Heck of a stink

The road ahead was clear of traffic. The recent bike lane addition made the road somewhat narrow, but hey, at least there were no bikes or cars to be seen. Had the zombie apocalypse occurred and the general break down in society meant that nobody got around to telling me? The youth music national broadcaster was still pumping out tunes, so perhaps the zombie apocalypse theory could be discounted. Yet the road was empty, and there was a heck of a stink.

Anyone who’s had the good fortune to be subjected to the stink of burning oil combined with partially unburnt fuel, well, they know what it smells like. To everyone else, trust me in this, it stinks. And the little dirt mouse Suzuki was full of the reek. A press of a button lowered the drivers side window and allowed the fresh cold winter air to wash out the reek.

That was a relief. But an unasked question hung in the air: Was the little dirt mouse Suzuki on fire? An alarming possibility, which fortunately was easily discounted. A quick stop by the side of the road, open the bonnet, no flames, no oil, sounds normal, and more importantly, no stink. Must have been a car up ahead somewhere in the unknown distance. Always best to check though, it was the second time that day the stink was encountered.

Lately, it is hard to ignore the many vehicles stuck and immobile along the sides of the freeway’s in the so-called emergency lane – a dangerous place to stop at the best of times. Was it a lack of petrol (gas in US parlance), or simply a lack of maintenance? Dunno, but there sure seems to be more of that gear going on.

Many years ago, when we lived in the big smoke, a neighbour used to work as a pilot for a major airline. He was a good looking bloke and had a string of blonde guests, although bizarrely it was the brunette who finally tied him down. An interesting bloke, always up for a chat. One story he recounted was that just prior to the collapse of another major airline (which shall not be named), they allegedly skipped on maintenance in order to reduce operating costs. With recent increases to interest rates combined with inflation, it’s possible a bit of that skippy-dance is going on right now in homes about the nation.

Badda, badda, badda, zerwing, boom, thud!

Chris, are you alright in there?

I dunno, it’s all a bit weird right now. Hang on, what’s this?

What’s going on? What the heck! Tell me this doesn’t say 11th July 2052?

Sure as shit, that’s what it says right there. Whoa.

Alright, get over it, what else does it say?

Hang on a second, we’ve got an obligation here not to upset the temporal continuum. You’ve seen Back to the Future, haven’t you?


You know, the film.


OK, well, we can say some things about the future, but we shouldn’t tell them the juicy bits, like the lotto number results. We keep that gear for ourselves.

Nice thinking, what’s that saying over there:

Kyiv voted world’s most liveable city, second year in a row
Russia’s emperor Vladimir II, was pleased to receive the accolade from the most prestigious Shenzen based publication: The Economist. Rigorous criteria put the 73 competing cities to the test, and Kyiv came top of the class due to it’s modern and refreshed infrastructure, excellent food, demand for labour, and low crime rate.

Well, who would have guessed that, not me. Hey, what’s that article:

Queen Elizabeth II still going strong, credits Kelpies for longevity
Recent talk in the press was that the UK’s long reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, would retire from public service. The Queen is the patron of the much loved social programs: ‘Victory Gardens’ and ‘Save our Poo, Compost it’, which have greatly reduced hunger in the UK. Pundits have long debated that there would be great resistance to change. Her Majesty credits her longevity with the occasional nip of gin and a change in the royal kennels from the staid Corgis to the more athletic Australian Kelpie dog breed. Unsubstantiated reports suggest that the monarch was heard to say: “The little buggers keep you fit and active”.

Hardly surprising, but it doesn’t say anything about Charlie. Here’s an article on Australian politics:

Australian Federal Government blames former incumbents for economic mess
The current Australian Federal Government continues to blame the former incumbents for the economic mess the nation is in, despite having been in power for a decade. Responding to a journalists questions regarding the $120 lettuce crisis, the Prime Minister lashed out at both the journalists and the previous administration citing their incompetence.

Looks like not much has changed on that front. Hmm, house prices, a national past-time:

Population puts downwards pressure on house prices
The Federal treasurer was today quoted as saying: “Go on, have a kid for the mum, the dad, and the house prices, I mean sorry, the country.” Recent declines in the population have put downwards pressure on house prices, fuelling fears that the economy is going backwards. The three major banks fear that the average mortgage holder of $4m may be left with negative equity and unable to pay their debts. The bond market slumped at the news as trading algorithms downgraded the value of the investments within seconds of the announcement, but the government soon stepped into the breach with offers of support to the bond market.

What’s energy doing? This sounds like good news:

Fusion power two decades away
Scientists at the W.A.N.K.A nuclear research facility confirmed that fusion power is almost within their grasp thanks to the recent invention of the Boos-hit capacitor. The sector requested further funding to build upon the achievements, and speculated that within two decades, electricity will be too cheap to meter.

Cool, although we’ll probably be dead by then. Ah, health seems to be improving at least.

Medical researchers confirm deadly strain of Lambda Lambda Lambda SARS
In breaking news, medical researchers today confirmed an outbreak of the deadly Lambda Lambda Lambda strain of SARS. Medical experts demanded reintroduction of recent mask mandates and urged for new and tougher lock downs of the population. Historian of recent popular culture, Hans Offsem, when asked about the pronouncement, was quoted: “They’re just a bunch of nerds getting their revenge, you know.”

Do you reckon the climate improved over the decades? What’s the newspaper saying:

Droughts and flooding rains prophesied in 1908 by poet Dorothy MacKellar, come to pass
Australia’s tropical north is in the grip of an unseasonable and prolonged dry spell. Cattle station owners have had to reduce herd size for the twelfth time in a decade. Export meat supplies continue, but local supply is restricted and politicians are bracing consumers for meat shortages and price hikes at the supermarket. Politicians have initiated another inquest into the cause of the drought. Meanwhile, on the east coast of the continent, another East Coast low storm system, the sixth this year, has produced more flooding in towns already flooded four times this year. Academics are calling for a retreat from those flood vulnerable areas. Locals demand assistance to rebuild. State governments are unwilling to change building codes and instead called for mandatory flood insurance to be provided. Best selling author and social commentator, Simon Sheridan in his book: “Australia, wake the f#$k up”, put the predicament this way: “What part of droughts and flooding rains don’t you mofo’s get?” A succinct summary from the best selling author citing the 1908 prophesy.

Here’s another article on climate:

Tourist gunned down in popular beachside suburb of Caulfield
Earlier today an unidentified gunman fired upon an unarmed recreational fisherman in the popular beachside suburb of Caulfied. The gunman remains still at large as authorities investigate the incident. With recent sea level rises, the former bayside suburbs of Elsternwick and Elwood are now under water. The submerged suburbs provide artificial reefs, the like of which has not been seen before, and fish populations have boomed. Huge numbers of recreational fishermen regularly descend upon the area. Tensions with locals have escalated recently as competition for the food source increases. Many locals have suggested off-the-record for fear of reprisals, that the unidentified gunman allegedly may have been one of their own number. With no further leads, police look set to close the case, yet tensions are continuing to escalate and there have been suggestions to this reporter that a fishy payment has been made to the authorities and they’ve now clammed-up on the investigation.

Seriously, I could tell you the rest, but you wouldn’t believe me.

Four days ago I began cleaning up some of the forest litter left behind after a century of logging in this mountain range. It really is a mess, and winter is a great time of year to do the work, because the snake bite risk is low. Other than the explanation of: “this will be cheap to do”, I can’t fathom the actions of the loggers from those days.

Cleaning up the hard way

Four days after the fire was ignited, the material has now reduced to a large quantity of ash which will be spread around once cooled off.

Despite the huge moisture content, the timber still burns

The winter weather this week has been cold and occasionally wet. During a short break in the rain, I connected up two of the seven water tanks recently relocated to the large shed. They had been put in place, but not connected.

All of the water tanks have now been connected up to the roof catchment

The largest water tank on the right hand side of the above photo had a slow water leak around the valve. The tank was almost full when I removed the water valve. A good way to get drenched on a cold winters day. A new valve was rapidly installed and tested for leaks. The process was repeated twice, before the leak was fixed. I was grateful for the burn-off fire, as I could warm up and dry off.

The chicken enclosure has been free of rats for about three weeks now. The rats will not be happy about the loss of most of their friends and lack of easy access to the chickens grain supply.

The chickens survey their domain from the safety of their strong enclosure

My friends of the big shed fame held a master cheese making course over the weekend. Sandra and I learned how to make Fetta; Curds; Haloumi; and Mascarpone cheese. It was a fun and lively hands-on course which we enjoyed thoroughly.

Fetta cheese, so easy to make. Who knew?

On the way to visit the big shed dudes, we paid the highest price for Unleaded Petrol (ULP or gas in US parlance) we’d ever seen. An impressive achievement and we’re glad to be driving a little fuel efficient Suzuki. A little bit of energy goes a long way in that Dirt mouse Suzuki.

Yikes! ULP (Unleaded Petrol – or gas) was as expensive as we’d yet seen

A wombat has chosen to construct a brand new burrow under the courtyard. Observant and alert readers will note that this recent marsupial innovation is conveniently sited to the raised vegetable beds – which have been stripped of winter rocket.

A very large hole under the courtyard

You can tell the huge burrow is a wombat because the cheeky marsupial leaves calling-cards to mark out it’s territory.

Square poo – a sure sign of wombat activity

Onto the flowers:

Catkins hang from the dormant Hazelnut
A couple of hardy African Daisies
Many Succulent plants choose the cooler winter months to produce flowers
More Succulent flowers to brighten up the winter garden

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 524.8mm (20.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 519.4mm (20.4 inches)

31 thoughts on “Heck of a stink”

  1. Yo, Chris – The smell might have been someone burning diesel. I’ve often thought my car was on fire, when encountering the slip stream. Long after the suspect vehicle was long gone. Even worse is to be stuck behind one of those. I always wonder how many years are being taken off my lungs …

    That is interesting about the more frequent cars in the break down lanes. I so seldom go on the freeway, that I haven’t noticed. We’ve talked about how, even in better times, projects are launched and planned without maintenance, in the budget.

    Oh, what fun! You’ve launched into sci fi. Or, speculative fiction. Yes, best not tamper with the time lines. I’ve just watched the second season of “The Umbrella Academy,” which has to do with a bit of time travel. Or is it a multiverse? Parallel time lines? It’s all so confusing. I just follow one or two characters, and that seems to keep it sorted.

