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.

Dark storm clouds loom on the horizon

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.

The author relocates large rocks for use 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.

The lower rock wall for the new succulent garden begins to take shape

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:

Dame Plum and I are near to where the water from the two drains collects

It took a lot of hours of digging to construct the shape of the drainage basin.

Dame Plum supervises the excavations

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.

Dame Plum approves of the excavation work on the new drainage basin and incline on the ramp

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 was lined with rocks. Ruby admires the work

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 new succulent garden is now full of top soil and is far less steep than previously

The family of magpies which live at the farm are always checking out the work we’ve done, usually hunting for exposed soil critters.

A magpie sifts through the newly excavated site

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.

A tray of pumpkins we nickname: The Bomb

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).

Finally, some eggplants

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.

A single shoot has appeared from this Turmeric tuber

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 Ginger tuber shoot is now quite large

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.

Japanese Ginger flowers – apparently edible

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 Babaco fruit are intriguing, but will they ripen?

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.

More hops flowers have been produced this week

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.

Chilean Guavas edge closer to being ripe

Onto the flowers:

Ruby is a lovely flower, but then so are the edible perennial Wall-Rockets
How lovely are Rosemary flowers?
Blue Hydrangeas grow well in shady spots in the garden
The Roses continue to delight
This Rose is in it’s first year and looks great

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)

43 thoughts on “Escapism”

  1. Yo, Chris – “Dark Storm Clouds” photo. Before I read what you said, I thought, “I bet the mother-ship is lurking in there.” 🙂 Looks like a still from the alien invasion flick, “Nope.” You knew something was up when one of the characters says, “Have you noticed that cloud hasn’t moved in a week?”

    Tell me about a number of projects. More will be revealed …

    The new ramp. I’m not quit sure about the orientation of your place, but will they become “The East Ramp” and “The West Ramp?” When’s the ribbon cutting? Will there be cake? And pies? 🙂

    When I used to go to Olympia, I noticed the new housing projects usually had really large drainage basins. And, green belts. I think they were built into the zoning laws and construction permissions.

    “Drainage basin was lined with rocks.” Better be careful where you stand. Looks like the launching pad to the mother-ship. 🙂 .

    Drill three holes in the Bomb, and it becomes the Bowling Ball. As predicted, the rats nipped the turmeric. 🙁 . Or maybe it was a very large bug. Tragic, in either case. The ginger flower looks very orchid like. Very pretty. The pawpaw is a very interesting shape. One wonders what evolutionary pressures were in play, for that outcome.

    Hmm. I wonder, if like some other plants, if you removed the hop flowers, if they’d put more energy into the vines? Solid gardening wisdom or old wive’s tale?

    Harvesting the guava is about as fussy as harvesting currents. You have to go Zen, or otherwise, loose your mind. Funny. I noticed today that our venerable old Rosemary is also beginning to flower.

    The Hydrangea is a real knock out. We have several varieties, here at the Institution. It’s one of the workshop / seminars that the Master Gardeners put on. I’ve never gone, but attendance is usually pretty good. The roses, as always, are really pretty. Particularly the two-toned one.

    The big reveal … 🙂 Well, I spent the afternoon doing this and that while trying to walk and chew gum. Potted up 15 Elephant Garlic for the Master Gardeners sale. Moved about 9 into my stock tank plot. The Elephant Garlic was in a solid mat of weeds. Teasing them out without damaging the stems and bulbs was … interesting. I took down some fencing that will be in the way of the Master Gardeners replacing the top stringer in that raised garden bed.

    While that was going on, I was doing a bit of laundry. So, when I nipped in to move stuff from washer to dryer, I took a detour into the public bathroom that we have. The bog was plugged. Dealt with that, although it is above my pay grade. Another case of, “If not me, who?”

    Less than an hour to kill, before walking H. Guess I’ll start dinner, and maybe read a bit of “The Devil’s Element.” Lew

  2. Hi Chris,
    I’m very concerned about our shared financial trajectory. As someone who has never been poor (though I had a frugal childhood, and still believe in frugality), I don’t fear poverty — but I do fear the political blowback when the rug is pulled out from under a whole heap of people and they realise the future wealth they were promised was illusory.
    I’ve been saying to people, in a gentle way, for the last decade that they should pay down their mortgage as quickly as possible, and that tough economic times were coming. It just doesn’t seem get through, even to intelligent people who are financially literate.
    On happier topics, we’ve harvested about 200kg of fruit so far this year, have bottled about 1/2 of it. Our macadamia is hitting its stride and has about 100 nuts, the walnut, chestnut, and hazel are going well but are years away from a sizeable harvest. I’m about to remove the tomatoes and plant out the winter veg. It’s tempting to forgo the broad beans, because we always grow way more than we eat, but perhaps (5% chance?) this could be the year that we want to eat them. I think 2024 or 2025 is more likely to be the year of broad beans…
    Cheers, Gus

  3. Hi Gus,

    Mostly these days I ask people how they envision that their kids will be able to purchase a house. It’s an upsetting question, always generates some emotional heat, but all the same, it’s worthy of being asked. My gut feeling is that most people want this economic outcome, although there are some like you and I who are feeling very uncomfortable.

    I’m not entirely certain about political blow-backs, if only because most of the major parties seem to be heavily invested in the economic policies producing this outcome and appear to have little vision of any alternative. It is very possible that one day, they’ll be forced to live within their means that lot. What they’ll do then is anyone’s guess.

    I agree with your suggested strategy of debt reduction, although it is an unpopular perspective. The economic rug has already been pulled out from a number of people due to the recent increase in the cost of money, and I read an article a while ago on the subject of people accessing their super under financial hardship applications in order to pay their mortgages.

    The key to that sort of thinking is, and I’m guessing here: People believe they are missing out. That’s how it looks like to me. Sir Isaac Newton allegedly lost 20,000 pounds in the South Sea bubble, and if he couldn’t pick the top of the market, what’s the chances of the likes of you or I doing better? He seemed like a bright fellow! 🙂

    The economic outcomes are being pursued with a single mindedness which rather astounds me. Maybe the folks with their hands on the policy levers don’t have any better ideas?

    Far out! Respect for your harvest. Gus, there are times I envy your flat land and warmer climate. 🙂 The nut trees are likewise many years away from a decent harvest, although warmer years than the last couple of growing seasons produce a good supply of almonds.

    The tomatoes are winding up here too, and every couple of days we’re dehydrating whatever is ripe or close to ripe. Maybe your broad beans are a green manure crop? 😉 I much prefer the more usual beans, although broad beans produce really early because they can over winter. Anyway, even here growing space is at a premium, so grow what you enjoy eating is my take on that story.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, unfortunately the cloud did move, and like the mothership inhabitants, it came to get us. It has rained every day here for almost the past two weeks. Not that I’m complaining, but a bit of sunshine would be nice to dry the place out. In early afternoon, I headed down to the local sand and soil business and picked up a trailer load of the crushed rock with lime. In the driving rain, the material was placed on the surface of the new ramp. Too much rain = a slooshy walking surface when it’s a clay surface. Now the ramp can be walked upon in wet weather.

    Whilst I was picking up the crushed rock, I swung past the plant nursery. They didn’t have any tree ferns. So, these plants come from logging coups in the Island state of Tasmania. The reason for the supply issue was that whilst it has been wet here, further south in Tasmania, it was even wetter and that has affected logging operations etc. I got in contact with a specialist fern nursery I know of, and they can supply the tree fern, although I’ll have to head out on another day.

    Oh, and whilst I was outside this afternoon working in the rain, I was able to observe the flow of water, and the drainage basin just worked. That’s what I like, simple infrastructure which works. You can ask for more than that, but you might not get it!

    Yes. More projects, and we’re having to do a few of them all at the same time. It’s a case of juggling materials for each of the projects so that very little waste is generated. But yeah, reveal seems to be the way of it.

    The new ramp is technically the north-west facing ramp, whilst the other one is on the south-eastern side of the farm. Don’t you reckon for simplicities sake we could simply refer the two ramps as the ‘new’ one and the ‘existing’ one?

    They’ve started using those drainage basins around these parts too. I noticed that one such project is on land that I’ve seen submerged and what possibly in the past was a swamp. Guess all the better options were taken? The works are huge too, massive basins and ditches. I should go and have a look to see how they’re working.

    Prepare for lift off! Or, prepare for a tree fern. 😉 They start at five feet and are in one foot increments to ten foot. A ten foot one would look amazing, but I reckon it would affect the overall artistic composition of the drainage infrastructure negatively (not to mention the bank account!)

