Three Leaf Clover

The foxes around here sure know there are yummy chickens to be had. And as a chicken, it ain’t easy, livin’ free. Years ago the chickens used to free range around the orchards for an hour before the sun went down below the horizon. Chickens are amazing creatures, they’ll take themselves to bed at sunset, you don’t have to tell them to go. The foxes however, put an end to the free ranging.

As the sun crept closer to the horizon, I used to sit out with the chickens in the orchard. The chickens happily went about their business. Insects, small reptiles and frogs were nervous, but the chickens sure were happy. Eventually the foxes became something of a nuisance, and even killed one bird, but didn’t successfully make off with the kill.

The foxes blithely ignored my presence. I’d warn them off, but the lure of chicken is strong with those creatures. They probably know the old adage that unknown foods always taste like chicken, yet hanker for the real deal. Chicken sure is yummy. I could have shot the foxes, but then, they do some solid work keeping the rabbit population in check. What to do?

Stop free ranging the chickens in the late afternoon was the chosen option. A good friend told me that I was a bad chicken owner doing that, and he might be right there, but what else do you do? The chickens were safe in their sturdy all weather hen house and attached run. It was less effort for me too, because I no longer had to supervise the chickens free roaming around the orchard. But then, I had to spend time each day picking vegetables and herbs so as to supplement the chickens feed. Plus provide kitchen scraps.

Chickens which can’t free range, face a few health issues, and the quality of the eggs produced can decline. So, I ensured they consumed a diet made up from top shelf mixed grain feed with added shell grit, in addition to the other yummy stuff they were fed. Twice a week they also enjoyed a meal of freshly ground meat. Chickens are not vegetarians!

For quite a number of years the chickens have been doing well on that basis. Long term readers will know of my ongoing challenges with the rats. Chickens and rats go together because the rats are attracted to the easy grain feed. The rats have now been err, terminated, by Dame Plum and I, and their easy access to the chicken enclosure is now a thing of the past. Take that ya pesky rats!

Recently however, two chickens died in two days. That was unusual. You do lose chickens each year, especially during the cooler and wetter months of winter. But two in two days was a bit special. And of note, some of the chickens had begun consuming eggs. What a nightmare scenario – feeding top shelf grain mixes to the chickens, when they are only kept for egg production, and the cheeky scamps are consuming some of the very eggs they produce. Something was going on.

It’s impossible to really know, but I have a hunch that the quality of the grain mix they were consuming had declined, and this had impacted upon the chickens health. In order to make up the difference, the weakest chickens died, and some of the more demanding chicken breeds began consuming the protein and minerals which were available to them in the form of eggs.

You hear about fertiliser shortages, you notice some supplies of fertilisers are hard to obtain or much more expensive, but that’s probably when most people don’t give the matter a second thought. A few years ago I’d read that the protein, mineral, and vitamin levels in foods have declined for many decades now. That’s probably the result of intensive agriculture, after all, I’m not growing the grains the chickens are eating so have no idea as to the processes used. And anyway, if there is a shortage of fertilisers, or they’re rising in price, something has to give.

With all these considerations in mind, the top shelf grain mix was reduced by half, with the missing half being replaced by a high quality pellet mix. Unfortunately, the pellet mix does contain the intriguingly described protein source: “restricted animal material”, which is probably code word for horse or kangaroo, but realistically could be anything up to, and including the squeak. Anything! Soylent green anyone? It reminds me of the time Sandra and I were in Laos and were faced with the menu options: Rice with Beef; Rice with Chicken; Rice with Pork; and Rice with Meat (are you brave enough to ask?)

Mineral deficiencies always begin with the soil, and the chicken situation is no different. With that understanding of the problem, the mind began considering other solutions. The local plant nursery supplied a huge bag of mixed minerals in the form of mixed crushed rock dust. That now gets added to their feed. A number of backyard poultry websites also recommend adding in quantities of bone meal, and that stuff is easy enough to obtain, and now gets chucked in as well. So the chickens are consuming freshly picked herbs and vegetables + kitchen scraps + grains + pellets + shell grit + rock dust (grits) + bone meal + a twice weekly feed of meat. They seem happy enough now, and the egg eating has stopped.

The alarming thing about this situation, and alert readers will already know – if this is happening to the chickens feed, it’s probably also happening to the produce we all consume. The outcomes remain the same.

Earlier in the week, yet another storm dumped a whole bunch of rain over the farm. The surface drain we installed a few weeks ago around the chicken enclosure earned it’s keep. All of the storm water on the surface around the chicken enclosure was safely redirected down the hill.

The surface drain installed a few weeks ago has now earned its keep

I was a bit dubious as to whether that surface drain would work, but the results speak for themselves.

Surface water from the storm is safely redirected down the hill

The surface drains we’ve installed near to the large shed ran for many hours after the storm.

The surface drain near to the large shed ran for many hours following the storm

It’s been a very wet year. Despite the best efforts of the surface drains, roof, and every other protection, a bit of water did get into the chicken enclosure through the aviary mesh. The damp and soiled bedding straw was removed and replaced with fresh and dry material. The removed material was placed on the two rows where the tomatoes will be planted out in another month or so.

Ollie is tempted by the lure of chicken poop. Yum

Observant readers will note the extreme humidity visible in the above photo.

I’ve been adding all sorts of organic material to those rows over the past month, and the plan is to continue adding further material before then using a rototiller to mix the lot together and breaking up the grass. I’ve not tried this technique before to get a large garden bed begun, and will be interested to see how it works out.

It sure is wet this year, but the UV radiation from the sun is increasing and we’re now in the High UV zone, and the plants are growing. It looks green.

Ollie is impressed by the shade of deep green

At this time of year, any grass gets cut away from the trunks of the fruit trees, and then left to fall as a mulch. And as each fruit tree is inspected, they get pruned. The prunings are collected. They then get chipped up and left on the surface of the orchard as mulch where they break down in not much time at all. The fruit trees in the orchard would probably grow faster if they didn’t have to compete with the grass, but being on the side of a mountain saddle, the grass holds the soil together and stops it running down the hill during big storms. The next photo shows the general arrangement for a young fruit tree.

A Bunya nut tree, which will eventually produce very large edible nuts

The wonderful thing about trees is that they occasionally fall over. A fallen tree is both a problem, and a resource. Last year an unusual storm with strong winds originating from the south east (that never happens, except then) knocked over a tree. This week, we processed the fallen timber into chunks of firewood which will most likely get used in a year or two.

With a little help from my friends, firewood maybe hard work, but it’s not as hard as it might otherwise be

After harvesting the firewood, there is a huge amount of mess left over. We clean the mess up by breaking up the left over organic matter into finer particles which rapidly feed plants and produce rich soil.

We do neat here. The trees are huge here

And at the end of the work day, the machines also get cleaned up, refilled with fuel, and maintained before being put away. There’s no point not looking after the machines which make life easier than it would otherwise be.

Cleaning up and servicing the machines at the end of a days work

A few months ago my mates of the Big Shed fame got us onto a cheese making course. We now make our own fetta cheese. It’s super easy to do. I’ve been asked in the past by people who live in apartments what can they do: Make cheese, that’s what. And whilst they’re at it, how about making their soap? That’s not hard either. Pah!

Home made Fetta cheese, so good, so tasty

Spring is springing along. It’s still early days and spring is usually very long here. Some of the fruit trees in the orchard are in blossom, some are only now just breaking dormancy.

Spring is springing along

The above photo also shows the general arrangement with pruning. The trees form a canopy, and you can walk around underneath them. It’s not optimal for picking, but it allows the forest critters to easily move around the orchard, and anyway the wallabies work hard at keeping the forest open by breaking off all the lower branches. Why fight them? I now prune to accommodate them, and life goes more easily.

The asparagus spears are reaching towards the sun, that is if the big fusion reactor in the sky decides to show it’s face from behind the stormy clouds.

Asparagus spears, so yummy!

And I’m trialling a new variety of ginger known as Japanese Ginger. So far the plant has over wintered in the greenhouse and appears to be growing well.

Japanese ginger is poking forth from the soil in the greenhouse

Onto the flowers:

Aluminium Plant rambles through some of the garden beds
Echium flowers are bee favourites
This Strawberry in the greenhouse has produced early flowers

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 902.8mm (35.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 838.6mm (33.0 inches)

50 thoughts on “Three Leaf Clover”

  1. Yo, Chris – Three leaf clover? I thought it was more reminiscent of: “M I C … K E Y … (etc. etc.) 🙂

    Foxes, chickens and rabbits. We do make our accommodations to nature. And other factors. I’m rethinking what I’m going to grow and where. As, the very small crop of green beans I was saving for seed, well, half of them disappeared. 🙁 .

    I wondered about the decline in quality of top shelf grain. I took a look around the rabbit hole, but didn’t see anything real specific. The most fruitful search was, “Is the quality of chicken feed getting worse?” Just hints, here and there. Most of the articles seemed concerned with the decline in the quality of chicken meat. But, yes. According to some articles, and a couple of books I’ve read recently, the nutritional value of food is going down. Mostly due to farm methods used, and species selection.

    So, was the “rice with (mystery) meat,” the cheapest thing on the menu? Oh, go on. Where was your sense of adventure!

    Looks like you’ve got your water management well in hand. The ground around the chicken coop drain even looks dryer.

    The rows for the tomatoes look rather far apart. What’s up, with that. Or, is it perhaps just a problem of photographic perspective?

    Aluminium plants. I always wondered where tins came from. 🙂 I must look into Echium plants. That is a very startling and beautiful shade of blue. Our strawberry blossoms are white.

    From that book on mushrooms: “All mushrooms are edible, but some only once.” 🙂 Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Well, you assume that I grew up watching a diet of Disney stuff to think of such things, but no. Mickey Mouse kind of creeped me out as a young kid, but I had almost no exposure to that lot. Now Bugs Bunny and that lot, yes, I knew and loved those tricksey Warner Brothers characters. I was quite partial to the muppet show, with ol’ Kermit the Frog. John Denver was a regular guest of the muppets. Last week the national youth broadcaster handed over programming entirely to the listeners, and there were some interesting requests. On Sunday we were bopping along to the tunes whilst splitting and hauling firewood and they played John Denver pounding out the old rural anthem: Country Road. I knew every word and was singing along whilst working. When I was in primary school we used to do a regular ‘Let’s Sing’ program which was co-ordinated over the government radio station across the nation and yeah, lot’s of 70’s faves. Big Yellow Taxi was probably a good message to get into our young heads, although we never really understood the relationship bit at that age.

    Mate, I’m making accommodations with the wallabies who seem to want to keep the orchards open for their easy movement. Fair enough too. Yikes, it’s always a bit complicated until you know: who done what in the garden? Incidentally I recommended the Daniel Craig film to the Editor, and she seems quite interested to watch it. A review will no doubt follow over the next week or so. Thanks. 🙂

    Take my word for it, in terms of minerals, vitamins and all the other goodies in food – the ship has hit the iceberg, and this here baby is goin’ down, down to funky town (or the bottom of the ocean). It surprises me that nobody wonders about endemic illness in the population, but then the mainstream health folks would rather think about other things, and they probably don’t have the slightest clue about food anyway. Both of those matters are of importance. Yes.

    That’s a point of view about the adventure, but I left the sense of adventure at the locals food market. I did try to ignore the bush meats, but I’m squeamish and mostly vegetarian. Probably a first world problem? 🙂

    The surface drains have sure earned their keep. Frankly I was dubious, but had to do something to reduce the moisture in the chicken run and so picked that option. It seems to work and the 2.5 inches of rain last week put the drainage system to the test. Mate, sometimes I go into these arrangements not knowing how they’ll work out, but I’d learned through experience what will happen if I did nothing.

    The distance between the rows is indicative of my gardening slackness. I freely acknowledge that staking, wiring or trellising tomato vines is a great idea. I just can’t do that, and so every year we let the vines sprawl. That takes up a lot of garden space, which they’ll have in that area – thus the widely spaced rows. It’s not them, it’s me. 🙂

    Forgot to mention that with the firewood when we found wood grubs, I fed them to the local magpie family. They had a feast that day, and relations were restored. The birds are a bit grumpy about the Kelpies, but they’ll live.

    You sent me on a brief interweb journey to discover why aluminum plants are so named.

    🙂 I’m not sure why the strawberry flowers are pink, because they’re usually white. Hmm. Another interweb mystery journey. Ah, turns out it is some sort of cross with the cinquefoil plant. It better produce berries, or it’s days are numbered. Fortunately with less strawberry plants, management of them should be easier.