    Even for someone who is not a “subject of the Queen”, when she finally slips her mortal coil, it will be a bit of a shock. Charles? He finally got tired of waiting, and was last seen, wandering the Salisbury Plains, with a group of neo-Druids.

    The blame game. There’s often people who blame X or Y for current problems. I occasionally say, “You do know X or Y is no longer the president? Didn’t get the memo?” Does not endure some people to me. But at least they don’t bother me, anymore.

    Weather. Can’t live with it … etc.. Our nights are still in the 50s. I guess this gardening thing, well, best plant a lot of things and don’t set your heart on anything.

    Tourists gunned down. Seems like every apocalyptic story, has the mandatory lynched fellow, with a sign around his neck saying, “Looters will be shot.” Or, hanged. It’s a cliche. Not having a gun, will I end up sleeping in my garden, with a baseball bat? Bear spray?

    Greenhouse, tanks, machine shed … and The Big House. Your getting quit a spread there.

    The chickens peeking over the side of the enclosure are too funny. Just keeping an eye on things … If I leave H in the truck, to run into the library, to pick something up, when I head back, there she is. Peeking over the edge of the window. Usually, I ask her, “Are you STILL here?” 🙂

    So now you’re a Master Cheese Maker. Did you get a certificate? Those little draining baskets were very interesting.

    I’ll have to go get gas, sometime this week. Report to follow. Somehow, it feels a bit less painful, if I decide on an amount to chuck in the tank, before I even get to the station. And, I pay in cash, these days. Just to keep it real.

    I hope the wombat is a good engineer. Wouldn’t want the courtyard, to collapse. Will he nibble on the roots of the olive?

    Looks like you might get a good crop of filberts, aka hazelnuts. The African daisies, soldier on.

    H got her first taste of yogurt, today. Courtesy of Julia, at the Club. I’m headed out to the garden. Something to plant. We’ll see how it goes. Lew

  2. Lamda Lamda Lamda SARS! I just spluttered out my morning coffee. Methinks all these lockdowns were just one long NERDS VACATION! The buggers got their revenge alright 😉

  3. Hi Miow,


    Hope nothing was damaged in your laugh-fest? The authorities do seem hell bent on teaching us the Greek alphabet, but glad you enjoyed the joke. Such a fun film, so very wrong. And oh yeah, a revenge has been had.

    It’s a fun activity to take the news of the day to absurd places. I was so disappointed when there was no lambda variant.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Diesel fuel does stink, that’s true. And the fumes are probably pretty toxic. One of the downsides of the volunteer fire-fighting is that you get to experience a lot of diesel fumes from stationary trucks or operating pumps. There’s a lot of that. You’re right too, how many years have been lost? Dunno, but it’s probably not good, and they probably didn’t fall behind the couch.

    That’s a weird one that question, and we have discussed it before. A part of me suggests that the desire component of the story overrides the maintenance and upkeep issues, but I don’t really have any clear understanding as to peoples motivations. I’m sure marketing people do! But I’ve said to people that larger vehicles cost more to run, but the desire over shadows that story. The truck culture from your country has wormed its way into the culture in this country. Most vehicles I see on the roads are far bigger than they need to be, but thoughts in the matter are irrelevant.

    Thanks for confirming that it was a wise idea to not mess around with the time continuum. Do you reckon the lotto ticket would hurt anyone? 😉 Never heard of The Umbrella Academy, but it sounds interesting, and complicated. Do you reckon that there is a trend to produce relatively complicated story lines in series nowadays? The use of the word ‘relatively’ refers to a comparison with earlier shows.

    Ooo, how did you know about the neo-Druids? Hehe! Glad to see that you are in the spirit of the blog. Between you and I, I’m waiting to see if anyone cracks the sads about the Kyev bit! So naughty, at the very least I expect to be cancelled, I’m unsure by whom or how, but the risk is there.

    Those folks don’t endear themselves to me either. Sure, blame in many cases is appropriate, but after a while you have to learn to pick yourself up for round two. And hope your opponent is less fearsome. But I heard a government minister actually say that blame thing and they must have been in power for at least a decade. It just sounded very weak. Back in the day, marketing folks suggested to never mention your competition, but that seems to have been chucked out the window.

    This plant stuff is hard. Now if I’d listened to my grandfather back in the day I could have shared his wisdom with you. As things occurred, being young I didn’t listen, and now you and I are just making it up as we go along. Candidly, it would have been easier to have just listened – there’s something in that story. 🙂 And that’s my strategy too.

    I wouldn’t worry about the looters. Seriously. Most people who would do that act, wouldn’t know what is edible and what is inedible. They’re hamstrung by a lack of knowledge. Now if things were a hundred years ago, we’d have troubles on that front, but not now. People probably think that chickens come from a supermarket, or they’re grown minus the feathers, guts and head stuff – ready for roasting.

    Thanks! Since materials have become harder to obtain and more expensive, we’ve been working our backsides off to get the infrastructure upgrades in place – and working. Did I mention that a few weeks ago a sheet of half inch marine grade plywood cost $150? Yikes!

    Never forget that ‘Once we were dinosaurs’ is always on the chickens minds. I’ve watched them assess a nest of baby mice before moving in for the kill, and there is intelligence behind those birds eyes. The chicken enclosure is not a place to fall asleep for a short while in the warm sun. H sounds lovely! Dogs have a great level of curiosity and knowledge of the world around them. This morning, I watched Ollie walk around the fire pit, he just knew not to step inside the ring despite there being no flames.

    Hardly, the scale of cheese making we did that day was beyond our needs, but on the other hand we know how to make less. The baskets are really interesting aren’t they – and they appear to work. The holes in the basket are angled upwards too.

    Setting limits and purchasing more regularly is an effective strategy, plus it refreshes the fuel in your tank. I’ve observed that the stuff appears to be going off quicker than previously, but it is a casual observation only, and may have something to do with winter. Dunno.

    The wombat is a worry, and I can only hope that the marsupial knows what it is doing, maybe. 🙂 And yes, that is a possibility with the olive tree root system. I’ll observe the tree for signs, but I imagine the tree will be fine, maybe not at first though.

    The filberts have never produced any nuts, so hopefully this is a solid beginning?

    Did H enjoy the yoghurt, and was it a sweet or natural variety? The fluffies here love yoghurt, and I feed them the same stuff we eat, which is a natural variety with live cultures. I make a batch of the stuff every five days or so, and have back-slopped for many years (although add in a tiny amount of new inoculant each batch).

    Nope, their goats have only just produced a (is it litter?) of twins with another on the way, so milking is a little ways away, but they have produced goats milk before and understand the process. They moved away from goats to cows, and have now returned back to goats again for milk. Processing a cow or bull is a hard ask, goats are easier on that front. And honestly, to my eyes the soil around the former cows milking area looks better to me with the goats as distinct from the cows. Cows can demand a lot from paddocks.

    Holy carp! I’d never heard of Giant African Snails, and they are a reportable pest down here, not that they are present on the continent. What a nuisance pest. Are they in your area? Ah, I had not appreciated your mention of racoon’s, but now understand the significance. A very clever animal, and one to watch.

    Both are excellent items to have supplies of.

    Mate, I didn’t know what the whole fuss was about with Sriracha sauce either. I much prefer the red tabasco sauce for heat, but we talked recently about hot English mustard for kick. Good stuff. You’ve piqued my interest with the mention of the Tapatio sauce, and I’ll keep an eye out for it – and put the sauce to the question!

    Err, yeah, plant stuff is complicated. Brassica species do not do well here in the summer months, and always bolt to seed. Sorry. Perennial rocket (a thin leaved variety with a peppery taste) is an exception to this rule as it thrives in the heat, or cooler summers. The wombat has just eaten all of the annual rocket, but no matter.

    Did you get the package? And good luck for next weekend. I heard a reliable report the other day, that things may be bad here on the tourism front, but they are much worse elsewhere. Who knew?

    Colin Farrell is a good actor. Thanks for the review. Was the Penguin a trickster character?



  5. hydrostatic head- Amazing how much pressure just a couple meters of water can exert, innit?

    One wonders if the editor was told specifically NOT to photograph the struggle. That’s ok, my mental image is funny enough.

    Time warps- Well, I’m relieved but surprised that there will still be federal governments, newspapers, and places to buy things in thirty years. I guess we can all carry on with BAU. eh?

    Seriously though, even as I work on the day to day homestead chores, underlying a good bit of my behavior is thinking about the grim future and these first phases of the decline. I see the end of cheap energy as the true underlying and unifying reason for all the headline disasters and human behavior that streams by us in the media continually. Actually doing something is my response. Healthy for mind and body, and most of the time ( but not always!) it’s fun.

    hazelnuts- Branches on our bushes are just beginning to sag with the ripening nuts- harvest will be in another six or seven weeks.

    We are now in garden harvest mode in the northern hemisphere, I’m off now to gather some collards, lettuce, and zucchini.

  6. Yo, Chris – No argument. Vehicles are bigger than they need to be. I even feel a bit guilty about my small truck, from time to time. But, it still gets 30+ mpg. And there are the occasional bags of compost. But those could fit in a boot.

    Complicated stories. I ran across a 3 minute explanation of “The Umbrella Academy” on U Tub. Three seasons in 3 minutes. Didn’t make much sense, and there were loose ends. The newest Star Trek series is getting good reviews. It’s pre-Kirk. And the reviews seem to be favorable, as each week tells a story, in it’s entirety. As the original series, did.

    Sometimes, when it comes to tragedies, humor can be “too early.” I wonder how long after the Titanic went down, there were jokes told? There was a lot of chatter about timing, after 9/11. It’s not a joke, but I must admit, every time I open the news page in the morning, I wonder if I’ll see a picture of a mushroom cloud, over Kyev. I think it would be one of those moments where you actually feel the world shift.

    I’m hearing a lot about cost of materials, from my friends in Idaho. But, as there are building projects going on in their extended contacts, I’m hearing a bit about the swapping around of materials. And among that bunch, there’s a neatly squirrelling away, of extra building materials. But those reservoirs won’t last, forever. A lot of swapping around and reuse.

