Pineapple sage has grown and flowered really well this autumn
The roses are always beautiful
This Succulent is producing delightful flowers
Nasturtium has attempted to take over some of the raised garden beds

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 384.2mm (15.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 338.2mm (13.3 inches).

PS – The feature image this week is of a cooked rat discovered in the engine bay of the dirt mouse Suzuki recently by the mechanics

54 thoughts on “Secret forest business”

  1. Hi Chris
    Your concern with the internal power consumption in your15 KW inverter is mostly due to the power use by the circuitry used in step up conversion of dc PWM pulses in to clean 250 VAC house power. The old timey method of a lower voltage dc brush commutated motor mechanically coupled to a desired sine wave AC generator was a bulky expensive heavy equipment. The whole class of PWM power supplies is quite highly developed. The large category is defined as switching power supplies. The output of the last stage which goes into the house electric system uses large power handling MOSFET transistors functioning like the power output for really big audio amps. Some of the conversion losses are resistive some resistive impedance and some heat loss. The manufactures try to minimize the loss and still be competitive in the market. I am definitely not an expert in the inverter world. You might find that using a smaller ( that is if smaller is more efficient) inverter remotely switched in place of the big one could save power when your needs are low, thus could reduce the large inverter set self power consumption level of concern.

    The availability of solar energy is good and sketchy both . Power density of solar energy is ok. The collection efficiency low. The transmission of the collected energy is ok. The cost over time of the panels is ok. The capital cost of storage over time is ok. Its fascinating but I wouldn’t chose to live that way.
    The LiFePO4 article I gave a link to from the Canadian Co. has a lot about charging and battery inbalance You may find some additional useful stuff in the article about loving those batteries properly. look under the heading of LEARN.

  2. Yo, Chris – That was quit an article, about the mice and meningitis. I couldn’t help noticing the young person, handling one with a bare hand. Quit close to their face. Yeah, hold it close and get a good whiff! In our SW, the mice carry hantavirus. Goes straight for the lungs, and kills you in a couple of days. We had a case, out in the eastern part of our county, about 20 years ago. Oh, well. Could be worse. Could be plague. Which is endemic in our rodents, in the southwest.

    That sure is a beautiful picture of the sky. Calendar worthy. Our sky had looked like that, for three days. Pregnant with possibilities, but not a drop of rain. The midwife did not deliver. 🙂 . We’re supposed to get a run of nice days, this week. We’ll see.

    When I saw the first picture, I thought, “Is that the big tree he’s been banging on about?” And then I see it’s a Rhododendron. And yes, that’s one big Rhododendron. I guess we have wild Rhododendron forests, out on our Olympic Peninsula. I’ve never been. Now, the Eucalyptus is a big tree! Thanks for standing in, and providing scale, in both pics. Your trees on the farm are quit substantial. Nothing to sniff about, there.

    Ole looks impressed by your burn off efforts. As well he should be.

    Yes, you best repair the stone circle. Gosh knows what balance of nature has been disturbed. Probably the reason for your sore shoulder and 8 minutes of sunlight! 🙂 .

    That is amazing that the rats could get under, and through that overlapping mesh. They are resourceful. But not in a good way.

    Interesting. The banana fungus is also showing up here. Not every week, but often enough to be noticeable. I’ve been casting about for nutritional replacements, for my daily banana. In case things get impossible. Kiwi is at the top of the list. You’ve got that covered. Potatoes, of course. Black and white beans. Oatmeal. And a few other things.

    The persimmons are quite beautiful. Your task is to create soaps, that look like persimmons. 🙂 .

    The rose is quit lovely. Depending on your winter, you may see blooms, right on through. The succulent flower, looks a bit like the comfrey flower. We have a lot of volunteers, here. But in blue. But I see some species of comfrey are the exact color of your succulent. I’ve been cutting the flowers off, and letting them leaf out, as it’s supposed to make a good fertilizer. The nasturtiums are really pretty. Elinor had some in her plot, and lost them, during the move. But the Master Gardener’s found some, and replaced them. Elinor mentioned she’d like some parsley, in her plot. So, today I moved over a couple of my volunteers.

    There was an engine compartment cookbooks. Wrap this and that in foil, take a drive and … tasty meal. I don’t think rat was on the menu. 🙂 . Lew

  3. Hi Al,

    Those solacity folks seem OK to me, and I respect the fact that they’re telling it like it is in relation to small scale wind turbines. I experimented with one many years ago and despite the 600W beast being 8m off the ground (no small matter), it produced nothing. Seriously, no electricity whatsoever. But I tell you that project ate dollars like they were going out of fashion. The turbine was sold off and the steel disassembled and re-used elsewhere. It just ain’t windy here – nuff said. 🙂

    And thank you for the link as I’ve deduced the same charging program for the battery charge controllers based on that exact understanding. As there are four separate arrays of solar panels, I’ve staggered their charging profiles so that they all rush the charge to 90% state of charge, but only one array sends the batteries to 100%. And if it doesn’t get there – no matter. And I have never let the batteries fall below 50% state of charge under any circumstance.

    Just to geek things up a bit (which may take your mind off your current problems) I met up with the lovely folks who manufacture the battery charge controllers. You would have totally loved it and their workshop looks really cool in an old school hands-on-electronics kind of way. Anyway, years ago they made the decision to avoid the use of electrolytic capacitors in their devices so that the machines worked well in the hot conditions they found themselves in and went the distance. How thoughtful is that?

    Incidentally, I respect your honesty. 🙂 Years ago I made the decision to live this way with these limitations – and perhaps by sheer force of personality (and an open check book), I’ve come to terms with the technology.

    How are you holding up?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yes, I got rather the decent chuckle from Mr Greer’s reply. As learned as Mr Greer is, he may have forgotten that we actually had a military coup in our history. Of course, the military was not about freedom of speech (the notables cared not a whit for that outcome), it was about rum. And Governor Bligh proved that being a martinet and twice ejected from command, was no impediment to advancement within the Royal Navy! Little wonder that the sun eventually set upon the British Empire. But the issue of rum, just goes to show what pragmatists you have to be to live in such an inhospitable country like down here.

    Me too, I’ve never lived in flat land, and some of my earliest memories away from home was my grandfather taking me into the alpine country with his WWII drinking buddies. I had to earn my keep and spend time fetching stuff for them, meanwhile working out an escape plan before eventually heading off into the surrounding forests and river on an unsupervised adventure. Plus it was nice just getting out of the home – between my mum and two older sisters, I kind of understand what it means to be hen pecked! 😉 That never happened out in the forest and mountains!

    So true about water. It is a bit like decline itself where the outcomes are unevenly distributed. Glad you enjoyed the photos of the outback. It is hard living out there.

    Your mention of your dads experience in South Dakota sent me on an interweb rabbit hole. A beautiful and quiet place.

    Liquor laws down here are also something that is beyond my purview. Years ago a very old friend asked my opinion about him setting up a wine bar as he had tired of his occupation (and I would also have felt that way if in similar circumstances). But alas, my proxy-dad-reality talk knocked the stuffing out of my mates dreams of escape. And despite him not losing oodles of mad cash, I reckon he hated me for the advice. Nowadays I rarely provide advice.

    Helen Hayes was a paragon. I’d never before heard of the actress, and her career and achievements sets the gold standard.

    Hehe! Yes, the bloke probably was a toff, and apparently an avid gambler. The articles I read about the bloke said both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as to his competency. The truth might never be known, but I’m leaning towards the ‘no’ side of that story.

    The space junk wasn’t mentioned in the news here that I’m aware of. Looking at the trajectory, it does appear that the land of stuff was aiming at the part of the continent where Damo resides. I can’t imagine Damo has annoyed those folks? I see that your space agency was making a lot of noise about the incident, whilst forgetting that they dropped Skylab much closer to Damo (I’ve seen the wreckage in a mueseum). What have they all got against that part of the continent? It’s outrageous. 🙂

    The rain is hammering on the roof of the house right now. What a year, and wet and cold years make for tough growing conditions. Is much of the rain working east of the ranges in your part of the world?

    You might be right. I read a few sob stories about the day – clearly they should have met my mum before hitting the keyboard and laying forth their tales of woe.

    Hey, Willie’s Wonderland scored some really positive reviews and it sounds as if the crew gave the film their all. Thanks for the review, he says writing down the title of the film.

    I ended up working until 9pm this evening – I’ve done something bad in a past life, and clearly must make amends in this one. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Hep to the jive! I can speak jive! 🙂 Funky. Cool hats too.

    We had an update on the cyber attack, with a few more details released: Cyber attack on US fuel pipeline operator blamed on DarkSide, a ‘Robin Hood’ criminal gang. Good luck!

    Hehe! As to the rodents, well I read that article just before bedtime, and usually I sleep like the dead, but not that night! I kind of read in between the lines that the words ‘under reported’ also mean ‘rare’ and possibly a thing most people naturally recover from. Still, it is a risk. Ook! Plague never really went away, did it?

    It is funny you mention the midwife, but I noted that in their desperation the folks in Taiwan attempted to induce the rain. Best not to annoy the gawds me thinks.

    Didn’t you have a little bit of rain a few days ago? A person must not be greedy for the wet stuff that falls out of the sky.

    Hehe! Oh you’re good. 🙂 The rhododendron is big, but compared to the Eucalyptus trees it’s a shrub. I recall you mentioning the rhododendron forests out on the Olympic peninsula. A rather damp place I’d imagine? No worries at all, and the Eucalyptus tree was extraordinary and there was no attempt to bring any attention to the tree whatsoever. I’d imagine that many people have walked past it and not noticed the tree. It could be more than three hundred years old and possibly more than four hundred. It’s quite amazing to consider that sense of deep time.

    Thanks, and the trees here are far larger than in other parts of the mountain range due to having only been scraped by the recent 1983 bushfires. I’d recently heard a knowledgeable indigenous bloke suggest that some trees in the area he was speaking of failed to produce a decent canopy (due to being too closely spaced). And I’m now observing the tree canopy with that understanding to see what secrets it reveals. The larger trees here have been given more room to spread than other areas in the mountain range, and they seem healthier for that opportunity.

    Ollie is a gentleman of the finest pedigree and breeding. A life of chasing wild pigs in the bush is not for him, and he really loves living here on the farm. I’ve known a lot of dogs over the years, but Ollie by far has the most pleasant nature for a dog that looks like an utter mauler. Dogs enjoy the full gamut of emotions and Ollie just doesn’t seem to express the negative emotions as strongly as other dogs appear to. Of course before we got him at six months of age, the numpties had been keeping him locked up in a cage for days on end – and they said he might need a doggie shrink. I can tell you who needs the shrink in that story, and it ain’t Ollie. 🙂

    Having said all that, Ollie refused to sit in the centre of the stone circle, and that about to leap away at the first opportunity look was the best that I could manage. Hmm. Do you reckon it means something?

    Rats, yeah can’t live with them…

    Exactly, I’m experiencing the same incidence of the fungus here too. Not often at this stage, but often enough. I didn’t know that about kiwi fruit. They’d grow very well in your part of the world, and I’ve got both the large and small (self-pollinated) varieties growing here.

