Cherry season has finished for another year. We’ve planted a number of cherry trees on the farm, but those trees are purely for ornamental purposes. The birds take all of the fruit. And I really do mean all of the fruit. The cherry trees put on a good flower show each year, and we’re good with that, plus it’s a good feed for the insects, but there’s no cherries for us. Whatever, the lack of cherries is not much of a problem because a local farm grows a huge variety of tasty cherries which they sell at the farm gate. And that local farm has commercial scaled bird netting.

A few years ago, the cherry farm was sold off and then bought by a lovely couple. I am genuinely impressed by the changes the new owners have wrought. The farm was previously looking a bit tired and disorderly. Observing the changes they’ve made over the past few years got me thinking recently about how a person grows beyond the lessons they know. I mean, why didn’t the former owners make those excellent changes and improvements which the new owners have made? There’s an old saying which suggests that: the apple (cherry?) never falls far from the tree, and it’s true.

Ideas are only ever a beginning, but it’s in implementing them where you get to experience sweat, learn lessons and stuff. Long term readers will know that we are happy to put in the hard work to set up systems on the farm. But if the systems don’t work, we’ll just as happily dismantle them and then try something else using what we’ve learned. There’s no point hanging onto an idea that’s rubbish.

The old timers used to know all about this small holding stuff. My grandfather grew up on his grandmothers farm during the Great Depression. In those days that farm was in the grip of a prolonged epic drought. He also was sent off to fight in WWII as bomber pilot, and somehow managed to survive all that. He would have learned some harsh lessons for sure. I’m guessing one lesson he learned was not to trust that present conditions will continue, as his life experienced that outcome. Even in his latter years as a fairly well-to-do bloke, he maintained a huge vegetable patch in his backyard. And back in those carefree enlightened days of the 1970’s, it was an unfashionable thing to do – and still is. But to my very young eyes, his enormous vegetable patch seemed effortless and bountiful. A bit of a shame that the old bloke is now dead, because I might have learned something useful from him about this agriculture stuff. Oh well.

However, it’s weird that the longer we’ve been on this journey, the more I’m beginning to appreciate that there are very few people around who know anything about the sort of thing Sandra and I are doing at this farm. A bit over 1% of the population are involved in agriculture. So, knowing that statistic, you could take a random sample of a hundred people, and only one person in that group will know anything backed up by solid experience. And even then, that person might not be able to communicate what they do know, or their experience may be of little relevance to my conditions. Like, I don’t need to know anything about cattle. But let’s also not forget that climate and local conditions vary considerably from one part of this vast continent to another. The knowledge base is a mess and finding local knowledge is rare.

Thus mentors are, I reckon, rarer than hen’s teeth (as they used to say)! So we learn the hard way here by trial and error. Sure I’ve read a mountain of books on various subjects. And we always have our eyes open to any opportunities to learn, or for solutions to the issues we face. But nothing teaches like the school of hard knocks. I’m just quietly grateful not to have to subsist off what we produce.

Unfortunately, the world is changing, and nowadays you can almost smell change in the air. The other day I was at the petrol station (gas station in US parlance) and filled up the Dirt Rat Suzuki (a very small and fuel efficient vehicle) plus also a couple of jerry cans. The bill came to $155! Turns out the price for petrol was as high as I’d ever seen it, at almost $1.90/litre. And in the background world of big badness, the price for a barrel of oil keeps on rising.

The price for oil be crackin and costing some serious mad cash

Where will it all end up? I don’t really know, but I do know that there’d be plenty of households that can’t afford the recent increased price at the pump. It’s not unusual for people to live pay to pay, and heck, I did that myself in the recession of the early 1990’s. And given oil underlies everything that we do as a society, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it costs more mad cash for pretty much everything soon. The technical term for that is inflation. Well paid talking heads in the media cry soothing words suggesting that there is no cause for panic. But the thing I’m left wondering about it all is: will the households who can’t make financial ends meet, keep doing what they’ve always done?

My brain is really struggling to understand this years weather. Mostly, the weather has been cool and wet but over the past few weeks, it’s been drier, and sometimes warmer, but it’s hardly what you’d describe as hot. Just warmer than before. On the other hand, it’s been excellent weather for hard work.

This week I dug by hand, a drainage trench on the up hill side of the new shed. In the trench I installed a black plastic Reln Storm-water drainage channel. The channel redirects all surface water to the rear of the shed. I’ve never used these drains before and apparently they are rated to a maximum weight of something crazy like 5,000kg (11,000 pounds). I saw no need to put them to the test because they looked tough enough to me. The grates are removable, and from time to time I’ll have to muck them out. Hopefully this stops heavy rainfall from running into the new shed, like what happened during the last big storm.

Ollie, despite looking elsewhere, is impressed with the new drainage channel behind the shed

Heavy rain can be very destructive here, and so on the downhill side of the shed, we’ve added a layer of mid-sized rocks and a very thick layer of crushed rock with lime. That should protect the earthworks from erosion. We’ve tested that system elsewhere over many years – and also during many heavy storms, and it works.

Ruby approves of the rock wall and thick layer of crushed rock with lime

The first stage of the firewood storage job has been completed. The primary firewood shed has now been entirely filled with seasoned and summer sun dried firewood.

Ollie knows that a shed full of dry firewood is as good as mad cash in yo bank!

The weather has been slightly warmer and drier of late, and one of the ginger tubers in the greenhouse has finally produced some leaves. The greenhouse has proven to be such a valuable item of infrastructure both this year and last year (which was also a cold summer), that there are plans afoot to seriously improve upon what we have learned from that building.

Who likes a ginger? The tuber has finally produced some leaves

The zucchini (courgette) plants have finally grown big enough that they’ve produced flowers, and there are now a few small-ish fruits.

We’ve got zucchini!

At the very beginning of the growing season, the vast majority of early flowering fruit trees lost their blossoms due to a late frost combined with a wickedly cold hail storm. I can still recall watching the strong cold winds blowing the blossoms into the air like little snow flakes set free. What little fruit developed on the trees was taken by the hungry birds. The later flowering fruit trees were a bit better, but you know, this cold growing season is not something that I would wish upon anyone. One of the very last fruiting trees is the persimmon, and that seems to have dodged both cold weather, and the hungry local parrots.

Persimmons are one fruit tree which seems to have done well this year

The ten grape vines have been in the ground for about three years now, and this year they have produced many bunches of fruit. At the moment, I’m hoping that there is enough warm weather for the bunches of grapes to ripen.

This is the first year the grape vines have produced

Onto the flowers:

Buddleia is a remarkably hardy and attractive plant
Geraniums form the backbone of many of the garden beds
The recent warmer and drier weather has proven to be a boon for the Roses
A lot of the Roses are bi-colour varieties
But some of the Roses are simply stunning

The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 21’C (70’F). So far this year there has been 102.4mm (4.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 100.6mm (3.9 inches)

50 thoughts on “Mentors”

  1. Yo, Chris – You’re likely to find cherry volunteers, all over the farm. Bird digestion softens them up, a bit. And when, errr, deposited, they get a shot of fertilizer. I see that unlike apples and pears, cherries breed true. But there was a caution not to use store cherries, if you were intentionally propagating them. The parent tree might come from an entirely different climate zone.

    I see your farm like a very big machine. Needs oiling (the sweat of your brow) and constant tinkering, to keep everything running.

    There’s really not much talk of gas prices, here. Other than articles on inflation that just chuck it in with a lot of other stuff. “The price of eggs, milk, electronics and gas, is up.” I hear occasional conversations, but they’re usually, “I filled up my tank. Boy, those prices!” And onto the next topic. But politicians pay attention. Gas prices around election time, come to the fore. As whichever party is not in power beats it to death. I think I read last week that more gas was released from the National Reserve.

    There was also an article on rationing, price controls and black markets. A bit of a historic overview, pluses and minuses.

    The drainage channel looks super. And, the clean outs will come in handy. But you might (if you don’t have one) think about buying a “snake”, long enough to go between the clean outs. Just in case a fat burg develops 🙂 or a small animal dies down there.

    Ollie seems a lot more impressed by the firewood. He’s probably made the connection between a toasty backside and the wood. Ruby seems to have a wider world view.

    Your zucchini and grapes are in a race with the weather. Fingers crossed you get a good crop of both.

    It will be interesting to see how much yield, you’ll get from the ginger. It’s looking pretty healthy.

    The roses are lovely, but the yellow one is a real stunner. Looks like our forsythia is about to bloom.

    It’s about sunset, here. Think I’ll take a walk around the block. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    I prefer dry over sweet, so why not Koalas? 😉 Yeah, it’s a fascinating but semi-arid part of the world. A lot of wheat is grown in those parts despite the soils being deficient in phosphorous – not something you want, but it is a common problem across the entire continent. It’s so different from here. Even an hours drive north of here produces a very different country. Inland here is settled, but there is nothing like the sort of large inland towns that exist in your country. Your mountains are bigger, the soils are more fertile, and you have some epic river systems.

    Glad you enjoyed the film, and yeah so many twists and turns. It’s a good lesson to watch those who make the most noise about issues. And what do you do when the perp has dementia, but still has it in for the protagonist – like a zombie? I was glad they cleared up the loose ends too. The year that was filmed was hot and dry here too, but that part of the country was way drier again. Yikes!

    Exactly, when the Europeans first arrived, they would have missed just how fragile it is, and how well tended it was. We messed it up big time, and because our culture swings from one extreme perspective, to another extreme perspective, we just can’t quite get around to comprehending the epic job it is to restore the ecosystem. The loss of mineral phosphorus imports from the land of stuff is a serious problem down here which few folks have grappled with. I expect that many people understand the extent of the problems, and I dunno, maybe they’re hoping for the best. I’m not necessarily sanguine that that is a realistic position to take, but it’s an option I suppose.

    What the horse leaves behind indeed! Handy stuff, if you let it compost for a bit beforehand. 🙂

    I’m glad too for that path. Seriously, like how do you take a big dump of responsibility on a person and not offering them anything in return for undertaking that onerous task? I was pretty young to be faced with that ask too, and he had another family by that stage. Some things are broken and they can’t be repaired, and I may have said as much. I liked the guy, but how could he expect me to do something that he couldn’t do himself whilst operating from a position of power and wealth? That was a crazy story. It makes no sense. Sorry about that – it’s a dubious record… Ook!

    You can’t go wrong with that pedigree. 🙂 The Editor produces a very tasty replica of the KFC three bean salad which they used to sell way back in the 70’s. It was good stuff, and some alert folks on the interweb managed to re-engineer the stuff. Was the effort worth it? You betcha! And it’s a fermented recipe too, you wouldn’t have picked that (or pickled that!)

    I will follow your sage advice and probably pick up Rummage next. It’s quite the historical overview. Getting near to the end for Uther, and um, yeah, the prognosis is not good and the patient (and army) may not survive. They’re faced with a pincer.

    The dedicated epicurist naturally has to cleanse their palate between projects, and so a new and improved greenhouse – why not? Man cannot live on mead alone. 🙂

    Made in Italy looked like a fun film, and Liam Neeson. Always good. I’m watching the four part series Muster Dogs over the next few weeks. Let’s say that I have something of an interest in the topic.

    It’s funny you mention the volunteer cherry trees, because there are a lot of them. One small area of the farm has become quite thick with seedling cherry trees. Quite the hedge. I hadn’t known that about cherry trees growing true to type. Interesting indeed.

    I’d never quite considered the farm from that perspective. Possibly true. Mate, the place really does need constant tinkering until the particular system in question has been thoroughly tested in a large number of conditions. By sheer chance we came across the arrangement for a vegetable patch on a slope. There’s a farm way to the south of here on the side of a small extinct volcano and it has really rich black soil, produces vegetables and is on a slope. The rows run up and down the slope, not along the contour – as we’d been doing. I’d been looking at this place for years from a respectable distance, but never thought to apply the same concepts here because (my thinking) things are meant to look a certain way. And the fencing and gates are easier with that arrangement too when on a slope. I’ll bet you’ve had a few Doh! moments like that too?

    Yeah, it’s weird on that front down here too. Nobody is talking about it. Mind you, there are epic sized protests that aren’t being reported upon in the media – like the recent one in Canberra, so maybe people are talking about price rises, but it isn’t being reported upon in the news of the day? We have both a Federal and then a State election coming up this year. I’ll check out the article.