    It is forecast to be 86F (30C), today. Overnight lows, still in the 50s. Good for sleeping, not so good for tomatoes. Yesterday I planted corn and giant sunflowers. Some might say it’s late, but in previous years, I planted even later in July, and still got a crop. I soaked both varieties for a few hours. Give them a leg up. Glad I did with the corn. The seed was quit shriveled, but a lot of the kernels plumped right up. I spread some composted chicken manure, a dusting of lime, blood meal and stove ash. Worked it in and planted. We’ll see.

    I’ve been watching another of The Great Courses. “Food, Science, and the Human Body.” So far, it’s kind of a history. Hunter gatherers, and then the Neolithic Revolution. Farming and domestication. The professor couldn’t resist mentioning that chickens were descended from dinosaurs. 🙂 . There’s some question as to if we domesticated dogs and cats, or did they domesticate us? There’s a lot of speculation as to fine points, but as new testing methods are developed, the picture becomes clearer.

    Did H enjoy her yogurt? Well, we had to pry her head out of the carton. The little stinker. I gave her three green beans, last night. Which she usually hoovers up. She very carefully took them out of her plate, and put them on the floor. I put them back. One she ate (or hid), one she mauled, and one was untouched. I think she was holding out for peanut butter. Tough! If you don’t clean your plate, no desert!

    As with so many invasive species, they’re in our SE United States. But, with warming, it seems that not a week goes by that there’s a report of a sighting of some invasive species, further and further north. I saw Sam the Snail (or, one of his relatives) the other night.

    I’m waiting on our postie, but don’t think the package will show. The tracking doesn’t say, “Out for delivery.” Since last Thursday morning, it’s been “Shipment received (at our local post office), Package acceptance pending.” I imagine a big canvas bin, from the other shipper, full of packages and shoved in a corner.

    The Penguin, in this movie, is the right hand man of the crime boss. Basically, just a thug. The trickster in the story, is The Riddler. I had also picked up the first half of Dune. I watched the extras … and tossed it back. Just not feeling it. By the way, on this weeks “new” list, is a fresh copy of …. “Fight Club.” I put it on hold. I figure I need a refresher, as it’s been so long since I saw it. And that you constantly reference it. 🙂 Lew

  7. Hey Chris,

    A solid set of predictions. Let’s hope the “best selling author” one comes true 🙂

    I have the exact same problem with one of my water tank valves but the idea of taking it off while the tank was still full didn’t occur to me. The drip is quite slow and, interestingly enough, the tank is nearest to a macadamia tree and the mac is having its best growing year ever. It’s been showing new growth continuously even during winter, which has never happened before. So, maybe it likes the extra water in the soil. Would make sense being a sub tropical plant.

    Out of curiosity, did you use any plumbers tape on the new valve. I forgot to do that with mine which is probably the reason for the leak.


  8. Hi Steve,

    Mate, I ended up very wet, and it was a good test of staying cool and focused when things are going quite wrong. Calm is only way to re-thread in the replacement valve (which had been pre-prepared and ready to go). The 5,000L (1,300 gallons) would have emptied very fast indeed without the valve. Yup. Hey, I heard that house water pressure is the equivalent of a 70m (231ft) fall. It would be almost unstoppable. Plumbers are quite clever because they freeze the pipes in order to stop the flow, but that is not possible with a water tank and the thing has to be emptied.

    You guessed correctly. 😉 Does the world really need that photo? Hehe!

    Maybe, but then again, maybe not! Who knows, it’s pretty crazy out there and all things are subject to change without notice.

    Exactly, we’ve hit peak everything, not just peak oil and best learn to live with less stuff. Mind you, it’s a hard sell. That’s my response too: action soothes the mind. Worry is a good thing, however some people wear their worries as a lifestyle choice. They’ll be fine, but things have to get far worse before those folks get motivated, and even then I don’t know.

    Oooooo! Congrats on the upcoming harvest of hazelnuts. 🙂

    Enjoy your harvest! And don’t worry about us down here with the half hour of peak sunlight today and over half an inch of rain. It’s seriously wet out there. The longer term forecast is predicting another wet summer – A negative Indian Ocean Dipole, or something like that.



  9. Hi Simon,

    Mate, I went with my gut feeling there with the prediction. It was a genuinely funny and insightful comment, and the world needs more such works. Of course, writing involves hard graft, lot’s of hours, and a touch of luck / good timing.

    What a carry on finding what you needed to fix the tank. It took me ages to find the product. I get what you’re saying about the Macadamia tree. But theoretically speaking, if you decide to fix the leak, you need to unscrew the valve (be careful not to break the handle), then plug up the hole by screwing in one of these: Philmac 1″ BSP Thread Pipe Plug End. Mind you, water will be going everywhere, so go slowly and don’t ruin the thread on the tank – which is why the pipe plug end is plastic rather than brass, but even still be careful.

    Yes, plumbers tape wasn’t required years ago, but quality has dropped and things are a bit loose. Don’t be surprised if you need up to 30 winds of the plumbers tape. Back in the day, a rule of thumb was that 7 winds were OK. Not any more. But given you’ve got no plumbers tape on the valve thread, I’d suggest maybe 14 winds just to be on the safe side.

    I’d probably wait until summer to do the work when it’s warmer and the tank is emptier, maybe.

    You can tell when tanks leak from the valve because the tank no longer sits vertically. It is not unusual to see water tanks at weird angles up in the bush. 🙂



  10. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, the image of the gopher took me right back to the days of the film: Caddyshack. Bill Murray is da man! The rest of the film was kind of awkward and it had not stood up well to the tests of time. But back to the gopher, that’s an intriguing thought and I don’t see why the wombat would arrange environmental circumstances to its liking. They’ve got the biggest brains to body ratio of the marsupials, and the critter has set up home in a good paddock. Surprisingly, they tend to renovate older burrows rather than creating brand new ones. Hmm.

    An interesting question. How much does your beast weigh? Somewhere in the range of 2,734–4,001 lb depending upon specifications. The Dirt Rat Suzuki is a bit lighter than the lower end of that spectrum. Not bad, no wonder you get reasonable economy. The latest models appear to be about 800lb heavier than the upper end of the weight spectrum. Might have to shed a bit of weight there.

    No, I refuse to subject my brain to such rapid analysis of a complicated series story line. It is perhaps something of a fault? Anyway, the first really complicated storyline in a series I’d encountered was True Detective with Woody and Matthew McConaughey, and I knew it was genius, it just took a second viewing to make much sense. Perhaps my brain requires a story told in a linear mode? Dunno. It jumped around a lot in the narrative. I dunno, you eventually got around to watching The Hangover film (and I get why) but it was good wasn’t it?

    Ooo, who would have thought that Star Trek would have to get back to its roots? Which series is it, there are many, sorry. 🙂 I noticed an advertisement on the side of a bus the other day for The Orville’s latest series. Heard good things about that series.

    I’ve heard that story about the mushroom clouds, and don’t see it as a risk, but I hear the story repeated often enough. I think they’ll take the country the old fashioned way. But yes, there are times when you feel that a significant shift has occurred and things are not going to be quite the same again. The reaction to the health subject which dares not be named, was one such moment for me. I guess being locked down longer than pretty much anywhere else has left a chunk of trauma and destroyed trust.

    Yeah, exactly, people and companies are squirreling away. And some business can supply, but it’s gonna cost ya. I’m working with the latter folks, but my needs aren’t great, and the budget has some fat to absorb shocks, for now.

    Did you notice that the land of stuff has locked some folks out of their savings accounts? Interesting times. I’ve experienced two bank runs in my lifte time (and was a customer at both).

    Your night time lows are not far off the day time high temperatures here. Yes, very pleasant for sleeping, but not so good for tomatoes. Corn didn’t seem as troubled by the cooler night temperatures as the tomatoes were. I reckon you’ll be fine. Actually soaking seeds is a great way to give them a head start. Nice feed of the soil too.

    The professor is onto something. You know the chickens want to eat you, if given the chance. Given the course is on food and science, do you reckon the professor might get around to discussing the effects that agriculture has on the human body – and is the professor brave enough to discuss soil minerals and depletion?

    Hehe! Go H! Dogs love yoghurt and other fermented milk products. Mate, green beans or yoghurt? What a decision H has to make there. I’m with her and definitely she hid the bean. Mashed and cooked with other yummy items and she’d eat them, despite former behaviour. She may be training you! 🙂 Always possible.

    I had a look at the Giant African Snails, and I reckon either of our winters would kill them off, although they may adapt. Who knows? Hey, varroa mite appears to have got something of a beachhead on the continent. Talk about D-Day. Oh well, apiarists might have to take less honey, move the bees around less, plant a greater diversity of flowering plants. Sounds good, in theory.

    An inquiry may have to be lodged regarding the missing package. It’s happened once when the package arrived but was not scanned in. It was happily sitting in the storage area at the post office waiting for collection. However, didn’t you guys just have a long weekend holiday?

    Ah, the Riddler, yes, I can see that. Although my mind recalls the 1960’s version of Batman, not with clarity, but I always had the impression that there was more going on than my young brain watching the repeats could understand.

    Hey, did you enjoy the original Dune film adaption? I enjoyed it, but reviews were mixed.

    Everything comes back to Fight Club, everything… 🙂

    A dull day here today 3 weeks out from the winter solstice. Half an hour of sunlight, more of the same tomorrow and the generator is chugging away on the other side of the door getting some charge back into the batteries. That’s renewable energy for ya. They’re not going to like it you know. 😉



  11. Hello Chris
    Oh my, oh my, oh my! Great writing.
    I thought that we were supposed to have become an over populated planet but keep reading about the dreadful falling birth rate.
    I am enjoying the weather at present 82F both indoors and out. That is a perfect temperature for me. I don’t mind the watering that I am having to do.


  12. Hi Inge,

    Thank you so much, and that’s high praise indeed.

    It was a lot of fun for me to take the news of the day, and then stretch the possibilities to their sometimes likely, but also absurd next great big leap.

    Yes, I agree with your suggestion. The planet will slowly depopulate, I suspect that it is already happening. We were only ever able to reach such heady heights with the aid of fossil fuels, and slowly, bit by bit, access to them is being taken away. Energy and food are intertwined.

    Your weather sounds delightful, and hope that the sunshine has produced a bumper crop of berries – a true gift from nature.

    I’ve been writing here every week for over eight years now. My how time flies. The conversations here are a joy. 🙂



  13. Yo, Chris – Hooray!!! Yesterday was 88F (31.1C), and the night time lows were over 60. The rest of the week, it’s going to be in the 70s, with nigh time lows in the 50s. But longer periods at night, in the 60s. It’s interesting about the corn I grew, before. As you may remember, I cut the leaves and stocks up (very zen) and worked them into the soil. They hung around for awhile, but I noticed they have now all disappeared.