    Very funny about the three holes. The pumpkins (your squash) were so named because the Editor once failed to drill a hole in the skin prior to roasting one in the oven. The clean-up experience was what might be called a salutary lesson. Incidentally, whilst she was reading Mr King’s book ‘Fairy Tale’ earlier today, she enjoyed a good laugh about the candid comparison of the books Frankenstein and Dracula – if only because she felt the same. Honestly, I wanted to put Dr Frankenstein out of his existential worries – permanently.

    You did call that correctly with the turmeric. How did you know that was going to happen?

    The Babaco is an interesting plant as it is some sort of weird hybrid with only female flowers so may never have been naturally produced other than by sheer chance. The fruit are possibly sterile. Looking at how the plants are reproduced, it is very possible that they are all clones.

    Possibly so with some plants, but hop vines are akin Triffids in that they grow really fast. Simon, of the blog in the blog list tells me that they are very difficult plants to get rid of once they’re well established.

    I will remember your sage advice when picking either Chilean guavas or currants. 🙂 Your rosemary is heralding in the warmer weather. Do you actually use rosemary? I chuck it into salads, but only sparingly. When I was a kid they used to add it to roast lamb – a knife would create a slit in the meat and some rosemary would be shoved in. Quite tasty, although lamb is a fatty meat.

    It’s blue! 🙂

    Do you find that elephant garlic is milder tasting than other forms of garlic? Weeds are always an issue! Good luck.

    Some folks can be very unpleasant when it comes to public toilets, and I’d imagine that if too many issues were raised in relation to that facility, the door will be locked and that will be it.

    Lewis, I stand corrected! Yes, all of those reasons for livestock are historically valid. Over the years I’ve heard of a few instances where dowry’s were mentioned, although in these enlightened times gold or mad cash was the going rate. Nothing wrong with 30 sheep though. I saw that once on a show from the UK.

    A willow would probably be a bit big for the drainage pit, a tree fern will have to do. 🙂 I grow a few willows, and they’re super hardy plants, and I quite enjoy their shape and weeping habit. They just look good. There’s a lot of bad press about them, but every plant has its place. Sometimes some plants get volunteered to be in the super-evil category, and willows seem to have made that classification grade down here. Did you know that the timber is used to make cricket bats (for the game)?

    Hehe! Mate, I didn’t press Mr Greer, no point in annoying him after all. I could probably do that trick without trying! And you laugh when I say the ‘patterns aren’t right’. 🙂

    There’s probably that too with them, but then who said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Those lot would send me loopy with all their distractions. What do they do all day?

    Hmm! An intriguing topic which I’m glad you’re reading about. It’s a real problem that mineral. Not saying it’s the case, but did you notice the fish kills up north recently? The whole mess is a self correcting problem sorry to say. And you may note that nowadays with that lack in mind, I do add blood and bone meal to my coffee grounds + agricultural lime mix. There’s a reason for that. If you really think the book is worth its weight, please let me know and I’ll grab a copy and have a read?



  5. Hello Chris
    Finance is one of my main interests, it obviously touches on the economy. I am in face to face discussion on this subject, frequently. However I prefer not to do this on the internet. Perhaps some others feel the same. I did smile at the notion of someone asking for help with budgeting. Certainly using cash is important.

    We are still being inundated with rain and the ground has become extremely slippery at a time when I am preparing to plant. I walk around with extreme care. The wind was so extreme a previous night, that it succeeded in bringing down a ladder that was on one of my shed roofs.


  6. Yo, Chris – The aliens on the mothership might come from a water world. 🙂

    I thought your drainage basin might be a “French drain,” but I see, not. But French drains, can be very useful, in their place.

    LOL. You just can’t keep it simple. As in, north/south, east/west. Even simpler, how about “new” and “old?” Oh, well. Whatever. They’re you’re ramps. What will the directional signposts say? 🙂

    Yes, might as well start small, with the tree fern, and grow your own, from smaller ones. It would be quit a financial hit, if you lost a big one. I wondered how you propagate tree ferns. A look in the rabbit hole (“How to propagate tree ferns”) yielded some interesting articles. Doesn’t sound that hard.

    Tell me about clean up experiences. Here at Casa Lew, bananas are no longer stored in the oven. 🙂

    How did I know the shot was going to be nipped? I’m psychic, of course. 🙂 No, tender shots are irresistible to a lot of critters. Maybe put a glass jar over it?

    I can’t think of anything I’ve used Rosemary for, except for fish. Not that much fresh fish comes my way.

    Oh, yes. The Elephant Garlic is pretty mild. It’s about as nutritious as regular garlic. It’s not segmented, so, just one big bulb. Once you get the outer skin off, it can be quit slick. So care must be taken with knives and fingers.

    Our public toilet was shut down, during You Know What. Which created hardships for the Master Gardeners and the postie. For the duration, only the building manager, could use it. Which created more hard feelings. I think she extended the lockdown, a bit, as she quit enjoyed having the only key to the Executive Washroom. It has overflowed, from time to time. Which is why I took care of it, right away. Theoretically, I’m not supposed to do that, but leave a work order. And, I’m not even supposed to post a notice, that there is a problem. Same with the washers and dryers.

    And, some willows can be used as an aspirin substitute. No, I did not know cricket bats were made out of willow wood. I’m ready for the next pub quiz!

    Oh, I never thought your “patterns aren’t right,” was funny. Sometimes, the patterns AREN’t right. And should be paid attention to.

    I’m finding “The Devil’s Element” to be quit interesting. Maybe you can read a bit of it on-line, and see what you think. Phosphorous runoff from the dairy and agricultural industries, create a lot of problems, downstream. But their lobbies are so strong, very little is done about it.

    I saw a good quote, the other day. “I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.” Henry James. I think Oscar Wilde … and Groucho Marx said something similar 🙂 .

    Well, more garden work tonight, and tomorrow night, and then I should be pretty well prepped, for when the Master Gardeners show up on Wednesday. And, yes, I’m doing my stretching. Lew

  7. Chris;
    My dad was born in 1932, just about the peak ( or should I say the depth) of the great depression. Youngest of five kids, to a family that scraped by like everyone else. Even with the New Deal, the depression never really ended till WW2 jolted things.

    Point is, he and most others of that time learned frugality and the need for hard work just to keep afloat, but the lessons seem to be forgotten by later generations. While he passed on a certain mindset to me, it seems like an awful lot of my boomer generation never got the lesson, or thought we were all past that era of boom and bust cycles.

    The U.S. has been on quite a tear from the end of WW2 to around 1970, and even after that, financial legerdemain has masked the ongoing cycle. 2008 was a wakeup call, but hitting the snooze button did not change reality.

    With the mother of all busts nearing, some folks are in for crash course in economics.

    Finished my tree tapping and syrup making today. We only have a few trees suitable, but have around 6 liters of syrup on the shelf now. More than enough for the two of us.

    Just finished reading “The Overstory”, which has some apocalyptic overtones, so sorry for the downer tone of my note.

  8. Hi Inge,

    It is an interesting topic, and I work at the coal face where there is far more reality, and way less ideals with that topic, but possibly a whole bunch of emotional content. As a sweeping generalisation, I’d have to suggest that people are biding their time waiting to see what will happen. Probably an unwise strategy to attempt to pick the top of the market, but that is merely an opinion.

    I agree, the interweb is no place for such details.

    The request for assistance with budgeting suggests much about the persons character and desires. Not being a client, I can speak about the people who bring themselves to my attention by wanting something.

    At this early stage of the growing season, do you have any idea as to what your growing season may eventually work out like? If things were suddenly flipped upside down, it would also be rather damp here too – as it is right now, having rained every day for the past fortnight. Ouch! Ladders are rather light weight and can be easily blown around sorry to say. Has the ladder been found?



  9. Hi Steve,

    A person I’ve known for many decades, was born to a couple who migrated here from Italy in the mid to late 1960’s. We haven’t spoken for a year or so now, but a few years ago he recounted to me a story about his family making the tomato based passata sauce. It’s usually a family bonding time in that culture, and in a day they’ll all produce and bottle (your version of canning) a huge quantity of the sauce which then gets distributed. The bloke said to me a few years ago that the family no longer does the sauce day thing, because apparently the stuff is cheaper to buy at the shops. He looked disappointed by that, as he also was into growing his own produce. It’s an option I guess to buy the stuff. And that’s progress for you. To me it looks like people are running away, rather than running towards something, but that is merely an opinion.

