Magic Dirt

When future historians look back in wonder at these present Titanic days, they might possibly assert that giants once strode the Earth. The future archaeologists will possibly also scour through the incomprehensible remains of our planet spanning civilisation, and wonder how the population of the vast cities were kept fed. I can see the future scene now: the two groups of intelligentsia would meet and converse over a long table in a dark timber panelled, low ceilinged, smoky University pub. And in between testing the relative merits and strengths of the local brews and whilst speaking profundities, they’d come to the inescapable conclusion, that we employed giants to perform day to day miracles!

Whilst those future intelligentsia may be enjoying the finest of local brews and discussing the past – and here I must add that I’d happily, but also impossibly, put those same brews to the test – they’d be wrong. Unfortunately there are no giants among the living today. The decline and slow fall of western civilisation, much like the fall of the Roman Empire, is due to a whole different bunch of factors, and there is no one silver bullet theory, such as a lack of giants. However, it should be noted that such concepts would make for an amusing story to recount over a quiet ale or two.

Over the past decade and then some, I’ve become something of an edible plant and soil nerd, and so my interest in the topic of decline comes at it from that perspective. Plus my interest occasionally provides a safe forum from which to discuss one of my favourite topics of interest, that being: poop.

Not one speck of manure, nor anything else that was once alive goes to waste here. My own poop and urine gets processed through a worm farm before ending up in the soil in the paddock below the house. Late this afternoon, that part of the farm were the worm farm produce ends up was mown, and the ground covers were a rich and heady mixture of plants. Once the mower had vacated the area, the Kookaburra birds flew in to investigate and consume the now exposed yummy critters living in that area.

The quantity and variety of birds living on, or surrounding the farm has been something of a surprise. And all of those birds convert plant materials, frogs, reptiles and insects into bird poop, which in turn quickly gets eaten by the critters living in the soil. In fact there are quite a number of birds which keep a close eye upon the three dogs and their activities. When one of the dogs does their business and decamps from the scene of the crime, the birds swoop in and consume the fresh dog manure. I rarely have to pick up any of the dogs excrement, and it all ends up enriching the soil and thus feeding the plants via the actions of the birds.

By comparison, when you are in the city, and you’re out walking your dog, and it decides to take a big dirty dump, that’s a real problem requiring a small plastic bag. In such circumstances the organic matter has to be bagged up and disposed of in a bin. The bin is then collected by a truck and then carted away and disposed of – plastic bag and all – at a landfill. It’s unfortunate that in such an urban environment there are no birds around to consume the poop, because I note that they do that job for free with no plastic bags involved! And need I mention that the worms, and other soil critters are even less fussy, and they will clean up any remaining detritus.

Cities are kind of like that though, and from an ecological perspective, it’s an utter disaster if only because the minerals inherent in the food brought there, pass through the cities residents before usually ending up in the oceans. And yet, these are exactly the sort of organic materials which are needed to grow the plants which people and livestock consume in the first place. Soils are sadly a finite resource and most soils are not even replete with the many necessary minerals required to grow edible plants.

So how are plants grown nowadays without that rich and heady stream of poop returning back into the same soils? Thanks to industrial scale mining and processing, large scale agriculture can apply all manner of interesting minerals to soils. Heck, even I do that. In the past year I’ve been mixing 24kg (53 pounds) of Agricultural Lime (Calcium Carbonate) to a mixture of about two to three times that weight in coffee grounds, and then applying the mix to the soils in the orchards, every single week. The cost probably shouldn’t be mentioned around the Editor, but the results are nothing short of astounding. And the fruit trees have finally decided after many years to simply just grow really strongly.

And during winter, we mixed up an intriguing batch of about three cubic meters (four cubic yards) of all manner of soil minerals and additives to which we applied liberally to the vegetable beds. Again, the results have been astounding, and the vegetables are now faster growing, they’re hardier to extremes, require less water, and are also a lot larger than in previous seasons.

The results are in, if you want plants to grow really well, you have to add more diverse minerals than simply just whatever compost happens to be available. Who knows what’s in that compost stuff? And therein lies the problem. The super rich mineral concoction, Mono Ammonium Phosphate (MAP) fertiliser, which is heavily used in Australia, and comes from China, will no longer arrive.

Australia’s old soils are seriously deficient in phosphate, and so this news is something of a minor disaster for farmers, regardless of scale. I fully expect produce yields to decline as a result of this fertiliser shortage, which means that from an economic perspective, the price for food will most certainly rise.

Unfortunately however there are further complications. In future growing seasons , the already phosphate depleted soils, will only get further depleted because the imported mineral now will be far more expensive due to the short supply. And the consequence will most likely be that the food produced by those same minerally deficient soils will produce food that is probably not all that great for a persons health.

The news media over the past twenty one months seems to have become mildly obsessed with the health subject which dare not be mentioned. The problem is, there are other serious health issues which could well use some air time. I just doubt very much that they’ll get the air time.

Troubling clouds brew on the distant horizon as the sun sets out over the land

The forecast for this week sounded dreadful. The storm clouds have hung low over the farm most days, and the weather has been reasonably cool for this late spring time of year. In reality, despite the thick clouds, the weather was quite pleasant, if on the colder side of expectations.

We’ve set a cracking pace for work on the replacement machinery shed. The project has gone ahead this week in leaps and bounds. The steel cladding was picked up from the supplier, and the sheer weight of the steel resulted in a very slow drive back home to the farm. One of the power wheelbarrows was used to move all of the steel cladding down to the work site. Using machinery saves a bit of hard work, but that does not mean that it is still not hard physical work.

Regular readers will recall that last week the work site looked like a giants pool table. This week most of the timber posts were cemented into the ground. Three timber posts need to be recovered from an existing shed, which we have plans to dismantle over the next week or so.

Most of the timber posts were cemented into their holes on the shed site

After another half a days work, the top timber rail was installed. In addition steel strapping was also installed onto the timber frame. The steel strapping was then tensioned so that the overall flexing of the timber frame is reduced. Occasionally strong wind gusts can challenge structures here, not to mention the recent earthquake, and so it is probably not a bad idea to tie the entire timber frame together with strong steel strapping.

The top plate and steel strapping were installed

Another half day resulted in the middle and lower timber rails getting attached to the timber posts. The steel cladding will be attached to these rails. And the angles in all of the timber roof joists were all cut. Two of the roof truss timber arrangements were attached to either end of the shed timber frame.

The shed is beginning to take shape

Phew! That was a lot of work this week. For those readers who were concerned with the plight of the two Kelpie dogs, please rest assured that they’re doing fine and have mostly recovered from the recent surgery. In fact, Ruby was so annoyed by her head cone, she decided to smash it up. It was an impressive feat.

Ruby smashed the hated head cone. At least she looks like she’s done the wrong thing.

Onto the flowers:

It’s Rhodie time again!
The Canary Island Foxgloves amaze and delight all year around
The mint scented Geraniums produce vast quantities of flowers which the bees adore
Chives are not only tasty, they are prolific and very low care
At this slightly warmer and occasionally sunny time of year, the Geraniums are spectacular

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 1,155.8mm (45.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,153.6mm (45.4 inches)

57 thoughts on “Magic Dirt”

  1. Yo, Chris – Giants? Where’s the fossil record? 🙂

    Watch the first 5 minutes, or the whole thing.

    “It all starts with the soil.” Someone said that, once. 🙂 . I stopped by the library (closed Sundays), today, and stole some city property. Two stuffed bags of leaves to turn into the garden. Read a book a couple of weeks ago, about the 100 greatest archaeological finds. There was a chapter on the Amazon rain forests. And the soil, Terra Preta. I’m looking into that, a bit. There are drawbacks. But, I think I’ll just stick with the tried and true. Lots of kitchen scraps, leaves, lime, wood ash and coffee grounds.

    The picture of the sky is super! Looks like that Australian rock shelter, with all the indigenous art on the ceiling. Natural pillars holding the whole thing up.

    Wow. You’re really moving along on the shed. The one picture, though. “Top plate and steel striping.” Are you going to have to duck, each time you go through the door? Oh, well. Bash your brain bucket two or three times, and you’ll remember. 🙂 It’s really shaping up. Move out the machinery and it will be a great party venue!

    Ruby was very naughty. And she’s got down “guilty” look, pat.

    Your Rhodies are really putting on a show. I noticed today, here at the Institution and the library, that the Rhodie bushes are full of buds. Won’t see any bloom for months. What’s better than chives? Maybe, parsley. For that mid-winter pick-me-up.

    Your geraniums look really colorful. I’m going to be digging up the area where our wild geraniums come back, every year. I looked it up to see if they seed, or root. Both. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the rhizomes and see if I can collect some seed. They’re still blooming. Lew

  2. Hi Al,

    Thanks for the update as our local news has dropped the subject. Did I read correctly from other sources that another bout of rain is due to hit flood affected areas on Monday? Not good if true.

    Hope your family is OK. It looks like the storm also hit south of the border as well, but the worst impacts are over on the Canadian side.

    Best wishes to you too.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    You know, 2001 A space Odyssey was really well filmed and it holds up well. I enjoyed the story, although to be candid, I did have to read the book and its sequels in order to understand the conclusion of the film. Before reading the book I was left with the vague sort of feeling that a bunch of stoners may have taken control of the filming and direction right at the very end of the film. For some reason I always associate the end of the film with Pink Floyd’s classic album: Dark side of the moon. And Richard Strauss’ epic Also sprach Zarathustra is a very awesome and inspiring arrangement of music. It was well chosen to accompany that film.

    Well yeah, there are only so many hours in a day, and we’ve had to make the hard choices between attending to the plants and sorting out infrastructure. It’s an interesting story that one, but there is a certain order of business that we’ve followed whilst developing this property. First there was the need for shelter… And even with this much reduced attendance upon the plants, there’ll still be plenty of stuff to consume.

    The BC situation has also dropped out of the news here. Not a good sign, and if I read some of their local news sources correctly, there is a good chance that more rain is arriving in the flooded areas today (Monday).

    There are a number of very interesting interweb sites on landslides in Idaho. One very official interweb site claimed that ‘Landslides are caused by gravity acting on slopes.’ That statement makes a great deal of sense. Some of the photos from landslides in that area are rather alarming. Hope your friends can get to the town north of them.

    Yummo! Your mention of shiitake mushrooms lead me on an interweb rabbit hole as to their possible health benefits. I’ve grown them in the past, and would like to do so again. It seems only prudent given the huge number of hardwood trees here. Your dinner sounds really nice, and we had mushroom linguine tonight, all cooked up from raw ingredients, except the linguine which is as good as what I can make. We also chucked in fresh asparagus from the garden, and lots of chilli.

    As to the complex atmosphere, it disturbs me that so many media outlets describe the flooding up north in your part of the world as an example of climate change in the title to the article, before actually reporting upon the events. Journalism these days…

    Mate, there’s nothing wrong with basic ingredients and that has been the ruck or common lot of folks since dinosaurs walked the earth. Cooking well on the other hand is an art form, and condiments, care and the proper combination of ingredients can make a great difference to the end result. But I do also hope that your next food box improves upon the most recent box.

    The rats have it coming, and I’ve tried hard to rationalise with their little twitchy nosed rodent personalities. But did they listen? Nope, but anyway, I need the materials sourced from several sheds in order to achieve the desired outcome. It’s a big job that we’ve taken on.

    Thanks! The Ruin poem is haunting (or the fragments that remain). But yes it is an important question to ask, why was everything left behind after such hard work went into constructing the buildings in the first place? Ook! Oh my. The author understands. But of course.

    Mate, from what I’m understanding, it can all end with the soil too! Seriously. The reduced proteins in food grown in minerally deficient soils will most certainly impact upon the vast majority of peoples health, whether they understand it or not. I linked to an article about EV’s on Mr Greer’s site and one of the photos from your country in 1974 rather bemused me. The folks in the photo looked like me, all sticky chicken angular and stuff, and I’m an old fella nowadays. Food is now not even what it only recently once was, and yet few people consider that and take the time to wonder what it may actually all mean.

    Top notch score with the bags of leaves. And yes I agree that it is an interesting topic, but it may not be possible to achieve that outcome in other parts of the planet. For example where you and I reside, leaching of minerals from the soils due to excessive rainfall, can be a problem and I doubt that there is the ambient heat to create terra preta. So yeah, I’m roughly following a similar path to you, except adding in some specific minerals and also industrially processed animal wastes (blood and bone as well as pelletised manures). The soil here looks visibly different than it did fifteen years ago.

    I’ve heard someone suggest that the skies in Australia just seem wider and reach further than in other parts of the world. It’s probably because the land is flatter than most other parts of the world.

    Very funny! The head banging bit of timber is merely holding the structure together whilst the cement for the timber posts cures properly. Not that there was much in the way of movement in the posts. The editor always suggests that I overdo the cement mixture, but I tend to add in more cement so that the end product is reasonably water tight, or at least resistant to water. 🙂 Originally the cantina shed was set up so that people could stay overnight. It was a really sweet little shed with a wood heater and it was better insulated than the building standards require. But few people took advantage of the facilities, and we had more pressing needs for storage of the preserves and equipment. So years ago the shed was re-purposed to where it is today. I often note that in many of the Grand Designs shows people seem to want to add in guest bedrooms, but I do wonder how often those rooms are actually used.