    Maybe the wombat tribe is experiencing a population explosion? Expanding their territory … like, under your courtyard.

    Yes, complicated story lines are hard to follow. I just try and follow two or three characters, and filter out the rest of the bells and whistles.

    I never saw “Hangover.” The newest Star Trek series, is “Strange New Worlds.” There’s been some chatter on the internet that a very young James T. Kirk is to make an appearance. James T. Kirk, the formative years. 🙂 I quit like “Orville.” It’s got some serious moments, but a lot more comedy.

    I saw the headlines about the banks in The Land of Stuff. Didn’t read the articles, so, don’t know the details.

    The Prof. of the Great Courses has covered tea, coffee, chocolate, etc. etc.. Next up, food as medicine. I was going to watch it, last night, but couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’m sure she wouldn’t be afraid to mention declining nutrients in soil. But she’s covering soooo much. And this Great Course is a little older. 2017. I don’t think declining soil nutrients was much on the radar, then. I’ll keep an ear cocked.

    I saw the headlines about the varro mites making a beachhead, in Australia. Not good.

    I saw the original “Dune.” Twice. Still didn’t make any sense. Watching the extras of the new Dune, at least it sorted out all the characters, and gave a general outline. Still didn’t interest me.

    I thought everything came back to “The Art of War?” 🙂

    I decided to stop by a used bookseller, in the big flea market. I hadn’t been in, since before You Know What kicked off. I wanted to check out his cookbooks … as 300+ isn’t enough 🙂 . Turns out, he’s getting rid of all his hardbacks and large paperbacks. All his non-fiction, in other words. So what’s left is packed into some wall units. No rhyme or reason. 10 for $1. I found a few cookbooks, and quit a few things for the Ladies, here at the Institution. I did find the Helen Nearing cookbook. That ought to be interesting. Spent a grand total of $2. And 15 cents tax.

    Master Gardeners are here, today. Our Garden Goddess, Jody, manages to sow descension, even when she’s not gardening. Apparently, she promised her spot to two different ladies. Who are now squabbling over land rights. Sharpened garden trowels and hoses, at 15 paces! I’m selling tickets. Lew

  14. Hi Lewis,

    Lovely weather! And should be better for the tomatoes, especially if the cooler parts of the overnight lows are of only short duration. It’s early days for the fruit anyway. I used to be a member of a local seed savers group and there was always a lot of competition among the membership (which I politely ignored) to have a ripe tomato by Christmas (about two and a lot weeks ago in your part of the world). Dude, the effort they went to with tomato plants bringing them in and out of the house, did my head in. I used to say to them, you know I have to work? And they always achieved the tomato by Christmas time.

    I’m getting this vague sort of memory that at one time you used to grow a red variety of corn, but I may be wrong with that memory? Nice idea with the corn stalks. Had a look to see whether anyone had worked out what minerals were in them, and it turns out the stalks are a good source of carbon, and have a greater diversity of minerals (excluding iron) than peat moss. For your interest, earlier in the year after the corn was done I ran the whole lot through the scary old wood chipper machine (love it) and dumped the mix back onto the garden beds where they were grown. Things break down pretty fast when the soil has a lot of active life.

    Far out! I’d never thought about the wombat population exploding. They do look particularly healthy and robust, at least the ones that get to eat here do. At least the breeding cycle is not as fast as rabbits. Speaking of which I have not seen any of those critters for quite a while. A local fox and Dame Plum have made life super hard for them.

    Makes sense about following only one or two characters. But true Detective was genius, it’s just the narrative jumped around all over the place. And from hindsight, I don’t reckon the story needed that gimmick. Do you reckon the difficulty factor was like some sort of tease?

    After replying to you yesterday I watched some of the clips from the Star Trek series, and it looks good. And yes, there was a very young Captain James Tiberius Kirk tackling the Romulan’s. Yeah, might have to check out The Orville, one of the channels on demand has the series here, you just have to sit through the advertisements.

    Yeah, who cares about banks in the land of stuff. 🙂 I would have thought that the imploding property market there would send shivers which would end up like a sneeze in the west, but so far, dunno. A mystery country that one, playing the long game. I tend to perceive of them like Japan prior to WWII – they look super tough and all scary like, but energy and resources are tighter than they’d let on.

    Oooo, pray tell, what insights have you gleaned in relation to tea? You know that two of the plants in the greenhouse are proper tea camellia’s. One needs their caffeine hit. 🙂 Coffee grew well here, until it snowed – then it didn’t grow well, if turning black and shrivelling up was any indication as to overall health. You’re probably right there, even now nobody seems to think that it’s any big deal – which it is. People have strayed too far from the land which feeds them.

    Mate, it ain’t good about the varroa mites, and sooner or later someone will break the quarantine. This is how zombie outbreaks happen, as we all know.

    Hehe! I’ve now got this strange mental image of you watching the original Dune film, twice, with a perplexed expression on your face. How far off the mark am I here? Well, I’d read the books, most of them that is until I became bored with the series. The author was good mates with Jack Vance – just for a fun fact. What I particularly enjoyed about Jack Vance was that he never got hung up on any of his creations and milked them for all they were worth. He kept creating new and strange worlds for his characters to exist within. I don’t bother with sci-fi these days as it ended up all sounding the same to me. Where are the strange new worlds?

    Well that’s true too, it does actually come back to The Art of War as well, but also Fight Club. We’re not the nice species that we pretend that we are, present company excluded.

    300+, possibly there is room for more there. 😉 The collection may not quite be as complete as you’d like to think that it is. Take baking for just one example, can you find a reference to the specific chemicals added to commercial bread that makes that stuff super fluffy and last for umpteen weeks without going off? But then, do you actually want to know that story? Probably not, so let’s forget about it. Anyway, I learned only recently that a denser and more chewy bread is higher in proteins. Who knew?

    Maybe it is just me, and I’d be interested in your opinion, but it was Helen Nearing I believe who made Scott a more palatable and likeable person. I had that vague idea forming when I was reading about the blokes reaction to the countless guests and workers they used to host. I could well be wrong there.

    Sorry to hear that. Between you and I, that is a strange thing to do. However, having said that I have encountered people who cannot say the simple word ‘no’, and thus you end up embroiled in weirdness like that. I can’t fathom the story myself. Hey, don’t neglect the very useful pitch fork. Always handy in a fight.



  15. Yo, Chris – It got up to 82F, yesterday, but there was a good onshore flow ripping, so it was quit pleasant. At least, outside. Forecast is, we’re back in the 70s, daytime, for awhile. And 50s at night. BUT!!! Today I noticed some little green nubbins, on one of my cherry tomato plants.

    I thought my Brussels sprout had developed some kind of fungus. Nope. Aphids. So, I sprayed them with soap and water last night. Next up, Capt. Jack’s organic spray. And then some more BT, I guess.

    I started picking red currents, this morning. For jam. My, those are more fiddly than blue berries. 🙂 It was perfect, for it. Overcast and cool. But then a jack hammer started up a block down the hill, and the grounds keepers showed up with their mowers, blowers and edgers. I think the current picking is going to be a several day process.

    Jimmy red corn.


    Yup. That’s the color. But, oddly, when you shuck them, they’re white with a slight pink tinge. As they dry, they turn that color. My ears were not so large. But, I select for larger ears, as I go along.

    Complicated plots are, well, complicated. I blame “Lost.” I lost interest, a season and a half, in. Seems like sci-fi is particularly subject to such complicated flights of fancy.

    Well, tea. The professor described the origins of tea, where it’s grown and how it’s processed. That the amount of oxidation allowed, yields the different varieties. She also did the same for coffee, chocolate, bananas, etc.. It’s interesting where things originated, and where they are grown, now. When she was talking about spices, I noticed that several spices originated in a small group of islands, near Indonesia. I wonder what made that rather small area, the motherland of so many spices?

    The possible medicinal uses of different herbs and spices … teas, etc. is kind of maddening. “Studies indicate the possibility of …” more study needs to be done” … the jury is still out.

    Last night, I watched the lecture on poop. “The Scoop on poop.” Not just ours, but poop in general. Do you know, from the 1850s to the 1890s, there was quit an industry, mining dinosaur coprolites, in Cambridgeshire, England? For fertilizer. I suppose there was less of an ick factor, than mining battlefields.

    As I remember, the second time I watched “Dune”, I was in and out of the kitchen, doing something. And, it made more sense. But not something I want to do, again. One of the books I picked up, yesterday, is a sci-fi by James Blish. He wrote “Cities in Flight,” which was a zinger of a book. The one I picked up was a slim volume, called “Midsummer Century.” 25,000 AD, and birds have become sentient (they aren’t?) and are set on exterminating man. I’ll throw it on the pile of books-I-got-cheap-at-book-sales-and-will-get-around-to-reading-sooner-or-later.

    “Art of War,” “Fight Club,” or Conan. Pick two. 🙂

    If you’re really curious about the chemicals added to commercial bread, I’ll look it up.

    I took a look at the Helen Nearing cook book, last night. LOL. The woman has a sense of humor, in the same vein as Margaret Atwood. She states, “It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are good cooks and those who wish they were good cooks. I hold that there is a third category: those who are not good cooks and who couldn’t care less.” “Food and Wine” magazine reviewed it as “The funniest, crankiest, most ambivalent cookbook you’ll every read.” The official title, by the way, is “Simple Food for the Good Life: A Collection of Random Cooking Practices and Pithy Quotations.”

    The plot sickens. It now looks like Jody told THREE different people that they could have her plot. Which amounts to two 4×4′ raised beds. And there’s one tank bed, that appears to be only half planted. People keep asking me who has that tank, and can the other half be planted. Hell, I don’t know. Stop bothering me!

    I don’t know why people try and turn gardening into some kind of competition. I guess it’s just the human impulse to look down on someone.

    I went for gas, last night. $5.40 per gallon. I also stopped by the cheap food store, that looks like it should have rats. Didn’t seem promising, at first. Higher prices, thin stock. But, I found two 5 pound bags of H’s Very Special Dog Food, and two 5 pound bags of Bob’s Red Mill artisanal flour. And some tinned goods, for the Club pantry.

