The Future, or not

Long term readers will recall that the farm here is connected to, err, nothing. We do have dirt roads, so that is something, but sometimes even those are not good. For Sandra and I, that was part of the appeal of the area. There’s something quite energising for the soul to pit your wits and resources against the ultimate test: trying to thrive with no connected services. That’s the theory anyway.

In order to thrive in such an environment, it’s not a bad idea to first reduce one’s expectations as to what is considered a necessity. Years ago, a garbage pick up service was introduced to the area. Every Tuesday morning, the garbage trucks navigate the dirt roads collecting household refuse and recycled materials from around the area. The service is not free, and by the time it was finally offered, we’d long since adapted to not having the service. It’s not hard, but you do have to have systems to collect and process the various waste streams. And remember not to produce much waste in the first place.

There’s no mains sewerage connected to the area. All the waste here enters the toilet and drains, and flows using gravity into the worm farm. The worms are always hungry for more organic matter. Dead chickens, in you go mate! And from the worm farm, the minerals end up in the soil. During the summer months, the wallabies, wombats and kangaroos graze the rich fresh grass which grows there. Then those critters do their business elsewhere, thus spreading around the fertility.

If we run out water, it’s nobodies problem but ours. All of the houses around here collect and store rainwater for later use. The past couple of years have been very wet, but earlier years have had prolonged dry spells, and at those times the storages can get low. Trucking in water is an expensive option, and at such times the queue for service is long indeed. The trucked in water is probably too expensive for use on vegetables. Economics always plays a part in these options.

Gas (LPG) does get used here, but mostly as a backup energy source for heating water and cooking. The 45kg / 99 pound bottles that get delivered aren’t cheap, and the price is only ever heading in one direction – up. Plus there is the quarterly rental fee for the two bottles. The fuel is way too expensive to use as a heat source. For heating we use firewood, and if you’ve ever had to purchase a wood heater, you’ll known that isn’t cheap either. But at least the fuel can be locally sourced. The century of logging activities has left us with decades of firewood (at our usage rates). We just have to process the stuff and then haul it back up the hill. Not as easy to do as you’d imagine, probably why the felled timber was left there.

As to electricity, well, supplying your own service using solar power makes little economic sense. Over winter, for three weeks either side of the winter solstice, the sun is physically low in the sky. The mountain ridge to the north combined with the tall trees makes harvesting sunlight difficult at this time of year. But really, that’s not the problem. The hardest days for winter solar power are when thick low clouds obscure the sunlight. On such days, it doesn’t matter how many solar panels you have, it’ll never be enough. This technology is good, after all it converts sunlight into electricity, but it certainly isn’t good enough to run an industrial civilisation. That green story makes no sense.

Here’s the statistics for the solar power system for the past six weeks:

Solar Statistics around the winter solstice

Looks like a lot of squiggly lines doesn’t it? But some meaning can be derived from those lines. Ordinarily, the blue line (usage in kWh) and the red line (solar generation in kWh) should hover around each other. That’s an ideal situation because it means we are matching our usage to what the solar panels are generating. And for most of the year we achieve that.

Winter however presents some difficulties with this technology. Observant readers may note that on more than a few occasions, the red line (solar generation in kWh) dropped quite low in the graph, and sometimes for a continuous number of days. The 7th of June was the second worst day of solar power generation that I have ever recorded. The installed 8kW of solar panels produced 1 kWh of electricity for an entire day. To add insult to injury most of the electricity that day was consumed by the system itself. If extrapolated to a national level, there would be extraordinary blackouts.

Fortunately, to avoid extraordinary blackouts here during this period of time, we have a small generator which we pressed into service for four days during the above period. That’s the green line (petrol generator battery charging in kWh). It’s not free to keep a generator and battery charger, plus a spare, on hand doing nothing for most of the year. There’s a cost to that which we bear. Not being connected to services, that’s our risk, and we accept that.

However, as far as I understand things with the far bigger, national mains electricity system, there is no spare capacity hanging around to kick in and provide a couple of days of backup power supply. It’s just not there, although there are a few sources which can do that trick for a couple of hours. But for days, I don’t think so. And that’s an economic decision.

So I’ve been pondering the interactions of economics and electricity lately, because earlier this month retail prices for electricity have increased by something crazy like 30%. That’s going to hit every person and every business hard across the country. It’s hardly surprising that official interest rates weren’t lifted earlier this month, they didn’t need to be – at least not this month. Households and businesses will now have less mad cash, because more of it will be required to pay for electricity. And unlike interest rate hikes, everyone will pay.

You’d have to be particularly dense to not realise that the electricity price hike will increase inflation. After all, if the same stuff suddenly costs more than previously, then that’s the very definition of inflation. In response, businesses will put their prices for stuff up, and workers will ask for more pay to cope with the increased prices. This story could get ugly, if it’s not already ugly enough.

But what’s really weird about the story, is that the extra 30% cost may not be ploughed into urgently constructing extra electricity generators. I certainly can’t recall hearing of any new proposed large coal fired power plants – and those things provide most of the electricity that people and businesses use on daily basis. In fact, one of the largest coal fired power stations of all on the continent, Eraring, is set to close in two years time. The thing is a monster, and produces 2.88GWh, 24 hours a day. I do love the wild talk in the media about replacing the generator with batteries, as if somehow a 1.4GWh battery will make up the shortfall. The thing sounds good, like super-impressive until you comprehend it is the equivalent of half an hour of the Eraring generators supply, and yet still needs to be filled somehow. Talk about bonkers.

As if that weren’t strange enough, the Australian government plans to increase the population by 400,000 people this year alone. I have a suspicion that the core of that policy is to maintain upwards pressure on house prices, thus further fuelling inflation. How could it not? Most certainly there will be winners and losers in that story. But I do also wonder how the electricity system will cope with the additional demand from all those new people, both now and into the future. It’s utterly bonkers. And there are so many different policies being pursued at the moment, many of which have contradictory outcomes. Kinda makes you wonder seriously about the numpties in charge! As someone who has to provide their own electricity supply, I can’t muck around with fairy tales like: “They’ll think of something” or “Theoretically it should work”.

It’s been a fairly mild winter so far. Some days have produced sunshine:

Cold humid air pools in the valley below the mountain range

And there have been plenty of rainy days.

Sunlight refracts off the rain to produce a notable rainbow

We’ve long since reached the dreaded Peak Rocks. That’s where all of the easy to nab rocks have been nabbed. That doesn’t mean we’ve run out of rocks, far from it. We simply have to go further afield and put more energy into nabbing rocks. It’s a bit of a shame because rocks are very useful with many of the projects here, such as the new low gradient path project.

This week we cracked apart a rather large boulder. It provided eight smaller yet still large rocks (plus lots of small gabion filler rocks). Those will be used on the new low gradient ramp project. The first step in the process is to select a large rock and begin drilling a line of 250mm deep 18mm diameter holes. An electric jackhammer is then used to force the holes open, thus splitting the rock. The Romans did much the same, several millennia ago, but without electricity.

The author gets to work. Half the rock is underground.

We generally look for fissures and cracks in a rock, but more often than not, there are none. The overall size of the split rock can be decided up front. The first split we made this week produced a thinner rock which has a specific purpose in the project.

A thinner rock was produced from this split

Observant readers will note in the above image that a line has appeared along the drill holes. That’s where the rock cracks and splits. It gives quite neat breaks in the granite.

It takes a few hours of work, but eventually we broke the rock into several still large sections.

The chunk of granite is cracked apart like an egg

Then those large sections get broken into smaller (yet still large) but more easily moved rocks.

Each section gets split into more manageable sizes

Eventually, the entire rock gets split into more useful sizes. In the next week, we’ll move all of these rocks back up hill where they’ll be used on the new low gradient path project. It was a good haul, but Peak Rocks and stuff, sure takes a lot of work.

Ollie is impressed!

So yeah, not everyone is up for splitting rocks. And plenty of people live in apartments, where the neighbours would get upset if a jackhammer were used. I’ve heard city folk timorously say: ‘What can I do?’ Make soap, that’s what! We make an olive oil soap, which is so much better than any soap you’ll buy at the supermarket. It’s just not a task for the careless. But if they could do that task in Fight Club…

A new batch of olive oil soap was begun + kiwi fruit tray 1

We harvested about two thirds of the kiwi fruit crop. The parrots let us know when the crop is slightly less than ripe – they begin eating it. The birds can have the remaining fruit. We harvested a lot.

Just one of the many trays of kiwi fruit – + kiwi fruit tray 2

A carboy of kiwi fruit wine has been begun. And you can make wine in apartments too. No excuses.

A 30L or almost 8 gallon carboy of kiwi fruit wine + kiwi fruit tray 3

I spent about a day – on the coldest and rainiest day of the week, in the shed doing repairs and performing maintenance on the many machines which we use. One machine had a flat tyre, and the remaining tyre looked as if it had cracks in the rubber. I’m experimenting by replacing the inflatable tyre with solid rubber tyres, and I’ll be interested to see how long they last. Another machine needed a large cutting blade replaced. That’s when I discovered the spindle bolt was stuck and had a left hand thread. The bolt took a fair bit of effort to remove. Another machine had a faulty starter capacitor. Ripped that component out.

A dodgy spindle bolt and an even dodgier faulty motor starter capacitor

I brought the faulty components back inside the house and tracked down replacement parts. It’s funny that with this stuff, a single faulty component can be a show stopper. Best to keep up with maintenance.

The greenhouse, which long term readers will realise celebrates its first birthday, continues to amaze. The chilli plants are still growing despite being almost three weeks past the winter solstice.

About half the chilli plants in the greenhouse

The little tea camellia was moved into the greenhouse about a year ago. The plant took a while to get established, but seems to be doing OK now. In this cool climate, the plant is probably a long way outside its usual range.

The tea camellia appears to be enjoying the conditions in the greenhouse

The kale planted out a month or so ago in the greenhouse appear to also be appreciating the protection from the elements.

Kale is enjoying the greenhouse raised garden beds

The early signs of an impending spring are appearing about the farm. Daffodils are popping up everywhere and putting on size.

Daffodils are putting on some size over the past week or so

Sandra maintains an interesting collection of succulent plants. They seem to enjoy the conditions here, but one interesting little grafted succulent has been relegated to the safety of the greenhouse. It looks like an alien.

One of Sandra’s more unusual collection of succulent plants

Onto the flowers:

Silver wattles brighten up the wintry forest
This Plum tree was relocated a year ago. It was very confused by the move
The Hellebores are just beautiful

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 524.6mm (20.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 496.8mm (19.6 inches)

33 thoughts on “The Future, or not”

  1. Yo, Chris – At first, I thought this was going to be a rather rubbish and poop-y post (says the guy who will be sprinkling around a bit of self produced liquid ammonia, tonight, in an effort to thwart the deer. And grow the corn.) But then you got onto more salubrious things, like rainwater catchment and solar.

    Most graphs are not very interesting, but that was an interesting graph. Yes, what’s a civilization to do?

    I think you break up all those rocks, just to get a good face wash, from Ollie. Think of all the water you save! 🙂 I notice in the photo with “egg” in the title, that you got a really nice bit of concave rock. To the left. Might make a nice shallow planter. Or, water source, for the critters.

    That’s a heck of a lot of kiwi. But, it looks like you’re putting it to good use. Any jam? Wow. Those peppers are really something. That ought to spice up quit a few meals. A look into the rabbit hole indicates you can dry, pickle or can them. There are also recipes floating around out there, for pepper jellies.

    Your tea plant brought back memories. The one I had that made it about a year, also flowered. Pretty. I tried a bit of pollination with q-tips, and got a few seeds. Round brown balls, about the size of a dime. Never planted them, but I wonder …

    The daffodils ought to put on quit a show. We won’t see any, for months. I’ve seen succulents like those, before. I didn’t know they were grafted.

    The flowers are pretty. Not much blue 🙁 .

    I saw some honey bees, out in about, this afternoon. Not many. A bit of neglected lawn, with lots of dandelions, was attracting them. Some volunteer fennel, is about to bloom. That ought to bring in a lot of diverse pollinators.

    I stopped by the veg store, this morning, and the first local blueberries are in. Let the games, begin! Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, the essay was something of a gentle lead in to the bigger issues. Expect the unexpected! 🙂 And you know I enjoy talking about poop! Hey, that’s a good question you’ve asked. Probably completely stuff it up, may in fact be the answer. 🙂 There was a chance in the mid to late 1970’s to avoid the worst the future has to throw at us, but yeah, blew it and stuff. Once limits are crossed, all bets are off as to how it will roll, although we do know that it might not end so well.

    Take that deer. And I’ll be curious to learn whether that old timer trick with the readily accessible ammonia has any effect on the deer predation? I’ve heard the same thing said about snakes, but I reckon they need the real-deal like what you’re up to. Ollie provides some short term relief from those large herbivores, but he can’t be hanging around the orchard all the time.

    When demand roughly equals supply with solar electricity, all is cool and the system just works. Super thick cloudy days challenge that equilibrium. My gut feeling suggests that this renewable energy technology just doesn’t scale. That doesn’t stop people trying to make it scale. And even if it was successfully scaled, imagine having to replace the lot – all of it, every single freakin’ component – in two decades time. This is why electricity costs me 10 times per kWh that most people seem to believe is too expensive. I differ in opinion, the energy they enjoy is dirt cheap. Except now thanks to the recent price increase the gap has reduced to 7.5 times. They do say that the gap narrows and I wonder if that is what was meant?