    Hehe! Yeah, might not be able to do that with the soap. The editor scored a silicone mould tray for soap which is shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, except in smaller soap sized chunks. It’s pretty cool. We have to make more soap now, because we use more of the stuff as we reduce dependency on detergents. Surfactants do no good on my skin.

    Is your blue comfrey, borage? That has blue flowers too and they look remarkably similar, and I reckon is the hardier of the two plants anyway. Comfrey by way of comparison is a bit of a light weight. Parsley is a lovely kitchen herb, and once it has set seed, forever shall it reappear with little effort.

    Hehe! I’ve read that in some parts of the globe, rat is consumed. Not good.



  5. Hi Chris,

    I’ll see your rats in the chook house and raise you the squirrel nest in my garden shed. We didn’t realize there was a squirrel-sized space where the roof meets the walls, and now a squirrel couple is raising their children in the garden nets that I had stored on the shelf underneath the roof. On the 22nd squirrel goes into season and Mike has been made aware that I expect those squirrels to become dinner. After that, we’ll have to close off their entrance holes, most likely the same way you did.


  6. Yo, Chris – We had our Whiskey Rebellion, which was kind of a dress rehearsal for our Revolution. 🙂 . We had followthrough.

    South Dakota is dry. Very dry. Like your Outback. And cold, very cold in winter. Giving the Land of Stuff Grief, over falling space junk. Well, memories are short and … Things Are Different Now! 🙂

    I don’t know what’s going on, over on the Dry Side. You’ll have to ask Al and DJ. They’re the guys in the know. No second hand reports, from them!

    LOL. And, today’s ear worm is …

    Talk about cultural appropriation … 🙂

    Thanks for the article on the cyber attacks. Ah, it was a ransom ware thing. I’m equally concerned about stuff like this …

    This incident was covered, in the book, “Lights Out.” Pretty scary.

    We did get a little rain, a few days ago. And, a splash, last night. But not enough to give the gardens a good wet down. We’re supposed to have a nice week, so, I went out and watered the gardens, this morning. Our Olympic Peninsula gets 12 feet of rain, a year. And, another 30 inches of moisture from heavy fogs. About 2/3 of the days out there, are without sunshine. Not a place for solar 🙂 . When the author of a well know, schmaltzy series of teen vampire novels (and, movies) was casting about for a location, where the sun never shines, she picked Forks, Washington. She’d never been there, but thought it an appropriate setting. In general, 2/3 of the days a year are dark.

    Maybe Ollie’s on the Spectrum? 🙂 . Yeah, I’d follow his lead, and steer clear. Animals, know. Sounds like bad juju. But, repair the circle. And maybe leave little offerings.

    H got her bath, yesterday. Back on schedule. Due to a trip to the groomers, it’s been about 4 weeks. She was her usual good self, but had forgotten about the ear clean, and was a bit hesitant. But then she remembered. “Oh, yeah. This is the part that FEELS SO GOOD!

    You can enact titanic sea battles between your Tyrannosaurus Rex soap, and your rubber ducky. 🙂 .

    Hmmm. Comfrey or Borage? I’ll ask the Master Gardener’s, tomorrow. Go straight to the experts. Yup. Parsley is popping up all over the place. And I saved seed. Silly me. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    That is a cool stone circle! I would also feel uncomfortable standing in the centre, who knows why it was created? (probably fire pit, but maybe it was something more gruesome!)

    Well Chris, the sky is so big out here, it doesn’t surprise me that things fall out of it sometimes. I won’t take it personally, but will keep one eye looking up just in case the land of stuff wants to send more this way!


  8. Hey Chris,

    By coincidence, only a few days ago I was reading about rats in the trenches of WW1. They were everywhere and there was nothing you could do about it. No wonder disease took as many soldiers in the war as the actual fighting.

    My mouse problems seem to have ended here. I thought my measures to restrict food and shelter might have done the job but then noticed a neighbourhood cat in the backyard last week so I’m guessing that has sorted it out on my behalf. Thanks, kitty.

    In some sad news, the sick chicken who seemed to be bouncing back took a turn for the worse. She didn’t last long the second time around. I couldn’t even get her to eat some banana which seemed to be the thing which helped the first time. I buried her right next to a newly planted chestnut tree, which seems fitting.

    In happier chicken news, my Rhode Island Red started laying a few weeks ago. The red makes a big song and dance after laying an egg which makes it easy to know when to go and retrieve it. However, a week or so ago I was busy and waited a few hours to go and get it only to find it missing. Perhaps it was a false alarm? But, no, one of the neighbourhood crows has been snooping around the area in the last few day so I’m pretty sure it spotted the egg and had a nice breakfast. So, now I have to be sure to collect the egg quickly or risk not getting it at all. The joys of free ranging.

  9. Hi Simon,

    Oh my! Your description of rats in the trenches during WWI sounds like a nightmare, but yeah I can definitely see how that came to be. The rats would have had an endless supply of feed, and they can tunnel. Not good.

    Hey, do you observe your mice moving around in the daylight or at night? The rats are definitely only active at night, but the mice worked a bit differently to them and were active during the daylight hours – usually early in the morning and later as dusk fell, but I’m no expert. It is possible that the rats ate the mice here, as it has been a while since I’ve seen mice too. The mice didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as the rats do.

    Cats are very useful, and the local cat around here has cleaned up much of the rabbit population, to which I’m grateful.

    Sorry to hear about your chicken, and her body was put to a good use with the chestnut tree. It is a truth universally acknowledged that sick chickens rarely recover. And illness can take them rather swiftly – sometimes only a few days. An old timer up this way once remarked to me that with livestock, you’ll eventually have deadstock. A very country opinion.

    Your Rhode Island Red (a delightful breed) sure has some pluck! But alas, eggs are tasty, and other critters know it. Hey, it ain’t just chicken eggs, but some of the birds around here will conduct lightning raids on their fellow avian nests. The world of bird can sometimes be quite brutal.

    Filthy weather here today.



  10. Hi Damo,

    Another late evening, this time haircuts were involved. Actually we were lucky to have a long association with the local hairdresser’s because maybe a year or so back they stopped taking new clients. A very country move on their part. And they open late Tuesday evenings, for which I’m grateful – during the day one has to earn a living! 🙂

    Thanks mate. Do you know what’s really super-weird about the stone circle? And just because you didn’t reply in time, I’ll fill in the answer for you: There is another one on contour about 30m away of a similar size. It’s a bit eerie and I have no idea what their purpose was for, but I filled the other stone circle up with mulch and compost and planted an English Oak in the centre of it. Makes you wonder what Jack Vance would have quipped about the stone circles? I’m reading Maske: Thaery at the moment, and I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Waels of Wellas have something to do with the stone circles! All a person can but hope for is to not be involved in their plans.

    Sorry to say, but your fine part of the world has long been a dumping ground for stuff that falls from the sky. Need I mention: NASA’s Skylab met its demise in Australia more than 40 years ago — but was it really an accident?

    Oh, the intrigue just gets better. I’ve visited one of those local museums and the chunk they had on display was pretty big, thus you wouldn’t wanted to have been anywhere near there when it reached its final resting place – although I note the spew yellow colour 70 series Cruiser seems to have been tough enough (the height of outback luxury at the time, before the latest Suzuki Jimny was available!) 🙂



  11. Hi Claire,

    Thank you so much for mentioning Steve Solomon over the years. Your persistence has paid off and I’ve now concluded reading: ‘The Intelligent Gardener’, and am soon to get the terraced vegetable beds ready for the next growing season. Candidly, the collection of minerals looks kind of bonkers, but I can freely admit when I’m wrong. And I tried that compost and mulch story to an extreme – it only partially works. 600+ cubic metres is enough of a test I’d reckon. I’ve also lined up ‘Gardening when it counts to read next’.

    How is your interview going? Hmm… … You are so busted, here’s a link: A Life of ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ – Q&A with Living Low in the Lou’s Claire. 🙂 I’ll add them to the blog feeds and look forward to reading your interview. Respect.

    Good luck with the squirrels and I don’t envy Mike the task ahead of him. As a postscript I spent further time blocking up the tinniest of holes in the chicken enclosure and then as a last resort I gave the rats a special feed. The bodies will be in the adjacent firewood shed and not where the owls might snack upon them. I failed to deal with this matter earlier, and that was an error.



  12. Hi Chris
    I’m glad you are getting the programs fine tuned.The dark times have not reached the darkest. Zero sun days are bad😖. Hopefully the batteries make the situation better. I still think a wood burning steam generator would a fun project. Your nearly distilled boiler feed water is an advantage that few have. Trouble free of mineral clogging of steam boiler!
    I bet there are live steam hobbyists in your large land that could guide you to some less than 10 hp equipment already built. Just jump on the internet express an jump off into right rabbit hole🐰, the folk that pursue the steam hobbies buy and sell and build some have amazing talents.
    Wood fire steam generated electricity takes over on Fernglade Farm when the Sun Don’t Shine.Read It Here!!

    My Dad when he was taking time out from his university time to help with his father’s recovery from effects of a near fatal lightning strike which past through his shoulder and out an arm and leg and on to ground through the apple tree he was in. The shock and the fall from tree caused a wide range of burns and other injuries. He lived a poor life until he passed 5 years after in 1942.
    Dads steam engine story : during his spare time he put together a working double actining single cylinder steam engine that produced between 1 & 2 HP. He built all the parts using hand tools and a primitive foot pumped wood lathe his father had built years earlier. He scrounged finished parts from local junk the the bearing journals that supported the flywheel , crankshaft , valve gear and cylinder were built from field stones individual mortared together with cement mixed with quick lime and sand. He made moulds of wood and cast molten Babbitt main bearings for the main shaft, all by hand. The boiler was a forty gallon used steam heating tank he scrounged some where. When finished he ran multiple pieces of machinery including a washing machine, a circular wood saw, an electric generator for lighting . They were run individually one at a time using a long leather flat belt and pulleys on each machine driven by his steam engine. Such machinery was manufactured and used routinely on farms. Some were on portable horse drawn carts where steam powered tractors with flat belt utility pulleys to run equipment. In his very poor part of Appalachian West Virginia there was not too much of that equipment. His building his own mainly by hand was unusual. Their are no surviving photos. Probably couldn’t afford film.

    Rat nest poop safety tip! Mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water. Pour in sprayer shoot on found rat nests and dropping s let set for an hour before handling . Effective here for hantavirus that Lew mentioned . It’s in the health safety rules here

    Cheers Al

  13. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, but of course! How could I have misunderstood your history so badly? It makes total sense from hindsight too. When you think about it, a proper Revolution followed the Whiskey Rebellion, because whiskey doesn’t taste anywhere near as nice as rum does (we rebelled over rum, thus proving that sometimes you just get things right the first time around – even if you don’t realise it). 🙂 My grandfather used to drink his namesakes brand of whiskey (Dewar) and this possibly proves that tradition can be taken too far because I’ve never warmed to the taste of that drop. Although, and mate I tell you this is really complicated, he would have possibly claimed that the bloodlines further out than his had weakened due to mixture of highland and lowland blood. He might have a point there too.

    You have to laugh, but the powers that be attempted the same trick across only a few decades and different continents, and ended up with the same result – rebellion. You would have thought that they would have learned from their first error along these lines? But no, and both were storms in a tea cup compared to later events.

