Killer Kale

It is possible that Sandra and I have been so deeply involved in infrastructure works over the past couple of years, that we’d taken our eye off the ball with the plants. You can’t do everything you want on a small holding, and inevitably compromises and mistakes sneak in. But it’s when the wallabies eat almost the very last of your winter leafy greens, a bloke has to face up to realities. Something has to change.

My leafy greens, gone, despite the fearsome gargoyle (that looks strangely like Ollie)

For those who don’t know, a wallaby is a slightly smaller, and darker furred lone forest kangaroo. The more usual grey kangaroos which people know and love (think Skippy the bush kangaroo), tend to travel in mobs. Occasionally an older large grey kangaroo will turn up here, and he’s a sad fella. A young buck has challenged him, and kicked him out of the mob. I wouldn’t spend too long worrying about him though, he’d probably lead a good life up to that point, and had done the exact same thing when he was young. However, there’s a place for the wildlife here and the farm is open to the local wildlife. There are few if any fences, and usually we can out produce their needs. But not this year.

With three cold and wet growing seasons in a row, and it being winter and all, I’m guessing protein levels in the plants in the forest are far lower than usual for this time of year. Compared to the forest, the plants growing in the mineral rich soil of the farm, are a total supermarket of goodies. At night, the wallabies, wombats and kangaroos graze around the orchards enjoying the relatively mineral rich feed. Certainly the resident wombat here is one of the largest and glossiest I’ve ever seen. But even the well fed wildlife have needs, and of late you can see that the grass has been munched down pretty low.

But heck, I have needs too. And it’s been a long time since we’ve run low on leafy green edibles. Years ago, there was that bonkers hot summer when all of the leafy green plants shrivelled up in fright, then promptly bolted to seed. Within a week or two, the entire crop disappeared. That was a harsh lesson to learn. And since those days we grow more-appropriate-for-the-summer-climate leafy greens. Seed catalogue claims about plant varieties using the word ‘tender’, are right out of contention. Forget about those things, they won’t survive here. Tasty garden survivors are what we’re aiming for. It’s not the best years where you get put to the test.

It is hard to forget that awful bonkers hot summer year. We even did a deep dive on edible weed species. Quite a number of them grow readily here. Eat the weeds was the claim, and it sounded good in theory. The reality was that such plants are considered weeds for the reason that they taste rubbish to me. Will you survive consuming the weeds? Probably, but you might not like the diet all that much. I put edible weeds in the knowledge category of: ‘interesting to know, just in case’, but if there are better options…

There are plenty of other things to eat right now, but few if any leafy greens, which we unfortunately usually consume quite a lot of. How did it get to this? Hubris is part of the story. For the previous two winters we’d had really good crops of kale. Kale is a form of cabbage where the leaves grow up a central stem. And unlike a huge round head of cabbage, you can pick as many kale leaves as you want, and the plant usually grows more. The word ‘usually’ is used here as it refers to the possibility of eating a kale plant to death, after all with no leaves left on a stalk, it is unlikely the plant will soon recover. Common sense with harvesting has to be applied.

The farm is almost the perfect environment for growing kale. The plant loves the cold weather. A light frost does wonders for the taste of the leaves. Most annual plants hate frozen air as it will kill them. Kale however responds to frost by converting some of the starches in the leaves to sugars. The plant survives cold weather by lowering the freezing point of the plants cells. It’s pretty clever really, and the cold weather response of the plant makes the leaves tastier. Cold weather, bring it on!

But when hubris hits, it can hit hard. From hindsight, you can see in the garden row where we grew the epic patches of kale in previous years, we probably played the soil out. There’s not even weeds growing there now, let alone any kale. That’s what taking your eye off the ball, looks like.

Globe Artichokes on the left, nothing at all growing on the right

Think what you want, but it turns out you do actually have to practice crop rotation, or else. And here we are today, with a clearly empty garden row where once kale grew abundantly. Fortunately, there is an easy solution for this problem. Grow peas and beans in the row during the next growing season, and those plants will fix some nitrogen back into the soil. We’d planned to do that anyway, but it would have been nicer to have had some winter kale.

We are thinking about crop rotation. This winter, we made the unfortunate compounding mistake of not planting out the sapling fence vegetable enclosure with winter greens. It’s probably got some of the best soils on the property, but the decision was made months ago to rest the soil, and it seemed like a good idea – at the time. Now, I’m wishing it was full of winter greens, but alas, wishes don’t keep a person fed.

The sapling fence enclosure was unfortunately given a winter break. Plenty of untasty weeds though

There is another new area of the property which is being set aside for a few more rows of vegetables. Just having more growing space should assist making the process of managing crop rotation easier. But right now, with leafy greens, we’re down to what is growing in the greenhouse. And whilst it is a decent sized greenhouse, it is not that big. And the plants got off to a late start.

Inside the greenhouse on a cold winters day

Thinking ahead with the realities of crop rotation, both Sandra and I hold some doubts that we’ll be able to continue growing the same chilli and tomato plants year after year in the greenhouse. Sooner or later, that practice will become a problem. We might just have to construct a second greenhouse.

At times during this past week, the weather has been rather cold and wet. Normal winter weather really. On one day during the week though, the ground was just dry enough to bring the many large rocks which we broke up last week, back up the hill. Using the large yellow powered wheelbarrow, especially when it is carrying heavy loads, can rip up the ground at this wet time of year, but not that day.