    Ah, candid camera strikes again! Ollie took advantage of my good nature there. The side of my head ended up getting a good sloosh of dog slobber. You make a strong argument for water saving, and they do say that dogs drool has all manner of anti-bacterial properties. I like how your brain works, and the concave chunk of rock would work very well as a water bowl for the forest critters. Hmm.

    Kiwi fruit jam is far tastier than kiwi fruit wine. We’ll cook up the batch of jam over the next few days, and fingers crossed, with the science of jam making instructions, we might not stuff this lot up. The last batch of kiwi fruit jam we made is very tasty, but runny. You have to spoon it onto freshly baked bread. A hardship, but we will prevail, or maybe completely stuff it up. We should know the answer to this question in a week or two.

    Hey, that was only half of the pepper plants still growing. Can they be biennial? Let’s find out. … … Ah, interesting. In this corner of the planet, the suggestion is that the plants can live for up to three years – in a greenhouse. Frost is the killer here. We’ll see, and maybe we can get a good head start on the next growing season by leaving the plants in the ground? I really don’t know, but we’ll find out.

    Camellia seeds are interesting. Some of the more usual camellia suspects here do produce those large chunky seeds too. I’m yet to discover a self seeded variety, but you never know. And yes, you’ve got me wondering too. Claire recommended a book on growing tea which I’ve obtained, it’s just in the extensive to-read list. Alas, woe is me, free hours in the day are somewhat lacking.

    Apologies for the lack of blue flowers, but fear not, the bluebells have also sent a few tentative shoots reaching for the post-solstice sky. Given the tubers are in the ground, I do wonder how they know that it’s time? A mystery.

    And speaking of such matters, we’ve now had two blue eggs over the past few days. The chickens are slowly beginning to go back on the lay.

    I agree, dandelions are great flowers for the bees. But fennel is the whole next level. The bees will swarm all over the flowers.

    Did you get through all of last seasons frozen blueberries? I’m curious to know whether you’ll increase or decrease the amount of berries you freeze this season?

    Dunno about you, but I certainly don’t recall asking for large screens to be installed on every wall in establishments where I like to eat. Candidly there was something a bit ooky about all those screens making no sound. Yes, I’ve also noticed that with tyre dealers. They sit you in a large waiting room with couches and tune your mind out. Big Brother is watching you. The local tyre dealer has nothing of the sort, but in the past at other tyre businesses I have been exposed to such err, customer service. You’re right about the banks too with screens, and the same is true down here. It’s like a pacifying tool, possibly like a baby’s dummy.

    The reality though, is that the Club has to pay it’s bills. And if membership subscriptions aren’t enough, then a touch of creativity is called for.

    Just going with my gut feeling here, I don’t believe that you’d be warmly welcomed at the ladies pyjama film night. You were wise to dodge that, and I’d do likewise. Hehe! That’s funny too, yes, you might not be able to un-see. It would be one of those life’s little moments when events turn, and then all would be different. Is this a good or bad thing, who can tell, but it sure might be different! What? I do wonder how the ladies would react to the gentle suggestion of a film rating scale based on the incendiary effects budget? 🙂 They might not like it.

    It is a most expressive face, yeah. But it is as you’d expect from a successful character actor. I’m trying to ascertain whether his left eye is ever so slightly opened wider, and I reckon it is also a little bit higher than his right eye. But that may have also been due to the light angle which is off to his left, and that casts the right hand side of his face into shadow. There’s a smile there too. A mischievous smile if I may add. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the long term character actors generally have good aesthetics, but they’re not too good. Almost like the best looking guy in the footy club kind of aesthetics. There’s probably something in that, but I have no idea what it may be. It’s a tough industry to have a long term career in, so anyone who can achieve that, must be a pretty excellent actor and turn up on time and know their lines. Thanks for mentioning the wine too. That country produces some great wines. In this case, it is cheaper to make your own. But I salute organic varieties in this instance.

    Man, I’m so busted, yes I did ask such hard questions as to the secret inner workings of the book industry at the specialist book shop, but I ask you – how the heck was the average punter on the street ever to know this stuff way back in the day, without having it laboriously explained to them? Here we may agree, but the interweb has saved a few headaches on that front, at least that’s what I reckon?

    The brownies sounded pretty good, and it wasn’t just you who looked up the recipes! 🙂

    Hey, do you recall those card recipe libraries which used to be the thing way back in the day before cook books took over?

    That’s a decent sounding hot dog, although I’d stick to mustard only, but I can understand your innovation with the catsup.

    I get that about the series, and a bloke’s gotta work. When the final episode of MASH was aired I was a very young bloke, but even then I could still comprehended the complexities of the story. It was actually quite a complex story line and characters. At the time I recall having the impression that many other shows were quite err, light-weight.



  3. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, Prof. Mass put up a post on wind and wildfires. You might find it of interest.

    I scattered blood meal, last night, but didn’t get around to the liquid stuff. I got caught up in picking currents. I think I have enough for about 6 half pints of jam. I got them all cleaned up, and they’re in the fridge. While I was looking at a couple of U Tub vids on making current jam, I noticed a few on making pepper jelly. I didn’t look at them, but they’re there.

    I just don’t know how the whole electricity thing is going to play out. There seems to be a push on now, for electric cars. I saw an article this morning, about converting gas stations, to electric charging stations. I’ll know it’s the beginning of the end, when they put a charging station, here at the Institution.

    Do you have problems, with mosquitoes? I see they’re getting a few cases of malaria, down in the southern part of our country. Something new.

    Thanks for the memory job. I think I have that tea book, just feet from where I’m sitting. 🙂

    I’ll look forward to the Bluebells. Maybe they have tiny alarm clocks, in their tubers? More likely, it’s soil temperature. Our deep blue hydrangea, are beginning to bloom.

    Speaking of chickens, Julia lost a rooster, a banty she called “her little terrorist” to a raccoon. She also lost her turkey, which was more of a pet. Someone gave her another rooster, so, she has two. They’re sorting out the chicken politics.

    I finished the Sam Neill auto-bio. A satisfying read. He always felt a little … on the outside, as he’d worked with all these people who had formal training. He didn’t. But, on the other hand, no one ever “held it over him.”

    Recipe files? Those little metal boxes everyone had in their kitchen? I’ve got one of those. And, I have it full of 3×5″ cards, of my frequently used recipes. Anzac biscuits, corn bread, banana muffins, etc.. With any tweaks I’ve added. Easier to access than a book.

    I can’t lay my hands on last years calendar, but I think I had 18 gallons of blueberries. I still have four left. Might be a good thing. I don’t think our blueberries here at the Institution are getting enough water. Again.

    H was attacked by a German Shepherd, this morning. No harm done. usually watch so closely, for other dogs. But just happened to be bagging up her … leavings. Next thing I know, there’s a big dog practically on top of her. I’ve seen the dog … and owner, before. I was yelling at him, “Leach, leach, leach.” Probably won’t have any effect.

    Much to my surprise, the Master Gardeners showed up, this morning. They’ve changed their day to Monday, and I didn’t get the memo :-). I guess the landscapers, complained, that they got in the way. Lew

  4. Chris,

    Nice kiwi fruit harvest. Very nice. Hope your changes to the jam process work. Kiwi fruit – yummy.

    This was very nicely said: “In order to thrive in such an environment, it’s not a bad idea to first reduce one’s expectations as to what is considered a necessity.” If more people understood that, maybehaps there would be a lot more contentment in the world with all of the positives that would bring. An awful lot of what are considered necessities didn’t even exist when I was a little boy. Even more so for my grandparents.

    Nice graph. I’ve long appreciated your periodic reviews of how well solar power does and doesn’t work.

    That looks like it was a grand ear washing job by Ollie. With his jowls I bet there was an inordinate amount of drool. Avalanche, on the other hand, will wash my ears, here tongue entering one ear and exiting the other, but there isn’t the big drool problem.

    The Princess reminded me once today to do my finger exercises. I immediately stopped what I was doing and performed the rehab stuff. ALWAYS listen to the Princess.

    Sunday was a nasty 38C with 17% humidity. The light breeze didn’t do anything to make things more comfortable but did succeed in enhancing the arid conditions in drying out everything. Monday was cloudy and cooler. I don’t think it got above 25C. Cloudy. Windstorms. Thunderstorms. Some areas got heavy rain. The Princess and I were driving to the library when a storm enveloped us. The temperature dropped from 25C to 15C in a matter of minutes. It was pleasant having a cooler day.


  5. Hi DJ,

    The kiwi fruit jam was made today, and last I checked, the glass jars were still too warm to tell whether the magic of the fruits own pectin had been properly released. We’ll see. Tomorrow will give more of a clue as to how the jam set.

    Yeah, that was as true for me as well, which is why I can see the difference nowadays. People forget how things were not all that long ago, and in some ways it’s quite unsettling to note how such massive differences are now taken for granted, but with folks wanting more. My gut feel suggests that this is not possible to achieve. You’re right too. My grandfather grew up on a farm in the Great Depression, and despite being able to afford not to do so, he always maintained a large vegetable garden – the size of a tennis court from memory.

    Exactly! What you wrote is the very definition of intermittent – it works, then it doesn’t work, then it works. 🙂 The problem I have with the anyone who wants to install this technology is that this significant point is often disregarded. It can’t be gotten around on a larger scale because the cost of storage is just so great that I hold strong doubts that as a society we can afford to pay it. Economics puts an end to the story.

    And whilst we’re discussing this stuff, there are limits with each component in the system. I can’t just keep on adding solar panels, because sooner or later the abilities of the batteries to absorb the charge current gets exceeded. And the excess electricity production during cold sunny days over summer is a very challenging engineering problem. Things can go wrong. I avoid that issue by over specifying all of the supporting components, but then the costs rise exponentially.

    Avalanche is a lady, she would most certainly not drool. And for all we know, she may in fact be topping up brain fluids? Always possible. Ollie on the other hand does have jowls, but so far only seems to drool when food is involved. It’s a bit like the scene out of the classic 1980 sci-fi film Alien. That monster seemed rather drooly too.

    Ah, yes, your lady is most wise. Listen to her, and you will not go wrong, well maybe only a little bit wrong every now and then. Nobody is perfect. 🙂

    Mate, that’s above body temperature, and you feel that. The light breeze would have helped a little bit, and far out, it is better than those conditions and a strong wind. That’s fire weather. Hey, it’s great you enjoyed the cooler weather. Quite nice really, except for the heavy rain, that can be a problem. Yikes! Now that is a drop in temperature you’d feel. Brr! The kind of day which leaves you reaching for a woollen jumper, or jacket. It was 18’C in the big smoke today, and 14’C here. Bonkers warm for this time of year.

    Hmm, I’m seeing some potential frost risk over the next weeks forecast, but no chance of snow.

    Hope you are enjoying your garden, a nice dog, and a good book!



  6. Hi Chris;
    Shifting baselines- yes, what is considered “normal” morphs over time and how easily wants become needs is a thing. I see the same pattern, and of course profit driven Bernaysian advertising seems to sway people quite easily.

    Umbilicals- We have not taken the step to fully unplug from grid mains, and of course our water is still pumped from a deep well. And it makes me nervous. Weird how being less reliant on the grid makes me feel less nervous. It’s the more control I guess.

    A buried cistern is on my mind, but it would be very expensive. Too cold here to to above ground at home scale. Plans are being formulated……….

    How do you do laundry? Funny thing, I was so proud to get our electric water heater off the grid and heat it with a direct DC line from a second array, but just the other day, Patsy pointed out that she does all our laundry on the cold water setting. Well, it still heats for other uses, but that rather reminded me that I’m subject to implicit assumptions as much as anyone. Gotta watch out!

    Question- how does your septic work? We have a gravity line to a septic tank, which breaks down solids, and water then goes to an underground (~1m) leach field where it absorbs into the soil. I also do a humanure bucket system as backup- but that’s a whole other story and procedure.

    Still in drought here. Have seen the storms split and pass to north and south so many times this year. Our garlic is pitiful, and did not even put out scapes. Some garden plants are doing ok, but others, like the cool weather plants, not so much. I shudder to think if we had to water them from stored rainwater. I think I’d have a tank farm like yours if I could deal with the freeze. I already have a small rain tank for some of our trees, but just drain it before winter. When you run the numbers, there is a huge amount of water to be had just from the roof of the pole barn.

    Similar to you, LP is our backup heat source, but we try to never have it kick on. I had fortunate access to some neighbors excess wood, ( they had some of their woods timbered, and that lot leave lots of good wood on the ground) and so am two winters ahead on split and stacked firewood.

    There is no trash pickup service here, so we have to haul to the township dumpsters for a small fee. Unfortunately, there is no formal or informal scavenging or sorting of still useful stuff. again, amazing what sometimes gets tossed.

  7. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the heads up with the blog, and it is a subject which is of interest to me. Dropped a little relevant comment there in support of the professors work, and thoughts in this matter.

    A bloke can only do so much in an evening. The self made nitrogen fertiliser can wait for just the right time for application. 🙂 Right. I see, a US pint is an eighth of a gallon. So 6 half pints would be a 0.375 of a gallon of currant jam. Nice one. And if I may say so, it is an awesome winter Vitamin C hit. Thanks for mentioning the pepper jelly, but it is easier for me to dry them – and the plants are still alive in the greenhouse anyway. If you give the pepper jelly a trial, I’d be really interested to hear what you have to say about it? A mate pickled his harvest of chilli’s which was nice and tasty, but I probably don’t want the extra sugar in my diet.