    Mate, I had a similar sort of upbringing, because if I were smarter I would have learned more from my grandfather who likewise grew up in the Depression era. On the other hand, and this may apply to you as well, the lack of competency around me, forced me to learn how to re-learn a lot of this stuff. It’s funny you mention this, but…

    It isn’t just your country either, we’ve been living beyond our means down under for quite a while, although we tend to run an even balance of trade. On the other hand there is something crazy like 138 bull-zhit-airs (!) and that tends to suggest to me that money ain’t worth what it once was.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why folks aren’t getting their houses in order. Beats me. My best guess is that most people are afraid of missing the top of the market, and are thus taking a wait and see approach, but picking that point is an extraordinarily difficult task, if not impossible.

    Well done you. An impressive achievement. Am I correct in thinking that you may have begun the process with between 200L and 300L of tree sap?

    Surprisingly, I’m relatively upbeat about the subject. Sure the news on that front ain’t good, but I’m guessing it may open up some opportunities for changes in our collective ways.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    That’s good, oh yeah! A water world indeed. 🙂 Hope they can play nice with us all.

    Maybe about half a year ago, Goran mentioned French drains, and I wouldn’t really use them here. That’s not suggesting they wouldn’t work, I just wouldn’t know how to maintain the things without digging the whole drain up. The rock lined drainage basin will be far easier for me to maintain, and I believe that any excess organic matter ending up in the basin, will get washed through into the next layer down of drains. The pipe under the path is a foot in diameter, so will be very hard to block up. Not impossible, just very unlikely. And the ferns root systems will eventually stabilise the soil under the rocks and work towards holding the whole thing together. That’s the plan anyway.

    You got me there. A bit of technical accuracy doesn’t hurt in this case if only because both low gradient ramp paths point in the same direction, but are at opposite ends of the property. Thanks for the suggestion, and it shall be as you say: ‘new’ and ‘old’ – very difficult to muck up.

    The talk of directional signposts reminded me of the dodgy sign post at the centre of the camp in the series MASH. Quite charming in it’s own way and quite iconic just quietly sitting there in the background.

    Had to laugh. I’m reading through the collected works of Jack Vance (hey, there’s a lot of books to get through!) and in the latest mystery genre book finished today: ‘The Deadly Isles’, the author included a couple of Aussie blokes in the late 1960’s. The dialogue was a hoot! And the author, who travelled through that area of the Pacific and even lived for a while there, must have recorded every bit of Aussie slang he’d ever heard. Truly, to an outsider, the spoken language used in the dialogue, must have sounded incomprehensible, and Mr Vance would have loved it. I’m guessing that in those days our spoken language had drifted from the more official English (and news presenters always put on a fake English sounding accent or more correctly, inflection, in those days) but in these enlightened days, the language has been pulled in another direction, and you’d most certainly be able to comprehend what was spoken. Except for some of the bits in the original Mad Max AKA The Road Warrior film. Candidly, even I had troubles understanding what the actors were saying – possibly an intention feature and added to the mystique of the film?

    Did you know that tree ferns are plants with an incredibly long lineage which pre-dates the dinosaurs? From what I understand, they grow very slowly, about an inch or two per year so I might go for a larger fern on the basis that it will look better.

    Oh no!!!! Yes, I can see that bananas in the oven would be a risky decision which was OK, until the incident.

    Not a bad idea with the glass jar over the young turmeric shoot.

    Not much fresh fish here either, although I’d imagine that the creeks and dams around here would have yabbies. It’s something of a combined blessing and curse having yabbies in dams. Sometimes, they’ll burrow into the soil and cause a leak in an otherwise stable dam.

    The large bulbing onions people see for sale in the supermarkets are quite slick too once the outer layer of skin has been removed. This would be the sort you’d find in markets: Onion ‘Australian Brown’ Allium cepa

    Mate, I had a boss long ago who had his own private toilet and bathroom installed – he could afford it. An interesting bloke, but something of a germaphobe and refused to use the facilities the rest of us had to.

    I’m guessing at the root of the reluctance to post notices and/or work orders, is KPI’s (key performance indicators) and probably complicated rules. Overflowing toilets is a problem on a few fronts.

    What do you mean only some willows? I thought they all had that bark you could use to make the tea? Anyway, I heard a story somewhere – the Editor may have heard it and then recounted it to me – about someone over doing it with willow bark tea. Hey, always handy to win the local pub quiz. Back in the day, the prize used to be meat trays. Not much good if you’re a vegetarian, although the dogs and chickens wouldn’t say no. 🙂

    🙂 Thank you, and when the patterns aren’t right, something’s wrong for sure. Best to stay alert at such times and consider possible courses of action.

    The river systems in the island nation to the east extending to south of us, hobbits and stuff, is I believe having exactly those sorts of troubles with their river systems for similar reasons. Not quite so pure.

    Mate, that’s one of the big lies told to me when I was a kid. It’s idiotic to believe that you can get along with everyone, yet they told me that story. It seems like something of a psychotic delusion, if you ask me. Anyway, Henry James, he’s on the money. A brilliant quote. Hmm, the library could do well by including one of his works.

    Was the weather conducive to your garden work? Hope you don’t overdo it? Although, I’m one to talk of such matters. I broke my rule last weekend about moving only six large rocks per day. Limits are there for a reason! 🙂 Oh well, moving on, nothing to see there.



  11. Hi Chris;
    sap to syrup- In all honesty, I did not keep careful track of my sap volumes, but yes, you have to boil off quite a bit of water to get syrup that will store well. Above a certain sugar content, bacteria and fungi just can’t make a go of it, thank heavens. My ratio was in the neighborhood of 30 or 35:1, ( judging by how many times I emptied buckets) so around 180-200 liters of sap.

    Relearning lessons- Yup, it’s one thing to read a book on gardening or woodworking, it’s quite another to physically do the tasks. Tacit learning takes time, and for many things, you only get one learning cycle per year. Not something you’d want to start when the wolf is already at the door.
    I had some thoughts on this a few years ago:

    I haven’t changed my mind since.

  12. Hello Chris
    The ladder was visible nearby on the ground.
    Have absolutely no idea what our growing season will be like, the weather does its best to have fun.


  13. Hi, Chris!

    I think it might be simpler for the bloke on the street to manage his economic affairs, though not necessarily easier. He is supposed to have parameters that say: “You don’t spend it if you don’t have it. Or only if the money (ha!) is guaranteed to be there later.” Though for some reason, some people think that those they borrow from don’t really expect to be repaid. That is theft. The government has not had those boundaries and has gotten away with fooling Mother Nature for a long time. I’d say they are going to find out that it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature (it is my contention that economics follows certain natural cycles).

    I have a book of Winston Churchill’s called “The Gathering Storm” which is about the events leading up to WWII. I have only read part of it, but I would say that we are now in the same sort of storm. Hopefully I am wrong, though not about the storm part.

    Does Sun Tzu say anything about debt?

    I must go work in the garden. Hope to get back to you later.


  14. Yo, Chris – Is the culvert wide enough in diameter? 🙂

    Directional signposts can be fun. Did you run across any in your travels?

    In “The Accidental Detectorist”, they used a lot of slang. Not only detectorist slang, but British slang. I had to resort to Gargle, in a few places. I see “The Detectorists” BBC series (sadly, ended after three seasons) is going to yield a movie! I’m sure it will be great fun.

    Yes, I knew tree ferns were dinosaur nosh. Right along with horsetail. Ferns, in general, are so interesting.

    Most groceries here carry brown onions (like yours) and also red and white. And then there’s the Walla Walla Sweet. It’s a non-hybrid, originally from Corsica. It doesn’t keep well, so people look forward to “the season.”

    Yes, willow tea, for pain, can be overdone. Best taken in small doses. Just about any willow will work, but herbal knowledge seems to favor the White Willow.

    Well, that was interesting. The prevailing winds carry enough phosphorous from Africa, to keep the Amazon forests fertilized. There’s a lot of phosphorous, around the world, to keep people pretty much supplied for a long time. But, it may be used as a political chip. Right now, about 80% of the world’s phosphorous comes from Morocco. From a contested area. One thing the author didn’t mention, we might hit peak oil, before we hit peak phosphorous. The world might not run out of phosphorous, but will we be able to move it around? Of course, human poo is a rich source of phosphorous, and there was a chapter on night soil men, and Asian farming.