    Ruby was taken to the vet again today for a post operative check up. She is healing well enough, but is having something of a reaction to the internal sutures, but that is meant to be not unusual for very active dogs.

    Yeah, rhodies are fascinating plants, and the buds sometimes over winter before producing a great show in early to mid spring. There are more rhodies producing even more flowers in the orchards. We originally scored a whole trailer load of them from a nursery which was closing down and just wanted to be rid of the stock.

    If you discover the geranium seeds, please let me know as I’ve never noticed them and figured they were very small. But they do self seed here, and of course the rhizomes always produce new growth.



  4. “rich and heady stream” Ha! got a chuckle from that line.

    I’ve already chimed in on this subject before, but will just reiterate that a good portion of the phosphorus ( and nitrogen) in our waste stream is actually in our urine, so that is the “rich and heady stream” that comes to mind for me. : )

    Giants- well, another way to explain the colossal structures is all the slaves we have now. Fossil fuel energy slaves, 22 billion by some accounts. BTW, have you seen any sign of Jason Hempenstall lately? His newer blog seems inactive.

    He might be frequenting corners of the web that I don’t travel, or the immediacy of decline may have him directing energy homeward. Dunno.

    Maybe you mentioned it already, but what type of wood are the shed posts, or what type of treatment do they have to prevent rot?

    We are now in to full wood heating mode here, but have already sketched out next year’s garden rotation so I could spread leaves and compost where most needed.

    Staggering news about China ending phosphorus exports, and yet the popular news sources natter on about award shows and celebrity inanities. Ripple effects will be forthcoming everywhere soon I expect. So it goes.

  5. Yo, Chris – According to reports, second hand, of course, “2001” vies for first place favorite stoner movie with “Fantasia.” I didn’t “get” the end of “2001”, either. But, wasn’t interested enough to follow up. Over the years I’ve read this and that, here and there, to piece together what it was all about.

    LOL. “Landslides are caused by gravity acting on slopes.” No poop, Sherlock. 🙂 . That and maybe a lot of rain, underlying clay layers and the stripping off of the ground cover, either by fire or logging. I was a little hazy on the geography around my friends place in Idaho. The highway with the landslides is over the hills and to the east of them. But, it meets the highway that runs through their town, further north. So, the highway through their town has been turned into a detour … with all the traffic involved. She said it looks like Interstate 5, out there. Often, when there’s a wreck out on I-5, all that traffic is detoured through Cheahlis and Centralia. Always makes for an “interesting” day. Both highways are pretty much just two lane blacktop. Both are hard to maintain. When I went over to visit, the highway that runs through their town, well, south of them it was in very bad shape.

    Yup. Shiitake mushrooms are supposed to have some chemicals in them that fights cancer bugs. According to some reports. I don’t know about that, but they do add a nice subtle flavor, to whatever you throw them in. My local grocery used to carry 8 oz containers of Shiitake, for $4. $6 if you got them pre-sliced. For two bucks I can cut up my own mushrooms 🙂 . Any-who. They disappeared about two months ago. They still have them, but they’re loose. In a small bin. It’s difficult to figure out if they’re more expensive, or less, but I think they’re about the same.

    I got on a baking jag, last night, and made some oatmeal cookies. Just used the recipe on the box. Only tweek I did was using plumped up dried cranberries, instead of raisins. Pretty tasty. I gave half a dozen to Elinor and still have a big bag, for me.

    Using climate change as a lead in articles is what drives Prof. Mass, nuts. 🙂 .

    I read another article on how the food banks are doing it tough. Well, if it’s the new normal, it’s the new normal. Elinor didn’t get a box, this month, as she may (or may not) have messed up her paperwork. They re-certify us, every year. I say “or may not”, as I sent my paperwork in, two days after I got it, and then got a call that I hadn’t sent in my paperwork. There was a lot of phone tag, and messages not returned. I finally tossed it to our Community Outreach Person, who called the supervisor and got it sorted. I guess he said that they were making sure that food boxes were going to people who actually apply. Trimming the list, I guess. But it seems the person they hired to do that, is dropping the ball, a lot.

    I remember reading an article that one of the nicest sets of armor, came from a Roman fort in southwest Britain. They found a lot of interesting stuff, and figured the building was a kind of warehouse, for storage of personal items. Everything old is new again. I don’t know if Australia is on as much of a storage unit jag, as here in the States. They’re everywhere.

    I’d guess, whoever the Roman soldier was, who stored his stuff, was maybe called up for one of those Continental adventures, and didn’t make it back. The coin hoards you hear about, come from all periods of Roman British history. Not just the end in 410 CE.

    Oh, yeah. When you see old photos or film of school kids in the 1950s and 60s, there’s hardly a chubby one in the bunch. You’d think people would get a clue, that something changed … and what changed was the food.

    Ah. The head bashing beams are stringers. Shows how little I know about construction. Or, not enough that that came to mind. Lew

  6. Chris,

    The asbestos thing. Well, to work with it even on the low exposure air sampling and material sampling side that I was initially hired to do? 40 hours of instruction from Federally certified instructors were required, as well as passing an exam. Safe handling, proper use of proper equipment, respirators, specialized clothing was all emphasized. An additional 40 course hours and exam was required to become a “Certified Supervisor”, which our entire shop had to take before we could each lead work groups of other departments’ employees – our “extra help” when we were overwhelmed with work one spring. All of the extra help had to take the 1st 40 hour course, too.

    Avalanche sat in the driver’s seat during Saturday’s carving club meeting. She chewed some wooden thing she found in the car. Poor puppy is teething. She lost a baby canine last Tuesday, and I found 2 more teeth on the floor early Monday morning. The thawed and then refrozen snow was very enjoyable to her: soft enough to shew on, cold enough to help with teething pain. But the snow is all gone now.

    I’m almost done with 2 small Jack o’ Lanterns. Got the “rough outs” at a club meeting, then finished shaping them and carved in details, like eyes, teeth, etc. Then painted them. A bit more touch up paint is needed, then some wood burning to highlight the teeth. When done, I’ll try to remember to email a photo.

    Ruby did, indeed, do a number on that cone. I’m not convinced that her contrite look was genuine. Time will tell.

    The Princess and her sister got in early Monday morning. They had to travel through dense fog from Yakima to Coulee Dam to Spokane. There was a landslide that had boulders strewn across the road near Ephrata, WA, due to those storms that devastated western Canada. The Princess said that the boulders were almost invisible in the dark and the fog, even at a mere 50km per hour. Playing “dodge boulder” with the car is NEVER fun.

    Good work on the shed! You can get a lot more done in the cooler weather, can’t you?

    Nice sunset photo. We’ve been having similar sunsets, at least the coloring is similar. Happens with clouds and fog and the occasional sunbreak near sunset.

    Your photos have me sold on chives. My mother grew them. As you said, they’re prolific and tasty. And those blooms on them are pretty.


  7. Hi Chris,
    I’m probably telling you something you already know, but soil pH has a big effect on the availability of micronutrients to plants as well. It could be that your soils are acidic, and that the addition of calcium carbonate helps to neutralise this making some nutrients more available to the trees. eg.×827.jpg

    It’s a great time of year. Our grapes are going crazy, logan berries have 10x as much fruit as last year. Pears, apples, peaches, plums, oh my! It’s been a nice wet spring in Adelaide which has been fantastic.

    We installed a composting loo this year, which has been really good. In many ways superior to a “standard” flushing loo — it actually smells less. It’s great to tap into that nutrient stream. I was chatting to someone recently, who said their Council forced them to remove a composting loo, so ours keeps a fairly low profile (we don’t shout it to the neighbourhood 😉 )

    One big advantage of living in the city is the availability of “waste” nutrients for little/no cost. We must have had more than 50 cubic metres of mulch dumped in our drive over the years, just for the asking (though I usually give them a few $ or beers to say thanks). That has transformed our garden (and raised the ground level by about 600mm!). It’s going to be very (ahem) interesting to see what happens as fertiliser prices increase. I admit to feeling a bit nervous.

    Cheers, Gus

  8. Hi Steve,

    Mate, there are times where I’m sitting here at the computer and I wonder: do I write this? Mostly the answer is always yes, and I get a few laughs myself from some of the words.

    Thanks for re-mentioning the point – it’s actually really important that people get back to using that stuff on the land. There seems little point to me to be disposing of it in the oceans.

    🙂 Nah, Jason may still be reading, but I do miss his voice, and he had a lot to say. Plus I was really curious to hear how his wood lot project was going. He would have had a cold and wet summer, but that suits some plants, so who knows. Far out, what do you?

    Ah, the timber is Cypress Pine. It’s a local species: Callitris . The timber is very aromatic (I really like the smell), resists termites and also resists decay. A perfect timber, so I have not treated it. However, the cement that it sits in is a very water tight mixture, so the posts will last many decades if I keep the water off them, which shouldn’t be too hard.

    Firewood is a wonderful local resource, it is probably the most sustainable of all fuels and the trees grow at about 3ft per year here and there are tens of thousands of them. I’d be hard pressed to make much of a dent in the supply, but I can only harvest for personal use.

    Are you content with your harvest with this past growing season?

    It is the shocking story that nobody seems to quite understand the severity of. This is the kind of world we live in.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Hmm, I can see that. Next time Simon drops by here for a chat, we should ask him about stoner films – we’ve had some fun conversations about the relative merits of the genre. 🙂 And let’s not forget some of the more recent awards of merit for films from sort of around your part of the world like: Pineapple Express. Very silly, as all good stoner films should be. The actor Seth Rogen lends a certain gravitas to such films.

    The astronaut and HAL-9000 were sucked into the monolith. Yep, that was what was going on, although candidly I wouldn’t have deduced that from the film. I hoped that the two patched up their differences? Imagine if they were both stuck in the monolith and hated each others guts? What a nightmare scenario.

    Hey, that landslide quote actually came from a serious website. If we were twelve years old, we’d say something to each other in relation to that comment: Like, derr, dude. As you noted, it’s kind of asking for that sort of reaction. 🙂 All valid points as to contributing factors and the serious website did mention those as well, it just began with a statement of the utter obvious. Speaking of Idaho and landslides, I’d read something about that area which suggested that the granite had worn, but rather than being worn down enough to become a sort of granitic sand, the chunks are pebble sized, and so I guess that wouldn’t assist matters, and might even allow larger rocks to move long distances.

    It’s not good that traffic bypass situation, and the freeways are often closed if there is a fatality as the investigation team look at the scene in detail. Not something you want to be involved in, from any perspective. I was kind of glad when I was a volunteer that I never got called up to such an incident. Before joining up I came across a local I knew who’d been involved in an accident, and he was banged up and had to be taken to hospital, but otherwise recovered fine. How is the young bloke going of your mates over in Idaho?

    Those are some tasty mushrooms, and I’d read such claims too. It interested me that some folks can react badly to those mushrooms, but I’m guessing that is only a tiny percentage of the population. I tend to listen to such claims, but a lot of basic food stuffs are pretty good for your health. I’ve been adding a small amount of coconut oil to my breakfasts (and the dogs) as it makes a difference to me with the eczema – not sure why, but it does. I spotted the reference to that a long time back on a dog health website, and thought I’d give it a go.

    Mushrooms here probably cost about two and a half times that amount you pay.

    Yum! Oatmeal cookies sound pretty tasty. Never used oatmeal before, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t be really tasty. I use unstabilised rolled oats (whatever that means).

    Went out for dinner in the big smoke tonight and had gourmet burgers (with beetroot slices). Afterwards we had take away gelati in a waffle cone (vanilla and mint-choc). Yum. Didn’t end up getting a coffee (and am having withdrawal 🙂 ) as the place had closed early and there was a nervous looking bloke on the door who said something about an issue in the kitchen. However, I noticed that the staff were cleaning furiously, so I’m guessing it was the health subject which dare not be named. I’m being asked for proof of double vax everywhere I go now, even for retail shops. One place I ordered some materials and it basically don’t come in if… Of course people in such a circumstance can order online. The whole thing looks very weird to me.

    🙂 Possibly this is the good Professors space lizards? The claim does get over used too much, and thus devalues the actual meaning.

    Your brush with bureaucracy is my sort of nightmare, and kudos for you navigating the murky waters (savings by exclusion?) Not saying that if you don’t comply, you’ll get no food box, and you’ll be happy… Hope Elinor can sort her business out.

    Man, I gotta hit the sack, will talk tomorrow.



  10. Hi DJ,

    Seriously, I’m probably more entertaining when I’ve had my fix of caffeine… 🙂 I mentioned the story in my reply to Lewis. Not good, but I’m guessing that is what happened. Life can be a bit of a crap shoot these days. And Gus’s part of the world is opening to travellers from this state only earlier today (I believe).

    The training for the asbestos sounds pretty good, and I assume that you’d pick up even more whilst out in the field? The stuff really can be found all over the built environment. Did everyone keep an eye out for one another? I remember playing a game of paintball once (the only time) and I had this strong urge to pull the mask off my head which I had to resist – that would have been an unwise move.

    Pups do teeth don’t they. However, I’m amazed that you found some teeth – never seen that myself. Did you know that the pups mostly consume them? It’s probably a good source of freebie minerals. I do hope that the wood something wasn’t a carving or project? Hey, at least it wasn’t the car seats? There are websites showing images of dogs who have destroyed furniture. They can be hard on their bedding that’s for sure, but one winter and they understand that it is not a wise move – despite the implicit fun in the destruction.