    I hadn’t realised that about the Dakota states. Oh! What a fascinating climate. The Badlands look a bit like the Bungle Bungle Range. The layers of sediment can be seen in the images of that range, as they can in the Badlands. An ominous name too.

    Thanks, and of course things are different in the eastern half of your state.

    Whatever, it’s a good bit of music and I really enjoyed the trip back in time. 🙂 Years ago I wrote a story about ‘jive talking’ based around the 1980 Airplane! movie, and the movie skit was politely ignored – that film is so politically incorrect, but I don’t see how it was demeaning. The whole point of the film was a total comic send up, it was never meant to be taken seriously. The local national youth radio music broadcaster is having a requestivle (a request festival) and all the songs between 6am and 9pm have been requested by listeners with none of the usual programming. It’s been a wild musical ride, that’s for sure. And the Bee Gees scored a look in today for ‘More than a woman’. I grew up listening to that film soundtrack and liked the soundtrack far better than the film.

    Yes, Metcalf was far, far, worse. By a significant margin. It is possible it was an internal test of response? That is the first thought which popped into my head. But could have just as easily been a foreign power. Did the book come to any conclusion in this matter?

    Fair enough, and I also vary the water regime here along with the rain. I read recently that water on a cool day will cool the soil further and slow the growth of plants, better to not water in such weather – unless it has been a super dry season.

    It would be very difficult to live on the Olympic Peninsula with that much rain and fog. I can’t even imagine how houses there wouldn’t decompose rapidly. Hehe! The schmaltzy series of films and books with their sparkles had like zero appeal, but the location makes a bunch of sense from that understanding.

    Thanks for the advice on the stone circles. My thinking was that they should be repaired, but that there was no hurry to do so. Some of those rocks were huge and required a lot of mucking around with a six foot long steel house wrecking bars and levers. That’s a good point. Did I mention that there is a second stone circle of similar size not a 100ft away on contour? I filled that second circle with mulch, compost and soil and planted an English Oak in the centre of it. I’ll probably do the same on the yet to be repaired circle. The oak is growing quite well.

    Go H! 🙂 Dogs do like their ears being cleaned and generally scratched.

    You’ll get a good laugh when you see the silicone soap tray. It is actually some sort of muffin tray, but the material works really well with soap making. Need to get a rubber ducky. Just the thing for a hot bath on a cold winters day. It was foggy and rainy here today with only 25 minutes of peak sun – not nearly enough sun, but beggars can’t be choosers and tomorrow the sun is promised to show its face.

    Did the master gardeners make a call between comfrey or borage?

    Some plants are like that, and I’d completely forgotten to sprout the kale and purple broccoli and so picked up a few punnets of them today.

    The weather after tomorrow’s sun looks pretty dire. Ook!



  14. Yo, Chris – A certain ice cream company with a Swedish sounding name makes a rum flavor, whiskey and also bourbon. Really, really tasty! LOL. I may have to change my sobriety date. 🙂 . Luckily, it’s sooo expensive, that it’s a once every six month thing. Back in the day, scotch was my thing. Until I blew out my liver and had to switch to a lower octane rating.

    Our Badlands do look like your Bungle Bungle Range. I think they called it the Badlands, because so many outlaws hid out, there. There’s coal in them thar seams. I think I mentioned that a lightening strike, caused one seam to burn for hundreds of years.

    A requestival sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t know if there’s still any around, but back in the day, when there were real live disc jockeys, there were some stations that were “all request, all the time.” Which brings us to today’s ear worm. Another walk down memory lane.

    I think the incident at Metcalf, was domestic terrorism. There was a lot of militia activity, around that time. Or, it could be Anarchists. Or, a disgruntled employee. Just north of Metcalf, parts of southern Oregon are Anarchist strongholds. The scary part is, there are 7 points (kept secret) that if a similar attack happened, it would bring down the whole grid. And, transformers are expensive and made overseas. The power companies don’t keep a lot of them, on the shelf. It might take a year or two to get the grid up and running, again. From what I’ve read, it a.) was a small group and b.) someone in the group had military training. The stuff I lose sleep over.

    I remembered that you had a second stone ring. I think you posted a picture, once. But I didn’t realize how small they were. Ollie provides scale 🙂 .

    Chocolate molds also make interesting soap molds. Can usually be found in craft or kitchen stores. The ones I saw were thin, clear, flexible plastic.

    Borage. It’s Borage. I looked it up, because, well, Inquiring Minds Want to Know. Right now! Borage has blue, star shaped flowers. Comfrey, bell shaped and might be different colors. Easy peasy. If I can remember. 🙂 . Borage is equally useful. makes sense, as they are cousins.

    I wandered around the gardens, just dinking around, for about three hours, last night. Digging up weeds. Snipping off volunteer oak and walnut sprouts. Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Squirrel. Hoed the future zucchini bed, ’cause, weeds. Spread a couple of sacks of well composted steer poop.

    Master Gardener’s came this morning. They were involved with setting up a second stock tank. And other flower displays around the front entrance. Me, I shoveled more poop, watered, and moved a pansy (viola? violet?) over to Elinor’s bed. They pop up all over the place. There’s never a lack of them, but, they’re so pretty I have a hard time digging them up. I had one in an inconvenient spot, and Eleanor said she’d like it. Done.

    One of the Master Gardener’s brought me another elderberry. Didn’t know if it’s blue or red. But, it was growing closer to her blue ones. Time will tell.

    They’re getting ready for their big yearly plant sale. It’s at our fairgrounds, and people start lining up an hour early. It’s to raise funds, for different projects. People donate plants, and they grow some, themselves. I contributed some vinca, parsley and chamomile. There are a lot of things kicking around the Insitution that could be divided, for the cause. Lew

  15. Chris,

    Oh, the lawn must get some water. If not, the trees get no water and will die. About 12 years ago the City had a campaign to “save water” – “Brown is the New Green”. People quit watering their lawns and a LOT of trees died. People didn’t remove them. These are the same trees that start blowing down in all of our windstorms of the past 8 years. Our aquifer, the water source, is renewable in via very large river system. Even if there is no snowfall, only rain, the aquifer is renewed. So keeping the lawn undead although not lush is a viable option and will keep the trees alive. This is a process I’ve been working for several years.

    Ok the airplanes. 3 events. Princess and I were on vacation in the
    Los Angeles area for 12 days in spring 2002, a few months after the dread 9-11 events. I had long hair in a single braid that went below my shoulder blades. Went through airport security, I was told to sit and remove my shoes. I sat, leaned forward, untied a shoe, leaned back to remove shoe and my head hit the belly of the grossly fat cop whose gut was hanging 8 inches over my chair’s back. (he should’ve had a wheelbarrow to push it in) I heard a click and scrape, saw out of the corner of my eye that he had snapped open his holster and partially removed his pistol. I made bleeping sure that when removing the 2nd shoe, I remained bent down and came nowheres near His Largeness. A contact in the FBI later told us that airport security that day, nationwide, was profiling Caucasian males with long hair who were travelling with brown skinned female companions, such as the Princess. I cut my hair short.

    2nd, in 2006, Princess, her mother and I were in Las Vegas. Mom awoke ghastly early on our final morning and we ended up at the airport 90 minutes earlier that the skycaps at the curb could check our bags. Princess and mom went on through the airport to the gate, I sat just inside the doors with all of our bags, sitting on the floor and reading a book. An airport employee walked by several times, giving met the evil eye. I looked up and saw across the lobby from me that there was a Las Vegas Police subStation on the 2nd floor. 3 cops were standing there staring at me. I positioned myself so that I could see them from under the bill of my cap without raising my head, so they couldn’t see me looking at them. Every few minutes I’d move my eyes and, sure enough, they wee still there staring at me. Eventually, the alarm on my phone sounded, signalling that it was time to check our bags. I got up, hauled and kicked everything toward the door. Then, just before going to the skycap area, I stopped, looked at the watching cops (yes they watched me for 90 minutes!) and smiled and waved at them. They could’ve just asked me what I was doing, ya know?

    The final straw was when Princess, my sister and I were flying back from Los Angeles after uncle’s funeral, somebody got on the plane at the last second and needed to store her dog, in a carrier, under a seat. My seat was chosen by the flight attendant. I politely asked if I had any say in the matter and was grumpily told, “No! One more word out of you and we’ll have Homeland Security remove you!” Never used to have pets in the passenger area until rather recently and it wasn’t disclosed that that was the new policy of that airline until there’s a pet under my seat.

    So I won’t fly. Things have apparently gotten worse, too. There have been melees in airplanes in Miami, Florida.

    The second jab. OMG!!! That was miserable. Jabbed on Saturday noon. It is Tuesday noon and we have both bounced back to about 75% of normal. Saturday night seemed to last for 1001 Nights and will forever be etched in my brain as the most brutal and horrifying night of my life. Things are improved now on Tuesday. Methinks that those adherents to the Red Religion in Game of Thrones must’ve had covid in mind when they chose the motto “The night is dark and full of terrors.” I shudder to think what a true case of covid would’ve been like. Meanwhile, our neighbor, the nurse, made sure we had her phone number and she said she could get us anything we needed if we got seriously in dire straits. It was nice to know our backs were covered.

    I think I’ve read a different version of American history than Lew did. My recollection is that Lord Dunmore’s War on the frontier in 1774 immediately preceded the Revolution and that the Whiskey Rebellion was in 1791, ending when President George Washington dispatched Regular Army troops to quell the rebellion.

    There had also been a series of 4 “French and Indian Wars” in the 1700s. The first 3 started between England and France in Europe and spilled into their colonies. The 4th started when the Virginia Colony sent George Washington to survey territory controlled by the French but claimed by both Pennsylvania and The Virginia elite, which included the Washington family. That was a blatant land grab by the Virginia elite and the French attacks on young George started that war, which spilled form the colonies to Europe.

    One result of the war was that it was forbidden by England for the colonies to settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. Richard Henderson and Daniel Boone ignored this, the colonials were outraged, and the Revolution started. (This made Daniel Boone what an illegal alien in modern parlance.) Outside of the greater Boston area, most of the supporters of the Revolution were land speculators and the poorer classes who wanted land of their own across the mountains, which in my version of events makes the Revolution a continuation of the 1754 land grab. I’ve got a boatload of documented ancestors who fought in that thing, all of whom were poor, lived on the frontier, and moved west across the mountains as soon as the war was over.

    Sheesh, a rather length post and I’ve not gotten to your current post. I’ll catch up on that in a day or two.


  16. @ Lew,

    I think maybe you confused Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774 with the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791? And of course Bacon’s Rebellion of the late 1600s is often considered a predecessor of the Revolution.


  17. Hi Chris,

    You’re right, I’m completely busted. 😉 I even let her post a photo of me! You won’t find a photo of me on my own blog. (There is one other photo of me on the ‘net that I provided to the page owner, but I’m not saying where it is.) Lisa asked great questions and I enjoyed answering them, so we are both pleased with how it turned out. The other two parts of the interview are up on her blog too; they are the next two posts.

    It took me a little while for my eyes to see the rat in your first photo. A bit gruesome, but it is a rat, after all, and I have no love for them either.