    Nah, all of the grates are removable, so I won’t need the snake. They’re handy machines those things. The natural slope of the property tends to ensure that drains stay clean. Gravity pulls the muck downhill – and gravity never sleeps. Who can forget the dead coyote scene discovered in the town reservoir in Mr Kunstler’s most excellent book: The World Made by Hand? Fragrant. Piquant! A bit juicy.

    You know Ollie well enough. He likes his creature comforts that dog, and yeah he takes firewood seriously. Still have to fill up the secondary woodshed, and in order to do that job, I have to construct a path to get to the shed. It’s a complicated story. Ruby is well pleased to hear your comments, and added in reply that no TV series are ever made about Bull Arabs. Kelpies yes, Bull Arab’s, no.

    That was a strong message from Ruby!

    I dunno if the zucchini, grapes, pumpkins or tomatoes will ripen. Today I made the decision to switch off the small amount of water those three enclosures so that the soil stays warmer and the plants grow faster. It might work, but I really don’t know.

    I’ll dig the ginger tuber up at the end of the season and post a photo. Claire advised me to keep the tuber dry during the winter, and I’ll do my best to ensure that happens.

    The roses are lovely, and that one is an amazing colour. Enjoy your Forsythia early blossoms. 🙂

    Hope you walk was nice. It was warm here today, but is quite cool now.



  3. Hi Chris;
    cherries- Well, your experience matches mine. This last year, I thought I’d get serious, and tried to net the three oldest trees ( no dwarfs, all standards) and found that the birds were so crazy for cherries, that they would find the smallest gap and still pilfer. I have planted ten trees so far, and will be planting two more this spring. Luckily, as it turns out, the cherries just happen to be all together in a straight line next to the driveway, so my plan is to let the bird have them for now, but will build a legit net framework in a couple years as more trees come in to decent production.

    mentors- I volunteer for a folk school, where some traditional skills are preserved and passed on. Mentoring relationships in the spread out, atomized world we live in are hard to establish. And- It’s worse than 1% with self reliance knowledge. The great majority of farmers here in the U.S. are commodity farmers- they drive GPS guided tractors, spray whatever the chemical companies are selling this year, and very likely don’t have a garden or see anything growing in their immediate locale but corn and soybeans.

    Have you read Tyson Yunkaporta’s book “Sand Talk”? He’s Aboriginal, and describes how full knowledge of how to live in harmony with your surroundings can take generations of learning, which is passed on generation to generation. Which leads to………

    tacit learning- Many of the more pragmatic forms of knowledge are what I have learned are tacit knowledge. Meaning, they cannot be learned by reading, but only through hands on experience. One can read all about the rules of a sport, but that does not mean you can kick a football through the uprights the first time.
    I wrote about this a few years ago:

    A mentor is kind of a coach for tacit learning, to my mind.

    aging- You wonder why the past neighbor didn’t do all the improvements that the new owners have done. I find that as I age, I just can’t do as much in a day as I used to. Maybe that was it?

    swales- Water flows are one of the first things permaculture considerations get you to tune in to. Creating swales and other water management features are big projects however. I can’t imagine how much dirt you’d have to move to slope the hill away from the new shed and divert surface flow around it. Culverts and prefab drain tiles are huge work savers that we’ll miss in the future. Get those water management details in now!

    gas pricing- This is a key area where logic and physics will clash with politics and “economics”. It’s looking like politics will win until it can’t. Hang on tight! I fully understand your urgency to get the farm infrastructure done NOW.

  4. Yo, Chris – One quibble I had about “The Dry.” First, Luke’s head was beaten in with a rock. Then he was shot. A good pathologist would have picked up on that, and there would have been questions, from the start. What was shocking was how the lush river for a swim, turned into a dry, dust filled ditch.

    One point the article on Australia made was, there’s not much going on geologically (occasional earthquake, aside 🙂 . Except erosion. Which brings me to the nearby farm that doesn’t plow on the contour. Do what you want to do, but generally received wisdom is, that running furrows up and down the slope, will lead to erosion problems. That was one of the factors causing our great Dust Bowl years. Farmers being farmers, and set in their ways, it was quit the job to get them to plow on the contour. In some places, they paid them to make the change.

    Another KFC product, that has been reverse engineered is their cole slaw. But, there again, Betty Crocker has a pretty good recipe, and if you let it sit overnight in the fridge, is about as good. I made another batch of the cereal mix, last night. Haven’t been able to find any bagel chips, or, even a good substitute. So I added a few more of the pretzels and a cup of walnut pieces. I also upped the Worcestershire sauce, by half. Still not quit “zippy” enough, for me. I gave some to Elinor, so, I’ll see what she says.

    I see there’s a new Jurassic Park movie, coming out.

    Dinosaurs in snow. Who knew? Looks like they’ve got most of the old gang, back. There’s also another new film, that looks interesting. “Nope.” Alien invasion. Last night I watched a slightly older sci-fi. “Lucy.” What if you could use most of your brain power? Not bad. Worth a bowl of popcorn.

    I see there are demonstrations in New Zealand. And, the authorities are hauling out the big guns, to break them up. They’re bombarding them with Barry Manilow. Doesn’t seem to be doing much good. They may have to resort to the nuclear option … show tunes. 🙂

    Ah. Somehow or another I thought it was grates, connected by underground pipe.

    Might not want to let Ruby watch that show. She’s likely to get stars and her eyes and delusions of a Hollywood career. Nothing there but a boulevard of broken dreams. 🙁 .

    H and I must be living right. It started raining hard, last night. But, when we went out this morning, we caught a break in the weather. The weather is supposed to be back to nice, by tomorrow.

    I’m also reading “The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future. (Marche, 2022). According to him, we’re past trembling on the brink, and are already well on our way. Not a comforting read. Lew

  5. Hi Lewis,

    True, but it was set in the bush, and things outside of the big city are not as well financed as perhaps they might be in your part of the world. Get too far from the city, and the resources just aren’t there. Speaking of pathology, you probably haven’t heard but there has been a development in the case of the two folks who disappeared way out in the remote alpine area whilst camping. Police confirm human remains uncovered in Victoria’s high country are Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

    The change in the land from boom to bust years is pretty harsh, and it happens here too. This year has been quite cool and damp all things considered, but I’ve seen some hot and dry years when all of the underbrush dies back, becomes tinder dry and waits for the rains to come and the heat to recede. It’s a harsh country, and people forget that.

    Yes, let’s ignore that recent earthquake – an unpleasant experience! 🙂 Ah, I see yes, you are correct. The ploughing on contour was developed in this country I believe. I do things a bit different here (as you might expect) and basically don’t plough ever. You might see me digging a lot, but that is usually for infrastructure works and then I have to spend a huge amount of time and effort protecting the earthworks via all sorts of methods. The farm is on a slope, if I did plough repeatedly, the entire place would wash away over the course of a few heavy rainfall events. Yeah, nah, nobody around here ploughs that I am aware of. Probably not a smart idea.

    The current methods I use, barely even turn over the soil in the vegetable bed rows, and that just lets the soil flora and fauna do the aeration job. The whole bunch of mineral additives for the rows just gets chucked on top and it gives heaps for the soil critters to eat. It works, but is slow.

    I’ll give the up and down vegetable rows a go, and see whether it works or not. Dunno. Worse comes to worse, I can just flip the lot around and run the same rows on contour. Easy. But the test is worth doing, because I’ve seen it work – and the farmer to the south of here has been at that for many years.

    Oh yeah, that coleslaw was pretty good, although slightly liquidity, which may have been a sharp vinegar – not sure. What does the recipe say in relation to that? Good stuff getting onto making a cereal mix – such a useful thing to do, and you know what is in the end product. Sometimes I’m a bit horrified how much salt and sugar gets chucked into these types of products. What was Elinor’s opinion of your gourmet creation?

    Speaking of zippy – and I hear you about that – since we grew some chilli plants over the past couple of years (but not this year, unfortunately), I’ve become more accustomed to the spicy zing that chilli provides (we do grow only milder varieties – when we can). The greenhouse project is calling so as to supply some chilli and eggplants, and the building will be in a sunnier spot – which should help. I can see why the old timers used to use cloches and heated greenhouses… Still a pineapple might require a tad more firewood than I’m prepared to throw at the problem.

    Thanks for the heads up on the trailer. Sam Neill’s a good actor isn’t he? It’s a good question about dinosaurs, they do seem to be pretty big! On a serious note, I read in the past couple of years that dinosaur bones had been found in Antarctica, and somehow they’d adapted. It would probably be a problem to use most of your brain power – what if you didn’t like what you found? Sounds like a bad storyline for a mid-life crisis. Ook.

    The authoritas there also used sprinklers and water. It didn’t sound like the armoured vehicle with water canons which was deployed to quell protesters in Bolivia – we were right on the border in Peru. A heck of a sight. When I first read about the protests, I thought from the headlines that Barry Manilow was attending, or speaking to crowd. Is the bloke even alive? Oh, that’s good – show tunes! Very funny. I was amazed that the protests were even reported on, the ones over here get almost zero media time, and when they do, the numbers appear to be massively misreported. It seems to me like a very insecure polity to act so.

    No, not at all. The drainage channels are in fact all connected up. The ten foot long sections interconnect with a neat slot arrangement at each end. But all of the grates can be removed from the plastic U shaped channel. Easy.

    I agree nobody wants to walk the boulevard of broken dreams. Green Day did a good song with that title. I do digress, it’s a problem. What was weird was that when we were watching that show, and bare in mind we don’t watch a lot of television or movies, the dogs were watching as well (when they weren’t distracted, which can easily happen), and intrigued by the dog noises coming from the computer. I’ve never seen them do that before.

    The weather gods smiled upon you and H. 🙂 It’s for good deeds done. Hey, speaking of which did Frank make it out to help with the flat tire?

    No, that is not a comforting read at all. It’s a very English strategy to divide and conquer. Historically it works, but the outcomes can be unpredictable, and I wouldn’t employ such a strategy. One of the awful things of the health subject which dares not be named, is that a lot of social bonds have been broken and/or strained, and of course screens try to do their best to fill in the gap, but far out, how many people are there like you and I who have genuine dialogue in written form? I often wondered if the Caflic priests used to use the knowledge they gained from the confessional. It would prove tempting for some folks.

    Oh yeah, so I’m getting near to the end with Uther, and he is seriously running out of options for him and his merry crew of funsters. It won’t end well, but we already knew that. Hey, I decided to begin reading Rummage next. Thanks for your thoughts in this matter.



  6. Hi Steve,

    Mate, I was thinking about the new/old off grid solar power system in the shed, and I might make use of the electricity during the winter months to bake bread during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. It should take a little bit of pressure off the house system during that dark wintry time of year.

    Yes, exactly, the birds are filthy for any and all cherries. They’re unrelenting, and I’ve more or less given up on that particular fruit. How the old timers harvested cherries is something of a mystery. It does sound possible to be able to net your trees.

    Speaking of which, have you ever come across a readable book on how the old timers maintained their orchards?

    I agree, it is worse than simply 1% for exactly those reasons. It’s a real problem, and I do wonder how much experience simply disappears over time due to attrition of the old timers. There’s only a couple of folks around this area with serious looking vegetable gardens or who have more than a handful of fruit trees. And unfortunately a lot of people look down their noses at such activities and think: poverty. Which is crazy because this stuff ain’t cheap. The mindset makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    Thanks for mentioning the book, and believe it or not, I’d never heard of it. I note that Bruce Pascoe of the Dark Emu fame book was quoted on the front cover. It should be interesting, and it is always good to get a different view on the world – never know what you might learn.

    Learning isn’t only reading and school work, its the practical stuff too. I read about the technical aspects of welding a few years ago, but nothing provides better experience than getting out there and welding. Hope the commercial folks don’t ever get a chance to criticise my welds. 🙂 And mentors provide skills and the encouragement to simply try. How often do you see people who are afraid to try their hand at something?

    Maybe that was it, the original owners were getting on in years, but they also didn’t apparently do as much of the work around the farm themselves – you could see that. And I’ve wondered what difference that would make? They used to get in a lot of backpackers to do the picking from what I could see.