    A jack o lantern is a great idea. What sort of size are we talking about here? Thanks, and I would like to see a photo. Hmm, I might even be able to set up some sort of gallery program here where you guys can submit and display photos if you want. It’s not hard to do.

    Hehe! Yesterday we had to take her back to the vet as she is having some sort of mild reaction to the sutures. She’s healing fine and the reaction is not unknown in particularly active dogs. It looks like a bit of swelling and so she on anti-imflammatories again… The vet told me to see if I could get her to be less active. Hmm. Energy levels are high in that one.

    Oh that’s not good, and glad to hear that your lady dodged all of the boulders whilst driving in fog. That’s an horrific combination of driving conditions. We get thick fogs here where the visibility goes down to only a few metres, and that makes for a tough drive and you have to kind of know where you are on the particular stretch of road.

    Thanks. The shed is coming along nicely. Ordered more materials today and am paying extra to ensure supply can actually happen.

    Bed time…



  11. Hello Chris
    Ongoing work looks great.
    Very cold here. The sun has shone all day but the frost remained.
    A neighbour’s son has had a nasty accident with a grinder. He was cut to the bone above one knee and bled plenty. Fortunately he has survived and has begun to hobble around.


  12. Hi Chris,
    Great progress on the new shed. Are the cones still on Plum and Ruby. Salve now has ringworm on her face but just two spots and hasn’t spread to Leo or us. We are just treating it with OTC antifungal cream and apple cider vinegar. Hopefully that works though she doesn’t seem bothered by it.

    Daughter, Carla, and her husband are having 30 for Thanksgiving. More power to her. Everyone’s looking forward to getting together after last year.

    Doug getting ready to sell honey at the Christmas tree farm across the street from our old house for the next two weekends. He’s made a good profit in the past. The farm is so popular that they sell out and have to close early so people don’t cut down too many trees. With this year’s drought they’ve already announced they’re only open for two weekends instead of four. They’ve planted lots of trees on old property so should be able to handle the crowds better in a few more years. Many people come from Chicago and close in suburbs and often are dressed quite inappropriately to cut down a tree in cold and sometimes windy and snowy weather. It’s a source of amusement for the owners. This weekend is a bit cold but supposed to be sunny and calm winds so not too bad.


    PS: We use everything here too though we haven’t gone the humanure route yet.

  13. Yo, Chris – Yup. Plenty of basic food stuffs that are good for the old body. Of course, it seems to vary from person to person. Your mileage may vary. I discovered that if I eat a small handful of walnuts, every day at lunch …. well … irregularity is not a problem. I buy the shelled baking walnuts. I’m going through a little less than a pound, a week. I discovered that one of the cheap food stores has them at half the price of my regular grocery.

    The oatmeal cookies are very similar to Anzac biscuits. The recipe said you could either use old fashioned rolled oats, or, the instant. Of course, old fashioned is the only thing I use. I used the recipe off the Quaker folks box. Which, I believe, was developed in 1906. But I did have a problem with the butter measure. “1/2 cup butter (one stick plus six tablespoons butter). But according to the scale on the butter stick, one stick = 1/2 cup butter. So what’s with the extra 6 tablespoons? Anyway. I cut the 6 tablespoons, a bit, and they turned out fine.

    Speaking of coffee, you may remember I attempted to link to an old Saturday Night Live sketch, “Java Junkie.” Which due to some weird copyright thing, cannot be seen on the Net. But it turns out, the actor who did the sketch (not that he has anything to do with the copyright), Peter Aykroyd, died this week. By the by, he’s the younger brother of Dan Aykroyd. But, anyway. There have been a few short clips from the sketch, here and there. But not the whole thing. Pity. Comic genius.

    Well, here, as far as That Which Cannot be Named, most stores have signs up, to wear a mask. Not that the population seems to pay that much mind. We’re still hitting 200+ new cases a week, here in the county. Here at the Institution, we’re still locked down, pretty tight.

    Yeah, I kind of wondered if the ineptitude over the food boxes was a bit of a ploy to “thin the ranks.” Elinor’s granddaughter (the one who’s an professional organizer, and is working on sorting Elinor’s apartment), called and got it sorted. She’s nice, but rather fierce. I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that phone call. 🙂

    I spent a couple of hours in the garden, yesterday. General clean up and burying kitchen scraps and working leaves and composted chicken poop, into the soil. I checked out the wild geraniums, and the dry flower heads do have tiny seeds in them. The root division sounds a lot easier.

    When I was at the library, last time, there was “Picard: Season One” sitting on the shelf. Even though I had decided not to watch it, I gave it a whirl. Not bad. I’ll probably watch the whole thing. Also, found the 40th anniversary “I, Claudius.” I watched the extras, last night. Interesting stuff.

    Went to get gas, this morning. $4 a gallon. I usually top off my tank, but decided to just do $30. I expect gas theft will soon become a problem, and loosing $30 worth is something I could handle. In the news I saw that the Prez is going to release some of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In an attempt to lower the price.

    I also stopped by the cheap food store, and picked up some stuff for the Club pantry. Got a box, and three bags of food for $30. Not bad.

    I also see that over in your part of the world, they arrested a suspect in the disappearance of that elderly couple who were camping. So, it wasn’t the button man … Lew

  14. Hi DJ (cont),

    Things are somewhat more relaxed this evening, and I’m finding that I’m appreciative of these events.

    Hey, the supply issues are a real mixed bag right now. I never really know what might cause me to become unstuck as it where. But we seem to have managed to get enough stuff for all of the projects, and this is a good thing. Some of that stuff is still on order, but apparently they can supply.

    Hope your lady made it safe back home again (or to her destination) what with all of the fog, and rocks.

    You’ll enjoy the chives I reckon. And they are easily propagated by division and they’re so easy, they make us look like we know what we are doing. The bees enjoy the flowers too. But best of all, they taste pretty good and you can cook with them or eat them fresh.



  15. Hi Gus,

    As you guessed the soils here are quite acidic as they ordinarily support forest vegetation. There’s a bit more to the story than just pH, but you’re right too in that it is indicative of other issues going on. The thing with pH is that it doesn’t necessarily indicate what minerals are present in the soils, and there are also other issues such as organic matter, climate, sun, rainfall etc. It’s really complicated, and I’m working towards bringing in the minerals I’m guessing that are deficient in the soil just for the purposes of growing vegetables and the orchard to a lesser extent. Over reliance on the pH reading though can lead to all manner of strangeness, like for example I bring in Agricultural Lime which is Calcium Carbonate for the orchards and mix it with the coffee grounds, the soils here are clearly deficient in this mineral, and the plants need it. Other people though can bring in Dolomite which is a mixture of Calcium Magnesium Carbonate to lift the pH, but the soils here are already sticky and so I’m guessing they have plenty of magnesium. So you could the raise pH by using that stuff, but then cause other mineral imbalances using dolomite – here at least. Then there is the other gardeners favourite Gypsum. That’s Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate, but do you need the extra sulfur? Maybe if you’re growing onions and other allium family plants. Dunno, it all depends, and the more I learn, the less I realise that I know.

    In the past I used to believe that compost or mulch was adequate, but no, they’re not. And you don’t really know what they’re missing. Australia’s soils are deficient in phosphate, so that means that the compost or mulch you have might also be deficient in this mineral – but it depends on what went into the stuff in the first place. But adding a lot like what you’ve done might bring in what is lacking anyway.

    Mineral deficiencies historically used to be a serious issue for peoples health.

    Gus, your words in relation to produce is like music to my ears. We’re a month at least behind your warmer part of the world but the berries are promising much.

    Top work! And I applaud your methods and would likewise keep a low profile about such things. Totally get that. And they don’t smell beyond a vague hint of earthiness that I’ve ever noticed. I sometimes try to scare visitors by getting them to peer into the contents of the worm farm – and they’re always surprised at how neutral it smells.

    Yeah exactly. Good score too, the mulch breaks down into a really fine black sand / loam here – and I’d be curious to hear if you’re seeing that where you are? The volume of coffee grounds I’ve chucked into the orchards over the years otherwise bound for landfill says a lot about our society.



  16. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, and I love the symmetry inherent in such structures. We made huge progress on the shed, but I don’t really know what to do next if only because the weather forecast looks dire. On the other hand, the forecasters may be incorrect, and this has happened during the past two weeks which also looked dire but weren’t really all that bad – in fact they were quite pleasant.

    Today has been warm, but not hot although humid with what looked like a late afternoon monsoonal downpour. All very tropical. Earlier in the day was superb.

    Frost that hangs around all day long despite the sunshine, is a certain sign that colder weather is around the corner.

    Ouch! Yes, angle grinders are a nightmare tool that you have to retain your wits when using. Did the unfortunate neighbours son sever any tendons? Given he’s hobbling around, he may have gotten lucky (if that is an appropriate description).

    A lot of tools utilise a cutting action, but most tools are inherently dangerous and should be used with care. The problem with tools is that they can multiply the effort, but then they can also multiply the occasional errors and mishaps.

    Hope the kid recovers speedily.



  17. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 I do love a good build. Thanks for asking about Plum and Ruby. Plum has nearly fully healed, but Ruby is having a reaction to the internal sutures and is still in a bit of discomfit. The vet checked her out on Monday and declared the stitches to be healing and not ripped or torn (ook imagine that!), but there is inflammation and swelling on the internal stitches. Trying to keep a Kelpie sedate is like trying to stop the wind. Those two are athletes and love nothing more than running around like crazy and leaping through the air.

    Poor Salve, please extend my sympathies. As you and Lewis surmised, after Plum nabbed the rabbit, she too got worms, and has been treated recently. Plum went off her breakfast, which for a Kelpie is unheard of. I dosed all three of them just to be sure. But ringworm is something else. I remember other kids getting them when I was a young kid. Yeah, not good.

    Well thanks for that. I’ve now learned more about ringworm than I ever thought that I would, and who knew that it was a fungus? Fascinating, and thanks for the knowledge. Hope Salve recovers and that you and Doug avoid it, the images on the interweb looked unpleasant.

    He’s in the restaurant biz isn’t he? 30 people would be a small sitting for a person with such skills? It’s actually really lovely to catch up with people face to face and I miss that.

    Did you see that supplies of Christmas trees from up the north west of your continent are probably likely to be in short supply this year due to the epic floods? The Christmas tree business at the local tree farm will be cracking! And Doug will hopefully do a brisk trade in honey sales. Actually, I hope the weather cooperates.

    Margaret, the dressing inappropriately thing goes on in this part of the world too. Whatever are they all thinking? People drive up from the relative warmth of Melbourne and they get shocked at how cold it is up in this mountain range. I dunno about your part of the world, but even during the depths of winter I see some locals parading about inappropriately on seriously cold days like fashion victims. You can only assume that their houses and vehicles must be seriously heated to consider dressing like that?

    At Cradle Mountain in the island state of Tasmania, I once encountered a young couple who were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. The car park was a couple of hours walk away and the day had begun with blue sunny (but cold) spring skies. The weather turned ugly, cold and wet during the afternoon, and I said to the young couple that they should immediately head back to their car, but no, they couldn’t be rationalised with. I expect that they didn’t much enjoy their walk. The editor and I were seriously rugged up against the cold and wet weather, but had previously had to carry all that gear in our backpacks. For a few days afterwards I kept an eye on the news to see whether anything unfortunate had happened, but no, they appear to have survived. I dunno.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    That’s the thing isn’t it? What dietary requirements works for one person might not necessarily work for others. It’s like the shiitake mushrooms, they might be good for you, but some people can have allergic reactions to the chemicals in them. I’ve been wondering for a while now whether people intuitively realise that the plant matter produced for consumption nowadays is lower in protein than it once was? My thinking in that matter is because the recent preponderance of high protein meat diets does sort of suggest that people might intuitively know of the problem and are searching for a solution. Personally that level of meat consumption doesn’t work for me and too much meat in my diet makes me feel ill, but other people swear by it so what do I know? I suspect that it is a really complicated matter, and most issues these days aren’t looked at from an holistic approach.

    I really enjoy walnuts too. And the best nut crop here is the almonds, and fresh almonds from the tree taste far better than the ones that you can buy. They keep really well too. The almonds are a very early blossom and so like the apricots, the produce from those trees suffered greatly this year. Oh well, there is always apples, and maybe it is time I learned how to preserve them. Have you ever preserved apples? I’m candidly uncertain how cool stores keep apples fresh and crispy.

    That was what I was thinking about your oatmeal cookies in that they were similar. Just went on a deep dive on all things oats. The plants could strip mine the soils here of phosphate and potash, but they do have the benefit of being a hardy grain. Hey, I remember those Quaker oat boxes too.

    The chef / author Jason Sheehan in his notable and enjoyable book: Cooking Dirty, also made the excellent point that things taste better cooked in butter. I used butter this evening to fry up some field mushrooms and red capsicum (you call them peppers). Chucked in some fresh greens from the garden, a few pinches of cracked black pepper a couple of chunks of cheese. Boiled up a bit of linguine, and voila! Dinner. The editor is enjoying dinner with a friend this evening. Her friend has not been far from home for twenty months due to the health subject which dares not be named. Hope her friend is OK.