  18. Hi Chris,

    Nice article on Skylab, and well done on the Yanks for nudging Skylab to come down anywhere else except North America. Cheeky Scamps!

    More stone circles! Plot twist, your chook shed is built over the site of an old stone circle. The local rats harness the stone circle power to facilitate easier access to sweet sweet grains!


  19. Hi Damo,

    Next time you head south and east along the coast, I recommend stopping into one of those museums and checking out the wreckage. It’s pretty awesome, although candidly it could have been the remnants of someones half melted fibreglass water tank hauled out of their back paddock. Whatever may be the case may be, you wouldn’t want to have been hit by either option at any speed. Good outcomes may apply for air time elsewhere in that instance.

    Hehe! Aren’t these the same cheeky scamps who put part of that 400 tonne space station which is currently in low Earth orbit? Hope they know what they’re doing!

    What a plot twist! Far out. Your powers of divination are strong, because near to where the original chook shed was, I suspect that an old potato shed and mid century car had been burned out in the 1983 fires.

    Rats, well there are times when I feel not equal to their determination and resourcefulness.



  20. Hi Claire,

    Hehe! Yes, you are totally busted. 🙂 The editor is fiercely against photos of her on the blog too. I’m looking forward to enjoying a quiet evening over the next few nights where I’ll read through the three part interview. The photos look great too.

    The poor rat was directly under the exhaust pipe for the engine and so was rapidly dehydrated. Most dead rats tend to set up quite the fascinating aromatic experience, but not that one. Yuk!



  21. Hi DJ,

    That gets to the nub of the problem with water. Any trees have to be weaned ever so slowly off regular watering before they become drought hardy. And many trees will fall by the wayside during that process. Just cutting the water off, as you note, leads to a disaster. And trees can be planted out of place for sure.

    You’re lucky with your aquifer and historically the river might have flooded across your part of the world. This act would have deposited minerals, but it would have also have slowed the movement of water in your part of the world and allowed for even greater infiltration of surface water into the aquifer.

    Thanks for answering the question. Far out, man! 🙂 Sorry to hear that you decided to cut your hair (and lost some mojo in the process). But what do you do? You were being profiled in the most fundamental and basic methodology. That description could be anyone.

    Engaging in dialogue is probably a bit Sun Tzu for such folks. It also means that they didn’t have to just sit on their backsides pretending that they were doing something useful with their time. I have worked in small business for well over a decade now, and can’t recall ever being paid to just stand around and watch something. It sounds lazy to me so there is little incentive to engage and resolve the matter. And it might feed their egos to pretend that something is, when it isn’t.

    Who knew? Anyway, that sort of travel is clearly not all that it’s cracked up to be. Well the melee was quite recent in that hot part of your country. It’s the heat, you know – I’ve seen Dexter and read the books. Nuff said.

    I defer to you two in relation to your countries history. But just for the record, I’d like to state that rum tastes better than whiskey, which is perhaps why we didn’t need to have a follow on from the Rum Rebellion. Actually the governor the English sent after Bligh (also of the mutiny of the bounty fame as well) was an interesting bloke and he made great leaps and bounds where others could not.

    Never heard of Richard Henderson, but seriously who could tell the likes of Daniel Boone where he could and couldn’t go? And would he even listen? He lived to a ripe old age too that bloke. But yeah, much expansion is also a land grab – and that story continues even today. The farm here is land that was once controlled by the Indigenous tribes. History is brutal.

    Thanks for the links.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I always feel a touch of reticence when mentioning such matters, but at the same time figure that we know each other well enough that if I overstep the line, even in jest, you’ll set me straight, and then we’ll move on. 🙂 The line between bourbon and whiskey is fine indeed and a few years ago the Europeans took the big stick to the local wine industry and forbade the use of commonly understood labels. And nobody down here really seems to have cared that greatly about the matter and people seem to have adapted to the new labels. Even the yeast I purchase used to be called ‘champagne yeast’ before being changed to ‘sparkling white’ – big deal. And rum and raisin dark chocolate is really tasty. Yummo! Do you reckon there’d be alcohol in the chocolate or ice cream? My gut feeling suggests that it would be more likely in the chocolate than the ice cream as there is some issue with freezing alcohol.

    Interestingly I noted fuel in the big smoke was reaching $1.70 a litre (3.8 litres to the gallon) which is about as high as I’ve ever seen it. I’m pretty sure we don’t have access to that pipeline, but you know – we might be subsidising your fellow countrymen?

    The topography of the badlands would be superb for hiding out in. I can see how that came to be, but also the baddies would have to have something to pay their bills, and I’m assuming that was gold? I’d read an account that bushrangers used to hide out in this mountain range and strike at passing coach traffic in the plains below the mountain range. The dust plumes from the horse drawn coaches gave away their presence, and because they’d just come from the goldfields… Trains would be harder to hold up – not impossible – just harder.

    Wow. Coal seam fires are a nightmare and they are almost impossible to put out. We sometimes get peat fires down this way too.

    I believe – as you hinted at – DJ’s are now on delay so as to stop the public blushing from the public’s use of vulgar language. The national youth broadcaster is part of the government is subject to less stringent requirements, and there is plenty of potty mouth in the songs (one must uphold artistic integrity!) but the DJ’s themselves cannot indulge.

    Years and years ago there was a late night radio station which I’d hear blaring over the speakers at service stations (gas stations). At night they used to do a matchmaking program. And so some guy calls up the radio station and says that he works for a petroleum company, and quick as a flash the female DJ retorts, so you’re a console operator at a servo? Yes, the now chastened bloke replied. It was pretty funny, and that job would be like debt collection work on steroids – you’d hear everything after a while and brook no nonsense.

    The Metcalf folks were a tight unit – and nobody has spilled the beans over the intervening years. That’s no easy feat, as they used to say that loose tongues sink ships. Given the precision, they were probably all well trained folks. Those sorts of sites are basically not prepared for that outcome, and it is one of those things we just can’t afford to pay for. That’s life.

    Yeah, the stone circles make little to any sense to me, and there is no sign of ashes or rich soil at the base of them. I doubt the loggers put them there as that lot just tended to collect up the tree stumps in lumps and try and burn them then and there – but mostly leave the burnt hulks for me to clear up.

    That’s what I thought too: Borage. They’re pretty similar plants really, and you could chuck some of the leaves in your compost – or dig them in to the soil too. I feed them to the chickens and they eat all of the leaves.

    Hehe! Volunteer oaks and walnuts! Have to laugh, as I’d probably leave them to grow, but then there is a question as to relative space available. It’s nice just noodling around a garden doing a bit here and there and just generally mooching and enjoying the scenery.

    Might begin clearing up the vegetable terraces tomorrow, but then it looks set to rain tomorrow afternoon and into the next three days. Oh well, today was really sunny and cool, but I was inside all day. The local council in their wisdom decided to grade the road, and it is a bit slushy up there now. I hope they know what they’re doing?

    Ah, those plants grow wild here too, and I can’t recall ever bringing them onto the farm. Oh well, they’re really nice plants and worthy of letting go.

    Elderberry plants exhibit a lot of variability, but mostly in terms of the leaf colour, and not the berries – although it might be like currants and they’re in a few different colours for the berries. I’m thinking about pulling out the gooseberries and replanting them where they can grow larger. The plants are a bit big for where I put them.

    And interestingly, the pecan scored a feed the other day, and has grown again as a result.

    Ah periwinkle! Of course. An old timer who I haven’t seen for a while always said to me to beware the season when the periwinkle withers due to heat and drought.



  23. Hi Al,

    For some reason – unknown to me – your comment ended up in the trash yesterday. I see no reason why that was the case, but the software doesn’t lose comments, they just get delayed. 🙂

    Thanks, and how did your small test system go around the winter solstice last year? Candidly it is a bit touch and go for three weeks either side of that dread date. But if the sun shines, the batteries can take in the charge at as much as the solar panels can produce (their upper limit is 150A, or 0.5C as they say for 300Ah batteries). The 42 panels can’t really do better than about 105A – which is still an astounding amount of electricity.

    There is a local steam engine society, now where were they… … Gisborne Vintage Machinery Society. You’d totally love it, and they ran their old tractors past the property once and I had a lovely chat with them. Yes, yes and I know, but I’m kind of busy at the moment! 🙂

    Thanks for the story of your dad’s hand crafted steam engine. 🙂 Between you and I, I’d really like to have one of those old Lister diesel engines. beautiful machines and they sound great too, and so simple. Plus you can chuck in all manner of fuels.

    Your rat poop tip might not work as the rats over wintered last season in one of the two wood sheds (the other is rat free) and it stinks. I now use a proper mask as I have to enter the shed and shake off the rat stuff and dispose of it in a garden bed. It was an error of judgement to allow that to happen. Oh well.



  24. @ DJ – I had a pretty bad time, after my second shot, too. Fever and chills. Didn’t start feeling “right” til Tuesday. I should have started taking aspirin, every four hours, right after the shot. Other people, sail through.

    I also swore off air travel. But back in Ye Good Olde Days, it was because of rough flights.

    Oh, I’m sure your right about the history. 200+ years on, my memory fades, and gets a bit jumbled. 🙂 . Lew

  25. Yo, Chis – Well, I think I heard the champagne people got all huffy about trade marks, and things. Ah, those French … 🙂 . I don’t know how they get that liquor, in the ice cream. I checked the label, and it’s the real McCoy. Not a extract or a “natural flavor.”

    Gas. It’s the new toilet paper 🙂 . They’re doing it rough, on the east coast. I keep having flash backs, to 1973 …

    One of the first, full length silent movies, was “The Great Train Robbery.” 🙂 .

    The blue elderberries are supposed to be “more tasty.” We’ll see.
    Seems to be some discussion about if to eat them raw, or not.

    Elinor went to the dentist, so, I have a little visitor. Always a pleasure. Turns out her heart monitoring machine, which gave her an anxiety attack, wasn’t working right. Ah, technology ….

    And, in news of the world ….

    So, your having dinner in Houston, Texas (not India), glance out your window to discover a tiger in your yard. What do you do? Well, you go out and take pictures of it and post them on social media. And when an off duty police officer shows up, you plead with him not to shot the tiger. The police officer caved. I wonder how our picture snaping fool, and the police officer will feel, if the tiger eats a kid? A few years ago, I read in National Geographic that there are more privately owned tigers, than there are in the wild.

    Someone is going to start producing a one passenger, three wheeled electric car. Down in Arizona. Actually, it looks really cute! 🙂 Lew

  26. @ Lew,

    I mentioned to a couple friends that the first night after shot #2 was “the worst 1,001 nights of my life”.

    While I was down and out, I got out my diaries from the 1700s, which was not one of the fonder eras I lived through. So the notes of my experiences of those events were freshly in mind. 😉


  27. Chris,

    Bligh’s life is an interesting study in the inept rising to the top, as you’ve mentioned. Appropriate that he would be governor of an island planted with a bunch of peaceful, law abiding folks such as had been banished to Australia. 😉 And no way these paragons of virtue would ever have possibly thought of having an uprising.

    Richard Henderson, founder of the Transylvania Land Company.