    Yeah, the beginning of the end for the reliable electricity supply in your building. The thing which troubles me about electric car charging is that people – who have no idea what they’re on about – say to me seriously: It’s only charging at 11kW. Like that isn’t much. That’s a bonkers supply of electricity, and there is just so much to go wrong with that supply. The mains grid can support a few car chargers, but it certainly won’t be anywhere as many as true believers like to suggest. If the mains electricity system reaches capacity on some days already (as has happened earlier in the year), then removing generators and adding extra users can only be a problem. This one makes so little sense to me, but maybe the population needs to find out the hard way?

    Mosquitoes are around here, but I have not heard that the one’s here carry disease risk – although I don’t doubt that it is possible. Pyrethrum grows well here (note for the future). It would probably grow well in your part of the world too? In other parts of the state, yes, mosquitoes do carry a minor disease risk, which is often named after large rivers such as: Murray Valley encephalitis. Not good.

    Weren’t we discussing malaria a few weeks ago and how it was once far wider spread? Didn’t dull ol’ Cromwell die of malaria?

    Hehe! The market for non-fiction books is pretty huge. Speaking of which, the root cellar is a good read. The authors have yet to get around to actually describing root cellars and their construction, and I do hope they do so.

    The early signs of spring are beginning to show, although there is a frost risk later this week. Today’s weather was astounding in a good way – although we enjoyed a tiny bit of rain this morning – Weather chucks a Tuesday sickie. The big smoke was 64’F and here it got to 57’F. Bonkers warm for this time of year. I’m not seeing any signs of snow in the forecast.

    I note New Zealand penguins are landing on our shores. It’s a big swim from there to here. Apparently the warm surface waters slow the flow of nutrients from the deeps to the surface, so ocean feed is in short supply.

    Ooo, the blue hydrangeas are lovely plants, and super tough. Speaking of super tough plants, I read that chilli plants are less demanding on the soil than other more usual crops such as tomatoes.

    Sorry to say, but that proves that there can always be a bigger terrorist. Far out, I’m glad we don’t have anything like those raccoons. Makes you wonder if given the success of the poultry raid, the raccoon may return sooner or later?

    If you’ve got talent, and opportunity, sometimes being on the outside is no great impediment. Sometimes the whole ‘outside’ thing is a barrier to entry only, and a clever, determined and talented person can work around that. And once a person has the runs on the board so to speak, it’s cool. I’ve always believed that barriers to entry are a form of protectionism, but they also work as something of a flake filter. Did Sam Neill have to work hard to get and keep his first roles?

    Yeah, those are the recipe card boxes! The cards were usually coated in a waxy layer which could survive a first strike, or more likely, a big kitchen splat mess. Cook books, not so much. We do a similar thing with recipes and write them down and keep them in plastic sheets in a folder. It’s nice to have a useful brain extender.

    Wise to save what you have given the impending dodgy blueberry harvest. Do they require a lot of water? I’ve never noticed that they seem particularly thirsty, but they have had a bit of minor incidental watering. Hopefully you can top up your stores from other sources?

    H is tiny compared to a German Shepherd. I’m no fan of that breed of dog, but people may say the same about Ollie. Ah, if in public, and the dog is not responsive to voice commands, then yes, a leash is the only option. It takes a lot of consistent work to train dogs.

    🙂 Hope the master gardeners aren’t dumping too much soil into the dumpster? I’d rehabilitate the stuff, but that’s me. Has all the work with the new raised beds been completed?

    Me tired, long paid work day.



  8. Hi Steve,

    Exactly, when wants become needs, that’s a problem. The old line of: “The land of milk and honey”, is very suggestive that things could always be far worse when those two items alone are considered luxury goods. Oh yeah. But you’re right, we do get swayed and that does shift baselines.

    No need to unplug as far as I can see. I can see a lot of value in having the mains as a Plan A, and some other source (hopefully a pure sine wave source) as a plan B. Not being connected is not all that it’s cracked up to be, and we achieve coverage of about 98% of the year. It sounds good until you realise that the mains grid is high 99% reliability, and 98% is 6 days every year. How such a system would work in heavy snow, is something that I have no experience with. But my gut feeling suggests that it would not be good.

    I’m not going to talk it up. A supply that can only be reached by a very long straw, may present some difficulties. 🙂 Out of curiosity, what sort of materials are you considering for the buried cistern? I don’t see why a plastic tank wouldn’t work, although I would not recommend driving a tractor anywhere near the edges of the cistern. We do have a buried 3000L plastic water tank. More on this later…

    We do laundry via an ordinary front loading washing machine. I used to do my own washing as a young kid, but the controls on the washing machine to me is like looking at a jet fighter display. What is this thing? Anyway, the day the big 5.9 earthquake hit, the machine was going and I had no idea how to switch it off.

    Cold water washing works fine. I believe the machines don’t have an inlet for hot water. When they do a ‘hot wash cycle’, they have their own heater coil, anyway – trusting folks, hey!

    But I agree, hot water is a very useful product.

    The septic is a worm farm. I did a utoob video on the thing.
    Interested – Take a look and learn more
    . That’s me from a few years ago. Truly, of all the systems here, it is the most amazing because it has just worked day and night without any further energy input. It does not get any better.

    Hope the rain deficit breaks for you soon. Man, that’s no good. And is a reason I’m adding another two water tanks over the next couple of weeks. It can happen. How is the well holding up? Dunno, but it might be worthwhile experimenting to see if a plastic water tank froze? Possibly polyethylene is flexible enough to expand and contract easily under such conditions. But equally it could split the roof? Dunno.

    No, LP is backup for hot water and cooking only. We can’t afford to use that energy source to heat the house. It is too expensive here. A 45kg bottle now sets us back well over $200, and if you used it for heat, it would only last maybe a week, maybe less.

    Exactly, local firewood. There is no more sustainable a fuel than that stuff. Nothing else even comes close.

    A shame about that. They have a tip shop here, and you never know what you’ll find.



  9. Yo, Chris – A few thoughts on wants, needs, and what’s “normal.” I think youngsters put up with a lot more carp, than us oldsters. Sweeping generalizations, here. They seem to just shrug off outrageous things, with an “Oh, well.” Mostly tech stuff. Sure, there are some oldsters who are over the top, as far as feeling of entitlement, etc.. But most of us, I think, want a modicum of good service and products that aren’t overcomplicated and last. Being put on hold, listening to tinny bad music for 55 minutes, is not “service.” All the while a recorded voice tells us how important our call is, to them. Promises that things will be taken care of, then they aren’t. Promises of a call back, that never comes.

    I thought you might pick up something useful, from Prof. Mass’s post. I see the Tunnel 5 Fire (where do they get these names? I’ll have to ask a friend that used to work for the Forest Service), is 80% contained. It’s kind of dropped out of the news. There are a few smaller fires, in Oregon and Washington, but nothing major.

    I made a foray into the garden with a gallon of liquid nitro, last night. Take that! deer.

    Well, I made 6 half pints jelly jars of current jam, last night. Sort of. Anyway, I finally got out the Ball canning system (Not to be confused with the Ball Jam and Jelly Maker) out of it’s box, and commenced. Jars go into the machine, with water, to heat up pipping hot, while you’re mixing up the stuff. Then you take them out, fill the jars and put on the lids. Pop them back in the machine, press Start, Jelly & Jam, and #1. Carry on with life. Takes about 35 minutes. When I opened the machine, the lids started pinging. A seal! One, two, three, four, five pings … hang time, high anxiety … ping! All six.

    What to do?! What to do?! I didn’t have quit enough currents. And, being “in the process,” didn’t want to go out to the garden and pick more. So, I took a handful of cranberries, plumped them up, and tossed them in. So, I’ve got current / cranberry jam. There was half of a half pint left over (a highly scientific and technical measurement), so, I tried some, last night. Tangy, but not overly so. Tasty. Not too runny and not too solid. Which brings me to …

    Pectin. Almost every Ball recipe calls for pectin. Their brand, of course. A look down the rabbit hole revealed that currents are high in pectin. So are cranberries, for that matter. So, I didn’t bother with that. And it turned out fine. Another thing. Several of the Ball recipes, call for an optional 1/2 tsp. of butter. Supposed to keep down the scum. Thought I’d give it a whirl. Wow. Did that work well. There was no scum at all, and nothing needed to be skimmed off.

    So, overall? Not a bad thing. Uses far less electricity and water. And there’s not as much sweating off your paps, over a hot stove. There are some things this machine won’t can. It’s good for jam, jelly and high acid foods. Tomatoes and pickles. But not say, green beans. But, there’s a recipe for pickled green beans. There was another little trick I learned, watching a video. When I started, I put my lids in a small pan of water, on low heat. Softens up the rubber seal, and the lids are also hot. Easy to manipulate with the little magnet on a stick, I have.

    Things are going to get interesting, on the electrical front. Luckily (hubris, hubris), we have all this nice hydro power.

    I’d forgotten about Pyrethrum. A glance into the rabbit hole indicates you can make up a spray, at home. But, both instructions I saw involved isopropyl alcohol or kerosene (!). I’m sure there must be more benign methods of production. And, yes, we can grow it here.

    Yesterday, it looked like it was going to rain, all day. Not a drop. Though I heard they got quit a downpour over in Centralia. Looks the same, today. High temperature, 70F. That was quit an article about your weather. The calm before the storm?

    Plucky little penguins. Probably dodging sharks and killer whales, all the way.

    We have quit a few Hydrangeas, around the place. And a great many are blue. But one patch is really a deep, deep blue. I was doing a bit of reading about chili plants, and I’m probably watering mine, too much. But, their so cheek to jowl with other plants, it’s hard to cut back on their water. Some sources suggest not watering them until the leaves wilt a bit.

    Julia has set traps, for the raccoon. I think she has dire revenge in mind.

    In some ways, I think Sam Neill’s life has been a bit like mine. Which he talks about. Falling face down in good fortune. He describes it as train tracks. “Some one threw the switch, and I’m off on another track.” Early on, out of the clear blue, he was contacted by the actor James Mason. He’d seen Mr. Neill in some small part. “You must come to Switzerland, and stay a few days with my wife and I.” Then it was, “You must go to England, get an agent, and start working there.” Which he did. And, his career began to grow. He still doesn’t know why Mr. Mason put himself out, other than that he was a very generous and nice man.

    Sam Neill had some interesting things to say about celebrity. Mason lived in Switzerland, because, besides the taxes, he could pretty much go anywhere, and not be mobbed. Neill says, that as an actor, you can either seek celebrity, or not. But Sam, being Sam, says he can understand the celebrity seekers. They get paid more per film. 🙂
    Mr. Neill could pretty much stay under the radar … until “Jurassic Park.” Then, the jig was up.

    Luckily, the Master Gardeners came yesterday, and adjusted the water for the blueberries. The mid and late season ones, might be ok.

    Biscuits and gravy, this morning. H was quit satisfied. Lew

  10. Hi Lewis,

    Makes you wonder if this is the way hard won rights are lost? A little bit at a time, I’d have to suggest. Maybe that is why youngsters don’t seem overly bothered by intrusiveness from the authoritas? Dunno. It sure bothers me. Anyway, that’s something of a mystery. Candidly I’m uncertain how recent tax cuts for high income earners got over the line, and yet a low and middle income tax break was quietly removed. The media said much ado about one, and not much ado about the other. I’ve seen lap dogs which displayed more bite than that lot. But I agree, it’s mostly tech stuff that lures the young in. Not sure why either. That’s a sweeping generalisation of course, but it does tend to be more true than not.

    Phone tree hell is my personal nightmare. Makes you wonder whether the torturers in George Orwell’s classic 1984 novel would use such devious techniques on their err, clients? Man, I’ve gotta install a new modem for this here interweb thing. I had to stump the mad cash for a commercial grade device, and um, yeah, I’m putting off that task on the off chance that I have to enter – help desk phone tree hell. Yes, so many promises…

    Sadly, bushfires / wildfires are one of those topics which I’ve had to read widely upon over the past decade. Sometimes I get the chance to speak with people who’ve been through such events. And certainly the talk after the big one in 2009 was sobering. Hmm. A very sobering note. But we’re looking at the forest here and doing our best. You can ask for more than our best, but you might not get it! 😉 Small fires do tend to drop out of the news, even when they’re still going. It’s the forecast wind. That’s the thing to watch. I’m simply glad that weather forecasting is so good these days.

    The deer will be feeling the fear, that’s for sure. The old timers swore by that activity – and they probably had to have such things work.

    Ball is an odd name for a canning / preserving supplier, but then the main supplier down here is known as ‘Fowlers’ and they’ve been around for a very long time. Not much better as a name, is it? Some of the bottles we have are over fifty years old and still going strong. Fortunately the lids can be replaced with stainless steel (always recommended) and new rings are readily available. Yes, yes, stocks. 😉 Onto it.

    Isn’t it a great sound when you hear the ping / clack sound as the lids compress downwards? Very occasionally we’ve had either a faulty bottle / rubber ring / lid, and as you note, that’s the stuff which gets consumed first.

    Honestly, the difference in taste between currants and cranberries is pretty insignificant, although I have only ever had minimal exposure to cranberries. I’d have done exactly what you did to fill that jar with the hybrid mixture. It all ends up in the same place. 🙂

    Respect. When a jam sets, tis’ a beautiful thing. The batch of kiwi fruit jam did not set. We’ll still eat the stuff, but might have to take a closer look at the science of jam making. Oh no! People say both yes and no to high pectin with kiwi fruit. So, I ignored anecdotal accounts, and looked at more serious sources of information, plus pulled out the go-to reference guide: ‘Cookery the Australian way’. The more serious guides suggest that the fruit is high in acid and low in pectin. Ah ha! All is now explained.