    Well, I went to the post office, this morning. No joy. I had to get stamps, anyway. It appears that “Shipment received, package acceptance pending” means, the bag showed up, but my package wasn’t in it. So, I’ll have to get ahold of the shipper. I’ve dealt with these folks, before, and never had a problem. We’ll see how they respond, now that I have a problem. Oh, bother. Lew

  16. Hi Lewis,

    Went on a far side of the moon corn odyssey after reading about Jimmy Red dent corn. Very interesting indeed. It was notable that particular variety was on old bootleggers variety of corn which is interesting from my perspective. A quick look around suggests that the corn variety is available down under, but has only been recently available. Basically, hard to find stocks of the variety. The mention piqued my interest though and I picked up an old variety of similar red corn ‘Bloody Butcher’ variety. Apparently the variety dates back to the mid 19th century, is open pollinated, and the stalks grow tall. Like really tall, which means they should have deeper root systems and get better access to underground water during the summer months (the rule of thumb as to what is above ground is usually the same as what is below ground). Grains aren’t all that easy to grow here due to the cooler climate, but corn seems to do OK most years and is less picky that tomatoes. Maybe I need to get into corn flour?

    Thanks for the idea about selecting for the larger ears with your Jimmy Reds.

    Fingers crossed with your cherry tomato plants. 🙂 As more sun and heat becomes available after the summer solstice, the plants grow faster, but as we’re discovering, they really do need the heat. I’m a big fan of cherry tomatoes in that they’re just more reliable than the larger varieties. We grow a yellow cherry variety (I think the variety name is Bob’s crazy yellow cherry tomato – seriously) and that is even hardier and more reliable than the red cherry’s.

    Sorry, but every time you mention the name of that Capt’s organic spray, my mind screams: Billy Joel, who appears to be doing a one night only fly in fly out tour soon-ish. With the recent lock downs and stuff, I can well understand the reluctance to commit to a longer tour. Plus transport costs are way up and that is impacting the music industry for sure (as it is a whole lot of other industries). Shipping may be cheap-ish where you are, but when you’re on the underside of the planet in a remote spot, shipping is bonkers expensive. I hear stories on that front, and oh well, globalisation was fun for a while.

    Currants are fiddly to harvest aren’t they? I tend to grab handfuls of them, but you end up having to remove a lot of the stalks. Still, I reckon they’d be good for your health given the colour of the berries? What? Haven’t those folks heard of the term: Quiet enjoyment?

    That was quite funny, getting lost in Lost. But yeah, that was one of the early one’s wasn’t it? Never watched it myself, but have seen the disintegrating aircraft introduction. It seemed like a big call to me that anybody could survive such an incident even in a fictional setting. On the other hand several people have actually survived falls from such massive heights without parachutes, but not many, and it looks like a bit of luck in finding a soft landing (if a person was even conscious at the time, probably better if they weren’t) like deep snow. A tough ask down under.

    The tea process appears to be simple enough and can be done with a basic set up. Hey, speaking of food we made a tiramisu today using the mascarpone cheese we made last weekend. Super simple, and very tasty.

    It is kind of astounding that many spices would evolve in a small area. Does kind of make you wonder what pressures produced that particular result? Interestingly, on the horizon here over towards the south west I can see a line of a low ridge which I know to be the Brisbane Ranges. For south of the Great Dividing Range, the area is fairly dry because I suspect that it is in something of a rain shadow. But what’s interesting about the little range, is that I believe it has the states greatest diversity of wildflowers.

    Yeah, well, my experience suggests that older books from the 1970’s are more upfront about traditional uses of common plants. The cynic in me doesn’t need to ask why that would be, but I’m sure you’ve seen a similar trend in your part of the world?

    🙂 I get the distinct impression that traditionally the English were rather unfussy about such matters. Things may have changed nowadays, but lots of rain does tend to wash minerals from the soils, and there are realities.

    A bit of a confession here. I have James Blish’s book ‘Cities in Flight’, but haven’t yet read it. It’s good is it? Well, authors can’t hit high notes each time they put pen to paper, the odds are stacked against that outcome. And sometimes good writing can lack for an audience. I note that due to your holiday season, reader numbers are down here, and I was pleased with the results with this week’s blog. Oh well, their loss, and more time for out chat’s. But anyway, imagine the burden of hitting a home run on your first book and then people expecting more with each outing. Some people crack under that pressure.

    You got me there, are you sure I can’t pick three? 🙂

    No, indeed it was merely a passing reference to bread chemicals. What occurred earlier in the day was that I trialled rising a loaf of bread on the top of the wood heater. It rose beautifully, at first. The underside cooked, the middle was doughy and the top of the loaf flopped (that is the technical description). The Editor suggested something about Dutch ovens, but I don’t know about them. Hmm, I’m wondering if anyone has used the top of a wood heater to bake bread? Have to look into this.

    Ooo, that is clever and haven’t we all met a few of those folks in our time? It’s not something to be proud of, but some people take pride in that. There was a very naughty song last year with the lyrics: I don’t cook or clean… Sounds like fun, until you need to eat or pick up after them. 😉

    You have the air of a person who appears to know what is going on, perhaps that is why they ask you? 😉 But candidly, it might also be because you were there at the wrong time? Certainly a strange occurrence is unfolding, and if there were only two people, a possibility suggests itself, but given there are now three. Is this project mayhem in action? I did tell you that it all comes back to Fight Club. Good luck and I’m fascinated to hear how it all plays out.

    I agree, it is rather tiresome. Dunno, but I set my own goals without reference to other peoples works. Unfortunately that can be viewed poorly by others, but I dunno.

    Dunno whether you have seen the news that your authoritas are considering putting up interest rates by 1% and your inflation is reported as being 9%. Youch! Why would anyone in their right minds want to be at the helm of that ailing ship? But then there is another part of me which suggests that money is being priced correctly and those who were prudent are on the up, for a while, unless they blow the whole thing – which at this stage appears to be a distinct possibility. So the gas price sounds unpleasant. But good scores and how fast is the stuff flying out of the Club pantry?

    Yikes! The response to the package does not sound like comforting news to me.

    We seem to be getting more light here now so even though it was cloudy and bleak today, we recorded an hours peak sunlight. And interestingly, the Aloe Vera plant in the greenhouse appears to be producing a new plant already. Triffid alert!!!!! One of the tea camellia’s appears to be thriving and the other I accidentally over watered before planting it out. Oops, easy to do at this time of year. If it dies I’ll definitely replace it. It looks like they grow those plants reasonably close together, which I haven’t done and might not. It’s complicated.



  17. Yo, Chris – I think the story of Jimmy Red, saved from the brink of extinction, is interesting. And, yup, it’s an old moonshiner’s variety. Which reminded me of an old movie, and today’s ear worm. 🙂


    Think I saw it at the 25 cent matinee, at the old Lombard theatre. Yes, the plant grew quit tall. 10 – 12′. It had a pretty good root ball, but I don’t know how deep it went. Lots of those above ground side shoots, too. Brace roots? But, even so, when it got windy, I roped the corn to my trellis. Corn in bondage? 🙂 If you experiment with moonshine, watch out for those revenuors!

    I grind my dried corn, as needed. Makes great corn flapjacks (pancakes) and bread.

    I planted one of the yellow, pear shaped tomatoes. Someone else had one, last year, and they dried really nice and had a good flavor. No action on that plant, yet, other than flowers. The yellow and green zucchini are developing.

    Globalization. There’s been a few articles lately, about industries moving back to the US. Major industries. About time.

    I found I have to limit my current picking to 20 minutes to half an hour. Otherwise, I’m likely to go mad and run amok with an ax. 🙂 Picking around sunset, the currents sparkle like rubies, on the bush. Quit pretty.

    Congratulations on the Tiramisu. Did you make your own Lady Fingers? 🙂

    Traditional uses of common plants. Our federal FDA (Food and Drug Administration), rides herd on medicinal claims. Sometimes, they seem more on top of things, than at other times. Then there are liability problems. And the health care industry and big pharma, don’t want you finding cures in your own garden, or the woods. The professor of the Great Course mentioned that some herbal remedies, do react badly with prescription medications.

    LOL. I think I mentioned “Cities in Flight”, several years ago. You must also have a stack of books to read, when you get around to it. Or, when you discover you’re at loose ends.

    So much for loose ends. After getting nothing from the library, last week, yesterday I had 7 DVDs to pick up. The new Downton Abbey movie, the new Fantastic Beasts movie, the new season of Dr. Who. Etc. I’ll be O-D-ing on popcorn. 🙂 Is there a 12 Step Program?

    I also got a documentary, you might want to take a look at. “To Which We Belong.” It’s a look at 9 farmers, ranchers, and even a fisherman, who are doing sustainable agriculture. All over the world. And some of these are big operations. There’s a lot about cover crops and the health of the soil. A glimmer of hope?

    Your reader numbers might be a bit down, as everyone is trying to keep up with their gardens. 🙂 You think the people around here would get a clue. I never make eye contact, and turn my back if I see someone zeroing in on me. I haven’t tried the ear plugs, yet.

    Baking, wood heaters and Dutch ovens. If you have a handy open hearth, you invert the lid, shove the pan in the embers … and heap embers on top. Also a method used when camping, around the fire.

    The Club pantry, gets used. The first thing to go is tinned meat and tinned processed foods. Things like canned chili, beef raviolis, tinned chicken and dumplings. Soups. Condiments move pretty fast. Tinned fruit. The tinned vegetables and dried packaged stuff, move very slow. The pasta, rice, lentils, etc.. But, often, something that has been languishing for awhile … poof! gone.

    I’ve grown aloe twice, as a houseplant. And twice, it did so well it got top heavy and fell over. 🙁

    The package saga came to a satisfying end. After no joy, at the post office, I dropped an e-mail, to the shipper. Boy, they were on the ball. I got a response this morning. Which left me with a bit of egg on my face. They said the tracking indicated that the package was “out for delivery.” Apparently, after I left the post office, they shook out a few mail bags and found my package. Our postie, Jake, brought it this morning. I’m going to drop the shipper a note and thank them. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    Robert Mitchum copped it pretty bad in the end, and the fictional character can’t possibly have survived the crash into the transformers. He didn’t appear to be overly troubled by being shot at either. Honestly, it seems like an over the top reaction from the authoritas. The spraying oil onto the road trick was pretty neat, although being an old school car nut, the reputation for vehicles of that era in your country for not going around corners may have been part of the characters demise. Sad, he probably would have done better if he’d had the mini’s in The Italian Job. It’s only a suggestion.

