Every right thinking person knows how civilised it is to enjoy coffee served in a ceramic mug. A cup barely supplies enough caffeine to get the brain into first gear, so only a mug will do. Such times are improved when accompanied with a delightful book, perhaps with maybe a muffin, if you’re lucky. The best muffins have a sour cream base in order to give the flavour just that little hint of tang. Canny cafes use coffee cups to bake the muffins. What better use for a cup where the handle has broken, or the rim chipped? Not much else use for a cup given the paucity of caffeine they hold!
At such times before sipping too much of the contents from the mug, then delving into a good book, the mail can be perused. A blissful experience. What the f!@#? Sandra, am I’m reading this bill correctly? Yes, came the reply. Not good, was the response.
It is unwise to let a large bill ruin your coffee, and so I buried my head in the amusing dystopian stoner buddy book I was reading, authored by a mate of mine: Simon Sheridan (a link to his blog is on the edge of this screen: For a dissenting opinion). Yeah, I’ll look into the bill later. Checkout the antics of these characters.
Thinking about it later, if inflation is officially running at 6.1%, how come my house insurance bill has risen on average about 18% now year after year, for years? Beats me. Anyway, all I know is that at such a compounding increase, it won’t be too many more years before I can’t afford the bill. For those readers who are mathematically inclined (you know who you are – looking at you DJ!), at that compounding increase, in two decades time, the bill is utterly bonkers. Possibly western civilisation will have collapsed long before that time, zombies were all that was left to roam the empty cities, or hopefully the bills somehow became more realistic relative to income. Possibly the insurance industry may have collapsed instead?
One of the things I really like about living in this remote location is that there are only a few services, and as such there are few regular bills. Living in a bushfire prone area means that it is probably a wise idea to pay for the house insurance. I guess the local council maintains the dirt roads and so they have the legal power to recover any unpaid council taxes, despite them not opening the library after hours. That lot also have to be also kept paid. And then there is the mysterious water bill which began arriving many years ago. That one is a bit of an insult given we have to provide our own water, manage drainage and process our own sewage. Those water funsters have the backing of the state government, so yeah does anyone really want to find out what their debt collection powers are?
A lot of the other bills are theoretically, discretionary. That means that if we chose not to continue with whatever services are being offered, we could theoretically ditch them and not face future bills. That’s the theory anyway. One of the lessons we both took away from the recession of the early 1990’s was that it was not a wise move to be over extended, because you never really know when circumstances can change abruptly.
Anyway, back to the house insurance bill. Sandra did a ring around with the large insurance providers and discovered to our horror that the bill was actually pretty cheap. One insurer was insistent that we could not nullify the flood cover risk. Now being on the side of a mountain saddle about 700m / 2,300ft above sea level suggests that the risk of being flooded is probably pretty remote, if not non-existent. Honestly, not even zombies would survive such an epic flood. I doubt much of humanity would, but there you go, they said we had to have it, and their premium was eye-wateringly expensive (almost $9,000 for the curious readers).
One of the insurers made an off-handed remark about how increasing the excess would lower the bill. The excess is the amount you have to pay (or deduct) in order to make an insurance claim. Ah, the little light bulb went on. Of course, grifters. All is now explained. What the nice insurance company was saying in not so many words, was that if you only pester them when you need to make a really big and proper claim, they’ll reduce your bill. I can do that, because that’s already how I roll and they know it, and so the bill was halved. We breathed a sigh of relief.
Many long years ago an old mate of mine lived not too far away. One evening a super cell storm hit the area. That meant 100mm / 4in of rain fell in an hour. It just so happened that I had all of the kitchen cupboards stored in the back yard that evening (and a couch – the green couch some long term readers may recall). And unsurprisingly, they got damaged. I didn’t make an insurance claim for the damage. It was after all unwise that day not to have taken a closer look at the weather forecast. The backyard was effectively underwater and I had other problems on my mind at that time. Anyway, it wouldn’t have been worth the bother.
My old mate on the other hand probably hadn’t cleaned the leaves out of the guttering on his roof for years. After the storm, there was a bit of water stain damage on the inside roof of his house. Nothing a bit of paint wouldn’t fix. He put in an insurance claim for the repairs, and we had a disagreement about that. I guess such things are why we’re no longer friends.
What my old mate didn’t appreciate was that the nice insurers keep databases on both people and locations, and I believe they share that data between them. Claims stick to both people and locations as well, and so it is best to only make claims when there is no other choice. But what do I know, my old mate didn’t believe me. However, it is always wise to know how systems and arrangements work. So many people believe that they do hold such knowledge.
Again, this week has been very wet (but not floodingly so). And that’s despite it being officially spring. On Thursday the sun shone, and we continued at the job of splitting and hauling firewood. The pile of firewood left to err, maybe dry, in the sunlight is growing.
Firewood takes about two years to properly cure here. And it’s prudent to keep more supply than that available just in case we get injured or sick and need to draw down upon the reserves.
The chicken enclosure continues to be rat free. I’ve thwarted those pesky rodents, for now. It took fifteen different attempts at modifying the chicken enclosure before the thing was declared rodent-free. However, one of the modifications was removing the external roof guttering which collected rainfall. The rats had been using it as a super highway. Unfortunately, without the guttering the rainfall is falling to the ground around the chicken enclosure and it has been a very wet couple of years. A future project is to install ground water drains.
In the meantime, some of the chicken’s deep litter mulch inside the enclosure had become damp. Two chickens died this week, maybe due to the damp conditions. With that in mind, I did a massive clean up of the chickens enclosure. The soiled deep litter mulch was used as fertiliser for the location I intend to plant the tomatoes in a few months time.
The dogs enjoyed the chickens soiled deep litter mulch so much (yummy!) that I spread a combination of coffee grounds mixed with agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) on top so as to deter them from consuming the stuff (yukky!)
The ground water drains work really well. We first tested one near to the large shed, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the drain ran for about eight hours following a recent storm. Next up, we’ll add one to the chicken enclosure.
In breaking spring produce news:
The very first asparagus spears have poked their heads above the soil. We also applied a good quantity of salt to the asparagus beds. Apparently it is an old timer soil amendment for asparagus.
A Plumcot (Apricot / Plum hybrid) has produced an excellent flower display. This fruit tree tends to flower just that little bit too early, and every year a late frost knocks the blossoms off the tree. Fingers crossed that this year will be different, and maybe it might be.
An early variety of almond has also produced a good crop of blossoms.
A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo made a smash and grab style raid on some of the plants earlier in the week. The local magpie family sent them packing, but not before significant acts of vandalism had occurred.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 736.2mm (29.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 690.4mm (27.2 inches)