    I’d prefer not to add pectin to jam because it changes the taste a bit (from my perspective) and tends to form a jelly, rather than a jam – which is different. Well yes, they would recommend their own brand – and why not? The cheeky scamps.

    Well that’s new to me, we’ve never had scum in a jam mixture. Hmm. Another mystery. Beans are more easily dried as a preserving method. They re-hydrate just fine from my experience. Not worth canning from my perspective. The magnet on a stick is a good idea. The lids we use are held down tight by either being a screw top with a seal on the lid, like your more usually seen commercial jam jar suspect. Or they have a clip for the canning process which forces the lid down onto the rubber seal and holds it there whilst the jar boils and then cools.

    Hehe! It’s funny you mention that, but on the island state to the south of here, they also have a lot of hydro. I read an interesting article about the situation. Tasmanian farmers turn to renewable energy, power-saving measures in bid to battle rising electricity bills My favourite quote was: Mr Ryan said the Tasmanian government should uncouple from the mainland power grid. They have a lot of hydro, you see. But then the party pooper pollie rained down on that parade of civic pride with this quote: Energy Minister, Guy Barnett says Tasmania was a net importer of energy from mainland Australia during the 2020-21 financial year, with demand exceeding supply. Pride being the devil and stuff. One year that state was in a drought and the connecting cable between the mainland and there broke. Who knew you could obtain super huge diesel generators? That’s what they did. Took six months to repair the damaged cable from memory.

    I’d have to suggest that sometimes things are not as they seem. And eventually the hydro dams fill up with silt. Hey, I finally got two hours of peak sunlight for today. Yay! Exactly three weeks on from the winter solstice as well. Ya canna get the sun higher in the sky any earlier captain, or she’ll blow! Said in best Scotty the Star Trek engineer voice.

    Did you spot that Mr Pegg is on the most recent Mission Impossible film?

    I’m sure locally derived oils would work as well as alcohols with the pyrethrum. Olive oil, and there’s heaps of nut oils too. It’s a useful plant that one. And grows like weeds. Can’t ask for better than that!

    Oh yeah, imagine having to swim several thousand miles and dodge hungry sharks and seals all the way. No wonder the penguins arrive here looking a little worse for wear and a touch hungry. How did they know they’d get a feed here – that’s what I want to know.

    It’s dried up a little bit, which is nice. But the winds have now picked up. And it will get windier over the next few days. Not to worry, rain is forecast for Saturday. 70’F in your part of the world sounds pretty nice to me. Has the smoke stayed away?

    Really? Interesting about the deep blue hydrangeas. Serious people suggest adding aluminum sulfate, which I believe you may have access to. Worth a try. The hydrangeas here tend to just do their thing, so I leave them well alone to get on with the hard work of producing blue flowers. They seem to know what they are doing, although it is not deep blue.

    Good to hear. The raccoons were probably messing with the wrong lady there. Always unwise.

    Ah, James Mason perhaps recognised another fellow traveller through life in Sam Neill. James likewise was reputed to have had no formal training, and you’d have to suggest that he was as they may say, ‘a natural’. Nothing wrong with talent. And he may have ushered Sam along, whilst opening doors – some people have that skill. I often wonder about professional sports which tend to favour people with a particular body shape. And that choice sometimes excludes the wild card which can shake the entire system up, or at least rattle the thing a touch. 🙂 It really is difficult to fathom other peoples motivations, although sometimes I do get eerie little insights from the most innocuous data. I generally keep my insights to myself because I’ve noted that in the past sharing them produces no discernible benefit.

    Hehe! That’s a fine sense of pragmatism. Yes, getting paid more is a notable achievement, and an undocumented feature. 🙂 That’s the thing, the Jurassic films were not big, they were huge.

    Did the master gardeners have any thoughts as to the ongoing hose dramas given they adjusted the watering for the blueberries? Seriously, all those plants get here is a little bit of water each day – not even a small bucket worth of the stuff.

    Good to hear that H enjoyed the biscuits and gravy. I hope that much excellent chat was had?

    I worked quite late this evening. Oh well, something, something, brought this poop on my own head. 🙂 Hey did I mention that Dame Plum managed to give me worms? Was not happy, as I’m usually careful about such matters. Oh well, easily fixed, but there’s a story there.



  11. Yo, Chris – Same here. Lots of tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Makes sense, as most of our Congress Critters are quit well to do. It’s interesting that when they leave office, they’re wealthier, in a disproportionate amount to their wage. Odd, that. 🙂

    A glance into the rabbit hole reveals that “Ball” was a family name. Of the people who founded the company. “Mason” is also a family name. Here, sometimes, any canning jar is referred to as a Mason jar. They made / make jars, too. Stocks here, also. I need more half pint rings and lids. I might pick those up, this evening.

    I think I won’t be using the pectin. Since jams and jellies are for my consumption only, I really don’t care if the product is a bit runny. I wondered if pectin contributed to the foam. Yes and no. Maybe.

    Here you can get canning tool kits. The magnet wand, measuring stick to make sure your head clearance is correct, funnel, maybe a jar lifter. I was referring to green beans. Usually, I freeze mine. But, I might try some pickled, just for a bit of extra zing. I also have a good recipe for zucchini relish. I even helped my Idaho friends make up a big batch, when they lived here. Now, I’ve just got to grow the zucchini. 🙂

    That was an interesting article about Tasmanian farmers and energy. There was also an interesting side bar article, “Bill is going up…” about electricity bills. Looks like “they’ve” inserted a phone tree hell, just to make sure people don’t get the best rates. There was also an article about the actor Bryan Brown. “Robbing Crocodile Dundee to Pay for Forrest Gump.” We’ve got some writers and actors strikes going on, here now. And a lot of it has to do with streaming services.

    Weather here has been overcast and cool in the mornings, and clear and warm in the afternoon. We’re pushing 80F, today. And by Saturday will be up to 90+F. Prof. Mass has a new post about our predicted summer weather. Nothing outrageous on the horizon, but still, pretty warm. To me. No smoke.

    Yes, yes. I saw Mr. Pegg is in the new “Mission Impossible” film. My thought was, he could have done something better with his time.

    Interesting you should mention nut oils. On the new library list, last week, was a book about growing, harvesting and processing seed and nut oils. It’s on my hold list. Gosh knows when it will turn up.

    Yes, we have ammonium sulfate kicking around our garden room, due to the hydrangeas. They actually run a seminar, here, once a year. Watering hose dramas isn’t really the concern of the Master Gardeners. That’s all Inmate hand watering stuff. But the blueberries are on an in ground, timed watering system. That they can adjust. It’s our building manager who sets it, in the spring. And she doesn’t have a clue … But the Master Gardeners know how to correct it.

    I didn’t know you could pick up worms, from your dog. I’ll be giving H the side eye.

    I watched and interesting new documentary, last night. “Film: The Living Record of Our Memory. A Documentary About the Importance of Moving Images.” It’s about film rescue and restoration. Fascinating stuff. People think that if film is restored, and digitalized, that it’s safe. Nope. The technology changes so fast. Digital media has to be “migrated” from platform to platform. And someone has to ride heard on that. I wrote a paper on migrating library catalogues, once upon a time. So, I know what they’re up against.

    Just about any media breaks down, over time. DVDs, video tapes. Film. It’s really amazing what they’ve been able to save, in the restoration process. They usually digitally restore it … and then transfer it to 35mm film. Turns out, if stored properly (temperature and humidity), that stuff will remain stable, for at least 100 years.

    A lot of countries around the world, are establishing their own film archives. Hot, humid countries (India, the Philippines, Central and South America), have the worst problems, due to heat and humidity. And unstable political situations don’t help. Anyway, it was an interesting documentary.

    I went hunting an gathering, for the Club pantry, last night. Best score was probably 32oz cans of tomatoes, 2 for $1. I also found pound and a half tubs of shelled walnuts, for $6. Those are for me. Lew

  12. Chris,

    I opened a jar of mango jam today. It was homemade and a gift. It was excellent. Very tasty.

    My dad grew up during the Great Depression. His family was homeless for 2 years – I may have told the story before. He had a garden and fruit trees for my entire life. And before. So I grow vegetables and fruit too. It’s how I was raised. Then there are the basic home maintenance things that are easily learned, but nobody wants to learn how to do them. Some of the current supply line issues fall into a similar category: if you can’t find what you want, substitute something else or make it yourself. Adapt. It’s a mind frame that I grew up with, you got introduced to by your grandfather. To me it’s a necessary way of thinking.

    Not only the cost of storage for solar and wind power. The wind turbine blades apparently cannot be recycled. 10 to 20 year life, then gotta have a new one made from fossil fuels, the old one getting tossed into a trash heap. Green energy?

    Dame Avalanche, she who does not drool, earned a new reward last night. She got my attention in the hallway, having cornered a rather large spider and keeping it corralled until I could properly dispose of it. Since the Princess despises spiders, Dame Avalanche was lavished with 42 layers of praise for keeping the monster away from the Princess.

    Then tonight, she did something I’d not witnessed before. The Princess and I were outside with her, chasing her around the yard. I had to get a sprinkler started on a dying patch of grass. Avalanche decided to play in the sprinkler. The cool wet grass under her feet probably felt good.

    Every Viking knows to always listen to his lady. Half of those Viking women were more than a match for their men.

    Yes, thanks. Enjoying the dog. Enjoying the garden. Reading “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich. Part of a series. Allegedly mysteries, but the “mystery” is just a shell to allow the humor to work out. Not everyone enjoys the style of humor, but I read a book or 3 from this series when I’m in serious need of a good laugh.

    The Princess and I have been busy. I think maybe we might not have to go anywhere the rest of the week. She got her hair done today. I got a haircut. Per the Princess’s directions, the hairdresser trimmed my beard. It looks very good. However, she cut away the long Viking parts of the mustache. But it does look good.


  13. Hi DJ,

    Mangos are very tasty fruit, and I could see how they would produce a delightful jam. They’re a tropical fruit, and one of the best of that bunch I reckon. What a fine gift if I may say so – and it could not arrive at a better time for you. 🙂

    Oh man, the wind is up tonight. Yikes! It is not often windy here given the land is in a protected huge volcanic amphitheatre, but tonight, thar she blows! Not the windiest I’ve seen, but it’s getting up there. Fingers crossed the tall trees bend with the wind. It’s a worthy goal. One of the downsides of constructing the house, and being involved in construction in general (hello bridges and culverts for yourself!), is that I can feel the house frame respond to the stress of the wind. Oh well, the thing was designed and made to adapt to this.

    Thank you for sharing that story about your dad, and apologies if I had forgotten his story of those hard years. I’m guessing it would have informed him as to the future possibilities. I’ve read enough history to have an inkling as to how dire things were in those days – and that is not the same as experiencing them – not by a long mile, or even knowing them intimately.

    In some ways I have a degree of compassion for the numpties currently in charge who are recklessly pursuing the unwinding of many hard won lessons, and have been doing so for a very long time. Mostly it is done I’m guessing from greed, laziness, and/or self interest. All part of the journey our species has to endure, but it needn’t have been this way, and in some parts of the world wasn’t. I dunno mate, I wish it were not so, but wishes aren’t bridges.

    Hey, your dad was pretty clever, and yeah you’ve learned some good lessons, and you know I agree, he was of the same mould as my grandfather. 🙂 Despite his many flaws, I miss the old guy. And wish I’d paid more attention! Now I don’t know what important lessons I missed.

    Yeah, I’m not arguing with you. It sounds all very green and stuff, until you put a few brain cells towards the actual components – which you’ve done if you know that about the blades. I dunno what to say. We headed off on this particular ‘green’ journey back in 2007 with high hopes. Nowadays in these more enlightened times, all I want the stuff to do is work and last as long as possible – and maintain, adapt and operate the systems towards that outcome. My experience tells me that you have to go easy on this technology in order to extract the longest possible life span. I can say to people that a fuel tank is one thing, and a battery is another thing altogether. And it’s like I’m talking into the wind. As someone with your background would be aware, fuel tanks can be depleted with little change and/or risk. Chemical reactors on the other hand are a whole ‘nother matter, and cannot be depleted with such disregard for consequences.

    Ooo, haven’t we gone dark here? 🙂

    Cool! Respect to Dame Avalanche, who can add to her growing list of named achievements: Spider Bane. The Editor would have loved that hard work too – you should see Huntsman spiders. Not something you want in the house. Apparently they are a peaceful spider, but they move fast and are quite large. Your lady would not enjoy their company, and the Editor is of a similar mindset.

    Hehe! Go Avalanche. Over the summer months, Dame Plum will physically stand in the dogs large water tub adjacent to the kitchen. Like Avalanche, she’s cooling her foot pads off. Weirdly I’ve not encountered another dog who has thought to do that trick – even Sir Scruffy, who was the most intelligent dog I’ve yet encountered.

    Oh yeah, I hear you about that. I have little doubts that the highland ladies would equally put up with such nonsense! 🙂 Hey, best not to discover the truth of this matter. Once they were also warriors, and things could end badly for us!

    The book sounds like a lot of fun. And there is always time for a good laugh.

    You know it is possible that you lost some mojo in the cutting. Fortunately, the mojo will recover in time. Unless you are taken back to that place. 🙂 Good luck! Far out, the wind! Yikes.