    A boatload of Hendersons and Allens lived in Boonesboro. I have Hendersons and Allens in the family tree who were in that area a generation or two later. Decades of multiple researchers are unable to determine from whence my kin originated, or even whether they were part of the Boonesboro group. The Battle of Blue Licks involved Daniel Boone and was commanded by one John Todd, whose brother’s granddaughter was married to Abraham Lincoln. I’m descended from some cousins of that family. It appears that I had ancestry fighting on both sides at Blue Licks. Yes, history is brutal, although John Todd acted stupidly enough that he deserved his fate.

    I like the picture of the rat. Are you thinking about starting a new menu at a restaurant? Suzuki-fried Rat has a good ring to it.

    I hope the sewing job works to keep the rats out of the chicken coop. The picture makes it look as though there are some gaps between wire threads. Anything greater than a centimeter might give the enterprising rat a path to enter?

    Some fool stole a coffee container of sand from our front porch. This whole neighborhood is sand. Someone else pulled up one of our phlox plants and tossed it onto the lawn. Sigh. That plant is in the area that will get redone in the next year or so, but still.

    How is the sore shoulder doing?

    Thanks for the giant tree pictures. That’s one big rhododendron. The large Messmate Gum tree is truly epic. Puts humans into perspective without using the dread Total Perspective Vortex.

    That’s a good picture of Ollie in the stone circle. The Princess enjoyed it, and suggested that Ollie is saying “It’s mine. All mine. You younger dogs stay out. You stay out too, Chris. This is mine, all mine.”

    I had started eating fewer bananas quite some time ago, then started finding bananas with the fungus regularly. I quit buying them.

    It was getting very warm today, then the clouds rolled in. It rained. We got 42 drops of rain. I counted them. 🙂


  28. Hi Lewis,

    I can understand the desire to protect a brand, but the ship has long since bolted and the horse has sailed on that particular issue. And the products now labelled under different monikers actually taste better to my palate. And I’ve long noted that some brands and products which were less than stringent in their desire to enforce copyright, actually did far better and had far greater product take up than I’d reckon they otherwise would have. I’m unsure as to the mechanism as to why that would be, but I guess the piracy aspect may have driven a certain sort of wider reaching public acceptance. I’ve long felt that the folks pirating weren’t going to spend their hard earned bucks on whatever was being sold legitimately anyway, and yet they drive product acceptance. I dunno. I guess in a very mature market, or a declining economy with less real wealth behind it, any persons gain is another’s loss. The English author Annie Hawes made that observation about life in the rural back blocks of Italian Liguria. With borders long shut, we’re witnessing a renegotiation between employers and employees – but a whole bunch of pain has to occur before the two groups see eye to eye. The topic is on my mind, after a chance encounter and discussion.

    Good stuff with the ice cream, and between you and I, I don’t reckon it counts in relation to anniversaries. 😉 I’m sorry that I doubted the veracity of their claims.

    Oooo! That’s good. Yes gas is the new black. 🙂 Mate, it is hitting $1.70 / litre here (3.8 litres to the US gallon) and I do wonder if the people with epic sized vehicles are now regretting their choices? Oh yes, flashbacks is one way to put it. The news down here is ripe for any drama like a punch up at a gas station, and we were fed images of that, but interestingly the images have been since taken down. Just goes to prove that everything old is new again.

    Thanks for the article links. Did I read the words ‘nationwide economic revival’ in there? It seems like a big call to me. The second article on price rises was also interesting. Economists have it wrong in this regard, but they believe what they do because it is easier to quibble with definitions, and the same consequences have always followed on from a rapid and continuing expansion of the money supply. It defies my imagination to think that they could believe otherwise. But to their credit, the whole MMT shebang has gone on for far longer than I ever considered possible.

    Of course, the Great Train Robbery. That must have been at the back of my mind.

    Elderberries taste like elderberries, but they are such a hardy and prolific shrub and the birds adore the berries. You can make a really tasty cordial with the otherwise odd smelling flowers. The cordial tastes far better than the smell, which candidly I’m no fan of. Well I’ve eaten some of the berries raw and am still here to talk about the experience.

    And just because I don’t mind being thought of as the blog which doesn’t shy away from the big issues, such as poop: What 2,000-year-old poo says about our gut bugs. Those outcomes hardly surprise me. And dare I mention the article about super-poopers walking amongst us?

    Does the machine monitor blood pressure or pulse, or something else? I’m a bit dodge on those blood pressure machines as the measurements returned can vary wildly between continuous readings. And I don’t get that at all.

    The tiger story is really, really, weird. There are so many questions left unanswered, like where the heck is the tiger now? Just for the very first question which springs to mind. And how do you have a tiger cage in the backyard and claim that this here is not my tiger? An intriguing story.

    The 3 wheel electric car does look pretty cool, and perhaps that is what electric cars need to look like. Mostly to me they look too heavy as they try to be the size of a more usual vehicle. I’ll bet sales of electric vehicles on your east coast have gone up very recently.

    It rained again today, and so I decided to take it a bit easy. A slice of banana cake may have been involved, as well as a trip to the local pub this evening. It’s 39’F outside right now. Brrr!



  29. Hi DJ,

    Haven’t we all met a few martinets or pedants over the years? Just for your curiosity factor, there was a bit of debate on the interweb as to whether being a pedant was a good or bad thing. I’m just going with my gut feeling in this matter! 🙂 Mate, being sent to the Australian colonies in those days was probably akin to being sent to a more pleasant version of Mars, but you had equal chance of ever returning from either end point. The governor who followed Bligh took a more flexible approach and used the talents of the people who were there. There was always social tensions between the military, administration, free settlers, and of course the more plentiful convicts. It was actually the military who’d had enough and kicked out Bligh. I’d suggest that twice (that and the Bounty) was probably indicative of a broader pattern with the guy, but I believe he was promoted upon return to England.

    Richard Henderson lead me on a deep interweb hole leading to the Cherokee people – whose forests this area here was named after. Yes, a long and bloody history. It interests me that the Indigenous folks sided with the British. And the retreat was a long one. Everyone’s land is taken from another, it is a harsh world, that’s for sure.

    Rattatoastie perhaps?

    Yeah, the rats are too big to get through the welded aviary mesh – you should see them, they’re huge brown rats, although most people call them bush rats. The mice, I can’t keep out as they slip through even the tinniest of gaps.

    What? No way. But, now you mention it, when I was in the inner northern suburbs of the big smoke – a now gentrified place – people were nicking plants out of council gardens. Crazy stuff. And there was that really weird guy who exuded an air of violence and broke trees. You’re only ever as good as the weakest link.

    Thanks for asking, and the shoulder is better, but still needs more rest and recovery. Oh well.

    I was just sort of hoping that the tree didn’t drop on me as they can occasionally do! It’s a super big tree. Imagine what this area looked like before the loggers got to it?

    Ollie may have found his precious, yes. That is possible.

    The banana fungus thing is a bit sad, as it tells a tale of over exploitation. It is hard to make money in agriculture and build up soil fertility and mineral reserves. The system we chose to live in does not allow for this outcome.

    Hehe! Sorry mate, I’d send you some rain if I could. It rained here again today and is now only 39’F outside. Winter is here.



  30. Hi Chris,
    Crazy week so have only had time to do a quick read and skim of the comments. That is some tree!!. Our first year here we heard mice running around in the attic while we slept. When we put extra insulation up there the 2nd year we blocked off all entrances and at least so far we’ve not heard the scampering of little feet. Interesting rock circle – one can only speculate.


  31. @Claire
    I bookmarked your interviews to read later. IDK but it’s nice to put a face to the name/voice.

    No rain here either resulting in dragging 100’s of feet of hose and lots of mulching. My back is not happy.


  32. @ DJ – Fun-ny! 🙂 .

    You never did mention what kind of problems you had with the second shot. Inquiring Minds Want To Know. Or, is the painful memory, still too recent?

    Me, fever and chills (my teeth rattled). Once the aspirin kicked in, just cotton headed and slept a lot. Until Tuesday. Lew

  33. Yo, Chris – Bolted and sailed. Mixed metaphors are fun. Right up there with malapropisms. :-).

    Well, my trip to the local grocery chain last night was “interesting.” And frustrating. The entire shelf of store brand chocolate bars, was empty. Zip. Nada. So, I slid on down to the popcorn. About the same situation. Nothing left but the high price stuff, and that with all kinds of weird additives in it. They were out of the flavor (plain, unsweetened) almond milk that I wanted. I was looking around for some candied ginger. I checked all the logical places it might be. Zip. When I got to the check stand, even though the bin of apples I picked from said “Pink Lady”, it turned out I had grabbed Honey Crisp. $2 per apple. By that point I was just disgusted and wanted to go home. Pull the covers over my head and moan.

    We’re getting mixed messages, about the economy, here. All Rah! Rah! (and don’t look too closely at the rising prices, and shortages). I’ve seen a couple of articles on “Prepare for the new Roaring Twenties!” Don’t they remember how that ended?

    We’ll see, about the elderberries. I guess it will take 2 or 3 years, to produce. I’m more interested in the syrup.

    Well, gee, thanks for the poop on poop 🙂 . “And what do you do for a living?” “Well, I play with poop.” And, yes, I took the bait and went down the rabbit hole to discover what a “super pooper,” is. The article I found had a section titled, “From Poop to Pill.” There’s a pill for that! I wonder what vital ingredient will be left out? As happens.

    Let’s see. The little machine you put on your finger, measures heart rate, oxygen levels in the blood and temperature. You need another little machine for blood pressure. So, Elinor scared herself into an anxiety attack, over wonky technology. I’d rather not know.

    The tiger is out stalking and eating small children. 🙂 .

    I also saw an article that pandemic puppies are being returned to shelters, in record numbers. Well, that didn’t last long …

    H spent a couple of hours with me, while Elinor went to the dentist. She didn’t bark, what whined a lot, due to separation anxiety. But, I had her in my lap when I was on the computer. Then, to my chair. I read, she took a nap in my lap. She was highly entertained when I did my back and stretching exercises.

    “When lilacs in the dooryard bloomed …” There’s a rumor around the Institution that a large lilac, near (but not too near) our front entrance is to be cut down. Why? Because they can? Suzanne, Who Always Has a Better Idea, is all “Let’s get up a petition!” If we knew when they were going to cut it down, we could chain ourselves to it. And, send a picture to the newspaper 🙂 .

    Time to go out and pick more chamomile. And, water. Futzed around in the garden last night. Mostly burying kitchen scraps. It’s amazing to me how much one person, can crank out in compostable kitchen scraps. At least, this person. 🙂 Lew

  34. Hello Chris
    All well here. I simply haven’t a moment to myself in which to read, write or garden. Things will be back to usual next week.


  35. @ Lew,

    First shot we both had fatigue and chills. Princess had headaches.

    2nd shot, Princess all of the above, but headaches were fierce, no appetite and trouble sleeping. She’s still having headache problems on Thursday.

    That first night was terrifying, frankly. I’d heard that sometimes the 2nd shot’s reaction was similar to a “mild” covid case. I remember last April, some pundits with “mild” cases talked about how terrifying nights were – the severe chills, weird dreams, and the way it attacked the emotions. That was my experience that first night after the 2nd shot.

