Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day. You don’t or can’t see the bigger picture. You get bogged down in the detail. It happens to the best of us. The other day I read an amusing joke related to this problem. A very serious looking bloke was interviewing a young lady, and the caption was: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a commonly enough asked question. The response was pretty funny though: “Honestly, I’m just trying to make it to next week.” Nowadays, society kind of looks like that to me. And everyone seems to be in a high state of emotion.
If you read the news (or skim the headlines like I do), you get a feeling that there’s a heap of things going wrong right now. It happens. Speaking of going wrong: for a few months now I’ve been trying to get some spare parts for the wood heater. We’ve got plenty of firewood. Far out, there’s no shortage of trees here, and they seem to grow pretty fast. It’s a good local resource. So firewood’s the most economic source of heating fuel for the house. And unlike the solar hot water system, it produces hot water when the sun is not shining.
But getting spare parts recently for the wood heater has been a bit of a nightmare. The units are manufactured locally, but does that mean they’re actually made locally from raw materials, or merely assembled down under. I don’t really know. All I know is that I’m having trouble getting spare parts for the unit.
At least if things get bad enough I can simply get a metal fabricator to produce the spare parts. However, that isn’t the only supply issue I’m facing, or hearing about elsewhere for that matter. I’m beginning to wonder if the land of stuff is throttling the supply of stuff. News out of that land is thin on the ground, but you do hear that entire cities are getting shut down due to the health subject which dares not be named. Whatever the case, the outcome is that there is less stuff being sent our way.
The other day I was at the petrol station (gas station). I was quietly grateful that we were filling up a very small and efficient vehicle. Petrol now costs $2.20 per litre ($8.36 per gallon). This is as high a price as I’ve ever seen. I don’t rightly know how people with much larger vehicles can afford to run them.
Oil’s another thorny issue. But if you forget about all the screaming, horror and high emotive stuff in the media, it ends up being just another supply issue.
Basic economic theory suggests that if demand exceeds supply, then prices will rise. And they’ll continue to rise until the excess demand is crushed. Unfortunately, oil underlies everything that we do in our civilisation from putting food on the table, to keeping a roof over your head. And you don’t need to be Einstein to understand that if the price of oil goes up, then the cost of everything will also go up. It’s a serious problem for sure. I’m not necessarily sanguine that the problem is being handled well by the folks in charge of such things.
When I was a young bloke, manufacturing was a big thing in this state. Back in those days, I worked as a manufacturing accountant. I could bore the daylights out of readers with stories of standard costing models and the sheer dread of monthly unders and overs, but I won’t do that. Instead I can recall that the people in authority back then told us we were the lucky country, and that we’d be the clever country. That is when they weren’t berating us for also being a banana republic. And so a bit under three decades ago, manufacturing was shipped off shore. I watched it happen and accounted for the sale of a few of those machines as they were shipped overseas. It never made much sense to me, but people seemed to want more stuff, and cheaper.
And so here we are today, where for the first time we’re facing a shortage of stuff. There was an article in the news the other day decrying that the peoples holidays would be ruined because of all of this. If that was the worst outcome, it wouldn’t be too bad. The thing is though, in order to have a consumer economy, you have to have the stuff for consumers to purchase. And if they don’t make the stuff themselves, it’s a problem. Essentially it is the great weakness of a consumer society. The other countries supplying consumer societies with stuff would most certainly also know this, and I doubt very much that they would have acted as they are doing now, had they not thought that they’d get away with it – as I suspect that they will.
Almost two years ago now, Sandra and I purchased a custom made bathroom cabinet from a cabinet maker. A builder had ordered the cabinet and then promptly went out of business. The heavy Japan Black cabinet was constructed out of Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) hardwood with a black stone bench top. Light almost falls into the cabinet, and it is just a very well made unit.
About a year ago we removed the existing bathroom cabinet and connected the new cabinet up and used it. But we’d never finished off the installation properly. There were holes in the wall and no splash-back. We’ve been busy…
This week we began the fiddly process of finishing off the installation of the cabinet. The tap (spigot) had to be rehung, the plastering installed and joined, and the skirting boards reconstructed. But mostly we had to ensure that the entire arrangement could be inspected and repairable – no easy feat. It is nice to have a little bit of free time nowadays to do these other projects calling for our attention.
It’s been a very cold and damp summer here, and the tomatoes didn’t look as if they would get enough sun for the huge quantity of green fruit to ripen. So, we neglected the tomatoes and failed to fence the sprawling vines – and like the Triffids they are, the vines tried to take over.
This week we hacked and slashed and beat the tomato vines back to a more manageable size. We still don’t know if the remaining green fruit will ripen, but we do know that next year the tomato vines will hopefully be planted in the sunniest spot on the property.
For three years we’ve grown tomatoes at that location on the property. The second and third years have both been wet and cool summers and the tomatoes have failed. There is no sign of disease in the plants, and in fact they are growing vigorously. The difference between these years and the first year was the heat. The first year was the year of the Black Summer bushfires. There was so much heat that year that you could plant the tomatoes in the deepest shade and they still would have produced ripe fruit. This year, that is not possible. And so change is called for.
The Great Relocalisation is continuing, and we’ve been visiting some of the interesting historical things to see around this area. This week we decided to check out an artificial waterfall along the Main Coliban Channel. The Main Coliban Channel was constructed in the 1860’s and 1870’s, and it takes water from a nearby reservoir and sends it north to the goldfields towns of Castlemaine and Bendigo. By the way, the waterfall is genuinely in the middle of nowhere and it was rather difficult to find.
The channel meanders its way through diverse country, and I believe the entire systems runs on gravity. It’s quite the achievement given it is a bit over 70km (43 miles) in length.
We didn’t make it to the end point of the channel because the beginning is much closer to the farm and a nearby bakery sells very tasty Hot Cross Buns.
Observant readers will note in the above photo that the water to the left, runs into the channel, whilst the water on the right runs into the local Coliban river. It’s a very clever arrangement.
As we head closer to winter, the days get shorter and the stick insects appear.
It looks as though the raspberries may produce a smaller Autumn crop. Yum!
Despite the cool and damp summer, a pomegranate plant has produced a tiny fruit.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 209.0mm (8.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 201.0mm (7.9 inches)