    We had to go to the polar opposite end of the big smoke today. A 300km there and back again journey. Mustn’t grumble, the day was an emotional investment in the future. Stopped off along the way to nab a decent coffee and muffin at a place I know well. So good. But once past there, I don’t know that part of the big smoke well, and have no desire to do so. Hope to not travel far for the foreseeable future.



  14. Hi Lewis,

    The weather prediction article does not surprise me. We get stalled weather systems here too, and they can go in either direction (low or high pressure). My understanding of this issue is not good, but I believe there is a possibility that as the planet warms, the energy behind the winds will be reduced – the atmosphere being a differential engine of sorts. Most certainly that could result in stalled weather systems. However, given the shape of the planet, and the orbit around the sun, there will still be differentials – they might just not be as great. And um, nobody wants a stalled low pressure system dumping huge quantities of rain on them, do they?

    Speaking of extreme weather, right now outside the wind is feral. It’s not usually windy here, otherwise we might not ever get tall trees, but tonight it is. I can hear the wind battering the side of the house, and feel the house frame thrumming with the stress. It’s designed and built with such wind loads in mind, so hopefully it hangs together. Ook! 🙂

    We had to head over to the almost exact opposite side of the big smoke today. A trip there and back of about 186 miles, and for me that is a long way. I’m not really wired for sitting in a car for that long, and hopefully you can appreciate my reticence in this matter? Fortunately the journey was broken by a most excellent coffee and muffin at a place I know well. After there though, the big smoke is something of a mystery to me. Lunch on the other hand was a ham and salad sandwich in multi grain bread, which was OK. Not great, not unpalatable, but OK. I’m sure you’ve experienced a few of those meals in your time? 🙂 You reach for greater, settle for far less, but avoid becoming ill from the experience. Sometimes a person can’t expect more than that.

    Aren’t the congresscritters clever to achieve that result? I’ve heard of this thing called ‘conflicts of interest’, but really it’s hard to know what it may mean. What surprises me about the politicians down here who get caught with their snouts in the grifting feed trough, is how cheap they were. I’d have thought that their standards were higher, but apparently not.

    Oh, well you learn something new every day. That makes sense about the ‘Mason’ and ‘Ball’ names. Did you get the rings? Wise to keep a supply of them because those are the weak link in the system. Hey, we re-use ours although the general advice is not to do so. Once there used to be a far hardier version of the ring supplied, but not so nowadays. And um, err, Fowler, is an old English word for fugelere, an occupational name for a bird-catcher or hunter of wild birds. Like the local dog catcher, but for birds.

    I agree, who cares if the result is runny, especially if it tastes good? That’s the important bit. The Editor and I discussed the pectin content of the kiwi fruits and have acknowledged that we were lead astray, but are now the wiser. Did you know that the book ‘Cookery the Australian way’ is up to it’s eighth edition? Our copy is 43 years old, and is now looking a bit worse for wear.

    Ah, green beans. It all comes down to the variety with that plant and how to preserve the harvest. One thing I’ve learned from the ‘root cellar’ book is that the ground temperature here might not get cold enough to preserve many perishable food items for very long, but then winters are shorter here, so dunno.

    Hehe! You’ve long since had me worrying about whether those monster zucchini are related to Triffids given what used to go on! Mate, there are worse plants to grow than those.

    Oh yeah, bill shock is real in the eastern half of this continent in relation to electricity prices. The grid is reasonably well connected on this side, and yup, prices be going up as of 1st July by around 30%-ish. This is the reason why we didn’t enjoy a lift in the official interest rates. Too much mad cash escaped over recent years, now it’s hurriedly being wrangled in to avoid the inflation monster. A dire beastie that one.

    Saturday sounds unpleasant for you. Stay cool, and keep hydrated. Good to hear that nothing too unpleasant is on the horizon for you. The wind just died down a bit. Looks like tomorrow lunchtime the wind will again be feral.

    Mr Pegg knows his own business well enough. 😉

    Oh yeah, of course and thanks for the additional bit of information. Yes, seed oils could also be very useful there. Interestingly, I read an anecdotal account that the 1983 Ash Wednesday fire didn’t extend into this particular section of the mountain range (although a less destructive fire two weeks earlier had), because it was stopped by a farmers canola crop. Go figure that one out. I’m kind of guessing where that crop was, and they have a very large private water reservoir. So I’m speculating that the crop had been well watered leading up to the fire, and that would make all the difference, plus the fuel, err, sorry plant leaves were rich in water and minerals.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you learn about such oils. We have a number of nut and oil bearing plants – not just Eucalyptus trees. It’s one of those things I’ll give more attention to in future years. Gives the trees time to grow.

    Sometimes control is in the wrong hands, as in the blueberry automatic watering situation. At least the master gardeners can wangle the programming. Not always easy to use, those devices.

    Yes, trust me on this, the worm thing is a most definitive yes. Oh well, a hard lesson to learn. H might be less exposed to worms than the dogs here which sometimes snack upon unmentionable (in polite company) items. Still, a few simple precautions wouldn’t hurt. And I knew the risk too. Oh well.

    Hey, it makes a person wonder how long all this digital music will be around? Probably not all that long a lifespan if you ask me. Now vinyl records, those have a long history. I recall that the Tandy shop I worked in as a kid used to sell record needles for all sorts of machines. People would come in looking for a particular needle and we’d scramble through the comparison tables, and if they weren’t on hand, an order would be placed. Most people seemed pretty pleased with the system, and grateful that someone stocked the things. You know, I gave my vinyl collection away. Not my finest hour.

    It is an interesting glimpse into the difficulties facing the future with preserving the stuff. Accessing it all at the click of a button from massive servers can’t have that long a shelf life.

    Wow! That was a good hunting and gathering find with the tomatoes. And yes, a good score for yourself there. 😉 Hey, I’m at the exciting time of year when I pour through the seed catalogues. Might try beets and radishes this year, and maybe onions given I’ve found a supplier of a variety which originated in conditions similar to here. Could be a good idea.

    I’ve got this fond memory of consuming radishes fresh from my grandfathers vegetable garden, and they were so tasty. The radishes were quite small and had a pink skin with white flesh, and a sharp bite to the taste. Haven’t come across radishes which taste as good as the ones from memory, but there are a lot of varieties.

    We’re still not sure whether the new larger vegetable patch will be ready this growing season. It might not be. We have gates and some posts in, and have fed the soil heaps. But the fencing is still a big job, and there are lots of other projects demanding attention. Oh well, can’t do everything, so picking and choosing will be the way of it.



  15. Yo, Chris – Low pressure systems dumping a lot of water seem to be more and more common. We’ve got some pretty bad flooding, up in our New England states. “1,000 year flood,” is being tossed around, a lot. Look at the bright side: wind = firewood. Temps here are going down, after Saturday. We may even get a bit of rain, on Monday. At least the night time temps are low. 50-55F. Tomatoes and corn might not like it, but it sure makes for good sleeping. We’re seeing some leaf curl, in our tomatoes. The Master Gardeners said it’s due to the night time lows. Doesn’t harm the plants.

    I can appreciate your reticence to travel. I don’t think I’ve been out of our county in 20 years, or so. It’s impossible to get complicated medical care, here. They’re always shipping people off to Olympia … or Seattle. No thanks. I’ve already decided, if anything seriously goes wrong, well … If it can’t be fixed here, it won’t be fixed. I’ll be 74 the end of this month. My gosh. How did that happen? Almost 3/4 of a century old.

    Sounds like you’re meal will not stick in memory, as a high point. Some do.

    Fowler: Well, someone had to make sure there was swan on the Lord of the Manor’s table. 🙂

    I picked up a box of just lids, in one size, as I have rings. And a box of rings and lids in another. As long as the rings don’t rust, there probably good for a few go arounds.

    My, “Cookery the Australian Way,” (not to be confused with “Cooking the Australian Way,”) is not very available here. And, boy, are they pricy. Some of the listings are from Australia, and the shipping is $50! The best price I found was a 1967 version, for $45, $5 shipping. A hardback, but it has no dust jacket … which does effect price, at least here.

    Well, one thing about a root cellar is that it will provide storage space for your canned / preserved things. Also room for all the spirits you make. And, if it has a constant temperature, it might be good for the fermenting process of your spirits. My Dad made wine, and always swore it was good, because the temperature in our basement was pretty consistent.

    Besides a water source, I wonder if the Canola farm had a good sprinkler system? Turning it on might have saved the place.

    I can just hear the Editor, now. “Chris can’t come to the phone. We’re worming him.” 🙂

    When I was in the tat trade, a couple of times I had the old oak, floor model, hand cranked phonographs. Luckily, they had little receptacles, that were still full of needles. But I do remember buying replacement needles, for my stereo system, from Radio Shack. When it came to the hand cranked phonographs, I even found a supplier, who carried the right kind of fabric, to cover the speaker hole. I remember they even carried silk wrapped electrical cord, for vintage lamps. Sigh. I also sold of my vinyl collection. Not being a musical kind of a guy, it really wasn’t used, much. And took up a lot of space.

    I’ve grown Cylinder Beets and Bull’s Blood beets. Cylinder beets are good for canning, given the shape. Bull’s Blood beets have fantastic, colorful foliage. The Master Gardeners requested some of my seed, just because they were so pretty. There’s also Candy Strip. I haven’t grown it, but I’ve been tempted. When you cut it crosswise, it has alternating strips of white and red. All the above are heritage varieties. I don’t know how available the seed would be, in Australia.

    I’ve never cared for radishes. Oh, if they’re put in front of me, I’ll eat them. But given a veg platter, it’s not what I’d take off.

    Oh, you’ll get around to the veg patch. It’s not like you don’t have a lot of other things to eat. 🙂

    Well, I kicked off the First International Sam Neill Chehalis Film Festival, last night. A horror film. “In the Mouth of Madness.” (1995). Pretty good, if you like horror films. There’s a horror writer (“…bigger than Stephen King,”) who has disappeared with his most recent manuscript. Neill is an insurance investigator, who is tasked by the publishing company to either find the author, the manuscript, or both. If he can’t, they may be able to collect. Now the author’s previous books have inspired some bizarre behavior, in his fans. The bits of the new book that have leaked out, have inspired madness. Is the author perhaps tampering with things he shouldn’t? It’s directed by John Carpenter, and there are notes of Lovecraft. Horrible tentacled things from the horribly horrible dark pit!

    Our library doesn’t have a lot of Neill, that I want to see. Some, but not a lot. I’d like to re-watch “Restoration” and “Search for the Wilder People.” Both of which I know our library had, but no longer have. I suppose all the copies either wore out, or strayed. I looked on the River and the other major source, and they have quit a few of the movies … but I think the prices are pretty high. I even checked a major DVD distributor. They have quit a bit, but again, high prices. Sigh.

    On a more prosaic note, I’ve started what’s shaping up to be a pretty good novel. “The Air Raid Book Club.” (Lyons, 2023). A recently widowed bookstore owner, in a suburb of London, is thinking about retiring. But war is looming, and she’s asked to take a young lady in, one of the kindertransport kids, fleeing Nazi Germany. So far, a very good read. Lew

  16. Chris,

    Wind that makes the house shiver is not fun. At all. That happens here now and then. All I can think of is the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs: “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff and I’ll bloooowwwwww your house down!”

    Dad and his brother and parents lived in tents for a couple years near Prescott, Arizona. Winters got rather cold there, about a mile high. Meanwhile, I have a distant cousin who has been writing about family history. He’s sent me copies of his two books. His lot moved to Indiana in the middle 1800s and did quite well. In fact, extremely well. The Great Depression didn’t hit that branch of the family like it did mine. Not even close. The lessons my dad, uncle and grandparents taught from the hard times are rather unforgettable.

    That said, like you, I wish I had paid better attention! Reminds me of Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker’s Guide. He was mentioning to
    (probably) Ford Prefect that he wished he had listened to his mother when he was growing up. Ford asked, “Why, what did she tell you?” Arthur’s response: “I don’t know. I wasn’t listening!”

    But when the power goes out, the lights go out and it gets dark! 😉

    Agreed, the human path wasn’t always the one we’re on. Something about power and greed becoming more important than relationships with others and nature and earth comes to mind.

    Your experience – going easy on the technology in order to extract the longest possible life span – is spot on. Work anything at its maximum level for too long and something will break or wear out. This seems to be true of people, machines, everything. It’s a visible way of entropy occurring.

    Yes, it was a species of rather large spider. The big ones hereabouts give me the heebie jeebies. We have 3 main varieties of big spiders. There’s the black widows. Then there’s the 2 big brown ones: wolf spiders and hobo spiders. Wolf spiders are good. Hobo spiders are poisonous and aggressive. Avalanche found a brown variety, probably a wolf spider. Which I still don’t need in the house, especially the main areas we inhabit.

    The experts say that ther are 3 ways to tell the difference between a wolf spider and a nastily poisonous hobo spider. One, their fangs are different. Okay, but, umm, spider fangs are rather smallish unless adequate magnification is used. Second, the wolf spider usually runs away when a large living thing gets near it. The hobo spider will attack anything that nears it and has quite the jumping range. Finally, one variety has plain brown legs, the other has furry brown legs. One type is poisonous, one isn’t. I don’t remember which is which. This doesn’t matter, because by the time one is close enough to the spider to get a good look at the legs, the spider would have run away (harmless wolf spider) or else it would have already attacked (poisonous hobo spider). So I just smoosh any big brown spider as quickly as possible before it has a chance to prove that it is an attacking hobo spider.