    That’s funny about the mushrooms, and both the Editor and I got a laugh out of that witty (and true) observation.

    Look the solar place is an incredible achievement. But I started doing some maths (always a bad idea). 700k of panels into 2k of dwellings works out to be about 350 panels per dwelling. That is such an epic scale that my mind recoils in horror at the complexity. The facts speak for themselves though, it probably works, but far out, they have eight times the number of panels that I use. No wonder they can charge electric vehicles, but what happens at night? That’s the question. And the cost?

    Of course people would have burnt the prairie. It’s such an obvious thing to do for all sorts of reasons. I don’t buy the passive person story not wanting to touch the environment, we’re all actors in that regard. It’s perhaps something of an abstract notion to believe that things could be otherwise. And yup, lightning strikes down here are likewise something of a problem at the wrong time of the year.

    Hehe! Gardening groups can expose a person to all manner of belief systems, that’s for sure. The local gardening club has an ongoing debate about eucalyptus plants and other more suitable indigenous plants. It seems well meaning to me, but being gardeners they see the forest as a different thing from a garden, and then the blind spots appear. One day I may enter the fray, and have a note to do so right in front of me, but time is lacking. As an amusing side story, the other day a visitor pulled out a plant in the garden thinking it was a weed, it wasn’t. No matter, hope they weren’t upset by the correction to their thinking. You could always eat the extra horseradish? Yum!

    No. This was a different snake which we left alone. It retired to the wood pile and has never been seen again. The farm isn’t a good place for snakes due to the bird life – they’re an easy protein snack for the birds and I try to ensure the birds have the upper hand (or claw, or beak, or whatever) in that arrangement.

    Butter explosions in the nuker are not good, and what a mess. Ask me how I know (like you do)? 🙂 I use melted butter in baking too, but through trial and error know that the butter can melt for 42 seconds on high before blowing up. Seems pretty consistent – but that’s on my old school nuker, which is nearing three decades old now. I heard the latest magnetron’s might not last as long as the older versions.

    And to think that the act looked charitable to me? Probably a bit of a sucker. 🙂 I’ll take your word for the situation as you know the folks.

    Oh no! Have you met the Big J? He sounds alright, but can’t say for sure I’ve met him. Your story reminded me of The World Made by Hand series and the New Faith folks. Nature abhors a power vacuum, although the electric ones work pretty well. With no carpet and only rugs, we could sweep or mop this place easy enough. Not everyone can do that.

    Man, I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse with that money printing + raising of interest rates story. Few if anyone seems to care. They’re wrong, but you know, I dunno. Like Simon Pegg aboard the good ship Enterprise may have remarked: The engines can’t take much more of this cap’n. She’s going to blow. 🙂

    I didn’t know that about the mushrooms. Hmm, possibly growing mushrooms is going to be one of those future projects. It’s not like I can’t carve a cool room into the side of the hill.



  3. Hello Chris
    I was also puzzled by strawberries with pink flowers.
    Re. rats. Son told me that a while back when he went into his chicken run, the entire ground rose up. It was solid rats.
    There has been mention of green tomatoes. All mine have been picked with stalks attached if possible, no matter if not. They are spread in the kitchen and ripening beautifully. It is warm in there during the day as I live in it.
    Posted a birthday card to the US this morning. The woman in the post office had to enter the address into a computer. It was going to a box number and the computer was demanding a street name. I believe that she finally just invented a street name. Ever more insane and useless complexity.
    Weather is nice and warm at present.


  4. Yo, Chris – Well, it was 82F (27.8C), yesterday. Prof. Mass says to expect about two more weeks, of this weather. Last post he also said, “…this is one of the warmest, driest early falls on record.” I picked another round of tomatoes, yesterday, and put them in the dryer, this morning. A little less than 1/3, were green. I’m still miffed about my green beans going missing. Might have been an Inmate, might have just been someone wandering by. The beans and red cherry tomatoes are too close to the sidewalk.

    Don’t cotton to Micky? Well! That’s, that’s … un-American. Oh, yeah, that’s right. Your not American (and thank your lucky stars.) The Muppets were a bit after my time, but what I saw, I enjoyed. I especially liked the two old cranky duffers, up in the gallery. We had “Captain Kangaroo” and “Howdy Doody.” Back when I was in grade school, we had a song book. As radio probably hand’t been invented. Pretty tame stuff. Maybe a folk song, or two. It was the White Bread 50’s. Anything popular was suspect. Probably a Commie plot.

    I’ll probably watch “Knives Out,” tonight. I watched “Paris Exit,” last night. Hmmm. Don’t know if I can recommend it, or not. Parts of it were rather strange, and a bit pointless. An upper East Side, New York City, rich widow, discovers that the money has run out. Always thought she’d die, before that happened. One of her few remaining friends offers her the use of her empty apartment, in Paris. So, she turns everything left into cash (jewelry, art, etc.), and with her aimless adult son in tow, goes to Paris. Things get stranger and stranger, as the money gets lower and lower.

    Modern medicine is set up to treat symptoms of endemic illness, not the underlying causes. Which to a large extent are “life style choices.” The information is out there, and not all that hard to find. Doctors say their patients won’t stand for recommended changes. And, most don’t. But, faced with a painful, prolonged and expensive death, some do come to their senses.

    “Go into these arrangements not knowing how they’ll work out.” Sounds like how I garden. 🙂

    We had a woman here, who grew tomatoes in her raised bed, and let them sprawl all over the place. She said that’s how she grew them in Iowa, and it was fine. She did have some fine tomatoes, but also problems with a lot of rot and fungus. Tell you what. Just as an experiment, stake up or cage one or two of your tomato plants, and just see how it goes. As an experiment.

    Always good to give the magpies a feed. Keep them onside.

    Oh, I think Babcock Ranch is a fine thing, for now. But sooner or later, due to sea level rise, storm surges will reach them. They might dike and wall themselves in. For awhile, I can see them doing fine, surrounded by devastation. But sooner or later, they’ll go under, too.

    Big J is OK with me. It’s just some of his followers who creep me out. Darned busy-bodies.

    Well, for a power vacuum, you need a Roomba. Would probably drive the dogs, crazy. My floors are also easy to keep care of. Mostly wood or lino. A few carpets. The only vacuum I really need is a little “Dirt Devil.”

    Oh, I’m sure you’ll get around to a cool room / root cellar, eventually. In your spare time 🙂 . Grow mushrooms. Double as a fire shelter.

    Ah, I remember the Potentilla Indica. They grew in the creek bottom, of my uncle’s farm. And I still remember how promising they looked, and how bland they tasted. But I see they have all kinds of medicinal uses.

    Not much on the food boxes swap table, this weekend. When I was at the Club, yesterday, I passed the hat (more or less) and have $80 to to shopping. Probably, tomorrow night. Lew

  5. Chicken nutrition- We have been quite lucky on the predator front, so our chooks get all manner of forage. (late summer is cricket season, so they have been loving it)

    But our purchased feed has a crazy amount of ingredients, to assure proper nutrition for those chickens that never see the outdoors. This is important during the winter, when they stay in the coop as the ground is snow covered.

    I’ve read that a specific protein that can’t be produced on their own is needed in their food or chickens will eat eggs, peck each others feathers, and generally not thrive.
    If the feed is a premixed commercial one, see if it has methionine in it. If you are mixing your own feed, you need to make sure they get it from the feed or from the bugs and stuff they forage.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Hi Inge,

    One of the awesome things about the blog is that I learn as well. The pink flowers on the strawberry were unexpected, and quite the surprise to me too. And one can only but keep their fingers crossed that the plant produces edible and tasty berries.

    Oh my, what a nightmare with the rats. It took a lot of effort to firstly exclude the rats, and then hunt down the remainder. There was something of a rodent plague down here last year. Hopefully one of your son’s dogs rises to the challenge, or has he considered getting some cats? I can’t have a cat here due to the sheer number of small birds, it wouldn’t be good, and the birds work very hard in the garden. Did he mention any plans to err, deal with the rodents?

    To add insult to injury, the rats used to happily climb into the fruit trees and consume the fruit. The rodents looked very healthy, but not so happy once Dame Plum and I began killing them one by one. Some of the rats used to jump at me, presumably to bite me, which was an alarming experience.

    Good to hear about the tomatoes, and I may try that if this coming growing season is anything like last cold and wet summer. A rather dynamic storm will hit here tomorrow for a few days. Some of the forecasts make for rather unpleasant reading.

    Ook! Being weird about sending to PO Boxes is a US thing. It annoys me no end, because there is no postal service delivery for my area. I never knew that there were service black holes until I moved here. Everything has to go to a PO Box, but some senders have problems with that. Hmm.

    I’ll tell you an odd story about the postal service from the other day. A parcel was labelled correctly, but went to the wrong post office. They were very cheery about the situation (oh, this happens a couple of times a week! I kid you not), but nobody thought to send the parcel to the correct post office. This is why I could not work for the public service, although I once did.

    My belief is (and I’d be curious as to your opinion) that peoples attention to detail is failing due to continual loads of background stress and additional complexity being heaped upon them.

    Lovely to hear about the nice weather. It has been nice here the past couple of days, but err, tomorrow for the next couple of days seems a little bit challenging.



  7. Hi Steve,

    Ooo, you’re very lucky to have a dearth of predators. They do so like to eat chicken, they are tasty. Mate, the foxes would happily get within ten foot of me, and when you’re free ranging chickens, you can’t be everywhere.

    They’d love to consume crickets, and it would be really top notch food for the chickens. A locust plague swept through here years ago, and the local birds destroyed them, it was brutal, but the birds were happy. I feed the magpies and kookaburras the wood grubs I find when splitting firewood. The local birds are pretty good, and they’ll come and find me if there is a problem, like a predator of some sort.

    You’re lucky to be able to see the list of ingredients. I don’t believe that is legally required down here, unless it is restricted animal materials, and there is a warning about that. Mate, it’s a crapshoot.

    Thanks for the tip about the amino acid methionine. I had to read up on the subject and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Yes, of course and I agree, which is why I’ve upped the quantity and diversity of protein in the chickens diet considerably. Yes, the birds were deficient in protein, and that’s a problem which I caused, which is now resolved. It wasn’t always a problem until recently. Hmm.

    Had to do another modification to the chicken enclosure this morning. We’re about to be hit with yet another epic storm tomorrow. The soil is saturated already. Oh well.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for mentioning the Good Professors weather blog as you can’t go more than one or two lines before you learn something new. Statistically you appear to be on the upper end of that spectrum of observations, but it has happened before. It’s a bit like wildfires here, happened before, will happen again. That thought, keeps me motivated to continue on the clean up work. On the other hand, your weather is almost perfect for tomatoes. 🙂 Did you get your final run of dehydrating done?

    The green bean heist is a bit of a mystery. It could have been rats? You did have the cat hanging around the other day, and perhaps that may have meant more than just a feline lolling around in the sun, digging up the vegetables and pooping in your raised kitty litter trays, sorry I meant to write: raised garden beds. 🙂 Cats don’t care about niceties.

    Oh, forgot to mention, the other day whilst at the nursery, I picked up a 77 pound bag of mixed rock crusher dust and spread it around the soil surfaces of the raised beds. I do have to add some organic matter to them as well, but time is a bit short.

    Hehe! But of course, you guys are our mates though, so we’re all cool. Tell you a funny story about the differences between your culture and ours, a favourite Christmas tune down here is: Paul Kelly – How To Make Gravy. It’s story about a guy in the slammer thinking about his family goings on the outside on Christmas day. It’s a pretty good song. Can you imagine such a song in your country? 🙂

    Yes, Knives Out is definitely on the too-watch list. Thanks! In breaking fluffy news, season 23 of Grand Designs UK is on utoob. Ooo, the car crash, will they go over budget, over time, and over hubris? I’d say yes to all three. Such a delightfully English and very quirky show about people trying something different and facing the cold harsh light of day. Lewis, is it wrong to enjoy the suffering and heartache that much? I would have quailed in fright if they were filming here when we hand built this house. Fortunately the Editor has a better brain for maths and geometry than I, and there was that one time… No, some stories cannot be told. 🙂

    Humour me for a second. With Paris Exit, did the lady ever deign to go and get a job, or was that something for other people?

