Last week the blog covered the subject of economics. As a subject, it’s all very dull, that is until your boss tells you that you are redundant. Economics takes on a whole new meaning then. The definition of redundant in this instance, means: surplus to requirements. Ordinarily that’s not a problem, and right now, jobs are plentiful. Yeah, don’t worry mate, there’s plenty more fish in the (accountant)sea. However, in the early 1990’s, things were different, and unemployment was at 10%. Both Sandra and I were on the the wrong side of that talk in those days.
Scrambling to keep a roof over your head and food upon the table during an economic downturn sharpens the mind wonderfully. You do what needs to be done (or not), and sometimes that means working in commercial debt collection for a few years. Hardly a glamorous job, but that was all there was available. The experience of being made redundant however, also removes a level of trust in the system. If the system shafted you once, you know it’s a possibility again in the future. Hard to ignore that gritty reality. And when you note dark economic clouds looming on the horizon, you wonder what it all means, and hope that you’ve been prudent to an appropriate enough extent.
The present economic bubble has had an extraordinary run. In 1997, I watched the thing begin to be inflated with a sense of foreboding and dismay. The moment the problem brought itself to my awareness, was when a reasonably sized weatherboard house with a slightly larger than the usual land, sold well over the auction reserve and guidance price. The house was only just around the corner. There was no explanation as to why the property suddenly cost so much extra mad cash. With those facts and our previous painful experience, we made plans, then executed them.
Fast forward 26 years, and I never imagined the bubble could be inflated to such giddy heights, or for as long. Granted, it is an impressive effort, but also seems imprudent to me. All the while, over those years dark economic clouds have been gathering, and now they are looming. There are supply issues. Inflation is a problem. Geopolitics is a mess. The cost of money has risen. The local Bass Strait gas wells are in terminal decline. There’s a lot going on, and much of the news on the economic and energy front, frankly, is not good.
Perhaps Chris Storm Crow sees troubles where others see a party? It’s hard to say for sure. The lack of engagement in the blog comments with the subject last week interested me deeply. Regardless, both Sandra and I have been on the wrong end of the economic ‘talk’. It’s a possibility, and looking around, there’s trouble a-brewing.
Trouble seeps out of the cracks in unusual ways. Recently, I had a chance encounter with a bloke I know as a passing acquaintance. He knows what both Sandra and I do for a living, and (whilst he himself was enjoying a snack and coffee) asked if I was interested in doing some work for him. Frankly, we’re at capacity so I wasn’t excited, and made that clear to him. Curiosity got the better of me, and when asked about what sort of work was he talking about, he mentioned that he wanted some assistance with budgeting.
Far out! Imagine having a dialogue with someone, and you’re suggesting that perhaps the person needs to rein in their spending and live within their means! Yeah sure, people are receptive to that message. What a thankless task. If our big spending governments can’t seem to manage that outcome, how is the average bloke on the street going to conduct their financial affairs any better? Probably not well, with plenty of debt, that’s for sure.
The economic system which we partake of has a self correcting function. That’s what recessions and depressions are all about. They’re an inevitability, but as to timing, that’s the question most people want to know in advance. Possibly the person also wants a personalised warning. I can’t give such advice or even warning. All I see is storm clouds looming on the horizon, and they surely must mean something.
Storm clouds were physically on the horizon earlier this week. One of the storm clouds looked like the mother-ship, and it sure did dump a lot of rain quickly. Fortunately there was no alien invasion.
For several days, the weather was filthy wet and cold. The rain eventually stopped and we could begin work around the property. There are a number of projects about the farm all being done at the same time. Ordinarily it is my preference to focus on only one or two projects, but a person must be flexible and the outputs from one project is feeding into other projects.
We’re in the process of dismantling a large rock wall. The wall was used to retain soil for an area set aside for firewood storage and seasoning. That area has been too damp these past three La Nina years, and so hasn’t been used. The rocks are being recovered, relocated and used on the new low gradient ramp project.