It takes a lot of effort to load the rocks into the bucket of the machine. Then you have to steer the machine back up the hill, all the while you’re walking along behind it wrangling the control levers. Then on arrival near to where the rock is needed, you dump the rock out of the bucket, and drive the machine out of harms way. The site where the rock will be placed is dug flat, or ever so slightly leaning uphill. The rock gets rolled approximately into position, and a long steel house wrecking bar gets used to make the final minor adjustments. It sounds easy, reality is otherwise.

Nine additional large rocks were added to this rock wall

The low gradient path project sure does eat a lot of large rocks. Another four large, but thinner rocks, were taken to the upper part of that project where they will be hopefully installed sometime this week.

The upper rock wall in the low gradient path project continues to be extended

There are tentative signs of the spring yet to come. The other day, I noticed a tiny little spear of asparagus sticking out of the soil. No doubts, the wallabies will also take note of this early spear.

A very early spear of Asparagus

Over the past year we have put a lot of effort into the citrus trees. Any of the trees which were struggling were relocated to the sunniest spot on the property. And the soil there has been very well fed. It’s early days, but a few weeks ago we were rewarded with a few small tasty oranges, and that’s exciting. However about three citrus trees were perfectly located, and those are very productive trees.

A Meyer Lemon produces heaps of winter lemons

Rhubarb is an indestructible plant. The original crowns were a present from a local lady who claimed that they were originally her grandfathers. Whatever the case may be, they’re growing strongly and will happily produce self seeded rhubarb plants.

The Rhubarb is growing well

The summer growing season was quite cool and damp, and many of the tomatoes did not ripen on the vine. As an experiment, we pulled the vines out of the ground. Then the roots were washed clean. All the leaves on the plant get removed. The vines were then hung upside down from a wire in the well ventilated greenhouse. Candidly it sounded like a mysterious ancient rite, and we were dubious. But it worked! The tomatoes ripened on the vine, and because (here I’m guessing) the fruit stayed cold, but did not freeze (being in the greenhouse), they’re all as good as if they were picked fresh. This is a great option in this climate, and one we’d not previously considered.

We’re nearing the end of the tomato experiment, so brought this lot inside to ripen

Tomatoes interestingly are from the nightshade family of plants, of which there are a number of local varieties – some of which are edible. One of those are the Kangaroo apples. As well as tasting like soap, they have an unfortunate tendency to fall over.

Another Kangaroo Apple has fallen over

Onto the flowers:

The Hazelnut (filbert) trees have produced catkins
Rosemary shrugs off the worst that winter can throw at it
It is difficult to believe, but some of the Roses are still producing flowers
And this Rose is untouched by the recent frosts

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 542.4mm (21.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 533.0mm (21.0 inches)

48 thoughts on “Killer Kale”

  1. Yo, Chris – That’s an astute observation that due to the last three year’s weather, perhaps the forest isn’t providing all that is necessary to the wandering wildlife. I don’t know where it came from, but I had a crazy idea. I wonder if providing a salt block (aka: mineral block), might take some of the pressure off your tucker? Maybe, placed way up in the woods? A quick glance into the rabbit hole, indicates that their are mineral blocks, specifically for Australian wildlife. Not too pricy. Some under $20.

    For me, I’m afraid Kale falls into the ‘interesting to know, just in case” category. 🙂 Yeah, yeah. I don’t know what I’m missing. Horse radish leaves, have more appeal. To me.

    Wishes don’t keep a person fed, but, apparently, they allow beggars to ride. 🙂 Or to quote Stephen King, “Wish in one hand, (poop) in the other, see which one fills up first.” (Dark Tower).

    I also fret about crop rotation, given I’ve got such limited square footage. So, I took a look in the rabbit hole. The search I did was “Can you grow (….. I inserted first tomatoes, than chilies) in the same spot, year after year.” Well, I learned some interesting things. Tomatoes, egg plant, potatoes and peppers should only be grown for 3-4 years in the same spot. Due to possible nematodes or fungus. Planting tomatoes after green beans is a good thing. Which I was happy to read. Next year, I’ll plant my 2 tomatoes where my two patches of green beans are.

    Hmm. I wonder what it would say about Kale, if I did the same search? Follow with beans or peas. Which I think you already mentioned. I see there are articles about “Crop rotation in a small vegetable garden,” which I’ll have to go back and read in greater detail.

    Rocks and paths reminded me of an ear worm.

    I am quit envious of your lemons. Now, rhubarb seems pretty happy in the same spot, year after year. When it dies back in winter, I just throw a bag of some kind of composted poop on it, and it just keeps chugging along. Too bad the leaves are poisonous. 🙁 They’d keep you in greens, for quit awhile.

    If the Kangaroo apples taste like soap, I suppose they fall in the “…interesting to know, but…” category. Must have shallow roots. I wonder what kind of a beneficial adaption that is?

    Looks like your Hazelnuts will produce this year. Rosemary is tough. Our Venerable Old Rosemary seems happy in it’s tub, year after year. No matter what the weather throws at it.

    Your winters are milder. We’d never see rose blooms, like that, at a comparable time of the year. So pretty. Lew

  2. Chris,

    Your description of what it takes to move the rocks up the hill sounds like frightfully hard work. Or should I say HARD WORK? From experience, I know that it is harder than it sounds too.

    Skippy the bush kangaroo was my first introduction to anything Australian. I never missed an episode until they took it off the air. My next exposure to Australia came a year or so after Skippy disappeared from tv. Mum’s father sent an old Zenith Trans-Oceanic shortwave radio to me. He showed up at our doorstep a few weeks later. I hooked up the radio to a good outdoor aerial and started playing. Jackpot! In the middle of a summer afternoon: Some music repeated for a few minutes followed by a bird that really sounded like it was laughing for an entire minute, then an announcer saying, “This is Radio Australia” followed by Waltzing Matilda. I was hooked on the hobby. I still have that old radio. It’s something of an antique now. It still works.

