Blood Plum

The following extract is provided as a Fernglade Farm guest post:

Thwack! Chris had cracked the door open, reached into the room, thrust downwards, and come into contact with a Kelpie’s head. The feeble rays from the early morning sun had inspired Ruby to wake the household up extra early. An error of judgement! Ruby may be the alpha dog, but she is not the household boss.

Another alarmed looking Kelpie sat on the couch with her best mate, Ollie. Plum’s face clearly stated for the record: “Chris, Ollie and I had nothing to do with this. It was all that super bad bitch, Ruby.” The facts in this instance, spoke for themselves. The door was closed and peace once again reigned over the household.

Once the door was closed… Plum: “What the hell is wrong you, girl?”

Ruby: “I say when we get up, not them.”

Plum: “No you don’t, you’re not the boss.”

Ruby: “Am so. Just because you don’t have any confidence.”

Plum: “Just shut up, I don’t wanna talk about this any more.”

But it was true. Ruby was right. I don’t have any confidence. When Ruby and I were 12 week old puppies, I heard the farmer saying: “Get rid of those two, they’re no good. That one is naughty and the other one is timid.” Lucky for us two sisters, Chris and Sandra bought us, and took us back to their farm. I don’t need to have confidence here, I can just be myself. And Ruby has to curb her naughty streak.

I like living here. Every working day begins with breakfast. I love breakfast, it’s so much fun. The patterns have to be just right. Only the most intelligent Kelpie dogs know how to play the breakfast game. Firstly, a girl must feign polite disinterest in her food. Meanwhile, Ruby and Ollie wolf their breakfasts down, farting and belching all the way – the little animals. Then, just as they begin to notice that my breakfast remains untouched, I nibble a bit here and there. The admiring audience drool over every dainty morsel that I consume, but they dare not take any. The real authority in the household is never far away, and even Ruby has to acknowledge that fact.

By the time Ruby and Ollie have run out of drool, my breakfast is done. All the same I pull my very best super cute face number three (always a winner of a move) and ask the Editor: Got any seconds? Usually I do get a bit of extra food, although I don’t want to push things.

After a bit, the working day commences. I get to follow Chris around. I have no idea what he’s doing, but he always seems to be doing a lot of something. Not being a confident dog, I scout out the area and alert Chris as to any mischief going on. Who can forget the time I found the deadly snake? But I never go far, and every couple of minutes I’ll check back in with Chris, who always gives me a nice pat.

Sometimes the mischief is way to big for me. That’s when my hero Ollie has to do some work. I love Ollie.

Ollie spots and then chases off some Sambar deer this week

Lacking in confidence, Ollie loves Ruby more than I, but that’s OK, I guess. I don’t know what he sees in that little bitch. She’s all legs and tail and stuff. I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother.

Unlike Ruby, I do work around the farm. Recently Chris announced to Ollie and Ruby that henceforth I was to be known as Dame Plum. Take that Ruby. Ollie said to me months ago that there was work to be done, and Sir Scruffy used to spend his days hunting out rabbits and rats, so why don’t I do that? So I now do that job. And I can only do my best.

Dame Plum scores a large rat

I’d heard the stories of valiant Sir Scruffy. He was also something of an excellent kitchen dog, and well rewarded for his services. What the heck, I can do that job too. The rewards are indeed legendary.

A girl likes a dab of perfume here and there, usually around the neck. Maybe Ollie will like me better if I’m appropriately perfumed? I’ve worked out the right balance of perfume that Ollie appreciates, but the humans can’t smell. The humans need a mystery from time to time and I hear them saying: “What have you been rolling around in?”

At the end of a working day, Ruby and I are provided with rawhide chews. I love rawhide chews. And when they’ve been forgotten, I can improvise with firewood. Everyone knows it’s good to turn firewood into kindling. After all, this must be why Chris says to me: “Well that’s frickin useful isn’t it?”

Plum and Ruby with their rawhide chews

At night I get to sleep on the couch with my hero, Ollie. I love Ollie and feel safe with him. And that’s why, unlike that bad bitch Ruby, I don’t want to wake up early.

Ollie and Plum settle down for the night on their couch

Sandra and I visited the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo this week. So much fun! We bought a whole lot of tools, looked at the animals, listened to some lectures, and had some excellent sausages for lunch. It was a really fun day. A bloke who makes a living breeding and training Kelpie dogs was giving working dog demonstrations.

A Kelpie working dog demonstration

The bloke even had a couple of 12 week old Kelpie pups being shown the ropes by their mum.

Two 12 week old Kelpie pups get shown the ropes by mum

One of the Kelpie pups preferred to run out into the crowd for a pat, and that was my kind of Kelpie dog! I said as much to the bloke running the demonstration.

We bought two Buff Orpington chickens from the local poultry groups display and sale. Chookflation is real as they cost $150 for the pair. The reality however, is that compared to the economics of breeding chickens, $150 is pretty cheap.

The two new chickens were introduced to the flock

There are probably nicer ways to introduce new chickens to the flock, but I don’t do that.

The boss chicken and her three flunkies give the new chickens: What for?

It might end up badly, but then again it most likely won’t, and after a few weeks the rest of the flock will roundly ignore the new chickens.

The current big project being undertaken at the farm is the expansion of the greenhouse. Regular readers will recall that in recent weeks we’ve been moving and installing rock gabion cages so as to support the site where the new larger greenhouse will be located. This week, we pegged out the area to be excavated and cut turf sods from the outer area. This will make the job of excavation easier, and neater.

Turf sods were cut from the edges of the area to be excavated

All those turf sods are actually quite useful and can be used as soil building blocks. They were all relocated to where they were used to shore up a slightly too steep section of the path up above the house.

Before – the ground next to the path above the house was slightly too steep at this point
After – the sods were used to shore up the edges of the path as well as reduce the steepness of the land

It was interesting to see the development of the top soil in the sods. Originally there was no top soil in the area they were removed from. It was a hard clay pan. Years ago, the area was given an initial deep rip, we chucked on a tiny amount of compost, it was grazed and pooped upon by the wildlife, then any vegetation which grew there was chop-n-dropped. The top soil is now a couple of inches deep.

The band of top soil is now a couple of inches deep

Here’s one for fans of the dream that renewable energy systems will save industrial civilisation.

For two days the farm was socked in thick fog

For two days the solar panels produced about 6% of their rated output. I was amazed that they produced anything, the fog was that thick.

Despite the drizzle and fog, the usual things that need doing around a farm, got done. Several wheelbarrows of soiled chicken bedding was fed to the orchards. The weeks supply of coffee grounds were mixed with agricultural lime and spread around the orchards. Grass was removed from around the trunks of fruit trees. Wallaby proof cages were removed from some fruit trees. Feral Blackberry canes were cut back hard. And fallen forest material was burnt off. A lot of things have to happen, and you just have to deal with the weather.

The very latest of all the summer fruiting trees are the Persimmons, and this year the tree has produced a good crop.

Slowly ripening Persimmons hang off the tree. Fuyu variety

Onto the flowers:

Well established Salvia’s are enjoying the weather and putting on a good display
We grow a variety of Salvia plants and the honey-eater’s appreciate the nectar
Escallonia plants have nice dark green foliage and lovely flowers
The Roses as always are delightful
The Luecodendron’s are enjoying the season
And Luecodendron’s come in many different shades

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 232.4mm (9.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 213.8mm (8.4 inches)

36 thoughts on “Blood Plum”

  1. Yo, Chris – That was a delightful tale of Lady Plum’s typical day and life on the farm. She’s got it figured out. The wheels within wheels. Dare I say … patterns.

    Those were some great pictures from the ag show. Maybe Plum and Ruby didn’t have a good mum? Or, maybe, she had a litter that was just too big to handle?

    I don’t know. I raised 6 (or eight?) chicks in my laundry room, and I don’t remember the economics as being onerous. One big bag of chick feed saw them to a size where they could handle adult food. When I introduced them to the rest of the flock, I had them penned in a corner of the hen house, for two or three days. So everyone could kind of eye each other. The “Chickens for Dummies” book was invaluable.

    Julia told me today, she’s got three chicks. One of her dogs took off with a chick entirely in it’s mouth. Julie took out after him, screaming blue murder. Dog drops chick. Dog picks up chick, again, rinse and repeat three more times. Julia retrieved the chick and thought it was a goner. It recovered and seems none the worse for wear, after it’s adventure.

    Ollie is so expressive, even from the back. Looks like he’s thinking, “What’s this? Another mead hall? Alien landing pad?

    Good use for the turf sods. When you go pitching over the edge of the path, you won’t do yourself near as much damage. 🙂

    It’s a wonder what you’ve done with the top soil. A lot of work, a bit of thought. Routine.

    The fog might be bad for the solar, but don’t you feel a little cozy, all socked in? Like the last people in the world? Dampens distant sounds. You can’t see anyone, but more importantly, no one can see you.

    Julia has a persimmon tree. Last year, nothing. Year before, loaded. I wonder what this year will bring.

    The flowers, as always, are lovely. But all that red! My eyes are singed! 🙂 Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    I dunno mate, I’m not afraid of hard work, but a 16 hour day with minimal breaks is no small matter. By the end of it, you’re kind of left with this vague sense of unreality where the question: Why am I here? seems to linger in the very air. It’s probably in the it-shall-remain-a-mystery-a-bit-longer category. Meanwhile, I’ll go do something better with my time. 😉

    Speaking of which, after replying last evening I decided to check in on the new chickens. And that was when I discovered about a dozen rats had worked out how to get into and then out again from the supposedly rat proof chicken enclosure. The facts sadly speak for themselves in this instance, and um, yeah, the name is incorrect. A dozen rats take a bit of feeding.

    Had to work until mid afternoon today. Then shut up shop, and headed out to modify the chicken enclosure to thwart the dastardly rats. Pulled the drains off the shed and discovered my error with the build. A couple of hours later, I’d patched up the holes with super strong welded mesh.

    After the sun went down, and the rats had come out to play, Dame Plum, the Editor and I went a rat hunting. I was fascinated to observe the rats testing the new fortifications, and Dame Plum leaped into action and put an end to one rat. The other rats climbed high into the tree canopy to escape the gentle ministrations of Dame Plum. And there were no rats inside the chicken enclosure. Plus the two new chickens were sleeping in more elevated positions this evening. All is good with the world – for the moment.