Observant readers will note in the above photo that the soil downhill of the rock wall path is quite steep. Steep land is very difficult to maintain, and Sandra came up with the most excellent idea of creating a new succulent garden in that area. But first we needed a way to retain soil in that downhill area which required some large rocks.
It took a days work, but eventually the new lower rock wall fully was in place. Moving rocks is hard work, just ask Sisyphus!
The new low gradient ramp project has the complexity of having to deal with two drains, one from the driveway, and the other from the area in front of the house. In a big storm, or even just heavy rain, a lot of water can wash into that area. Even a well made low gradient ramp using compacted clay and large and heavy rocks might not survive such huge quantities of water during a storm. Something had to be done.
We recently decided to construct a drainage basin on the uphill side of the new low gradient path. The basin collects the water thus slowing the movement, then directing the excess water through a large pipe which sits under the ramp. Before we began any work this week, the area looked like this:
It took a lot of hours of digging to construct the shape of the drainage basin.
The excavated top soil was used to fill up the new succulent garden. And the excavated clay (below the top soil) was used as fill on the surface of the new low gradient ramp. The new succulent garden bed is now completely filled, and there was enough clay to get the incline on the new low gradient ramp spot on.
Observant readers will notice that in the above photo, much of the grass in the orchard has disappeared. During the excavations, Sandra drove the big low centre of gravity ride on mower through the orchard. And that machine is powerful enough to smooth out the land taking out humps and bumps. For all sorts of reasons, we call that machine by the name: Lil’ Piggy. It’s a beast of thing. And until recently, we haven’t been able to get the machine into that part of the orchard. The grass will regrow just fine, and in a couple of months time, you’d hardly be able to tell that such a thing had even happened.
The clay surface of the drainage basin might not hang together during a severe storm, so we carefully placed rocks over most of the surface of the basin. The rocks came from a steel rock gabion cage which we are in the process of emptying and relocating. The rock lining job wasn’t finished – mostly because we ran out of time. The job will get completed over the next week or so.
The drainage basin will be a wet area, and in such places, the best plants are ferns. There is a plan to obtain and plant a large tree fern in the area in which I’m standing in the above photo. Surrounding the tree fern will be smaller mother shield ferns. The plants will hopefully enjoy the damp conditions.
The family of magpies which live at the farm are always checking out the work we’ve done, usually hunting for exposed soil critters.
Despite having had such a short growing season, we’ve been harvesting some good quantities of produce. The small pumpkins which we nickname: The Bomb, have produced several trays of tasty pumpkins. Yum! And the fruit stores really well for many months.
After last weeks bonkers hot Saturday, and vague threats from me to remove the plants, the Eggplants finally got their act together and began producing. The only eggplants possible to grow here in this cool climate are a thinner variety (Slim Jim).
A turmeric tuber was planted in a pot months and months ago. Nothing much happened. But then a week or so ago a single shoot appeared. It is very possible that a rat chewed the top off this shoot. It is very unwise for the rats to bring themselves to my attention in this way.
On the other hand, the ginger tuber has produced an enormous shoot. I’m uncertain what is going on below soil level, but I’d hope the tubers are getting larger. Both tubers grow in the greenhouse.
The most easily grown form of ginger in this cool mountainous climate is the Japanese Ginger. This week, the plant has produced some flowers, which are apparently edible and quite tasty.
The fruits on the Babaco (a cool climate pawpaw) almost look as if they have the beginnings of a slight yellow shade which apparently indicates that the fruit is on its way to becoming ripe. Fingers crossed, the fruit does ripen as it’s very tasty and almost like a lemon sorbet.
The hops vines continue to produce hops flowers. In future years we might have to do something with these flowers. But this year all the vines need do is grow.
A really hardy fruit is the Chilean Guava. The fruit is very tasty, but so hard to pick due to how small they are. I reckon the plants are worth the garden space and they produce an excellent hedge.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 123.2mm (4.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 110.6mm (4.4 inches)