    Hmmmm, just thinking out loud, so to speak. A gargoyle that looks like Ollie. Would that be a “Garlie” or maybe an “Olliegoyle?” Do kelpies hang off of its jowls? So many questions.

    So, already talking about building a second greenhouse. Does that mean that you might also make additions to the existing mead hall, or even build an additional mead hall? Build enough mead halls and some of us stray Vikings might show up unannounced, expecting to be fed and given ample liquid libations. With an additional greenhouse, well, to paraphrase “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, veggies will come.” Food for thought. 😉

    And yes, Vikings used horses. The Great Heathen Army in England was recorded as gathering all the horses the army could find so that the Vikings could ride through England while pillaging rather than plodding around on foot.

    I did get a chance to pick chokecherries for two mornings. No climbing, but there was more than enough “low hanging fruit” for my purposes. And Killian the Doberman’s human got some chokecherries out of the deal too. Normally, I would have gotten out the 8-foot-tall ladder and climbed it to get even more fruit. Not this year – the hand’s weight limits as well as the Princess has a firm rule: DJ does NOT climb the ladder if she is not home unless it is a dire emergency. The Princess decrees and the Viking pays heed.

    Stretching. More stretching. Your sensei was onto something and yes, more stretching will likely be required. Dunno if you know who the American basketball player (retired) Kareem Abdul Jabbar is? He studied martial arts with Bruce Lee back during his university years circa 1967. He recently wrote something in honor of Bruce Lee, which includes his essay from 50 years ago when Lee died. Oh, and a short excerpt from a Bruce Lee movie in which he and the enormously tall Abdul Jabbar get in a fight. Anyhow, by his early 30s, Abdul Jabbar’s workout routine included a significant amount of daily yoga for the stretching. It seemed to help lengthen his basketball career.


  3. Hi DJ,

    It is hard work. Due to unfortunate goobermont website issues last week, for quite a number of days in a row, I had to do a lot of paid work over the weekend to catch up. So, being the crafty and resourceful dude I am, I decided to take a Monday off (i.e. today). The first hour or so of my day involved an excellent coffee and book. This strengthens the resolve to fend off any and all work for the rest of the day, which incidentally took another hour of my time to achieve. That’s what I call hard work. The rest well, that’s something else. The four thinner large rocks were installed, all of the recently purchased ferns were planted, and two fruit trees were moved. There was also a burn off. That’s my day off paid work, and some folks do tell me that I make them feel tired. It could be true, but personally I remain unconvinced. 😉

    Skippy the bush kangaroo was pretty cool. Apparently, they had a number of fill in kangaroos, and that’s cool too. Your grandfather did you a total solid with that device. You do know that it is considered to be the Rolls Royce of the shortwave radios? Someone even wrote a book about that device. I totally geeked out for moment or twenty, whilst you sent me on an interweb rabbit hole reading about them. I also am old enough to recall shortwave radio, and sadly, the Australian Broadcasting Commission turned the transmitter off a few years ago. They’re the same mob that brings me the national youth music radio broadcast, you know? And I have a deep affection for the old school radio electronics, as you probably are already aware. Even today I get a little thrill when I tune into the music and enjoy the extraordinary quality of the transmission with all of the restored devices I use. It’s bonkers the effort the tech folks put into the quality, especially in these days of compressed music. A true public service.

    Your memory is good. When the two Kelpies were really young, and I mean only a few months old, their little sharp puppy teeth would be used to hang off Ollie’s face. A bit like that horrid world in Barbarella with all the steel pin teeth creatures. He’s a bit dribbly now, and I’m guessing that the two puppies didn’t assist matters in that regard. You know, I never found a puppy tooth. I’d read somewhere that the puppies ingest the teeth and so recover the calcium, and it might be true. But what’s also true is that Ollie’s jowls had been abused, but he adores those two dogs all the same.

    Nope, the mead hall is as big as it needs be. A second greenhouse it shall be. And stray Vikings may be dealt with, that is of course if they have a bad attitude. However, if they’re here to sample the relative merits of the mead, well that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

    What? That’s adaptable, whilst making the local resources available to the marauding barbarians. I do however wonder if sentinels were posted to guard the long ships? Or were the heathen army loitering around the countryside so long, that they had the leisure to build new ships? You never know. And truly, I have been wondering how folks as far north as Iceland were even able to construct sailing vessels?

    Ugg, wise to listen in this instance to the lord of the realm. Things could have gone badly for you had you injured yourself whilst up a ladder collecting chokeberries given the present circumstances. Seriously, I don’t believe you’d ever hear the end of it.

    Thanks, and I have no idea at all about baseball. However, the dude is onto something there. Absolutely!



  4. Hello Chris
    I don’t grow kale because I don’t like it. Heck it’s starting to rain and i have washing hanging outside. Back in a minute. Swiss Chard serves the same purpose for me and also, one just picks the leaves. My leeks usually feed me all winter as well. Plus a great potato harvest this year and the frozen beans will be plentiful. Some tomatoes are now appearing and I also can ripen them off by hanging them indoors. If only we had dairy products and flour we could be self sufficient for food. Tea and coffee not being essential for survival.


  5. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, you might be onto something there. I might give it a go and pick up a salt block the next time I’m at the local stock feed store. They’ll know about such things. When we visited the Peruvian Amazon a very long time ago, I do recall the startling collection of birds and other critters enjoying a natural salt vein along the river. Thanks for the suggestion, I’d not thought of it myself. But yeah.