    I worked some more in the garden, last night. Getting things all prepped for a big push with the master gardeners, tomorrow.

    Henry James. You might look into “The Library of America.” They publish the complete works of dozens of authors. They have a deluxe, slip cased version, but also put out a more proletariate binding. 🙂 That’s what our library gets, and they seem to be well bound and hold up remarkable well. I notice they have Henry James. Four volumes of him.

    Well, I had my 34th AA birthday, today. As it was biscuits and gravy day, I picked up a lemon pudding cake, from the grocery. My buddy Scott showed up (hadn’t seen him in months) and brought me a new pair of kicks (aka, Also Known As, shoes.) I think this is the fourth pair, Scott has passed on to me. As he buys them, and they don’t fit, but fit me fine. One of the women at the Club wanted to know why he just didn’t take them back. We had to explain to her, “Because we’re guys.” 🙂 We don’t take stuff back. Or, ask for road directions, either. Julia also showed up. And H had several plates to clean. Lew

  15. Hi Pam, Inge and Steve,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however the mid week hiatus is now in force, and sadly the spirit is willing to reply, but the flesh is weak. I went to the nearby town this evening to get my haircut and whilst there we got some food. It now being late and still not having that lost hour back (apparently it returns this weekend, hopefully not soiled), I’ve been having to get up in the dark, and well that’s awful and somehow the day just doesn’t feel right from that point onwards. A travesty! In less flowery and more practical terms, I’ve genuinely run out of time. Speak tomorrow!



  16. Hi Lewis,

    We could ask DJ about the diameter of the culvert, but then he may think that we’re teasing him. This is not the case, after the landslide I take drainage matters seriously.

    Got about a five cubic yard delivery of the crushed rock with lime today. Diesel is a wonderful thing. It would have taken me sixteen runs in both directions to pick up that quantity of crushed rock. Oh, the background for that, well, it has rained every day for two weeks, and the place is yet again beginning to resemble a rainforest, and all that excavation work we did near to the long mead hall shed, requires some protection from the elements. A lot of crushed rock with lime is required for that job, and it turned up on a truck this afternoon.

    Actually it is funny you ask that, but I have seen quite a number of unusual sign posts in my travels. Strangely enough, they were often associated with the hippies, especially those up in the far north eastern part of the continent. They might be winning, you know? Never really felt satisfied with the answer that they weren’t winning, if only because they looked like they were having a good time. And if they had the property story sorted out. There’s a lot of multiple occupancy properties up in that part of the world.

    The Editor had heard of the Detectorists, and I must say the caption I read in relation to the show: “eccentric friends in the Danebury Metal Detecting Club” sounds very amusing. Did they ever discover their one true find? The Urban Dictionary is quite good for interpreting English slang words, and some of them are quite naughty indeed. I almost innocently used one of the slang words once and thought that investigating the definition would be a good idea. Turns out, it was! Imagine what the lovely English folks commenting here would think if I’d used the naughty word?

    I agree, there really is something very prehistoric about ferns. The higher you go up in the mountain range, the more commonly found they are. Super hardy plants too, and they’re some of the first to recover from fires – they must enjoy the mineral feed and lack of competition.

    Ah, those three onions are ones usually found here, with the brown being the most common, and the red being the least likely to be found. Those market brown onions would probably work quite well here, given they originated not all that far away. Interesting, the seeds for that sweet variety of onion are sold down under. It seems like an unfussy onion. Hmm.

    I’d heard that about the herbal lore, and that’s why one of those willows is grown here. We have three different varieties of willows, and I reckon they look great.

    Hey, I’d had that thought too about peak oil. It’s all very well to have phosphorous in Africa, but if you had to get it here by sailing ship, the stuff would be used very sparingly. I suspect the rainfall here will leach a lot of the phosphorous, and the forests will hungrily take the stuff up, but some will stay in the vegetation and soil. And we do get our own manure into the soil – not to mention anything else that was once alive. I tend to believe that the inability of our civilisation to better manage the soil minerals we have access too will be one of the reasons for our downfall. We’re kind of doing things on the cheap by dumping the stuff in the oceans, but are people prepared to pay – I don’t think so. It ain’t cheap for me to get all this stuff back in the soil.

    Hope you’re doing OK after all that hard work? And that the master gardeners appreciate the work you have done.

    Henry James had quite the famous ghost story from what I was reading. Have you read that particular book?

    Congrats! A notable achievement, and respect. Make sure someone doesn’t try to take your new pumped-up-kicks! 🙂 I agree with you in all respects in this matter. It’s a guy thing. 😉 Go H!



  17. Chris:


    Yesterday I noticed that the state had finished a new drainage basin on one side of the little 2-lane highway that I drive eight miles into town. It is nothing compared to the attractive one that you are building, but doesn’t look too bad. Let’s hope theirs is functional! As for the magpie, he says: “It’s all for me, me, me!”

    Lil’ Piggy and Mr. Diggy would make quite a team. Yesterday my son was cutting down a pine tree and it got hung up in another tree. Before Mr. Diggy that would have been rather a worry. No more! My son just had Mr. D pull it down with the grappling claw he had fabricated.

    I like those skinny eggplants. I wonder if the Chilean Guavas can stand our winters here? I would like to try some. I am so glad that you are making more room for succulents. I only have them -er, one – in the house.

    Thanks for the flowers, as always, especially the rosemary.


  18. Yo, Chris – Good on ya, for getting in all that crushed rock with lime. Before winter REALLY sets in.

    Well, the Hippies were a mixed bag, but overall, I think contributed more to culture than they took away. What was that book I read last year about their contribution to food knowledge, in general? And, at least the glimmer of alternative forms of energy. Conservation of resources. Etc..

    Oh, “The Detectorists” was a lot of fun. Quirky British types on full display. Whimsical. Wry. Did they find “the one true find?” That would be spoilers. 🙂

    I can see where the Walla Walla Sweet Onions would grow in parts of your country. Here, they grow over on the dry side of the mountains. At least, commercially. Dry, hot summers.

    I finished “The Devil’s Element.” A good read. There are several places where there’s good work being done in taking phosphorus (among other things), out of the waste stream. Hamburg, Germany is doing a lot. The waste steam of two million people.

    Speaking of the library, I see the George Orwell, Great Courses is waiting for me at the library. I’ll pick it up, this afternoon, but don’t know when I’ll get around to watching it.

    The Master Gardeners were here, this morning. I potted up 11 Vinca (a ground cover), 10 for the sale, and one for me, to get it started, again. We have a new member, El. She’s from Scotland. She drafted her husband into helping out with the construction project, this morning. A lot was accomplished, and the new timbers will go in, next week. I’ve got a lot to do. Clean out my one bed. Which is pretty much solid parsley :-). Most of that I’ll turn under. I’m not losing all that nice biomass. Last night, I finished digging out the weed mat, from one of the other beds. I salvaged a lot of Elephant Garlic, and they took it, this morning. Didn’t go to waste.

    I don’t think I read “Turn of the Screw.” I might have seen a dramatization, of it. Maybe. It’s been done, several times. As I remember, it moved very slowly. And, in typical Victorian fashion, sometimes it was hard to figure out what in the heck was going on. But I may be miss-remembering. Lew

  19. Hi Steve,

    Many thanks for the info on the backyard sugaring. Mate, I’d be pretty happy with 6 Litres of maple syrup. 🙂 It’s a good outcome, and I’ve got two sort of large sugar maples – which happily survive hot weather – and may plant out more. And I agree, sugar is an exceptionally good preserving agent.

    My thoughts exactly! Yup, it’s those tasks that you only do once or twice a year which are the hardest to recall. But book learning is close to reality, but not the same thing at all. I’m sure you’ve read technical manuals where important steps have been left out? Talk about painful. Hmm.

    Thanks for the link and I’ll have a re-read later tonight.



  20. Hi Inge,

    Hope you are doing OK given recent events? Life can be a rough road sometimes.

    Glad to hear that the ladder was found not too far away. On the subject of ladders, this afternoon I observed an old bloke high up an enormous extension ladder. He appeared to be way off the ground cutting a branch off a pine tree which was overhanging his driveway. The ladder was leaning against the same branch he was sawing away upon. That itself is a risky manoeuvre, but what troubled me was that in order to get the ladder just that little bit higher, he’d placed the ladder feet on the surface of his car trailer. Just so much to go wrong there… I wanted to stop and take a photo (this is what things looked like prior to the incident), but then such people are best left to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by me. Can you imagine such a thing happening?