    Yeah, the adept / inept story was so weird and pretty funny. Perhaps functionally illiterate is the correct description? Not my problem. Historically speaking there are far more literate people than in earlier ages, however I suspect that the standard of literacy used to be much higher than it is today. I know of people who are unable to write coherent sentences, which form paragraphs that flow, and so disclose a general narrative. Sad.

    Ah, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Everyone needs a derisive and impassive Korean martial arts master.

    Just took Dame Plum outside and we nabbed another two rats. The dog is awesome, and this time we worked better as a tag team. I’ll keep heading out over the next few hours and nights and we’ll clean the varmints up – well mostly.

    Nope. I’m not yet ready for raising chickens, but the idea is on the table. It’s more the lack of the need to consume chicken at home, and you do end up with a few roosters. Plus you have to be careful that the other chickens don’t kill the chicks, although I acknowledge the excellence of your suggestion. Chickens are not all that nice, probably something to do with them telling themselves: Once we were dinosaurs.

    I agree. Plenty of peoples brains work differently. Of course, there appears to be a large cohort that work the same, and then there are the others… Ice cream comes in many different flavours. And most certainly nurture can impact upon that story as easily as nature does. Absolutely. What was the Tolstoy quote about ‘happy families all looking alike’?

    With the great courses, it is possible that you are interacting with an algorithm? And of course it does raise the dilemma that if they did come to you with a permanently cheaper price, some people (I doubt you’d view the world that way) would internally devalue the courses. It’s a dilemma for the folks who produce the material.

    I dunno mate about that. Many gobarmint folks seem to be working from home, and things hardly seem to be progressing at a cracking pace. I have had some odd outcomes on that front. Mind you, if the shoe were on the other foot…

    The Avar’s appeared to be a formidable bunch, and had travelled very far from their origins. Incidentally, if I had to choose between Mongolia and Hungary, I’d choose Hungary.

    Your fellow gardeners would do better to ask questions, observe the results, and then choose to deride your spoon innovation. They might not do that though, sorry to say.

    Dogs do like to be groomed, but H is no exception to the general rule that they don’t like having matted chunks of their hair pulled out. Not sure that I’d enjoy such a process either. Scissors are better suited to this task, and then someone has to keep on top of the new mats constantly forming. If there were an easier way… You may note that the fluffies have shorter hair? They do blow their coats, but then they don’t seem to suffer from matted hair. Good luck! And there is an old saying about it being better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    Dame Plum just got another rat. That makes four this evening. Go Dame Plum! She’s a bit zinged up now, so I might have to rest her and calm her down.

    Was there a reason for the lady to move to North Dakota? It seems like a rather cold part of the world.

    Friendly and competent is almost too much to ask for. And you’ve been in for a change given the previous general level of maintenance.

    Thanks and it was a fun story to write. Dame Plum is a fun dog, and she’s now settled down and fast asleep – the adrenalin has probably worn off . Hehe! Tis been said before that the patterns are just right. 🙂

    The rats are amazing. They can hide from Dame Plum by climbing trees. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rats had eaten some of last seasons tree produce. Rats are one of the reasons I felt that the food forest concept didn’t work all that well here at this location. Dense vegetation is like paradise for rodents, and over the years I’ve kept the orchards progressively cleaner. There’s an old shed which the rats are using as their base, and so there are plans to dismantle it. I can’t bait the rats either as that could poison owls and who knows what else may consume them, including the dogs and chickens. Poisons are fine to use. I mean people don’t think twice about using such stuff to kill of fermentation processes just for one example, but there are always costs to the benefits.

    It is possible that Plum and Ruby’s litter were too big for their mum. Kelpie’s are known to produce large litters of pups. Glad you enjoyed the photo from the show. Numbers seemed a bit down to me this year, but probably people are just having a freak out. It’s been happening down here… I’m kind of used to it.

    You’re probably right about breeding chickens. What did you do with the roosters?

    That’s one lucky chook that Julia has there. I do hope that she names the chicken or rooster by the name: Lucky.

    Ollie is a very intelligent and super relaxed dog. Actually, because he looks a bit scary to other people due to his size and face, I’ve spent most of my time with him over the years calming him and ensuring that he’s relaxed. I’d never had a dog as big as him before, but I can see the value in having such a dog. He’s a funny dog in that he’ll do what he’s told to do, but he walks beside me, rather than to the rear. We have a good relationship that dog and I and he’ll happily follow me around. But when he needs to clear off the largest deer around, he’ll do it.

    Hehe! I seriously hope not, as the fall from the path would be very injurious. Ouch.

    Thanks. You must see that in action in your own garden beds? Especially it’s a good opportunity for you with the master gardeners digging them up. Production of top soil is exactly that, put something back, and keep doing so for a long time. It’s really quite a simple process, but the way some articles exclaim the virtues of the process, you’d think that they’d re-developed the wheel.

    Maybe there is a touch of coziness with the fog. We burnt off a lot of material in the brazier that day, and the fire was very cheery – and warm. I’m not actually certain that I’d want to survive a zombie apocalypse. Things would be difficult. And you’d always have to carry a katana with you, ready for use. Eventually you’ll make a mistake, or be caught unawares, or even worse over whelmed.

    Did you get to taste any of Julia’s persimmons? They really do benefit from bletting on the tree.

    Hope your eyes recovered from the flowers! 🙂



  3. Yo, Chris – Why are you here? What an existential question. Obviously, to catch rats. 🙂 . With the handy help of Lady Plum and The Editor. It’s a team effort. Did you use night vision goggles? When you take down that old shed, you might want to take some precautions. Not to get bit. Maybe at least a bandana. There will be bits of rat urine and feces, flying through the air. Gosh knows what kinds of virus may be lurking in them. And then there’s the fleas. Any plague in Australia? Might be best to just get out the flame thrower and burn the thing to the ground.

    Your night patrol reminds me, I’d better start my slug patrol. Tis the season.

    Seems from what I read, literacy is falling in first world countries, and rising in third world countries. Funny, that.

    Julia takes her roosters to the local poultry auction. They don’t make much, but enough to offset the cost of some feed. And, she sells Elinor and I, eggs. She only charges $2.50 a dozen. I keep telling her she should bump it up, to $3.

    Great Courses just send out general catalogues. “After the Plague” was a new title. I occasionally get a mailing from them, with a “special deal, just for you.” With a secret code, to get an additional discount. I ignore them unless there’s free shipping. As, like a lot of other companies, they really gouge on that. But then, I don’t usually buy much, from them. Most of them, I just want to watch once. So, the library provides. One way or another. I’m going to put in a request that they buy “After the Plague.”

    Speaking of the library, adding insult to injury … I got an e-mail from them, this morning (They live!!!). There were no copies of “The Blue Ribbon Cookbook,” available from any library in the US. So, I bit the bullet, got on E-Buy this morning and ordered both books. Found a vendor that had both, and free shipping. Not a bad price. $38 for the two. But, gosh knows what the condition will be. It was from one of the big vendors, who obviously, don’t give the book more than a glance. “Good” for condition, leaves a lot of wiggle room. Fingers crossed.

    Forks. Spoons are hybrids but forks are heritage and open pollinated. 🙂 Speaking of the garden, we had a wild and wooly storm, roll through, last night. Lots of rain and high wind. Blue skies, this morning. I think the seeds prefer rain water to the stuff from the tap. Some of the parsnips and carrots have broken ground. And there may be a little action, from the beets. I also caught the right phase of the moon, to plant. Might have something to do with it. Or, not.

    H was her usual good self, when I gave her a bath. I did cut some of the mats out, from less obvious places. And managed to work a few more of them out, when I was drying her off. And Elinor did work out a few more, when I took her home. Something’s up with H. Used to be, when I’d go over to walk her, I just had to open the door a bit, and call, and she’d come right out. The past week, not so much. I have to go in and pry her out of the apartment. She’s also taken to sleeping behind Elinor’s recliner, which is also something new. But otherwise, she seems fine. Everything perking along on the digestion front (or, back) and she still charges up and down the stairs. I wonder if she’s sensing something about Elinor, and hence, doesn’t want to leave her?

    The Inmate moving to North Dakota has lived there, before. She knows what she’s getting herself into. She’s moving to live with a sister who was recently widowed.

    We have two people moving out, and they cleaned out there pantries, this weekend. I had five bags of food to take down to the Club. And I’ve got two more, in the truck. Thought maybe I wouldn’t have to do much shopping, this week. But, I might head down to the cheap food stores, tonight. We could use some condiments. Maybe I can find more of that honey. I’ll probably get a big bag of tangerines, to split into smaller batches. LOL. So much for not shopping this week.

    I tasted some of Julia’s persimmons. I think they have possibilities, if I work with them, a bit. What do you do, with yours?

    I think my eyes will be o.k. I’ll wear dark glasses for a few days.Stay out of the sun. 🙂 Lew

  4. Dear Plum,
    Impressed with your rat catching skills. In my younger days I had similar skills and once even caught a weasel, my most impressive feat. I still enjoy the hunt but I also enjoy lying in the sun on the deck or even better in my comfy bed. Back in the day Leo would pull down the wood pile Doug had neatly stacked and I would grab the chipmunks and mice living in the pile. Fun times indeed.

    Leo and I also enjoy chewing sticks and small pieces of firewood too. You may have heard that something comes over me from time to time and I have to chew on some wood furniture, stairs or woodwork which means I have to go in my crate when Doug and Margaret go out.

    I enjoy sleeping next to my BFF, Leo, or on top of him if it’s cold.

    Keep up the good work!!

    Your friend,


  5. Hi Chris,
    That Plum sure is earning those rawhides. Have any of the fluffies gotten antlers? Our dogs love them, especially Salve. One of the vendors at the farmers market sells elk antlers and those are the best though quite pricey.

    Buff Orpingtons were one of my favorite breeds. Any outbreaks of bird flu? It’s getting pretty bad here and I think some of the small flock owners may end up having to keep their poultry enclosed with netting on top of their runs.

    The small farm expo reminds me of one I went to decades ago. It was there I met the man who designed our chicken tractor which we still use for our meat chickens.

    I am not fond of fog though hoar frost is quite beautiful.