    Horse radish leaves are pretty tasty with their trademarked horseradish zing! Those leaves die off over the winter months here, sad to say. As a bit of an experiment, I did a bit of a random sample today of many of the herbs which do over winter, and you could feel the improvement. Kale leaves really do need a frost or three for them to taste good, and I only consume them cooked. I hear that people eat them raw, and that’s nice and all, but yeah, cook them is my thinking in the matter.

    Thanks for the quote! 🙂 Very amusing. Yes. Speaking of the author, I’m very much enjoying the Mr Mercedes book. Funnily enough, after enjoying the two Jack Vance, Sheriff Joe Bain novels, turns out I enjoy novels featuring detectives who survive by their wits alone. This is a whole new side to me, which I wasn’t previously aware of.

    Yeah, I so hear you, and neither did I want to believe the awful reality, but crops have to be rotated. And you know, I bring in monster amounts of soil minerals, but even so it doesn’t appear to be enough. It is one of those things I put in the ‘I wish it were not so’ category. That seems to be the way of it, and it sounds like a good strategy you’ve planned. And follow kale with beans and peas. Yup.

    It would not surprise me if fruit trees had the same issues, but on a much longer time frame. I’d heard of orchard soils being played out.

    That’s a beautiful and sad song. I dunno about you, but to me it speaks more of impending departures, than of the joy of boon companions along this here thing called life. But yeah, I get what you mean. After much paid work over the weekend, I decided to take today off paid work. It took an hour or so to get that happening. It was a cloudy and cold day, but at least earlier today it was dry. We placed the four thinner rocks in the rock wall along the new low gradient path. The dozen or so ferns purchased a while back were also planted. And, two fruit trees were relocated. They were in the area where we intend to construct the second greenhouse at some future date. It’ll happen.

    Man, it’s just slightly too cold in your part of the world for Meyer Lemons, but seriously, it isn’t that far a leap at all. We’ve been experimenting with citrus trees here for about a dozen or more years now, and they’re not all enjoying the conditions. Hey, when we first turned up here back in 2006, the locals swore you couldn’t even grow citrus in this mountain range. They were wrong, but not entirely wrong either. Let’s just say that it’s been challenging.

    Oh yeah, those leaves are toxic. But the crowns do brush off seriously cold weather, and as you can see here, mild frosts and light snows don’t seem to trouble Rhubarb at all.

    Dunno about the Kangaroo Apple. They happily grow for a few years, then topple over. And the fruit, I do wonder about them, and I have no doubts that the indigenous folks knew what to do with them, but that knowledge is beyond my ken. Are any of the Solanum family of plants even really big? The Kangaroo Apple could best be described as a small shrub. And for all I know, it might be the wallabies pulling them over too.

    Fingers crossed the hazelnuts produce. 🙂 And yes, Rosemary is a real survivor. The leaves were included in my food test run today. They’ve got a lot of aromatic oils, and are quite tasty. Traditionally they were used in either roast lamb, or roast pork. Quite nice roasted too if I may say so.

    The Rose blooms are a mystery to me too. It’s not the usual thing at this time of year, but I suspect that this winter has been relatively mild. Even in the higher parts of the mountain range, I’d only heard of snow once this year.

    The White Island tour looks like it may have been a bit of a shemozzle, but hey I wasn’t there, and probably wouldn’t have been there. On the other hand, I’ve done some dumb things in my time and fortunately survived.

    I’ve always assumed that Mark Twain was a very smart bloke, who occasionally played the court jester role. Anyway, people hear what they want to hear, and we both know how history played out. And I agree, it takes effort and will to discern. We might expect too much?

    What do you mean that the flying shark film wasn’t a documentary? 🙂 Hehe! It is very possible that flying rats could be more horrific. I recall that in John Carpenters film ‘Prince of Darkness’, none other than Alice Cooper was swarmed by rats. An horrific scene.

    That’s funny! Molly Malone needs to be careful in relation to costs, those things can ratchet up in a copyright case. And Kings Counsellors (formerly QC’s) have an extraordinary hourly rate from what I hear.

    Cocaine Hippo’s! Yeah, it is a concept which is made for film isn’t it? And of course, instead of a single buzzed up bear, the sequel would have to include more than one buzzed up hippo. Think – an entire herd, possibly leaving trails in national libraries. We need to get this script penned soon, and our fortunes will surely be made. 🙂

    That’s a wise move ditching 2/3rds of the flavour sachet pack. Too much salt in food makes me feel ill. This is why I can’t consume ramen. But oh yeah, back in the day when I did, extra veg, a bit of egg, mushrooms, some soy sauce (more salt…) and as you rightly note – less water. That’s gourmet ramen, right there. In these enlightened days, my strength is not equal to the challenge. I’m getting the distinct impression this is true for you as well? 😉 Far out, the local pub annoyed me, and actually lost me as a customer a month or two back, by sending out a beef stew, which was far closer to a ramen. Not good, especially at $30 for the meal.

    I don’t think so. I caught those two hens in the act of breaking open the egg and consuming the contents. It was the other two hens I was less sure of, but as the days go on, things are not looking good for them either. Two eggs were eaten today. They were lucky I was a bit pressed for time today. It makes no sense keeping chickens for eggs, if they consume their produce. We let this issue escalate, and let’s just say that I wanted to deal with the problem much earlier. We have no disagreements in this matter now. The chickens can teach each other, and that means bad patterns, as well as good patterns.

    Well, Revelations probably did have something to say about this matter. I think it also may have said something about ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’, and that certainly describes some of my feelings in the matter. 🙂 Far out, problems are best nipped in the bud.