    That’s been my understanding of the goal with that lot. I tell you, there was one time I went to the doctors four times to have a small growth looked at, before a much older doctor said, let’s take it off. And he did just that with frozen carbon dioxide. Why it took four visits for that to occur is something that mystifies me, and is candidly hard to explain. Such a response is a waste of public funds. But yes, they’re not all like that, it’s just that repeat customers provide a steady stream of income and that could possibly be a temptation. The other annoyance I have with them is that I’ve gone in to see them about a specific issue, and they start pushing pathology tests upon me which was unrelated to the matter at hand. I dunno man.

    We’ve all been there with the trial and error, and let’s give this a bash and find out! Always an instructive experience. Managed to track down a turmeric and another ginger tuber today. Turmeric tubers were $50/kg (2.2 pounds).

    Official interest rates were lifted another quarter of a percent today. There is a lot of pressure to keep them low, but that inflation genie has escaped it’s bottle and the policy makers can’t seem to get their dirty hands off the printing presses. It won’t end well, you know. Still, went out for a feed tonight, and the place was busy. I’m trying to imagine at what point it matters. I’m sure it does and will. Most loans down here are variable, but I believe that over the next year-ish the fixed el-cheapo loans will revert to variable and higher rates, maybe it will matter then? Dunno. Another mystery given the average mortgage is something crazy like $600k. That amount ain’t nothin’. I guess there is a lag time.

    Iowa appears to enjoy summer storms too, so it is not as if the humidity during the growing season would be greatly different to the PNW. Hmm. I let tomatoes sprawl, and don’t really know how to grow them on support structures. Still an old dog can learn new tricks. I read an interesting reference about halting the growth of tomatoes at a certain point so that they put more energy into ripening the fruit. I may trial that too. First I have to get the soil begun and the fencing in place. Lot’s to do.

    But first: Another week of flooding rain . Done something bad, past life, penance…

    I think it’s a fine thing too, but that part of your continent is in for some problems with the ocean, and the ocean always wins. Ask Cap’n Ahab how that worked out for him?

    The Big J is OK with me too, he had a lot of good things to say, which I can only hope that his followers absorb and make part of their lives – and not just the convenient and easy bits.

    Holy carp! No way, a robot vacuum cleaner would freak me out, and the dogs would destroy it. It’s possessed by the De’il they’d say to each other, and then the Kelpies would get Ollie to do the hard yards and face the ultimate confrontation. Vacuum loses. Looking at the size of the thing, I do wonder about the size battery it would hold, and providing motion, control and sucking would be an energy intensive business. I doubt it’s as good as the Dyson Big Ball Animal – seriously that’s the name. Only a guy would come up with a name for a product like that one. It’s a good machine too. Dirt Devil is a good name too, and we’ve all met one of those from time to time! 😉

    Did you get much from the shopping hunting and gathering experience?



  9. Yo, Chris – Here’s hoping you don’t get as much rain, as expected. It will give your new drains a workout! They’ve adjusted our forecast, a bit, and now are predicting 70F days. More cloud cover. The Master Gardeners were here, this morning, and one of them has a winter place, in Florida. Luckily, she’s more north central. They did have several trees come down, in her complex, but they missed all the buildings. She says she doesn’t have to worry about flooding as they’re a whole 23 feet, above sea level. That’s what passes for high ground, in Florida. I asked about Echium. Too cold to grow it, here. One Gardener said she’d seen some growing in Portland, but under protection.

    Yes, the last batch of tomatoes are through the dryer. I leave the trays out, for a day or two, just to make sure they’re REALLY dry. I also picked a lot of Sweet Basil, yesterday. Washed it in some mild salt water (to get out any bugs), dried it, and now have it getting really dry, on plates. I could run it through the dehydrator, but I think natural drying preserves more of the flavor. Not as many of the fragrant oils, evaporate. I now suspect that deer ate my green beans. As leaves were also missing. I’ll scatter a bit of blood and bone meal about, and see if that keeps them off. There’s still some beans on the plant, to save for seed. They just need to get a bit more mature.

    “How to Make Gravy” is a rather dismal song, for the holidays. Our tastes here run more to …

    Often requested from the radio stations. 🙂

    I quit liked “Knives Out.” Not to far in, I was a little disappointed, but stick with it. I can’t really say more, or, …spoilers. It was well worth a look.

    Hmm. “Paris Exit.” I’m sure the formerly rich widow, never considered getting a job. Although, I thought she could have done quit well, in an upscale shop, of some kind. She was well turned out, and could “speak the language” of such cliental. Although I suppose things could get dicey, if some of her old (former) friends wandered in. I know from experience, how that works out. While living in Seattle, I went from social agency work (assistant director, no less, with my own secretary!) to working in Skid Row bars. Well. You find out who your real friends are, make new ones, and get to find out what the “real” side of life is like.

    Now the son … she had pulled him out of school at age 12, so he had no education, or job skills. By the end of the movie, I was wondering what was going to become of him. As a bit of humor (?), he was often mistaken for his mother’s gigolo.

    If “Grand Designs” is up to season 23, someone must be watching it. Oh, I think it’s human nature to take a bit of pleasure in other people’s misfortunes. “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Etc. The Germans even have a word for it. Schadenfreude.

    Yikes! That’s expensive Turmeric. Of course, you only need a small piece, to get started.

    OK. Staking tomatoes. Depends on if they’re determinate, or indeterminate. Don’t feel embarrassed. I always have to look it up. And as far as figuring out if your variety is one or the other, Gargle is your friend :-). Determinate tomatoes, grow to a certain size, stop, and fruit all at once. You can usually get away with a tomato cage. Either the round ones, or, I think the square one’s are better. They use a heavier gage wire, and fold flat. You just push their wire legs, into the dirt, when they’re a small plant. But I’ve still had a couple get top heavy, and topple. Indeterminate tomatoes vine. They’ll keep growing as long as the season. I’ve seen them grown up 12′ “teepees”. Three pieces of wood, tied together at the top to form an inverted “V”. I really think my red cherry tomatoes, are indeterminate. Luckily, I planted them close to my trellis, and they shot right up it, and have kept going. And, they’re not all ripening, at once.

    When I was watching TV at Elinor’s, there were often advertisements for an artificial flopping fish, to drive dogs and cats crazy.

    I’ll go hunting and gathering, tonight. Going for biscuits and gravy, was a bit chaotic, this morning. First, there was no water. But that was sorted. Then there was no milk for the gravy, but I ran over to the veg store, which is right across the parking lot. Besides veg, they have a lot of dairy. It’s where I get my local yogurt. Looks like I’m the commissary person, for the biscuits and gravy. I’ll be picking up the sausage, biscuits and butter, along with everything else, tonight. Oh, well. Collaborative volunteer effort.

    H licked my plate so clean, I didn’t have to wash it. Could just slip it back in the clean plate pile 🙂 .

    Tonight I’ll probably watch, “Thor: Love and Thunder.” One of the fellows from the Club watched it, at the theatre, and wasn’t very impressed. We’ll see. Lew

  10. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article on American pawpaw’s, and you know the awful put-down moniker: ‘hillbilly banana’, only upped the ante for me. Words like that are total cat-nip. Seriously, if people are wasting their hours heading out into the wilds to harvest the fruits, it’s probably very good eating. Anyway, any such description has to be by it’s very definition double-plus-super-good with a side serving of excellence. And honestly, they grow really well here and I’ve now got four little seedlings happily growing. So the outcome from the article is thus:
    1) Tree number one remains in the current location;
    2) Tree number two will be caged over the next few days to prevent any unnecessary damage from the wallabies; and
    3) Trees number three and four will be relocated to more favourable locations.

    Thanks for the motivating kick up the backside. No doubts the trees and fruits will eventually spread far and wide from here! 🙂 This is a good thing. Makes you wonder why they aren’t grown on the west coast? I fail to see any good reason for that except for some bonkers tall mountain ranges blocking the way.

    As expected the rain has been feral today. Mate, tomorrow I had plans. ‘Tis good to have plans, but nature oft intervenes and imposes her own will upon us mobile simians. And best we get the message! I barely enjoyed half an hour of peak sunlight for the entire day today. Mustn’t grumble though: Vast rain system from Bass Strait to Gulf of Carpentaria. Yes, the weather folks have peered into the Thesaurus and plucked some choice words, but they ain’t wrong either! Parts of the property are now producing a ‘squish, squish, squish’ sound again. Oh well.

    Yeah, nah, it’s the escapes to that sunnier winter clime which are wroughting the changes, but you know ours is but to observe and calmly nod our heads in sageness (probably an affectation, but hey, who cares?) In metric terms that works out to slightly less than 7m above sea level. Cool. Your master gardener mate might be OK, but I hold some reservations. Has she checked out the melt waters in Greenland lately?

    Ah, the plant enjoys the local conditions, but is no match for the surrounding forest. I note that some people believe that things are otherwise, but I’ve heard that story before.

    I’d never attempted to dry basil before, and just consume the herb when it is available in season. It’s a beautiful smelling and tasting herb too. It’s possible that the deer took the beans, but there are any number of possibilities. You may have rabbits or hares too, and they’d do the dirty deed, and let’s not forget the rats.

    Hehe! Lewis, Grandma was something of a lush! No wonder she didn’t see the reindeer. Yeah, that was pretty funny.

    No spoilers please. I’ve been fending off Grand Designs spoilers. Something, something, work crew from Lithuania. What could possibly go wrong?

    Ouch. But yes, some folks are attracted to status more than friendship. Man, what do you do? Status is but a moment in time, a fleeting thing, held closely, then gone. Well, it depends if the young bloke outlives his mother. Not always guaranteed. An intriguing film, which I will hand over to the Editor. My mother was a very complicated person, I’m not sure I could enjoy the film.

    However, with all this wet weather, I may have some time to sit in front of a show or film. A possibility!

    Lewis, Grand Designs UK is like my dirty little secret. There’s just something about the show. Of course, I have built with my own hands and felt the highs and lows, but never batted outside my league. With the bizarre building code changes after the life destroying 2009 bushfires, this small house almost cleaned out the bank account. It was a close thing, but fortunately the house was a small design and build. How others achieve similar outcomes on larger builds is something of a mystery to me. But then there are a lot of things going on right now in the world around me that I don’t understand. When the ship sinks we will surely find who has a life protection vest, and who has taken lead into their pockets.

    I planted out the turmeric this morning. It’ll be interesting to see if it sprouts, and I hope it does. The last lot I tried rotted, but perhaps I kept the winter soil too moist? Dunno.

    Thanks, I only came across the determinate and indeterminate classification in the last twelve months. It’s a new concept to me. Hmm, some intriguing thoughts and I will ponder the matter. The seeds might get planted into tubes this weekend. Not sure yet, and have to get the water pump working first. So much to do, and the weather is against me.

    Didn’t those artificial flopping fish used to sing classics too?

    Holy carp! Why was there no water? Oh well, things often take a team effort, and you seem to be fully immersed in team biscuit and gravy. Hope the cheeky scamps leave something for you to eat? I’d secretly enjoy such an arrangement.

    Oh my, almost forgot. In distressing news, the nice banksters sent me a text message to say that the local branch is closing late next month. Never saw that coming, because the branch is usually pretty busy. That means the nearest branch will be halfway to the big smoke. Thanks for that banksters.

    H is a dubious cleaning implement, but they do say that dog spit is anti bacterial. And I’d like to believe that the rumours are true! 🙂

    Someone was talking to me about the Thor films recently. So, was it any good?



  11. Hi Inge,

    Oh no! It’s happened here too. Truly, I had not seen it coming. The local bank branch is closing. Oh far out. The nearest branch is now over half an hours drive away. In double that time I could get into the big smoke.

    And the worse thing was that I learned about it by a phone text message. I’m assuming that it’s OK with younger folks these days to break up by text message, but that ain’t OK with me! 🙂

    It sure is happening.



  12. Hello Chris
    I actually think that there is far too much time paid to attention to detail, unfortunately it is paid to the wrong details.
    I’m not sure what Son is doing about rats. He hasn’t given in but does regard it as a lost cause; he has too many animals and feed around.
    Oh dear, bad luck about your bank. Another town here, is about to lose its post office. One really does wonder about the future.
    Son keeps getting letters from the medics asking him to come in for assorted checks. They get paid for these checks. He told them that he could come in on Sunday. Reply was that they didn’t open on Sunday. Son informed them that he is only free on Sunday. They probably think that I am dead as I don’t get these letters. They have Son by the wrist (not yet the neck) because he has to get his gout medication from them.