    Meanwhile, I had every muscle and fiber in my body aching. The first night I was stone cold, took a lot to get my upper body warm, but feet were icebergs. Blankets 12 inches deep were piled on my feet – 3 hours later they got warm. Where the injection was, my arm swelled up the size of a duck egg for 4 days. Fever in the 101.5 range for 40 hours. Hard to keep liquids down – my fallbacks are gatorade and boullon cubes. The gatorade was hard to keep down, a first time for that. No concentration. I felt like my hair was throbbing. It was the most brutal 40 hours of my life. And that first night was the worst 1,001 nights of my life – it felt that long.


  36. @ Marg,

    Ugh, dragging hoses. My garden containers are 5 gallon buckets. I prefer filling those with soil and carrying them. Dragging hoses gets old fast.


  37. Chris,

    Yeah, Australia would’ve seemed like a different planet. Of course, today nature itself is foreign to most people, isn’t it? Agreed on Bligh…he had the 2 mutinies against him and a few other courts martial. He was a problem. Probably promoting him to a high admiral rank when there were no available command positions was something well thought out.

    There are many interweb holes down which Richard Henderson can lead one. The Cherokee hole is deep with a multitude of tunnels leading to other holes. Siding with the British was quite understandable, but was a losing proposition, as the British were losing interest in the colonies that became the US. Nor wee the British trustworthy to the Natives. The colonists had never been trustworthy, a topic that is worth its own lengthy post or two.

    Oh good one. Rattatoastie indeed! Brilliant.

    Good that the rats are too big to get through the gaps. Bad that they’re the size of oppossums!

    People are weird. The petty theft of any loose items, the plant vandalism and theft you mentioned – I don’t understand that type of thing.

    Glad the shoulder is recovering. It’s hard finding the balance of proper rest and recovery when things still need doing and there’s nobody else to do them.

    Maybehaps your area would’ve looked similar to the Jedediah Smith State Park in California. Click on the picture in the wiki article.

    My birthday was this week. I maintain that I’m 61. The Princess says that I’m 16. She wants a really young guy like Cher has. I got us takeout from Texas Roadhouse for dinner on Thursday. Now we’re both well fed and we have leftover steaks. That’s our fun excitement for the week.


  38. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello! And yes, the tree is ginormous! I reckon it is the largest and oldest tree in the mountain range, and might be a century older than the oldest on the farm. Imagine the things the tree would have seen?

    You’ve done well with your rodents, and there are times here that I know the cheeky scamps are outwitting me, but their numbers are declining, so perhaps my best case is that they reach some sort of equilibrium. Dunno.

    It is very possible that the Indigenous folks arranged the circles and may possibly have been producing resins from the forest materials. There is a canoe tree not too far from those stone circles. I can’t imagine why the loggers would have created them. A mystery.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    The English language can be fun to play with. Hey, it reminds me of the resume I read years ago where the hapless person was claiming that they were incompetent at a task, instead of using the more correct ‘competent’. Of course it is very possible that they were actually incompetent, and the facts do tend to indicate that this state of affairs is indeed the case. 🙂 Anyway, if you hired them, you couldn’t claim that they didn’t warn you of their shortcomings.

    No chocolate. Yikes! Hopefully you had a carefully squirreled away store of high cocoa chocolate? Mate, it could be a bit like if ever I miss my regular coffee time and feel a slight uncomfortable sensation of not having fed the caffeine need. Speaking of which, I might move the tea camellia plants to the greenhouse for the winter months? A person needs to shore up supply. Did you find out what happened to the plain wrap brand chocolate? And did you substitute?

    What? $2 per apple is a crazy price, but then you are at the upper limit as to how long they can keep – unless they’ve been imported from the southern hemisphere, the apples have been in storage for a long time.

    Candied ginger is very tasty – and probably pretty good for you except for all the sugar. Ginger is a really interesting plant.

    Oh my! I do hope the pundits are wrong in that regard about the roaring twenties. I hear a lot of different stories upon the future direction of the economy, and honestly I’m genuinely astounded that MMT policies haven’t blown up. The inequality is rising though, and that certainly was a feature of the 1920’s.

    That sounds about right to me. The elderberry shrubs take about a year to get established, especially if they have no root systems, but by the third year you’ll be making berry syrup for a good vitamin C over winter.

    Apparently the poop thing is very real, and I’d only heard about it a few years ago. There was a local band, very well respected and the lead singer came down with some sort of lingering illness – and the singer got into err, transplants and they even had a poo roadie who went on tour with the band. I can understand how peoples internal flora and fauna flounders, and the article clearly stated the known reasons as to why that is, and is becoming more commonplace. I see people using cleaners rated as ‘hospital strength’ and they think they’re doing a good thing. You wouldn’t want to get a hospital strength antibiotic resistant golden staph infection – no way. But you’re right, any pill can’t be a full spectrum of stuff, and how would a person stop taking such a pill?

    Sorry to hear that Eleanor had tech troubles with heart monitoring machines. That’s not good.

    Hehe! I’m pretty sure that the tiger is out there somewhere! I was wondering that about pandemic puppies and how that story would play out. I kind of feel sorry for single dogs stuck without company all day long. H is surrounded by people, and you lot are her pack, but lone dogs do it hard mentally. And with people going back to work, well, they can’t take the dog with them.

    The fluffies have run around and around all day long outside today, and tonight they are sound asleep behind me on the green couch. We began clearing out the vegetable terraces. At one point the editor came up with a good idea – and suddenly we were on the hunt for 80 lineal feet of rocks. Anyway, we managed to scrounge that many rocks, and woe is us for Peak Rocks is real, and we had to go a bit of a distance into the forest to source them all. Tonight I feel better than I possibly should be feeling, but tomorrow morning may have something further to say in that regard.

    That’s a shame because lilac smells beautiful when it is in flower. Not an overpowering aroma like some plants, just pleasant. Oh well, you can’t fight city hall.

    It rained again here today, and fortunately the rain came in from the south so we could see the rain band getting closer and closer from way off in the distance. Makes it easier when you have to run for cover.

    Makes you wonder what would be the cumulative effect of your entire population getting all of the organic waste back into the soil? It would be really awesome, but I doubt that we as a society could afford to do it.

    Hoping to mix up the soil mineral additives into the compost tomorrow and then spread it over some of the terraced gardens.



  40. Hi DJ,

    Well that is the truth isn’t it? People try to keep away nature with hospital grade cleaners – just for one random example – and things don’t turn out well and there are unforeseen consequences. I dunno, such abstract concepts get in the way of common sense sometimes, but then maybe I expect too much?

    It is kind of clever to promote the bloke to a position where he can’t cause any further dramas. And yes, I’ve always felt that Bligh was a problem. With a bit of an easier touch, he wouldn’t have had to survive a 2,000 mile journey in an open boat – he’s just that kind of an historical figure.

    The whole history is messy, as these things inevitably are – and mostly there are ecological reasons behind the drive to expansion, until the utter outer limits are reached. I tend to believe the Mars boy talk is trying to get around those limits, and I have strong reservations about that particular project.

    I found the lack of desire down here to separate from the British is an interesting contrast to your countries experience. The Queen is still the head of state down here, and all government legislation has royal assent. We had a referendum to become a republic and it failed. Although I believe that was more to do with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality’. I voted against the republic, mostly because I didn’t like the model that the politicians cooked up. It stunk.

    The rats are big, and please keep your opossums over in your country!

    Gotta bounce, will speak tomorrow.



  41. @ DJ – You win! 🙂 The Princess and you were a lot worse off, than me.

    I lost a lot of my journals, in the Burning of Atlanta. The rest went in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Lew

  42. Yo, Chris – Yup. If you tried to fire the potential employee, for incompetence, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, in court. “I TOLD them I was incompetent!” 🙂

    I try and keep 12 bars of chocolate, in the fridge. Sticking to my “two squares a day” and I pretty much do, that would last about 2 months. I picked up a couple of bars of Lindt. They were on sale, but still 75¢ more, a bar.

    I picked up a book from the library, yesterday. “Grow Your Own Spices: Harvest Homegrown Ginger, Turmeric, Saffron, Wasabi, Vanilla, Cardamom, and Other Incredible Spices, No Matter Where You Live!” Greer (is that an omen?), 2021. It’s not a big book, but very well illustrated. They even show you how to hand pollinate vanilla. I just took a brief glance at the book. I’ll delve deep, over the next few days. Might have to buy that one.

    There’s been a lot of articles about rising inequality, lately. And how steep levels of inequality often bring on revolutions. Hmmmm.

    Fecal transplants. Still sounds nasty. All the cool kids are doing it. The rich and famous. There’s that inequality, again. Any Tom, Dick, Harriet or Karen, out to be entitled to a free fecal transplant. On demand. If you need it or not 🙂 . Coming soon! Home kits from the River!

    I wonder if the tiger escapes into the wild, and breeds with a cougar … that could get “interesting.”

    I walked down to the Ace Hardware, this morning. Picked up small bags of bone meal and blood meal. 3 pounds at $10 per bag. I also picked up some petunias, for my patriotic and stuff, hanging basket. I got red and white ($3 per plant) but couldn’t find blue 🙁 . Purple will not do. I’ll look around the place and see if there isn’t a blue one, I can lift on a midnight discount. If not, I’ll e-mail the Master Gardener’s and see if they can round me up one.

    I don’t know if you heard about the bridge, in Memphis, Tennessee.

    They re-opened the river traffic, today. Yup. We need that infrastructure bill passed. But I wish more of the money went to roads and bridges.

    Our city citizens are in an uproar. The State has rented an entire motel, to serve as a quarantine center. And they didn’t even ask, first! Our governor announced yesterday, that he’s re-opening the State on June 30th. Never mind that we had 130+ new cases, in the county, last week.

    Well. Exciting times. Last night about 6, our fire alarms went off. As per agreement, I retrieved the dog (her ears!) Elinor opts to stay in the apartment, until we know more what’s going on. The elevators automatically stop. The firemen came, and couldn’t find a problem. They even went through the attic crawlspace. I could smell roasting turkey, very strong. Someone is not fessing up.

    By the time I was going to report back to Elinor, a hysterical neighbor had stampeded her downstairs. She can get down the stairs, with great difficulty. So. Not even the firemen know how to get the elevator running, again. Otis has to send someone down from Olympia. The Building Manager wouldn’t authorize the overtime, and it wasn’t fixed til this morning.

    So, Elinor is adrift in the lobby. I got a chair and put it on the first landing. She couldn’t make the last two stairs. Much to her surprise, her one knee won’t support her weight, anymore. I managed to bodily hoist her, the last two steps, and get her into the chair. The night manager happened to be passing, outside, so I popped open the window, and asked her to call the EMT’s. They came (again) and four burly fellows, hoisted her into a carry chair, returned her to her apartment, and settled her in her chair. I wrangled the dog and doors. The EMT’s are frequently called to get someone off the floor.