    The bug experts now say that the hobo spider is not venomous. I prefer not to find out. Skin necrosis is allegedly the typical symptom of their bites. The bug experts say that the necrosis is probably from the brown recluse or from the desert grass spider. We have neither here.

    Oh yeah true! I had the thought constantly roaming around my brain during the hair cut that all of my strength and power were endangered. And when she started trimming the Viking handlebars on the mustache, I knew that some degree of physical weakness would result until such things grow back. 😉

    At least on your journey you found muffins and coffee. That always helps. I know where to find good eats on our typical travel routes. Gotta know these things.


  17. Hi DJ,

    That Big Bad Wolf has had an oversized impact upon the culture for way too long. I’m rather fond of houses using products derived from the forest, but then I might be biased! One of the interesting things I learned from the book I read recently which provided first hand accounts from people in this area recounting what happened forty years ago when the last big fire swept through, was that more than a few folks mentioned that timber houses performed better than brick houses. The surprise expressed the bafflement that the prevailing attitudes were incorrect during extreme scenarios. I tend to see the story playing out like the difficulty encountered when burning a telephone book (remember those?). A layer peels off, then the next layer has to succumb. It slows the ingress.

    Far out. One mile of elevation there would equate to an environment 16 degrees further to the north during the most extreme winter days. Right, that would put that elevation at around 50 degrees latitude north. Yikes! That’s the equivalent of Alberta. Whoa. Winters would have been bonkers cold – and in a tent. Mind you, the area looks very beautiful in an extreme sort of way. Exactly, the lessons aren’t forgotten by anything other than generational time, sorry to say. And that’s the thing too, hardship is not evenly distributed.

    So cool! Thus proving that the best jokes are other peoples. And it’s a goodie worthy of repeating. 🙂

    Yes, it’s always an important question to wonder what do we do when the power goes off. I noticed today that a tree at the end of the road had uprooted and is now on plane which is far from vertical. At first I’d believed that it was near to the power line, but no missed by about a metre. A close call.

    In other electricity news, we’re now three weeks past the winter solstice – and have plenty of solar power. What a surprise. Almost to the day, the batteries reached 100% full. I switched the inverter over this morning from the spare inverter (which uses less power on stand by) over the main inverter. Keeping a spare inverter and ensuring it works seems prudent to me.

    Yeah, it needn’t be this way with things, and you’d see glimpses of possibilities from your world. Oh yeah. I’m not bothered by the state of affairs for what is not sustainable, cannot be sustained. That’s what the word means. How other people can kid themselves about this matter is not really my problem. And yes, I do favour relationships with people, all the other critters, and the earth. Seems only sensible to me.

    I hadn’t thought of it like that, but yeah, it is visible entropy. Thanks for the insight. Hmm. I fixed up the 12 tonne electric log splitter today. The replacement parts arrived in the mail, and the soft starter I added into the circuit works a treat, although time will tell if it runs too hot. One of the things I wonder about electric vehicles is that just because the motor can deliver maximum torque on it’s first revolution, is that necessarily a good idea for the other components connected to the motor? Few people seem to ask that question. Years and years ago I had a mate who kept modifying his car. Now I realise that designs are more or less a workable least-worst outcome. Except, my mate would modify one component, then the next stress point in the car would show up. Then he’d have to fix that up, and so on down the line. I’ve had a similar experience with the solar power system which admittedly has grown somewhat bigger since 2009, although things are stabilising at about an allowance of twice the capacity. i.e. if 50A is a possibility, factor in a 100A device. It’s not cheap to do this strategy, but it works. And yes, it is true for people, although I remain unconvinced that some workplaces comprehend this risk.

    Far out, yeah, those spiders all look like huntsman spiders. Good luck, and I’d urge to employ the precautionary principle when dealing with such arachnoid’s. Alas we don’t share Avalanche’s keen senses, and where is an expert when you need one? I spotted a white tail spider today, and swatted the thing. They also have a reputation for necrosis. Sometimes it’s not the bite, but also the bacteria and other nasties living on the spiders fangs, so you never know.

    I’m totally with you. Why put ourselves to the test unnecessarily. They say the same thing about huntsman spiders, but I used to work with a bloke who used to be unconcerned with them, and used his hand to remove them from the house. Yes, he’d been bitten, but then after much experience and exposure to the bites, he developed an infection. Had second thoughts after that, he told me.

    You see, your Viking blood knows that when the moustache hairs grow back, your strength and vigour will be renewed.

    Wise to know these things, otherwise good coffee and muffins may escape to maybehaps where? A dire fate.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Those floods in upstate NY and Vermont were reported in the news down here. Not good. And we had our own flooding last year when 5.5 inches of rain fell over the mountain range. The water ended up flooding homes in low lying areas in the big smoke (the rivers here run down to there). It’s pretty horrific, and there isn’t much that can withstand such a huge volume of water. The dry times are bad with fire risk, but then extreme rainfall can prove to be equally dangerous.

    We had those sorts of summer overnight lows, and the tomatoes were fine, although growth slowed a lot. I agree, the cold over-nights won’t hurt the plants. It might be worthwhile considering how to do the upside down hanging tomato plant trick we tried? We’re still consuming fresh tomatoes you know, and the taste is pretty good. Haven’t yet had to tuck into the dehydrated tomatoes in olive oil stores. Incidentally, the chilli plants look like they’re finally dying off. Not bad for mid-July, which would be your mid-January.

    And absolutely. It is easier sleeping in the cooler weather. I took some photos of the free fallen firewood for the next blog, and we’ll get to processing the stuff over the next week or so. The wind has died down now.

    In less pleasant news, I had to err, permanently retire, two chickens today. They were egg eaters, and despite me giving them both a solid whack with the rake, they returned to the scene of the crime, brazenly if I may add. We haven’t had any eggs for a couple of months now, which is not unusual at this time of year, but I chose to not support their lifestyle choices. The chickens get fresh greens every day, ground meat four times a week, blood and bone added to their high quality grains + grits and fine shell grit. Conditions are as good as any chicken could ever hope for. I had a stern talking with the rest of the flock, whom incidentally witnessed the event. Sends a strong message. The chickens certainly looked freaked out afterwards.

    Extended travel was one of those odd moments, like the duo of egg eating chickens, when I’d just had enough. It would have been interesting to have seen more of the world particularly some first world countries (which we never visited), but at some point the costs for me out weighed the benefits. Did you look for the lost years of your youth? They may be hiding under your desk along with a hidden dust bunny derived from the delightful dog, H? Man, I feel much the same. I don’t think it is a bad option.

    Some meals do stick in the memory, don’t they? Last year the Editor and I had lunch with the guys from the big shed fame at a country town to the west of here. The restaurant was run by a notable chef and is named ‘du Fermier’. The place serves French farm house food based around the seasons, and as a notable peasant, it was the exact right feed for a winters day for me. Mate, I was really touched when I perused the wine list, and was at an utter loss, when I spotted a locally made cider instead. The maître d’ took the order for the cider and remarked that it was an excellent choice to go along with the pork – both were excellent. It’s lovely to be so warmly treated. We lingered over lunch for many hours. A truly delightful meal. I’ll bet you’ve enjoyed a good meal or two over the years?

    Haha! That’s funny. Yes, the late middle ages, when swans were nervous! 🙂 Hey, I’ll bet it tastes like chicken.

    I’ve found the stainless steel lids will probably survive a millennia or so. The thick glass preserving jars might not last as long as glass is some sort of solid fluid isn’t it? But the rubber seals will only last for a few goes. They seem to form cracks which may let in air. I’ve long since wondered if the rings should be oiled before placing into storage when not in use. That might help them last longer, but I really don’t know.

    What? The cheeky scamps using that title, but then titles aren’t subject to copyright in the same way as other intellectual property rights are. Yeah, the edition with the leek in the centre of the front cover is the current version. It’s a bit pricey for my tastes too. Although the current edition we have is 43 years old, and showing signs of age. The pages are yellowing and the binding is not so good, but it’s hanging in there.

    Shipping from your country to here is usually cheaper than the other way around.

    That’s true about the wine making. Winter incidentally is the time for us to make sake (Japanese rice wine). In warmer weather the batches tend to get hi-jacked by acetobacteria, and nobody wants to drink sake that tastes like acetone.

    I was wondering that too about the canola crop. That farm has a huge private water reserve, so I have no doubts if they could power the sprinklers, they would have done so.

    Yes, something like that with the phone! 🙂 Dame Plum seems unconcerned with my recent discomfiture. Dogs…

    No way! I’ve never seen one of those hand cranked phonographs, let alone used one. Replacing components with the right materials would have been a nightmare, so it was a good find to get the cloth. But the silk wrapped electrical cord, well, I haven’t seen those either, but the very early house wires were in a metal conduit (yikes!) and the wires were cloth wrapped – presumably not silk, but some other material. I’d seen some of those cloth outer coatings fray and then the wires shorted out. I reckon that wiring dates back to pre WWII, but don’t really know for sure.

    Yeah, that’s the thing. How many collections can a person keep? When I handed over the vinyl collection, I thought to myself that I’d never have a use for such again. They probably would still be in good condition today, and I have some doubts that digital music collections will last as long.

    Cool, and thanks for the info on beets. All three of those beets are in the seed catalogue. Which to choose? That’s the question. Fair enough about the radishes, there’s plenty of other vegetables to choose from. We’re getting closer to the point where we might not starve, but even so, things would be grim on a food front by early spring.

    Fixed up the large electric log splitter today. The modifications to the motor controller worked well, and it didn’t seem to overly stress out the power system – which it had been doing. Why the manufacturers didn’t add in the $20 part which makes the machine easier on the power supply, is a mystery to me.

    Not saying that there is something really weird going on in ‘New England’, but it kind of looks that way to me. Sure we have Hanging Rock, but you guys have Stephen King and John Carpenter, and all those strange small town goings on where weird things happen. John Carpenter, yeah. Oh, I’d always thought that John Carpenter was the director behind the 2014 remake of Dawn of the Dead – a frightening film because you knew the outcome from the very first scene. And of course, fast zombies. Anyway, his film Prince of Darkness scared the daylights out of me, way back in the day.

    Search for the wilder people was a really good film. Worthwhile tracking it down, somehow. Do they do inter-library loans for such media?

    I’m intrigued by the book review. Are you still enjoying it? You might have finished it by now! I envy the hours you have available to you for reading. 🙂



  19. Hi, Chris!

    It’s hot, hot, hot here – but not so hot as many places. I remember those dry years that you had. Those were the years of Toothie, Dame Scritchy, and was it Scruffy or Poopy who was the knight? They were all on the small side, unlike Mr. Ollie and the girls.

    How sad that solar energy isn’t being acknowledged for what it is – auxiliary power. It can be great stuff. I read recently that Faceplant (thank you, Lew) data centers use 100% renewable energy. Now, we all know that can’t be so – that would be unaffordable for them even if it was true – so how can they put that out there?

    Your worm farm is a marvel – fairly simple, yet so effective.

    Inflation: The story is already ugly enough. Just ask my budget. Just ask the nursing assistants at the assisted living where my mother is how their hours have been cut, no raises, and some of them with children even go to the Food Bank sometimes.

    What a beautiful rainbow. Thanks.

    It’s an awful lot of work to split those rocks, especially granite. Some of those pieces are really nicely shaped.

    I am so glad to be reminded of your soap making. I have some old olive oil . . .

    Wonderful chillies. We have those (cayennes?), but in green. I had never seen a tea camilla up close.

    Your kale looks great. Our whole crop looks like somebody took buckshot to it, but we eat it anyway, hopefully minus the caterpillars.

    Daffies! I love that succulent so much.

    Thanks for the flowers. One of our apple trees is confused, too.

    Yesterday I was heading out of the grocery store and another lady was heading in. She sort of stared at me, so I smiled at her and she smiled back. She went past me then she turned around and asked me: “Do you know anyone named Janie?” I told her: “Not a soul.” She replied: “Well, you are the spitting image of someone I know named Janie. I almost said, ‘Hello, Janie.’ ” I wanted to say: “The poor woman!”, but said instead: “I sure would like to meet myself!”. It’s so funny to think that there is another me around somewhere, right here.


  20. Yo, Chris – No red cherry tomatoes, yet. But, the plants are putting on plenty of growth. Lots of green tomatoes, and plenty of blossoms.

    Some chickens are just bad ‘uns. I had one who would just not leave the nest. I think she was low chicken on the totem pole, and the other hens picked on her. I’d toss her out, at least twice a day. To no avail. But, she was still laying, so, whatever.

    Desk? What desk? No couch, no desk. Not a lot of places to hide. But every once in awhile, I lose something, and think, “It’s a 500 sq. foot apartment. It can’t have gone far. I got a $50 gift card, for the local grocery, at Christmas. Lost it. It surfaced a couple of days ago. Went to the store, last night, and it still worked.

    Do you have to join up to be a notable peasant? Is there a union? 🙂

    Last night on our swap table, a tin of “Fancy” crab meat, showed up. What makes it fancy, I know not. I think I’ll make crab nachos, out of it. Shrimp, crab … I’ve even made nachos with good solid tuna.

    Nobody uses rubber seals, much, anymore, here. This is what we use…

    The rings can be reused, but when you lift the lids, they break the seal and generally get bent. Year before last, when there were supply line problems, lids and rings were in short supply.

    Look closely. The title is slightly different. Cookery vs cooking. Yes, some cookbooks get hard use, and it’s difficult to keep them in good condition.

