Standing room only. The place was packed with people. Sandra and I stood among them, just off to the side. Someone came to the microphone, spoke words, left, and they were then replaced by others and their words. Rituals took place. Outside the windows, rain fell over the green landscape. Cold winds moved the trees. Grey skies hid the sun. A perfect metaphor for the feelings.
A couple of weeks ago, Sandra and I picked up a machine and a spare part at the local farm machine sales and repair business. We’re well known there and looked after. And the spart part, well, it may have been a locking pin, but who can now recall? Whilst Sandra waited patiently at the counter for service and to pay, I headed outside and loaded the machine onto the bright yellow trailer. What ensued inside the shop was just strange.
On my way out, an older lady entered the business. I’d seen her somewhere before, but couldn’t place the where, and so didn’t think any more of it. More important things demanded my attention, such as loading the machine onto the bright yellow trailer. Turns out, the lady had something of a commanding manner, and wasn’t afraid to use it. And once inside the store, the older lady began to set herself to the task of being served before anyone else in the queue. Talk about uncomfortable.
Some expectations don’t get delivered upon, and to accept such situations with good grace is a marker of emotional maturity. Of course in these enlightened days, that isn’t always guaranteed. Uncomfortably for everyone in the shop, the older lady then began to complain loudly about having her plans thwarted. Apparently you could feel the tension hanging in the air.
How could things have gotten so weird, so quickly? That was the question I put to Sandra after she described the awkward incident which had only just taken place. It was bonkers. Long ago I’d read a book by the English author Annie Hawes. It was a good read about life in a small community in the hilly coastal country of Northern Italy. The author made a very astute observation, the gist of which was, that with a small community of limited resources, any gain often came at another persons expense. So true, and a glimpse into the future.
That was a couple of weeks ago, and it sure was a whole lot of unnecessary stress, and for no good reason. A few days after the carry on, I spoke with the owner of the business. That was Friday, two weeks ago. It was no hardship finding some pretence to pop my head in and have a chat. We spoke business, life, the universe and stuff. Always shared a few laughs in between the more serious talk. We were of an age. He looked after Sandra and I, and that’s sometimes what you get after fourteen years of interactions. On that Friday though, I thought he’d looked a bit ill. Saturday he was dead.
Life sure can be strange. People can be even stranger. It was only a few weeks ago another older local lady whacked me around the back of the head in front of Sandra. Said there was a mosquito there, but I believe she lied. However, divining her motivation was hard and produced no reason for her having acted so. It was something of a surprise, and all hell would have broken loose if the situation was reversed.
Then a further two incidents occurred recently at the local supermarket. It’s enough to convince me that something new is going on. What is it though? And why did I get slapped? Clearly neither Sandra or I are having a good run with some of the older ladies in the local area, and it is not as if we present ourselves to the world poorly, or act as though we’re timid little rabbits.
I really don’t know what’s going on. It’s possible that all the bad news of late is stressing people out, and they’re acting all weird and stuff. But underneath it all, I detect the stink of fear. There’s plenty to be fearful about. The fear of getting older, being ignored, poverty, losing mojo etc. I’d just hate to think that many such small incidents stressed out the local bloke who only recently died.
There’s no getting around it, this has been one cold and wet year. Not quite record breaking, but then there are two months yet to go. It’s exciting! The new and much larger greenhouse is working really well in these challenging conditions.
Like all of the systems around here, if there is a need to modify them, and we can do so, the system gets modified. Then it works better. Inside the greenhouse are two racks for raising seedlings. Turns out I’d installed them about half a foot too high. Not only was it difficult to observe what was happening with the seedlings, but the thick timber lintel which runs the length of the structure, and supports the roof timbers, was casting a shadow onto the seedlings.
It was an easy fix to lower the height of the racking. Earlier in the week I cut some timber chocks out of scrap timber, then painted them. Despite much of the week being rather cold and wet, the paint eventually dried. Once the chocks were installed on the greenhouse timber frame, I could simply lower the height of the steel angle brackets which support the racking. Done.
As you can see in the above photo, the plants in the greenhouse are growing really well. The only work required each day is to supply each of the raised garden beds with about 10L / 2.6 gallons of water. It’s a job which takes only a few minutes to do.
In the greenhouse, we’re experimenting with growing turmeric and ginger. In the above photo to my left are two large black pots on the shelving. The pots contain a tuber each of turmeric and ginger. However, there are also tubers of turmeric and ginger in the raised beds. At this stage, we believe that the tubers in the pots will sprout earlier than the ones in the raised garden bed. The reason for the belief is that the pots will probably be warmer than the cold soil of the garden beds. And, we are also trialling a Japanese variety of ginger, Myoga, in one of the raised garden beds, and that plant is winning the race.
It is worthwhile mentioning that snow is forecast to fall at higher elevations in the state later this coming week. So, the greenhouse is kind of important. Despite the bonkers climate, most of the seedlings in the greenhouse have germinated in about a week. It’s not a bad effort at all.
The greenhouse is watered by hand using a watering can, and like I previously mentioned, it is no great effort to do so. At one point there were some discussions here about using a hose to water the plants, but we discovered that the hose occasionally draped over the plants causing them damage. The hose had to go, but where? Just outside the greenhouse is the very sturdy steel solar panel frame. A couple of hose hangers were attached to the steel frame, done. The hoses are now stored off the ground, and in the shade.
It’s been so wet, and the forecast suggests that the wet will continue. What, me worry? Such weather is the perfect time to move fruit trees. Another six trees were relocated this week.
Hop vines can be a bit weedy from what I’ve read, although they might not be, but do I want to find this out the hard way? Whatever, an area has been set aside for growing these most useful of plants. It was only recently where I’d learned that the hops flowers used in brewing have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. So obvious from hindsight, but the old timers must have used the oils in the hops flowers to stop the fermentation process (i.e. kill the yeast and other things in the brew). So clever, but in these enlightened times people think it’s in there for flavour.
Depending upon the weather, over the next week or so we’ll install some sort of climbing structure for the hops vines. And may even plant a passionfruit vine or two.
The most important machine we have is the coffee machine. It’s a really simple and easy to repair machine, and has been manufactured the same way for many decades. That’s what proper technology looks like. We’ve had the machine in daily use for over fourteen years, and can perform all of the repairs on it ourselves. A rubber o-ring needed replacing this time around, and fifteen minutes later, the repair was done and the machine was as good as new again.
The continuing wet year has had a remarkable effect on the landscape. It’s just so astoundingly green. There are times where I feel as if I am experiencing an entirely different country, not the usual sort of arid and infertile country which this continent sometimes is. I must say, the green is more pleasing on the eye!
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 1,210.8mm (47.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,161.0mm (45.7 inches)