    Much to my surprise, Elinor was relatively unruffled. But, she’s pretty miffed at the building management, for one reason and another. We recently got a detailed instruction sheet, “What To Do In A Fire.” It advised, if you have to evacuate, to leave your pet in the bathroom. Boy, she’s still outraged over that one! Lew

  43. Hi Chris

    My wife is doing well with the physical therapy portion of her rehab confinement. She experiences a lot of pain when she uses the leg she fell on. The pelvic bone has a lot of moving parts connected with it. The closed crack fractures .which she has three of , are responsible for her strong pains. When she moves. We are hoping she will be enough improved to come home on Sunday.

    My oldest son and I will be cutting and prefabricating steel stock parts at my place for remounting a mail box to a new location a few feet from the present location which blocks people from holding on to a hand rail below the box. We will go to sons’ to weld and assemble the parts . Son has a TIG welding machine which produces nicer welds.

    My my small scale solar system power supply was used at our daughters home to light colored lights on the kids back yard trampoline. The three seven watt Amorphous solar cells kept the hundred colored led lights lit with out house power being used to recharge the 12volt 12ah sealed lead acid battery. Some nights the kids turned off the light when they came in for the night. The boys were quite happy with the lights. Their Dad didn’t consult with boys before he removed the lights. The boys weren’t happy with the loss of them. I will be providing miniature led flood light fixtures and wire system using the same Solar power battery box for their trampoline soon.

    Cheers Al

  44. Hi DJ (the second day secret cont reply…)

    The theft of the plant thing is weird isn’t it? You know, I’ve thefted off with plants which had volunteered and were in imminent danger of being mowed, and most certainly I’m guilty of taking cuttings, but nature being what it is there is only ever gain from such actions. It is a fine distinction, but I guess that is the difficulty with philosophising over ethics. I’m guessing people who steal plants from plant beds (or your examples) probably aren’t the sort of people to consider the ethical dimensions of their acts.

    Exactly, and with the shoulder injury I don’t really know what the outcome will be. Mate the weather turned here today. The past few days have been getting progressively colder, and today was unpleasantly freezing – I swear that I experienced sleet at one point in the day (I was outside too). I’m yet to become accustomed to such cold weather. Oh well, better brace myself for more of that.

    The images of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park are majestic. Really stunning. The forest industry in 1936 planted a stand of those trees in a remote valley located closer to the coast and off to the south west from here: A Guide to the Mystical Redwood Forest in the Otways.

    Happy Birthday! And my gut feeling suggests to me that your lady is indeed correct. Some people have all the luck – such as your ring of power which you’ve never mentioned before but have clearly been benefiting from all these years. Your lady let the cat out of the bag! 😉

    Your lady forgets that after the fun times, comes conversation and the never ending snide remarks of others. I reckon it would be a tough road that one. Interestingly, my grandfather took that option after his wife died, and my mother was always at pains (she loved drama and had a taste for others pain) to remind me as to how that was working out. The new family seemed to have done alright though as I didn’t notice any inheritance. Oh well, such things happen.



  45. Hi Al,

    Glad to hear that your lady is stoically enduring her rehab, and best wishes for a speedy recovery. I assume that she does not intend, or need to get pins in the fractures?

    Al, now I’m totally jealous! 🙂 A TIG welder produces really beautiful looking welds, and as someone with an arc welder, no matter how fancy (I have two, an old school transformer style for very heavy duty welds, and a newer inverter style for lighter welds), it’s not the same. Years ago I became interested in the differences between Arc (or stick), MIG and TIG welding and read a very useful and practical book on the subject which demystified the differences. One day, if ever free time presents itself, I may go on a course to learn about and practice TIG welding.

    You know, there is a certain amount of fun in the light setup you put in place around the trampoline – which reminds me that I have to get the garden lights going again. I miss them, and I may not have mentioned it, but I managed to score a 306Ah 12V lithium battery for the job – it also runs the low voltage garden water pumps (which are no light weights I can assure you). The battery is a spare for the house battery system, but it has to be used regardless.

    Had to replace the old sealed lead acid battery in the ride on mower today, and fortunately the local shop had an exact replacement. Yay! Not always guaranteed given the machine was designed and built in Italy.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that was my exact thinking in the matter. How could we complain if the guy said that he was incompetent in writing and we chose to ignore that? As a funny side story, I was once contacted by a former employer to come back and help them out. So after I quit, they employed a guy who came with a warning that he had trouble completing tasks. My former employers decided to ignore the warning and the guy failed to complete tasks – and that was when they asked for my help. I would have thought that was a red flag, but that particular business had been in trouble before, so it hardly surprised me that they were in trouble again. What do you do? Of course I extracted a pretty penny from them for extricating their delicate bits from the fire again, but still at the same time I just didn’t want to spend any more of my life helping them out when they couldn’t get their own house in order. I always suspected that they just didn’t take my role seriously, but it is really hard to know other peoples motivations and concerns even at the best of times.

    2 months is sensible, and in a bizarre coincidence, I keep a similar supply of quality coffee on hand. Thus proving that sensible people understand the priorities and finer things in life! 😉 The editor is very partial to Lindt ball chocolates, and she enjoys one with her coffee in bed on a weekend morning (whilst she reads a book in bed). This small act smooths many a ruffled and totally out of sorts types of situations. It’s no guarantee though, but it is a tidy sort of insurance. 😉

    Who knew that Mr Greer was writing such useful gardening books? 🙂 Although, my gut feeling tells me that it is at best a distant relative? The local gardening club sells vanilla orchids to be kept indoors or in greenhouses, and between you and I, the plants pollination process is a touch finicky for my competency – of course I’m not beholden to a master who would deal a harsh hand if I stuffed it up. I’ll be curious to learn your thoughts in this matter. Wasabi is a great idea – I can definitely get that growing in the greenhouse along with the ginger and turmeric. Hmm. A top idea. Please let me know if the book lives up to the promise?

    Yeah, I believe that the MMT people are aware of this possibility, and so the pendulum has swung in a different direction towards supporting wages growth. Your politics might be at odds with that though. Queensland chef shortage prompts plea from restaurateurs to reopen borders to skilled migrants . The guy I spoke to the other night suggested to me that he was on a wage that was quite low given the responsibility he faced and hours worked – and I believe disgruntled might be an appropriate word used to describe his state of mind.

    The funny thing about faecal transplants is that if people backed off the extreme cleaners for a few years, and ate a wider plant based diet – hopefully some of it out of their own garden – then they might just recover. It is possibly too much to ask, and for the record I am not donating my poo to anyone. Appreciate your joke, but I believe there is a bit of home industry to the err, industry. Like a chocolate milkshake, only crunchy! Yuk!

    Speaking of small bags and picking up stuff from retail outlets, I spotted a news article of the fuel shortages in your country which contained a photo of someone putting plastic bags full of gasoline into the boot of their vehicle. Surely, that was a joke image?

    Mmm, bone meal is a good investment for the garden. On the other hand it is hard to keep the fluffies away from the strong smelling stuff, and so nowadays I mix the heady material in with copious quantities of compost. H is a lady and she would not stoop to such activities, but then it is possible that she has not been given the opportunity?

    Hey, I didn’t know that blue petunias were even a possibility, and I salute your colour choices – they’ll lend a certain gravitas to the arrangement. 🙂 Have you managed to track any down? How are seed supplies going in your part of the world? Last year some less than optimal seeds were foisted onto the public based on my experiences. I try to save as many seed varieties as I can, but sometimes my efforts amount to naught.

    Oh my! The crack in the bridge is frankly not good. We’ve had a few examples down here of this happening: NSW Building Commissioner says engineers behind Sydney towers with ‘structural issues’ must be ‘accountable’. My gut feeling tells me that you never want to be in a position to have to obtain that sort of specialist advice. And I respect that the groups involved provide time periods for the works to be completed – like how could they do so?

    I noticed that some of the money was siphoned off into what looks like pet interest groups.

    Quarantine hotels have been a thing down here for well over a year now. Mistakes get made, and there is always the question of cost and who will bear it. If you get the chance, Damo and Mrs Damo spent two weeks in one, so you can get a firsthand account?

    Ah, the curious incident of the burned turkey! Has the culprit come forward? Buildings can burn down alarmingly rapidly – you’d be surprised, but on the other hand if there are no flames, no heat, and no thick smoke, a casual moment or two of investigation might not be a bad idea to avoid a false alarm and a whole bunch of inconvenience. It is good that Elinor can get help when needed.

    I’m not questioning their wisdom, but part of the training for volunteer fire fighting has left me with the distinct impression that the bathroom is the last place you’d want to find yourself in the event of a fire. Ordinarily there is only one door in and out and usually no windows (or very small windows), so the chances of becoming trapped and cooked inside that particular room are pretty high actually. It seems to me like they’ve made a bad call and personally I’d ignore that advice and put the dog on a string and take it with you – the chances of survival otherwise for the dog, and I’m speculating here, are very low sorry to say.

    Mate, it was really cold here today. It started off cold, stayed cold, and is now continuing to be cold. It can get colder again, but the first seriously winter like day is always a shock. On the other hand, the garden terraced vegetable beds are looking awesome. I’ll plant out some kale and purple sprouting broccoli into the freshly fertilised row garden beds tomorrow.



  47. Yo, Chris – “Godzilla vs Kong”, hit the library catalog, yesterday. Not to be confused with “King Kong vs Godzilla,” 1962. 🙂 . It’s on my hold list, and I’ll be one of the first to see it.

    Always a pleasure to say, “I told you so.” Or, at least think it. 🙂 . When I was substituting at Centralia, I applied for a permanent job. Instead of hiring me, they hired someone unsuitable. Sob story, I think. So, I ended up getting that permanent job in Yelm, which was … unpleasant. Well, Ms. Sob Story was one problem after another. Including some jail time, over a domestic problem. When I saw the head of circulation, I said, “I’ll only say this once. This trip was not necessary.” 🙂 .

    I saw in the local on-line newspaper, that the woman who used to be head of the Chehalis library has died. She was fun to work for. But, I’ll never quit forgive her for not giving me credit for the “look” of our local library.

    I haven’t got into the spice book, yet. I’m deep in several seasons of “Digging for Britain.” Fascinating stuff. But in my brief look at the book, I did see that they said it was arranged by difficulty. Vanilla is WAY towards the back.

    That was an interesting article about your job market. I had to laugh at the owner who EVEN HAD TO PUT HER SON TO WORK! The horror, the horror. Probably do the lad a world of good. Get a taste of what the real world is like. Why wasn’t he already working for her? Well, our politicians kind of talk out of both sides of their mouths, when it comes to immigration. Screaming about immigration plays well to their voter base. But they also want the tech visas … and agricultural laborers. But I will say, I think our immigration needs to be better controlled. You’ze guy’ze seem to have a better handle on it. At least, as compared to us.

    The fecal milkshake goes in the other end. 🙂 . And, they probably put you under, so you don’t have to deal with the visuals. Oh, I agree with you. But why change your methods of cleaning (which requires some thought and decision making) or eating in a healthier manner, when you can just make a (probably) yearly trip to the doc, and all’s right with the world? I wonder how many insurances cover such a procedure? I’m sure my Medicare, doesn’t.

    That was not a joke picture. Darwin at work. I also saw a picture of a man who pulled the same stunt. Blew up his Hummer. Oh, well, one less Hummer in the world.