    Hehe! There is no way I could stop such flows of water by using passive swales at an economic price point. I do use such earthworks to advantage, but not for a shed. Yikes! The house has lots of interesting drainage systems protecting it. I don’t really know whether these channels will work or not, and it doesn’t matter too much if water gets into the shed as everything is fairly well protected inside from that possibility.

    I don’t know what is going to happen with oil prices, but they do seem to be on the up.



  7. Yo, Chris – Did you forget your honey this Valentine’s Day? No worries, harmony can be restored. Just get a bottle of this …

    I don’t know. I think I’ll just stick with a dab of vanilla extract, behind my ear. 🙂

    That’s a terrible end to the couple who disappeared. At least the families can have some closure. I don’t know if you followed any of the story of the young couple, that was similar. They were from Florida, and went on a road trip. He returned later, without her. Hard questions were asked. He went on the run. Then they found her body. Recently, they found his. Or, what was left of it, after the animals had got through with it. Pathologists report just came back. He’d killed himself.

    Of course! (Smacks head hard). Your farming methods are pretty much no plow. A world of difference.

    Well, some of the secret ingredients in KFC cole slaw, are buttermilk and a dash of lemon juice. Elinor thought the chex mix was quit good. As good as her daughter’s, and her daughter is quit the cook. Once I use up the ingredients I’ve got, I’ll probably not make it for awhile. The three kinds of cereal you need are pushing $5 a box. If you can find it. The cereal aisle is still looking pretty empty. And the bagel chips I need are no where to be found. Or any other kind of reasonable substitute.

    Make sure you make the greenhouse big enough. 🙂 . Maybe something like London’s Crystal Palace?

    Sam Neill is a wonderful actor and has been in some pretty interesting movies. But for some reason, when I see him, I can never remember his name. Maybe keeping dinosaurs in snow, makes them easier to manage? The whole question of warm blooded or cold, is still up in the air. Or were they something in between? When dinosaurs wandered around Antarctica, the world was a lot warmer. It was a period with a high concentration of green house gases. And, due to a tectonic plate shuffle, was in a slightly different location. Also, ocean currents were different.

    I’m not sure what dogs see, when they look at TV. When I visit Elinor, she has the TV on (but the sound turned off). H doesn’t pay much attention. I wonder if it’s more sound, than sight? H is usually trying to distract us from conversation or the TV, as she’d rather have the attention on her. 🙂 . She’s usually on one lap, or the other.

    Frank. Well, no joy there, yet. I’m beginning to find the whole situation just … depressing.

    I’m winding up the book on the possible civil war, in our future. The book is ending with a lively discussion of secession. Interesting stuff. We’re probably not going to see an actual break, with California or Texas going their own way. But we may see a weakening of Federal oversight, and states going their own way, politically. Because “The Big Sort.” Something I’ve heard of for a few years, now. People moving to where they feel more politically comfortable. And, yes, it’s real. I’ve seen it in action.

    Then I read a bit of “Rummage.” I’m to the WWII attempts at scrap collection. It was a mixed bag.

    I read the article on service don’t use as much fuel. Hmmm. Seems to be a lot of speculation based on not much data.

    I watched a film last night, called “The Boss.” Not something I’d usually watch, but I saw a trailer, and Peter Dinklage has a part. Actually, it was a pretty funny film. But had wall to wall bad language. Yup. I’m a fan boy. I hold him in high esteem, right up there with Simon Pegg. What IS he doing these days.

    Spare a thought for my friend Scott. He’s having surgery, today. To repair a torn knee meniscus. Lew

  8. Hi Lewis,

    That’s funny about the fried potato stench thing, and I must say that I applaud the efforts of the marketing folk as they used the French word rather than the more plain Jane word: fries. It’s probably not my cup of tea, how are you about that smell? On the other hand, I quite enjoy fries. What’s not to like? We had them as a side dish in last evenings quest for the perfect chicken parmigiana, and a local business (which I’d previously mentioned) has that gear down pat. And the fries are served with a small dish of gravy which you can dunk them in, so good, and probably so bad, but so yum. This is why I eat like a rabbit for the rest of my life. 🙂

    Vanilla extract is wise, but given the economic, political and geopolitical winds bearing down upon us all, have you considered a dash of rose water instead? The local gardening club sells vanilla orchids, but far out they seem complex, and would probably turn toes up quicker than that coffee shrub I tried a few years ago in the snow.

    Had a very busy day today paid work wise. But I had a small window of time this morning and proceeded to use the time to enjoy the dying moments of the Uther story. And I meant that in the most literal sense of those words. Uther, why ever did you send your cavalry homeward bound to Camulod? Twas brill and foolish. It reminded me of Merlyn’s unwise strategy to launch ahead of his army at the merest thought of a threat by Ironside. Yes, all we have to fear is hubris, and to ignore that leads to tragedy. I loved the book, and it was a great ending to have victory snatched from him by his own foolishness. Why wasn’t he more honest with Owain of the caves? It was all downhill from there. I quite liked that character.

    Getting closure in that instance is a bit of a mixed blessing really, but then that is merely my opinion. And a little whisper is prodding the back of my consciousness that such an act is possibly not the act of a first timer. Oh no, indeedy no. I’d be taking a hard look at the history of the person who stands accused if convicted, but that is merely an opinion not backed up by anything other than spooky intuition.

    We’d heard of that couple down here too. Yeah, not good. Why not just break up? It seems like a simpler approach to the problem. I guess some people have hair trigger responses. It is part of our journey to move beyond such reactions.

    Yeah, no worries at all. I don’t dig the soil, or if I do, I do that task once and then allow the system to bind itself up again. Ploughing produces heaps of fertility, the problem is that outcome doesn’t spring out of nowhere. My way is much harder, slower and lower yielding, but it has less dramas.

    Who knew about the buttermilk? No wonder the stuff is tasty. Had a look at some recipes and an amusingly titled interweb site called ‘belly full’ has a pretty top notch recipe.

    Well yeah, of course economics has to play a part in all this cooking stuff, and a nimble person has to be able to substitute, adapt, or otherwise develop a stiff upper lip and ignore what is impossible. The supermarket shelves are looking well stocked where we shop, but it’s more expensive than the cheaper alternatives (which I’m yet to venture into). I have no idea what is going on over there.

    Ah, The Crystal Palace was one of the the Great Exhibitions. It is of interest that no true cause for the fire was concluded. And the area had become a bit more upmarket. Can’t have all the riff-raff hanging around gawping can we?

    Mate, I had to look up the actors name too. Our brains can only hold just so much – and no more than that. If your brains spilled out from any orifice, zombies would not be far away for sure. So best it doesn’t happen, and in the meantime we can use the interweb to look up the names of actors. Yes, much wiser.

    Yeah, 65 million years ago Antarctica was warmer than today, but it was more or less in about the same spot. I reckon you’re right about the ocean currents though, and they play a huge part in your climate, as well as Inge’s – and of course here too (a lot of rain, when other parts of the continent don’t get much rain at all). I became curious about where the continental plate was heading, and let’s just say that you could suggest the answer to be anywhere! We won’t be around to find out.

    It’s possible the dogs here were listening to the dogs on the show. That makes sense, and they will bark alarm calls if they hear dogs through the computer speakers. H leads a charmed life, and your laps are warm. 🙂

    Have you thought of hiring a battery powered rattle gun impact wrench? That’s do the job.

    I tend to believe that there will be reduced federal oversight, but if they blow up the currency then all bets are off. That will be the case here too for we are also a federation. Western Australia has long wanted to breakaway. Secessionism in Western Australia. I’m sure that Damo has some thoughts on this subject!

    The Rummage book is quite charming in an understated English way, and the author calls it bluntly (but also charmingly). The line: It’s not natural for cows to eat cows, was a hoot! Or bagging off her mates by pointing out what great recyclers they were and yet they apparently went on long haul flights. Well done, and jolly good shot. The Editor tells me that the gobarmint are useless with those initiatives, and economic needs trump all other considerations. Possibly those central planning folks might not be able to fight their way out of a paper-bag.

    Lewis, no need to act coy, the film rocked! And Peter Dinklage as well. It’s like bad ex-corporate high flier comes unstuck, but bounces back with extra badness. It seemed pretty funny to me too, and I was chuckling the whole way through the trailer.

    As to Mr Pegg, there is an announced but as yet untitled Star Trek Sequel. He needs to work Peter Dinklage into the film – as the arch villain. Yes, I could see that working, and the crew of the Enterprise all gets it in the neck, but come back afterwards via a spatial anomaly – only shown after the credits have rolled. Yeah, that’s what I do. Could you top that?

    Yikes! Hope Scott endured the surgery and is now recovering – although I doubt he’d be making much sense in the hours afterwards. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for him – and that the knee works better.



  9. Hello Chris,
    I guess we now reach the time in life when we are the mentors. For those who want to listen and try and learn.
    Your writing is a weekly invitation for eager, young people to seek you out for an apprenticeship of Real Life.
    I guess your doormat is worn thin by applicant volunteers?

    Knowledge about real skills are a marker of low status in the country where I reside, on the coast of the North Sea. It is mainly immigrants who tend to their allotments, to chagrin of the autochtone population who cycle past in the week-end. Cooking your own food – such a sign of poverty and under-class non-sophistication!
    I think these cultural/mental blockers are more important than access to mentors and learning.
    On the other hand, the “biodynamic” food-growing community is strong and grows organically, if you excuse the pun. They are the only ones who seem to be ready to rumble.

    Regarding your “French Drain”: I think we discussed the drainage on the upper-side of the Shed-to-rule-them-all during construction phase? But I cannot search through the old comments, only the posts on your excellent site. Maybe that is intentional?
    I sometimes have used upside-down V-shaped mounds to divert large amounts of water, higher in the slope, to guide water around obstacles.


  10. Hi Chris,

    You’ve mentioned your grandfather’s garden several times. I’m thinking he had a big influence on you. Got me to thinking and I realized none of my extended family gardened. In fact they all lived in Chicago so didn’t have the opportunity. Doug’s parents had a decent sized garden and when we were first going out he lived in silo converted into an apartment on a farm and had a garden himself. Not sure why he gave it up but then I took over and have been growing ever since. We’ve learned a lot over the years but could we be self sufficient – no way.

    Had a good weekend at Carla’s and was happy to avoid the superbowl.


  11. Hello Chris
    Storm Dudley is blowing at the moment. It is supposed to be concentrated in the north but there is a fair wind blowing down here and a number of branches have come down. Storm Eunice is to arrive on Friday and this is supposed to blow here.
    + Lew
    I have small pieces of burnt glass from the Crystal Palace fire. My husband lived in the area and he picked them up after the fire.


  12. Yo, Chris – Oh, I think the smell of french fries, is quit nice. If the oil isn’t rancid. 🙂 . Here, most people put tomato catsup on their fries. But when I worked in the cafe, we’d get the occasional customer who wanted a bit of gravy on the side, instead. And for a small additional fee, we were more than happy to oblige.

    Yup. Growing vanilla orchids is pretty iffy. And, getting them to be fertile and produce pods, is another whole song and dance. Given that in the wild, there is one adapted insect that fertilizes them.

    I think Urther didn’t confide in Owain for a few reasons. She’s Lot’s wife so where do her loyalties REALLY lie. Not knowing the inner workings of that marriage, trust might have been a hard sell. And then I think there was a bit of not being perceived as having a weakness, for a woman. I figured out the two big mysteries, early on. Who killed Merlin’s wife and who killed King Lot (in such a creative way). As far as Lot goes, I figured from his first interaction with that family (Longhead) that it was either the father or the son that did him. I guess watching all those BBC mysteries, pays off.

    Unless the murderer of the couple was somehow connected, I’d guess the police will be looking at a number of missing persons or murder cases. Trying to connect up the dots. I don’t know if it was intended, but if he was a serial killer, he was using the Button Man, as cover.