    I see Salve forgot to mention that she’s a picky eater too while Leo wolfs down everything and anything. He’s been known to have a 2nd meal when she decides to turn up her nose at hers.


  6. Chris,

    Something came up. Something fun. I’ll be out of touch until maybe next week.


  7. Hi DJ, Margaret, Salve and Lewis,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. However, I worked in the big smoke today and then we rushed down dinner of gourmet hamburgers and went to see a comedy show at the comedy festival. Nikki Britton. She was pretty funny and I laughed the whole way through the show, and of course the Editor made us sit in the front row. I was dragooned into using an electric blower on her. That sounds a bit weird, but oh yeah, it happened.

    Speak tomorrow.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    So the rats have spent all night last night, and then most of the evening trying to work out how to get back into the chicken enclosure. The three smallest rats managed to get in, but in order for them to get out again they had to disclose their secret entrance. The largest rats were unable to get in and Dame Plum assisted with the clean up. One less rat. That’s five so far, and interestingly, Dame Plum does her work without getting into a red-danger-zone that some dogs can get into. She comes back into the house afterwards with her head held high and suggests to the other dogs: You may admire me, now! And receives a beef jerky for services rendered.

    Ha! I could tell you a story about night vision goggles, as someone was trying to flog some of that gear to me for use against the rabbits. Far out, it sounds like mayhem here, but it isn’t all that bad really.

    And of course, thanks for the reminder, and that rodent issue is most certainly on my mind. Nothing is stored in that shed now, and it will be dismantled using masks and the materials will be cleaned with a high pressure sprayer. When I first hurt my shoulder last year, I was wondering whether it was a physical injury or a rodent borne illness – which I’d unfortunately read about a farmer succumbing too. It sounded awful.

    Yes, take no slugs! Sorry, err prisoners, me hearties!

    Well it is funny. Wasn’t one of the plot lines in George Orwell’s book 1984, a deliberate diminishment of the language? And the spell checker had not come across the word: diminishment, before. 🙂 Kind of ironic.

    Yes, of course I had not considered that rooster option, but then I’m not ready for such activities. Too many projects on right now, and my brain is rather full.

    Clever, and I hope the library does indeed provide. You have a great service, despite the odd catalogue hiccup. $38 for the two books sounds like good value, especially as I’m assuming that they are hard cover editions and not trade paperbacks? I reckon they will be in perfect condition when they arrive. I can’t imagine that the big sellers have time to properly assess the condition, it seems unlikely anyway. It might even be a clearance item? I’ll bet vanilla slices would go down a treat at the Club?

    Sorry, yes forks of course. Ook! Ah, I had not considered that aspect of germination and town water, but of course – so obvious from hindsight. Some seeds respond really well to a good soaking, and I’ve heard of people soaking seeds for a brief period of time (from memory it was up to a couple of hours) in order to get them to break germination. It’s not a bad idea. Dunno where, but I read something about using coffee grounds with tiny seeds so as to dry them a bit after soaking and then make them easier to separate. It all comes back to coffee. 😉

    Man, I gotta hit the sack, I’m crashing.

    Speak tomorrow! Cheers,


  9. Hello Chris
    I haven’t read him or you yet but notayesman wrote on Australia today.


  10. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article about the late frost, in Europe. Here, they use smudge (smoke) pots, to try and warm up the orchards. Looking at my calendar records, we’ve had several late frosts right up til the end of April. Fingers crossed.

    I also found one of the side bar articles interesting. About the landslide in NSW (New South Wales?).

    I KNEW there was a comedy festival coming up! It gives the Editor and You a whole year to work up your two act. 🙂

    Rats in the corn! Er, the choke house. I suppose you could do something with rat pelts?

    I went on slug patrol, last night. Mostly just around my patch. Only found one. I’ve heard of people soaking the larger seeds. Corn and beans, and such. If they’re antsy or get a late start on the season. Small seeds can be mixed with just about anything dry and granular. Even fine sand. I have a small plastic device that doles out small seeds. But, generally, I just use the palm, pinch and patience method. 🙂 . We got more rain storms, yesterday. Between fits of sunshine. There was even a bit of lightening, last night. Nothing to write home about.

    Bradbury’s “Farenheight 451” was also about dumbing down the mob, through a policy of illiteracy. Education has always been a fraught topic, to some of the powers that be.

    I’ll just have to see what shows up, as far as the two Australian cookbooks are concerned. The second one might have only been available in trade paperback. Often happens, these days.

    I made lemon muffins, last night. I gave two to Elinor, and am awaiting a review. I tried one, and, as with the orange muffins, thought the first attempt didn’t taste “lemon” enough. I really think commercial baking has trained our taste buds to expect more of a jolt of citrus. Not found in a more natural version. Might have to pick up some lemon extract. I’ll take the rest down to the Club, and see what they think.

    I had quit a surprise, when making the dough. Now, I use almond milk, and it’s a one for one swap, and not a problem with most recipes. LOL, when I added the almond milk to the liquid part of the mix I got … instant lemon curds. No worries. I just whisked the heck out of it, to get them broken up. But I was also tucking away that experience for later. If I ever need some really nice lemon curds, I’ll know how to get them.

    I went on the cheap grocery hunt, last night. They still had some of the cheap honey, and I picked up a big bag of the tangerines. There was also some inexpensive tinned pineapple, which seems to come and go. Lots of condiments. And a few other things. All told, I spent about $45 for three big bags of groceries.

    I ran into Amanda, last night. I think I mentioned that she recently bought the veterinarian business, she had worked for. We talked about accountants for small businesses. She’s found an outfit that does those services, just for veterinarians. She’s a bit leery, but has high hopes.

    Off to the Club, this morning, where there may (or may not) be biscuits and gravy. I saw Floyd, last night, who usually makes them. He needs a day off, and wanted to go to the coast to hunt the wily razor clam. I’ll probably see the Master Gardeners, on my way out. Lew

  11. Dear Salve,

    Greetings to you and Leo.

    Oh my gawd! I’m so excited. Chris takes me out at night and we go ratting. So far after three nights my tally is 7 and I’m so proud of Chris, he got 1 tonight. Although Salve, I was mildly troubled when he squealed like a little girl when one rat jumped out at him and bounced off his woollen jumper. The sound might scare the rats off. Human’s make such funny sounds, like, all the time. How’s a dog meant to get any rest or do any proper work what with all that racket?

    Lying in the sun cooking your brain is such an act of excellence and I’m glad to hear that the sun is the same at your farm. I too enjoy lying in the sun.

    What a fine idea you have with the neat wood pile. I might try that as there could be chipmunks in there here too?

    Thanks for mentioning to not chew upon the timber inside the house because although the crate sounds comfortable, it may seriously interrupt important Kelpie business. Note to self: Be respectful of the inside of the house. Salve, I tell you this truly my friend: That might be hard to achieve. You and I, we can only but do our best, and if stuff gets chewed, that was the humans fault for leaving it there to be chewed. Yes, maybe it is their fault?

    Greetings to Leo. Every dog needs a friend to keep them warm over cold, cold, winter nights. Ollie keeps me warm.

    Cordial tail wags,


    Dame Plum

  12. Hi Margaret,

    Dame Plum is most certainly earning her beef jerky’s. Late Monday afternoon, I modified the chicken enclosure so as to make it much harder for the rats to get into it. The rats have spent most of the past couple of nights working out how to get back into the chicken enclosure, and their persistence has paid off, although only the smaller to mid-sized rats can now get into the enclosure. This evening I took Dame Plum out with me and she scored two rats, and I got one – which I believe surprised the Editor as much as it did myself. One of them jumped out at me – I had awful thoughts of the Black Plague.

    I was reminded of some film footage of the drought which held your land and ours in its grip during the Great Depression. Down under at that time, the rabbit population had exploded due to the lack of natural predators, and yeah, I’d seen footage of farmers and their kids out just doing their best to reduce rabbit numbers. That was me and Dame Plum tonight with the rodents. I had not realised that their numbers had built up as much as they had. That many rodents takes a bit of feeding, which I’m paying for.

    I’ve seen antlers for sale at the local feed store, and a neighbour has told me stories of the stags shedding their antlers, but I’m yet to find any out in the forest. Elk antlers would be even biggerer! 🙂 I grew up watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

    Yeah, bird flu has been going around this part of the world, like it always does. The conditions that many commercial birds are kept in, are far from optimal, and so such diseases spread. Mind you, I see and hear the chickens give off an awful sneeze from time to time, and I’m reminded that they’re survivors of the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and they might possibly outlast the human species. I’m also of the opinion that sick chickens rarely recover, but the ones here are in very optimal circumstances, despite the rodents (which I’m doing something about).

    The new girls seem to be coming to terms with the arrangements and pecking order. Seriously, they could not recognise greens or mince meat. Education these days! They have a lot to learn, but they now know grains. I’m assuming they previously ate pellets.

    The previous incarnation of the chicken enclosure was sub-par, and the parrots could perform a smash and grab of the chicken feed (forget about the rodents). But now with the newer upgraded enclosure, the chickens are thriving. It’s an all weather enclosure and run. This has been a crazy wet year and chickens won’t thrive if their deep litter is activated by excess rainfall. It smells very neutral in the chickens living space, and I use my nose to assess the effectiveness of the arrangements. The rodents will be dealt to slowly over the next week or so.

    Chicken tractors are a good idea, and they surpass the more formally located enclosure run and house that I use because the rodents don’t get a chance to build up their populations. They move around and spread fertility with less work on my part. Did you use your gator to move the tractor?

    Numbers were a bit down at the expo, but we still had a very fun time.

    I’ve never seen hoar frost. Yikes! I’ll take you at your word in that regard. Way back in the day winter temperatures were around 14’F and they were not that uncommon. The coldest I’ve seen here now is 28’F, which is pretty cold from my perspective.

    Go Salve, and yes, Leo does need to be tempted on a food front from time to time.



  13. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the heads up regarding Not a yes man’s economics blog. The analysis is excellent, and it matches what I’m seeing at street level.

    Inflation is being swept under the carpet, although there is a federal election next month. Once sacred cows such as the fuel excise tax was just disappeared, and fuel prices came down – for now. So feedback loops are a thing. And often we assume that the powers that be will sit on their backsides crowing about past performance.

    The increase in housing prices at that level is crazy. It’s a bonkers policy, which I vehemently disagree with. It creates winners and losers, and eventually there will be too many losers to maintain the bubble.