    H is never outside, off her leash. So, the bone meal shouldn’t be a problem. I have to keep a sharp eye on her. Our squirrels are messy eaters, and I have to keep her away from the bases of trees and utility poles.

    Yup. There are dark blue petunias. I don’t know how the seed situation is, now. I got all I needed, in early. No out of stock situations, at that time. But next year, I might go the seed route. Hmmm. I see I can even get a red, white and blue seed mix. I’ve got an e-mail into the Master Gardener’s to round me up one (1) blue petunia. “Purple wouldn’t do, it must be blue.” Channeling Dr. Seuss, there. 🙂 .

    I remember the exciting adventures of Mr. & Mrs. Damo, in quarantine. There was intense bird watching, involved.

    Well, everyone has pretty much figured out The Case of Who Burned the Turkey. She lives right across the hall, from me. I’ve always got on well with her, but then, she rarely comes out. Feisty old broad. Recently told the Assistant Building Manager and Building Manager, to, “Go to Hell.” Over the mask thing. They threatened her with eviction, and she said if they tried, they’d be talking to her lawyer. Now, she’s one of the few people in the building, who has money … and probably a lawyer. They’ll back off, of her. They only pick on the defenseless ones.

    Elinor was in pretty good shape, last night. Other than the toe the fireman stepped on. The sore one, of course. She sounds determined to get more therapy, to get back some mobility. I hope she follows through. Me, I’m no sorer than I was, the day before. I’ve decided after “This Is All Over”, I’m going to go see a chiropractor. I saw a good one, years ago, but I think he’s retired. So, I’ll have to do the old “ask around and see who’s name comes up, most frequently.” My back isn’t out, but strained all the time. Even with the exercise and walking. If nothing else, I’ll find out if this is just the aging process, or if something can be done.

    Well, not to make you feel bad, or anything, but our weather this last week has been just perfect. Clear, scattered clouds, temps in the low 70s. A bit of a breeze. Ideal.

    Another article on inflation and food shortages.

    So far, rice and oatmeal prices haven’t done a runner. I can still find them for just under $1 a pound. As long as I buy 3-5 pounds. But I can see I might have to do some food juggling. Research, decision making and though. As mentioned above. Lew

  48. Hi Chris
    My wife gets to come home tomorrow morning. Lots of prep work has been done in the last several days. Mostly organized by our daughter. She got a Walker and various medical appliances her mom will be needing for safe recovery. Our daughter and her husband will pick her mom up with their larger car.
    I started the mailbox relocation stand fab work early this morning . There was a 4”x 1/4” x 24 “ hot rolled bar that needed layout and drilling for for concrete anchors. A 2×2” x 3/16 wall Cold rolled square tube for the mail box support. Son got measurements . Then removed the mail box Just after the mailman brought the mail. After drilling the anchor bolt holes. And setting the anchors.( That makes the installation very easy . You just place the completed stand over the installed anchors and bolt them down). Son then returned to his house and shop to weld up the parts. Then painted it all black. He did send me pics of the nice shiny TIG welds.

    I would highly recommend owning a TIG welding outfit The inert gas the and the tungsten electrodes the main consumables aren’t too expensive . I think your idea of taking a class to try it out is a great idea
    Keeping the spare 12 VDC 306; Amp hour battery running your outdoor lighting is a great idea to keep it healthy.

    Is your main battery configured as 4 each 12 Volt 306 Ah in series for 48 volts times four in parallel for 48 volts at 1224 Ah total from 16 batteries?

    Another question: do you have a dc clamp on current meter (Hall effect type). They seem to be well liked by the pv solar types. I have always liked the idea of measuring current with out breaking into the circuit.

    Time for bed.
    Cheers Al

  49. Hi Lewis,

    Looks like Kong has his hands full with a rampaging Godzilla, who to put it mildly, has some serious anger management issues. What a fun romp, and lots of casual destruction. My money is on Godzilla by the way, the evil death ray looks like a pretty impressive skyscraper demolishing trick. Hope you reserved the popcorn? Do you reckon Kong will save the day? Given they had Kong in chains in one of the early scenes, he might not wish to assist the puny humans.

    Oh yes, one must deliver such ‘I told you so’ messages with the utmost of delicacy – people get grumpy hearing that. But then there is another school of thought which suggests that they failed to heed the advice, messed up royally, and now they have to pay the price. Hey, sometimes you just know that things are going to end badly given the people involved, and being unable to stop the runaway train is always a rough road full of heartache, especially when you are involved even at a most cursory of levels.

    Proving that local papers are good for local news. Mate, sometimes your ideas get pinched, and credit goes elsewhere. Honestly I was never good at playing politics.

    The series Digging for Britain sounds interesting. Do they keep up to date with recent finds and digs? The amount of effort required to produce vanilla pods has me looking at how to process rose hips. It was the possibility of missing the window for fertilising of the flowers which I felt was beyond my abilities. There are easier plants, but you know there are definite bragging rights associated with producing your own vanilla pods – so tasty.

    Hehe! Yeah, the poor snowflake had to work, yes I feel very sorry for the poor tyke. There is a reason they call family businesses, family businesses. I work with many such, and everyone pitches in for the common good. There are a lot of unhappy people down here in relation to immigration policies, but I believe that if you end up with a policy that nobody is happy with, then you’ve probably hit the middle ground. A lot of people cry sob stories and say things such as human rights, but if people fleeing their countries had it good – they wouldn’t be fleeing their countries. Down here before things went crazy, we used to take in more immigrants relative to our population base than pretty much anywhere, so claims of racism are mostly unfounded. I tend to believe that the top end of town likes rampant immigration as flooding the employment market with workers drives down real wages – my profession has certainly been hit by that, as well as a whole bunch of others. So a bit of time out from those excesses is no bad thing.

    Hehe! Makes you wonder about the insurance coverage for such a procedure? Much easier to adapt and not repeat the mistakes of the past, but this is an unfashionable perspective. I’ve heard people suggest that they are unable to change, but I do wonder if they meant to say ‘unwilling to change’.

    Shite, that would be an horrendous way to go. I never understood Hummers, and I’ve seen a handful of them down here. Mind you, yesterday I saw someone driving their DeLorean. Ooo, someone is planning to build some more of these things.

    The fluffies by way of comparison are rarely on lead – and only when out in public. And I’m pretty certain they know their way around the local wildlife’s business. Dogs, filthy creatures, but also delightfully fun.

    Thanks for the Dr Seuss parody. 🙂 Dunno about the seed supplies as it has been while since I’ve purchased some, and we have decided to grow less varieties, but concentrate on the plant varieties that do well here, and that we eat. Far out, we began clearing out the other two terraced gardens today. It was an error to grow the beetroot and carrots in such close proximity. Anyway, we’re getting better at understanding how to use the land that we’ve set aside for vegetables. And hopefully you appreciate the order we’ve put into one of the garden beds (photos tomorrow)!

    🙂 Yes, those two did it tough, and the birds were a relief.

    It is a nice state of being to be able to fend off nuisance and inconvenience with a fat check book and some tame lawyers. One would hope that she wields her resources for good and not for evil.

    Best wishes with your back, and um yeah, down here experiences can vary wildly too, so best to ask around – or just try them out and see what happens. Chiro I believe have an odd reputation down here. We have Physiotherapists who also review such matters, and years ago I went to one for the runners knee (plus I gave up distance running as a sport).

    No jealousy here, enjoy your weather, and remember to be kind to our hour which we gave you on the understanding that we’d get it back all unsoiled and stuff. Another bitingly cold day today, but at least it wasn’t as cold as yesterday – the cold got into my very bones.

    Thanks for the article. Yup, looks like stagflation to me: Rising prices and stagnant wages = increasing poverty. I was looking at those Cheerious products and felt the need to mention that I purchase really tasty and high quality rolled organic oats at about $130 for a 44 pound sack. Oats are good and very tasty, they don’t need that much processing. A couple of years back I conducted a taste comparison with other cheaper varieties of oats, and discovered that I’m spoiled rotten and so keep stumping the mad cash for the good stuff. Nowadays it amazes me how much stuff we buy in bulk.

    Oatmeal is a very tasty product too, and I reckon it would contain more nutrients and minerals than rolled oats – at a wild guess. Hmm, you’ve given me an idea for fertiliser for the vegetable gardens.

    Just between you and I, tomorrow is my first allocated paid work day where I literally have nothing to do. I was kind of looking forward to a quieter May and June, before everything goes full on again in July (the beginning of the new financial year). Interesting times, but I also really need the break of one day per week that is being offered out of the blue.



  50. Yo, Chris – I’ve got some popcorn set aside. Not much, but I’ll save some for the “Godzilla vs Kong.” Just in case the Great Popcorn Famine of 2021 is a real thing. And not just a small bump in the supply line. I may have to think about growing some, next year. But I’d have to figure out where to grow it, well away from my grinding corn. Cross pollination, and all that.

    You know, here, most obits are small. But, you can pay for a larger obit. When I shuffle off my mortal coil, I might leave behind my own obit. For my executors to place in the paper. Set the record straight, on a lot of things. 🙂 . The ultimate and final (insert rude hand gesture here) you.

    “Digging for Britain” is pretty interesting. Skeletons. Lots of skeletons. Each “year” has three episodes. Each episode visits four or five digs. These days, digs keep a lot of video footage. Covers the whole of British history. It’s all pretty recent digs. From about 2010, on. Some I’d heard of, some not. They made a trip to Tintagel. Also, something called Must Farm. Long before the Romans, five round houses were build out, over a lake. They burned, fell into the lake, and EVERYTHING was preserved in the mud. It’s really re-writing what people thought, of that era. Also, a trip to a Medieval leper hospital. You may remember the lepers in the Camulod Chronicles. It’s been though that lepers were treated badly, at that time. But what they found is that people were well cared for. And, great care was taken with their burials. Which shows a certain high level of respect, that we weren’t aware of.

    We’re pretty much in accord on immigration. As far as “child labor” goes, I was just talking to someone yesterday, about how things were so different, when I was a kid (1950s – 60s). Protecting snowflakes and liability lawyers and insurance companies wrecked all that.

    As long as I’m whingeing along, then there’s taking care of one’s health. There’s a lot one can do, to live a healthier, longer life. But it takes getting rid of sloppy habits and a lot of change. The medical evidence is pretty clear, by this point. Holistic health care. One has to look at everything from what you eat, to community connections, to spiritual practices.

    Maybe the DeLorean you saw was a time traveler? 🙂

    Well, the Master Gardener’s got back to me and said there are no blue petunias. Only purple. Maybe the one’s I had, with the white spots, just looked blue? I’ll be interested to see what you say about beets and carrots. They’re supposed to be good companion plants.

    Years ago, I didn’t think much of chiro. Then I finally caved in and went to one. Turned out he was an old logger, who had also felt the same way. Then he got injured, went to a chiropractor, and was so enamored, he became one, himself. Unfortunately, he’s retired now. But I seem to be honing in on a good candidate. But, as I said, not til You Know What, is over.

    Last I checked, I could buy a 25 pound bag of Bob’s Red Mill rolled oats, for $25. But I worry a bit about storage.

    Don’t look a gift day, in the mouth. 🙂

    Time to go out and pick some more chamomile, and water. Lew

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