  13. Hi, Chris!

    I like your title.

    I thought Ollie had foxhound blood . . . Yoicks!

    No, chickens are not vegetarians. I once watched one of ours swallow a live 12 in (300cm) snake. Burp. I tell you what, chickens can be almost as much trouble as pets are. What an excellent chicken drain.

    Don’t most orchards have grass? Do you prune the fruit tress while they are blooming?

    What a spectacular row of water tanks behind the future tomato beds. I bet they are full to the brim! We have not tried using a Rototiller before, though I think we have some sort of Ma and Pa Kettle version behind the barn. Until recently, all our beds were raised and too narrow to make it viable.

    I read “Aluminium Plant” and then I realized why “aluminium”. The leaves look like a shiny metal. You cannot go wrong with Echiums; so lovely. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen pink strawberry flowers. The Potentilla Indica is interesting. I think I’ve been eating that fruit for years. It would account for why, when I eat wild “strawberries”, sometimes they taste good and sometimes they taste like cardboard. We have Fragaria Virginia here and it looks the same as Potentilla to me. Apparently it is not harmful to eat that Potentilla I., though don’t quote me.

    We have had a number of our bank branches close, another yesterday. Could it be because so many people are banking online?


  14. @ Lew: it was me on the pawpaws. Not rare at all here, I picked over 40 pounds from my several trees and could have picked more if I hadn’t run out of room in the chest freezer or gone to Madison for the visit while they were still falling! Plus we gave away some of our crop to our neighbors.


  15. Hi Chris,
    You may recall that we had a very large fenced run at our old place for our chickens. Hawks were the only predator that would bother them during the day and as it had a lot of cover even they weren’t too much of an issue except in winter. I usually let them free range for several hours in the evening. Occasionally a coyote would get one but as they tend to be more nocturnal that wasn’t too much of a problem either. If one has chickens some predation is to be expected. We never had fox as they weren’t that common around us. In fact I think people in suburban/urban setting see more fox than we do. Racoons and weasels were the worst predators especially weasels as they could always seem to find a small hole somewhere. The chickens were housed in a pretty large and tall metal shed so we were constantly trying to keep it predator proof. The chickens loved Japanese beetles except that they were generally too high for them. Daily I’d empty some from the trap into a bucket of water and dump it in the pen with the chickens. They ate them so fast they never dried enough to fly away. Winter was the challenge getting a varied diet for them.

    Lew had read and mentioned here the book, “What Your Food Ate” which I got from the library and then purchased. The authors write in detail about the issues with soil and the decreasing nutrient value of both our food and livestock feed. Thank you, Lew!

    Salve loves chicken poop and pig for that matter.

    Lew mentioned Pawpaw trees and there’s been quite an interest to plant them around here especially for forest gardens.

    Sorry about all the rain. What a challenge.

    Our lone pig left today for her one bad day. It was hard as she was so friendly – would even roll over on her back to get her stomach scratched – at almost 300 lbs. It was a stress free loading though as Doug had set up the trailer some days ago and was feeding her in there.


  16. Yo, Chris – I didn’t know, or didn’t remember that you had followed up on the pawpaws. Their growing season is so short, and they don’t keep well. But, I took a glance into the rabbit hole. If you pick them slightly less than ripe, and keep them in the fridge, you can then take them out and let them ripen. That extends the season, 3 or 4 weeks. You can also make fruit leather out of them. Also, butter, or jam.

    And when the weather folk can’t find enough descriptive words in the Thesaurus, they make some up. 🙂 “Snowmageddon?” Really?

    There’s something a bit odd, about my sweet basil. I have three plants, growing in three different places. Two are just fine. But the third … it’s kind of stunted, and the leaves are very small. And it just doesn’t smell right. Kind of unpleasant. I harvested no leaves off that bush.

    I took a quick look into Turmeric. “Let the top 2″ of soil dry, between watering to prevent rotting.” It also said to keep up the humidity, by misting the leaves … once or twice a day! Can’t see that happening.

    I don’t know what the water problem was. Above my pay grade. But, for awhile, there was NO COFFEE! But, it got sorted, without my input. Looks like we need 2 pounds of ground pork, per week. So when I was hunting and gathering, last night, I picked up four packs. Enough for 2 weeks. Bumping up the price, was discussed, and we’re going from $4.50 to $5, for a full order. Which is two biscuits split into four, with liberal gravy, over the top. So, while out last night, I got the pork, butter and buttermilk biscuits. The ground pork came to about $16, the butter, for a pound was $5. Got a deal on the biscuits. Large butter milk biscuits, 5 to a can, 4 cans for $1. The total was about $22. And that was from the cheap food store.

    I got a few other things there, and then it was off to the $1+ store. Where everything is $1.25. Picked up condiments, peanut butter and tinned veg and soups. Also did pretty good on tinned meat. Tuna, chicken and some kind of mystery “lunch meat.”

    “Thor: Love and Thunder” was OK, but I’m glad I didn’t make a bowl of popcorn. It was kind of … silly. Did like the giant screaming goats.

    I didn’t participate, but heard the Club manager, and board president talking about upping prices. Due to inflation. Coffee has been $1 a cup, 25¢ for refills. Some other adjustments might be made. They’re also going to start getting more supplies from the two big on-line retailers.

    Well, that’s the pits about your local bank branch. And one wonders, what happens to the folks who were employed, there? Really, it’s about shifting more costs onto the customer. Not as bad as your situation, but I’m not very happy about my Credit Unions shift to a new location. At least they didn’t move to Olympia. Though they have a branch or two, there.

    Getting back to the Club, and how it relates to this topic, I do ask for reimbursement on the costs of the biscuits and gravy supplies. Our Club Manager asked if he could give me a check. Which would have been fine, if my Credit Union was still in the same place. Because I’d have to deposit the check, through the night deposit slot. Which would now be onerous, due to the change of location. So I ask for cash.

    LOL. I also have to remember to pull the ground sausage, out of the freezer, on Sunday morning, and put it on a plate in the regular fridge, so it’s thawed by Tuesday morning. Just one more darned thing on my “to-do” list. 🙂 Lew

  17. Hi Chris,

    Last week was pretty hectic, but this week is calmer. Cleaning is on the schedule for tomorrow, as an out of town friend will be visiting us. Unless someone else is coming over, I tend to lack motivation to clean.

    Since my parents lived in Port Charlotte, FL (one of the towns on Charlotte Harbor that was hit by Hurricane Ian) from 1988 until each of their deaths, I have been following the media coverage of the hurricane and its aftermath quite closely. Mike and I went to Arcadia, the inland town that was hit with river flooding, when we were in Florida last June. We go to the antique shops there and browse; so many interesting things to see. I don’t know if the antique district got flooded, but I could see that it was already diminished by the aftereffects of what I can’t name. I don’t know how the house or the condo that my parents lived in fared, either. Both were near canals which may have flooded. I think a lot of Charlotte County still doesn’t have electric service. Still, it seems Port Charlotte got off easy compared to the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area and the barrier islands across from them. I wonder how many people got sucked out to sea when the storm surge receded, or got buried in mud or under immense debris piles. We may never know how many people died from the storm.

    The past several weeks have been very dry. I’ve been irrigating the vegetable garden once a week to keep the plants in the greens-and-roots bed growing. The other day, however, I noticed that the lettuce plants were shorter and had fewer leaves than they had the day before. Examining the fence, I saw evidence that some rabbit-sized critter had dug themselves passages under the fence. I’m guessing that the plump lettuce leaves in the garden, compared to the dry grasses and weeds on the outside of it, proved too tempting for rabbits to resist. Not having a dog, and it not being rabbit season, I resorted to harvesting everything I could from the lettuce and making a mental note to add fence reinforcement to the chore list. At least the rabbits have not shown any interest in any of the other plants in that bed – so far.


  18. Hi Inge,

    Yes, I agree with you. People get lost in the details and then fail to see the bigger picture. There is probably some comfort to be found in getting lost in the details, but like you I can’t go there (I’m just not wired to do so).

    That’s very true about your son and I can understand his perspective. By all accounts, he does have more animals than here (along with the feed), and this would create problems which I deftly avoid – although I’m also aware that my simpler system is relatively less productive as a result.

    The chickens are a challenging farm animal, and despite my best efforts another died today. The wet year, following on from two also wet years, has presented some challenges which I’m adapting too. On Tuesday the concrete base in the chickens hen house had dried (just enough) for me to be able to implement another modification so as to prevent water ingress. Inge, I’m only one step ahead of the conditions and rats. But at least after much work, I’m ahead. I’m not certain that I could supply the same level of focus to resolving the existing and new issues, if there were a greater diversity of animals and systems. If I were your son, I’d bait the rats so as to give him some breathing room to consider the problem.

    Losing the bank is bad, losing the post office would be a personal nightmare. Yikes! We’re going to set up a joint account with a different bank in the nearby town, and hopefully they stay open. I can adapt, but I’m guessing that after a while, options dwindle.

    Your son is very cheeky! My understanding is that gout can be self managed, but that involves costs and changes. We all walk a line between puritanism and enjoying ourselves, and I try to work out that path too. The little nip of rum I enjoy is self limited to one, but to hear from the medico’s you’d think it was the worst thing ever. As always there is middle ground, and money to be made in pushing fear. I accept the eventual fate which awaits all of us. What I fear is not to be able to live, and recent events have raised that spectre for sure.



  19. Hi Pam,

    Thank you. Traditionally the three leaf clover has been used as an emblem for wholeness. And it’s kind of appropriate really. It was also the title of a song by a young punk / indie band who won an award about two years ago. What can I say, my taste in music is eclectic? It’s not a bad way to go as a school of thought, and who knows, one day you find yourself sharing a house with two Kelpies and a Bull Arab! Life can send you on a journey, that’s for sure, but you already know that.

    No bloodhound. You might be interested to learn of his progenitors (although is this a subject which should be spoken of in polite company?): Bull Arab. It’s very possible that Ollie’s breed of dog is not in your country. He’s a really lovely dog, and ‘love of people’ is one of the traits.

    Go the chickens! Well done. My anti-snake systems heavily involve the local bird population for good reasons.

    Yeah, nah. Some orchards have the grass removed entirely from the drip line of the trees. Honestly, I can see that the fruit trees grown in the garden beds, grow faster than the fruit trees in the grassy orchards. But what, me hurry? 🙂 Do you grow grass up to your fruit trees?

    There’s been a lot of rain. Went to an agricultural expo today, and had to take the Suzuki Dirt Rat. Parking was in a paddock (and I knew this would be the case) and I doubted we could have got the Dirt Mouse Suzuki (the other one) in and / or out again. I saw a lot of mud today, so yeah, the water tanks are all full, and it rained again today.

    I’ll try the rototiller next week and see whether it is worth the effort, although I kind of know it will be. It’s an older machine of an age of the scary old wood chipper (which works so well, being older, and scarier).

    That happened to me too. 🙂 I used to think that those plants were Alpine Strawberries (or also possibly Fragaria Virginia). My actual thoughts on the matter incidentally were rather unfit for a family friendly environment, so I am unable to repeat them. But yeah, we now know what cardboard possibly tastes like. At least the things didn’t poison us.

    Possibly. A more likely explanation is ructions in the bond markets. Pam, they’ve been bad.



  20. Hi Margaret,

    Ah, yes, hawks could be a problem too with chickens. We have wedge tailed eagles, and they are huge and seen most days. Candidly, when the two pups were only twelve weeks old, I was very concerned that the eagles would take them for an easy feed, they were so small. The eagles do that with Dingo pups, and they’ll snatch them, then drop them from a bit of a height (ook) and then have less hassles eating the catch of the day. There is quite a famous Dingo Wandi –
    The dingo who fell from the sky
    , who survived that process and ended up in someone’s backyard. Who knew that Dingo’s could have Instagram accounts? Ollie supervised the pups most of the time, but we also had to keep a watch out on the skies. The local magpies call out warnings whenever an eagle is near, but the way the dogs are now with the magpies, I’ll bet they regret doing that. Oh well.

    Chickens would not stand a chance in a confrontation with an eagle. But yeah, I agree, some predation is part of the experience of having chickens.

    I’d imagine that in your part of the world, there are predators who’d happily dine upon fox? Here there are none, and the population booms and busts depending upon availability of food.

    The insect trap idea is a goodie. And the same is true here of the winter, there are no insects to be had. It’s quiet during those months. And it probably won’t surprise you, but that is when most chickens err, fall off their perch (although I’ve never known a chicken to do that).