    The extra 6 tablespoons, well that’s yum that is! Although I’d probably remove them from the recipe as well. Thoroughly unnecessary to the end result.

    Mate, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do over the next few days as I can’t really get a good handle on the weather forecast. Dunno, I might take a wait and see approach before committing to any work, although I do like to plan ahead a little bit. One must occasionally be flexible in their outlook. 🙂

    Who could forget the Java Junkie? The Aykroyd family are a bunch of notable high achievers. That blokes demise can occur suddenly and a person can go from healthy to dead in a matter of days.

    Thanks for the health subject which dares not be named, news from afar. Things down here are vastly different and mask wearing is rigorously enforced, as are the checks on vax status. Yesterday for example I went to order the gourmet burger and had to show all that stuff, and then the young bloke apologised and came and checked up on the editors vax status. Honestly, I don’t really see that it will do much good, and possibly it will do some harm. People will after all do what they will – and this is of course what I took away from The Stand, but I see it playing out in the world, so there was a great deal of truth to the narrative presented by Mr King. It should be noted that the body count is far lower in reality than the novel, by a considerable margin too. Yeah, there are a lot of limitations placed upon the population here too. I noticed that petrol was again reaching the record high of $1.799 per litre. I have wondered why there is a need to record the additional decimal place mostly because the vast majority of the population realise that $1.799 is close enough to a $1.80. The whole economics of today will probably not end well.

    A former federal treasurer has added his words to the housing market spectacle: Peter Costello says RBA ‘irresponsible’ on rates, but who is responsible for housing affordability? The interesting quote from the article is this: “Australia’s 10.7 million homes are now worth $9.3 trillion dollars — or an average of $869,000 each — and that’s an increase of $1 trillion in just six months.” Such a story makes me feel very uncomfortable.

    The food box ruse was my first thought. As a young bloke when folks had paper based reports, I once stopped sending them out just to discover who was in fact reading them. There was a lot of unnecessary paper used in those reports, but by and large I believe that we use even more paper these days in offices. Nice to hear that Elinor has that food box problem sorted, and hope that the reorganisation is going well.

    Burying kitchen scraps – please excuse me because of all the loose mound talk the other week, I’d misread the words ‘kitchen scraps’ and instead read ‘bodies’. It’s getting late, and my brain is slowly shutting down into sleep mode. The editor has not yet arrived back home from dinner, and fortunately the fog outside due to the tropical (ish) rain late this afternoon has now lifted.

    That’s one vote for, and one vote against (Damo) for the series Picard. Oh wow, they’ve already filmed (almost used the word shot, which is probably in poor taste given some recent film incidents) the third season. May have to check it out.

    Mate, I recall when I Claudius was released to great acclaim. Are you intending to re-watch it? Incidentally, I made it half way through the utoob documentary on Roman Britain, and the narrator tells a compelling tale.

    Even strategic reserves are finite resources by their very nature. Crude oil prices have slightly reduced recently, but who knows what the future holds. I was rather impressed that some article was comparing oil to equities, and from a certain perspective the author was correct, but from other perspectives they may well be wrong.

    Top score! 🙂 Food inflation appears to be rather real down here and so $30 wouldn’t buy you much if you were careless.

    Your eyes are onto everything. I’m kind of glad to hear that it wasn’t button man, although he allegedly is something of a trickster and wild man. Some people forget that the bush is a rather remote an unpopulated place and that it pays to be courteous. I’m not entirely sure but it seems at this stage the news is reporting that the person of interest has been arrested but not charged at this stage. Honestly, it is probably a very uncomfortable situation to be assisting police with their inquiries (as it is sometimes described). A Victorian high country arrest the latest twist in police investigation into missing campers. A noted cattleman in the linked article raised a concern that had been at the back of my mind, in that you don’t expect that sort of trouble in that part of the world. I used to go camping alone up in similarly remote areas – I just liked getting away from everything and enjoying some quiet with only the sounds of the bush to be heard. It’s restful on the mind for me being in such places (and a part of the reason I love living up here).



  19. Hello Chris
    I was told that muscle and tendons were involved in the accident so goodness knows how he is managing to hobble about. My neighbour is helping with this son’s family at present, so updates are not available.


  20. Chris,

    Coffee, yes! I don’t really function until after I’ve had my morning mug of coffee. Afternoon is a mug of tea. Necessities.

    Yes, the first asbestos certification class pretty much was a “learner’s permit”. The more experienced workers as well as the “certified supervisors” pretty much did the training in the field. “Help the newbies was a required thing.” If the newbies screwed up, it made it extremely difficult to get the job done properly and safely.

    Found some more teeth Tuesday. Poor Avalanche is having a very rough Wednesday with all the teething. I don’t remember teething being that painful, because I don’t remember anything from when I was that young, or from that many millennia ago. 😉

    My jack o’lantern carvings are about 7.5cm in diameter. Nice size to carve.

    Poor Ruby and her ongoing inflammation. Inflammation sucks. Something unknown caused one of my shoulders to tighten up this week. Heat on the affected area makes it worse. Lots of ice packs and stretches help. Maybe tie Ruby down and apply ice packs?

    Supply issues are abnormal here, too. I’m hearing that they’re worse in rural areas; I bet it’s similar where you are. Grocery shopping is an adventure again. Some things aren’t on the shelves for several consecutive weeks, then they mysteriously reappear for a short time before disappearing again. Building supplies are still not back to normal. I’m having to try to plan a year ahead for certain projects, buy what I’ll need when it’s available. And we still keep about 42 rolls of toilet paper on hand, just in case. 😉

    Yes, the Princess and her sister made it back here safely. Just in time, too, because it started snowing again. Right at 0C for 20 hours, so it really didn’t accumulate much. Maybe 12.5mm. I’m disappointed that it isn’t deeper. When the snow does the thaw-freeze cycle, it can get a crust on it. After a few days of this, the crust might be about 7 or 8mm thick. It’s fun to take a slab of crust and break it over the unsuspecting dog’s or human’s head while proclaiming, “They call me John the Baptist in the winter.” Ok. It was fun when I was 13.


  21. Yo, Chris – Even main line medicine is getting on the holistic band wagon. Of course, you’ve got to have pretty good insurance to rate that kind of all inclusive care. The poor people’s clinic I go to, has signs all over the place about “one problem, one visit.” I suppose it makes there statistics look good. But, there’s a lot of information out there, to tweek this and that and stay healthy. If one is interested.

    I presume by “preserved apples,” you mean whole apples kept under some conditions, to be fairly edible through the winter? I’ve never given it a whirl, other than keeping apples in my fridge “crisper.” But I think any investigation should start with “root cellars.” Which can be a simple as digging a hole in well drained ground, lining it and capping it with straw, and maybe arrange some topping to slew off rain. There’s a range of temperature and humidity, to keep apples fairly fresh.

    Can’t beat butter to jazz things up. The Julia Child biographies (books and films) always have that moment where Julia has her first meal in France. Everything is awash in butter. Probably, good country butter, given the time frame. And the revelation that it was, to her. Yeah, I’d say I can cut the butter in the biscuit recipe. I baked them on parchment paper, and it was very … buttery. 🙂 .

    Well, the weather. All you can do in the “unsettled” seasons is stay loose. My friends in Idaho had their first snowfall. 3″.

    Well, I’d say “The Stand” is a good indication of what happens if something REALLY serious comes down the pike. As it will, sooner or later. And the way people are reacting to the current situation is also an indicator of what it will be like.

    I refuse to play their game. The gas I bought was $3.999. $4 in my universe 🙂 . We’ve been hit with a lot of “dollar” stores, opening in our county. What’s interesting is that one of the dollar store chains, announced yesterday, that their base price will now be $1.29. I wonder if that lawyer will sue them for false advertising?

    Yeah, I did ok at the cheap food store. Still not much in the canned fruit department. I go for cheap calories and bulk. A lot of it is stuff I wouldn’t eat. But I’m not out to evangelize healthy eating. Oh, I provide a few things, that one could put together in a healthy meal. But the couple of bags of brown rice and lentils, languish. Not my look out.

    I went shopping at the regular grocery store, last night. Didn’t need much, but, as tonight is Thanksgiving eve, the store will be a zoo. Last night, it wasn’t bad. I decided to throw in the towel. The most stressful part of cooking this meal (for me) is the darned pie crust. The most stressful part of meal prep. Now if I made a pie a week, I could probably get it down. (Old joke: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice! Practice! Practice!) So, I bought a couple of pre-made pie crusts. With that off my shoulders, the rest of the meal is a breeze.

    We got the other food box, this morning. MUCH better than the other one. Though nothing screamed “Thanksgiving,” other than a can of sweet potatoes. One of the traditional dishes. That I don’t care for. There was fresh cauliflower and grapes. A frozen pack of weenies and a frozen pound of lean ground beef. A store display box full of little foil packs of shelf stable chicken. A bottle of Mayo. A box of cereal and some shelf stable milk. A jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam. A box of mac and cheese. Cans of corn, green beans, peaches, pears and black beans. Not a bad lot.

    Yes, I’ll re-watch “I, Claudius.” What’s interesting is in the DVD extras, was a documentary about an attempt to film it, for the big screen, back in 1937. Directed by Alex Korda. Starring Charles Laughton and Merle Oberon. They shelved it, because Oberon had a traffic accident. But, gosh, there was a lot of it already “in the can.” They had extensive cuts. Interviewed a lot of people that were involved in the project.

    That was an interesting article about the housing market. And how politics, and politicians keep everything propped up. It’s a bubble. No two ways about it.

    “Burying kitchen staff?” 🙂

    That was an interesting article about the bush murders. Given the size of our country, and our population, people go missing and bodies are always turning up. By the time they are discovered, it’s often hard to tell (flies and stuff) if it was murder, animals, or some other misadventure. Way back in the dark ages, of my life, when I worked around skid row, there were a few pilots who were our customers. They were an awful lot. They had the same arrogance, that doctors often have. The tales they told of what they got up to, in foreign countries, made my skin crawl.

    Going out into the bush or woods can be very pleasant. But like visiting foreign countries, you pay your money and take your chances.

    Well, I’ve got a trip to the library, to make, and then I’m in for the duration of the holiday. Cookin’ up a storm. Lew

  22. Hi Chris
    What a well designed machine shed the Editor and you are building! I’m waiting to see the finished product. It will be good to have all the farm machines in covered storage.

    When considering the next project that your planning. Have you ever looked into the idea of drying your green fire logs using direct solar heating. I have thought about it for some time . Today I searched the subject using the following search:
    “Using direct solar energy to dry small diameter green fire logs”. I got many hits from the search on “gaggle”. Give it a shot !
    Cheers Al😁

  23. Hi Inge,

    Ouch, and so not good. Hope the young bloke recovers. Mind you, when I visited the physiotherapist a few months ago to get some rehabilitation exercises for my shoulder (a very worthwhile trip incidentally, which ended up badly and was possibly my fault, but more on that in a second), the physio told me that plenty of people have torn tendons and muscles and they wouldn’t even realise it. So, he might pull through OK, but he may have to do lots and lots of rehabilitation.

    Because of the shoulder, I now have to stretch every single day, and I have a routine sorted out. My old Sensei would approve but also possibly suggest, no, he’d probably most likely tell me, that I wasn’t doing enough. When I first started, the best I could do with the shoulder was three push ups – and the Sensei used to expect well beyond one hundred push ups as a cool down / warm up. He’s right too. Things have of course improved over time.

    Oh, anyway, so my sessions with the physio kind of got ended abruptly, which was probably my fault. So, on the second session I was really learning a lot and probably was a bit over enthusiastic and trying to be amusing when asked if I was doing the stretches at home, I foolishly suggested that I was an absolute nazi when it came to doing the stretches daily. And then I got a piercing look, with a question: What did you say? Yeah, probably not funny and the tone abruptly changed and I was unable to book a further appointment. Oh well, note to self: Don’t use that joke in future…

    Far out, what are you meant to do?



  24. Hi DJ,

    Yes, coffee in the morning clears the mind. However, I don’t really find that it wakes me up at all because I can go to sleep after a coffee easily. And tea is good! I moved the two tea camellia plants into the greenhouse just prior to winter and they’re doing really well. They didn’t die off over winter, but neither did they grow. Dunno about you, but I kind of enjoy camomile tea and green tea too. Some varieties of lemon tea are particularly tasty too. All good. What sort of tea are we talking about here in your afternoon mug?

    Thanks for the explanation on the practices. I was wondering because if the newbies made an error, then that could put everyone in the team at risk. A bit like working on high voltage electrical lines, you have to slow down and concentrate on what you and others around you are doing. When the tree broke the power line on the road a month or two back, the crew worked really well together and everyone seemed pretty chilled out. You wouldn’t want to work with someone who is a bit excitable, or careless. And you do come across careless people from time to time.

    Poor Avalanche, she is doing it tough. Hope she has plenty of things to chew on to relieve the pain in her mouth? I’m still amazed that you’ve found some puppy teeth, I’ve never seen that. Hopefully there were no dinosaurs roaming the earth in those early days? 🙂

    Hope your shoulder gets better, and mate I hear you about that issue. Stretch you must, and stretch you will! 🙂 (said in best Yoda voice – mate, who am I to talk about such matters). There is a school of thought which suggests that heat works better at muscular and joint repairs than cold, although it is slower and more painful. The same school of thought suggests that cold tends to lessen the pain but does not assist with repairs as well as heat does.