  14. Hi Lewis,

    Some commercial orchards down here use very large fans on frosty nights so as to keep the wind moving and thus increasing the energy of the otherwise frozen air. Mate, I can’t afford to do such things and so have to live with the consequences. The harvest from the several hundred fruit trees was abysmal this year. But you’re right a lower tech method would be to burn firewood around and near to the trees.

    The smudge pots are a good idea, and they’re called Choofers down here, and are notable for burning all manner of unpleasant fuels. I’ve got enough firewood to be able to burn that if need be (and the ash would be an excellent fertiliser, but last year the frost and icy weather arrived late one afternoon accompanied by a rare strong wind storm, and that was that for the season.

    In the far east of this state, there has also been landslides and wild weather. The storm was feral, and there is another one lined up to soak the already soaked eastern coast of the continent. Warnings are now being issued a few days in advance and the next bout of rain looks set to hit Sydney and south along the coast. Here are some photos from a few days ago: Major flood warnings for East Gippsland as severe weather thrashes Victoria’s east coast .

    Yup NSW refers to New South Wales. I’m sure that Old Wales looks very different! 😉

    No way dude! This blog is about as public as I’d like. Already a number of people I know well read the blog and comments. It’s nice to be thought of as amusing, but at times there is a certain level of judgement which I have to just deal with. You can’t be amusing or insightful if you self-censor and worry too much about what other people think!

    The comedy show was very fun too. Mate, even the comedians speak about the trauma they’ve – and everyone else – has been through during the past two years.

    Hehe! The rats are a tad small for that. Mate, one of them jumped at me today and smooshed into my woollen jumper, which is now in the wash. Scared the daylights out of me. And I may have squealed. Maybe… Dame Plum and I did good work though and she scored two, whilst I scored my first. That’s eight so far, and we’re making quite the good tag team. I’m watching how they enter and exit the chicken enclosure, and will make a further move against the Borg, I mean, rodent collective.

    Mate, I’ve heard it said before that where there is one slug, there may be more. You’re patch is probably a bit healthier and more advanced, and the slugs know it.

    I’ve seen those small devices for distributing small seeds. They work well. I’m a bit slack and tend to over sow, and then thin, but that is also very wasteful of seed stocks – which I try my utmost best to source from previous plants. The rocket patch has exploded in growth of late. This weekend is promising a 78’F day, so things should grow. The UV is sliding from High to Moderate (which I deem fairly insignificant).

    Lightning is always good, and I’m old enough that it puts me in mind of Bob Seeger and his old song night moves. Woke last night to the sound of thunder…

    Oh no. Just to prove how woeful my education was, or more correctly is, I’d long confused Fahrenheit 451 with the book Slaughter House Five. I’ve never read Fahrenheit 451, but have read Slaughter House Five. Edjukayshun these days is bad.

    The only reason the powers that be fear education is when they are standing on shaky ground.

    Nah, my gut feeling suggests that you will get two hardcover books. Time will of course sort this matter out, and then we’ll know the truth of things. Speculation can ofttimes be dull. I’ve almost finished Jack Vance – Alastor 1716 Wyst. A delightful tale.

    Lemon flavour is very difficult to replicate, and I must out myself here as something of a food snob as lemon essence does not taste like lemon to my palate. Rather than adding in additional lemon juice which may affect how the muffins set, I’d try adding more finely grated lemon zest. That’s where the micro plane would come into its own.

    I once made a Key Lime Pie and add too much lemon juice, and getting the goo to set was a nuisance. I’ll be curious to hear what your Club folks had to say about the lemon muffins. Coconut is a good addition to lemon muffins.

    Exactly! You can use lemon with milk to produce curds and whey. I’m not sure of the process, but it works. And feta-like cheese can be made that way. Cheese is a fascinating product and another way to preserve excess milk in season. I note that down under we still call the cheese by the historic name of feta.

    Good score with the cheap honey. Ah, it all makes sense now. A tangerine (which I’ve never encountered) has crossed with a pomello (which I grow) to produce the tangello (which I also grow). Interesting. There are plans to relocate many of the citrus trees – soon.

    Fingers crossed that Amanda’s new accountants work out for her. The thing with owning or running a small business is that you have to keep your eyes on the books and don’t be put off by boozit answers to simple questions.

    Did you end up getting any biscuits and gravy? And more importantly, did Floyd capture any clams?

    This is that horrific rodent disease I mentioned to you the other day. Farmer ‘lucky to be alive’ after contracting deadly rodent-borne disease during mouse plague.



  15. Yo, Chris – And, in news of the world … I saw in our newspaper, last night, that our county has decided to repeal the $300 charge for not spraying along roadways. Oh, well. I’m sure they’ll figure out another way to get the gelt. And, I saw a crazy headline, this morning, that the Federal government is proposing to drop $100 a month, into our bank accounts, any time the average price of gas goes over $4. Spin those presses! There’s recession talk, around.

    Smudge pots burn just about anything. Even crankcase oil. Wood sounds more benign.

    They’re doing it tough, up in Gippsland. I feel for them. We, here, know what it’s like.

    The rats strike back! Time to break out the light sabers. Hmmm. Might be a movie, in that. Instead of screaming like a little girl, I’ve trained myself to yell “Ick! Ick! Ick!” very loudly. It’s slightly more … dude. 🙂

    We’re supposed to have two nice days, so I’ll get out in the garden this afternoon and start preparing for “The Big Move.” I wonder if I’m seeing fewer slugs, as there are now snakes about?

    “Farenheight 451” is a good story, and not that long. It’s been filmed, a couple of times.

    I got an e-mail, this morning, that the two Australian cookbooks have been shipped. I should get them early next week. I think you’re right about the zest. I only had one lemon, which was just enough for what the recipe called for. But next time, I’ll get two. And amend my recipe card, to reflect that.

    Julia was at the Club, and thought they were quit good. And, by the way, she asked again what you do with your persimmons. Still waiting to hear back from Elinor. Gosh, waiting for reviews is so nerve racking! 🙂

    I got to thinking more about the almond milk and wondering if one could do a soft cheese out of it. And, sure enough, there are quit a few recipes on the Net for almond milk cream cheese.

    The weather was so awful, yesterday (snow outside of town … a hail storm in town) that Floyd did not go in search of the wily clam. So, the biscuits and gravy were on offer. Inflation! The price of two biscuits is now $4.50! 🙂

    Here, our mice can give us hantavirus. Which is more a respiratory condition with a high mortality rate. It’s mostly found in our desert southwest, but a couple of decades ago, there was a case out in the eastern part of our county. Killed a guy.

    I’ve had a bit of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) for quit a few years. Now and again, on and off. Mine sounds a bit like Morse Code. But about a week ago, I started getting a thrumming in my ear. Regular, like a heartbeat. I thought my blood pressure might be up, but usually, when that happens, I get a small nose bleed. So, I consulted Dr. Internet. Seems I have Pulsatile Tinnitus. Oh, well. At least I know I’m not likely to stroke out. I only notice it when it’s very, very quiet.

    I think Elinor’s caregiver’s days are numbered. 🙁 . There was a ten minute rave, last night, about her inability to make french toast. A give minute rave on a baked potato disaster. And we won’t even go into the asparagus. I’ve got H this morning, as Elinor needed to go pick up new glasses. She seems a bit more restless, than usual, but is mostly her good self. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,

    The chicken tractor has a pair of wheels on the back with a lever that raises and lowers the back a few inches. A horse girth is attached to the front and it’s pulled by raising the back end and putting the girth around your hips and pulling backwards. Pulling the tractor was my job exclusively until a few years ago though I am still able to do it. Pulling just one length isn’t that hard though turning it is tricky. You have to be careful feet don’t get stuck which mostly happens when turning. The chickens learn pretty fast to just move forward.

    On another note, Buff Orpingtons have a tendancy to go broody which isn’t helpful if you just want eggs but OK if you want to raise chicks. It’s kind of a pain to break them of broodiness.

    We’ve been getting rain!! The creek at the end of the road is running quite well now. Unfortunatly there’s been several periods of wet snow as well and more expected tomorrow and Thursday. Overall the temps have been a fair amount below normal.


  17. Hi Margaret,

    The chicken tractors are a great idea and if the land was not as steep here I’d consider one as they spread fertility and also turn over the soil. I assume that the design is reasonably fox proof? Good to hear that they can be moved by human efforts alone as I’d wondered about that very issue as they’re not exactly small. Out of curiosity how do the chickens cope with the hot afternoon sun in summer (I ask because of the low roof that the chicken tractors I’ve seen use)?

    Most of the heritage breeds I’ve raised tend to go broody sooner or later. Years ago, I used to chuck them back into the chicken enclosure, but nowadays they’ve defeated me! 🙂 If the hens want to go broody I don’t overly worry about the loss of eggs. It is one of the reasons I tend to keep the enclosure stocked up to its comfortable limit of around 16 to 17 chickens. It isn’t really efficient given the volume of feed, but it tends to be fairly resilient in terms of eggs.

    The rats have been a nuisance, as they’ve now adapted to the modifications. I went out there tonight with Dame Plum and we scored nothing. On the other hand I counted the population at six brown rats and one black rat, so their numbers have taken a beating. Tomorrow I plan to make further modifications based on what I’ve observed of their exits. The chickens are calmer when there are no rodents.

    Go the rain! And what a good time of year to receive a decent soaking. Fingers crossed that none of the blossoms on the trees suffer due to the colder weather.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    To be honest, it kind of seemed weird to charge a property owner not to do something. I’d read in a leaflet from the local council that they reserve the right to maintain the roadsides. Fair enough too, you don’t want people doing strange things to council property. However, I may have seen them mow the roadside once in about fifteen years, and so all the neighbours periodically have to do that job at our own time and expense. The problem with trying to maintain a central control of something that affects lots of people, is that they have to actually maintain that central control, otherwise it all looks like words on paper. And that point may be lost on such folks. I’ve had to mow some parts of this property about five times this growing season. And I’ve seen lots of roadsides around the area which don’t look like the council has gotten around to doing anything about.

    Went to the local pub for dinner and a pint tonight. It was a bit chilly, but we sat outside in the courtyard under the stars and ate dinner. Very pleasant.