    It sounds like a great book, and it is a serious problem. Every single week, I bring back more stuff to get into the soil. It never stops, well one day it will probably stop, but it’s the great challenge facing our civilisation – and despite the opportunities available to do something about the issue on a wider scale, we’re gonna stuff it right up. It’s an old story. I dunno, do what ya gotta do, and try not to worry too much about it all. 🙂

    Go Salve! Ollie sends cordial – and understanding – tail wags. A filthy habit, but I guess they must know what they’re doing. Maybe. Hehe!

    I’ve got four of those pawpaw trees growing here which I started from seed. Let’s put it this way, they’re growing well and fast. I’ve never seen the fruit anywhere down here and it was hard just to get the seeds.

    Went to an agricultural show today up north of here, and there was a lot of mud. Had fun, although the machinery there was the whole next level and some of them I candidly had no idea what they even were used for.

    Sorry to hear about the sow, but then relatively speaking, she lived a charmed life in great comfort. And how good will the produce be when it returns? Yum.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’d heard of some strange vocations before, but parrot smuggler, well, that was a new one. A curious business that sort of theft. Did you happen to notice the large white bird in the lead photo in the article? That’s the squawky bird who thiefs off with my asparagus spears. So far, the cockatoos have taken all of them. We’re not friends those birds and I. Fortunately the other birds here, hate their guts, and will chase them off, but the cockatoos still took the asparagus spears – a smash and grab (and there is some irony there given the contents of the article). They live about the same life span as a human, and no doubts they’ll recall the tasty asparagus feed and be back for more.

    And yes, a useful reminder to not talk about the rare orchids! 🙂 And, whilst we’re at it, far out, don’t mention the potatoes. People still get riled up about that matter.

    Yeah, I had followed up on the pawpaws a year or so back, and managed to track down some seed from a supplier in the state to the north of here. The seeds were very difficult to find in the first place, and four seedlings grew from about maybe six seeds. The trees are still small, but they seem to be enjoying the local conditions. I’m not so fussed about short seasons with fruit, because they’re all short really. Preservation of the harvest is always the challenge. No doubts I’ll find something to do with the pawpaws if and when they produce. After all, after prevarication and some discussions here, I managed to work out what to do with hundreds of kiwi-fruits. Yummo!

    Snowmageddon. Come on man, it is pretty funny in a silly sort of a way. 🙂 Although I do take your point, the word doesn’t really provide any useful information.

    Mudmageddon! That was today. So we headed north about an hour and half’s drive which is as far as I can be bothered going. There was an agricultural expo on (Elmore Field Day in the township of Elmore). It was great to see the land, and once you’re north of the Great Dividing Range, it sure is flat to mildly undulating. This year the land is astoundingly green. And there is water everywhere. You may recall the recent bout of rain this week? Well, we had to time the visit with the weather forecast in mind so as to avoid the rain. There was a lot of mud there, but we had a good time.

    Candidly, there are huge machines at that expo which I can’t even fathom what they do. 🙂 The expo was perhaps run for major grain and cattle / sheep producers, and I kind of enjoy the more alternative smaller scale farming expo held earlier in the year. Still, it was good to see such things again especially after the bonkers last two years of lock downs.

    But the mud was epic as it rained a lot up there (as it did here). Took the new Suzuki Dirt Rat as I was confident we could get the thing out of the car park, which incidentally was in a field, yeah, mud. But it was all good, and we didn’t get rained on because the forecast did suggest that rain was not a possibility between about 10am and 2pm (the time of our visit). It rained at the other times, ask me how I know this! 🙂

    There was a German bloke and his lady selling very tasty Cheese Kransky sausages with onions and cheese in a roll which we had for lunch. They were very good indeed and so I went back and trialled the Bratwurst version. Equally yum.

    Got sucked into buying a little hand held battery powered chainsaw which will be really good for pruning all the fruit trees. Should make the job super easy. You should see this thing, it’s an amazing design.

    Took some photos of the expo using the phone, but I don’t know how well they’ll turn out. The bump out for the expo will be a very messy experience.

    Holy carp! The rain is pounding on the roof. Took the fluffy’s outside a little while ago to do their ablutions, and they hightailed it right back inside again.

    I’ve never had problems with sweet basil, and likewise wouldn’t harvest the leaves. I grow that plant in the shade of the asparagus fronds, and it seems to enjoy the lower summer stress. Hmm. A bit of an interweb journey suggests that watering and allowing the plant to bolt to seed may produce unusual and bitter tastes. Haven’t experienced that myself though.

    Yikes! I can’t water that little, and then that much with the turmeric. Oh well, we might have to write that experiment off, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s not dead yet! 😉

    No coffee. What an outrage. And I’m outraged on your behalf. It’s a travesty. Certainly I might stomp my feet, make sooking sounds, and yeah, why isn’t talking to me any more??? 🙂 Spare a thought for me here, and apologies for bring it back, but in order to get to the expo, I had to wake up at 6.30am and it was dark and raining. Very unappealing, but the thing is, my body and brain is telling me that it is actually 5.30am due to someone theifing off with that lost hour (please return it in due course). Mate, the upshot is, without coffee, not good. Fortunately for you, someone was on hand, and onto the problem! This is a great thing. Yup, food inflation is a real thing a buck doesn’t buy what it did.

    Ooo, the mystery lunch meat. Well given you’re not in Laos, it probably isn’t bat meat (which I saw for sale in the markets – no judgement, just didn’t appeal). My gut feeling suggests that the lunch meat might be heavy on the cereal products. Do you know though, I used to love the taste of fried Spam as a kid. That stuff was awesome.

    Who can forget Giant Screaming Space Goats? 🙂 Douglas Adams may have written about those monsters.

    Actually, that’s pretty cheap for coffee. It is not unusual here to pay in excess of $4 for such a beverage. There’s been (I could have type bean, but the joke may have bean missed?) a shortage of supply. Something to do with frosts in Brazil I believe.

    Far out, I better check the water tank filters due to the bonkers rain outside. Hang on a sec!

  22. cont…

    The water tank filters are OK, but there is a running creek out the front of the house. So much water. What a storm.

    I’ll head down to another local bank and set up an account so I can pull out actual cash when I need it. Adaption to circumstance, and act nimbly. I was wondering why the manager was working at the teller the other day when I went into the branch. All is now explained. I agree, it is shifting costs onto the customer.

    It would be onerous to go and deposit a check at the co-op, for sure, and it’s a good solution to take the reimbursement in cash. It might give their accounts a bit of a problem, so remember to follow the paperwork, for their sakes.

    Too many things on the too-do list, and my head starts spinning Exorcist style, and that would hurt. But then the biscuits and gravy are probably worth it. 🙂 Is it a cheese kransky though?



  23. Hi Claire,

    Far out! It’s been very wet here of late, and right now the rain is pounding on the roof and an inch has fallen in a few minutes. Crazy stuff.

    Hehe! Well done, and spare a thought for me, but clients visit and so we have to keep the house fairly clean. I had to help out with the cleaning from a very early age, so I hear you about that. There are other things I’d prefer to spend my time on.

    Just had to head outside and clear the inlet filters. 36mm of rain, and it’s still raining. Got a bit damp, but umbrellas and brushes are very useful technologies. The frogs seem to be happy as they were croaking away in delight at the moisture. Nice for some. 🙂

    Claire, it’s awful, but in some ways it is a good thing that your parents didn’t get to experience such a destructive storm. I dunno, the storm is bad, but the aftermath can be pretty hard to confront too, and for those whom are infirm or seriously ill, it would be devastating. What an eerie thought about people being sucked out to sea or drowned in mud, but those are plausible endings. The forces behind such storms are bonkers, and I’ve experienced some flooding and even that small event made me wary of flooding – but water from the oceans would be an unstoppable nightmare.

    Please spare a bit of that dry weather for us! I tramped through a lot of mud today at an agricultural expo, but still had a fun time of it. Crazy weather. The rain has just picked up again, but at least the radar shows that the storm is heading in a south easterly direction away from here.

    Oh no! Rabbits are difficult in the garden, and that’s a great idea. Take away temptation. Incidentally, it is always rabbit season here. Spotted one the other night, but also noted the fox prowling around, so those two keep each other more or less in check, and the Kelpies go into bat for team fluffy. A dog would help you. Have you ever had a dog? But fencing is a necessity sometimes. Yup.

    Ooo, the rain is now slowing… Yay.



  24. @ Claire – Great article by Tom Murphy. I can’t argue with any of his points.

    I know what you mean, about space and a chest freezer. Especially, at this time of the year. I have a small one, and space is at a premium! We’ve got a nice looking second crop of rhubarb, and I wonder if I should put a couple of gallons, in the freezer? Lew

  25. @ Margaret – Glad you liked “What Your Food Ate.” Sometimes, my recommendations are a hit. Rather than a miss. It got me looking sideways, at food … more than usual. So … to make up for the deficit, should we be eating twice as much fruit and veg? 🙂 Of course, grow your own and local small farms are also an option. Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – The Cockatoos ate your asparagus? Oh, that’s dirty. Maybe you could arrange with a parrot thief, to make off with them? 🙂

    May your paw-paws, produce! I’m sure you’ll figure out something yummy, to do with them.

    -mageddon is tacked onto a lot of things. It is all rather amusing. I kind of like “arctic outbreak,” as it’s actually pretty descriptive, of what’s actually happening.

    The agricultural expo sounds like a lot of fun. Was there mud wrestling? Not to be confused with Jello wrestling. If not, you’re missing a bet. It’s a real money maker. 🙂

    Ohhh. The German sausage sounds, so good. I saw an article on CNN Travel, the other day. “20 Most Popular German Foods.” There’s some yummy stuff, there. You reminded me, I really need to get up to our local meat market (run by the descendants of some German folk) and see if they’ve got any Weisswurst sausage. Anytime my Dad would visit his little German community, back in Nebraska, he’d come home with a suitcase of the stuff. Not that I eat that much meat, but I might pick up a couple of links, just for a taste. Tis the season, in different parts of the US, for … Octoberfest. There’s a little town, over in Eastern Washington, and every year, they have quit a blowout. Odessa, Washington.

    I looked into some battery powered tools, once upon a time. They looked pretty good. But I think I’d pick up an extra battery pack, so one would be charging, while the other was in use. There was one company, that had several tools, that would all run off the battery same battery pack.

    Weren’t you tempted to put on your best rube face and ask the bit mystery equipment folks, what they were used for? 🙂 But, they’d probably bend your ear and cut into serious sausage eating time, never mind the mud wrestling.

    Doggie ablutions just got complicated, here. The spread a bunch of weed and feed granules, on all the lawns. Not that they bothered to tell us. Luckily, I noticed them before H had spent to much time snuffling around. We don’t have rain forecast, for awhile, so I started wetting down some patches, so I don’t have to take her across the street.

    I’ve been pinching off the flowers, on the Sweet Basil, though I’m about ready to let them go, so I’ll have some seed to save. Pinching out the blossoms, also makes them bush out, more.

    I’ve got a can of Spam that I got from someone’s pantry clean out. I’m saving it to make Sweet and Sour Spam.

    I guess the cost of ground coffee, is really beginning to climb, here. I don’t buy any for home, as I drink tea. Though I have a canister I keep on hands for guests. Not that I have any guests.

    Well, I’m miffed. (Whinge to follow.) We got a notice that on October 31st (Happy Halloween!) there will be a HUD (Housing Urban Development) inspection. Apparently, they contract it out. And for the five days following, we may have ANOTHER inspection, by inspectors, inspecting the inspectors. All random choices of apartments, and all dates and times subject to change. So, once again, I think of finding other digs. Maybe I’ll just throw a shell on my truck, and live out of that. It’s tempting to think of just moving to a hotel, for the six days. Expensive, but a lot less stress.

    I watched an interesting documentary, last night. “The Automat.” Back in the 1880s, two fellows (Horn and Hardart) started a chain of restaurants. In New York City and Philadelphia. I’m sure you’ve seen them, in movies and even cartoons. You’d put in your nickels, push a button and a glass fronted door would slide open, and you’d remove your serving. Coffee and other drinks were dispensed from dolphin headed spouts. The food was very good. They interviewed people who still lit up, decades later, discussing their favorite foods. Prices were cheap, quality was high, and it was a very democratic place. Anyone could go, no matter their gender, race or financial situation. They treated their employees, very well. Due to demographic changes, the last one closed in the early 1990s.