    Ruby would definitely take umbrage at having an ice pack applied to her tender bits. Yes, possibly followed up with a grumpy bite (not that she is a bitey dog, but still let sleeping dogs lie and stuff).

    Exactly, your experience matches what I’m seeing here too, although for some reason, the shortages are worse in the city than in rural areas. During the initial lock down, city folks were doing a run on one of the local supermarkets and they shut it down and opened only for locals. That was interesting and mildly alarming… I’m managing to get most of the materials for the projects, but costs are probably about 40% higher than I’d anticipated. So if you can pay, you can get.

    Half an inch of snow sounds nice, although I have not driven in such weather and it probably takes a lot of practice and skill. Glad that your lady made it back OK in such weather, although you probably are more comfortable with such driving conditions than I.

    DJ, you are super bad, but yeah kids… Hey, I recall that down here when in primary school the kids all did a similar thing on wet days. They’d jump up and grab a wet branch and all the rain stored on the leaves and branches would fall on everyones head. Of course, they got wet too…



  25. Hello Chris
    I used to store Bramley apples all winter. They were simply placed on shelves (not touching each other) in sheds so that it was cold.

    Definitely avoid the word Nazi though it does keep trying to creep in here re efforts to control that which shall not be named.


    There has been a discovery of an outstanding Roman mosaic in this country. No doubt you can access the details and pictures.


  26. Hi Lewis,

    I can see that in your country medical insurance could make all the difference between ending up broke and destitute ,should you ever be unfortunate enough to end up in their care. I’m sure they care, about something…Actually that system would scare me, but then house prices down here are scary, so same, same, but different. And possibly, we all end up scared one way or another.

    But yes, like you I am of the opinion that prevention is far better than a cure, and so try to stay out of their loving clutches. And yup, the information is out there, as a society we are awash with information, but it becomes hard when you try and utilise that information. And to be honest, I probably should have begun daily stretching exercises from a much earlier age, but oh well, better late than not at all. It is not like I can say that I didn’t know about them and their benefits. Hey, I’ve begun adding in leg and hip stretches too. And in my reply to Inge I mentioned the embarrassing situation with the professional assistance I caused by my poor attempt at humour. Yeah, read the room next time… I now know what a cold shoulder means. 🙂

    Actually I don’t really know how apples were preserved using any method. The thing is the farm isn’t that far from a large commercial apple growing area and they produce something like 40% of the nations crop and so reasonable apples are available for most of the year around here and so I never looked into preservation techniques. The old timers would have had that matter down pat. But it might be time to start thinking about preservation given what a reliable tree in these conditions apples are. Dunno.

    Have you ever come across a good book on traditional root cellars? I remember when I was a kid houses used to have a dark room which contained metal lined timber bins where grains, apples, onions, potatoes were kept. You never see such arrangements these days. The metal lined bins would have worked well to keep the rodents out.

    Oh, almost forgot to mention. Plum nabbed a rat. That girl is fast as, and she looked well pleased with herself. It was a juicy sized rat too. I haven’t poisoned them, so nabbing the rat was an act of serious skill on her part. She’s been digging apart their burrows, which I kind of approve of, despite the damage to the garden beds.

    Very buttery! 🙂 I’m old enough to recall the change from butter to margarine. Tell ya what though, when I was a kid, I hated the taste of butter, but now as an adult I hate the taste of margarine. I’ve wondered whether the plant oils used in margarine are the same as the ones used when I was a kid. For a while I used to use olive oil based margarine which was pretty tasty, but butter really is better. And I actually really enjoyed the Julia, Julia film. 🙂 A film about the love and exploration of food is a good film. Need I mention the film Chef?

    Holy carp! Three inches of snow sounds horrendous. Lewis, I’m summer soft!!! Mate, I wouldn’t even know where to begin and would begin worrying about store shelves getting emptied if it went on for too long. Speaking of weather, it was pea soup up here today. The solar power system recorded 40 minutes of peak sunshine for the entire day. Not bad for one week out from the official start to summer, and a day to dispell the worst beliefs of the true believers in solar power will save us! All up, we used about one hour of peak sunlight in the house, which isn’t a bad effort at all.

    Ooo! The replacement capacitors for the high quality radio fix up project arrived in the mail today. Yes, yes, electronics geek from way back, all self confessed and stuff.

    Yeah, exactly. We’re not set up to weather such challenges as presented in The Strand. I mean a couple of years of bad harvests world wide would set all current arrangements on their heads.

    I applaud your cry of defiance and can only benefit from your fine example. yes, it is as good as $4 per gallon isn’t it? Ah, here the name can change from ‘dollar stores’ to ‘two dollar shops’. 😉 That’s marketing genius and a proper rebrand. I believe that is what they are called down here anyway.

    All you can do with the cupboard is give them what they want. Not all food provides a satisfactory feeling post consumption. Yeah, you can only ever do your best. My gut feeling is that things will change on that front – economics will achieve that outcome.

    And a happy Thanksgiving to you and the other readers here from your part of the world.

    Years ago I was watching an episode of Gordon Ramsay something or other, and he said something maybe about using purchased pastry crusts too on the basis that there was little difference to the stuff you make yourself. Hope the pie turns out well. How long can someone command the attention of the audiences at Carnegie Hall? Hmm. But yeah, practice does make perfect.

    You don’t really see sweet potatoes used down here, although I have noticed them for sale at the markets. I prefer the more usual variety of potatoes. Here I have to confess to Plum nudging the keyboard for attention so please accept all spelling and grammar errors, and let’s blame Plum for any and all. 🙂

    You learn something new everyday. What a complicated background, but she rose above it all. And who knew that Merle Oberon would claim that she was from Tasmania? A significantly distant locale, and clearly Errol may have had something to do with that. I mean who in Hollywood would have heard of Tasmania in those days?

    It’s a bubble. Yeah. I dunno, I would have put the brakes on years ago and been hated and vilified for doing so.

    Well if I was involved in such burying incidents, would I mention it on the interweb? Fortunately in this regard I have a clear conscience. Although I have buried a few dogs that did great work in the kitchen as assistants. The current lot of fluffies put in a desultory effort on that front.

    That’s true, and also things are different up in the bush, so why annoy strangers? And yes, I’ve known two commercial pilots reasonably well over the years – not friends, just people you get to know through circumstance. One was good, but the other acted like he was good, but he had a dark soul that one and showed it from time to time. We had words after he turned that darkness on the editor. I tend to agree with your view, but things may be different these days for them. They don’t get paid that well nowadays from what I hear. The union pilots might do better, maybe.

    Hope the trip to the library was fruitful?



  27. Hi Al,

    Thanks, and the shed is enjoyable to construct. I quite like that sort of work as it is an exercise in logic. And it eventually gets tested by nature in extreme weather, so one must get the details just right!

    No, too much work, sorry to say. The sun during summer does that drying and curing process job for free. If I was going to do some sort of drying arrangement it would be for milled timber. I often dream of a portable timber mill. 🙂

    Hey, the replacement electrolytic capacitors turned up in the mail today. I plan to refurbish the Kenwood FM tuner first up. 🙂 Fingers crossed I don’t stuff it up.



  28. Hi Inge,

    Many thanks for your experience, and most houses when I was a kid had a room for storing grains and other produce. The bins were made from timber, but had sheet metal on them, which I’m guessing stopped the rodents. I just can’t recall the details as to how they were used.

    Plum nabbed a rat the other day. Those dogs are doing some great work.

    Yes, you are correct, and I was an idiot to use the word. I only mention the story as a warning to others as to what not to do. If I knew that I’d get that reaction, I wouldn’t have attempted to be amusing. I guess the lesson I took away was that it’s not funny.



  29. Hi Chris,

    The leaves have finally fallen off the trees (except for the oaks, which are always last to color and fall), and the garlic and potato onions are planted and mulched. I’m into winter mode, meaning gathering leaves to use for next year’s compost piles and pruning all manner of trees and shrubs. Also cleaning up the bamboo patch. But first, there is turkey to eat. 😉 It’s supposed to be quite cold tomorrow morning, 20F / -7C or even colder. Hope the radishes and turnips I am leaving in the garden don’t freeze.

    There is a good book on root cellars: Root Cellaring, Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables, by Mike and Nancy Bubel. Yes, the same Nancy Bubel who wrote the seed starting book. She had a long career as a garden writer, and deservedly so. This is the book that I used to understand how to use our basement anteroom as a root cellar.


  30. @ Inge – I saw an article on that. It’s a pity there’s so much damage, to the mosaic. But what’s left is pretty spectacular. And the rare subject matter. The Iliad. But the Roman’s had such a rich field of iconography, to pick from. I wonder if it was hard to decide on a topic, if you wanted a mosaic. You’d have to live with it for a long time. Lew

  31. Yo, Chris – According to Prof. Mass, we’re going to get three atmospheric rivers, in the next 7 days. But it looks like most of the action will be to the north, of me. Poor BC is probably getting it, again.

    Oh, I’ve stuck my foot in it a time or two, trying to be “funny.” We call Suzanne Who Always Has a Better Idea, the Parking Lot Nazi. Actually, she provides a useful service, as things seem to be getting tight out there. And, of course Seinfeld had the Soup Nazi. But, maybe, as most of the actors were Jewish, they’re permitted? Some politically correct twisted rational that minority groups are permitted to “own the slur,” and take the sting out. Or, something.

    Reading over your shoulder about shopping, for some reason, there has been no Swiss cheese, at my local grocery. For several weeks. Other flavors of cheese seem to be in ready supply. They’re even running sales on some of it.

    Let’s see. A good book on root cellars. The good ol’ Rodale Press people have “Root Cellaring: The Simple No-Processing Way to Store Fruits and Vegetables.” (Bubel). The also have a book called “Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally.” (by the Editors of Organic Gardening and Farming). Although not specifically on root cellars, another book worth looking at is “Carla Emery’s Old Fashioned Recipe Book: An Encyclopedia of Country Living.” A wealth of information, about all sorts of useful things. Including root cellars.

    Speaking of apple storage, I got curious about the dreaded apple water cores. And, found this …

    So, OK. It doesn’t effect flavor, and may actually make a sweeter apple. But they just look so bad …

    Go Plum! Should we add rats, to the criteria for being ennobled? First one who gets three of each, gets a title? 🙂 .

    3″ of snow is nothing to my friends in Idaho. I think I mentioned, that a few years ago, the snow was so deep outside their kitchen window, that no light came through. Now that’s snow.

    Yup. Today’s the day. Thanksgiving. Never look a gift pie in the mouth. When I came home from the library, yesterday, There was a pumpkin pie in front of each Inmates door. Compliments of the Regime. So, I don’t have to make a pie. I had a couple of slices, yesterday. Slightly warmed with dollops of pumpkin spice ice cream, on top. Tasty. Well, not to argue with Chef Ramsey, but giving a look at the ingredients on the pie crust box, there are fourteen. Mostly, items not found in nature. 🙂 . Maybe he owns stock in the company?

    Last night, I roasted the turkey loaf. I also made the cranberry sauce / jam. I found cranberries from out on our coast. Just a county over. That and sugar, was all I needed. A pound made almost 3 pints. I’ll treat it like fridge jam. I’ll be making the stuffing, this afternoon. And, other than a simple veg, I’m all set.

    There are many recipes for stuffing. Some even put in apples or chestnuts. I think more people do there stuffing, out of the bird, than in, these days. What I’ll do is … fry up an onion. In a bowl, I’ll mix together the bread cubes, celery, mushrooms and plumped up cranberries. In a pan I’ll heat up some butter, the onion and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Also, chunks of turkey from the loaf and gravy from the pan. I pour that over the stuff in the bowl, and give it a good mix. Nuke it for awhile. Oh, and sage. If the seasoning packet, has gone missing (as it did last year), I’ve got plenty of sage in the spice cupboard.

    Well, the library. I finished watching “Picard”, last night. It was good enough that I’m up for a second season. The library had quit a few things for me, yesterday. Three DVDs. “Jungle Cruise” (Dwayne Johnson), “American Traitor” (Al Pacino) and some Sci-fi thing called “Warning” that I don’t know too much about. I also picked up a couple of books. “Baggage” by the actor Alan Cummings. I really liked his first autobiography. And something called “Big White Ghetto,” by Kevin D. Williamson. Sociology? Anthropology? Well, anyway, about the state of our nation. I’m almost done reading “The Library: A Fragile History.” (Pettegree & Der Weduwen). It’s really a history of books. The scholarship and detail is stunning. While at the same time being very readable.

    I stopped by the antique mall, the other day. They’re having their big seasonal sale, this weekend. I talked myself out of two pieces of pricey art potter. But, there’s a couple of bibs and bobs I might go back for. Noting too pricey. Lew

  32. Hello Chris,
    Great post on the soil and I keep thinking of the physiocrats in France, who claimed that all wealth is based on good soils and soil care.

    Storing apples in modern facilities has amazing results. The apples come out as crisp as they are put in. Even if they are stored in big bins, hundreds of kilos of apples touching each other.
    The problem is that we cannot easily reproduce this at home.
    It is a huge cool-storage (-1 to +1 C) with low-oxygen environment (1% instead of 20) and controlled CO2-levels (2000 ppm). The equipment is similar to the oxygen concentrators that are used for people with lung damage, as in the unnamed disease, but using the other fraction of the exhaust.
    Modern apple varieties have been selected for compatibility with this system.