    My understanding of macroeconomic theory mustn’t be up to date with the latest theories, because I’ve been astounded that the printing presses have been used as much as they have been without the entire house of cards come crashing down. I tend to think that over use of the printing presses matters. I read an article suggesting that things were tanking: ASX and stocks around world fall as US Fed hints at bigger rate hikes if inflation persists. One of the great predicaments with a financially based economy is that there are limits to all options, and you can experience both inflation and rising interest rates (which is the outcome I expect) which will crush plenty of people at all economic stratum. Even the prudent take a pounding as inflation eats away at the conversion-into-real-wealth-value of the stored money. But if incomes fail to rise, those in debt take an even bigger pounding as servicing eats more of the household assets and income and leaves less for everything else.

    Ooo! Yeah, not good about the smudge pots. Interestingly I’m trying something a bit different to combat late frosts. The orchards here are beginning to slowly form a solid canopy. Obviously the blossoms in the more exposed upper side of the canopy suffer frost damage, but there might be enough plant material protected from frost, that at least some fruit is produced. Commercial orchards tend to be more open because they’re easier to maintain the trees and also pick from. I don’t require either of those outcomes, so I’m trying something a little bit different. Growing fruit trees is a long term proposition.

    I’m starting to wonder if reducing the rat population will also increase the fruit harvest. Hmm. Dame Plum and I went out to thwart the rats and I counted six brown rats and one black rat. We’ve got rats down here called bush rats and they’ve been on the continent for a million or so years. Anyway, they’d worked out how to get around my Monday modifications, so tomorrow I’m going to institute plan C modifications. Take that my pesky rodent friends! Neither Plum nor I scored any rats tonight. They’re wising up. It would be like taking on the Borg, and they learn your offensive and defensive moves.

    It’s raining really heavily in Sydney today and for the next few days. Evacuation orders issued, homes isolated in Sydney as torrential rain causes flash flooding.

    Weather wise it was a very pleasant day here today. The sun shone and even brought a touch of late autumn warmth. Finished my Jack Vance book late this afternoon over a very late lunch and will begin reading Margaret Atwood’s essays next. Review soon to follow…

    I like your style with the Ick! Ick! Ick! 🙂 I’ll try, but you know, startlement and all that. The spell checker dictionary didn’t know that word: ‘startlement’. What ever do they teach those things these days?

    Mate, maybe it is just me, but snakes make me feel a little bit ooky, and I would definitely squeal like a little girl if I encountered one at close range! Let alone trod on one. The snakes won’t mind me squealing at all – I believe that their hearing is not all that good. Picked up a snake bite bandage at the recent farming expo. And they do make a difference and give you a couple of more hours grace to get some help.

    I do hope that the master gardeners don’t waste much of your soil, although you can always start again. And starting with some of the old soil will speed up the whole process.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, and yes, I must add this to the to-read list. I noticed the other day that I had not yet read the book: A Japanese Tavern. I really did enjoy Norah Lofts book: A wayside tavern.

    There must be something in the water, as I too received an email this morning saying that the Jack London book was finally on its way. Coincidence? Maybe?

    Lemon’s can be quite expensive, which is bizarre when you consider just how productive a lemon tree can be. But yeah, more lemon zest and go easy on the juice because of the weird things that the acid can do to baking. Incidentally, speaking of lemons, the Meyer Lemon tree which I skeletonised last year has bounced back with plenty of fresh green growth, blossoms and some small lemons. I didn’t expect that to happen. And the new growth isn’t displaying any sign of disease. A mystery as the books I read suggested that the plant was a goner. I did spread a lot of agricultural lime over and around the tree, removed all of the low hanging branches and have been regularly feeding it. Dunno.

    Good stuff with the lemon muffins. An appreciative audience is a thing of beauty. Fingers crossed that Elinor is nice with the muffin review.

    I wouldn’t mind some dairy goats, but all the fencing and the regular milking would be a pain after a while. My mates of the big shed fame now have dairy goats, and the milk tasted pretty similar to cows milk, although I will add that it was pretty fresh. Sheep milk on the other hand is really nice, and the cheese produced from it is very smooth.

    The Editor and I were discussing how to demolish the shed that the rodents are living in near to the chicken enclosure. It will be an interesting job and we might high pressure wash the materials (which we hope to recover). The shed stinks and is no longer used. Apparently hantavirus is present in rodents down under, but no infections have ever been recorded. I’m unsure why we would have such a difference.

    Far out, the Pulsatile Tinnitus is not good. How are you coping? Sometimes I can hear the blood pressure in my ears, and that is not good either. I try to avoid stress if at all possible, but it always catches up with you, even if you keep on top of everything. I’ve observed that people can bring their garbage to you, despite your best intentions. Mate, keep stress low and try not to stroke out. 🙂

    How did you get tinnitus? Loud music? Exposure to industrial noises? I’m very careful when using machinery and always look after my hearing. I’ve been exposed to some loud music though over the years. Some live performances I’ve been too were unnecessarily loud, but most were usually pretty good.

    Hang on a sec. Why would Elinor’s caregiver be expected to cook such dishes?



  19. Yo, Chris – Think of foods. If they leave something out, it always seems to cost more. Seems like anything that needs a bit of extra thought and even minimal effort, costs more.

    The entire house of cards will come crashing down. It’s not if, but when. Every day will roll along, pretty much like the last one. Until it doesn’t. Can we do anything about it? Well, no. So, “What? Me worry?” I suppose we all have different things that worry us. It’s just that there’s so much to choose from.

    I wouldn’t think the decline in the rat population, would have much impact on fruit production. I figure the birds will take up the slack 🙂

    The story of the flooding is pretty bad. It’s all a very familiar story. We’re having a heat wave, here, today. It’s supposed to get up to 74F (+23.33C). Prof. Mass has a post on it. But, no worries. The forecast for Sunday is for snow. That overnight low will be about 33F (+1C?). Sunday is a few days away, so, subject to change.

    That’s good news about the lemon tree. Must be a real fighter. Did it get any worm juice? That stuff is magic for bringing back plants that look like goners.

    Elinor liked the muffins, but thought they could use a bit more lemon. The way the recipe reads, only zest goes in the batter. The lemon juice is in the glaze. Powdered sugar and juice. Put on while the muffins are hot. They had a bit of a broken surface, so, it sunk right in. I hit them twice, with a sprinkling of zest, in between. Next time, I’ll add more zest to the batter. And maybe a bit of lemon extract.

    Snakes are pretty interesting, the way they perceive the world. They don’t have external ears or ear drums. But their eyesight is very good and they are attuned to vibrations. Stomping on the ground might have more of an effect, than yelling at them.

    I picked up a couple of tarps, last night. I’ll save topsoil in them, and then add it back in. I can’t quit figure out where to put them. It’s going to be a bit of a tango, juggling old boxes, new boxes and soil.

    I’m coping pretty well with the tinnitus. I don’t notice it, when it’s very, very quiet. And it seems to go away when I lay down. So, no problems sleeping. I don’t know how I got it. I was never really a concert goer. Industrial noise. I couldn’t think of any, but then remembered the year I worked in the wooden clog shop. It could get pretty noisy. Grinders, and all. I’m pretty lucky. My hearing is still sharp. But noise really irritates me. Mostly, other people chattering away. Or yelling over each other. Shrieking children.

    Gosh, where to begin with Care Givers? The State decided that it’s best (and cheaper) to keep Dusties in place, for as long as possible. I think some of them sign on with rather … unrealistic expectations. I mean, there are job descriptions, but in some cases, that doesn’t seem to sink in. Some see themselves more as companions. Show up and have a nice chat.

    Actually, they’re expected to do “light” housekeeping. Dishes, floors, clean the bathroom and do laundry. Take the client to doctor’s appointments. Make sure they take their medications and eat. Some Care Givers, the older country girls, still know how to cook. The younger ones? Well, they don’t know how to boil an egg, make oatmeal “from scratch” or bake a potato. They’ve been raised on convenience everything, and when they run into someone like Elinor, who prefers to eat in a move healthier manner, well, they’re kind of lost. And she’s willing to teach them. But, most aren’t interested or will even listen. You know, I saw shelled, boiled eggs, for sale, the other day. Organic, of course. 🙂 .

    Elinor really can’t stand in the kitchen, or even sit for that matter, for any period of time. And, as she’s gotten older, she’s more heat and cold sensitive. Care Givers make meals, ahead. Some. One of Elinor’s daughters also brings her meals, for weekends.

    Care Givers are paid $20+ dollars, an hour. And, they get benefits. Health insurance, paid vacation, etc.. I’ll stop there. I’m sure you have questions.

    I was reading a very politically incorrect book by a comedian, last night. He was doing a riff on how emotional support animals, have gotten completely out of hand. I have idle thoughts about getting a chicken for a pet. They couldn’t say much about it, if I claimed it was an emotional support animal. And, a shallow plunge down the rabbit hole reveals that it’s easy to get nappies for chickens. And, they’re washable :-). Lew

  20. Hi Lewis,

    There is logic to your logic, and the analogy with food modification at restaurant requests is a goodie. I stand corrected. I can see why a highly modified meal would cost more, and certainly if I ran such a business, I’d charge extra for that. It is not a free request by any means. There is always an economic dimension to such issues, and it may be simply satisfying a customers whim – they’re hard folks to make money from and probably need to be charged more. Incidentally, the modification issue is not something that I would do (that I’m aware of). It interests me that I have seen push back on that front and have lately heard the words: The meal comes as the description on the menu (or words to that effect). Fair enough too.

    Now of course food allergies are a real thing, and I’d probably suggest to folks suffering from them to eat at a more appropriate restaurant which can cater to their needs. The amount of cleaning required in a commercial kitchen to accommodate even one such meal out of the ordinary would be a nightmare and an uneconomic proposition. The flip-side is that other commercial kitchens better set out for such work can supply to that market at a premium. It can’t be had both ways.

    I’m surprised that there has been a marked increase in the incidence of food allergies in my lifetime. There are many possibilities leading to that particular outcome.