    Ha! Very amusing, and the weather plays tricks upon us all down here too. Incidentally, the forecast was for a dry autumn. So far this has proven to be remarkably incorrect – the oceans surrounding this continent are now quite warm and producing moisture in the form of clouds.



  21. Hi Pam,

    That’s some sound advice, which a lot of people roundly ignore, sad to say. It’s my outlook upon the world. In fact: Spend less than you earn, and you won’t have to worry about budgeting, is also a way out of the mess. I dunno though, I suspect the contrary to common sense beliefs derive from the very top of the food chain. I must add that I’m rather impressed at the efforts spent on fixing blame anywhere else other than that lot.

    Hey, I’ve had a recent encounter with someone wanting to borrow, and I could see their intentions of not repaying. Didn’t go there, lot’s of feathers were ruffled in the incident, but hey, last I checked, I ain’t a bank.

    I agree about the natural cycles and economics, and yes, Mother Nature cannot be fooled. She runs an accurate ledger that lady, best not mess with her biz! 🙂

    Yes, sadly there are a lot of things going on right now. And I’d imagine in Mr Churchill’s words you might be getting a good glimpse into the process of ‘End of Empire’ in that book?

    Ooo! The edition I read on the treatise ‘The Art of War’ contained a further volume penned by another author from around those days, whom from memory was named Wu Tzu. It’s funny you ask that question, but I do recall reading something about not beggaring the kingdom in needless war.

    Hope the garden is doing well? It’s winding down here, and has rained every day for almost two weeks. Bonkers weather.

    Many thanks, and I hope to get a large tree fern into the drainage basin over the next few days. And the basin works really well and exactly as intended. When you’re on the side of a hill, soil levels are kind of important! 🙂

    Nice work, and yes, trees in those circumstances are very dangerous. Oh yeah.

    Hopefully the skinny eggplants taste OK? We’ll find out, and given they’re in the greenhouse they still have a few growing weeks left to go.

    Chilean Guavas: Here is a link to the local gardening club notes on the plant: Chilean Guavas. Our zones are different from yours, and my cold zone is 9B, so they can survive colder conditions than here – certainly they’ve survived -2’C / 28’F. Well no wonder. They can survive cold zone 8 (Australian definitions). From the Australian Bureau of Statistics site that means: Zone 8 – Alpine (low humidity, high diurnal range, four distinct seasons. winter can exceed human comfort range, cold to very cold winters with majority of rainfall. Some snowfall, warm to hot, dry summers, variable spring and autumn conditions.) I’d say worth giving a try in your garden. The fruit tastes like lemonade, and the plant self seeds here. Brr!

    Hehe! Candidly, the occasional hard frost does damage the succulents, but they tend to recover – and sometimes in strange ways. Keep that succulent warm, and probably in the house. 🙂



  22. Hi Lewis,

    The weather here of late has been something of an unexpected surprise. The weather bureau forecast a dry and warm autumn. That hasn’t happened. The waters surrounding the continent are quite warm and all that evaporation is producing significant cloud cover as well as persistent rain. And the scale of the rain is extraordinary. Just this week there have been two large cloud bands sweeping down from the NW of the continent. Both originated in the tropical Indian Ocean. On one day this week, I believe every single climate zone in this state, the one to the north (New South Wales), and the island state (Tasmania) to the south had rain falling. That rarely occurs. Bonkers huge storms.

    Anyway, after two weeks of rain every single day, something had to give, thus the crushed rock delivery. We’ve put a bit of it down on the freshly excavated surfaces over the past few days. It’s a big job, so best if spread out over a number of days. Not a fan of mud.

    Hope to sort out the tree fern over the next few days. It’s exciting!

    I agree, over the years I’ve rather enjoyed chats with some of the back-to-the-land folks. Usually they’re really lovely people. I’d imagine that the idiot-element was flushed out of that movement early on, after all, it is a lot of work. And you’re right, a lot of the technology I rely upon here originated from the hippy movement. It’s been a bit refined since those days, but underneath it’s pretty much the same stuff. It’s troubling that people are trying to scale this technology to such giddy heights – it was never intended for that outcome. Interestingly, I’m reading a lot of whining in the newspapers about the price of batteries for this technology. People seem to be demanding subsidies. The hippies may tell them to use less as a first option? You know, I suspect they are winning. 🙂 I’ve always had that deeply uncomfortable knowledge in relation to that most important of questions.

    Having a touch of the quirky about myself, I must say the idea of hanging out with others who are equally quirky has a certain appeal to it. 🙂 What, no spoilers? You’re teasing me for sure. 🙂

    Ah, dry hot summers – probably doesn’t describe the environment here all that well. Or at your place for that matter. It can get like that, but that’s more of an outlier year – not impossible, just less likely. My understanding is that onion seed doesn’t have a long shelf life.

    I’d wonder how much energy it takes to recover phosphorus from sewage waste streams? That’s a lot of poop. Dry the stuff out and compost it, might be cheaper in the long run. They do a bit of that down under, but probably not enough to be anywhere even close to closing the loop on that mineral. Hey, did the book end on a positive upbeat note? Applied some more blood and bone meal in the coffee ground mixture today to the orchard. I’m making sure the evergreen fruit trees have plenty to eat to get through the winter months.

    Very good, and I hope the great course on ol’ George is good. Whatever else can be said about him, he lead an eventful life.

    With all that parsley to dig in, I do hope that nobody dies with a falafel in their hand? Apologies for the dodgy literary joke-attempt. Good stuff getting a new helper on board for the work. The old timers used to quip that ‘many hands makes for light work’, and it’s true.

    Curiosity is getting the better of me. What condition was the weed mat in when you finally extracted the thing? A thankless task that, but needs doing, especially if drainage in a wet year becomes a problem.

    Good to hear the place is getting ready for the growing season.

    Oh, I take your point there. Frankenstein was hard work. And regaling an audience with a rollicking good tale, as an art form, was probably better done by Bram Stoker. 😉



  23. Chris:

    Thanks so much for the Chilean Guava info and link. I am not sure if our “zones” are the same as yours; will have to check further. It does look like they can take a bit of shade. And that they are self fertile, so I may just try one. Are they evergreen? It says they can take the place of boxwood in a hedge.

    Our garden is doing very well so far, except for maybe a mouse nibbling some pea leaves. Hard to keep mousies out. Most of the cool weather stuff is in. I may plant a few more peas and carrots.

    Wu Tzu sounds as worthy of a read as Sun Tzu.


  24. Yo, Chris – There’s been a couple of articles, over the last few days, about changes in the Antarctic current. As with the North Atlantic currents, warming oceans and freshening water is creating some changes.

    Warmer water, warmer air = more moisture in the atmosphere.

    We’re back to a forecast for the late weekend / early week, that sounds pretty familiar. “Chance of snow.” Some overnight lows hovering right around freezing.

    Yes, I’d say the book, “The Devil’s Element” ended on a fairly upbeat note. That things can be done, and are being done, to attempt to partially restore the phosphorous loop.

    I did start watching the George Orwell lectures, last night. So far, I’d say he really didn’t yearn for the well ordered (but repressive) government of “1984.” He wasn’t very enamored with the left, either. Due to his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. I think he thought they were armchair dilettantes, who really didn’t know what they were talking about, as they had spent no time in the trenches. As he had … literally. Kind of like the folks you run into on the solar front. 🙂

    Well, the weed mat was almost a good foot thick, comprised of grasses, lemon balm, Elephant Garlic, and who knows what else. I teased out most of the garlic, and have found homes for them. I hauled chunks of the mat, to the dumpster. Quit heavy. It occurred to me this morning, “Why didn’t I get the wheelbarrow? Hindsight, 20/20, and all that.

    When I was doing a bit of commuting, I listened to a few talking books. Thought I should give some of the “classics” I had missed, a look (or listen) in. One author I gave a whirl, was Edith Wharton. LOL. Half the time, I couldn’t tell what was REALLY going on. Was that a sex scene? Were the characters getting it on? (Or, off.) Was it pure fantasy? Just a lot of heavy breathing? I think, maybe, especially among the upper classes, that Wharton was describing and writing for, there was a lot of code.