    Vindolanda – The gift that keeps on giving.

    Come blow your horn. Not Hadrian’s Wall, but tomorrow, a Roman refrigerator. Lew

  27. Hi Claire (again),

    I had a chance this morning to read Tom Murphy’s post, and it is an excellent analysis of the situation. He’s quite witty too. 🙂

    William Catton Jr. covered a lot of that ground decades ago in his most excellent book ‘Overshoot’. It was such a gripping read that after completing it, I had to re-read it in order to make certain that I had not in anyway misunderstood the authors words. Is that a recommendation, yeah, maybe! 🙂



  28. Chris,

    Got busy this week. The Princess needed me to make a name tag for her brother for an upcoming function. I had made similar ones for the Princess and her sister several years ago – wood burn the name in the middle of the tag, then chip carve a design around the name on the edge of the tag. The name blank tags we had were a bit too big, so I carved one down to size then went to work on the fun parts. The chip carved design was a bit fancier than the versions from a few years ago. It turned out looking good.

    Meanwhile, family came in to visit from out of town. That made for a fun afternoon and evening.

    And the computer is acting up. I think there’s a problem with the graphics card or the video driver. I’ve played around with upgrades, but no success. Hopefully a new computer isn’t needed yet, although I’m suspicious that this one is starting to fail. Ugg.

    Still hot for this time of year. 25C or warmer daily, but it cools off to 7C overnight. No rain in the forecast.

    On the bird front…The neighborhood is slowly turning into a “murderous row” as the various murders of crows are congregating, an annual occurrence this time of year. They are getting rather noisy and raucous, so “Row” above can be pronounced to rhyme with either “go” or “now” and be correct in either instance. I think they cornered a raven or an owl in a nearby spruce tree. I could hear the crows over a km away!

    On your bird front…good work on sorting out the chook problems. Soil depletion is becoming a real thing, isn’t it? And the fertilizer issues are compounding it. Not a good thing at all.

    Good call with the foxes. Shoot them and have more rats? Or leave them alone and risk the chickens? Or just cease free ranging the chickens? Methinks you made the right choice.

    That’s nice-looking feta you made. Does it taste as good as it looks?

    We’ve been having a carving “challenge” at the club this year, adding a new piece to the project each month. The final installment is due at the October 15 meeting. Sadly, only 2 of us have participated in each month of the challenge, although one chap worked ahead on his version and is about at the same place in the project as are the other two. I need to get busy with my final part. I figured out how to do it today. Now I need to get to it. And some of the earlier pieces can be refined. Should be fun.


  29. Hi DJ,

    The name tags sound interesting. How did you decide to do the calligraphy bit of the name tag. Did you choose a font, or go with your gut feeling, or what?

    Hope the family visit went well. Candidly, I’d need some quiet time after such an event! You may be made of sterner stuff. 🙂

    Yikes! Troubleshooting computer issues is both an art form, and a nightmare. Dare I ask, did you switch the machine off, wait, and then switch it on again? 🙂 Just kidding, you would have done that plenty of times already. Generally I keep some spare components to drop in when the need arises. At least that way, you get to discover what is going wrong. But the things are made to have components replaced – unless it is of the well known fruit brand, dunno about them. Good luck, and this stuff doesn’t last as long as it once did.

    As an interesting side note, my work laptop is now 13 years old and many repairs and adaptions have been made to keep it in working condition. Bits now hang off the side of the machine. Recently, I made the decision to have a new spare machine ready to hand, just in case – the thing gets used to earn mad cash. I’ll continue to use the old machine until it goes to the place in the sky where all machines go after they no longer work, but yeah – they don’t make them like they used to. I don’t expect the new machine to last anywhere near as long.

    Delightful weather! And if I could send you some rain, I would. It’s bonkers here, and another heavy storm dumped rain over the area this morning. The rivulets are continuing to run despite the sun showing its face this afternoon. It feels like the Amazon jungle out there. We’re getting similar overnight lows.

    Ask yourself this question: Have either yourself or Avalanche given the crows any reason to be critical of your general deportment or reputation? After all, they’re gathering for a conflab in your area and may indeed be discussing or plotting revenge plans? You never know, so hopefully your conscience is clear.

    Soil mineral and flora and fauna depletion has always been with us. I’d have to suggest that as a species, we’re very good at digging. And I’m as guilty of that as the next person. 🙂 The Editor and I were hatching plans for the next project today. One must take some time out to plan the next adventure.

    Exactly, the fox problem is no different from the zombie problem – eventually you run out of ammo. Best to learn to coexist with the troublesome zombies, and curb their worst excesses. I’d have to suggest that zombies in rural areas would face additional hazards, because sooner or later, something will turn up to eat them. Would your mountain lions or bears baulk at unfresh zombie flesh? Me thinks not. Mate, there’s always more foxes, or whatever. Best to place limits on the worst sides of the critters, and try and channel that energy into useful outcomes – such as eating rats and rabbits.

    But of course! The fetta (bizarrely the insecure Europeans have sought to co-opt the word feta which you used) was made using some of the finest milk around – the cheese master at the course drummed into our heads to use good quality milk. It doesn’t cost that much more than the more usually purchased coffee and yoghurt milk.

    Good luck with the challenge, and the word itself may have put off potential err, challengers? Not everyone is competitive, and as you’ve remarked upon, some folks are in the club for the fun of it as well as the social aspects. Hmm.

    Had a quieter planning day today, and even managed to sleep in. Bliss! Early mornings are problematic, but all a person can do is but their best.



  30. Chris:

    Since your property is oriented the way ours is (ours is a steep north slope in a forest, yours is south) do you suffer from what I call “The Dark Time” in the autumn? That is when the sun is low in the sky, but all the leaves are still on the trees, and it is really dark in here. It runs from September 1 to mid November, when most of the leaves have fallen off. The second half of it does become “The Golden Time” as we have so many trees whose leaves turn to yellow or gold. That part is really nice. I think you have a lot more open space than our 5 acres do.


  31. Hi Lewis,

    It would have been most ungracious of me to have suggested that I thought that about the cockatoos, but their nefarious acts in the garden. Hmm, yeah, there would be no tears for their sudden departure under mysterious circumstances. They’re a tricksey bunch those parrots and would be hard to nab.

    One of the great things about penning the blog is that other peoples ideas are often pretty good, and I’d never heard or seen those pawpaws before – and they’ll grow really well here. A lot of fruits are like that, and we have a world of plants with which to extract our meals and I dunno whether it is such a smart idea to limit the diversity of plants to a culturally accepted few no matter how awesome they are. The potatoes were an instructive lesson, and need we go there again?

    Thinking about your freezing of blueberries and dehydrating of tomatoes, it becomes very clear that working out how to preserve and use the harvests are as much of a learning curve as is growing the stuff.

    Ah, the word ‘mageddon’ derived from the word ‘armageddon’ – I had to look this up for your comment began my mind wondering about the origins of the silliness. For once the Urban Dictionary has quite an exact definition, indicating the minor difficulties of the situation, often stoked up by the media. It is amusing, yes.

    Haha! Very funny, no unfortunately there was neither mud, nor jelly wrestling. It was a very serious occasion. I reckon you’d be in for a treat with the German meats, they do seem to know stuff about that, and the Bratwurst was good, although the Kransky was of Polish origins I believe. No matter, either can claim the gold prize for super tasty sausages. Oktoberfest down here usually gets the punters out. Years ago in the big smoke they used to run a festival at the central Royal show grounds and the craft brewers were out in force, and lots of dudes wearing metal helmets with horns kind of added to the occasion. It was good fun, just getting there and back home again (although it wasn’t far) was a pain. Painful enough not to want to ever attend again.

    It’s a good name for a town, but far out, those scorching hot summer days and cold winters. Not sure what to make of such extremes. By the Oktoberfest, the weather would be pretty good I reckon.

    Good call, batteries are always the weak link. I’ll want to see how long the battery takes to charge, and how long the charge lasts for. Dunno, it’s a decently made machine and parts should be easy enough to get locally. Hmm.

    Yeah, what a fine joke. You’d think that there would be some advantages to using a standard power pack arrangement across the competing brands, but no.

    Speaking of such things. Had I mentioned the work laptop? It’s 13 years old now, and has gone through many adaptions and work arounds, and candidly I do wonder how long it will be until I switch the thing on and … nothing. Mate, we’ve all been there with technology. Because it’s a work machine, I recently picked up a replacement, but far out, will it still be working in 13 years? Probably not. I noticed that the batteries for these things are now installed in the guts of the machine so you have to remove the casing in order to replace the thing. But again, I dunno, it is possible – depending upon the chemistry used in the battery – that it may outlast the rest of the machine. Dunno, I’ll let you know when it dies. Then we’ll know for sure. It’s a bit unnerving really.

    OK, now that is a newbie. What the heck is weed and feed granules? Oh no, it’s available down here – lucky us. My mind probably failed to notice such a product. What’s wrong with dandelions in a patch of grass? No wonder the bees are going hungry. A wise option with H. Whatever will they think of next?

    Had a neighbour once take it upon himself to spray the blackberries on the road. That would have been OK, if he’d told us about it prior to us, and some of the other neighbours harvesting the berries. Like, who does that? It seemed like an unfriendly act.

    Ah, thanks for the tip with the sweet basil. I haven’t managed to save seed from those plants for a long while. The seeds are tiny (from memory).

    Hope the intriguing (and probably very tasty) sweet and sour spam meal works out OK.

    It is possible that supplies of tea will also go up in price given some of the issues going on in that part of the world, but who knows. Haven’t seen or heard of news from Sri Lanka lately. Mate, it ain’t just you, I’m not big on guests either, but can be an excellent host when required. I just enjoy my quiet time, is this a bad thing? 🙂

    Happily whinge away, and that seems like a valid whinge. Inspecting the inspectors kind of seems a bit over the top. Have there been problems in the past, or is it merely additional layers of complexity chucked in, just because someone else is picking up the tab? I dunno, renting, or whatever where you don’t own, does come with intrusive behaviour, but then I’m not free to do as I please either. I suspect that such outcomes are part of our culture, but don’t really know. Living out of your truck sounds good in theory, practically speaking though, mate, your winters are cold. And people would move you on. I realise that you are joking around. But, in my travels up north to the farming expo, on the journey there, I spotted a number of folks in out of the way places who’d set up camps, or where in the slightly larger vans. And the rain poured down out of the sky. Yeah, not good.

    Wow, I’d never heard of Automat restaurants before, but in Asia have experienced the concept of purchasing a ticket, then handing over the ticket and receiving the food. It seems to work, and the food was usually pretty good, although the places were busy. It was hard not to note that the decline occurred due to the inflationary period in the 1970’s.

    The Roman horn is amazing, and also a very clever device to transmit instructions at a distance during a battle. I’ll bet enemy archers targeted those horn blowers? A Roman refrigerator indeed! 🙂 Who knows what the digs will turn up next?

    What a surprise, the rain pounded out of the sky this morning. It was quite the tropical torrential downpour, and by the afternoon the sun began peering forth from behind the thick clouds. It was pretty steamy. With the rain in the forecast, we had a planning day today. The replacement firewood shed project needs doing. We’ve almost used all of the stored firewood this year, but fortunately it is getting warmer and thus need for the fuel is much reduced.



  32. Hi Pam,

    Ah, I see. I’ve spent plenty of time in the very large island state of Tasmania to the south of the mainland and experienced that long late afternoon twilight you speak of. Funnily enough, due to the south facing aspect, and elevation, I enjoy the same climate conditions as that state, but with more sunshine, being at 37.5′ latitude south. You know, I kind of like the variation in the climate. A mate of mine hails from warmer areas much further north in the continent, and he once told me that he enjoyed winters down here in this chilly part of the continent, due to the cessation of the insect activity. Never thought of the variability that way. Anyway, Florida ain’t looking so crash hot these days, although I’m sure most of that state is fine. Hope they’re OK.

    The real problem period for sunshine here is for three weeks either side of the winter solstice. On the northern side of the mountain range this is less of a problem, but then they get far hotter summers. Nowhere is perfect, just depends what you can live with! 🙂 The old timers suggest that around this part of the mountain range, if people last more than two winters, they’ll probably be fine in the longer term, maybe.

    Fall leaf colours are lovely aren’t they? Just don’t tell the tourists! Yikes!