    Old “storage apple” varieties store much better than modern apples in root cellars.
    And, a big plus is to have very late apple varieties. The later you pick them, the better they store.

    Good luck!

  33. Hi Claire,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. And may the turkey this year be particularly tasty and luscious seasoned with garnishes from the recent garden. Turkey meat is rarely seen down here, but the few times I’ve tasted it, I have enjoyed the meat. Yum!

    Down this way, the old timers used to quip (and I’ve met a few of them now): Plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, and then harvest on the longest day of the year. It is perhaps a plant with which to mark the progress of the seasons?

    Brr! Your cold spells leave me quailing in fear – yes, I’m summer soft. Hope your covered in porch keeps the also summer soft plants safe during the cold winters that you endure. Who knows? Such cold spells are outside my experience, but I have it on good authority that plenty of edible plants are good to such temperatures, although they must be sheltered from the winds. Good luck!

    Today was another day with very little sun to speak of. In fact I have the wood heater running this evening as the temperature outside now is into single digits Celsius. This growing season looks like another write off to me, but the added soil fertility is causing the plants to grow very fast whenever the heat does make itself felt. I dunno, but hope that you never get to experience such a growing season one after the other. Far out.

    Thanks for the book suggestion and I see that Lewis has likewise provided the same book recommendation. That’s clinched it. 🙂



  34. Hi Goran,

    Hmm, I had not previously heard of the Physiocracy economics folks before, so many thanks for mentioning them. If I had to critique their theories, I’d suggest that they were both right and wrong. You may notice that their theories arose just prior to the French Revolution. Now, they were correct in my opinion to acknowledge Diminishing Returns and Limits, but 2/5ths return is perhaps a mite bit extravagant an expectation.

    As far as I understand the situation, plants make great use of the solar energy falling upon this planet in profusion from the big fusion reactor in the sky. The thing is, only I believe 2% gets harvested and I’m guessing for biological and chemical reasons, this is about as good as it gets. So that is about the best we can expect from sustainable resources in the long run. Anything more is just running down the stocks of accumulated wealth. But you know, this is an unpalatable opinion.

    Yes, exactly, the locally grown apples I can easily purchase from cold storage at any time of the year are as good that day as the day they were placed into cold store. It’s magic, pure and simple! 😉

    On the other hand, your description strikes a certain sort of fear, and perhaps highlights that I have been far too lax with this source of apples, and may have to do something about the situation.

    Thanks for the hint too about the late variety apples. I grow about 26 varieties of apples here, so some experimentation is clearly in order on this front. All apples have a use be it, fresh, cooking or for cider.

    Hope your harvest is going well, or is now in storage out of the cold and probably wet weather?

    It’s still cold and damp here. Oh well, what a crazy growing season…



  35. Hi Lewis,

    It was something of a joy to note that the good Professor finally included an image which included us down here on the western side of the Pacific, and coincidentally he also mentioned the atmospheric river in this part of the world (one of six over the Pacific!) The atmosphere sure seems to be holding and channelling a lot of moisture this year. Mate, it has been a very wet year here. Not record breaking, but just very wet and cool. A week out from the official start of summer down under, and I don’t have the tomato seedlings in the ground yet. The season won’t end well.

    It’s an odd notion that one, but yes it has some staying power these days, as I inadvertently discovered. I should note that my grandfather was rather busy bombing the daylights out of those same folks during WWII, so how is that for a tenuous grasp? I dunno, there is something to be said about sending up crazy ideology and just laughing at it, but you know everyone is so serious and earnest these days. Political correctness can be taken too far.

    Hehe! And yes, who can forget Elaine and the soup nazi interaction episode? It was pretty funny, and the guy was apparently based on a real person / business. Yeah, avoid indecision when dealing with such folks seems to be the way of the world. I didn’t even watch the show and I knew about that plot. Sometimes, the editor and I make jokes to each other about boundaries by suggesting that: No soup for you, one year! 🙂 It’s a pretty funny concept because it is just so strange. Pretending otherwise that it is a normal response appears to be incorrect thinking to me.

    Ah, your country probably produces the vital cheese ingredient rennet. Now down under things are different and for some reason I don’t believe that we produce the animal variety of that ingredient. I can’t recall where, but I have heard that it is in short supply down under. Now of course, there are several vegetative sources, and the main cheese that I purchase uses such sources, but most don’t. Here is a link to the stuff (it’s actually really good stuff): Norco Natural Cheese Co. Elbo Style Cheese. It may however be unavailable in your country.

    But don’t worry, I almost crashed the car today after paying for the highest priced fuel that I’ve ever purchased in this part of the world. $1.839 a litre. I was so astounded that I whilst reversing the car at the petrol station I almost hit their cage of firewood for sale. The editor was loudly issuing warnings which avoided the car crash nuisance episode. Fortunately I was in a receptive state of mind whilst at the controls and deftly avoided the incident.

    But yeah, I can’t get a grip on what will and what won’t be in short supply. The obvious answer to this predicament is to maintain better stores of stuff. And no, there are no 42 rolls, I reckon we are under a dozen rolls. You may call us: Thrill seekers and dare devils!

    Your book recommendation exactly matches Claires, so I take that as a good sign and have now ordered the book which is on its way from a local supplier. So many books now come from the UK, it astounds me that this is an economical practice, and yet sometimes they arrive quicker from the other side of the world than the locally derived items. That makes no sense to me at all.

    The apple blight / water core thing is not something that appeals greatly to my palate. However, I have also read that some folks find that apples this way are sweeter than when they are fresh, and the fermentation process is clearly at work. For all we know, those apples might be more easily digested and better for you than crisper apples. Dunno, for me, like you, the jury is still out in that regard.

    A good idea, but rats are much harder to nab than rabbits for dogs. Hmm, here I have no clear answer. Anyway, one more rabbit and Plum will have earned her title. Of late due to their surgeries I have not been able to let the two Kelpie’s run as freely as they’d prefer, so the rabbits have become a bit uppity (the two scared and highly wary ones left that I have spotted of late).

    Oh yes, such tales of being buried by snow, leave me – dare I say it – feeling cold. I wouldn’t have a clue how to respond to such weather, but stonking hot days I know something about surviving such extremes whilst retaining good spirits.

    That’s pretty funny about the gift pie in the mouth – and so true. Mind you, if it were labelled, made with genuine Soylent Green, I’d have some misgivings, but would probably chow down with the best of them. As Bruce Willis once suggested in the film Food Inc, all you have to do is cook the f!@#$%g meat! Wise words.

    It’s pretty sweet that they left pumpkin pies out for everyone compliments of the powers that be. So you did score some pumpkin spiced ice cream after all? Hey, do they make a pumpkin flavoured chocolate? I reckon that would be an interesting taste sensation. And as to the crust, well yeah, I can’t recall him suggesting otherwise in the show as to the ingredients – he just mentioned that it couldn’t be bettered. Now, given four and twenty black birds baked in a pie was from ye olde days, surely pastry crust doesn’t have that many odd ingredients? Hmm – what is in the stuff? Oh my! Shortbread is fascinating stuff, and would fuel a person for quite while! 🙂 And puff pastry seems to be merely a variant on the shortbread recipe. Lots of butter. I do respect your cynicism. 🙂

    Made some fresh pasta this afternoon for the guests tomorrow. It is so easy to make, and far more tasty than most pasta (but not all, some of it is actually pretty good) that you can purchase. With guests arriving, we’ve been on a spring clean today and yesterday. Far out, an epic job, and not much work will take place on the shed this week.

    And in breaking solar news, only an hour and half of peak sunlight was graciously received today. Alas, what with all of the cooking, it was less than what was actually required, and came on the back of a deficit yesterday. A precarious situation which will hopefully be resolved tomorrow when the sun hopefully shines forth from behind the otherwise thick and low clouds.

    Yum! Your cranberry sauce sounds delightful. 🙂 And given the successive atmospheric rivers I can see why the berries would grow well in that part of your state. I’d swap them in a similar recipe here with either jostaberries, black currants, or over ripe gooseberries. The difference in final taste would be marginal (from my perspective).

    What? I’ve never known anyone to make a stuffing out of the bird. Well, you learn something new everyday. It seems a bit odd as the roasting action imparts flavour to the stuffing. About once per month I’ll bake up a fresh loaf and then blitz it into bread crumbs which we store in the freezer for later use. The bread crumbs are made for stuffing. Despite the food processor having a two and a half horsepower motor, you can still hear the machine straining as it blitzes up the bread cubes into crumbs. My mates of the big shed fame purchased a commercial mixer which does a far better job.

    Incidentally, your stuffing mix sounds delectable. Were you happy with how it turned out? I keep a couple of sage plants for their fresh leaves. A very handy medicinal plant too, but the way. The fresh leaves are however, somewhat strong tasting, but not too bad otherwise. I chuck them into salads. The sage bushes are in flower right now.

    Hmm, Damo is yet to chime in with his views on the Picard series, but no doubts he may add his voice to the discussion sooner or later. But I thought he was a good Captain of the Enterprise and had screen presence.

    Did I see that Jungle Cruise was slammed by the critics, or am I imagining this? Your reading fest is from a wide band of genre’s and I approve. One must occasionally shake things up, a bit anyway. It’s rather alarming that libraries are described as fragile, but I guess where the public is concerned they are a relatively recent phenomena.

    Go on, did you go back to score the two pieces?



  36. Hello Chris,
    Here, the autumn is gray and drizzly. I celebrated “Green Friday” today, by planting a fruit park at a primary school yard in the small town where I live, together with 20 kids and a handful teachers. Chestnut trees, apple trees, pear trees, berry bushes, hazels and a lot of herbs. We had a couple of hours of sunshine during planting, and now in the evening the rain has returned.

    Now that the leaves are falling off the trees, I am busy selling and delivering bare-root trees. It is great to meet caring customers, especially farmers, who take over the guardian responsibility of the young trees, and lead them to adulthood. 😉

    Apples are fantastic. The Bramley Seedling, to whom Inge referred, is a beautiful, large, fragrant apple. However, it is not compatible with “Controlled Atmosphere(CA)” treatment, so it is no longer in commercial production, at least not here in the Netherlands.
    You would also be interested to hear that most apples and pears (not certified organic) are treated with 1-methylcyclopropene, under the poetic brand name SmartFresh, to maintain crispness and delay decay.

    As a society, we create a lot of dependencies and brittleness in the pursuit of “efficiency” and “profit”. I think that professional specialization makes these vulnerabilities invisible, until something breaks.

    At the farm where my tree nursery is, we have a 100-year old root cellar. It is great. The interior shelves are made of wood and have to be replaced every 30 years or so, but the rest seems to last for a long, long time. Very simple technology and a lot of value!

    Have a great week-end!

  37. Yo, Chris – I’m sorry your not getting more sunlight. Looks like you’re doing a bit of serious brinksmanship with your solar / electric supply. And for your next trick, tightrope walking! 🙂

    Well, most of the weather predictions for this winter are wetter and colder. Wetter, we’re doing. Colder? We haven’t had a good hard frost, yet. So I’m holding back on some pruning.

    I see Australian cheese, for sale, from time to time. I haven’t given it a close look. I’m sure it’s quit tasty.

    You were in a “receptive state of mind,” to avoid the car crash. Probably due to some coffee. 🙂

    Apples. You may remember I had five varieties of apples, where I used to live. The Jonagold was a late apple, and a great keeper. Interesting. Jonagold was developed in the 1940s from a Golden Delicious and Jonathan apple cross. Jonathan apples were “discovered” in the 1820s. Well, that’s interesting. Golden Delicious cannot pollinate Jonagolds. Wonder why? Key doesn’t fit the lock?

    Hersey makes a pumpkin pie spice and chocolate “Kiss.” I’ve only seen them down here, once. To die for. And, yes, I’ve had a dollop of the pumpkin pie spice ice cream, on a slightly warmed slice of pumpkin pie. Very tasty.

    Awhile back, I bought 25 pounds of dried cranberries. Some of those I plumped up and put in the dressing. The sauce I made from fresh local cranberries. At least two people have told me they add fresh squeezed orange juice, and orange zest to their mix. I might give that a whirl, next time I make some.

    The Institution reeked of fresh baked turkey, yesterday. I think there were a lot of birds in a lot of ovens. People are pretty paranoid, these days, about food born illnesses. But, with a good meat thermometer, no worries. But since I went the frozen loaf route, I had to figure out how to do the stuffing, outside a bird. And it was a method I developed years ago. By simmering a cube of butter, with a bit of water, chunks of turkey and drippings / gravy from the pan, I really can’t tell the difference from what would come out of a bird. As far as getting a moist turkey, in a stuff-less state, popping an apple in the cavity does the trick.

    Picard wasn’t bad. The story was interesting. But some of the lines … I don’t know how the actors deliver them, with a straight face. 🙂

    When settled in to eat my meal, I watched “Jungle Cruise.” Dwayne Johnson at his comic best. There are terrible puns … 🙂 . It’s set during WWII, and it’s a chase up the Amazon river, searching for a cursed treasure. With a Nazi submarine in hot pursuit. Well worth a look if you need a light, comic, popcorn movie.