    When I was a kid I used to love the Saturday afternoon matinees. They were such good fun. I still enjoy the cinema, some films are better when viewed on a huge screen.

    I guess we’ll find out about how big a root ball those tall corn get. Modern bread wheat varieties are pretty short, but I’ve seen old art work depicting people bringing in the harvest. I’m prepared to accept that people may have been shorter in those days, but the wheat stalks look far taller again. A lot about the plant would have been lost in the rush to reduce the size so as to conform to combine harvesters. Yeah. The wheat I grew two years ago never reached past three feet.

    Anyway, we began work today on the much larger vegetable garden below the greenhouse. Moved in half a dozen citrus trees because that area is one of the sunniest spots on the property. Hopefully the trees will do better there, although there is a bit of frost risk later in the week. Do you reckon a spray of seaweed solution might help? Frosts aren’t all that common here with only a handful or so each year.

    Hey, being over three weeks out from the winter solstice has meant that solar power has improved markedly . That’s a relief. It’s been the cloudiest winter that I can recall. We’re already talking about moving some more panels down to that sunniest part of the property. A lot of work, but probably not a bad idea.

    Ah, thanks for the corn usage explanation. Makes sense. How do you go about removing the dried kernels from the pith? Yes, corn bread is pretty tasty, but rarely seen down under – wheat tends to dominate.

    It’s exciting! Yeah, early days for tomatoes, but fingers crossed for a prolonged spell of warmish weather. Zucchini are such giving plants, and the marrows last for months. Had a few minor disasters on that front when they’ve gone beyond their shelf life. A messy situation, which I’m sure you’ve experienced?

    It is about time. I watched manufacturing get unwound, and then people got pushed into manufacturing buildings and houses instead. Can’t say I was a fan of the policy change, but it is surprising just how many formerly industrial countries seemed to pursue it. Dunno about your country, but back then they used to tell us we’d be the smart country, the clever country, but it seemed like a dumb-as policy to me.

    Ooo! Yes, please do stay under 20 minutes of currant picking time. Look, there’d be a lot of blood, people would get upset, accusations would be made, the axe may end up blunt and in need of a sharpen, and you’d be in a heck of a lot of trouble. Did the master gardeners cover axe sharpening with their recent tool sharpening class? They are pretty berries, and the plants are so easy to propagate.

    Baby steps with cooking. 🙂 I would have liked to have made the biscuits, but time being short, and lies being repugnant, we bought ’em. They were good. Thanks for the suggestion, they look easy enough to make. Actually the idea to make them would not have occurred to me. The home made ones to my mind I believe would taste superior based on the ingredients.

    They’re pretty weird about that down here too. I must say it is a pleasure that science as a tool has such an open minded application these days. Oh, no, sorry I got that wrong, it doesn’t. Ah, the road to hell is usually paved with good intentions, and possibly lot’s of friends at the destination!

    Hehe! That hazy memory bubbled to the surface of my mind when you mentioned the James Blish book. 🙂 I’m in need of comfort reading this week, and so are diving into the five book Jack Vance, Demon Princes series. So good, and to me it’s like hanging out with an old mate. Such a pleasure.

    Oh no, they’ve DVD bombed you. 🙂 How long do you have to watch all of those movies and series? You have sagely remarked before that there is a 12 step program for many activities in your country! Isn’t there meant to be a shortage of popping corn? Or am I imagining this? It’s possible that you may not be able to indulge as much as you’d like.

    Thanks for the reference. There’s some folks out there doing some good work, that’s for sure. But is the volume enough?

    Hehe! Of course, a sensible suggestion about people looking after their gardens at this time of year. We had some lovely sunshine today, and the sun almost felt warm on the skin. It was nice weather really to move the citrus trees, and tomorrow night the heavens will open for another two to three days – back to winter.

    Some people don’t get the message. I hear you about that. Hey, have you ever thought about getting a fake mobile phone with a switch that will make the phone call sound whenever you see your nemesis’s (or is it nemesi?) approaching you in the garden. At the press of a button, It could be beeping like a demented chicken, and all you have to say is: Excuse me. I have to take this. Bam! Problem sorted – every single time. Unless of course the batteries go flat, and then you are cornered like a little fluffy rabbit being stalked by a fox – not good. That happened here last night, and the fox was smart enough to leave the entrails, which the dogs zeroed in on. The guts were taken away from the canines and dumped in the worm farm.

    Ah, yes, I’ve seen camp baking done that way. Unfortunately we don’t have an open fireplace here.

    Interesting about the pantry. Don’t you reckon that it represents a little microcosm of the diets of the people around you? I’m always surprised that being able to cook well in the home is not a celebrated skill. From memory, my mother was a terrible cook, so it was a pleasure when I was pushed into the kitchen at around twelve or thirteen years of age and set to the task. It occurs to me that the slow moving items are the same ones which require a greater level of preparation than simply reheating canned chili.

    It is possible that what you believe was an Aloe Vera plant, may have actually been a larger Agave or Yucca species. They do tend to get top heavy and fall over, and I’ve seen plenty of them do that trick. Actual Aloe Vera is a much smaller and more compact plant. Do you recall how you disposed of the huge Yucca head? Those plants get massive.

    Your shipper did well. Do you reckon your local post office / mail sorting folks are coping with volumes? A lot of shopping went online during the health subject which dares not be named years.



  19. Hi Chris,
    Loved the blog this week! Lew called it right – busy with garden and extra company which will be going on all month. We received some much needed rain today – still not enough but I’ll take it.


  20. Yo, Chris – Well our forecast for last night was 50F (10C), and that’s how cold it got. Yesterdays high was 81F (27.2C). Yesterday, our National Weather Service thought we might get some rain, this weekend. That disappeared. Prof. Mass is talking about rain, but it’s further north, from us. We’ll see …

    I feel deprived. There was an article about a young English lady feeding her American husband British standards. What he liked and didn’t like. Do you have “Twiglets”, in Australia? They’re a baked pretzel sticks, dipped in Marmite, that come in snack bags. I’ve never seen them here. I want some! 🙂

    Well, wheat. Or what passes for wheat these days. There’s been a lot of tampering. “Would a seaweed solution…” etc.. How the heck should I know? It’s not as if I’m a gardener, who knows what he’s doing. Congrats on getting the big garden, going. But I wonder. Will cold air pool and the lower end of our property?

    I’m glad your solar power is improving. Can’t have you sitting in the dark, for days on end.

    How to remove dried corn from the pith (cob?). I usually use a high tech tool called an opposable thumb. 🙂 . Once you get a couple of kernels out, the rest pop out pretty regularly. Or, you can get a specialized tool. There are many tools for getting fresh corn, off a cob. But not so many for dried corn. What you’re looking for is a corn sheller …


    Yup. Had a zucchini past it’s shelf life, a time or two. All that water in a very thin skin … 🙂

    Moving industry overseas benefited the owners and shareholders. And, I suppose the consumer, due to low, low prices. Not that the consumers had jobs anymore, to pay for those low, low prices. And then there’s the argument that it “lifts people out of poverty” in distant lands. While putting our own folks in poverty. When you get into it, it’s really a loaded topic.

    While not specifically mentioning axes, I’m sure what we learned in our Master Gardeners demo, would apply.

    DVD check out times. Anything from Hollywood … or anywhere else, that’s considered a “feature film”, checks out for one week. Of course, there are no fines, anymore. So other than nagging emails, there are no consequences, if you keep them longer. Series, or documentaries, stuff that was on TV, checks out for three weeks.

    There was a bit of a shortage of popping corn, but that seems to have gotten sorted. Or, it shows up often enough, that I can stock up, a bit. Chocolate bars, are very thin, again. And here’s something interesting. I have a birthday, coming up in a few weeks. Decided I want to make myself some shrimp nachos. I checked at the store, last night, and there was not a tin of shrimp to be seen. There were other sea foods, but the section seemed smaller, than times past.

    Oh, I thought years ago that my fortune could be made if I had a little device that would make the phone ring, in my pocket. Usually, when cornered by a deadly dull and boring bookstore customer. But now, with smart phones and all, it can be done, but it’s very complicated. There was a lot of info on how to make your phone ring, if you’ve misplaced it.

    When I started the pantry, I decided not to be judgmental. There’s some healthy stuff, and some not so healthy stuff, and it’s their lookout.

    Pretty sure it was an aloe vera. That’s what it was sold to me, as.

    The post office has pretty much been in chaos, for a couple of years. Change of administration, efforts to kill it in favor of private carriers, You Know What, etc. etc.. It’s all part of general decline.

    That was a great article, on the goats. They’re used more and more, here, to clear land. They’re even used for fire control. They do a pretty good job, clearing out flammable understory brush. Lew

  21. Hi Lewis,

    Your night time temperatures are tracking about the same as our daytime temperatures. Not good for the continuing good health of your tomato crop. There are times I find myself considering Conrad Richter’s trilogy series where the characters were in the midst of the ‘year of no summer’ and narrowly avoided starving. Puts a new spin on a bad summer, I reckon. Mate, there’s been two of them in a row, and there have been a few recent reports which suggest that another La Nina is likely to form for this summer. It makes a sensitive person quail in fear. Fortunately there has been enough sun to get a lot of produce, but not nearly enough to ripen the various warmer weather plants – thus the greenhouse. A diversity of crops is the key here, but I have a suspicion that most would fail in a year of no-summer.

    Did you mention that the year of no-summer was written about in, was it, Little House on the Prairie?

    From memory, it doesn’t sound to me like you need the rain, but I could be mistaken?

    I read an article which kind of feeds into this story, and also Joel Salatin’s book: Everything I want to do is illegal. Small-scale chicken producers claim regulation preventing new entrants to market. The article mentions the risk of a lack of genetic diversity.

    In a related funny side story: A few years ago I was working late in the big smoke, and on the way home, on a whim purchased a roast chicken for dinner. A scrawnier chicken I had not yet encountered, but there it was. The article I linked to has a quote: “He was looking for birds to raise slowly, meaning they’re processed at roughly 10 to 12 weeks, instead of four weeks like the commercial birds.”. Man, it’s a value judgement, but either way, it ain’t good.