    I don’t know if that company is still in business. It was a couple of decades ago. There are odd little supply companies that carry all manner of things, but they’re often hard to find. I must say, the internet has made that a bit easier. Two large companies that are still in business are Vintage Restoration Hardware, and Van Dyke’s Restorers. I used to use Van Dyke’s, a lot, as they had odd bits and bobs I needed for antique furniture repair.

    I’ve even had a couple of “portable” hand cranked old record players. I put “portable” in quotes, because they sure were heavy. But you could take them on picnics, and such.

    Go log splitter. Yes, why didn’t they include a $20 part? 🙂

    Speaking of horror, twice in the last week I’ve had a dream where I go to the grocery store, and there’s NO ice cream! The horror, the horror. 🙂

    Yes, I suppose I could Interlibrary Loan some DVDs. It’s just me, I know, but I feel strange ordering DVDs, instead of books. DVDs just seem so … frivolous.

    I’ll be glad to finish that novel, about a London bookstore during the blitz. So I can get to bed a a decent hour! Lew

  21. Chris,

    Telephone books are unforgettable to some of us. They really didn’t burn very well. One of the archery dealers liked customers to donate phone books. They were great backing for the target ranges.

    From what I remember hearing, the Prescott winters might be similar to Spokane winters from November through March. Except for snow. 111 cm per season for Spokane, 26 cm per season in Prescott. In other words, gotta be tough to live through those winters in a tent.

    And the area is very beautiful. The rock formations are colorful. Nearby Oak Creek Canyon is spectacular, although sadly it has been discovered. The Princess and I totally enjoyed a trip through that area.

    Very interesting. 3 weeks after the solstice and you KNOW the difference. It can be measured. I remember something similar from my teenage and university years. It was always about January 8 or so that it was obvious that the days were getting longer. Well, unless it was snowing. 😉

    Good work with the spare inverter. The way you swap the two out makes a lot of sense. Probably saves on the extreme usage of the batteries and other components too?

    Glad my different view of entropy in action made sense. Our electric lawn mowers are either on or off. In other words, maximum torque as soon as it is started. It has a “dead man switch” that must be depressed to keep it on. Let go of it and the motor quits almost instantly. In other words, it goes from maximum forward torque to maximum reverse torque. That cannot be good for the motor. So, when I need to stop for some reason, I unplug the electrical cord and let friction slowly stop everything. I think it adds to the longevity of the equipment.

    Brilliant. It IS true for people. That darn productivity needs to be maximized per person regardless of the cost. At least that’s what a lot of the work world looks like to me. Good way to burn out people and maybe cause some psychological issues. Jings, I remember when it was the “personnel department” before it was “human resources”. Now some businesses have renamed it “human capital”. Sort of lets you know how the employees are viewed: resources to exploit or capital to use.

    I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. Our nasty brown spiders do look a lot like your huntsman spiders. Ugly and scary. Beware, beware the bacteria and other ickies on their fangs!

    Hot and dry. Supposed to get hotter and stay that way for the best part of 3 weeks after a cool down to “average” temperatures later in the week. So I’m putting some water on the crackling parts of the lawns, those parts that are crunchy when you walk on them. Zombie grass time – keep it from dying and maintain it in a state of undead grass. Can’t wait to get my finger healed (and my Viking strength back) so I can start working on the landscape project when the worst of the heat is done. Something tells me that this might all coincide in September. 😉


  22. Hi Pam,

    Hope the heat is not too hot? Tripling the word certainly suggests that things are far warmer than you’d expect.

    No, both Poopy and Scruffy had been knighted for their most awesome services to the farm kingdom. 🙂 Together they wiped out every rabbit within the immediate vicinity. Only Dame Plum comes close to the efforts of those two.

    It is something of a big call, and I’ve noticed that people seem rather loose and fast with such claims. It might be true for all we know, but I hold some doubts. It is hard not to get the impression that the people pushing this strategy seem to be making it up as they go along. Hardly inspiring. My understanding of the back end tech with this sort of stuff is that in your country the frequency is 60 times per second (it’s 50 times a second here). That means in simple language the positive and negative switch that many times every second. All these renewable sources can’t do that trick, and nobody is paying for the sort of electronics I have to use to achieve that outcome. So, you might not have heard of this, but flywheels are having to be installed – lot’s of them – to achieve the same result. I don’t care what people say about solar panels being cheap, but a flywheel which has to spin 3,600 or 3,000 times per minute all day, every day, is not a cheap device. When people wake up and discover how much it costs me to run this stuff, I dunno whether anyone will want to pay for it. I actually really wanted to do better by the environment, but now I’m not so sure what it all means.

    Anyway, don’t worry about it! It was a cool and calm day here today, so we did a bit more cleaning up of those horrid upside down tree stumps the loggers left. Had a nice burn off. Ollie was well behaved. Dame Plum was very well behaved. Ruby is in the dog house. She may never get a title that dog. I’m sure you’ve known a few such dogs over the years. Delightful, but no. 🙂

    Did you watch the video? 😉 I was doing my very best impersonation of ‘Mike and Mal, the Leyland Brothers’. You’ve probably not heard of them, but it was a lot of fun to make.

    Holy carp. That’s not good. A living wage means not having to rely on food stamps. Powers that be, you don’t treat me no good, no more. Pam, it ain’t just you, we have to work harder to keep in the same place. You may wonder why we’ve dropped everything to get the infrastructure just right. I see hard times ahead, and wish it were not so.

    Square rocks are precious things! We’ll have to split some rocks tomorrow.

    Old olive oil is just asking to be converted into soap. Not our fault, the oil started it! 🙂

    Oh no, you have cabbage moth. Yes, the bane of our brassica species every summer too. We just can’t grow them. Diplotaxis tenuifolia is the best green plant to survive both super hot conditions and those rotten little green munchy things. I’ve probably consumed a few of them. Don’t look too closely at the salad! Oh well, moving on…

    Yeah, it is weird how the fruit trees adapt to changing conditions. It’s possible that they’re more adaptable than any of us ever expect.

    They do say that everyone has a doppleganger. It’s a bit eerie isn’t it? I’d like to think that you’re the nicer of the two Pam’s. The other Pam might be the evil Pam. Clearly that would be a bad thing. So, are you winning? Yeah, I reckon so.

    PS: I had someone do that to me in the city many long years ago, and I just said thanks, and went on about my business. They seemed genuine, but it was weird.



  23. Chris:

    I did not know about the 60 (or 50) times per second fact; that helps me understand. I did not know about the flywheels, either. Thanks.

    I would say “poor Ruby”, but I doubt if she would care.

    You have mentioned wall rocket before. Arugula does very well here – is it related? Mustards aren’t bothered by ‘pillars, either.

    I have a feeling that you can no longer number any chooks among your friends.


  24. Hi DJ,

    What a cool use of an old telephone book. Archery, yes, I can see that as great targets. With your Viking blood, have you ever drawn a long bow? Never used a bow myself. I probably should plant some yew trees for the future, but they’re not as easy to find as you’d imagine down here.

    Exactly, that was what I was thinking about the Prescott winters. It would have made for tough living conditions. One hopes that the bedding was up to the challenge? And that there was plentiful firewood? The experience would certainly put a person in a make or break environment. Two years did you say? I’m not up for that, and take my hat off to your dad. The coldest night I’ve ever spent in a tent in Australia was at a place called Wilpena Pound in outback South Australia. A sort of arid place, at elevation. I recall in Nepal near to 5,000m above sea level, that clothes froze solid over night. I enjoyed walking there, and that was about as high as we got. I had no desire to go see the touristy areas there, and we ambled about the countryside just enjoying the scenery and quiet. Peering down into a very deep gorge (Kali Gandaki Gorge) and seeing an aircraft flying there below at a considerable distance down was a bit of a head spin. Got a photo of that too. Not every day you see an aircraft from the top from that distance, whilst you’re on solid ground.

    Yeah, sometimes places do get discovered, then are over run. Economics will sort out that story. Or that’s what I’m hoping with the leaf change tourism.

    Thanks! One of the things that people don’t consider with this renewable energy technology is how much energy the stuff itself consumes. The smaller inverter uses, about half the energy that the bigger one does (and that is already pretty good). I read an interesting suggestion in an article that perhaps we need to be installing the sort of devices I have to use in order to get more renewable energy sources on the mains grid. Do people want to pay for this stuff? I made the choice to do so, but everyone else seems to want to do it on the cheap. Turns out that flywheels are becoming necessary to ensure that the mains frequency stays consistent. We can do that using electronics like I have to, but turns out that is an expensive option. Hmm, I could have told them that. Australia’s energy transition is sparking a search for the new ‘glue’ to hold the system together. Big flywheels aren’t cheap either.

    Yeah, the electric motors need a slow start so that maximum torque isn’t applied to stationary gear boxes, drive shafts, axles etc. It ain’t just the motor that is put under stress. The power supply has to provide a huge demand of current to get the thing initially turning too, then it can back off. Your understanding of the engineering issues are spot on. They’re no small thing.

    Mate, their own needs are paramount. When I decided to walk away from the top end of town, I really did try and take a few steps backwards, and at every turn I was thwarted. That experience left me with the sneaking suspicion that there just aren’t that many folks willing to work at such heady heights. Hmm. However, being the crafty and resourceful person that I am, I had to forge my own path out of that web. Even the professional bodies didn’t want me doing this path. So as to ‘human capital’, it is suggestive, oh yeah, I hear you.

    The spiders do make me rather nervous. Does everything around here have to be so venomous? It seems like a lot of effort to go to.

    Yeah, September sounds about right, but like those electric motors, begin slowly. 🙂 I don’t worry about the grass when it dies back. The stuff bounces back just fine when the rains and cooler weather return. It’s the other plants which might not.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it would have to be a very hot season for me to have red tomatoes at this time of year (had yours and our seasons been suddenly flipped). August for you, I reckon. And that’s great news about the growth and slowly ripening tomatoes. You’re at such a good time of the year when the plants are growing strongly. It’s great to watch the plants do their thing.

    The rain mostly held off today, and the wind had finally died down. The national youth broadcaster was having a countdown of their ‘like a version’ segment and that was fun to listen to. For a couple of decades, they’d get a band in on a Friday morning to play a cover live. The segment has a bonkers reach, but anyway. And this time the listeners got to vote for their favourites from the past two decades. Believe it: How DMA’S covering Cher became your #1 Like A Version of all time. Three blokes turn up to a studio, and take something from the past, give it their own spin – and absolutely nailed it. I like their version better.

    Oh, anyway, me listening to the countdown, which went on for about nine hours. But during the daylight, we headed down to the edge of the forest and piled up and burnt off more of those upside down tree stumps. I’m not worrying about the loggers motivations, I’m just focusing on cleaning it up. Less of a brain twister, that’s for sure. Those things are heavy and right at the edge of what I can move. So we had the tunes blasting out across the forest (I’d like to believe the trees and forest critters were bopping along to the music, yeah), and having a good old burn off. Ruby was badly behaved, but Dame Plum and Ollie were exemplars of proper canine standards.

    Much of the recent fallen limbs that aren’t going to get turned into firewood were added to the fire. It’s surprising how much energy that fire releases given the winter solstice wasn’t that long ago, and so far the year has not what been what you’d call dry.

    Yes, some chickens are bad ‘uns. I tend to leave those broody chooks alone nowadays, on the basis that they must know their own business. Like you, I’ve also tried throwing them into the run so that they can stretch their legs and enjoy a good feed. They don’t seem to want that. All rather obsessive if you ask me. Egg eating though, I have no tolerance for.

    Far out, it must be cold outside. I heard some of our hot water heading up to the solar hot water panels to stop them from freezing. Brr!

    OK, so how do I know you don’t have access to a Tardis in that apartment space? We’ve never really discussed the issue. And, and, how do you know that the little folk weren’t playing tricks on you by hiding that shopping card? Hey, at least the little tricksters didn’t spend the mad credit on the card. How embarrassing would that have been when you got to the cash register?

    I could tell you about the notable peasants union, but then again maybe not. The chief said something several times about The first thing about the notable peasants union, is don’t talk about the notable peasants union Gawd, I might be in some sort of trouble here. I didn’t tell you nuffin, man – or, you didn’t hear about it from me. 😉 Don’t rat me out here!

    It’s a good question. Was the crab meat as good as the claim? I’m salivating thinking of crab meat nachos. Tuna steaks are something else, aren’t they? I really quite enjoy Japanese food.

    That’s a fancy lid design. I do prefer the older style lids and rubber rings. Although for jam, we do use lids which have their own seal pressed onto the metal. They seem to be lasting, but time will tell. I did once suggest that civilisation will ultimately fail due to a lack of food preserving equipment.

    Getting bent out of shape was what I was wondering about with that style of lid. These are the lids I favour above all others: Preserving Lids. We try to keep to a single standard, and that is their size 3. The number doesn’t really convey much information, does it?

    Ooo, the cheeky scamps. Cookbooks do tend to live in a harsh environment. Do they even use cookbooks in a commercial kitchen? The environment there would be even harsher than a domestic kitchen.

    I agree with you, the interweb has made tracking down items far more easier than it once was. A lot of the items I use here for say the solar power system, or repairing machines, are really difficult to obtain. You just don’t get shops selling this stuff, or if they do, they’re nowhere near you. I’d imagine that the furniture repair and restoration trade would be a bit easier on that front nowadays?

    And don’t get me started on the old newspaper text classifieds. Without photos, let’s just say that I’d encountered some interesting claims over the years. You’d get good at phoning people and asking searching questions about how good this second bit of carp they’re trying to offload, really is. I’m sure you know what I mean there?