    Well, actually, on reflection, I know that. The Victorians had a whole “Language of flowers.” And fans, gloves and parasols could be deployed, to relay secret messages. It was all about as stylized as a Japanese Kabuki play. Lew

  25. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, I read about the study on the freshening of the oceans surrounding Antarctica a few days ago. Landmark study projects ‘dramatic’ changes to Southern Ocean by 2050. Seems like common sense to me based on the lower density of less salty water impacting upon ocean circulation. Not a complicated story. The warming oceans around this continent seem to be having other effects which work in an entirely different direction than what the researchers were suggesting. Despite official autumn forecasts, it has rained here every day here for two weeks. And another half inch fell late this afternoon. Some of it looked rather tropical to my eyes. Hmm. Today I read an email from a mob I’m aware of further north of here and who have leased an orchard, then appeared to have suffered from the same weather conditions earlier in the season which knocked out almost half of my fruit and nut production, and now they appear to want to hand the lease on. Hmm. Please forgive my jaded nature, but after not quite a decade of chats, you know what my response to the – peering into the crystal ball and cogitating upon the most likely future – looks like. So, the researchers are responding to this dire news by doing exactly what? Possibly more research, but otherwise just getting on with their expected lives? Maybe contributing to the problem by travelling to far distant conferences to discuss the findings? Are they retreating to a remote mountain monastery to live a life of working the land in monastic frugality? I dunno mate, it is not lost on me that in the long distant past, dinosaurs once lived on the continent of Antarctica. This continent was almost one third rainforest. The future is genuinely a problem, and I’m working hard towards how to live in such a changing world on a small holding. But honestly, for most people, I don’t believe that many take the possible futures seriously. I could see the same responses to peak oil playing out – which is also a common sense prediction, or even what I read about how ‘the limits to growth’ folks report was originally received. Beats me. Who wants to eat a loss?

    Exactly. That’s how it works – warmer air = warmer oceans = more moisture in the atmosphere. We might not like the outcome though. Ook! Did the author in the book on phosphorous mention anything about high rainfall areas having the mineral washed away as something of a problem? I reckon it is a drama here. It is not lost on me that drier areas usually have better soil minerals than wetter environments. I didn’t know that before purchasing this land, but oh well, you gets what ya gets, and ya have to deal with that. 🙂

    Chance of snow sounds good to me. Brr! Man, that is some cold over-nights. Still summer soft…

    Went to the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo today, and had such a good time. Picked up five new chickens from the poultry group who always hold a sale there. It’s funny but I picked a trio of point of lay birds and the Editor purchased two little bantams. After introducing the new birds late in the afternoon, things seemed to be going ok. After the sun went down, I checked on who was sleeping where and my lot were huddled in the corner of the hen house – toasty warm and dry – and I put them on the shelf with the other birds. The Editors bantams however were sitting on the highest perch with the cool kids. How is this happening? Chickens are inevitably surprising and please excuse the pun, but the Editor is dare I say it, crowing! 😉

    Hey, I bought a really lovely axe from a mob I’ve known of for a few years. They carved the handle and had the axe head forged locally before then working the metal. I spoke to the bloke who made them and he’d honed the edge of the axe. Quality tools are thing of beauty, and this one is awesome. It’s got a good heft and reach, and would do some handy work if a zombie horde were ever encountered. 😉

    It’s good to hear that folks are considering the mineral cycles. To my mind it seems like such a remarkable wasted opportunity to not do that task whilst we have the energy with which to do so. But we do like doing things as a society on the cheap.

    If ol’ George thought that his superiors in that Spanish civil war were arm chair theorists, they probably were arm chair theorists! Yikes, imagine fighting for that lot? To his credit, he survived the experience, and was that where he contracted tuberculosis? Oh my gawd! Lewis, I seriously hope those solar arm chair theorist lot go off and do something else with their time other than bothering me! Far out. You are super naughty, but I like how your brain works. 🙂 That comment I got years ago which mentioned something about the person having a model which proved blah, blah, blah and clearly the system here was stuffed because the outcome wasn’t the same as the model. Sure, it is… Oh well.

    Yeah, that was what I was thinking. That weed mat would have been super heavy. At least you can skip the gym this week! Hey, I did almost the same thing last week when moving the rocks for the drainage basin. I had the hand pushed wheelbarrow ready to hand – and this was after maybe five hours of digging and moving soil – I used it once to haul rocks over to the drainage basin, on contour, and then reality kicked in. Wasn’t able to continue using the hand pushed wheelbarrow, so brought out the power wheelbarrows instead. What a relief that was. And even then, the job was not finished. Yup, hindsight is a beautiful thing. Did it fall behind the couch, or desk in your case? Probably worth checking up on!

    I hear you about that with the Victorian era code words for goings-on. Oh yeah. I’m thinking of reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ soon, the Editor tells me that it’s a good read. Hey, the Editor has been listening to Moby Dick via an audio book, and candidly, it’s a good story in between a mostly huge chunk of how-to guide in detail for that industry. The author perhaps had focus and a special interest? Hmm. I’m enjoying the story second hand, but can’t say that I’ve encountered a fictional book written in such a way before. Have you ever slogged your way through that book? The Editor tells me that the pluses of the story outweigh the minuses, but that still it is a slog.

    Oh, we got to enjoy the Kelpie working dog trials at the farm expo today. Had to laugh, one of the dogs was working a small mob of sheep and happened to pass by the Editor and I who were leaning against the rails watching the activities. The dog stopped midway through the work to say hello to us, then went back to work. How funny is that? I’d hate to think what scents the two Kelpies here have put upon us… Interestingly, I had a later chat to the couple who run the working dog display – they noticed – and the lady made some mention that our smaller Kelpie’s were what is known as ‘show kelpies’ – who knew? Holy carp, it’s a thing.

    And at the show I met a pure Alpine dingo. A lovely creature with extraordinarily flexible joints – far beyond a normal dogs abilities. Quite amazing, and the dingo must have thought I was alright because it gave me a little smooch on the cheek. Doesn’t get nicer than that.

    Before I forget too, the cheese kransky dude had an innovation to his lunch product. Chili cheese kransky. So good. The Editor tells me I’m not allowed to purchase a portable timber mill. Oh well, have to work on that one. 🙂



  26. Hi Pam,

    I agree, the temperature hardiness zones you use in your country are not at all the same as here. So I did a little search on the Chilean Guava and a fairly reliable interweb site mentioned that the plant was frost hardy to -6’C which is 21’F. It may occasionally get a little bit colder at your place, maybe? I’d give it a go for sure because you never know with such things, and every property has little micro-climates which can favour plants. I’d keep them out of the wind though, as wind chill can exacerbate cold temperatures, but I don’t really know how things are in your part of the world.

    Yup, they are evergreen, and kind of look the same but have a deeper shade of green than boxwood hedges (which are a bit delicate really) and can take a lot more heat. The fruit really does taste like lemonade. I’d plant them over a boxwood hedge here any day, and in fact use them as a hedge.

    This is them on the left hand side of the photo:

    Ah, yes, rodents. I so hear you. The war is long, there will be sacrifices.

    It was a good read, and also proves that everything old is new again! The book was unoriginally titled: The sayings of Wu Tzu (translated).

    It rained here again this afternoon. Almost half an inch fell. We’re now kind of having to work around the weather. What do you?



  27. Chris:

    The guavas are great looking shrubs. Thanks for the photo.

    I work around the weather!


  28. Hello Chris
    The man on the ladder. Oh dear! I had a neighbour once who died doing something similar.
    I am okay but my brother-in-law is now in hospital and it is not good. He kept the fact that he was ill, a secret while he looked after my sister.
    Weather here is dreadful i.e. wind and wet.


  29. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article about the Antarctic currents. I noticed the film, “The Day After” was referenced, a couple of times. Great disaster flick! I found one of the sidebar articles, also of interest.”Home Builder Porter Davis Collapses with 1,700 Projects Affected…” If your rain keeps up, you may have to look into hydroponics or fish farming … 🙂 There are “cool weather crops.” I wonder if there are “wet weather crops.”

    My vote is to “…retreat to a remote mountain monastery…” I hope one that observes a vow of silence, most of the time.

    Rainfall on farm lands and animal feed lots, creates problems hundreds of miles away. Algae blooms, due to overdoses of phosphorous. According to the author of “The Devil’s Element,” there is hardly a river, lake or pond that isn’t effected. Some in a most horrible manner. Phosphorous runoff in the state of Iowa, affects people in Florida and along the Gulf coast. Things have gotten so bad, that farmers have seen the handwriting on the wall, and are moving to curtail their run off.

    The farming expo sounds like a lot of fun. Bantams can have a lot of personality. And, attitude. My friend Julia has a Banty rooster that she refers to as, “My little terrorist.”