    Well, the world is just getting weirder and weirder. A few weeks ago, out in Yelm (where I used to work) an old fellow shuffled off his mortal coil. The family began to clean out his place. And discovered a number of explosive devices. A domestic terrorist? Nope. The old guy just had a hobby. Well, us guys do like to blow stuff up. 🙂 And in another tale of Yelm weird, a fellow walked into a gun store. Asked to see a pistol. Pulled a round out of his pocket, loaded the gun, and shot himself. Must be something in the water, out there. In Word Weird News, a fellow tried to open an emergency door (there were a couple of incidents of that, at about the same time. Hard to keep them straight.) while the plane was in flight. One of the stewardesses clocked him with a coffee pot. Twice. You go, girl! 🙂

    I think I mentioned, that by mistake, I bought 25 pounds of steel cut oats, instead of rolled oats. So, what to do with the stuff? Here’s the interesting thing. I have gone through numerous of my cookbooks, and there are no recipes for steel cut oats. Not even the Bob’s Red Mill cookbooks. And they sold me the stuff! But I discovered there are numerous recipes, on line. Everything from breakfast porridge to fried patties and baked loafs. The best the cookbooks did was mention how they’re milled and “needs to be cooked longer.”

    Rattle gun impact wrench. Well, first I’d have to hire a cab … Last night I wandered down to the auto supply store and picked up a new tire pressure tester. After decades of yeoman service, my tester gave up the ghost. Natch. Worked a month ago. Any-who, I discovered his morning that the spare, has very little air in it. Sooooo …. I’m going to have to borrow the compressor, that plugs into your lighter (does my truck have a lighter?) from Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea. This saga just never ends.

    Couldn’t read the article on Western Australia secession, as it’s slipped into a temporal anomaly. But, I found others to read. I forget how many areas are plumping for secession, but it’s many, world wide. Ah! Sixty, worldwide. But the book discussed several scenarios for things flying apart. Major domestic terrorist attack was one. Major ecological disaster (he used the flooding of New York) for another. He had a rather interesting take, on why things are, as they are. He theorized that both left and right love America. The idea of America. But both have completely different takes on what America is. And there’s no reconciling the two views.

    I read more of the “Rummage” book, last night. Wait til you get to the part about the Victorians messing about with sugar 🙂 . The Editor is right. Unless there’s some profit to be made, recycling is pretty much a dead issue. Even when the country is threatened, as in WWII.

    Well, I missed something. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost did a recent series. “Truth Seekers.” Only one season of 8 episodes. Pity. I’ll have to see if I can round up a copy. It’s on DVD.

    I won’t even try to top your Star Trek sequel. But keep your day job. 🙂 .

    I asked Scott to get back to me, when he feels up to it, to let me know how it went. He’s got to take heavy duty pain killers, for a couple of days. Given his history, it’s a bit problematic. But, he’s well aware of potential problems, and switches to over the counter stuff as soon as is humanly possible. Lew

  13. Chris,

    Good work on the drainage systems for the new shed. I’m glad you got that completed before the rains set in. Important stuff, drainage. I’m not sure Ollie was impressed, however. That looked more as if he was saying, “Ho, hum. Master Chris just did some more stuff. Pretty routine, not as impressive as some of those new machines he was using a few months ago.”

    Ahhh, your grandfather’s vegetable gardens. I came to gardening through a similar process. The Great Depression was very tough on my dad’s family, as they spent 2 years living in tents at 5,000-foot elevation. Once they got their feet on the ground again, vegetables were routinely grown. Dad had several fruit trees and a large vegetable area when we lived in California. Then he repeated the vprocess when we moved to Spokane. It’s important to grow at least a portion of your own food.

    You’ve been busy, but it doesn’t sound as if it was frenetic. I bet it feels good to have the woodshed filled up!

    Oh, guilty as charged from last week. I was exceedingly dualistic in my thinking and still have a lot to learn in this regard. I’ll tell ya, and you probably already know, dualistic thinking truly causes a lot of issues, few of them good. Grad school, in both stints at it, was a BIG eye opener. I learned more by making friends with students from overseas than I did in the classes. Yes, my head was exploding, but I’m much better as a result. A friend and I from the local university keep in close contact. He, too, obtained a physics degree. The two of us are in whole-hearted agreement that the best class we ever took was “East/West Philosophies and Religions”. So my head was exploding a bit before grad school. I’m not yet convinced that my head has gotten back together. 😉

    Avalanche has avalanched through the neighborhood. The school age kids and teenagers enjoy meeting her when I’m taking her on her daily walk. They love the dog, she enjoys the attention, and I think it’s a good thing that different generations can interact outdoors. Avalanche is bringing joy to a lot of lives.

    The University of Arkansas has the Razorback as the mascot of its sports teams. Fierce creatures they are. Definitely not something you’d want to meet if the razorback was in a surly mood. A raging razorback is right up there with an angry aurochs, maddened moose or kicking kangaroo. Best to avoid such critters.

    The last time I was selected for jury duty, I tried everything I could (legally) do to not be selected for a certain case. However, the prosecution didn’t find problems with me, and the defense counsel thought I might be a potential ally. Rather than getting excused, I wound up being the jury foreman. I was thinking “bleeping bleep of a bleep!” a lot during that trial!


  14. Hi, Chris!

    Same problem with cherry trees here. The birds get them, and also the squirrels. The squirrels even eat the blossoms, the little darlin’s. We have tried netting, but caught too many birds, so we gave up. I think we have dumb birds.

    I am really shocked at your petrol prices. We are not seeing that here yet, but I am taking your experience as a warning because it was you who had the first runs on toilet paper, before I ever heard about it.

    I certainly like the Reln storm drains. Apparently we can get them here and I will be passing that on. By the way, the new shed looks like it has always been there.

    You know, for all the worries you have about wildfires (legitimately so), you have had way more damage from water.

    I don’t see how you get wood out of that shed. Neither does Ollie.

    With the ginger: If it never makes a decent root, the leaves still taste like ginger.

    Yum – zucchini! I am afraid the parrots are waiting for the persimmons to ripen.

    I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, our main finance newspaper, that millions of people in India who had moved to the cities for work in past years are moving back to their villages to work in agriculture again. It seems that quite a lot of them – these are mostly young people – are finding that they are happier and more satisfied there.

    I just found out that one of my neighbors has gotten bees. I hope they come to visit us.

    Thanks especially for the roses!


  15. @ Inge – That is so cool. A little piece of history. I once had a friend, who had a little piece of the Berlin Wall. It was turquoise. Lew

  16. Hi Pam, DJ, Lewis, Inge, Margaret, and Goran,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but ’tis the mid-week hiatus when Chris must go to the pub, have a pint and feed and enjoy the 22’C evening, for winter will soon be here, and instead of an intriguing Mandarin sour drink, it’ll be time again for dark ales. Hmm, dark ales, just the thing for winter. Anyway, instead of replying this evening, I was at the pub. Yes, it’s complicated. Will speak tomorrow.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    I’m so with you on the fresh oil for frying. Oil can go rancid and that is not tasty, and in fact it is quite unpleasant. I note that used cooking oil is collected and somehow refined. I’m not sure what it gets then used for. I’ve never known anyone to use biodiesel. I’m not even sure whether modern diesel engines can run on biodiesel. A lot of used oil gets collected and processed, and I know that happens with mechanics and also other businesses like the farm machine repair dudes.

    Reading Rummage, I’ve been thinking about all this stuff. And curiously, the only thing we send to the recyclers are the metal scraps. Everything else gets dealt to here, with only plastic being destroyed. I have strong reservations that plastic is genuinely recycled into new products. But the rest of the stuff is easy to work out. Interestingly, the old slogan of re-use, repair and recycle, could also be improved by slotting repurpose in between repair and recycle. Curiously, the book is confirming my thoughts on recycling being the last option.

    Speaking of re-using, we broke the first ground on the new greenhouse project today. We constructed a brand new steel gabion cage, but then given we are relocating the greenhouse and making it bigger, we dismantled an existing rock gabion cage, removed all of the rocks, and then placed them in the new cage. Your maths is probably better than mine, but you may note that we now have one old now empty gabion cage. That cage will get relocated and filled next week. 😉 And so it will go for a few weeks. I believe there are six cages to move. Yikes!

    Chips and gravy are a delectable combination, and I would have stumped the mad cash for such a tasty treat.

    Yes, vanilla is in the possible category, but the plant exceeds my abilities to manage. There are easier plants. And I’ll get used to rose syrup / rose water. 🙂

    I reckon not trusting Owain was an error, because the guy was alert to danger in a way that other people might not recognise. You get that kind of vibe from the character. Did you? But you’re right not wanting to show any weakness, is in fact a weakness itself. And sending the cavalry away home when the land was crawling with enemies, was beyond foolish. It interested me that Merlyn did not strike down Derek and after everything they managed to part amicably. That was unexpected, but we know how it played out in the book. What surprised me was that when Derek finally got back to Camulod, as a character he disappeared.

    I didn’t figure that Lagaan Longhead would have the opportunity to capture Lot. His merry band of funsters seemed like a dour lot. Shame about Nemo copping it in the head with an axe, but you could see the confusion, and perhaps there was a touch of karma to that ending?

    Yeah, the guy did allegedly evade the authorities for a bit. There have been other missing people up that way. I used to think nothing of going camping by myself for days in that part of the world. Mind you, I am very polite to people I meet in such out of the way places – for good reason. Button man is an intriguing character, and some of the stories sound like pranks gone a bit too far – like the photographer who later discovered a photo of himself asleep in his tent.

    Tread carefully in unknown spaces – I’m pretty sure that is my modus operandi – but yeah, nobody wants to go through a deceased estate and discover such devices. I have a gut feeling that people can only handle so much stress for so long, and you can’t say that the authoritas haven’t been pushing that barrow for a long time. It won’t end well, you know.

    Years ago I watched a CSI episode where some crazy person tried to open the door to a plane whilst it was in the air. It was a bit like the outcome to Murder on the Orient Express – so many passengers killed the crazy person, that the authorities could pin the murder on anyone in particular.

    Me tired. Gonna go to bed. Crashing… Speak tomorrow.



  18. @ All
    Sorry folks, here is a book recommendation for all of you.
    ‘Dear Me’ by Peter Ustinov. A book of his memoirs. I have never before read a book with so much packed into each sentence. Have reached page 34 and feel that I have already read an entire book. It is utterly riveting.


  19. Yo, Chris – I’ve heard of frying oil, being used in vehicles that have been adapted. According to reports, the exhaust smells like french fries. 🙂 .

    I finished “Rummage” last night. I must admit, I skimmed through some of the center parts. Bad Lew! I’d say the author is right on, and has really thought a lot about recycle, etc..

    So what am I reading now? “Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them. (Saladino, 2021). “…mass extinction taking place in our food. We are losing diversity in all crops that feed the world.” It’s kind of a world travelog, and I skipped ahead a few chapters to read about a plant in Australia. And it’s right in your own backyard! 🙂 . Murnong. Once widespread over southern Australia. Until the sheep came. Recently, it was restricted to two small clusters in Bairnsdale, Victoria. There are attempts to spread the culture. If you haven’t, already, you might want to look into it. It’s kind of pretty, too.

    You’ve got to move 6 gabion cages? What? Ohhh. You MUST have done something truly evil in a previous life.

    A lot of people like gravy on their hash browns. Do you call it that, down there? Boiled shredded potatoes, fried as loose patties, on a grill. Crispy outside, soft inside. We used to boil and shred a fresh batch, every morning at the cafe I worked in. Some people put tomato catsup on them. Other’s want gravy. Hmmm. I’m going to take a big leap here and say, just about any kind of potatoes can be paired with gravy.

    Sigh. How soon they forget. 🙂 Derek was the “king” of Ravenglass, and figures large in “Fort at River’s Bend.” He pretty much becomes one of Arthur’s protectors, as he’s growing up. That was an interesting book. Stashing young Arthur in an abandoned Roman fort (which does exist) and forming a society.

    I went to the library, yesterday. And, low an behold, there was a copy of “Made in Italy” on the shelf. I sat down and watched the DVD “extras”, last night. Well, that was interesting. It’s a story about a widower and his son, trying to sell an run down Tuscan villa. Turns out the actors, Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson are father and son, in real life. And the story hit very close to home. Turns out they lost their wife / mother, about ten years before the film was made. And she was Natasha Richardson, daughter of Vanessa Redgrave, of the Redgrave acting dynasty. She died in a skiing accident. Any-who. I’ll probably watch the film, this evening.