    Lucky you to have avoided gantt charts, and apologies for bringing them to your notice. I tend to think that gnatt charts, or newt charts even, sounds better. The newts might be easier to get along with than the hungry gnatts don’t you reckon?

    The Editor is really enjoying the Air Raid Book Club novel. I’ve heard the phrase: “You’re so going to enjoy this book. Charming!”, quite a number of times already, and it’s only been a day or two. I’m genuinely intrigued.

    Good to hear that the Club feast has redeemed itself. I think redemption is at the core of it, quite a worthwhile activity. Hey, have you convinced anyone of the lemon juice and sugar on pancakes concept?



  6. Hi Inge,

    Fair enough. Although, in defence of kale, the climate may be too cold in your part of the world for the leaves to develop the sort of taste I enjoy. It’s possible. Frosty weather here converts the starches in the leaves to sugars, and the leaves really do taste better after a few frosts. Although having said that, my belief is that kale leaves need to be cooked.

    Did you rescue the clothes off the washing line from the rain? I’ve heard some people amusingly suggest that placing clothes on washing lines is a traditional form of rain-dance. True. But then, I’ve also observed that some folks leave their clothes out on the line during rain storms. I’m of the opinion that the rain can occasionally bring soil with it, and this will most definitely stain clothes. Have you seen muddy rain fall? It happens here in dry years when top soil from the arid centre of the continent gets swept into the atmosphere. From a certain point of view, it is also a free-fertiliser event.

    I like Swiss Chard (which we call Silver Beet), but the the Editor is of the opinion that the leaves taste earthy. And it is a summer leafy green here – are you suggesting that it survives in your garden over the winter months? I agree, leeks are very hardy plants and shrug off the worst that the winter weather can throw at them. Good to hear about the potato harvest. And total respect for hanging your tomato vines to ripen the fruits. It really works, and I for one am amazed to be consuming fresh tomatoes a month after the winter solstice.

    Inge, I almost blush when I consider the sheer volume of tomato vines we’d pulled and composted over the many years which were full of green fruit. But at least now we know.

    If I were going to do dairy, I’d have goats, but it’s a lot of fencing. And grains are also difficult here due to the cooler climate. But that’s not true of all grains.

    What? Maybe in your world! 😉 Just kidding, tea and coffee are civilised niceties, like say Anzac biscuits. Life is simply more enjoyable with them.

    It’s drizzling tonight. The burn off is slowly fizzling out. Oh well, it’s mostly done now.



  7. Yo, Chris – Horseradish leaves need a really hard frost, to kill them. But, they eventually die back.

    So, you’ve discovered your a noir kind of a guy. 🙂 It’s probably the hats. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, or if it’s “playing Australia,” but there’s a new movie out, “Oppenheimer.” About the “father of the atomic bomb.” Three hours! But all the movie posters have Oppenheimer in this wonderful hat! Or, you can go with “Barbie,” released the same weekend. A pink wonderful hat?

    You know, Stephen King did a few books, that are less paranormal, and more hard boiled detective.

    They even have GGA (Good Girl Art) covers.

    You know, the Master Gardeners are replacing some trees, that are diseased. And kind of messy. Some kind of Hawthorne, I think. I suggested this morning, that they maybe try a Meyer Lemon, in one of it’s places. The two best local nurseries, here, do sell them. I bet some years, they would do pretty good.

    Kangaroo apples can be eaten, fresh or cooked. Added to baked goods. Jams, jellies and chutney. BUT, they are bitter and toxic if not fully ripe. But, fully ripe, they turn bright red. Easy to tell.

    Rosemary is tasty, but I find the texture a bit “spiky.”

    Hippos with wings? They’d need pretty big wingspan, to get lift. Well, if dragons can do it …

    Raman was a food phase I was going through. They were selling case lots, really cheap. There was one flavor … creamy chicken. Great with frozen peas or chopped broccoli. Diced garlic. But the madness, passed.

    Well, chickens. There’s still the entertainment value. And, all that nice poop.

    Thanks for reminding me about the sugar and lemon juice, on pancakes. It had slipped my mind. Now, one more time, which goes on first?

    Yearly apartment inspection, tomorrow. One more bit of major furniture moving, and then it’s just a bit of polishing up. Round up the dust bunnies, etc.. I might not even be here, as, tomorrow morning is biscuits and gravy.

    The day after is my birthday, and I’m thinking of making a pizza. Took a look at my pizza book, last night. Might need to pick up a few things from the store.

    Well, it’s overcast, this morning, and I did feel a few drops of rain. Time will tell if it rains enough that I won’t have to water. We’ll see. Lew

  8. Hello Chris
    Yes, Swiss Chard seems to survive the winter here.
    I told Son about your chickens eating the eggs. He says that the standard response is to blow an egg and then put something nasty into it, such as mustard, pepper, tabasco. Sounds difficult to me! He then suggested having them lay somewhere where the eggs will roll down out of their reach.


  9. and again
    No I haven’t seen muddy rain and yes, I got the washing in okay. Son leaves his washing out in the rain but sometimes he has it there for days. Rain tends to come and go and washing not getting the chance to dry.


  10. Hi Lewis,

    Horseradish leaves regularly die back here over the winter months. There’s no getting around that. But the roots, they live on to fire our meals for another day. Man, I tell you, I’m sure real wasabi is good stuff, but the dyed bright green horseradish stuff is pretty good too. Mix a little bit in with soy sauce and a person is set for some major brain pain. Really clears the sinuses that stuff, whilst sorting out the men from the boys. And if here I may lay down the mustard challenge, hot English mustard has some of the same sinus draining ingredients. Boom, that’s the internal sound of your body screaming klaxon warning sirens after ingesting horseradish root. Now the leaves, I agree, they’re much more palatable.