    We may well be missing out! And are our lives complete without trialling some Twiglets? And intriguing name too. Talk about using everything including the squeak! Brewers yeast often gets a second life, refer to our: Vegemite, which is sort of similar to Marmite, and which the Twiglets share a common basis – brewers yeast. Interestingly, Vegemite has out sold Marmite, despite having access to a smaller market. I must say, the concoction appears to get a bad rap in your country. 🙂 It should be turned into a dare: Are you tough enough to eat Vegemite? 🙂

    Tampering with plant varieties like wheat can be undone, so I’m not too fussed on that front. Nature will invariably pursue the sweet spot for the plants. The question really becomes, do we have the time to do the undoing work? Probably, but the scale will be small as there just aren’t that many folks interested in the problem.

    Dude, I don’t know what I’m doing either! It would have been handy if I’d paid more attention to what my grandfather was saying, but I missed all that talk. He had some tasty radishes, and I can recall crunching into them fresh from the garden. You’ve raised a good point too about pooling cold air with the citrus trees, and we’ll find out later this week. Today though, the citrus trees were enjoying the winter sunshine. Now they are getting a solid watering in from the rain.

    I got out into the winter sunshine too today. We hauled out the tree stump grinder and began tackling some of the old loggers stumps left behind. The machine isn’t too hard to use, it’s just hard work and I have to attend to the machine – regularly. It works hard. And you’d think the old tree stumps had rotted over the decades, but no, pristine hardwood can be found under the crusty outer coating. Moved an eight foot tall willow tree today too. That was a big job digging it out, and I had to axe through the tap root, and then vigorously prune most of the growth off the tree to a single trunk and upper side branch. I don’t know whether the tree will survive, but it had to move. It’s planted in a better spot. Plans for that part of the farm had changed since the tree was planted.

    Thanks, and yes, I don’t wish to be sitting in the dark either.

    Hehe! Very funny about the opposable thumb 🙂 , but I also appreciate you mentioning the name of the device. Looks like there are a couple of different designs out there. There was a utoob video with a couple of competitive old timers just churning through the process using an old hand cranked machine, and the machine looked like a genius design. Yeah, you called it! That was exactly the machine which was on the video. It’s a very clever design. I found something similar, but it looks like the cob pith gets ejected into the tub. Oh well, can’t have everything, but there’s a place in the big smoke that may have a proper machine. Yeah, forgot about them.

    It’s not nice to find a zucchini in that condition, and it takes very little effort for the finger to push through the now thin skin. On the other hand, it is an amazing adaptation from the plant to get the seeds for the next generation started regardless of rainfall.

    I agree, I watched it happened, was no longer a manufacturing accountant, and had to find another business role. Being made redundant is a hard thing to swallow, but having a huge chunk of the industry you work in made redundant – that’s brutal. The funny thing is now, there’s a genuine shortage of people with the know-how to do that work. And possibly an over supply of people in the construction industry. What interests me is that back in the day, manufacturing wasn’t a well paid or high status role. When the import tariffs were lowered leading to cheap imports, I did wonder how long that state of affairs would go on for. The arguments for that policy always seemed somewhat facile and self-serving. Dunno, it seemed weird to me at the time, and still seems weird today. Glad to hear that the policy is being reversed in your country, but I do wonder if there is the mojo with which to get the job done – and the same concern is true for here as well. It takes a lot of people to begin from an idea to the reality of making useful stuff. You’re right, it is a loaded topic.

    🙂 True. At the agricultural show a few months ago, there was a mob selling hand made axes, and I was sorely tempted. But then, where do you stop with this stuff?

    I realise that you’re out of the library loop now, but what’s your take on how the no-fine policy is playing out? It’s such a weird subject. I’d read a story that a big city library in your country had an amnesty on fines and all manner of books were returned, some of which were very over due. You’d imagine that the old subscription libraries had less trouble over such matters because future access was lost to the naughtier subscribers, but also books were harder to obtain and thus more highly valued. The fact that you and I have reasonably sized personal collections is historically unprecedented.

    Another year, deduct another decade! 😉 Alas, time moves on and cares not for our concerns. Yes, you’ve mentioned the shrimp taco adventure recently. Ah ha! All is now explained by the special day. Your shrimp is known as a prawn down here, although the variety here is larger. Very tasty critters and I can see why they’d call to your taste buds. Didn’t you and your mate Scott used to head to a place that serves shrimp taco’s? How’s he going anyway, you haven’t mentioned him for a while. And as an interesting side note, canned fish here is usually sardines, tuna or salmon. Prawns would generally be purchased fresh from the fish market, or frozen. Hope your food adventure gets fulfilled, as I understand just how good a shrimp taco could be. Yum!

    Pah! The best ideas are often other peoples. Guess our fortunes aren’t going to be made with that idea.

    Nice work, and respect for not being judgemental. If you want to feed people, you have to give them food – and everyone understands what that is to be a different thing. A friend of the Editor’s once remarked that our pantry scared her. You’re right too, it is their lookout (hadn’t heard that phrase before).

    Far out, the winds are howling and the rain is hammering on the roof. There’ll be no outside work done tomorrow. Oh well.

    Ah, thanks for the explanation, and a similar process is under way here too. The post office in my area no longer receives mail everyday like it used to. Costs, huh? And parcels were separated from mail and the claim was then made, ‘but the mail service runs at a loss’ – like derr, don’t all government departments run at a loss, isn’t that what they are there for – to provide useful services that would be otherwise uneconomic?

    Exactly, goats are amazing at that cleaning up work, and grasslands, forests etc. all need that process to occur every now and then. That’s life. Speaking of which, earlier today I came across another upside down tree stump left behind by the loggers. I’ve got some vague plans over the next month or two (when it dries up a bit) to get in a machine and move some of those old tree stumps around a bit and then burn them off. They’re too heavy to move using hand tools. It’s sort of drying up, a bit, but then it rains again and we’re back to square one. But I have to time that work so that the burn off doesn’t set off the tree canopy – that could be a problem, so I’m watching the weather forecast, and waiting for an opportunity to do the work. We’ll see how it goes.

    It’s filthy wet and cold outside now, and it wasn’t meant to rain today. Ook!



  22. Hi Margaret,

    Lovely to hear from you and many thanks for the praise. It was so much fun to write. 🙂

    Glad to hear that you received some rain (albeit not enough) and hope that your garden produces well and that you can enjoy some lazy days enjoying the summer heat, smell and sounds in between all of the work and company!

    Hope Doug is fully recovered.



  23. Hi Chris,

    So you’re auditing for a job as writer for the Onion, circa 2050? 😉 They say that truth is stranger than fiction, which is more than a bit worrisome.

    Poor Charles, he’s so easily overlooked. It can’t be easy to be the generation between the Queen and William and Kate.

    Lew called it right on being busy in the garden. I’m still doing weeding left over from being away from home in June, although I’ve got it down to less than half a bed remaining to be intensively weeded. Seedlings of the edamame variety of soybeans have appeared. They are the only seeds that can germinate and grow in July’s hot soil.

    Meanwhile, tomatoes have been harvested and continue to be harvested, and not your wimpy cherry tomatoes, either. These are full sized heirlooms, some of which are a pound or more in weight each. One variety, Cherokee Purple, is a purple tomato, while another, Old German, is yellow with red stripes. They make an excellent tomato salad. The two other varieties I grow, smaller but still full sized, are also being harvested and eaten or made into sauce. I don’t grow any cherry tomatoes. Why bother with them when can I get excellent full sized tomatoes? They are compensation for our hot, humid summers.

    @ Lew, we haven’t seen lows under 60F since June 3. Most of our lows have been at or above 70F. Four lows so far have been at or above 80F. You want to grow tomatoes, move here ;-).

    No ripe peppers yet, probably another few weeks on them. The zucchini plant melted and died, why I don’t know, but the cucumber plants are flowering, the melon plants are growing melons, and the pattypan squash plants are recovering from whatever was bothering them and should make more. The bean vines should begin making beans next month.


  24. Yo, Chris – I’m glad Margaret, checked in. I’ve been concerned about Pam. Lots of flooding, in her state. And Inge? Oh, my, they are setting record high temperatures in her part of the world.

    Well, if it rains here, I won’t have to water. 🙂 I can’t think of a book, besides Richter’s that explored the Year Without a Summer. The Little House books, take place a lot later. But as far as weather events, “The Long Winter” book in that series, covers the horrible winter of 1880-81. Sometimes called the “Schoolhouse Blizzard,” as so many students either died at their schools, or trying to get home.

    That was an interesting article on the chickens. And, yes, it relates to Mr. Salatin’s books. I wonder how far down the slope of decline we will have to get, before those stupid laws go by the boards, or, at least get ignored. Right now, I think it’s hard to make a living, at raising chickens. Small scale. But there’s the old idea of “Mom’s egg money.” Farm wives used to sell their excess eggs, for a little spending cash. In fact, referencing the “Little House” books, again, Ma often traded her extra eggs (and some other farm produce) to the general store, for credit, to reduce their bills for other staples.

    I think there’s a lively gray or black market, for chickens, at least in rural areas, such as I live in. If I asked around for a chicken, I’m sure I could come up with one, for a bit of cash.

    Oh, I’m up for trying both vegemite and marmite. It’s just that I don’t see any on the grocery shelves, here. It’s probably available over the internet. But I wonder if I’d get “the real thing” or some American watered down version. See: fish and chips malt vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

    Oh, there are people out there developing the old grain varieties. I think we’ve talked about one of our agricultural research stations, here in my state. And those grains are available for sale. Some of the seed catalogs have heritage grains. The book I read recently, “The Miller’s Daughter,” was really kind of an advertisement for their business. Which is raising and selling heritage flours. But their products are pretty SW United States, specific. Hayden Flour Mill, if your interested.

    Well, I wondered about the pooling of colder air, at your place. Mostly due to the pictures you’ve posted of frost down in the valley.

    Willows are tough as. 🙂 . You’ll probably have sprouts, where you pulled the old one out. And, actually, you probably could have just taken a switch, and shoved it in the ground, in the new spot.

    The Victorians were great ones, for developing farm equipment. Usually, in cast iron. Everyone was trying to “build a better mouse trap,” and make their fortunes 🙂 . Farmer / inventors were thick on the ground. Still are. I forget the name of that bi-monthly newspaper, Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, used to get. All kinds of home made gizmos. See: A mechanicker.