    Yes, I agree, sooner or later, it will all crash down. That outcome is now baked into the cake. However, the support thrown behind keeping the edifice afloat has quite surprised me. We’re getting nearer to the end point of many policy options. I noted that house prices down under increased by something crazy like 23% over the past twelve months, and that is creating some serious winners and losers. I’m very uncomfortable about that situation and tend to view houses as something which keeps the rain off your head, but plenty of people enjoy unearned income. I do wonder why the young in particular continue to support the two main political parties when they continue to prop up house prices. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. We’re meant to be having a Federal election late next month, but it hasn’t been called yet. Maybe the young folks are hoping for their day in the sun? I really don’t know, and have tried as best as I am able to do so, to step to the side.

    In breaking rat news. In between doing paid work today, I spent several hours right up until sunset plugging up various holes in the chicken enclosure with steel wire. The rats were able to just squeeze through the corrugations with the steel roof sheeting. I spent hours making little steel wire sausages and then stuffing them in the corrugations. I’ll be fascinated to head outside tonight and see what the rats have to say about the modifications. And if the rats do somehow manage to break in, I’ll observe how they’re getting out again, and then plug up that hole. It’s like playing a game of whack a mole, except that it is possible that the rodents are actually the trans-dimensional-hyper-intelligent beings that Douglas Adams wrote about in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

    Over a very late lunch, I read Margaret Atwood’s first essay exploring science fiction. I’d heard such talk before, however, I’m enjoying the flavour of the essays and the author explored many motivations of characters in works of fiction. I had this weird notion that the author had summarised the core lessons of a multitude of fairy tales. A very astute observation.

    I also visited a local plant nursery in order to stock up on supplies of agricultural lime. They looked well stocked with fertiliser for the home market, and given the margins involved, that didn’t surprise me. What I have noticed is that the very large bags of Dynamic Lifter have kind of disappeared. That stuff is a pelletised commercial animal poop and it is usually available in large bulk sized bags at 35kg / 77 pounds. Haven’t seen it for a few months now. This subject has been at the back of my mind for a few months now.

    The main risk I see in this story is that if the commercial producers, of say, feed lots or massive chicken factory farms are short on phosphates in their feedstock, then the fertiliser getting produced and sold from those enterprises will also be short on phosphates. A trickle down effect will occur. Hmm. For the record, this is a real trickle down effect unlike the economic theory version.

    OK, you got me there. Yes, the bird population are every bit as clever as the rats, so yeah, rats out, birds in, may be the way of it all. My intention is to out-produce them all. It’s possible, but the fruit trees will require many years and a whole lot of feeding before they get to that state.

    The good Professor pooh-poohed the snow prediction. On the other hand, the overnight lows might produce some frosty weather, and that’s not much good after a brief warmer spell. Fruit trees are easily confused.

    I can’t say for sure what treatment restored the Meyer Lemon to such a vigorous condition. Unfortunately the situation was dire and so I hit the tree with every bit of evasive manoeuvre number six knowledge I could bring to bear upon the problem. The tree might not have survived a more controlled and measured response.

    Dame Plum scored another rat this evening. The dog is a champion.

    And more importantly, there were no rats inside the chicken enclosure. I’ll bet the rodents are furiously digging a tunnel right now. I’ll check later again this evening. The other interesting thing is that Dame Plum is working far better with me now as we continue gaining experience working together with this job.

    Ah, I dunno, but I’m guessing that if your zester diced the zest up finely enough, then the zest could also go into the glaze and that would really zing up the taste. Using the lemon essence is worth a go for sure. My understanding is that the stuff is made from actual lemons which is not always the case with essence extracts – dare I mention vanilla extract? Beware, you may learn more than you care to know! 🙂

    The poultry group suggested that some pelletised chicken feed has been known to contain paper pulp. Ook! The two new chickens did not know what to make of mince meat earlier today and continue to ignore greens and stick to grains. What do they teach chickens these days? The existing chickens demolished their share of mince meat in seconds and the heap of greens all get consumed.

    Yes, I’ve read up about our slithery friends. A bit of knowledge in this matter can produce dividends. The farming expo had a snake handler giving a show and talk which we attended. Knowing what to do after a bite is also useful information.

    Top idea with the tarp, and hopefully they don’t become too heavy to move. Seriously, adding in a bucket full of your existing soil will be enough to inoculate the new soil. And the growing season will be a touch slower than what you’ve become used too, but on the other hand, the massive aeration the soil gets might turbo charge the plants. I don’t really know how it will turn out and look forward to hearing about how your season goes.

    I avoid loud industrial noises, but a person can only go so far from such nuisances. I wouldn’t worry about the tinnitus as there is little you can do now about it anyway. And if it doesn’t hassle you, then that’s a bonus. Now ear worms on the other hand…

    OK, I have to fess up. So between modifying the chicken enclosure and doing paid work I had a late lunch prior to travelling to the local plant nursery. Turns out my late lunch wasn’t late enough because schools were let out early today due to the commencement of school holidays. So my late quiet lunch reading Margaret Atwood was accompanied by loud raucous kids bouncing around all over the place. The table behind me were particularly noisy and the kids were running around. So, yeah, I guess I’m an old fella now… 🙂 In another story, the public bar got emptied last evening when a very young baby started screaming. The Editor and I sat outside and enjoyed the star field, but I remarked to another bloke I knew who was leaving the establishment early and enjoying a complaint, that it sucked to be him! Mate, I simply switch off such stuff and do my best to blot out the noise. In this instance, practice indeed makes perfect. As a kid I would have been belted for acting so in a public place, and that’s progress for you.

    Having a nice chat isn’t a bad idea for caregivers. I’m not legally allowed to speak or provide any financial advice. That does not stop people from asking me about retirement matters. So in response I give them a pregnant pause (for effect) and then look them in the eyes and suggest that for retirement you need: Mates; Purpose; and Hobbies. Far out, some folks get super angry about that, but it is an honest response. Other people I’ve said it to, have a more measured response and they look thoughtful.

    Don’t know how to cook indeed! Hehe! I’ve scared some visitors with the contents of the pantry – what is all this stuff (they cry)? Elinor might have to meet her caregivers half way. And I hear you about the eggs. Oh yeah, some weird gear that is. A friend of the Editor was on some strange diet years ago where everything was provided. And I may have mentioned this shocking experience to you many years ago, but sliced tomato was supplied in some packaging which I’m guessing was filled with nitrogen so as to reduce the rate of spoilage. It was so weird to see, that it held me in thrall for a while. How is this tomato not a puddle of moosh I wondered? The art of cooking can save a household heaps of mad cash, whilst producing tasty meals – but try telling people that. Instead I’ve seen people take pride in being unable to cook. That sense of misplaced pride baffles me. And it won’t serve well in the future that is to be.

    I do have questions. As a back of the envelope calculation, if a caregiver earns $20/hr then the take home pay is $800 per week based on a 40 hour week, which I’m guessing they might not get. I’m assuming tax comes out of that amount? Dunno. So at a wild guess, if they worked a 40 hour week, then housing costs in your part of the world might take half of those earnings. So, the care givers are probably doing it pretty tough financially and barely keeping their heads above water. How does those rough calculations stand up to reality?

    Hehe! Comedians have become the new court jesters and can say what needs being said. 🙂 Chickens would perhaps make for poor company, even with diapers.



  21. Yo, Chris – I’ve heard of the movement toward “meals served as described.” But, as I go out so seldom, have never seen it in action. High time, too, as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, food allergies are real (let’s not mention oysters), but I think a lot of people claim them, who don’t have them. As with the topic above, I think it’s a case of rampant “Aren’t I special.” Not special, just irritating. 🙂 .

    A lot of frozen food is peddled on the promise that “Everyone can get what they want.” Dad can go Italian and Mom French. Sonny Boy can pig out on chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs with chips. The anorexic daughter, Babs, can pick at her veg plate. My mother used to make two crab salads at Thanksgiving. One without tomatoes, as my brother didn’t like tomatoes. I’d say, make the one salad (with). He can either graze the other fourteen courses on the table, or pick them out.

    What keeps the edifice afloat is the rich and powerful, fighting to stay rich and powerful. Of course, the whole thing will founder, taking along as many of us to the bottom of the sea, as possible. But, some of us will make other plans.

    Maybe your rats are reading Sun Tzu, when you aren’t looking. You shouldn’t leave that thing lying around. Or, perhaps, they’re being directed by this guy …

    Dame Plum and you are bonding over shared interests. Killing rats. Next you’ll be taking her to a father/daughter dance. 🙂

    I hope you like the Margaret Atwood. She can be so funny, at her own expense.

    The large bags of Dynamic Lifter might be in short supply, due to the short supply of packaging. Or, someone dropped by and bought 50 bags, the day before you did. Or, large bags languish, due to price increases.

    So, poop trickles down? There’s something terribly wrong about that image. 🙂

    It was 72F, yesterday. Then the rain moved in about midnight. I just couldn’t work up any enthusiasm, to work in the garden. But, I did this and that around the house, so it wasn’t a lost day. I got two smallish tarps. 6×8′. So, I think I’ll be able to drag them out of the way .. somewhere. The plot to be empties out is a smallish one. About 4×8′. I figure I’ll give it a bit of a turn, and then pull off the top layer. It’s quit deep. About hip height. Wonder if there’s a body in there?

    I used to go grocery shopping, on Wednesday night. Now I go on Thursday. Due to the local Boy Scout lodge descending on the grocery, after their meeting. They don’t seem to give a merit badge for physical fitness, anymore. At least, not according to my observations of poundage, running about the store snatching up junk food by the handfuls. 🙂

    My retirement advice? It depends on your expectations. And how many relatives you’ve got leeching off of you.

    Ideally, a Caregiver would have a partner who is also employed. The ideal situation would be DINKs. Duel Income No Kids. Those are the couples that seem to be able to scrape together a bit to buy a small house.

    Another hit the Caregivers take is child care. Which is really, really expensive. But, at least in this part of the world, extended family seems to take up some of the slack. I hear about it a lot, in Elinor’s family (unto the fourth and fifth generation…). Child care seems to be divided among a lot of people.

    I watched the new “Resident Evil” zombie movie, “Welcome to Raccoon City.” It turns out they’re going back to square one, and re-booting the whole series. Just so you can keep track …

    The original six film series, was pretty good and worth many bowls of popcorn. I tried one of the animated films, and bailed out after about ten minutes. The new re-boot movie is pretty good. But I did fast forward through a bit of it. Too much slow creeping about, through dark places. But, still, worth a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  22. Hi Chris,

    Please congratulate Dame Plum on my behalf for her exceptional service as rat and rabbit bane! She works hard for you and Sandra and the chickens. Hope you have foiled the dastardly rats and their designs on chicken feed!