    And, in breaking tire news … I discovered yesterday that my spare has very little air in it. So, after some futzing around, I discovered that the tire store where I bought the tires (they have a super reputation) will send a guy out. Probably, this afternoon. I was so stressed. So, I called Frank and let him off the hook. There was more of that story. Frank is working his place, by himself! So, with a little luck, I may be back on the road by tonight. Counting chickens before they hatch…

    I did a small seed order, with Nichols Garden Nursery, yesterday. They’re website announced that the credit card function, was temporarily down. So I called. And talked with the nicest lady. There family run, three or four generations.

    I don’t know what’s going on with credit cards and the net. I’ve been trying to buy stamps, from our postal service, for a couple of days. I get to the payment part and it just processes, processes, processes. Tried it at the library, and no dice there, either. Tried it late last night. It processed for five minutes, and didn’t kick in, before I gave up.

    But there is possible good news, for our posties. I think I mentioned that they were ham strung by a sneaky bit of legislation, that demanded they fund their retirement for 70 years. The only agency that has to do that. I think it was a ploy to try and privatize the service. Well, a bill has passed our House, to end that. It passed by a wide margin, so it may survive the Senate. We’ll see. Lew

  20. Hi Goran,

    Mate, surely you are kidding me? 🙂 I’m not entirely sure though. How’s that working out for you? Far out, I genuinely don’t know how to reach out to such people. I’m not seeing a lot of interest, and sort of suspect that people aren’t hungry enough.

    Exactly. A good mate of mine trained as a welder, and he’s a knowledgeable bloke with far better social skills and contacts than I could ever manage, and his son just for example is not interested in learning any hands on practical skills from him, probably for that very reason. As far as I can understand things, there is a dominant narrative which prods, hints, suggests and shepherds. And the narrative shifts over time and is forced fed by crass commercial interests. I dunno, it’s not a good idea to listen to that narrative, but plenty of people do quite well from doing just that.

    My early experiences in the early 1990’s showed me the dark side of that narrative, and what happened once, can happen again for sure. But try telling people to be careful of that possibility, and you encounter the narrative. It’s bigger than you or I! 🙂

    I agree, there are a few people, but around the parts I live, it’s so rare. Liked the pun! Thanks for the laughs.

    We did discuss the French drains, and you and others sowed the seed of an idea. The last heavy rainfall proved the worth of installing the French drain, the idea was there, and I could obtain the materials easy enough. The job then got done. Mostly, I simply sow ideas nowadays – and then hope for the best! What else can you do. And yup, that is a deliberate strategy – not everyone on this here interweb are as nice as the people who comment here.

    Yes, I too use earthworks to divert and/or infiltrate water. They work, although I have to be very careful of modifying any water flows because, get it wrong and trees die, even the really large and old ones in the forest are at risk. That new shed in particular was in need of the drain because the shed sits below a swale.



  21. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, the old bloke made quite the impression on my younger self. He was also one of the only adults in my life who took any interest in me. My mum was rather busy with my older sisters (as you might imagine), and my dad was hopeless, and elsewhere. Don’t think that I’m down on that situation either, I enjoyed the freedom it gave me and kind of resented the other adults intrusion. But the old blokes garden was a full sized tennis court which he’d dug up and planted out to vegetables. The house was on an enormous allotment – which I noted on gargle urth has now been split into two lots as a duplex and I don’t see any vegetable patch now – anywhere. 🙂 Yes, the houses which ate the suburbs. Sounds like a horror story!

    Doug doesn’t have to tend the garden, you do! 🙂 On a serious note, Sandra and I split activities around here, there’s so much to be done, you can’t do everything.

    It’s a funny notion that one – self sufficiency. Think about it from say the off grid electricity systems here, and whilst I can maintain and repair them and put them together, there’s no way I could manufacture any of the components. So I don’t know about that goal. We might be able to feed ourselves, but I really do have to construct the new greenhouse. That small original building has proven its worth to me many times over. Must-be-bigger, and in a sunnier spot.

    🙂 Good to hear, and I’m having a quiet day off today too, and also avoiding the super bowl. Had a super bowl of toasted muesli this morning! 🙂



  22. Hi Inge,

    How did you fare with the 100mph winds from Eunice? Glad you don’t have large branches within dropping distance of your house. I’ve not yet encountered winds quite that strong, despite the tornado which hit here one Christmas day many years ago. Out of curiosity, how are the beaches around your part holding up after such a storm battering?

    It’s raining and cold here today at 63’F. One of the largest plum trees is beginning to turn at the extremities. The Editor and I had a serious discussion yesterday about finishing the firewood job tomorrow rather than delaying it over the next few weeks. Hard decisions were made, and there is no point in hauling and storing wet firewood. It would probably be fine to leave the job for a few weeks, but we don’t really know.



  23. Hi DJ,

    Thanks! The drainage channels are super cool, and so easy to install and clean. I was surprised that they are rated to handle 5,000kg – presumably for vehicles, despite being plastic. I was a bit dubious about these particular channels because I’ve seen them fail due to lack of maintenance (i.e. the gunk in the channels was not cleaned out). But then the water tanks use inlet filters so I guess there are no systems that don’t require some sort of maintenance. I’m sure that is a familiar story to you? 🙂

    Hehe! You’re right, Ollie wasn’t impressed. He’s got big expectations that dog. And hey, I might be getting that machine back in about four or five weeks time. Such a great machine. You’ll see what I’m doing in next weeks blog, where hopefully the photos make more sense than my words. I’ve recently repurposed and begun relocating the steel rock gabion cages. A big job, but hey, life wasn’t meant to be easy.

    Oh, holy carp! Living in a tent at 5,000ft is no joke here (double the elevation of the farm incidentally) – any day of the year – but in your part of the world it would be doubly brutal. I recall you mentioning the tents before. My grandfather had a large vegetable patch (but no fruit trees) for similar reasons, and he had the means to buy what he wanted too. That alone impressed upon me the reality that as you rightly point out, it’s not a bad idea to produce at least some of your own food. Mind you, looking at the satellite images from where his house is, the houses have eaten the large blocks. As an urban species we do so love our built environment.

    Having a day off today. From memory, it’s probably about maybe the fifth day off in about four months. Now that certain goals have been reached, I do need to wind things back a little bit. Tomorrow hopefully will finish the firewood job for the year. It looks like the season is turning here towards cooler weather (and it was already cool before that).

    Keep an eye on where those brain parts ended up, you might need them!!! But far out, yeah I was raised with that sort of simplistic right/wrong and sort of thinking, and as a system it does have certain benefits and advantages for society. But when things are spoken about as if they are ‘right’, when they might be wrong, or even partially wrong, well there is a problem right there. Your country in particular is having that story shoved at the population, and there is risk in that strategy. I wouldn’t do it, but then there are plenty of things going on right now around the place that I don’t think is all that smart. What do you? And yeah, I sometimes enjoy getting in the headspace of other cultures through books (although I am wary of having my brain exploded for much the same reasons that you suggest). The world can look very different to them, and you know, you kind of learn and can maybe even adapt some of those worldviews.

    Go Avalanche! She loves the attention. 🙂 Dunno whether I’ve mentioned it, but due to the health subject which dare not be named, the fluffies tend to treat unknown humans with suspicion and then keep their distance just because they haven’t had that much social time. How could they have. Anyway, I’m unfussed about that being in a rural area. Seeing that, I do wonder about how people who’ve locked themselves away in their houses for extended periods are coping? Probably not well, but I dunno.

    Hehe! The mad-roo doesn’t quite have the fear factor of the razorback, although both are savage and you wouldn’t want to corner either. That long dead dude Sun Tzu always recommended to leave an out for ones opponents. Seems like good advice.

    Oh no! Mate, they picked you for sure. Yeah, I had that deep sense of dread that I’d be picked too, for much the same reasons. I tell ya, after dodging twice, I received a shirty letter from the bureaucrats telling me off about civil duty and stuff. Surely they might have considered the fact that the pittance I received for every day of my time was not enough to justify wiping my business out, and that I may have become very grumpy at that outcome. The problem I see it with that lot, is that there are financial incentives to drag the entire process out, and so there is an inherent conflict of interest built in. I understand that things can go wrong if the process is too speedy, but still there is middle ground in there somewhere.



  24. Hi Pam,

    How is Charlene the white squirrel going? Has she produced much of a brood over the past few years? Please keep your squirrels in your part of the world. The possums would do similar things to the fruit tree blossoms, however, the delightful owls tend to keep a lid on the possum population. In fact the owls see any possum as an opportunity for an easy feed, and possums are rightfully nervous. But yeah, the birds leave no cherries. A bit of a shame as they’re quite tasty fruit.

    I’m shocked too by petrol prices. Yesterday I noted that diesel fuel hit $1.90 per litre (3.8 litres to the gallon). Freight is going to get super expensive down here, and large scale agriculture uses bonkers amount of diesel fuel. All that mucking around over the past two years is beginning to bite in all sorts of ways – our leaders have been feckless, and they took their eyes off the big picture. Unfortunately, your unintended pun about ‘runs and toilet paper’ has put a big smile on my face! 🙂 We’re at the outer edges of Empire and so things hit here first. Parts supplies is a worry too, I hear stories.

    The grates for the drains are super easy to remove using a screwdriver. If the grates couldn’t be removed, the drain would be a total disaster as it would eventually fill up with gunk. There’s still some more work to do with that drainage channel, but I’m enjoying some quieter time. A person has to know when to slow down. And yeah, thanks for saying about the shed. It does sit well at that location.

    Hehe! Yeah, that’s what I believe too. Droughts are bad, fires are bad, but huge storms are far out scary. Four inches of rain in an hour accompanied by strong winds just pushes every single system on the farm. Years ago, it might have been 2011, but ten inches of rain fell over five days and there was so much water everywhere. It was horrific. If you’ve got the water stored, a brief drought is a doddle, and in fact the plants grow faster due to the extra heat and better soil aeration. Fire might be a problem though but I’m slowly working on that matter and reducing the risk. Time will tell with that one.

    Hehe! Well, firewood is easy to remove from the shed. There are these things called wheelbarrows!!! But we do stack right to the door. Thanks for the laughs. I’d hate to think what Ollie could smell, but it wasn’t nothing that’s for sure. That shed is too small and may be replaced within the next year.

    I didn’t know that about the ginger leaves, and will put them to the test at the end of the season (before they die back). I’ll trial over wintering the tuber this year (fingers crossed). How do you store ginger tubers during the winter months? I can’t leave them in the greenhouse as they fermented last year. Not nice.

    Pam, you’re starting to worry me with all this loose talk about persimmons and parrots. They’re always hungry.

    The big city isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact during the past two years of the health subject which dare not be named, even down here there has been an exodus from the cities. If remote working ceases, I do wonder how those folks will fare, but then they might have no option and have to do something. With oil prices heading in the direction they’re headed, will people continue to do long commutes? I can’t say for sure.

    Ooo! Bees are good, and they’ll be great for your garden – they bees know where feed is to be found. Hope the neighbours are nice.

    🙂 I love the flowers too.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve been told that too about the exhaust from biodiesel in that it smells like fries. Can’t be much wrong with that, can there be? Actually, I have no idea about the processes involved in converting vegetable oil into motion. Interestingly, we could probably do ethanol for small motors, but again I have no idea what is involved in that conversion. I wonder if there are books on the subject? Hmm. Fascinating. Looks like the cylinder needs more fuel and the timing of the ignition needs to be earlier. All makes sense. Who knew? It’s good that some dedicated folks sorted this stuff out. I’m unsure that the changes could be adapted to engines with electronic ignition. Probably easier to have access to older engines, or convert the machines to electric with all the limitations involved in that. The only small engine here that might work with pure 93% alcohol is the scary old wood chipper. It’s a beast of a machine with a heavy flywheel.

    No, I hear you about skimming through some parts of the book. I’m about 20% of the way through the Rummage book myself. And for the record I can say with certainty that it went down a treat with a large coffee and serving of fruit toast this morning. And things taste better with butter. The book reminded me a bit of the most excellent and very serious academic book: ‘The Greatest Estate on Earth’. The author who was an academic felt the need to belabour the point with countless examples, and after a while my eyes glazed over and my brain said: ‘yes, I hear you bro’. But all the same despite the scholarly tone, outstanding scholarship and the waves the book made, there was no change. But yeah, the author is bang on target. She called it out for the BS that it is, and then in no uncertain terms described why that should be. And I’m only 20% of the way through the book!