    We do have more open space here, and more acres. Five acres is a very nice quantity of land and is certainly manageable. Although as the orchards grow here, I reckon they’ll form a proper canopy, but my hope is that this keeps the soil cooler under the canopy during hot summers – which I’ll see again, one day. Have to plan for the worst conditions, not the best, or even the average.

    Are you considering thinning your tree canopy? Always an option.



  33. @ Pam
    I also face north and am surrounded by trees. At this time of the year I am living in a deep, dark bowl. have to put a light on long before the sky is dark. Once the leaves are off the trees, I get a view of the sea and ships passing which is great. Am not allowed to have the trees cut, which is actually fine by me.


  34. Yo, Chris – H and I went out for petrol, this morning. $5.80 per gallon, with the cash discount. Quit a jump from the last time I bought gas. I went out last, night, on a bit of a shopping expedition. I need new pants. About three pair. So, have decided to buy one pair, a month. I wanted Levis, but, the usual place to get them (Sunbirds, the variety store next to the Club) has few in stock. When the business switched from the old owner, to the new, the company, for whatever reason, wasn’t interested in continuing the relationship. Maybe they were too small? So, I got Wrangler jeans, instead. $40.

    Then I went up to the grocer who carries all the Bob’s Red Mill, and picked up another 25 pound bag of rolled oats. Maybe it’s just the news that’s making me antsy, but I thought I ought to. The 25 pound bag figured out to about $1.54 a pound. Up, but still not too bad. Doing the maths … a pound of rolled oats = 5 cups. Soooo, in a 25 pound bag, that’s 125 cups. I use 2 cups, every 3 days. Sooooo ….. if I’ve done the maths right, and use it only for breakfast oatmeal, that’s about 676 days … approximately. I also found a bag of Werther’s Pumpkin Spice caramels. Tried them last year, and they are yummy. But did I need to eat half the bag? Well, it was a small bag. 🙂

    I wonder what the cockatoos would taste like, roasted? Probably, like chicken 🙂

    Yes, I think it’s pretty silly that some species have hundreds of varieties (think apples), and yet, only a handful are considered commercially viable. Luckily, home gardeners and universities keep the less commercial brands going.

    I suppose food preservation developed when something was in oversupply. Ways were worked out to “extend the season.” Too much milk? Make cheese 🙂

    Here, the Octoberfest “look” is more Lederhosen than horned helmets. Lederhosen are kind of like kilts. Taken v-e-r-y seriously by some people, a joke, to others. Odessa, Washington was settled by those Germans from Russia folks (My people!) The part of Russia they came from, well, they probably thought the winters and summers in Eastern Washington were mild by comparison. The lay of the land was very similar.

    I’ve been poking about the net, a bit, trying to get a grip on that terrible day, when I’ll have to bite the bullet and get a new computer. Due to cost, probably a laptop. I’m at the stage now where I’m asking questions like, “Can I get a “real” keyboard?” “Can I get one with a mouse?” That built-in rolly ball thingie, just doesn’t look very user friendly.

    Yes, it would be nice if they gave us a heads up, when they scatter poison around where we walk our dogs. And even if the dogs don’t eat the granulars, they get it on their feet, and then, as they do, lick them. Same is true with the poisonous chemical they toss around, for snow and ice removal. Good old rock salt, is, apparently, not good enough.

    Plenty of info on the Net, on how to grow basil from seed. I took the easy way out. The plants weren’t very expensive, so, I just bought a few of those.

    There may have been problems with the contracted inspectors, in the past. The last time they were here (under the reign of Demon Woman), they looked at three apartments … and then all went out for lunch. She got high marks. I wondered if a bit of money had exchanged hands?

    Here ya go. Roman fridge …

    This was found in a fort up on the Roman Limes. Pray tell, what are those? A string of defenses, that ran from the North Sea in the Netherlands, to the Danube River. So why don’t we hear more about them? Well, they weren’t quit as impressive, as Hadrian’s Wall. Or, at least, they didn’t leave behind such spectacular ruins. Except around the forts, they were mostly ditch and mound, topped with wooden stakes. Also, I think there are fewer archaeological reports, in English.

    I watched a movie, last night, that the Editor and you might like. It’s a bit of a rom-com, and, there’s lots of fabric. 🙂 . “Mrs. Harris, Goes to Paris.” There was a series of four books, by Paul Gallico, about a London charwoman, and her adventures. While on the job, Mrs. Harris, sees a Dior gown, and must have one. Through one way and another, she manages to scrap together the money, and heads for Paris. Well, the very exclusive House of Dior, doesn’t know quit what to make of a charwoman, who shows up on their very exclusive doorstep.

    I had a nagging feeling that it had been done as a movie, before. Yup. A 1992 made for TV movie, with Angela Lansbury. Anyway, I quit enjoyed it, and you may too. Lew

  35. Chris,

    The calligraphy on the name tag? Easy. The Princess played around in Word until she found what she wanted. We printed it at the appropriate size, then I “transferred” it to the wood by tracing the outlines of the letters. I use graphite paper rather than carbon paper. It gives a cleaner copy on the wood and any stray marks erase better.

    Yup, quiet time needed. Heck, I needed some extra quiet time after shopping at mall-wart for an hour today!

    “Dare I ask, did you switch the machine off, wait, and then switch it on again?” Dang, I knew I forgot something! 😉 That always worked with my old Commodore 64, so is the first thing I try. It still sometimes works even when using microsoft products.

    Congrats on the rain. Your water tanks must be filling well for the summer. Meanwhile, we’ve gotten some residual smoke creeping in. The air quality, while officially “moderate”, is iffy and smells sometimes. And even though it was 80F again today, some people are heating homes with their fireplaces in the evenings, making it impossible to open windows. Gotta say, though, it was wonderful chasing Avalanche around the yard in the late afternoon, in October, while wearing a t-shirt and short pants.

    I’ve always tried to be on good terms with the crows. They’re probably at least as smart as I am and outnumber me like 200 to 1. I started to teach Avalanche to treat the crows with respect the first time we had crows flying near us. When on our walks, she sees cats, squirrels, small birds and tries to chase them even when on the leash. She pretty much ignores the crows – I’ve always said on our walks, “Nope, leave the crows alone. They are our friends.” Avalanche has learned. The crows seem to understand what I’m trying to do.

    One of our carvers has carved a series of foods. Say, a bunch of bananas with one of them peeled with a bite out of it “Bananas, Slightly Used” he called it. Or a box of cookies, opened, with a bite out of one “Cookies, Slightly Used”. I suggested that maybe he could carve a brain and call it “Brains, Slightly Used”. He thought for a bit and said “Hmmm, maybe I can carve a zombie and use that title.”

    Better ingredients, better results. If I were to try making cheese, I would also use the highest quality milk.

    The first round of the challenge had 7 participants. 2 of us have participated in each round. One has missed 2 rounds, but he also covered those rounds early. The “reward” for wining any round of the challenge is that the winner gets to pat him/herself on the back. The intent is to have people involved in doing something. We’ll do something similar next year. I’m learning a lot by participating in it.


  36. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, it’s exciting in a bad way. Oil prices are again on the up. Not sure where it will end, probably nowhere good. It’s around $2 a litre lately, sometimes less than that, so that works out to be around $7.60 gallon. Actually, I do try not to drive very far these days. I have an upper limit for sitting in a vehicle, and that probably makes me soft, but yeah, it just doesn’t appeal. The prices are a bit all over the shop aren’t they? You have to wonder if that moving target pricing is actually a strategy? Dunno.

    It’s funny you mention that, but on the way back home from the farming expo we travelled through a large town to the north of here, the city of Bendigo. It’s one of the larger inland towns and has some beautiful gold era architecture. Anyway, I noticed that on the way in to town there was a Wrangler shop which appeared to have closed. I tend to wear Levi’s, but the Wrangler gear seemed OK to me too.

    Tis the trend to be purchasing in bulk these days. Like you, oats and flour, chicken feed and dog food. Not sure they’d have H’s special preparation though in bulk, it kinda sounds expensive.

    Lewis, I worked into the early evening getting a water pump installed next to the greenhouse so that a garden tap could be installed inside. The buckets of water needed to be taken there every day was become a challenging and time consuming exercise. Not to mention physical exercise. And there was a bit of time pressures to get the new laptop set up and running – which it is. Much pain. 🙂

    Anyway, so I did the maths test and came up with a different number. Please excuse my tired brain if I got this wrong. So you use 2 cups every 3 days. That works out to be 0.67 cups per day (0.67 + 0.67 + 0.67 = 2 cups). At that rate of 0.67 cups per day, with 125 cups (assuming you didn’t purchase more 25 pound bags) I get 186 days, which is close enough to half a year. The spiced caramels taste pretty nice. Oh, got the water pump and tap setup and working. My brain hurts. It was a very big job.

    We had sliders for dinner this evening. Home made focaccia’s (same recipe as a pizza base) with a vegetable patty, fried egg, fried mushrooms and tasty cheese. So good, and it’s what I’d describe of as a fun meal as you get to use your hands instead of cutlery.

    Hehe! The cockatoos surely wouldn’t enjoy being roasted, but I reckon you’re onto something. Hey, they might be a bit tough like old chook, Coq au Vin has much to recommend it. Yum!

    Makes you wonder how people first worked out how to preserve milk into cheese? I can understand yoghurt as that would have been simply milk which got too warm, and might even have been discovered by accident. Fermentation just happens with a lot of things. I kind of imagine olives were discovered floating in the ocean in some sort of storm damaged condition. Imagine the tenacity (or curiosity or hunger) of the first person who scoffed down an olive. These things taste not so bad after all! Then that got them thinking about processing the olive fruits in salt water. Easy.

    The Lederhosen can be seen here too during Oktoberfest. I don’t know which camp you fall into in that regard (serious or joke?) Germanic towns down under are pretty rare, but there is one in the Adelaide Hills – Hahndorf. Oops, almost forgot to add the silent H to the spelling. I’d not considered that aspect of the town, but possibly it would have been like a home coming for them, maybe with hotter summer weather, and overall drier conditions. A lot of Germanic and Scottish people headed into the hills around these parts, and the names of some of the old timers certainly tell a story.

    Mate, sounds like the awful day may arrive sooner rather than later. The one I got was an ex-demo model, and that saved quite a bit of mad cash, and it seems in perfect nick. But Lewis, the software, what a nightmare. Is a 24 digit code for Microskunk Office, really necessary? And yes a mouse is a wise addition – those touch pads, or touch screens just don’t do it for me. Keep it simple. And, err, good luck! 🙂

    It is possible they don’t even understand that the stuff may be poisonous. I’ve heard people say such things about all sorts of products. Even preservatives are toxic, after all they kill off certain flora and fauna. There’s a lot going on man. Anyway, imagine the hard work they’d have to do if they didn’t use the stuff. I still can’t understand what people have it in for dandelions?

    What? I thought they only used rock salt on the winter roads? Yikes! It’s not as if the stuff doesn’t get into the local rivers and creeks, and soil water etc.

    Wise, and incidentally I too may have purchased Basil in the past. We might get our summer seeds growing tomorrow.

    Oh! I sort of remember something about the super-easy inspections of yore. Yeah, well who would have thought that may have happened? I wonder if anyone got into trouble for that? You haven’t mentioned anything about it?

    Gotta head to bed, me tired. Worked too hard today. Speak tomorrow, and I’m intrigued by the idea of a Roman refrigerator.



  37. Hi DJ,

    Sorry man, gotta crash and head to bed. Got the water pump and tap installed in the greenhouse today and it was a very big job and a late work day, although strangely the arrangement doesn’t look like its that complicated. But it was. Speak tomorrow.



  38. Chris:

    I suspect some more tree thinning is ahead of us, though we have to be very careful as we use these trees for heating, and for some years the deer have eaten all new tree saplings that come up. We are allowing the friend of a friend to bowhunt the deer on our property this deer hunting season (of which the bowhunting is an early start) and he has already taken one. I am not expecting any of the meat as he is a young fellow with a family, not very well to do, and needs the meat. I like it, though. He is doing us a favor already in thinning out the herd.


  39. @ Inge:

    I am pretty well used to this period of darkness, though I note that I no longer mind going into town every day, because I can be in the sun there right now. I make a point of leaving early before visiting my mother so that I can sit on a bench in town first on the sunny days.

    Once our leaves are off we have a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the northwest, something that we cannot see at all in most of the other seasons.


