Laying on my back with my head upon the pillow. The wind rushed into the room and over the woollen blankets. Ah-roo-gar the wind said. Hard to sleep with such a racket. Closed the window, but you could still hear the wind calling outside as it moved through the forest. The trees noisly moved back and forth. In the darkness, thoughts drifted in and out of consciousness. One thought dominated: Today was going to be a dangerous day.
Last year the climate delivered a lot of rain. However, about four or five weeks ago, the rain suddenly went elsewhere. Many of the days since then have been hot. The summer sun has dried out the forest understory. Summer as usual. Large trees are hanging onto their luscious canopy, but plants closer to the soil surface look dried out. That day we’d intended to get the stump grinder into action and continue the recent forest clean up work. The century of logging activities has left an awful lot of mess, and long term readers will know that we don’t abide mess.
The wind changed everything that day. Hot, dry and windy conditions are a disaster zone for fires here. And the carbon steel cutting blades of the stump grinder might hit a hidden rock in the soil, spark a flame, and off and away she’ll go. Hard to stop a fire on such a day. Best not to start one in the first place. But we’re flexible. Dumped the ideas for the planned work, and just did something else that day instead. Not a hard decision to make.
Bizarrely, the wind died down just after lunch, and the day was not that hot despite what the forecast promised. Still, better to be safe than sorry. The previous day a farmer an hours drive over to the east made a public apology, a Mea Culpa of sorts. He’d apparently started a large fire in his area. Talk about uncomfortable, and in rural areas the memory remains. Best not to be that person.
Instead of continuing the forest clean up work, I hauled out the ladder, grabbed the electric mains powered blower (solar powered in this case), and cleaned any accumulated muck off the roof and gutters. Those surfaces are where our drinking water is collected, so it is probably best if they’re kept sort of clean. And dry weather is the time to do that job, because in the wet, the steel roof surface is slippery.
I now forget how we came to own that mains electric powered blower. It may in fact have been Sandra’s idea to get it. The farm machine dude remarked that the thing was more powerful than the more usual two stroke fuelled or battery powered machines. He wasn’t wrong there. It was like using a tornado to sweep leaves off paths. But we’re flexible and mostly use a leaf rake instead. The machine however is awesome for cleaning the roof and gutters, not to mention cleaning down most machines after usage around the property. Take that dust and dirt! Get thee elsewhere!
Flexibility is a nice trait to master. We often work around the weather conditions. It makes no sense to cook-your-head in the hot summer sun just because you had made some plans to do some stuff and can’t back down. And neither is it pleasant to get drenched in pouring rain, just because. Work when the conditions are just right.
Of course, people seem to put in long hours every week doing paid work for mad cash. Makes sense, there are bills to be paid, and they eat up a lot of mad cash these days. But there are a few ways to get around that story.
Way back in the day, I worked at the top end of town in a super stressful job. I got paid heaps of mad cash. Being the crafty and resourceful folks we are, plenty of the mad cash was saved and used to offset mortgage debt. Some of it was put into the projects we were doing, like trying to turn the brick shell we’d purchased at the turn of the century, into a home. Some mad cash was used for entertainment. We worked hard, but it was not a life of monastic austerity. The inner urban area was full of cafes, and the quest for the best coffee and cake is a worthwhile use of a persons time. And coffee and books go together so well.
We travelled through this corner of the world too. We’ve seen a lot of South East Asia, and once even made it over to deepest darkest Peru, which was a really lovely country. The thing is though, after a while, you start doing the numbers and the couple of weeks of travel usually cost around half a years savings.
I hated the job I was doing too. Look, that’s not entirely true, there were aspects of the job which were really good. The team was good, the work was interesting. My offsider cried the day I resigned. It was the demands from higher up the food chain (and there wasn’t much higher) which did my head in. And that’s where the stress came into the picture. Most demands were reasonable, but some looked stupid, whilst others appeared to be greedy. A whole lot of stress about nothing. And there we were blowing almost half the annual savings on holidays. It made no sense to me when we could instead work less but travel less. So we were flexible. And here we are today. And the coffee is better than ever.
A little bit of rain fell this week, then we got back into the work of cleaning up the loggers rubbish. I still have no idea what they were thinking, but just deal with what is there. We cracked out the stump grinder and cleaned up another old dead tree stump. That machine is hard work, and it takes a few hours of hanging onto it for large tree stumps to be completely blitzed up.
In the background of the above photo, you can see some the timber the loggers left, just laying there on the ground. A bit of a waste really, so on another day we cut and split timber into firewood which was then relocated to be stored away later this year. With firewood as a fuel, you have to plan several years ahead.
The hot and dry weather is hard on all of the birds which live at the farm. The birds really benefit from access to fresh water, otherwise they have to venture further afield which is increasingly risky for them. Plus the insects need a drink too. Later in the year we’ll probably install a large bird bath. But for the moment, there is a section on the roof of the house overflow water tank which is safely off the ground. The birds can enjoy a drink of water and a splash around there. The other day I discovered that a Balm of Gilead had grown into the water, and so I cut it all back.
That overflow water tank had about two thirds of it’s contents transferred back up the hill and stored in the depleted house water tanks. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to do the water transfer, it just takes a lot of hours.
Nothing beats the hot summer sun for getting produce ripened. This week, we’ve had our first ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, chilli and pumpkins. Yum!
The much larger greenhouse has been a real game changer this season. We have never grown and ripened large tomatoes before, but this year – done!
Even the chilli’s in the greenhouse are beginning to change colour this week. They’re hot too. Whoo Whee! Prepare for ignition! Next up, we have to work out how to preserve the bumper chilli crop for use later in the year.
Snow peas have been giving all season with little care, watering or attention. Nearby are an old heritage variety of beans: ‘Lazy Housewife’, and they are also growing well with about the same level of attention.
The zucchini (courgette) plants do receive a daily watering of a few minutes, but that’s about it. And they grow like monsters – don’t turn your back on them. They’ll grow and fruit without watering, but the regular water stops them becoming misshapen due to inconsistent watering.
The grape vines are full of clusters of hanging grapes, and I do hope that they ripen. I fear that the growing season may have been too short for ripening, but we’ll see how it goes.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 8am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 71.4mm (2.8 inches) which is the same as last weeks total of 63.2mm (2.5 inches)