    As you might guess, I had a very quiet do-nothing day today. It’s good for my mental health.

    Interestingly, what is not good for my mental health are windows updates. I’ve just sorted out the mess with the Editors computer, and now my computer seems to be suffering. Well done those folks, nice one, but I got news for them… Who said, I’ll fix their little red wagon? And what is actually meant by the term little red wagon?

    Anyway, I got into the back end of our hardware and changed that, and then had to get into the back end of the operating system and change that. But enough silliness is enough. Moving on… They’re very boring these IT types.

    Dude! Are you kidding me? So a few years ago I obtained and grew a magnificent looking Murnong, and the comments I received from yourself and Inge were along the lines of: Oh, it’s a massive dandelion! Which incidentally is what the plant looks like. You see I suspect the indigenous folks selected the very best of the tubers, and then bred them up. They’re master plant breeders and used to trade edible plants around the country. There’s a Cabbage Tree lane not too far from here, and the reference is not lost on me. Oh yeah, when I look at the dandelions in the orchard and paddocks I think of that story and what would have necessitated the need for that progress in plant breeding… But yeah, I hear you and know where to source the plants.

    Yes, been bad, what can I say? Here I feel the need to quip: Life was never meant to be easy.

    Hash browns are known in this part of the world, but they used to be called ‘bubble and squeak’ when not formed into patties. It’s the same thing really and makes use of leftovers. An admirable thing to do!

    Yah, Derek made the killing blow to Uther in the story, and then took his armour due to the pragmatic situation that it fit him, other than the notably smaller head! That theme continued when Uther’s body was dealt to by Derek’s underlings. A fine touch by the author. Mate, I only recall these fine details because I read the conclusion on Wednesday morning. In another months time, the arc of the story will be retained, the details, perhaps not so much!

    Oh good stuff with the film! Ook, skiing accidents are a problem and many a person has come unstuck by such activities. A bit like learning to fly… Never much enjoyed skiing myself – too hard on the knees. Did you enjoy the film? I have plans to watch the second episode of Muster Dog’s tonight. So many Kelpie’s, so little time.

    In breaking wombat news, that is exactly what happened last year with the Dirt rat Suzuki tyre and spare tyre. The tyre was flat, and the spare tyre barely (17 years old at that stage) only just made it to the tyre shop. All tyres were replaced. Do I want hassles? Nope. Good luck, and I hope the tyre dudes sort out your ranger. Fingers crossed for you anyway.

    It was good you could get onto a person at the seed business. There is no guarantee of that possibility these days. So did they take your order over the phone, or redirect you back to the interweb site? Curious minds and all that stuff. 🙂

    I’m not seeing payment dramas down here, but then I have a hunch that our online bank services are better than what you experience based on previous conversations. Can’t say for sure why that would be, but I did note that our federal reserve bank has curtailed quantitative easing, and is threatening to put up interest rates. Exciting times!

    That chunk of legislation just sounds weird to me. As far as I can tell, they are part of your federal gobarmint, and that behemoth can print money at will (or indirectly so via a convoluted process), so what’s the story with the 70 years business. It all sounds rather extreme to me. There were some attempts to privatise the service down here too. Hmm.

    Did I mention that I had a super chill day today? Nope, well maybe, but yeah: chilled out. It’s been a while since I could chill out for a day and do nothing much in particular. Yay for relaxation!



  26. Hello Chris
    The storm is still raging outside and it is kinda wild. Branches are being flung by the wind and every now and then something hits my roof or a wall. I can see felt hanging off a shed roof.
    All ferries, trains and buses have been stopped on the Island. Lots of roads are blocked by fallen trees. The last time I encountered a storm like this was in 1987.
    Son turned up with the local paper for me. I hadn’t expected it to have been available and he certainly shouldn’t have gone out to buy it.


  27. Hello Chris
    Have just read that the winds off the Needles (our west corner) reached 122 miles per hour.


  28. Chris:

    Charlene is still going gangbusters, beating up all the other squirrels, and all that at age 7, which is pretty old for a wild squirrel, especially when the competition is 13 other wild squirrels. She also still reliably produces 2-3 children twice a year (Charlene! I keep telling you not to believe what those suave, handsome gentlemen say!). When younger she used to love her children and keep them around her a long time. Now, she says “Get on with it!” as soon as she can shove them out of the hollow tree.

    Yes, those runs were untended. A smile is always good, though!

    Thanks for “doddle”. That’s a great word.

    I have ginger root sitting in a bowl on the sideboard in the dining room. It has been there for months and is somewhat shriveled, but useable as food. We are not planting it, though. When we saved it for planting we kept it growing in a big pot all winter, so we didn’t really “save” it. We always had to bring it in from the garden as our winters are too cold. Maybe yours aren’t?


  29. @ Inge:

    Thanks for the Peter Ustinov book recommendation. He was always a favorite actor of mine.


  30. Yo, Chris – Thank The Editor for recommending “Rummage.” Sure, I skimmed parts, but dug out the juicy bits. An important book, I think, that the Powers That Be will probably not pay any attention to.

    Everyone needs an occasional “mental health day.” Ignore them at your own peril.

    Saw an article, last night, (which, of course, I can’t find, again) of some glitch that will cause widespread problems. Something about not being able to recognize a three digit number. So, when it gets to the 99th version, it doesn’t recognize 100. Or something. Shades of Y2K. But, they’re beavering away on patches. Ever get the feeling the whole thing is held together with bubble gum and (very frayed) string? Coming to a computer near you, in March.

    Nope. Don’t remember your adventures with Murnong. Did you give it a taste? We have a bulb called the Camus root. It’s widespread, in the western US. Pretty, too. The indigenous people used a lot of it. The Lewis and Clark expedition commented that it “caused a mighty wind.” 🙂 Because it just chock full of inulin, much like the Jerusalem artichoke. Sweeping generalization, but I think native people just have more of a leave-a-bit-behind for propagation, ethos.

    I was reading in “Eating to Extinction” about (among many other names) bear root. It grows at high elevations, in the inner west, mostly Colorado. It’s endangered. Due to it’s many medicinal uses. It’s antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. The tribes only harvest the mature roots (can take 10 years) and leave the young roots.

    I stumbled onto something food interesting, last night. Due to total inertia. I had picked up two cans of that three bean salad, from our food boxes. I tried one, as is, and it was pretty tasty. So last night, I did something a bit different. I threw down a layer of my cooked brown rice, and dumped a tin of it, over the rice. I had some idea that it might smack of Japanese fair. They do a lot of pickled veg and rice. Of course, they do white rice. Any-who, I nuked it for 5 minutes. Much to my surprise, it had a flavor and texture I can only describe as “buttery.” Quit nice, and tasty.

    I watched “Made in Italy”, last night. I’d say it was a dramedy. Slightly longer on drama, than comedy. I thought it was quit good, and worth a look.

    The nice young man from the tire store, showed up, yesterday. He had the flat filled, before I could get downstairs. He thought I could easily make it to the tire store. A nervous trip, but I made it. He also observed, that in general, my tires looked pretty road worn. On reflection, yeah, probably ten years and 40,000 miles. So, I knew what was coming.

    They don’t even make the tires, I had on the truck, anymore. So, I told them I didn’t want the cheapest … or the most expensive. Baby got new shoes, all way around. They wanted to know if I wanted them sipes. Something I had never heard of, before. They cut extra groves in the tire, for better water shedding. And, given our climate…. So, for an extra $15 per, I had it done. They have a warranty for 65,000 miles. Total damage: $803. And they didn’t charge me for the house call. There was nothing on my credit card, and I’ve got more than enough in savings, to cover it. So, I’ll pay it off immediately, and start building that savings up, again.

    I hit the bank, last night, and then the Club. Dropped off 5 bags of food. The pantry wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. Looks like someone else dropped some food off. Did my weekly grocery shop.

    I’m pretty sure I was talking to one of the Nichols family, when I placed my order. Must have been a slow day, in the office. Had a delightful chat.

    Besides trying to privatize the post office, with the insane retirement issue, there’s a bit of a conspiracy theory going around, that it was also urged on by big oil. As there had been a movement afoot to electrify the fleet. The retirement issue made sure there was no money to do that.

    We’re in for some “super chill days.” 🙂 . Our false spring ends Sunday night. There’s going to be an arctic outbreak from the Fraser River valley. Prof. Mass even thinks there might be some lowland snow. Those Canadians can just keep their frigid weather! Maybe we can build a wall … 🙂 Lew

  31. @ Lew,

    Camas root. Yummmmm! It has never made me “windy”. Maybe that’s due to the bitterroots that I’ve usually had with the camas?


  32. Chris,

    Maintenance? What’s that? 😉 The gutters on the roof are the worst for me. Climb the ladder, descend the ladder. Move the ladder. Climb the ladder. And if it needs something done in the late winter or spring, it’s always gooshy-wet and slimy.

    Hmmm, makes sense that you’ll repurpose/move the rock gabion cages. They’re too useful for slope stabilizing. Lotta work, but necessary.

    At least the tent my dad lived in when a child was in Arizona. But still, 5,000 plus feet can get chilly. Twas in Prescott, Arizona, where it gets occasional snow. Life is not for the squeamish or the weak.

    I might’ve mentioned a bit about my prior job at university (the Princess and I met on that job). Our maintenance shop had too much work, then there was a fire in a dormitory that required our shop to handle everything on 3 floors as asbestos waste while still doing the other work. That was one busy month of March. We had one day off the entire month – the guy with the best attitude (not me) threw a hissy fit, for good reason in my opinion. So we got a day off. The other 30 days? The shortest work day was 10 hours, most were 12 to 14 hour days. Ugh.

    This country is having problems with narratives being crammed down our throats from multiple directions, extremes, and national, state and local governments, many of which contradict other entities. I kid you not, one “church” in Tennessee recently had a book burning, in which they burned such satanic and evil books as the Twilight series (young peoples’ romance with vampires and werewolves) and Harry Potter. So a counter protestor made a big scene for a news crew and tossed a book on the fire. The news crew asked what he’d added to the flames and he said “Bible.” Things are uncomfortable right now, to say the least.

    On the other hand…our governor has announced that the enforced mask mandates in our state will be radically relaxed starting March 21. Will still be required in medical and dental offices, public transportation and school busses (Federal rule) and prisons.

    Avalanche treats one human and 2 or 3 dogs with aggressive suspicion. Meaning, she doesn’t bark. Except at one particular human male and the 2 or 3 dogs. And her hackles are up all the way to the middle of her back and her fangs are bared at those few individuals. Maybe your fluffy collective is on to something.

    I learned that Sun Tzu idea at an early age, although I didn’t word it that way. “Never corner a wild animal” was my first venture into that idea. Why? Because they have lots of sharp parts and are faster and quicker than I am. Treat with respect and distance. I didn’t even need to get attacked by a wild critter to figure that out.

    Yeah, I know they really picked me for that jury. I’d been foreman on another jury, a civil case, 2 years earlier. Same court system, but a criminal case the 2nd time. The system knew me. Plus, they loved to have local gummint employees on the jury for some reason.

    We’re supposed to get some of Lew’s arctic blast also. Maybe -14C for a night or three starting Monday. It IS still winter, after all.


  33. @ Inge – That Ustinov book is an oldie, but a goodie.

    I saw you had a 122 mph wind gust, on your isle, on the BBC news. The pictures are just incredible. You and your son stay safe. Lew

  34. Hi Inge,

    Wow! That’s some serious wind. Hope that your forest survives the ordeal mostly intact? But I wouldn’t head out into such weather to see how the forest fared – time for that later. I’m still rather amazed that most of the residents in your area don’t have equipment to deal with fallen trees, such as large chainsaws etc.

    The photos from your island in the aftermath of the storm show quite a bit of damage. Hope your shed was OK and that the contents were not damaged by the storm?