    Possibly so about the noir. I like the way the protagonists in the stories have to utilise their wits in order to solve problems. Hey, it’s not all that different to living here I can assure you. Jack Vance repeats that theme in most books, which is probably why they resonate with me. Hmm, so Mr King has penned some hard boiled detective novels replete with Good Girl Art. Yes, the box set is on its way. Lewis, with books, I am weak, and you know this. Hehe! Not to worry, books are a special joy for me. 🙂

    You did mention the hat, and unfortunately Oppenheimer’s hat bears more than a passing similarity to my summer grey rabbit pelt Akubra hat. I just knew if I waited long enough someone infamous would eventually steal my style!!!! Just kidding, but he did. 😉 Far out, we have fun with the language. Mate, truly I have to whisper this, and more quietly than usual too. I took the Editor last year, at around about this time to go and see the Top Gun Maverick film. Mate, it’s not looking good for me, and you might have an inkling as to where things are headed. I envy you here, like seriously, you have this solo business wrapped up. Should the Editor decide to go and see the Barbie film, and that is not an idea out of the realms of possibility, I may have to go. That’s what compromise and payback looks like. And it’s an ugly business that one. Spare you me your thoughts, and send some positive energy so that I avoid this most awful of fates, but the odds candidly aren’t good – the Editor loves going to the films.

    Also I noted that Tom Cruise and Margot Robbie have been out supporting other ‘big’ films. That’s a really smart move on their part. Here we disagree about that actor, and no drama, but I believe that a film industry has to recognise first and foremost that they are there to sell a product, and if they can’t do that then that’s a problem. To an outsiders perspective, it looks to me like they took their eyes of that goal. The other pet-project stuff is fine to do, but first the industry has to turn a profit so as to pay for that gear.

    That’s why I keep mentioning Meyer Lemon trees. I used know of someone who grows them and has occasional winter overnights of 16’F. The trick in those conditions is to have the tree sheltered from the wind. That’s a must. The tree here was skeletonised a few years ago when it succumbed to a fungal disease, but I brought it back from the dead, so super cold winters might be the big issue you imagine them to be.

    Some of the claims for the Kangaroo Apple fruits make it worth the while growing.

    Yes, dragons do seem rather ponderous creatures, but if they can fly, as you rightly point out – why not a hippo with wings? Certainly the fearsome creature might have a seriously bad attitude.

    Oh yeah, I guess those other freeze dried pasta packs are just another form of ramen. I’d never thought of them that way, but I can see that. The sauces in those things are rather tasty, but probably not a bad thing you weaned yourself off them. Most pasta sauces are pretty easy to make, and at least you know what is in them.

    All very true about the chickens, but they’re proper little recidivists and defeat the main purpose of keeping them. This one is my own special little pain, and I have to deal with this matter. We let this issue go on for too long, and I have been too soft.

    Hehe! Yes, very amusing, but sugar first, lemon juice second. Prepare thyself for a taste sensation, or quite equally you may be totally horrified.

    Good luck for the inspection, and may it all go smoothly. Did rounding up the dust bunnies require the services of a whip and chair, or H! She might be highly useful in this regard, if correctly trained. Although, she may much prefer the biscuits and gravy expedition. Might be worth asking what she’d prefer to do?

    Happy birthday for tomorrow! Did you pick up the pizza supplies? And here I’m just wildly guessing, did chorizio fit into that pizza supply run? I know you’re not a pineapple on pizza kind of guy, are you?

    Did the rain pick up?

    It was sunny here today. Not a bad thing at all, given that the previous day produced only 20 minutes of peak sunshine. Not enough to run a civilisation, that’s for sure.

    Did you see: Archaeologists discover 125 tombs including two rare sarcophaguses at Roman-era cemetery in Gaza. No way at all I’d tourist there, the crowds… Wonder if they found any dolphin crystals. What’s with those things?



  11. Hi Inge,

    Oh! I had the impression that very occasionally, large sandstorms from Africa made their way to the continent.

    Yes, that would be something of a problem. We don’t have a dryer machine, and just use old school timber washing horses. Same, same as a washing line (which I’ve read are outlawed in some parts of the US – surely not true?) We used to annoy the more refined neighbours in the big smoke by using our washing horses out the front of the house drying off in the hot afternoon sun. I’m sure the sight of our washing sprained their eyes, or something like that! 🙂

    Anyway, if there’s too much dust in the air over the summer months due to the arid centre of the continent, this can find its way onto clothes, so the washing horse can easily and quickly be brought back inside the house. Not to mention the occasional bout of smoke from large fires. That’s a nuisance too. But when the sun is out, and the air quality conditions are optimal (which is quite often), the washing horses can be taken outside and left in the sun and fresh air to dry. They can be heavy to move when fully loaded with clothes, but bringing them back inside the house when conditions turn is a very quick task.

    Interesting about the Swiss Chard, and I will look into that plant. Thanks for mentioning your experience.

    Yes, I’m aware of both of those options with the egg eating chickens. I’m disinterested in redesigning the chicken enclosure to accommodate this behaviour. The chickens have an excellent diet full of calcium and protein and fresh greens, and most chickens could only ever dream of the sort of stuff consumed here. I’ve read of the egg filled mustard and soap recipe, but I don’t know whether a chicken can learn to be cautious. They’re not pets.

    The chickens with this matter have forced me to consider deeply many aspects of farm life, and I find that it has changed me. I do hope that you can appreciate my perspective, even if you disagree with me?