    I bought a bag of cottonseed meal a couple of days ago for use as the nitrogen source in my garden. No problem getting it, but it was more expensive than the bag I bought a year ago. I just sent off this year’s soil sample so I don’t yet know if I can use wood ashes to supply all the phosphorus and potassium that the garden needs. If not, I probably have enough of each on hand in other forms for this year. But I am starting to think that Steve Solomon is right that once you get enough of a phosphorus reservoir in the soil, small amounts of less concentrated sources like wood ashes will suffice to replenish what the plants remove. I haven’t talked about that in my blog but that is one of my current hypotheses, to be tested over the next few years.

    Caregivers in my area don’t make as much per hour as they do where Lew lives because it’s cheaper to live here, but you’re correct, they don’t make enough money for all of good housing, good food, and reliable transportation, much less anything else they might need or want. Whether or not they would have to pay taxes depends on the details of their situation. There is an income below which one doesn’t pay federal income tax, but it’s quite low. States vary a lot in tax policies.

    I planted the potatoes yesterday. This morning we had snow showers, but nothing heavy enough to stick to the ground. There is a freeze warning for tonight (temperatures around to just below freezing) since the growing season has begun. I haven’t planted anything I need to worry about because I know what can happen in April. By Sunday, the high will be 72F/22C. Then on Monday we enter a multi-day pattern that is conducive to severe weather over much of the central and southern US. We’ll see if it affects us or not.


  23. Dame Plum:

    That’s why you are a dame and Ruby isn’t.

    I am glad that you got to go to the Expo and see some of your relatives help those sheep. Would you like a sheep, Plum?


  24. Hi, Chris!

    The photo of Ollie gazing at the deer will always be one of my favorites. I can read his mind.

    Goodness, your chooks are worth their weight in gold. Back when we did have chickens we raised them from chicks that we bought. Since our 4-H club went in together to buy them they cost practically nothing. They were Rhode Island Reds.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  25. Hi Pam,

    Ollie sends you and yours cordial tail wags. Thanks for saying that about the photo, it’s a favourite of mine too. Ollie knows his job and even better, nowadays he knows to attack from the rear. He’s a clever dog, although for the record, I’ve not again encountered a dog as clever as Sir Scruffy. When it comes to sheer weight of intelligence, that dog knew his stuff. I could tell a few stories about that dog.

    It may appear that we spend our days walking around with the camera waiting for an opportunity, but no – this sort of stuff is going on all of the time here. I feel the need to add that I am quietly grateful that we don’t have either bears or mountain lions here. Makes walking around at night a far less stressful experience. 🙂

    Things are clearly better organised in your country, and yes, I’ve been giving serious consideration to the gentle art of chicken breeding. The nearest poultry club is a forty minute drive away, and few if any of the neighbours keep chickens – my resources are limited, and there are other matters which need attending to sorry to say. It is a weakness of my systems.

    Incidentally, I’ve known a few good Rhode Island Reds. Fine upstanding chickens, and one was the epitome of a gentleman of a rooster.

    So, I put your question to Dame Plum.

    Dear Pam,

    Thank you for recognising my general level of canine excellence. Did you know that this week alone that my score sits at nine rats? The boss has been working with me on this ‘intruder alert’ matter, and we don’t yet have the upper hand, but we make a good team.

    As to sheep. I’d like a sheep, or several sheep. And have you not ever wondered why the singular form of the word is spelt the same as the plural form of the word? My brain now hurts and I shall retire and enjoy my rawhide chew.


    Dame Plum and Chris

  26. Hi Claire,

    Dame Plum thanks you for the kind words, and sends cordial tail wags to you and Mike. For the record, her score this week with the rats stands at nine. The dog has certainly taken to this task with a determination which does her credit. And the rodent population is dwindling.

    Over two days this week, I’ve modified the chicken enclosure so as to exclude rodents, and the latest mods seem to have done the trick – so far. I’d left a weak point in the structure near to where the guttering which collects rainfall off the roof sat. And the rats exploit any weakness, and then can communicate this to their friends.

    One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with on this journey is that you have to allow for losses to the other critters which live in and around where you choose to produce.

    Your approach to maintaining adequate soil minerals always impresses me. And cotton seed meal is something of a mystery as it is not available near to here. I don’t doubt it’s level of excellence.

    Yes, down under the prices appear also to be on the rise, which is something of a worry as the expanded greenhouse and future vegetable bed will require quite a lot of stuff. I was at the plant nursery the other day taking a good long hard look at what they had on offer. They seemed well stocked to me.

    I tend to agree with the ‘get it right’ and then ‘maintain it’ philosophy of Steve Solomon. I’m of the opinion that wood ashes are in fact quite concentrated given how much forest material converts into so few wood ashes. It’s quite astounding really. I look forward to reading about your soil adventure, and also appreciate your efforts with education.

    Annual income under $18,200 annually down here I believe is tax free. It would be quite a difficult proposition to live well on such an income. Not impossible, but probably very difficult. I spoke today with an old mate who is paying about that much in rent for the place where he currently resides. Inflation hits hardest with the low income earners, and then next with the over committed (i.e. seriously in debt).

    Fingers crossed that you time your planting well with that sort of forecast on the cards. How do you decide when to plant the first seedlings of the growing season?



  27. Hi Lewis,

    You’re right I reckon about the cast iron cookware, although the lack of Vitamin C indicates problems obtaining fresh food stuffs. I’d hate to consider what the settlers were eating when they were busy setting up that colony. What interests me is that the settlers were in Adelaide, which is quite close to the water, so I do wonder why they weren’t adding fish to their regular diets. That would have helped with the Vitamin C deficiency. And I do hope that you notice that relative to their peers in the UK, the colonists Vitamin D levels had improved? Soils in that part of the world contain a lot of limestone, so I can see how the low iron levels may have come to be.

    I agree, it is high time. It is really hard on the folks working in commercial kitchens to accommodate such requests, mostly because of the volume of orders that they have to deal with in a timely manner. Now of course, if people wish to pay a whole lot extra to have their meal personalised, and the kitchen crew are OK with that, then that is another matter.

    And exactly, food allergies are a real thing, but pickiness is something else altogether. That sort of thing is super hard work on everyone working at a restaurant, because at what point does the pickiness stop? Years ago I was out to dinner with another couple whom I’d known for a long time. The lady of the other couple ordered a dessert and then when it arrived may have had second thoughts, but whatever, she kicked up a fuss and steadfastly refused to consume or pay for the dessert. When settling the bill, I handed over the cash to pay for the dessert, but never a second chance did the folks get.

    Just in case you missed the notice, but Dame Plum got the boss rat tonight. A very large black rat. Unfortunately the smaller rats had worked out how to get past my fortifications via a new route. Mate, I tell ya, I have a new appreciation for the castle builders of ye olde days.

    I hear you about Thanksgiving meals and get the impression that there are plenty of other things to consume.

    An old mate visited today for lunch. I’ve known him for thirty three years, but we hadn’t caught up for a few years. Of course the death of my old mate whom I’ve written about, changed the friendship dynamics. We spoke late into the afternoon, and it was a good catch up. And given we hadn’t spoken for many years, there was a lot of news to share. The downside of the visit therefore was that some of the news was a real bummer. My brain is now mildly traumatised by some of the news, and I didn’t wake up this morning expecting that outcome. Ook!

    It’s something of a mystery to me why all of a sudden the group would try to reconnect after so much radio silence. I dunno, when they got sucked into online computer games all those years ago, it destroyed my social life and left me with a big hole in my life – which I filled. They’ve asked me to join them for a barbeque over the next few weeks. Can you back? That’s the question I’m pondering. Do you have any advice for me in this matter, as I’m in unknown territory and am basically outside of my experience?

    There is a bit of me that is excited at the thought that some of us will make other plans! Blessed are the flexible for they are adaptive. The big J said that on the mount of olives.

    Splinter and Dame Plum hopefully will never get to face off one against the other. The ultimate chicken cage fight (sorry for the dodgy pun).

    I dunno about the bags being the reason for the lack of fertiliser product. My usual sources for the stuff have none of that product, but like the mysterious grocery shelf issues, there are other varieties of fertiliser and I guess a person has to take what they have access to, and not be too picky.

    Ooo, that is a dodgy poop visual. Respect!

    Far out, it is warmer in your part of the world than it is here. 66’F and mostly cloudy today, with a touch of, you guessed it, rain.

    6’x8′ is a good sized tarp, as long as you can move it when it is loaded up with soil contents? Hope you don’t find a body in there! Oh my goodness, your associates would never stop talking about the spectacle.

    Remember that day Lewis found a body in the garden bed? I’d heard he uses anything for fertiliser. Anything, I tell you! They never got the person who did it, you know. Do you think, maybe Lewis might…

    Hours, nay years of speculation and entertainment you’d provide. My advice: if you find one, bury it in someone else’s plot. 😉

    Well, one of the problems with food these days is that it is grown with the weight of produce in mind, given that is how farmers are generally remunerated for their produce. There are other outcomes, such as say aiming for mineral and nutrient density. Payment by weight is a far simpler method though. The problem is that with lower protein levels in a whole bunch of stuff that people eat, well, you see the results. And it will get worse, just because the soils and processes dictate the end result. Go back and have a look at film footage from the early 1970’s and people looked different.

    Relatives, can’t live with them… Or in my case even bear to see them. To much hassle and drama. I’d originally typed the word ‘bare’ and that would most certainly be a very weird occurrence.

    The thing is, back in the 1970’s my single mother raised three kids, bought a house, got a Uni degree whilst working full time. I doubt a person could do that these days. The caregivers are doing it tough financially. As a left of centre and out there observation, should it really make that much of a financial how a person is paid as to what their family dynamics are? You are a single bloke, so that affected your household finances. Man, I dunno about all of this because I tend to place a higher value on the household economy than most people seem to do. At another wild guess, this circumstance may change in the future, but when is anybodies guess.

    Wegotthiscovered is an awesome name for a website. 🙂 I love it. The fourth instalment seems to suggest that there may in fact be bigger problems in LA than being over run by zombies. Like what could be worse than that? Scary stuff. And the concluding chapter apparently tied up loose ends – always wise. From what I understood, the animated series was based on the game.