    The roof cladding systems I have seen used on Grand Designs UK do not inspire me with confidence. They are intriguing combinations of materials and I don’t understand how they work. I must add here that I have a preference for steel sheeting, and for that sheeting to be firmly anchored to the roof trusses, and for the roof trusses to be firmly anchored and tied to the wall frames and so on. It’s possibly carpentry overkill, but do I want to put lesser systems to the test? How did your house hold up to the storm? Did your husband given his hand in the construction and relocation of the house have any strong opinions in relation to such storms and the sort of built environment required to respond to that risk?

    Your son was probably just checking in on you. 🙂 That’s a nice thing to do, albeit a touch risky.

    Thanks for the book reference. It is hard to describe to you in words the joy I had from reading Somerset Maugham’s book you recommended: The Summing Up.



  35. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the update on Charlene the notable Squirrel and her progeny, and also about her activities. Charlene is clearly a pragmatic squirrel and I can only but salute her for a workable philosophy.

    Yes, well, in the heat of the moment, Charlene’s suitors may have promised unstinting shares in a never ending booty, sorry, err, I meant to say bounty, of winter stores of acorns. Clearly when spring arrived, the promises were revealed for the flimflam that they were. Charlene, the ever notable and vastly practical squirrel clearly then just did what needed doing. You go girl!

    It was pretty funny all the same.

    Language can be quite fun, and dare I say it, something of a doddle! 😉

    No, the winters are too cold here as well for ginger, even in the greenhouse. But then, I made the mistake of occasionally adding water to the pot the ginger tubers live in, and perhaps that was my error? I don’t really know, but will try again this year but instead keep the ginger tubers dry. Anyway, the greenhouse is to be moved shortly and expanded. It’s too useful a building.



  36. Hi DJ,

    That’s the thing with gutters, they fill up with muck regardless. A few months ago I encountered a fascinating product which would probably work well to stop leaves getting into the guttering. Then I had a deeper look at the sort of chemicals used in the production of the fascinating product and quietly scuttled that idea. Fire retardants probably shouldn’t get into your drinking water supply, but maybe I’m being overly cautious?

    Anyway, I’ve got a mains electric powered blower (powered by the sun here) and I simply wait until the gutters have dried out and then blow all the leaves out and onto the ground (where I use a leaf rake if need be). It’ll save a few climbs up and down on the ladder as the air can project quite a ways. 😉 I also use the blower to regularly clean up machines after they have been used. I picked up that advice from the farm machine repair dudes. So obvious from hindsight.

    Exactly, the steel in cages costs around $120, for each gabion cage, not to mention the hours and hours of work hauling and then stacking the rocks. Nope, they’ll all get repurposed elsewhere. The old timers used to quip: re-use, repair and recycle and they were right. Recycle comes as a last option. Re-use is always best. It’s not fashionable in these more enlightened (and possibly wealthier) times. Economics tends to dictate the need for the other two options.

    The Bradshaw mountains are a very beautiful, but rather dry part of your continent. The weird thing about that part of the world is that the winter day time temperatures are warmer on average than what I’d see, but then so are the winter night time temperatures. Not fun to be in a tent in those conditions, and you wouldn’t do that unless you had to. Folks were probably tougher in those days.

    Mate, you can’t keep up those sorts of long hours without a break. I well understand your work mate cracking the sads and demanding a day off and probably would have done likewise. There have been very few days off here in the past four months, and I didn’t crack the sads, but more or less just said that I’m taking the day off yesterday. That’s life and you know, sometimes you just need to rest and recuperate. How did you go during that time? The funny thing is when you’re younger you can sometimes stretch yourself and push through, but still, the effects catch up with you. I find that to be the case anyway.

    Hmm, when you consider the ramifications of the previous paragraph, what I’m sort of taking note of right now is that the population is being poked continuously, and it has a similar effect. The only reason I see it that way is because some summer seasons which are hot and dry, I have to live with a low level of background concern that the forest might go up in flames like a frog in a sock. It’s been so many years that I’m used to that feeling. And I tell ya a funny story. When I was with the volunteer firebrage hearing about what a bad fire season it will be during the depths of winter when it was snowing outside the shed, kind of makes you take stock and wonder about the motivations of the people making such claims. I went and did something else with my time. But here is the thing, I’m seeing that constant prodding has produced a similar effect, but it’s gone on for years. That’s not good, best to go and do something more useful with your time me thinks. 😉 It’s a different way of looking at things, but if the outcome is the same. Dunno, what do you reckon?

    Things are winding back on that front here too, the folks in charge have new issues to obsess about. I tend to believe that those folks lack vision – all of them too of either stripe if only because strategy is not a goal in and of itself. My thinking is that they can’t keep up such nonsense forever, so it doesn’t bother me.

    I’d trust Avalanche’s judgement and senses in that matter, but then also not provide an avenue for her to err, take things further than that. Can you imagine the upset? People are taught to disregard such intuition. It’s kind of like saying that everyone’s really nice. Except they’re not all nice! Dogs know.

    Hey, where your dad was located in Arizona, far out they have some toothy critters up there. Yikes! The toothy critters here are more poisonous by a long mile, but at least they won’t rip you limb from limb and then dine on the remains. Same, same outcome, but different!!! 🙂

    Hehe! Your work would have been fine with the court time. It’s all part of the story. My clients would not be so forgiving. The system probably needs to pick better candidates, or dare I suggest it: speed the process up.

    Holy carp! That’s so cold. Brr! 26’C here tomorrow and blue sunny skies, not much wind. A delightful day really. Please keep your cold weather in hand, no need to bring on winter early.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    As the comedian in the article quipped: there are already plenty of zombies in your part of the world. 😉 He makes a strong case. The list of stuff to have in case of emergency is not a bad idea, and on a serious note I’d reckon people living in rural areas who have done so for a long enough period of time, would already have plenty of those items checked off all of the time anyway. But then, after the 2009 fires I saw some strange things, and heard some stranger stories: Like half of all the houses destroyed in the fire were uninsured. Or that rural people were oblivious to the risk that day – and it was right off the charts type of risk and advised of beforehand despite what people said. Not a good look. So yeah, maybe people need to think more about the zombies. Hey, who knew we’d get an earthquake here? Despite being 5.9, there was not much damage other than the hinges on the laundry door, and some of the plaster joins cracked due to the house frame flexing.

    Just interrupted the reply to pick up Plum. She was giving me a look. Anyway, she wanted one of the freshly baked dog biscuits, and instead got a pat. Turns out they’re not of equal value and she decided to tell me about it. Chucked her back on the floor. Dogs.

    Finished the firewood job this afternoon. And am grateful for having done that job. We watched episode two of Muster Dogs last night, and there were three separate snake incidents in the show. So of course, watching that and thinking about having to do the firewood today before heading to bed, and yeah I woke up in the middle of the night having a bad dream about snakes. Hmm. So far I’ve only seen one snake this year, and the cold and damp weather is something of a blessing on that front. Always a risk.

    I’ve passed on your thanks to the Editor regarding the book recommendation. I agree with your analysis. To be candid, the book did not make that authorita lot look good.

    Yeah, yesterday was a mental health chill-out day, and I enjoyed it immensely.

    A lot of folks made a whole lot of mad cash out of that Y2K thing. It sure was hyped up. A lot of systems get computerised that probably don’t need to be computerised, but then I’m old enough (just) to have seen the earlier paper based and human centric systems and they worked just fine. People think I’m a bit odd for not wanting to be contactable all of the time, and there are plenty of times I chuck the phone on do-not-disturb. It seems to offend people, yeah! 🙂

    I didn’t give the murnong a taste, but should have done so. By all accounts the tubers are pretty tasty roasted. Getting a few more of them is on the to-do list, but right now infrastructure is the thing that needs doing. I reckon as I get older I’ll wind back the infrastructure and wind-up the plant stuff. That’s probably the right way to do things. I might not have said it for a while, but I respect the fact that you’ve put your hand to a lot of different things in life.

    It makes a lot of sense that folks in that part of the world ate tubers such as the Camas root. It is the same here, where climactic conditions don’t suit grain production, then tubers are the way to go. The paddocks here are full of dandelions, and as a last ditch option, I’d give them a go for sure. And protein, well there are always the plentiful chunky wood grubs – they don’t look that appealing though, but apparently are quite tasty. I came across one today whilst doing the firewood. It looked a bit miffed at being disturbed, but let’s just say that this is why the local birds are friendly to me (but not the Kelpie’s).

    And I still have not tried the Jerusalem Artichokes mostly for that reason. Hey, they haven’t produced flowers this year. Oh well.

    Yum! Your food experiments with the brown rice and three bean salad sound pretty tasty. I’d eat that for sure. Mind you, we ducked out this afternoon for a very late lunch at the local general store and grabbed a pork belly roll. It has coleslaw, mayo and chilli. Very tasty. We were celebrating finishing the firewood job for the summer. Anyway, when we got back home again, I crashed out on the couch for a well deserved nap. We’ve been getting up crazy early to beat the afternoon heat. Then after that there was a bit of stuff to do around the house that needed doing – boring stuff like vacuuming and that sort of thing. All the boring stuff that you have to do.

    I not sure, but I’m yet to decide whether tomorrow I’ll begin setting up the lights in the shed, or make the shed boom box for those days when you need a block rockin’ beat. Not sure. Do you have any suggestions as to which job I should do?

    I’ll put the film on the to-watch list. Gotta finish the new season of Dex and Muster Dogs.

    Hehe! That’s an amazing mileage for a set of tires. I reckon I’m getting about between half to two-thirds of your result. Oh yeah. And the price was about what we’d pay down here, which is interesting to me as your stuff always seems to be cheaper. And the models of tires tends to churn from what I’ve noticed too. On the old Dirt Mouse Suzuki Swift, the model came with large 17 inch wheels with thin tires, and those thin tires were a nightmare because they’d wear out faster than I was comfortable with. I’d not noticed when we bought the car, but I notice now for sure. Interestingly, the newer Rangers are way heavier and I’m guessing they’d chew through their tires faster than what you are experiencing.

    Due to supply issues with new vehicles, the used car market is going bonkers: A worldwide supply chain shortage is doing weird things to the used car market.

    Good to hear that people in your club are looking out for other members in need. Any word on the recent vote for office holders?

    Knowing a bit about how electricity is supplied, I’m not entirely sanguine that there can be too many electric vehicles connected up and charging all at once on the mains grid. A fleet of vehicles would be a real issue because they might all be out at the same time on the road, and then arrive back and want to all charge up at once. That is a serious issue right there. The mains grid is just not set up for such possibilities. Far out it would be overload central that scenario.

    Hehe! The Great Wall of the PNW! Yes, someone needs to lobby for the funding, or maybe just the analysis. Yeah, I can see that.



  38. Hello Chris
    The wind is up quite a bit again and it is raining. I have no idea how the beach is doing.
    You are correct that Son would have been checking on me. He does so while usually having some spurious reason. It is very sweet of him.
    I haven’t checked on the shed yet. my home is okay. It isn’t the building that my husband re-built etc, that was my previous dwelling also in this woodland. I sold that one and it is now a large house with a steel roof. The wife has told me that the roof was not done properly and that it bangs in windy weather, so they must have had one hell of a time.
    Actually we haven’t had much down here but some neighbours certainly have.


  39. @ Inge,

    I too hope that you ride/rode out the storm(s) safely.

    Oddly enough, the one time in my life that I have been out of North America, I was in London to experience the 1987 storm that you mentioned. It was job-related; I was in London for a conference that my boss’s boss was also attending. Following that I spent the weekend in London and then took the train to Knutsford to work with a company for a few days on a potential joint project between their company and the one I worked for. Then I took the train back to London and flew home.

    I flew into London late morning or early afternoon, checked into the hotel, and took a walk to Buckingham Palace and back (about 10 blocks from the hotel). Back at the room, jet-lagged, I forced myself to stay awake long enough to eat dinner, then watched the news and weather forecast. Some kind of storm was to occur over the North Sea, but nothing of concern to anyone. By 7:30 or 8pm I was sound asleep.

    The sound of wind and flapping metal woke me up around midnight. Still groggy from sleep, once I’d looked out the window and saw the flapping metal, I thought, it sounds like a tornado, and went right back to sleep! It was an old and sturdily built building and I was on the ground floor, so I must have felt safe enough and was tired enough not to worry beyond that.