  12. Hi Inge,

    Hmm. I may try constructing a set of nesting boxes which spirit the eggs to safety. The Editor has a greater degree of responsibility with this problem, so I may set her onto this task of designing one. We’ll see, I’ll go and chuck the idea at her right now. Should be a fun discussion for 10.30pm at night. Still, problems are best nipped in the bud.



  13. Hello Chris
    You are correct, I had forgotten about the sandstorms coming over from Africa. Probably because I have never been outside in such circumstances but you have reminded me of the time when we found that we couldn’t see out of the windows when we got up one morning. I was living in Rye at the time.


  14. Hi, Chris!

    Umm – shouldn’t that be “Kale Killer”? It makes me think of a gigantic caterpillar.

    One needs so many greens when cooking them. I eat fresh and cooked greens every day, including kale – when we have it. In fact, it has done really well this year despite being totally munched by the aforementioned caterpillars, except in miniature. It is now all growing back and I expect the soon-to-be-planted fall kale to overwinter.

    Edible weeds are what I always fall back on when we are short on greens, and just for variety, too. Apparently we have a lot of weeds . . . My latest favorite weed is one that I used to fry occasionally, but now am making shiso tea from – perilla (perilla frutescens – mint family). It is very refreshing when served cold.

    We do our very best to rotate crops. I did not worry about that this season as we had just moved the whole garden downslope (there is a clover field in its old spot). It has been a good year in the garden so far if you don’t count the squirrels.

    Ollie does not look like a gargoyle! He is very handsome. Right, Mr. Freckles? Do I see “Sir” Freckles in your future?

    Wow – look at that fruit tree in the green house whose name I have forgotten. I wanted to say barbacoa, but all that got me was a bunch of barbeque restaurants.

    Are you sure that the powered wheelbarrow cannot roll back on you? Anyway, the rock walls look wonderful.

    What a delicious asparagus tip! We have figs coming in now, the same color. What do you do with your rhubarb? And is there a reason why you want a soapy fruit tree that falls over?

    I can’t believe that rosemary in winter, and thanks for the roses and hazelnuts.


  15. @ Lew:

    Thanks so much for the fantastic article about the Vikings and the solar flare. I have been passing it along.


  16. Yo, Chris – I keep a can of Coleman’s mustard, on hand, at all times! 🙂

    You know, I think there’s a 12 Step Program for bibliomania. Or is it bibliophilia?

    HEY, EDITOR! Chris is making a break for the fence line, at the thought of the “Barbie” movie! He has to be made to pay, for subjecting you to that other film. Actually, I’m looking forward to the library getting a copy of the “Barbie” film. “Barbie” is angst ridden and is having an existential crisis. Our conservative right wing, has gone off the deep end, over the film. Bonkers. Just bonkers. Apparently, looking at the opening week stats, no body is paying much attention.

    As far as the movie business goes, you might find this article interesting.

    Cutting their own throats?

    Hippos with wings? Why not?

    There were a lot of very fierce ones, but they all slipped into a temporal anomaly. 🙁

    I’m sure your young egg entrepreneur has some kind of egg slide mechanism. I’ve seen footage of the giant egg farms, with eggs sliding down a shut, and being carried off on a conveyer belt. If you want to get real fancy.

    No biscuits and gravy 🙁 . The usual volunteer has to work, the back up has You Know What. So H isn’t about to help me with anything, as she has the sulks.

    When I got back, Elinor gave me a yell as she was trapped in her chair. Apparently, her caregiver had unplugged it, by accident. But, anyway, she’d already had her inspection and said it was a “nice couple.” What? Little Mary Sunshine couldn’t be bothered? Turns out it was Mr. Randy, our current maintenance guy and Jewell, who is the new Assistant Housing Director. Yes, Little Mary Sunshine now has an assistant. So overwhelmed, you know. Probably needed someone to throw under the bus, just in case. Our night manager, told me on the QT (quiet), not to trust the new assistant. No reason. Just keep my guard up, and careful what I say. Anyway. They showed up about a half hour after I got home. Nothing untoward was found. Now I can put everything back the way I want it.

    Oh, yes, I’m a pineapple on pizza kind of a guy. Picked up some fresh yeast, cubed ham, and Mozzarella cheese. There’s fresh basil and cherry tomatoes, out of the garden. I have a can of pineapple tidbits, and, a can of tomato sauce that I’ll cook down and add some garlic and oregano. I also picked up some more Shiitake mushrooms. I’ll cook down the sauce, tonight, and make the pizza tomorrow afternoon.

    I see your 125 tombs and raise you a Roman shipwreck, full of glassware.

    Yesterday the high temp was 72F. We did get a bit of rain, but not enough that I didn’t need to water last night. Through the weekend, it’s forecast to be in the upper 70s.

    I poured around a bit of liquid nitrogen, last night. I have 4 zucchini. One is just banging along. The other three, not so much. Thought they could do with a little boost. Lew

  17. Hi Chris,

    Yes, it’s true, there are places in the US where it is illegal to hang laundry outside to dry. Most of the time these are condos or subdivisions with homeowner associations, which have their own set of ordinances that you read and then agree to via signature when you buy the condo or house. You can’t buy without agreeing to be bound by the ordinances. The courts usually uphold these agreements should they be brought to the court.

    Why the prohibition against hang-drying laundry? Because it lowers property values, of course. Wouldn’t want a potential buyer to think of the area as being full of poor people, who are the only kind of people who would hang-dry laundry.

    This kind of agreement – and the extra fees that come with the association (yes, you pay for the privilege of not having to see the neighbors’ hanging laundry) – is why Mike and I don’t live in a subdivision with a homeowners association.