    The ax sounds really nice. Going to name it? I had a vision of it in a locked glass case. Like a fire ax. “Break Glass in Case of Zombie Outbreak.”

    I watched another three lectures on Orwell. From 8 to 14, he was in a Dickensonian boarding school. LOL. The professor felt a lot of the themes and concerns of “1984”, were formed there. The tamping down of the individual, etc.. And then he went on to Eaton.

    Well, you’ve given me the opportunity to run into some of those solar arm chair theorists. Not to the extent that you do, but same, same. Someone will bring up solar, and I’ll mention that it might not be all it’s cracked up to be, due to my friend who’s been living with the stuff, for over a decade. Nope. They saw an ad, on TV, or, the internet …

    No couch, so maybe the hindsight is behind what passes for a desk. My computer plopped on a two door filing cabinet. Or, maybe, behind My Chair. The one H hides behind, when I start running the bath water.

    No, I haven’t read “Moby Dick.” But I understand. I think I have, from time to time said, “It was a good read, but I learned more about (insert, whatever) than I really wanted to know.” Well, if the Editor and you ever decide to give up all this accounting nonsense, you can take to the open seas, to hunt whales. 🙂

    So, you’ve discovered chili dogs. Yes. Quit tasty. Especially with a good handful of raw onion, on top.

    But I had plans! 🙁 Poop! Poop! Poop! I went down to the Credit Union, last night, to get my monthly infusion of walking around money. Both ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) were “off-line.” So I’ve had to revise plans, and rearrange my life. And I’ll have to make another trip down there, and navigate the Round-About-Of-Death, again. I suppose I should not put so much in savings, this month, and create a stash of backup cash. Usually, due to the walking around money, I have such. It’s just that the timing caught me at it’s lowest ebb. But, I suppose, I’ll have to create a dedicated emergency stash. Oh, bother.

    I went to get gas, this morning. $4.50 a US Gallon, including the 10% discount for cash. “Regular” grade. Cheap, because of the subsidies. I had a thought, this morning. I’d be willing to give up some of the subsidies, in return for decent health care.

    Noticed a new film coming out. “Asteroid City.” Described as a “sci-fi” rom-com. Which may (or may not) include an alien invasion. Sounds like fun. Wonder if it will make it to DVD? I checked again, last night, and “Don’t Look Up,” is still not on DVD. Other than pirated versions from Asia. Lew

  30. Hi Lewis,

    It makes sense that the disaster film was mentioned given the impacts of melt water and glaciers as the central theme of the film. So many great disaster scenes too. Big waves smashing across cities is not something you’re likely to forget.

    Mate, if that builder were the only one affected by the upswing in prices, it wouldn’t be a drama, but they ain’t! The problem with a home building contract is that the income is fixed, but the material, permit and labour prices are not fixed, so the purchaser kind of outsources their risk to the builder. And all builders in that market are facing the risk, and it is worth mentioning that as the number of houses under construction increases, the risk gets magnified. As a problem, it is something worth worrying about.

    The thing is the crops have to not only handle the wet weather, but also the cold weather. In such places, the tuber reins supreme in terms of calories. I’m uncomfortable with reliance on those plants, but it happens. Over the next few years I’ll put aside more land to experiment around with grains, and certainly oats and barley will probably do just fine here. I just need some more time.

    You’d certainly hope so, anyway I’ve seen Fight Club, I know how these things work. 😉

    It’s not good all that run-off, but at the same time the problem is mostly self correcting due to peak oil and resource limits. You can only go crazy with adding ever more mineral fertilisers on land, when a person can afford to, or physically do so. When they can’t afford to do so, things will get interesting. I’m not entirely certain that producers have thought through that matter, but there won’t be much option in the end, and we’ll hopefully just muddle on through.

    The farming expo was fun, mostly because it was squarely aimed at folks like us. And I agree, bantams do seem to make up for their lack of size in their big personalities. Julia sounds spot on! 🙂 They’re both on the top rung with the cool kids tonight, although things are different in the daylight hours. Chickens can be pretty rough with their fellow chickens, and I’m yet to experience a smooth transition in any pecking order.

    Ha! A glass case indeed – but admittedly very handy on the off chance any of those pesky zombies are nearby. In the meantime, the tool will be put to work in the forest. The tree dudes accidentally smashed the handle on my best axe. I was most annoyed by that, and should have given them the cheaper axe to use. Oh well, sometimes it’s the things you don’t consider, and I’d not considered that outcome.

    ‘And then he went to Eaton’ was a delightful touch of unintended (?) comedy. It’s funny, but earlier today I was recounting the story of having to write out the school rules whilst in detention at the more English than the English grammar school. A free spirit was squooshed, then like the little chrysalis, it emerged from out of the primordial murk to the soundtrack of garage band grunge music. Fate is a funny thing, don’t you reckon? Out of curiosity, did the ideas derive from the author, or the professor? So is the author an interesting person?

    Mate, that solar lot are genuinely cheeky scamps. We were discussing the electricity grid – and there are some weird notions being put to the test in that hugely complicated thing. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve got my suspicions. What can I say, the advertisement has greater credibility? 😉 Like water off a ducks back, such thoughts are to my mind.

    Always wise to listen to H, when she’s avoiding the bath. As a canine, her senses are better equipped to detect unseen currents, whilst us humans might miss the significance. What may it mean? Maybe H knows the location of where hindsight is to be found, and she isn’t telling? Sounds like an interesting central plot point in a novel. I’m dipping into yet another Jack Vance mystery short story (is that a novella?) He won an Edgar award you know.

    Sailing the wide accountant-seas perhaps? Honestly, I don’t seem to get sea sick, despite having experienced some horrendous weather on the ocean (the Editor usually passes out, not a bad option all things considered), but a life at sea is not for me (kind of rhymes). I much prefer the mountains and forests, it’s in the blood. You go first with the whale hunting career, and let me know how things roll. Have you ever felt sea sick?

    So that’s what John Mellancamp was singing about, chili dogs. Right. The cheese kransky with chili was as you suggest, very good indeed. No raw onions, but cooked onions with cheese and sweet (US style) mustard. Honestly, I was hankering for hot English mustard what with it’s insane level of horseradish, but a person must make do and amend their expectations to fit food circumstances. The local council is encouraging an autumn festival involving pies. A detailed investigation of this needs to happen. Detailed report to follow.

    Holy carp! Your plans sure got dashed against the horrid rocks of reality. Well, next time, maybe? But no cash would make a person mildly nervous. It’s really hard to know what to do there, because there are problems with the stuff in any direction.

    What an insight, and you’re probably right. It is possible that your systems wants you ill, injured or dead – that’s where the money is. If you get healthy, how are they going to make any mad cash off you? For your interest, petrol prices have come down a bit in recent times, but at $6.85 gallon, it’s not as cheap as it’s been, that’s for sure.

    Has Wes Anderson ever made a sci-fi film before? The photography was quite intense and interesting, and the actors didn’t move much but still projected emotions and witty dialogue – at least that is what the trailer suggested. Interesting indeed. Good to see someone is trying something a bit different.



  31. Hi Pam,

    The hedge is good, and better than a boxwood hedge, because of the fruit. Yum! Over the next few weeks once we’ve collected the fruit, the plants will get a bit of a haircut with the hedge trimmer. Not at all certain how the plant will respond, but we’ll find out!

    Yes, all a bit complicated really this weather business. 😉

    Something weird happened today, oooo, it didn’t rain – that I’m aware of. The sun thing up in the sky may even shine tomorrow. I wonder what it all means?



  32. Hi Inge,

    Oh my, that is a rather unfortunate outcome for your neighbour. Honestly, I really did want to stop and take a photo of the bloke, but at the same time knew that the act would be distracting for him. And that would be a very bad thing for the bloke. I honestly didn’t know what to make of the situation, he did kind of glare at me as we drove past. That alone suggested a person who might not be able to be told? We’ve all met a few such folks over the years.

    Inge, I’m so sorry. That’s awful news, and hopefully he doesn’t suffer. I can sort of understand why your brother in law may have made that choice though.

    Wet and windy weather sounds unpleasant. Here, it continues to be wet and cold. In a few days time the weather will briefly warm before turning back to wet and cold again. I noticed that the local council recently made a decision to lift the burn off restrictions season after Easter (always wise given the possible foolishness of part time landowners during a holiday period). Your daughters have been having rather fine weather respectively.