    I stopped by the Club, about 4:30. They started eating at about 3, so, by the time I got there, the bulk of the crowd had departed. The Club furnished a turkey and a ham. The rest was donated. The entire pool table, plus, was covered in food. Or what was left of the food. It looked like the Huns had descended. I’d say they fed between 80 and 100 people. There were still people drifting in and out, in twos and threes. Had a cuppa and headed home for my meal.

    Yup. I headed for Centralia Square Antique Mall, this morning. Picked up a Japanese lustre (a finish) pottery owl from the 1920s. For my owl collection. I was originally a bird cage feeder. I picked up a Fenton bud vase. Light blue frosted glass with darker blue roses painted on. It’s the 7th piece of that line, I’ve bought. Matches my tattoo 🙂 .

    But the interesting thing I found, was a copy of “The Boy’s King Arthur.” From the 1920s. The major reason I bought it is because it’s illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. I checked it, just to make sure all the color plates, were there. They are. I also picked up a copy of “German Baking Today,” which is brand new.

    But the really interesting thing is, the same dealer that had the King Arthur also had a pile of unframed lithographs and prints. They weren’t there when I scouted on Tuesday. You may remember when I was puzzling over some lithos I picked up, but couldn’t run down the artist. Too many artists with the same name. So there’s a pile of lithos, by this artist … and, an information sheet on the artist. The folks at the mall were kind enough to copy it for me. Some of the lithos, I already have. I bought one, and will probably go back for more. They’re only $5 – $8 a piece. He was the artist that had “Death on a Pale Horse,” and “Skeletons Flying Kites.” But most of his other stuff isn’t as “dark.” Any-who. I was happy to solve the mystery. Lew

  38. Chris,

    Hehehe. I hear you about the coffee. Like you, my brain works better, but I could probably take a nice nap after a good cuppa. In fact, I did that on the job on occasion: have a cup of coffee at the beginning of the lunch break, then find a place to hide and snooze for a few minutes. Totally awake afterward.

    There are several varieties of tea I enjoy. Oolong is a favorite, as is Earl Grey. There’s an herbal mix that allegedly helps with breathing and sinuses that I drink, as well as the occasional chamomile. Oh, and a green tea/mint combination and a green tea/pomegranate combination. Good stuff.

    We watched the newbies very closely. After the first weekend working with them, it was obvious who was great, who was okay, and then the few we didn’t want to have come back. Not many in that last group, surprisingly. As you said, one careless person could stall an entire project.

    We figured out some good teething relief for Avalanche. We’ve taken some old cloths, gotten them wet and then frozen them. She enjoys gnawing on them, as it’s a good combination of something to chew and the numbing ice. The results have been dramatic in a positive sense.

    So the shoulder pain decided to migrate from the left shoulder to the right shoulder, although it’s not as painful as the left one was. Stretching, relaxation, and a lot of ice on it is doing the trick. Experience has taught me that it’s an inflammation issue, so I need to cool things down, relieve the inflammation, then the muscles can return to a more normal state. The Princess says I’m not young any longer, so I should probably get a deep tissue massage or something. I’m not arguing with her, need to schedule one. Oh, on your stretching comment, I picked up on your Yoda voice right away. 😉

    The snow has all melted. Friday dawned warmer than the high temperatures from the previous 4 or 5 days. We’re in for a heat wave for about a week now, most days should top out at about +10C or a bit higher. This will allow me to get the last yard things completed.

    Occasionally, back when I was a teenager, a group of us, properly attended by adults, would go to the local Riverside State Park where there are a gazillion tall Ponderosa pines. I loved the trips there when there was fresh snow, the wetter the snow the better. I learned how to push on the trunks of the big trees so that the vibration would knock the snow off of the branches on the outside of the trees. The resultant dump of wet snow on my unsuspecting mates was always amusing. Little snow came down by the trunk, so I was usually pretty unscathed.

    My favorite trick, though, happened when I was about 29. Another adult and I took about 8 boys, all 12 or 13, on a cross country ski day trip. It was in the mountains. There was an old, unused power line there, coated with snow and ice. There was a curve in the trail there, and the wire took a straight line, so the boys, who were ahead of me, didn’t see the wire. I knew when to jump up and hook the wire with my ski pole. Yup, the entire pack of boys got coated, to the utter enjoyment of me and the other adult.


  39. Hi, Chris!

    A machinery shed – what a dream come true. If wishes were horses . . . It is going to be a handsome thing to behold.

    Thanks for the flowers.


  40. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Wishes it should be stated for the record, are definitely not horses. Sorry to say.

    Had a lovely chat with a bloke today who does use horses on his property. An inspiration to us all. Although I probably wouldn’t put horses on the land here as they’d compact the soil.

    Now here I have to inform you that this week we’ve had a proper spring clean, and a blog entry discussing vacuuming, wiping down of surfaces and mopping of the floors would perhaps be a trifle dull. So, I might skip all that and suggest that the cleaning job was so big that no other work on the new machinery shed was possible.

    My pleasure, and I promise to continue sharing flowers in the future! Hope your winter is not too harsh, and that Mr Dumpy gets a move on in its road to better health.



  41. Hi Goran,

    Are you sure you’re not around this part of the world? 🙂 Gray and drizzly exactly describes Thursday and Friday this week. Finally late this afternoon (Saturday), the sun has begun to show its face from behind thick and low clouds. I’m hoping to plant out some tomato seedlings tomorrow, but it is very possible that the soil is not yet warm enough – this late in the season.

    Mate, the kids would have loved doing that. It might occasionally sound like I didn’t enjoy working in my grandfathers extensive vegetable garden as a kid, but I actually really did enjoy that work. Hope the fruit trees grow well in the primary school yard, and you can’t ask for better conditions than rain at the conclusion of a planting day.

    Out of curiosity, did the kids know how to use hand tools to dig a hole for the fruit trees? I’ve heard stories that apparently plenty of people don’t know how to do such a basic task.

    Respect. And now that you’ve mentioned it, once the current bout of infrastructure gets done here at the farm (probably autumn i.e. April / May next year), I may hit you up for practical information on your propagating techniques. Three hundred fruit trees sounds like a lot, that is until you factor in the activities of the voracious parrots.

    Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Thanks. You know whenever I occasionally gift produce from the farm onto folks I know well, the caveat is provided: Consume the produce soon. Man, the produce here decays or ferments far more rapidly than commercial produce. The thing with such chemical treatment is that it is possible to do whilst the chemicals are economically available. When they’re not, well, interesting times then ensue. And as a society, we’re not set up for such risks, which you also note.

    A proper root cellar is necessary here, and it might double as a fire shelter. I’ll read up on the subject, ponder, and then act. But until then, I can only but marvel at the hard physical work it might have taken to produce your root cellar way back in the day.



  42. Hi DJ,

    Nice one, and the thing with work places is that it is not always possible to do such things, like take a brief but necessary nap. In my professional line of work, I more often than not work with the female of the species, and being a friendly and gentle sort of bloke, there are times they’ve put the hard word on me about all things bloke related. Incidentally, it happens more often than not by the way! Anyway, I’ve had to fend off feminine inquisitiveness as to why some guys spend so long in the toilet. After so much questioning over the years I give no cause for such ladies to question my own behaviour, but yeah, not all males share my point of view. Anyway, so prevarication is my friend here, and I do my utmost best to dither and dather and generally avoid the discussion. However, such responses do not satisfy some more forthright ladies who are in search of solid answers, and in such cases I blurt out: They’re probably having a sleep – go wake them up, if you feel so inclined. And usually there the matter rests.

    When I was a young bloke, and worked a full time job, studied part time at University two nights a week, and attempted to keep up with assignments and study on weekends, mate that was a sleep deprived struggled tangle maze of something or other. I still kept catching up weekly with friends, and of course the girl friend just wanted to go out clubbing late Thursday nights into the wee hours of the morning. I don’t believe that I ever lost the plot, but there sure were times where I’d had enough, and just wanted to sleep.

    I dunno what kept me going in those days, but there were times that I’d just pack the camping gear into the tiny little Suzuki had head out alone into the forest at my grandfathers WWII mates most probably illegal camp site way out in the wilderness, and just sleep. Away from it all, and in those days there were no mobile phones and so I’d hear nothing for a few days other than the wind, the water and the wildlife. The mental batteries got recharged, and refreshed I’d head back into the city only to go through the same relentless cycle all over again. It disturbs me to know that there are that the official news is that there are some dodgy folks up that way, because I never felt that whilst in the area.

    When part time University was eventually completed, the editor and I spent a month in the island state of Tasmania. Just out of the main city of Hobart, we camped in a tent on the shores of the bay just out of town. And every day we slept at least ten hours a day, but possibly more. It amuses me that the camp site is now the Museum of Old and New Art, which is one of the biggest tourist attractions of that state – which I have not visited. And there way back in the day before its current renown, I recovered from my prolonged ordeal at something crazy cheap like $14 a day. You wouldn’t get such a good deal there nowadays.

    Most excellent tea choices and the editor also enjoys the occasional Oolong tea. I’ll tell you a funny story, a few years ago, we ordered a batch of Oolong tea and the supplier provided us with a pack of free but bizarrely named tea: Fat less, slim tea. I kid you not. The editor decided after a while that the bizarrely named tea was actually alright (it was apparently some sort of miso soup). And we’ve never seen the stuff again. Some names do not translate well into English. I’ll bet the Vikings had a few of those names!

    Yeah, you can tell who will work out, and who won’t. It’s just an experience thing. Of course sooner or later there will be the outlier who proves the rule wrong, but such folks are rare. When in the graduate program for the large corporate, I just knew who’d do really well, and who wouldn’t do so well. Things were less challenging though and the ones who’d do only ever do sort of OK, were not put out to pasture (so to speak). It wasn’t all bad, but some folks weren’t in their right trade.

    Go you and your lady with the Avalanche chew solution. I will note that having two puppies at once means that they get to chew upon the other, and thus the same outcome is possible as your Avalanche solution.

    Yoda!!! 🙂 None of us are in that state these days, and your lady must be heeded.

    DJ, you were like super-bad with that Ponderosa pine technique (says he busily scrawling notes). 🙂

    Hehe! Anyway, all of the kids would have been dressed so as to ward off the worst of the snow. No doubt, the incident was for something that they’d not been caught out upon. 🙂



  43. Hello Chris,

    Regarding what you mentioned about quick spoilage and decay of home grown produce: I think this is actually a good thing.
    I prefer eating something that my digestion can easily break down. If fruit and veggies are “protected” by some antibacterial layer or other “preservation”, I think that my micro-fauna also will find it difficult to process. Same with bread.

    I learned this week of something called “Home Field Advantage” in farming. Manure from the same farm breaks down faster and releases more bioavailable nutrients than manure that is shipped in from another farm. And it goes both ways.
    Nobody really knows the mechanism, but it is presumed that the compatibility of the local soil microorganisms is key.

    In the same way, I suspect that when I keep eating vegetables that I grow on my own place, my micro-biota will adapt and get better and better at digesting this. Every raw leaf I consume helps to transfer the decomposing bacteria that are available in my field into my gut.

    Enjoy your visitors!


  44. Hi Lewis,

    Well, we had a very pleasant visit today from a group of friends, and the table hung low with the sheer volume of food, and nobody went away hungry! 🙂 Three courses were set, and three courses were consumed. Actually, it was really fun catching up with mates after so long. And the discussions over food were good. The editor, who also joined in the conversation, had at one point accidentally placed a bottle of her famous Sake onto the table, and the quality was commented upon. If ever we end up doing something commercial in that line, the Sake would be the stuff.

    But mate, before everyone turned up, we’d had to do a massive spring clean of the house – that was what was going on for the past few days. Firewood for heating and dirt roads are notorious for their volumes of dust. We might have to arrange some other social occasions whilst the house is so clean. Now, you might be laughing to yourself, but I ask you: Is it any different from your inspections? Hmm, different it is not, I say! 🙂

    It looks like the weather might be finally warming up, but don’t worry, in seven days time, it shall again be cool here. Solar power is a total disaster during cloudy and rainy spells. It’s kind of like plants in that if they’re not growing, there is little solar energy to be gained. Actually, overall this past year has been cold, but it has been more cold on average, than extremely cold – if that makes much sense. What I’m trying to describe is that we have not had the extremes of either cold or hot weather this year.

    Mind you, I’m considering planting out the tomato seedlings tomorrow, but we’ll see how it goes. That’s about a four weeks later than the generally accepted principles for tomato planting.

    There was a pretty good vintage tasty cheddar cheese on the table today. The cheese was quite crumbly which is something that I haven’t experienced for a while – and am not sure why. About half of the block disappeared on freshly baked bread and who can argue with such a review. In your part of the world I’d imagine that the Australian cheese would be quite expensive?

    It’s funny you mention the receptive state of mind and caffeine, but the editor yelling for me to watch out and not crash the car did that trick, but then she too had just had a coffee, so we can’t really know the truth of the matter, and may have to replicate the incident, but without the editor having a coffee. Is it worth the risk I ask you?