  40. @ Lew:

    Every year I have grown basil from seed indoors in early spring. This year there was no room inside (probably your problem, too) and so in the late spring I tossed some into a bed, patted it down, and watered it every day. It came up and grew into fantastic basil, not even getting that much sun.


  41. Yo, Chris – I’m thinking I might have to cut my trips down to the Club, due to the price of gas. I have 4 “must go” days, but sometimes I wander down in the evening, if I’m bored or restless. Might have to think twice about those trips.

    Ahhh! We have a collection of outlet stores, here. According to what I see on line, they have a Levi outlet store. Which may be why Sunbirds doesn’t carry the brand, anymore. The old owners probably had a contract with the company, way back before the outlet stores, were built. They’re touchy about having too many outlets, in one geographic area. So, when the new owners came in, it was an opportunity to discontinue stocking Sunbirds. At least, that’s a theory. So next month, I’ll wander on over to the outlets and see what’s up.

    Besides my usual stocking up, I’ve been stockpiling additional this and that, so I don’t have to go out so much during the dreaded holiday season. One of the cheap grocery outlets has had H’s Very Special Food, for a couple of months now. Every time I’m in, I pick up a bag or two. I think I’ve got 30 pounds, stashed.

    Good going on the water pump. I used to have a contractor friend, and he said he’d rather take a beating, than deal with plumbing. He much preferred electric. The Club seems to have solved it’s water problems. Needed a new hot water tank and some hoses. Mr. Bill was moaning about the price of the hot water heater. I told him, given the supply line issues, at least he could GET a hot water heater.

    Carry water, chop wood? The silver lining? Pretty soon you’ll have rippling pecs and biceps. 🙂

    I’ll have to take another look at the oatmeal maths. Did you run it past the Editor? 🙂

    The sliders sound really good. Food preservation. I think there were a lot of really happy accidents. And probably some really awful disasters. The other night I was filling a grocery store clerk in on how to get perfect nuked rice.

    I kind of fall in both camps, when it comes to lederhosen. They are rather funny, but in the right context, are alright. As with kilts, you better have good knees. 🙂

    I’m reading an interesting book, right now. “Shadowlands: A Journey Through Britain’s Lost Cities and Vanished Villages.” (Green, 2022.) I learned something new. After the Black Death, in the mid 1300s, thousands of medieval villages disappeared. It’s been thought that the plague itself, wiped them out. Not so. After the plague, labor was hard to get and expensive. So, hundreds of manor houses evicted their remaining tenants, and turned the land to sheep. More economical, less hassle.

    I also watched an older film last night, that was well worth the bowl of popcorn, I made. “Fright Night.” (1985.) A young man discovers a vampire has moved in, next door. What to do? Enlist the aid of a (fearful) vampire hunter. (Roddy McDowell). Well, at least he was a vampire hunter, in a lot of movies, but has been reduced to hosting Saturday night spooky movies, on TV. It was a pretty fun movie, and, for the time, the special effects weren’t bad. Lew

  42. Hi DJ,

    What a great idea with the fonts. Respect, and I’ll bet it looked great. Do you know, I’d never heard of graphite paper before, and there are even how to make your own such paper at home utoob videos.

    Mate, you’re made of sterner stuff than I, and an hour at such a place would drain the batteries. What would Dante have said about such a shop? Perhaps: useful, but could well be a layer of Hell.

    So many great lessons learned from such an awesome machine, and you could bash away at the keys to see if something happened – if then not, switch it off. Sorry for the logic gag, couldn’t help myself. There are folks who still churn out programs for that code platform.

    Not sure congrats is appropriate with the rain, candidly there has been a lot of the stuff. Perhaps too much. Yes, I never quite imagined myself saying that, but when you’re located on the side of a mountain saddle, and there are standing pools of water, let’s just say that it ain’t good.

    Ah, your overnight lows are producing the need for people to heat their possibly uninsulated homes. Yeah, it’s a bit of a problem. 80’F is so nice, and the gentle art of the well constructed energy efficient building is that it can capture either heat or coolth (I believe that is a proper word, despite what the spell checker says. What does it know? Pah! Robots, remember ED-209, just sayin’).

    Avalanche is a smart dog to have taken in that bit of knowledge about the crows. Of interest this evening was that a Kookaburra told Ollie that there was a rabbit which needed killerin’. And off he went. I have never seen the birds talk directly to the dogs before. What the Kookaburra wanted was Ollie to provide it with an easy feed, and Ollie was happy to oblige. It’s astounding that they knew each other that well.

    Hehe! Fun stuff with the food (and potential zombie) carving works. 🙂

    A wise thing to do, for those who are interested. I recall a member of the local seed group suggesting that the group needed to do more practical applications of the very things they discussed. Yes, before talk, practice, after talk, practice.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Sad to say, that’s how inflation rolls, and it means you can’t do as much as you used to on the same coin. Still, realistically our society is so abominably (snowman anyone?) wasteful that it doesn’t take all that much effort to cut back a little bit, and reduce the unnecessary saving heaps of mad cash and energy to boot. Mate, you and I have been talking for years, and I get the distinct impression that you already do all of your necessary trips in one hit. It surprises me how few people think of such a time and energy saving strategy. But I’d have to add that the Club has a special place for you and they’re kinda your people and so you have to make time for them as well. One of the things I’ve learned in life is that social ties require maintenance, otherwise the ties get tatty and frayed. But I dunno about you, and I’d be curious as to your experience in the matter, but you can’t give more than you’ll receive otherwise there becomes this weird imbalance. I dunno, just keep on keeping on I guess, hope for the best, and know how to deal with the worst! That’s my motto. 🙂 I wouldn’t worry about the ‘bored or restless trips’ as they fulfill a need much like me heading out for a coffee to spy the lay of the land, and compared to flying half way around the planet, the energy spent is peanuts. I’ll cut those trips out, when they’re no longer possible, but until then…

    That’s a good theory, and it sort of fits the evidence, but we can’t confirm it because nobody will ever know the truth of things. They have outlet stores down here too, but don’t you think it puts a lot of pressure on the brand to keep producing rubbish that people want to buy? I mean, if the brand stuffs things up – and that happens – the outlet store might be toast. A more diversified arrangement of stuff for sale, might be less prone to such vagaries of the market. And also the brand company is under pressure to get things right for the market so it travels the sad little inverted bell shaped curve which is the product life cycle. It’s like here, if I was relying on mad cash from writing here to pay the bills, I’d become overly fixated on clicks and then do I want to write what I want to write, or do I write to an audience? An intriguing question!

    What’s the holiday season for you guys? Isn’t it autumn now? We tend to have the holiday season in summer around Christmas and New Years, so I don’t really know how other parts of the world do that trick?

    Your contractor friend is on the money with that. If you’re not careful, the connections leak due to the inherent pressures involved. Electricity is more generous in that matter (hopefully so anyway!) and usually each end of a cable is fused. Fuses make life easier. Actually they did pretty well to score a replacement water heater tank. I’ve heard stories, and you’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the push to get people off gas heating for such devices, and onto electricity instead. Between you and I, that might not work out so crash hot, but it’s an adaption to circumstances. I find it sad that nobody suggests to do this because there are energy supply issues, but they talk it up in glowing terms of saving the planet. Yeah, right.

    Hehe! Yes, you do get fit working here, but more like Popeye! The cartoon character wasn’t all that large a build. I suspect that in the future, people will look like what they used to in the past.

    No, the Editor didn’t check my maths, so consider them dodgy until reconsidered! I make no promises on that front! 🙂 Very funny.

    They’ve got some very good rice cookers you can put in the science oven.

    A mate of mine is actually over in Scotland right now, and the question needed to be asked: Do Scotsmen still wear kilts? Me, being me, asked! Seems like the garb is for special occasions, but it’s a big deal. It’s funny how different things over the ages have been considered racey! Don’t let them see your ankles! Not sure why not, but anyway…

    Oooo, you know I read that bit about sheep and manors and the local villages, and um, yeah, I recently saw some passing article to Mars Boy’s use of robots in the factories. Just sayin’, some things don’t seem to change. There are diminishing returns to the policy, let’s just put it that way.

    Roddy McDowell was a very successful actor with a long career. Imagine beginning with a Lassie film, yikes, doors would open. The Editor most certainly watched the film Class of 1984 which he was part of, and which is akin to Fright Night. Yes, punks will take over the world, but that didn’t happen.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  44. Hi Pam,

    Predation is a very complicated matter, and I still am learning as I go – as your comments suggests that you are as well. I’ve noticed that deer can chew bark on trees when they’re hungry, and here they tend to go for the apple trees above all else. But I haven’t confirmed whether it is the stags rubbing their antlers on the trees. Dunno, it could be either or both, or something else altogether.

    Young trees have to be caged, they’re just too tasty for deer or wallabies (or other foragers like say, goats). Your mission, should you choose to thin, is to consider. Yes, consider you must, and consider you shall (said in best Yoda voice 🙂 ). It ain’t easy and this evening I uncaged a 12ft indigenous beech tree (Nothofagus cunninghamii). How will it fare? Dunno, but there was enough growth poking through the cage to suggest the varmints have lost interest. But perhaps it is a cunning ruse on their part? A mystery!

    That was a very considerate act. And when interests align, as they do from time to time, well let me tell you a little story. A Kookaburra bird this evening told Ollie that there was a rabbit nearby – and off he went. Ollie doesn’t want to eat the rabbit, but neither does he want it on his turf, and the Kookaburra saw an opportunity to communicate and get an easy meal. I’d never seen such a thing before, and how did they know the others motivations?



  45. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … So did Ollie catch the rabbit? To use an old American saying (that my Dad was quit fond of), “If the dog wouldn’t have stopped to poop, he would have caught the rabbit.” (Cleaned up slightly to be Family Friendly.)

    Endless summer. Prof. Mass actually used that phrase, in the title of his last blog post. We were maybe going to get a bit of rain, over the next couple of days, but that’s off the menu. Looks like we’re going to have at least another week of days in the 70sF and nights in the 50sF.
    Hmmm. Thought so. “Endless Summer”, a surfing film from the mid 1960s, and the theme music became quit popular.

    Just call me Capt. Trips. Or, maybe not. I knew I’d be going to the bank, soon, to get a bit of mad cash. Soooo, when I saw our Club manager yesterday morning, he cut me a check for the biscuits and gravy. Then the electric bill came yesterday. More on that, later. Decided to drop the bill off, hit the Club to check out the pantry shelf (and have a cuppa), went to the bank, and, as long as I was down there, thought I’d hit the Dollar+ store, and fill in a few things.

    After getting my mad cash, I had to wander around a bit to find the night deposit slot. What was going to be “a few things” ended up being $40 of a few things.

    My electric bill was up a bit, from last month. I suppose, due to running the A/C a lot, and the food dryer. They include a newsletter, with the bill. A couple of items of interest. In the past few months, there has been two “vandalism” incidents, at their power substations. Might be metal thieves. I just hope it’s not someone trying to take down the grid. Then they had an article about “payment options.” Mostly by rummaging around in your bank account or credit card. Or, you can set up to pay at selected businesses. ($1.50 convenience fee, will apply.) Nowhere do they mention writing a check, and pitching it through their payment slot. Or, talk about retro, slapping a stamp on an envelope, and mailing it. Of course, all these things can be set up through their new ap.

    I always thought outlet stores clusters, were a bit of a gimmick. With the advent of online shopping, they seem to have peaked, a bit.

    Our holiday season kicks off with Columbus Day, tomorrow. Then there’s Halloween at the end of the month. Not an official holiday, but might as well be. Veterans Day in early November, Thanksgiving in late November. Christmas and New Years, almost smack dab together. Onto President’s Day and Martin Luther King’s Birthday in February.

    I redid the oatmeal maths. You’re right. Give the boy a gold star! 🙂 I still have about half the last 25 pound sack, so, I’m rolling in rolled oats, for awhile.

    LOL. As if I need more kitchen kit, when a Pyrex bowl works just fine.

    Of course, the big question is … what do they wear under those kilts? There are whole websites, on the net, to contemplate that question. Don’t ask, and don’t look.

    Last night, I watched “The Trouble with Harry.” Not your usual Hitchcock. A dark comedy, but a rather … wistful, silly one. The supporting actors, were all superb. A surprise. There’s a small child in the film. And, hey Wally, it’s the Bev! It didn’t do well, at first, in the States. But they ran it overseas, and it ran for over a year in London and Paris. The Europeans having a more grounded view of shuffling of the moral coil. Then it came back to the States, and made back it’s money. Lew

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