  33. Chris and all,
    We had some pretty bad storms around here last night. We’re OK but a theater in a town not far from us partially collapsed killing one and injuring dozens more. I noticed that storms were also bad near Claire so hopefully she’s OK too.


  34. Yo, Chris – Soooo? Maybe builder’s risks can be the Worry of the Day? 🙂 .

    More like the Mafia’s Omerta, rather than “Fight Club.”

    Very few people think through anything. See: weed mat, above.

    Well, after Eaton, Orwell couldn’t get into Cambridge or Oxford. Even though he was a “King’s Scholar” (something very special), at Eaton. As his academic performance was rather slack, and he couldn’t get a scholarship. So, he went off to Burma, for five years, to be a policeman, for The Empire. Overseeing the odd hanging and putting down elephants who had wandered into rice patties.

    Then he came back to England, and wrote “Down and Out in Paris and London.” Which took off, and launched his writing career. At this point, he dropped the name Eric Blair, and became George Orwell.

    He wrote a scathing article about his boarding school days. But it couldn’t be published until after the old bag who had terrorized him, had died. In her nineties. But all the themes of “1984,” are there. The subjugation of the individual, going along, to get along, until it becomes second nature, etc..

    So. Short stories, novellas and novels. Depends on who you ask, and mileage may vary. Like some parts of the anatomy, everyone has an opinion. But in general, short stories are less than 10,000 words. A novella is 10 to 40,000 words. Anything beyond that, is a novel. We won’t even get into novelettes, as I think that was just trotted out, as someone wanted to be a smarty pants.

    Is Orwell and interesting person? Don’t know. I’ve never met him. I find his weird mustaches rather off-putting. But I may have warmed to him, over time.

    H had her bath, yesterday. She did not spill the beans, over hindsight. Maybe I should have held her underwater, a bit longer?

    Have I ever been sea sick? Well, I can’t think of anytime I’ve actually been on a sea. But rivers, lakes, and ferry trips across Puget Sound, did not bother me. Even in rough weather. I often got car sick, when I was a kid. On those long family vacations.

    I’d blow that Autumn Festival out of the water, if I were you. The Council just wants to bring in more Leaf Peppers. Don’t let the promise of pies, distract you. As the great unwashed, are only punters, the quality of the pies will probably be low.

    Wes Anderson really hasn’t made what I’d call a sci-fi movie. But, he certainly has done a lot of fantasies.

    I finished season two, of “Aftertaste,” last night. It’s an Australian comedy series, about a celebrity chef, who has a very public meltdown, and must retreat to the bosom of his very eccentric rural Australian family. It’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s a season three, on tap. The original network, didn’t renew it. Unless another network picks it up (as, occasionally happens,) that’s it.

    It looks like the film “Don’t Look Up”, isn’t going to be released on DVD. 🙁 . Unless you want to buy a pirated Asian version. Oh, well. More fool them. Plenty of other things, to watch. “Dig,” the story of the discovery of Sutton Hoo, is another one that hasn’t made it to DVD. Lew

  35. @ Chris and Lew
    Many years ago, I met someone who had been taught at school by George Orwell. He said that Orwell had been an outstandingly good teacher.


  36. @Margaret: I was wondering how close the collapsed theater was to you. You were much closer to a tornado than we were. All the bad weather on the 31st was well north or well south of us. We experienced brief heavy rain and a flash or two of lightning, but that was all. Looks like a good chance of more severe weather on the 4th; we’ll see what happens then.


  37. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the insight into the teaching abilities of the author. Teaching sure can be a mixed bag. Keeping students engaged with the subject matter is no easy task, so good to hear that he appears to have succeeded at that.



  38. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for that, and I love that song. I grew up listening to Abbey Road. The album enjoyed a lot of plays on the record player. The words don’t even need to come tumbling back, they never left.



  39. Hi Margaret,

    The storm was reported upon down here this morning. Yikes! The news here said it was a super cell combined with a tornado. It’s awful about the collapsed roof at the venue. Glad to hear that both you and Claire are OK.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yes, definitely worth a worry of the day! My oft repeated slogan over the past few years is that we’ll run short, long before we run out. Sadly, running short means higher prices, especially if the cheeky scamps who can’t seem to tear their hands away from the printing presses continue on their merry path of destruction.

    I see, well sometimes there is wisdom to be found in the shutting of one’s mouth.

    Hey, we went to the not-too-far-away specialist fern nursery this morning. I’d put a hold on a five foot tree fern for the drainage basin, and these plants are in short supply due to bonkers wet weather over the past few years. Anyway, I had in the back of my mind that if five feet wasn’t big enough, we’d get a taller fern (they have up to ten feet). No fricken’ way. The seven foot tree ferns were monsters, and we spotted them in the car park! Huge things. Anyway, we stuck with the five foot fern on the basis that as heavy as the thing was – and they needed a little four by four forklift to get it onto the trailer – bigger was not necessarily better. Holy carp, the fern was bonkers heavy. Without doubt it was the heaviest plant we have ever attempted to move.

    Thinking things through: Settling on the five foot tall tree fern, when ten foot ones are available!

    On the way back we stopped off at a nearby cidery which was on the way and had a delightful lunch of gourmet pies (pork and apple or beef and Guinness) whilst sitting outside in the pleasant autumn sunshine. Yes, I know, I’m ashamed of joining in that festival, but the pies, man. Lewis, in this matter, I’m weak. 🙂

    Being a King’s Scholar, is no small thing. It is possible that the world of academia was not for the author, and Burma in the service of the Empire would have provided a more worldly education? Was any explanation given as to the pen name?

    Yes, well, it has been my experience that those who terrorise others often externalise their internal tensions and sometimes enjoy remarkably good health. Pesky sorts.

    Thanks for the explanation regarding the differences between the various lengths of penmanship. I had wondered. The finishing line with the novel can be rather sweet to achieve: 2,000 words a day for 20 days, and done. 😉 Of course the words may be an incoherent bunch of dog poop with no flow and an uninspiring cast of clichés. Yes, I’d put such nonsense in the garbage, but that’s me. And we don’t have garbage services here, so a person has to be careful of inviting in the dross.

    Thanks for the insight, and yes I too have encountered a few who sport unusual moustaches. What is with that? An interesting person should be self evident in their general bearing and demeanour.

    Word on the street is that water boarding can produce wonders when it comes to confessions.

    What? Well this is a new and previously unknown side to you. Never been on the open sea. Hmm. Possibly you’ve had an unpleasant experience in a former life – perhaps the Titanic? Maybe some horrific sea voyage where the ship was caught in the doldrums and all the provisions were consumed – you don’t have to wonder what happens next…

    I’m so sorry, the quality of the gourmet pies was actually pretty good. Lewis, in this regard I’m weak and easily suborned to the overall game. Mate, everyone has their kryptonite. 😉

    I mentioned season two of ‘Aftertaste’ to the Editor, and the reaction was very positive. Thanks for that.

    Well, they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The film looks pretty good, and the cast are pretty awesome.

    Better get writing – and we got our lost hour back this morning. The patterns are now normal. Hmm. I noticed a bit of wear and tear. We need to speak about that. You know what happened. Hmm. Anyway, I seriously gotta write. It’s 8:30pm and nothing… Yikes!



  41. Yo, Chris – Thinking things through (or, not.) I’ll see your being sensible about the fern, and raise you insisting on an 8 week old puppy, when 12 week old puppies were available. 🙂

    Don’t come crying to me, when you’re overrun with leaf peppers. Sold your soul (or at least your palette) for a potash of pies. 🙁 Sigh.

    Would Orwell have gone to university, if he was rolling in dough and had the right connections? Probably not. I think. The world beckoned. And there was a romantic disappointment, somewhere in there. The “Orwell” part comes from the name of a river, near where he grew up. So, why the pen name? His family were still mired in Victorian attitudes. He didn’t want his writing to reflect badly (from their point of view), on them. They did read his works. And, according to a sister, were quit shocked, and just didn’t understand why he had to write about the things he did. Especially, the sex. 🙂 He wasn’t estranged, from them, but I’d guess there were some things that just weren’t discussed, around the tea table.

    Even as a wee small lad, I was fascinated by the Titanic. Even before it’s discovery. But then, who wasn’t? I don’t have an aversion, to sea travel. The opportunity just never presented itself. Now flying, is another matter …

    The condition of the hour, is not our look out. It was insured. You need to talk to the insurance company, and the shipping company. I understand they’ve got some marvelous telephone hold music. Lew

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