    Based on the images I saw of such devices, the quotes as to portability, are well deserved. I recall portable record players when I was a kid, and candidly they seemed a bit dodgy to me. Now the cassette tape, that was portable, but sounded like muffled dog poop. They lacked the clarity of vinyl.

    I’m just pleased to have the electric log splitter working again, and better than before. It sounds a bit strange, but I tend to perform (or send off to get sorted out) all of the maintenance for the various machines we use at this cold time of year. The farm machine repair dudes told me long ago that everyone brings their stuff in once the grass begins growing – and the wait times become epic. Planning!

    That is a horror story, right there on the empty supermarket shelf. Hopefully the contingency is a remote one? Have you got any idea why your brain might be contemplating that story? After the past few strange years, empty supermarket shelves strike a touch of fear into my heart.

    Fair enough, there are other ways… 😉

    That’s probably about the best recommendation for a book, that a reviewer could provide. Hmm, did your mother ever tell that you are a bad influence! Hehe! Thanks for the book recommendation.

    Better head down below into the frosty night to push the fire together.



  26. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, a lot of renewable sources such as say solar panels, hydro, or wind, do not do the flipping backwards and forwards, and the mains requires that. There’s a good reason for the flipping too.

    Ruby is in the dog house, and has been a bad egg today. This may be a redemption tale, and everyone seems to love those stories. But she ain’t there yet! 🙂 Ruby has the potential to be the best dog, but she is wilful. Will she grow out of this? Probably not based on what I’ve seen of other dogs with those traits over the years. I’m sure you’ve known such a canine?

    Arugula is also known as rocket, but is a different plant. It has wider leaves for a start. They grow well here in the cooler seasons, but during summer, they’ll bolt to seed in days. Even during cool summers they’ll do that. That’s why we grow the wall rocket instead. Much more reliable in the summer, and arugula at cooler times of the year. Hope that makes sense?

    Leafy greens over summer are a complicated issue. What do you grow on that front?

    Frankly, the chickens are looking at me kind of funny today.



  27. Yo, Chris – The second batch of corn I planted, seems to be catching up with the first batch. Green beans are twinning. I swear, they weren’t twinning, day before yesterday!

    Cover bands can be quit good. I wonder if they pay copyright fees?

    Re: Clean up: Wouldn’t want to get a twisted brain!

    It was 90F, yesterday. More of the same, today. But Sunday into Monday we may get rain. I got my monthly electric bill, a couple of days ago. I ran my A/C, full bore, most of last month. I wondered what it would be like. Well, firstly, our power here in Chehalis is PUD (Public Utility District.) Not for profit. Centralia has a lot higher bills. And, being poverty stricken old people, we get some kind of a break on our bills. Which I don’t understand. So, my bill was just less than $60. Not bad, at all. In winter, when I use practically no heat, it’s around $40 a month.

    The Little Folk are still holding my second pair of reading glasses, hostage. I finally just went out and bought another pair. $1.25. Maybe if I left them a saucer of milk?

    The crab nachos were pretty good. Garlic, Shiitake mushrooms, chopped chives. Dried basil from the garden. Swiss cheese. I found it to be, as far as a sea food taste, on the mild side. Think I prefer the shrimp or tuna. Sometimes, when I make the tuna nachos, I add peas. Which some people find odd.

    Yes, the rounds in our jar lids have the seal punched right into the metal. It was a good tip to keep them ready, in a small pan of hot water, on the stove. Especially, since they were from last year, and might have dried out, a bit. Oh, I think if civilization crumbles, people will figure out a ways to extend the life of food. There were eons of no refrigeration or tinned goods and bottled goods.

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen a cook book, in a commercial kitchen. I suppose the chefs carry it all around in their heads. And direct their crews.

    The old, old portable record players were built like tanks. But you’re right. The portables from the 1950s and 60s were pretty flimsy.

    I figure my horror dream is just free floating anxiety, from the recent supply line problems. Not as bad as last year, but you still don’t know what might be missing, when you go to the grocery. My dream just as well could have been about the Great Swiss Cheese Famine of 2022-23!

    Speaking of horror, last night I watched “The Pope’s Exorcist.” Russell Crowe. “Based on a True Story.” Well, at least based on a real man. It was pretty good. But, apparently, split pea soup wasn’t in the budget. There were a few backward heads. Great sets. As creepy as Dracula’s castle.

    I finished the book, so I can get some decent sleep! 🙂 There’s a dog named Hemingway, a bit of romance, a few lively discussions of Bertie and Jeeves. Orwell. And, food. Lost of food references. They kept mentioning “malt loaf.” I looked it up, last night. There are lots of different recipes, and it seems closest to our Boston brown bread.

    Got the notice, yesterday. My yearly apartment inspection, is scheduled. Little Mary Sunshine must be slipping up. Usually, it’s just a three day notice. I’m not due til the 25th. Plenty of time. If she got the date right. Wouldn’t be the first time she slipped up on a date. But it’s a Tuesday morning! Biscuits and gravy day! Maybe I can get her to do my apartment, first.

    I went down to the Club, for pancakes and scrambled eggs, this morning. Tasty. Traffic was down. This time of the year, there are a lot of “roundups”. Basically, either up in the woods or down at the beach. Camping, eating, speakers, and lots of meetings, in the great outdoors. I don’t go. Too many people and lots of kids tearing around.

    Looked like there were going to be some pancakes left over, so rather than toss them, I suggested they hold onto them, and, when we have hot dogs, this evening, offer an option of a “pig in a blanket.” Roll them up, stick a toothpick through them and smother them in … whatever. Lew

  28. Yo, Chris – An interesting article on the failure of the State of Georgia peach crop …

    We grow a lot of peaches, on the dry side of our mountains. In 2012 Washington State had 2,200 acres in peaches. Each acre produced 12,000 pounds. In 2016, we produced 13,800 tons.

    Our veg store guy goes over the mountains, once or twice a week, to bring back fruit and veg. Peaches will start showing up, pretty soon.

    Peaches (and apricots) are a bit “iffy” to grow in Western Washington. The weather can be a heart breaker, and so can peach tree leaf curl. Lew

  29. Hello Chris
    I am still here, just very busy and tired. We have finally had some rain but could do with a lot more. Meanwhile there is a colossal wind blowing, not good when the trees are in full leaf.


  30. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for dropping by and saying hello! And watch out for those trees when the wind is blowing strongly.

    Had a big wind storm through here for two days. You should see the large chunk of tree which gravity brought back to earth. There’ll be a photo tomorrow.

    Hope you get some relaxing time soon, you’ve had a lot on lately.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, who’d have thunk it? All is not peachy with global warming. Mate, the almost exact same thing happened here. Late frosts wiped out the blossoms, then a cold start to the growing season wiped out the remaining fruit. If ever there was a call to plant a more diverse crop, the last few years have rammed that lesson home. If you get no peaches, then something else will have to work out. The thing is, it takes a lot of years to grow a fruit tree to maturity – even mollycoddled commercial orchard trees.

    I can see that about them growing in the eastern half of the state. Those trees need drier weather. They’re an iffy crop here at best as well, but when they do work, the fruit is amazing tasting. Some of the other fruit varieties just don’t work so well those years. 🙂

    Isn’t that odd how the second corn seedlings are catching up with the first ones. Dunno. Maybe the original seedlings suffered a bit of shock, whereas the second plants didn’t? A mystery.

    Hey, there’s some truth to that old fable of Jack and the bean stalk. Those tendrils grow fast. Note to self, don’t fall asleep next to a bean stalk, things might end badly. 🙂

    My understanding as to how the music system works is that they do in fact pay royalties to the original artists. Royalties are a hard way to earn mad cash, and dare I suggest that some of the more recent delivery platforms don’t produce good outcomes for the artists. Hmm. Technically you are correct, they are acting like a cover band, but the musicians are generally very well established local and international artists. It’s a bit of a thing, really.

    I am trying to avoid having my brain twisted. Seems simpler not to contemplate the matter, and instead just get on with the job at hand. Speaking of which, we continued the burn off today. There’s not much left now, other than ash. And we broke up all of the large rocks in that area. Recovered about fifteen large rocks. Hard work. Another days work and the area will look super-neat.

    That’s a pretty cheap bill. Cheap in this case is generally a very good relative outcome for the environment. $60 down here would buy you only 150kWh for the month, and not even that much really because they whack on a connection fee, which would be around the cost of what you paid. You have a really good supplier there. Such breaks are choices that get made. I don’t begrudge you them, it’s simply life. The age which I can access the pension keeps getting ramped up. There’s a lot of work in front of me. But I can’t care more about such matters than my peers, so why worry?

    Oh yeah, that’s exactly the sort of thing the little people would do. It’s possible you might have to assuage them, and the question arises: What did you do to annoy them?

    Garden peas are pretty nice, and it’s one of the few vegetables that taste good from frozen sources. Why not add them to nachos? Some nachos I’ve consumed over the years are full of vegetable matter. We had a conversation a while back about how different Mexican cuisine is over the vast territory of that country.

    Yeah, the seals drying out with the preserving lids is always the main risk. Of course sometimes the lid can be warped, or the jar chipped, but 99 times out of a 100, it’s the seals. I agree with you with the preserving of food. One of the things I’m grappling with whilst reading the ‘root cellar’ book is that it was written for a colder climate than here – and I do wonder how global warming will alter the authors plans. The ground here just doesn’t freeze. Sure we had ice on the grass this morning, but frozen soil – I don’t think so. Any root cellar will be too warm for proper cold storage here. Mind you, we’re experimenting with storage, and are using the greenhouse for pumpkins, squash and kiwi fruit. And you know what? So far, it’s working. Local adaptions, for local conditions.

    Thanks, that’s why I asked about the cookbook in a commercial kitchen.

    Yeah, I also wonder about the ongoing supply shortages, but then the supermarket we shop at in the nearby town for such items is not the cheapest in the area, so it tends to be better stocked. It’s possible that you’ve adapted to the new circumstances?

    That’s a damn shame about the lack of spit pea soup. Honestly, it was a pivotal scene from the much earlier film. Mind you, a backwards looking head would also be quite a creepy thing to encounter. Burn it, burn it with fire! Yes, probably the right way to go in that instance. The possessed souls might have a difference of opinion there. Thanks for the review. It was only out at the cinemas recently.

    Speaking of such matters, you know Tom Cruise might be the last big name actor left standing? At least he appears to recall the business case that actors have to push product. Some of the stuff getting produced is a little to woke for my tastes. The Editor went to see the film Tár a few months ago with friends, and her opinion was that the storyline was barely coherent. Fortunately you can read a synopsis nowadays and so make sense of the story. But the main purpose of a film is recounting a story. On the other hand, there is an awful lot of inequality in that industry. Oh yeah. They can’t have things both ways.

    The Editor and I have entered into discussions about that book you recommended. 🙂 Mate, I don’t know what either Malt Loaf or Boston Brown Bread are! Sounds like a dark rye loaf to me.

    Ooo, that all sounds rather inconvenient. Can’t you pull the medical appointment card there? Still, maybe it is best to get the awfulness out of the way as early as possible.

    Yum! The pancakes and scrambled eggs sound good to me. It’s that time of the year for such outdoors activities, but (and this is not a criticism) I’d prefer the bush without the speakers and meetings. Maybe that is just me? Here I have to fess up, I was never one for extended meetings. They’re a thing in the business world, and perhaps I expect things to get wrapped up too quickly? Probably a personal weakness… 😉 I don’t believe I ever won friends in the world of business by wrapping up meetings expediently. Most other people seemed to enjoy them. I dunno, another mystery perhaps?

    Excellent thinking there. Yes, ‘pigs in a blanket’. That would work. Were they well received?

    Better get writing. Oook! It’s getting late. Hope I don’t end up writing rubbish, my brain hasn’t quite processed the story yet. Oh well.

    It’s getting near zero outside, after a really lovely sunny mid winters day. The sun even felt like it had some zing in it.



  32. Yo, Chris – 91F, yesterday. Forecast is for 81F, today, and 74F tomorrow, with maybe a spot of rain. We’ll see.

    The ground might have been a bit too cold for the initial go at corn. Or, critters above or below might have ate them. So many possibilities for things to go wrong.

    That’s what the writer’s and actor’s strikes are about. Delivery systems not paying artists a fair share. And, speaking of disparities, I saw an article, last night, on retirement and pensions. It’s long. You might want to set it aside, for later. But, it’s worth a read.

    Oh, I don’t think it’s anything I did to the Little Folk. It’s just the way they are. Just amusing themselves.

    Heading down to the usual Sunday morning old duffers coffee klatch. I’m going to tease Mr. Bill, our club manager, about siphoning $15 a week, out of my wallet. Of course, that gets me three meals, and where else can you get three meals for $15? 🙂

    Our meetings are generally held to one hour. Anybody who wants to speak is held to 5 minutes. If everybody who wants to speak, has had a turn, then people can have another go, double dip, if they desire.

    All the pancakes were consumed, so, no pigs in a blanket. The hot dog was very tasty, but got off to a slow start. But, I think they probably did alright. After I left, there were meetings at 6, 7 and 8. Saturday nights are big meeting nights. Even with the other things going on, here and there.

    The dreaded STP (Seattle to Portland) bicycle thing, began yesterday. I only saw two possible riders, going through our town. But then, first day ends in Centralia, and then they push on to Portland, today. The situation might be quit a bit different, when I try and get to the Club, this morning. Or home again.

    Well, if you end up writing rubbish, I’ll be sure and point it out to you! 🙂 Lew

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