    Ah, of course, you had the apple trees. I recall. But for some reasons, the sound of unrelenting cracking whips brings back both good and bad memories from those days. No, the pollination thing with apples is an interesting matter in that they produce late blossoms, but they don’t all produce blossoms at the same time, and so therein lies the problem. I don’t really know which apple trees pollinate the other apple trees, and so just planted a lot of different varieties and hoped for the best. It’s possible that orchards way back in the day also planted different varieties and so the issue became a moot point – but I don’t know and am merely guessing. What I do know is that way back, the apple trees were allowed to grow much larger than the cosseted ones in commercial orchards these days are allowed to get.

    Years ago, those Hersey kisses were sold down here, and from memory they were quite tasty chocolates. Good to hear about the pie / ice cream combination. 🙂 Had a smaller meal for dinner this evening as I was feeling a food coma coming on.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the roast turkey odour! 🙂 Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh as it’s meant to be a serious activity. Hey, I reckon the drippings from the bird, as well as the essential pan juices from the baking tray, would produce the same taste – no doubts about it. I’ve heard about that moisture issue with baking turkey from my mates of the big shed fame (cooking is most definitely an interest for them), and it sounds like a difficult meat to cook without drying it out. And when I was a kid, drippings were never wasted. They were collected in a mug, which was stored in the refrigerator, and I tell ya, items cooked in that fat were just so good. Do you know what chips taste like fried in that dripping? Oh my! And as a kid, I’d butter fresh bread and make hot chip sandwiches. Yummo!

    Hmm, that may have been Damo’s issue with Picard. Something about a lack of consistency between the Next Generation series and Picard. I mean, even off the bridge, Jean Luc is still the Captain.

    So did they find the cursed treasure, and was the curse all that bad? You know, I still believe that the original Indiana Jones film had that plot totally nailed. Such a great film.

    Blessed are the huns as they shall take the Earth, or at least as much of it as the pesky Barbarians can conquer. And if that means the meal on your pool table at the Club, so be it! It’s good catching up with mates, that’s part of what life is about.

    OK, so at first I’d thought that you were referring to the Japan Black finish, but no Japanese lustre is something else. Please correct me here, but does it have a slightly yellow finish to the high gloss? You don’t often see ceramic with such lustre. It is possible that the coating is rather toxic… And it is always wise to maintain the patterns. Are you serious about it matching your tat?

    Lewis, I’m sure that there is one bad one, but I didn’t see it. The art of N. C. Wyeth, is astounding. Are you enjoying the book?

    I know not of which you speak. However are you referring to a print from Joseph Mallord William Turner? If so that scene from revelations is rather eerie. But it happens to the best of us.



  45. Hi Goran,

    Absolutely, and yes I too agree that food is not food as it was once known. The thing is that all those chemicals working towards food preservation might actually be having an impact upon the flora and fauna in most peoples digestive systems and bodies. Not to put too fine a point upon the matter, in order to preserve food, you have to somehow kill all of the microbiology which would otherwise also be attempting to consume the food.

    There are ways to preserve food without chemicals, but that involves cooking, heating, drying processes etc. I use no chemicals in the preserved apricots and plums we bottle, just some sugar to ensure that the acidity is high enough.

    An interesting concept, and yes that is a thing. So, for about maybe eight years, maybe more, I’ve been bringing back about 50kg to 60kg of coffee grounds per week sometimes more, and then applying them to the soils here. You’d think that after all this time you’d find pats of coffee grounds, but no. In fact, I now mix about 24kg of agricultural lime into the coffee grounds each week, but even so, you’d be hard pressed to see any coffee grounds remaining on the soil surface (or even on leaves of plants like clover or grass for example).

    The soil biology adapts to consume whatever is available for it to eat regularly. It’s interesting isn’t it? And what does it suggest to you?

    And yup, I too agree with your conclusion as to consuming some stuff raw, and some stuff cooked. It all adds to the greater whole. Yup! People don’t realise this.



  46. Hello Chris
    We had one heck of a storm last night. It was named Storm Arwen which I believe comes from Tolkien.
    Anyhow, I walked out for my Saturday afternoon visit to a neighbour and was stopped in my tracks by a tree down across my route. Had to back track and use my alternative more difficult route out.
    I insist on having 2 available routes. The one source of dissension between Son and I is that he thinks I worry too much and I consider that he doesn’t think ahead.

    Have just eaten a Russet apple which I consider to be one of the best varieties of eating apples.


  47. Yo, Chris – Nothing like a good afternoon of hangin’ with the peeps. Sounds like a good time was had by all … lubricated with the Editor’s saki. 🙂 . Well, yes, you’re clean up sounds like the prep for our inspections. Which, by the way, I heard today that the Centralia Institution is having a HUD inspection, in December. And, a pre-HUD inspection, before that. Don’t know about us. We’ll probably get a memo … two days before the inspection. But, I mentioned it to Suzanne Who Always Has a Better Idea, and she’ll probably go into the office and just ask.

    I don’t know what the weather is doing, up north, but down here it’s just rain on and off.

    Hersey kisses used to be just plane old chocolate, but now they come in a myriad of flavors. Pumpkin spice, being one. That we never see.

    Someone at the Club, this morning, mentioned popping an apple in a turkey, and how moist it made the meat. Yup. Turkey can be dry, but there are ways to take care of that problem. A favorite sandwich, this time of year is dressing, cranberry sauce and mayo. Some restaurants even have it on the menu, year ’round.

    Did they find the cursed treasure in “Jungle Cruise?” That would be spoilers, wouldn’t it. 🙂

    N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth. Father, son and grandson. All great artists, in my humble opinion. All realists, though, so there’s a bit of looking down the nose, from the art establishment. I’ll leave them to their blobs and blotches.

    If you Gargle “Robert Gilbert artist, Death on a pale horse” you’ll see one of the lithos I have. I’d link, but the dreaded temporal anomaly strikes again. He’s a “modern” artist, and, for all I know may still be alive. He’d be, I think, in his 90s. Might even live in this area. I’m going to leave a note for the dealer, and see if I can find out more.

    Elinor has another care giver. Three times, the charm? At least she’s vaccinated, and even showed Elinor, her card. Turns out Elinor knows some branch of the family. Of course, Elinor seems to know some branch of everyone’s family. 🙂 Lew

  48. @ Chris – PS: Just saw an article that England has had a terrible storm. I do hope Inge is ok. The article I read mentioned 90-100mph winds, in Devon … which is close to her neck of the woods. Lew

  49. Chris:

    I read a wonderful article once about how farmers in the mountains of our state of North Carolina still used horses to plow those steep slopes (like you and I have). I have owned a horse, though, and they are not easy maintenance. They give something back, though . . .

    We tend to do a fall cleaning rather than a spring one.


  50. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the suggestion, but the property will most likely never be set up well enough for horses. The downside with horses on the land here is that they’d compact the soil, and not to mention the never ending fencing issues. The manure would be pretty handy though.



  51. Hi Inge,

    The news on your storm down here shows that the noble-maiden packed a meaty punch. 100mph winds are beyond my experience. How did your forest survive the storm? We’ve still got a few trees down and other trees precariously caught up high after the wind storm which arrived many months ago by an unusual direction (the south east).

    I agree with your eminently sensible approach to ensuring that there are two routes out. Having only one road in or out, is a serious risk in an emergency. Actually, I’m rather surprised by some folks lack of curiosity, or maybe I don’t really know how to describe the lack but I keep a pretty good mental map of all the various paths around the mountain range as I’ve walked or driven most of them.

    Your son may well be wrong in this instance.

    Ah, so that is what the apple skin is known as. Their reputation is that they produce superior flavours.



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Due to you know what, hanging out with mates just talking rubbish has been an experience which has been in rather short supply over the past twenty months. And I note that the news of the day was full of new things to fear, which kind of look a lot like the old things to fear. To paraphrase the Who: Meet the new fear, same as the old fear. 🙂 It would be funny, if it were indeed funny.

    Had a lower key day today and weeded some of the vegetable beds, and ta-da! Planted out the tomato seedlings. The sun shone gloriously and the air was cool, so it’s now or never with the planting of the seedlings. It looks like it will be a warmer week this week getting up to 85’F, and the garden and plants really need the heat. I was a bit slack on hardening off the seedlings, and so just bung them in the ground and they can sort out their own business. Mind you, I set the water robot to deliver 20 minutes of drip irrigation every two hours during daylight for the week. At this stage of the growing season I have plenty of water to spare, but as part of all the shed work, some of the water tanks will be moved.

    It’s funny but I spotted some really interesting foam things which keep leaves out of the shed roof drainage gutters. I don’t use anything for that purpose, but I do have to clean the guttering from time to time to remove any collected organic material. The interesting foam things made many claims about how safe they were for drinking water (and that water will be used on vegetables), but I dunno fire retardants, UV stabilisers not to mention the material itself just left me with a few nagging doubts. Look I could be wrong as this is not my area of knowledge, but best to be prudent when vaguely uncertain. So yeah, back to basics and just keep the gutters clean. Nothing fancy, but it works.

    The editor apparently put the Sake on the table in error. 🙂 A well received error. Put out some locally brewed beers which I thought were pretty good. Plus the table groaned with food most of which we’d made from scratch. But it was the talk I’d been missing, and it was good just to shoot the breeze. Despite being a very social person, I’m also something of an introvert and needed some quiet time afterwards to re-balance my brain.

    Mate, cleaning as an activity on that scale is somewhat over rated, but one must bend to societal expectations. Good luck with the inspections and a pre-inspection seems to indicate that this time, things are serious. And wise to set Suzanne upon the task, she probably might not have had much else to do with her day.

    I see that the good Professor has used the words: ‘potent atmospheric river’. Hopefully the potency abates somewhat before it hits landfall.

    Man, the elderberry flowers seem to be more pungent this year than in previous years. It reminds me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the French castle guard scene. Anyway, I opened the door to let in a bit of warmer air from outside and along came the aroma of elderberry flowers. They’re an interesting plant as they display much variation, but overall I like them and the local birds love the fruit.

    Lewis, if you’re really, really good, you might get to see one of those pumpkin spiced chocolates. But I’ve heard things… This is probably why the chocolates aren’t sold in your part of the world? It’s as good a reason as any. 🙂

    A wise innovation with the roasting. I can see that would work with the apple, and the bird is big enough to hold an apple. Down here you rarely see that meat on offer, in terms of roast bird, ninety nine times out of a hundred, it will be roast chicken. When I was a kid, roast lamb used to be the most commonly seen roast meat. And I’m sure a lot of that was actually mutton – which I don’t mind the taste of at all.

    Fair enough about the spoilers! I accidentally type spoliers, and it sounds like a dreadful skin disease… Yuk! Watch out for incidences of spoliers in the community, I hear it is dreadful.

    I couldn’t give a toss what the art establishment believes, the works are extraordinary. It may well be possible that they themselves can only look on in wonder at the work, suffer feelings of inadequacy, and possibly feel jealousy. If that is so, it may not reflect so well upon them.

    The gargle search turned up art, but perhaps not the one you mentioned. Be careful that you are not hanging onto your keyboard when your computer gets sucked into the spatial anomaly thing which is materialising as clock / security malfunctions. That’s just the beginning phase. You were warned!

    Fingers crossed that Elinor plays nicely with the new care giver.

    Better get writing.



  53. @ Lew
    It was storm Arwen that brought the tree down across my path. Don’t know of any other trees down but we tend to come across them by accident when walking off piste. The noise of the wind was tremendous


  54. Yo, Chris – We’re having a momentary pause between atmospheric rivers. Won’t last long. I tried checking the rainfall at our local weather station. I think their rain gage is wonky. Seems to have problems from time to time. This morning, it says there has been no rainfall in the last 48 hours. Ah, no.

    Go tomato seedlings! What varieties did you grow? In a climate like ours, the smaller one’s have a better chance of reaching maturity, if the weather gets coolish.

    Oh, the pre-inspection is so the Regime gets a good score. When the new Regime took over, they said they got a better score than the previous Regime. Which was a bold faced lie, as the scores can be found, on-line.

    I’ve futzed about with elderberry and the Master Gardeners, long enough. Come spring, I’m just going to a nursery and buy a couple.

    Hmmm. Did I mention that to search “Robert Gilbert artist, Death on a Pale Horse” and then click on images? I see it’s official name is “Horse.” Tried “Robert Gilbert artist, horse.” In both cases, it came up first in the images. A black and white litho.

    I ran across an interesting article, last night. And, lost the link. We’ve talked about stereoscope viewers and their cards, before. Well, it turns out Brian May, guitarist for “Queen” is a collector and has just come out with a book on the topic. What’s really interesting is that he has a PHD in astrophysics. Who knew? 🙂 . I suppose that’s no odder than Mick Jagger going to the London School of Economics.

    I don’t know when I’ll get around to reading “The Boy’s King Arthur.” It’s in the pile. Which really isn’t much of a pile, right now. So, probably, soon. It’s “Edited for Boys” by Sidney Lanier (who?) and the original copyright was 1880. Hmmm. A quick trip down the rabbit hole says he was a musician, poet and author. Who fought on the Confederate side, during our Civil War.

    Now, I expect a discourse on your cleaning tactics, this week’s post. 🙂 A la Heloise. Now I could leave you puzzling over who Heloise was, but won’t leave you dangling in the wind. “Hints from Heloise” was a popular, syndicated column. in newspapers and women’s magazines, in the 1960s and 70s. Housekeeping advice. I should have paid more attention. 🙁 . Lew

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