    The Powers That Be, in libraries, don’t seem to much bothered by the lack of returns. They keep banging on about “removing barriers for library users.” I think it bothers the rank and file workers, more.

    Yes, Scott and I used to go to a Mexican restaurant, where I could get shrimp nachos. I still don’t feel to comfortable going out to a restaurant, due to You Know What. Shrimp come in all sizes. Here, the canned shrimp, is usually “baby” shrimp. Very small. But most grocery store delis carry “shrimp platters.” Which are the big fellows. Tinned, we have the fish you mentioned. And, a lot of others. Tinned crab meat, also.

    “Their lookout.” I thought it would be easy, to run down the origin of that phase. Also, “his or her” lookout. I thought it was maybe pretty common in English lit. But the only reference I could find for it was … Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” 🙂

    Well, our post office was making money. A lot of it. The profit went back into the “general fund.” Until they slapped them with a “you must finance your retirement fund for 80 years.” That is apparently, going to be ending. Finally.

    We got our commodity box, yesterday. It was chaos. The commodity boxes are dropped off, downstairs, and a social service agency bunch of volunteers, come in and deliver them. Yesterday, they didn’t show up. I ended up yelling at three people, in a five minute period. The last one, I yelled at, and swore. Scared the dog.

    But, anyway, it was a pretty good box. It’s the one where we get produce. There was a bag of small apples, a bunch of celery, several green peppers, and a big bag of mixed greens. The usual cereal, shelf stable milk, juice. Lots of diced tomatoes. Which we haven’t seen in quantity, in awhile. Tinned chicken and salmon. A pound of frozen ground turkey. A jar of peanut butter. Etc., etc.. Lew

  25. Hello Chris
    All well here and I am thoroughly enjoying the glorious weather even though we are told that we are in danger of death from it. The fruit and veg. loves it also. Sadly so does all the woodland growth plus weeds. I only groan as I heave my self up in the evening in order to go and water everything.


  26. Hi Inge,

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying the summer weather. The reports down here are suggesting that Monday and Tuesday will be quite hot in parts of your country.

    Hehe! Yes, so true. If there is water in the ground, a hot spell of weather makes plants grow like nothing else and the forest trees jump upwards in such conditions. Yup, plants really need the heat, and exotic edibles like tomatoes, chilli’s, and eggplants explode with growth on those days. I wish you the best for the warm spell and the reports are suggesting that it will be of a brief duration of only a few days.

    Keep hydrated! 🙂 And at least you may get a sea breeze at night. You are in an enviable location.

    It was cold and wet here today. One of the recently moved citrus trees was at an inconsistent spacing at six foot instead of ten foot. Fortunately it was the final fruit tree in the row. Moved it, and the job didn’t take too long. The job was performed to the crashing sound of thunder in the near distance. Finished the work as the heavens opened and the rain pelted down. Decamped to the machinery shed and serviced some of the machines we’d used on the prior two days. A pleasant day, and isn’t it lovely to have the time to potter around just doing a bit here and there?



  27. Hi Claire,

    It was so much fun to write. Truth to tell, you’re right, fact is rapidly becoming stranger than fiction, so it was fun to take fact and then stretch it to absurdity. Who knows, I may be correct? I certainly would not have predicted the past two years, and I have an odd hunch that the messy strategies were pursued for crass economic reasons. Oh well, it happens.

    He seems OK doesn’t he. Years ago I heard an amusing quote from his head gardener. When he asked about how to control some pest (it may have been rabbits) in an organic manner, the gardener responded: Just shoot them. A bit over the top for a reply, but there is something quite quirky about the English sense of humour. Of course it is equally possible the head gardener (a lady) was being serious – who knows?

    Yes, of course. Things are very busy in your part of the world right now, and thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. Hope your garden is equally bountiful and productive, and that your rabbits run in fear at the mere mention of the name Dame Plum, Kelpie rabbit bane! Soy beans. Wow! The variety of plants you can grow, and the speed at which they do is amazing.

    Ah weeding, yes, one of the least fun jobs, but something that needs doing all the same. Best to reduce competition for the edibles.

    True, the tomatoes here are of the on-the-edge cherry variety, and it would take quite a bit of global warming to get to your more vigorous and hearty larger varieties. Yes, excellent compensation, and proving that where there are costs, there are also benefits.

    Peppers, cucumbers and melons sound delightful. Happy harvesting and may your season continue to be productive.

    It’s a special pleasure to vicariously enjoy your summer weather and harvest. Thanks! By way of contrast, it is cold and wet here with another day of rain. For your interest, I’ve been moving the many citrus trees into a neat couple of rows – at better spacings – near to a sunnier spot over the winter months. Dunno how it will work, but it is the beginning of a much larger and more organised vegetable garden as well.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    In the news down here, there were credible reports that around London, the maximum recorded temperature may be exceeded as the forecast was around 104’F, which they have not seen in a long while. Hey, did I read correctly that when the Roman’s occupied Britain, that the climate was warmer there than it is today?

    Rain is always a boon to the garden. Of course there is a caveat about flooding and landslips – not good, and hopefully such things are in the delightful land of, elsewhere.

    I had not appreciated the Wilders were in the Dakota territories and that winter sounds pretty bad. Fuel and food running out is not something many folks in our societies have experienced. On the wikipudding page there was a photo of a steam train stuck in snow – which reached well beyond the height of the stack, and on either side of the rails. The snow would rob energy from the engine – it would be the ultimate losing game. Things would have to be desperate indeed to head off 20 miles in those conditions on a rumour. The Conrad Richter characters had to do a similar trek during the year of no-summer, except that it was much further away. Eerie to consider what curve-balls nature can chuck at us.

    The mom’s egg story has consequences too: AAMI denies home insurance claim after couple fails to disclose they sell eggs at their gate. It’s not a good look, but it’s a reality. It’s hard to know where you will get tripped up. Mind you, I pay twice as much for home insurance as the folks in the article, and have disclosed all. Back in the day, there used to be a distinction between a business and a hobby.

    Yeah, look, I’d know where to start with obtaining chickens around here too. I dunno, sooner or later, people will have to plug themselves back into the local social networks. In rural areas at least, they’re still there.

    What kind of travesty would it be to water down vegemite? It’s not right you know! 🙂 But then you did mention the Worcester sauce issue, so who knows what is possible. I tend to believe that it is one of those products you have to grow up consuming, and it is really nice on warm buttered toast.

    There are research stations (and seed banks too) down here for the older varieties of wheat. It’s kind of far sighted to maintain such institutions, and you’d hope they trial out their seed banks semi-regularly. At this stage, it is a job for another day. Although about six months ago I finally managed to track down some Spelt flour seeds – they’ll probably be fine here, maybe. It is very possible that the climate here is not warm enough for such plants.

    Don’t worry about that, the valley is a long way down in terms of elevation, so the cold air continues to fall past here and pool way down below. It’s cold down there for sure. I’ve noticed one house in particular tends to not remain in the same hands for more than a couple of years at best. Very grand, but possibly also very cold. We’re in for some frosty mornings later this week.

    Thanks for the information about willows. I like the plants, they’re fighters, and we’re a long way from any water courses so nobody can freak out about them. I’ll keep an eye out on the root suckers too. I’ve still got a large Sugar Maple to move, and a number of citrus trees. Hopefully they all get moved over the next week or so.

    I mucked up the spacing for one of the trees by about four feet. Had to move it today in between bursts of rain. And in a sign that spring is not far away, there was even a loud clap of thunder – nearby. That made me and Dame Plum jump. In order for Dame Plum to soothe her delicate sensibilities, she rolled in something very nasty smelling, and I had to wash her down outside in hot soapy water. Very stinky, but she’s OK that dog.

    Innovation thrives at some points in history, doesn’t it? The story of the cast iron farm machines reminds me of the Mortgage Lifter tomato story. I had to think of the sort of research that goes into new products nowadays. It’s a sort of barrier to entry, but then a lot of things work that way.

    Thanks for the insight into the library system. As a working at the coal face kind of guy, the lack of concern in relation to returns baffles me.

    Fair enough, and we each have our thresholds for risk. And you-know-what can express itself very differently among people that’s for sure. Mate, trust on me that.

    Ah, a shrimp platter would be a collection of prawns here. They’re very tasty, but my absolute favourite crustacean is the Yabbie. So tasty, and rarely seen these days. When I was a kid, you’d go out fishing for them with meat and nets, but I rarely encounter people selling them. During the last drought I came across the carcass of one out in the paddock. I assume that it came up here looking for a drink and one of the birds got it. They live in burrows, and I see them dotted around here and there.

    Huckleberry Fin is a fine heritage for the phrase. Mark Twain would have been a very amusing dinner guest. I expect that he could sing for his supper.

    Yikes! Any reason why the volunteers did a no-show? Sorry to hear of the bedlam, and I applaud your efforts to get things in some semblance of order. Gawd, you’d hate for there to be a real serious emergency there and by your fellow inmates actions, you have a glimpse as to how things might unravel. Nice score with the contents of the box. Are you lot still doing the swap table?

    Cheers and better get writing!


  29. Yo, Chris – Yup, Britain was warmer in Roman times. They could even grow grapes in northern England. Which, I’ve read, are making a return these days. Fancy that. There’s even a name for it. “Roman Warm Period.” Or, if you want to get all fancy, “Roman Climatic Optimum.” 🙂

    Insurance companies will do anything in their power, to wiggle out of a claim. I hope a lot of people cancel their insurance, and move to another company. My next round of truck insurance, showed up. $290 for six months. I’ll have to dig out my check register and see how much it went up, from last time. No worries. I pitch a certain amount in a separate savings account, every month. To cover the insurance, and yearly state licensing.

    Yes, we’re still running the swap table. It’s all got to be tidied up, by Monday morning. Last night I broke down boxes, and got them out of the way. Into the cardboard recycling bin, which really doesn’t get recycled. 🙁 . So, you may wonder what was left? Large quantities of dodgy liter orange juice, boxes of a dry cereal, tins of mixed fruit, diced tomatoes and carrots. And that’s it. Suzanne will have her caregiver take it to a local homeless mission.

    WARNING!!! Chris Catnip Ahead!!! 🙂 . I watched a film, last night. It’s called “Moonshot.” Which is odd, as it has nothing to do with the moon, at all, and everything to do with Mars. It was amusing. It was a rom-com. Lew

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