    When the alarm woke me up so I could get ready for the breakfast meeting, I found out there was no electrical service. That wasn’t a problem for getting ready, but it meant that breakfast was non-cooked foods. The electricity came on in time for lunch. Late in the afternoon, my boss’s boss, who was from London, drove us around the city to see some of the damage, like rows of trees mowed down by the winds. They got as high as 90 mph. Downed trees on train lines prevented me from taking the train to Kew Gardens the next day (Saturday), and I was not confident enough for left-side driving. So I spent the day walking around London. The rest of the trip was uneventful – except that the 1987 stock market crash occurred that Monday when I was in Knutsford.

    Within the past few days I learned that the reason that the weather forecasters thought the storm would stay out to sea was that one of them put the wrong number, by a few orders of magnitude, for one weather observation into the computer model that made the numerical analysis that was then translated into the forecasts made by the meteorologists for the public. Do I recall correctly that the forecasters were sued for not predicting that storm correctly?


  40. Yo, Chris – Speaking of zombies … I stopped by the library, this morning, and noticed “World War Z” and “Anna and the Apocalypse” were on the shelving cart. Hadn’t seen either, in awhile, so I picked them up. Also, something called, “Better Off Zed.” Looks like a funny zombie movie. How did I miss this?

    Last night I watched a new Disney animated film, “Encanto.” About a magic family, in a magic house, in Columbia. It was quit good, although it had a huge “cast” and moved very fast. Soon, we’ll all be humming, “We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no.” Not a zombie movie, but I also picked up “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot.” With Sam Elliott (!). Oh, Sam. Must have fallen on hard times.

    I’m quit miffed at the library. They changed the catalog, and it’s a mess. Get this. They didn’t even tell the staff. I totally lost patience, and will now take to my bed. I’ll go in some quiet evening, next week, and try and figure the whole thing out.

    I kept meaning to ask, you mentioned you saw a snake, a couple of weeks ago. Was it the really poisonous one?

    Check firewood off the list. I bet that’s a really satisfying feeling, getting that done and dusted.

    I’ve eaten dandelions, before. With a little salt, vinegar and oil. Sauteed. Not bad as long as you stick to the new leaves. I’ve heard you can also roast the root and grind it up for “coffee.” I suppose, no worse than any other herbal tea.

    Some of our stuff is cheaper. I think because some things are subsidized. And, in general, bigger country, more competition.

    Oh, we knew who all the new officers where, at the Club, the day of the elections. Looks like a good slate.

    Last night I decided to go up to an independent grocery, in Centralia. To see if I could find three things that my local grocery chain has been out of. For a month. Found all three. A box of 100 Lipton tea bags, bagel chips (for chex mix) and Coleman’s powdered mustard, in the yellow tins.

    On the way, I decided to stop at a new “dollar” store. Hours said they were open til 9 or 10. Got there, and there was a sign on the door, “Closed at 5:30. Sorry.” Not a good first impression. Staffing problems?

    Snow has disappeared from our local forecast, according to the National Weather Service. But we’re going to have some cold nights. Tuesday night, it’s supposed to hit 20F (-6.7C). I’ve been hearing frogs, the last few nights. And, have seen a few slugs. Fooled by the false spring.

    Dogs. Can’t live with them … etc. H gets her fortnightly bath, tomorrow. Going to toss her in the tub and drown her. At least, that’s what I always tell her. She seems unimpressed. Yesterday, a firetruck went by, and we howled in harmony, again. We need to find another guy with a dog, form a quartet, and take it on the road. We’ll be the next Beach Boys. Lew

  41. @ DJ – I haven’t tried it, but I’ve read that if you cook Jerusalem artichokes in some kind of acid (tomatoes or lemon juice), it mitigates the wind. Maybe the bitterroots provide the same service?

    Or, you might be one of those lucky people who have the enzymes to prevent the problems Lewis & Clark, had. Lew

  42. Hi Inge,

    It is sweet, and you are lucky to have family so close to you – and that they care enough to check in on you after such a monster storm. 🙂

    The reason I asked about the beach is that one photo from your island shows that the ocean water washed inland a bit.

    Houses are funny things, or maybe it is that people have odd notions about houses. Not sure. However, I have noticed that people have a preference for new houses, and at the core of that preference is a belief – a mistaken belief – that being a new house, there will be no maintenance required. That’s an error, but it is a commonly held view. Flapping roof sheets indeed for your neighbours! Yikes. Roofs are kind of important, and I am not one to skimp on such maintenance. It is not hard to fix such things too, but maybe I’m being a bit harsh? Dunno, but the learned helplessness I see and hear about does not impress me.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    It’s inexcusable, how did we miss: ‘Better off Zed’? It looks hysterical, at least we’ve got the electricity… 🙂 Very funny. Those two were not getting out of their house any time soon. That’s the thing, you eventually run out of stuff. And who was the zombie locked in the garage who was told to ‘not mess it up’?

    The Disney film has been mentioned in the news. It sounded like a musical and so my brain kind of just seized up, and maybe there was a brief clamouring for brains, but that might also have had something to do with a temporal anomaly? Not really sure, but those toe tappers can produce ear worms, and your comment suggests to me that you may have suffered that awful fate. Good luck – you were warned! 🙂

    Sam Elliot was in the most remake of A Star is Born which was from memory about four years ago. It was a good remake – the fourth I believe. It made heaps of mad cash for the studio. The guy has a great voice. The film you mentioned seems like an unlikely story. Did you enjoy the film?

    It’s weird isn’t it how people don’t seem to take to their bed any longer (that you hear about). The Editor knew of a friend’s mum who did just that, but that was also a long time ago. I’d never previously heard of people doing that, but you see it mentioned in older books. It’s like that strange disease which Oliver Sacks wrote about in the book and film ‘Awakenings’.

    Unfortunately, all of the snakes in this part of the continent are poisonous, although some are more so than others, and one is the second deadliest on the planet. To be honest, I didn’t get close enough to correctly identify the species. It might not have been a bad idea to do so, but for all sorts of reasons, I chose to leave the thing alone. I’ve made the place unpleasantly risky for snakes and given their predators a leg-up advantage. It’s no guarantee though.

    It’s good to have the firewood done. There are a lot of projects that need doing, but only the firewood has a deadline – and that is to get the stuff into storage, whilst it is dry. The weather here is turning towards a cooler season. Today was warm and dry, but the air flowing into the house now feels positively cold to me.

    Speaking of projects, I did something frivolous today (for a change) and constructed the ‘boom box’ using an old car radio and some speakers I had. The car radio was not all that great and one channel was dead. Look I picked the thing up for $40 many years ago, and candidly it was a travesty of manufacturing to have produced something like that, but ya gets whats yas pays for. It was a good idea to have a radio down in the shed, so I put a better one on order.

    I trialled the leaves many years ago. The first year we began growing greens, and you’ll laugh, but, err, during summer, the greens all bolted to seed and died. And we had no fresh greens. So we got a local book on edible weeds and gave them all a go. It took many years of trial and error with plant varieties so that we have fresh greens just outside the kitchen door – all year around. Dandelion wasn’t all that bad.

    At this time of year in a nearby area that is warmer and drier than here, chicory grows wild – you can see the distinctive blue flowers. And every time I see those patches of chicory, I do wonder about the taste of the coffee substitute chicory root product. I’ve heard about the stuff and it’s historic production, but have never seen the drink for sale. Have you ever tried that?

    Your transport is cheaper too, and that cost makes up a part of every product sold. So I reckon that would make a difference.

    Independent grocers are pretty good from my experience. They’re not the cheap option though, but if products can’t be purchased elsewhere, that’s what the stuff costs. Inflation is super weird right now. Hehe! You might be developing your signature dish with that Chex mix. And mustard is so good. Hey, I reckon English mustard could be made from local ingredients. Turmeric is meant to be more cold hardy than ginger. Have you ever grown turmeric tubers? I tried them a few years ago and they rotted, but I may have planted them at the wrong time of year. It’s one of those plants I want to experiment with when the new greenhouse is constructed.

    Mate, staff shortages are a real thing down here. And as far as I can understand the situation, that is not set to change any time soon. Employers have had a good run for many years, but inevitably the pendulum swings. There have been a few high profile cases of already very wealthy people short changing their employees. Like, can’t they afford to pay people properly?

    The good professor suggests that a late snowfall / cold snap may be in your future. Keep a sharp eye out for the hungry slugs.

    🙂 That’s funny, and you’d never do such a thing. However, when I vacuum the house, if Ollie and the Kelpie’s are too slow I threaten them by suggesting that they’ll get sucked up. Heck even the Editor is not safe from being sucked up in the vacuum. And the dogs are rightly nervous and skip away on spry feet.

    Your singing reminds me of a barbershop quartet. A mate of mine sings in one of those groups. The health subject which dares not be named had derailed such activities and I’m waiting to see if his group gets their act together. Dunno. Even the Editor is discovering that some of her friends are super-fearful, despite having a very low risk profile. Oh well, moving on.



  44. Hi Lewis,

    You’ve mentioned that people theft off with catalytic converters at an alarming rate. But now, those enterprising individuals it seems are also targeting electric vehicle charging cables – a lot of copper in them…



  45. Hello Claire
    Well you sure timed that trip!
    I don’t think that anyone was sued for not forecasting that storm but it has been a standing joke ever since.
    We were living on the mainland in Rye on the south coast and I slept right through it. Woke to a hunk of roof off and trees lying all around. Our electricity was out for 9 days. The real worry was that we were in the middle of selling the house before moving back to the Island. The buyers still wanted it and I reduced the price to their satisfaction. Amazingly I came out at a profit because I had upped the insurance 2 months previously.


  46. Yo, Chris – I watched “Better Off Zed”, last night. Hmmm. Can’t say I want to see it, again. Part of the problem was, my new DVD player seems pretty good, but even with the audio cranked to the max, it’s still a little “soft.” And the film had no subtitles. So I missed whole chunks of dialogue. And, a bickering couple for a large amount of time can be tedious. Basically, the plot is, the husband is kind of digging the zombie apocalypse. No more business meetings. Forget the mortgage and student loans. The wife has a clearer view that things like electricity and water aren’t going to last forever. And she’s quit tired of oranges, figs (which grow in the yard) and dried beans. Seems the guy in the garage is a stoner friend. Not so unusual for people to turn their garages into studio apartments, for the extra income. The second place I lived in when I moved to Seattle, was a garage. Not bad, but a bit tight. You had to sidle around the bathroom sink and step over the toilet, to get into the shower. 🙂 .

    Sam Elliott does a lot of westerns. I might watch “The Man Who Killed Hitler (etc.)” tonight. Maybe.

    Taking to one’s bed. People don’t get the vapors much, anymore, either. Maybe they’ve developed a vaccine? Or, maybe there’s an ap?

    Fair enough, you didn’t want to get too close to Mr. Snake. Speaking of reptiles, and things stuck in amber, I see they recently found a whole lizard, stuck in the stuff. In Burma. They figure he’s about 110 million years old. Scientists are pretty excited.

    Gotta have your tunes. Hmmm. Ever considered an intercom between the house and the shed? Might come in handy.

    I seem to remember drinking chicory coffee, decades ago. On a fairly regular basis. It might have been a blend of chicory and really good coffee. Seems to be a “southern” thing. Especially around New Orleans. It’s a thrifty extender, and, as I remember, pretty tasty. I have never grown Turmeric. I should. I use the stuff daily, as it’s supposed to be good for the joints. And I never find it in the cheap food stores.

    Our National Weather Service is playing peek-a-boo with the forecast of possible snow. It’s on the forecast, it’s off. The days change. But, no matter, it is going to be cold.

    I was in a barbershop quartet in high school. First tenor.

    Metal theft always seems to be low level background noise. But when the economy tanks, it happens, a lot. I noticed down the street, someone had stolen the lid off a water meter box.

    I’m quit miffed at the library. They changed the catalog, again. And it’s a mess. So, I was screaming and tearing my hair out, and the staff wondered what was wrong. I said I wanted the old catalog, back. They asked which old catalog. I said, the one from last week (not that that was all that good.) Turns out the Powers That Be, hadn’t even bothered to tell the staff that there were major changes, coming. Anyway. I left in frustration. Give myself a few days to wrap my head around it, and then go in on a nice quiet evening, next week, and do battle with the beast. Lew

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