    The film Alien had the slow creeping about, through dark places down pat.



  28. Chris:

    Please give my congratulations to Dame Plum on not only taking down 9 rats in the gang, but also the Boss Rat. I always thought rats were pretty smart, but that gang must have had a numpty as a leader or they would have gotten the heck out of there once the first one was wiped out. Too much easy living, I guess.

    There was never anyone like Sir Scruffy. He would be pleased to see that Dame Plum is doing her best (and she is still very young) to follow in his pawsteps.


  29. Yo, Chris – I’m surprised the early settlers didn’t pack a few spuds. Also high in vitamin C. There may have been a problem with the seafood, that the settlers were just unfamiliar with what was on offer. The problem with sampling unknown foods is, sometimes you get one shot. If you get my drift. Also might have taken awhile for a fishing industry, to develop. Or, the settlers came from inland areas where fishing wasn’t part of the skill set? The people on Pitcairn Island have a saying, which probably goes a ways back. “Only fools pay for fruit.”

    Take someone out to dinner to see their true metal. Sometimes, it’s base. I’ve seen some advice to potential couples, when sizing each other up, that they observe how they treat service people.

    Yes, I see Dame Plum took down the boss rat. I hope he (or she) was the brains of the operation. But, as in organized crime and war bands, someone always seems to step in to fill the gap.

    Any group of people you haven’t connected with, in awhile, is bound to have some bad news. Try and focus on the ones who are doing OK, or better. I don’t know about that barbeque. My suspicious mind says someone wants something.

    “Blessed are the flexible for they are adaptive.” Ohhh, I like that. Maybe we could build a whole cult around it? 🙂 It’s probably from one of the “lost” books of the Bible. A lot of those kicking around.

    Oh, I’ll give the tarp a test pull, from time to time, as I fill it up. Yes, a body in my garden bed would cement my memory in the annals of The Institution. When I first started gardening here, I often dug trenches. Either to fill with kitchen scraps or just to do a bit of double digging. When people asked what I was doing, I’d say that I was burying my third wife. So, I’ve prepared the ground. 🙂

    Another thing that effects what is on offer on the food front, these days, is shipping. Does it last a long time? Does it ship well? I notice that nowhere in this discussion is taste mentioned. 🙂

    I think some of this Great Resignation business might be, when people were able to take a breath (due to You Know What) they may have found that their financials were better when one person stayed at home. Household economy, indeed. Elizabeth Warren, and her daughter, came out with a book a number of years ago, called “The Two-Income Trap.”

    Yup. Being a single bloke does effect my household finances. And, there’s all my small economies. Which add up enough to give me what is called “disposable income.” So I can buy things like Australian cookbooks (which should arrive, Tuesday). 🙂 I gave myself my bi-monthly haircut, last night. It crossed my mind that that little tool, that I’ve had for a couple of decades, which cost me $25, has paid for itself many times over.

    Time to walk the dog and head for the Club and library. More on “Resident Evil,” tomorrow. Lew

  30. Hi Pam,

    The boss rat was quite clever. If provoked, the boss rat used to attack us whilst running away. It was an alarming and intelligent rat. Unfortunately for the boss rat, Dame Plum and I are well versed in strategy and were expecting the attack then run move.

    I spent a few more hours today modifying the chicken run and attached hen house so as to exclude the clever rodents. Habitat exclusion is a lower stress activity than extermination, but I did bring this problem onto myself by not getting onto it earlier. So many rats takes a lot of feeding.

    🙂 You’d like to think that both Dame Plum and Sir Scruffy would have been good mates. They have very similar temperaments, and I’m really glad that Dame Plum can do the work that she does without getting all zinged up and blooded like I’ve seen some dogs get. Have you ever seen a dog get into a red-zone where they can become unpredictable?



  31. Hi Lewis,

    It is possible that the early settlers weren’t all that useful, and anyway the environment they found themselves in was quite alien compared to where they had originated. It took a long while before the settlers realised that they had to burn off the vegetation and plant seeds into the ash rich seed beds which were free of vegetation. Starvation in the new colonies was always something of a risk. Plus, I reckon they would not have understood the timing of planting crops so as to make the most of the average rainfall for an area. Summers down under are a very different experience compared to summers in the UK.

    Oh I get that about the ‘one shot’ chance with unknown food stuffs. And sometimes the difference between a tasty meal and poor health outcomes is the preparation. Plus if my experience is anything to go by, it would have taken the settlers a long time to do anything.

    Absolutely, and I thoroughly agree with you. Judge a person by their deeds, and how they interact with other people gives a clear look into their soul. We may not like what we see. Mate, I am unfailingly polite with people who have to work with the public. The public can be so casually and thoughtlessly cruel.

    Ah ha! Maybe, about another rat stepping up to the plate to take on the role of new boss rat. I have other plans. I spent a few more hours today filling in holes that the smaller rats have been able to get through. Each time I do this job, there is a reduction in the rodent incidence, but I’m not quite at the stage yet when I can claim victory. Candidly, victory may be short lived and the war will be long.

    Thanks for the advice and I’ll keep that in mind. It had not occurred to me that the person would bring such bad news and it did not reflect well upon the people involved. Hmm. The thing is, I don’t believe they are doing that well, and I can’t really answer the question as to whether I have any great desire to get dragged into that morass. I don’t believe that I do have the interest for that journey. And I really appreciate your thoughts in the matter, because I too have hesitations in relation to the invite for much the same reasons. I’m not close to my family because they’re not really all that pleasant. If they did turn up back into my life, I’d probably ask them: What do you want? People often judge me harshly in relation to this matter, and it is easy to squash by asking: Have you met these people? 🙂 The Editor was also in a state of disbelief early on, and went out of her way to meet them. You can imagine how it worked out, it was nice at first, and then they turned on her. She had to learn the hard way. Far out.

    Hehe! It’s pretty funny that saying, but also very true. 😉 I’ve been saying it more often over the past two crazy years. Lost books of the bible. Are you serious? Surely you can’t be serious? (cue the old jokey response: I am serious and stop calling me shirley! from the film Airplane! so very wrong, but somehow also so very right – the film stands up well today, and I’m surprised nobody has tried to cancel it due to political incorrectness)

    Well, after that comment nobody will be surprised if a body turns up. 🙂 That’s funny too! And kudos for your soil fertilisation techniques. Did the same here, except that the wildlife kept digging up the scraps and eating them. They were eating them as fast as I could dig them in – the cheeky scamps.

    Pulled out the zucchini (courgette) plants today. Powdery mildew had done its work on the leaves. The harvest wasn’t too bad considering the climate this year. The pumpkins and squashes still seem to be growing, but not for much longer I guess. Today was a superb day. Blue sunny skies and 72’F and not even the slightest of breezes. The sun felt warm on my skin, and it was thoroughly delightful. I replanted the zucchini raised bed with red and green mustard plants which grow right through the winter months. We’ve been super busy this year and so I had to shock, horror, buy a punnet of seedlings. The Editor pressure washed about half of the outside of the house today. We’ve used super high quality paint and re-paint a section each year, but all the same you still get a lot of dust and small patches of mildew.

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is a large part of the reason I began growing our own produce all those long years ago back in the big smoke. A lot of that bought stuff nowadays ain’t right. 😉 Taste should be front and centre, but alas, shipping and storage are generally the primary concerns.

    Hmm, it is a bit of a trap isn’t it? Sometimes due to tax rates, you end up working five days for not much more mad cash than for four days. And why do corporate entities appear to pay a lower rate than individuals? That makes no sense to me. How do they have more rights? They seems to have less obligations. Ah, whatever, all part of why I disconnected so many years ago.

    Respect, and I look forward to your review of the first cookbook. Margaret Atwood has included in her essays some book reviews. Fascinating, and it makes me want to go out and buy the books. Lead me not into temptation!!! 🙂 Isn’t it funny how some items can be so well manufactured that they’ll last for decades? The Dirt Rat Suzuki is like that. We could do better as a society, and here’s a good example…

    Go H! And note to H, don’t be tempted to watch the zombies in Resident Evil!

    Better get writing.



  32. Yo, Chris – I found it interesting that the study of the Australian graveyard was from a volunteer population. I’d guess the reality was different from what they’d been promised / told. Here, it was mostly the railroads that did a lot of PR, to sell land. Often not based in any kind of reality. Also, any little jumped up cross roads put out glowing reports on their little burg. “The next New York!” No wonder people went broke a lot and moved around a lot.

    I try and be casually and thoughtlessly kind 🙂 . With the worker bees. Been there, done that. Doesn’t cost anything. “Small kindnesses cost nothing.” (© Lew).

    I think I’ve made my feeling about family, pretty clear over the years. Your better off with the “family” you pick, than the ones that are yours by accident. And, as I’ve said before, as far as significant others go, “Only orphans need apply.” 🙂

    Oh, there are lots of “lost” books of the Bible, kicking around. See: Bible apocrypha. Back in the first few hundred years of BCE, there was a lot of religious writing that claimed to be from the source. Then a bunch of old religious dudes got together, and decided what was kosher and what wasn’t. Some was kept around, as being worthy of study, but not part of the canon. Others were outright banned, as being heretical. But some of that stuff keeps turning up. See: Nag Hammadi. And, a good chunk of the Dead Sea Scrolls are apocrypha.

    I’ve been pretty lucky with wildlife not digging up my kitchen scraps. Maybe I’m just not burying anything very interesting? 🙂

    It only got down to 39F, last night. But the wind was very sharp. No snow, yet. Maybe tonight.

    Resident Evil. Unlike a lot of other zombie films, Resident Evil at least has an explanation. The evil old Umbrella Corporation was tinkering around with viruses and DNA to create a super warrior. Things got out of hand and escaped the lab. But, they just kept tinkering, tinkering. Hence, the more unhuman mutations. But, there were still a lot of garden variety zombies around, just to make life interesting. And the zombie dogs, which made life even more interesting.

    I picked up a new book from the library, yesterday, that I put on my hold list a couple of months ago. “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road.” (Buchanan). I read a couple of chapters, and so far, am not finding much appeal. I think I really started losing interest when I discovered it was filmed in south Africa, instead of Australia. Lew

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