  18. Hi Inge,

    I’d read somewhere that those sand storms carried enough minerals into the atmosphere to fertilise distant parts of the planet. Ah, Rye is a beautiful town, and I recall you mentioning your sojourn there.

    If you can spare a couple of minutes, here is a short video of a truly epic dust storm which turned day into night down here forty years ago: Melbourne swallowed by massive dust storm.

    The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires which hit this mountain range pretty hard, came a few days afterwards.



  19. Hi Pam,

    Ah, those naughty green slugs are not our friends, although just between you and I, they do seem rather well fed if I may say! Brassica plants here during the summer months are something of a joke – the humble cabbage moth can take them all down faster than the plant will grow. It’s brutal. And we have plenty of the parasitic wasps which feed off those green caterpillars. You may have met them?

    Well done with the kale in summer. A seriously top effort.

    Pam, we’re all there in this weed business. I’ve got a book on the local edible weeds and their uses. Sure they call the plant a weed, but what a useful plant! And possibly unfairly maligned.

    Yes, let’s ignore Charlene and her progeny and friends deprivations and daring raids upon the produce. Anyway, that is part of the cost of the entertainment. 🙂 The critters here enjoy plenty of good feed too.

    I see, clover is suggestive that nitrogen levels in the soil are low, and that plant is very good at restoring soil health. The grasses will eventually take over, and that’s life. It’s interesting here too that plant, and you can watch it move across the area – sometimes it is ahead, and sometimes the grass wins. With all the rain over the past few years, there is a lot of moss in there as well. Plus a whole bunch of plants I know absolutely nothing about.

    Mr Gangle Freckles sends cordial tail wags to you and yours! He loves the attention, and right now has commandeered the sheep skin and is nursing a rawhide chew. For some odd reason he refuses to begin chewing upon a brand new chew. A fusspot perhaps?

    Do they even have barbeque restaurants? Hmm, I thought that this was something people did in their backyards. It is possible my eye may have skipped over such businesses. Always possible.

    The power wheelbarrow has a dead man’s control which if let go of, the beast will come to an immediate stop. Fingers crossed that the clutch on the motor does not fail, but that is a whole ‘nother story. Basically, it is mostly safe, but a person must always keep their wits about them when using such machinery. There was that time, but let’s not go there.

    The Rhubarb happily grows, and in darker and colder years than this we stew the stems and consume them with the breakfast fruit mix. Have you ever tasted stewed Rhubarb?

    🙂 Possibly the fruit on the indigenous fruit tree may have become fermented? That may explain why it fell over. Just sayin… They all do that trick sooner or later. It’s a bit of a nuisance really.

    Yeah, so far the winter has been very mild indeed. Plenty of chilling hours for the fruit trees, but no snow to speak of. And the weather forecast suggests an early spring. It’s a bit of a worry, but there are a few extra water tanks on order, but not yet arrived.



  20. Hi Claire,

    Oh my! I’d heard of such places, and frankly they sound like my own personal nightmare. Like you, I’m not built for such scrutiny and micro-management, and the property prices be damned.

    Claire, you know both Sandra and I faced the almost combined forces of disapproval from many of the neighbours when we used to chuck those washing horses in the tiny front yard of the Victorian era terrace house. I mean, the front yard faced west and the heat from the sun, and reflected off the brickwork, really did a top job of drying clothes.

    Interestingly enough, it wasn’t universal disapproval. The quite famous bloke across the road, who used to let me use his extensive workshop to fabricate metal items, rather got a chuckle out of us sticking it to the more recently pretentious neighbours. He was alright that bloke. His workshop was amazing, and I spotted him in the news a couple of months ago offering to make a statue for the current premier (state governor equivalent). They that get statue by default for 3,000 days in the job. Where’s mine, I’m sure I’ve worked at some places for longer than that? Here the bloke is ten years ago, an amazing artist: Statue rams home forgotten piece of Australian history

    You’re both wise to avoid such places. I would too.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    The mustard flavour seems to be an east coast kind of thing. Would you give them a go? I do wonder if they have the kick of hot English mustard? That stuff is a real sinus clearer, which I quite enjoy, but my favourite would have to be Dijon mustard. I always have this lovely association in my mind with that stuff, and huge freshly deep fried – with the potato skins – chips. With fries you just can’t scoop enough mustard onto the tiny surface area, but a proper fat chip. Yum! I wrote about the place years ago, and it was such a seedy dive, but then that whole area was, prior to it being gentrified. The place had some real character, and inexplicably, a large mural of a well known mountain chain which I think is from the south western part of Canada. There’s probably a story as to how the thing ended up covering a huge wall in a seedy dive – might have hidden the stains, huh? 🙂

    🙂 Who doesn’t know that song!

    It’s true, I may have to join that bibliophilism group (sounds more of a past tense kind of word don’t you reckon?) There are times I am powerless to swat away the many sneaky book recommendations which can come thick and fast. But then…

    Really, the more we talk about this possibility, the more likely it may come to fruition with that film. And calling ‘the other film’, which one was that again? Was it Oppenheimer, or were you talking about the film with the biggest box office takings last year? I’ll make a deal with you, the Editor and I will go see you-know-what, and you watch that ‘other film’? You know you’ll like it, or at least won’t hate on it too badly. 🙂 And we better speak in more hushed tones, ideas have a way of sneaking out and gaining a toehold.

    As far as I’m concerned that’s like free publicity for the film! If they’re not careful, the more extreme elements may prove themselves to be irrelevant.

    Yes, possibly so. It does seem to me like self defeating behaviour. Some series just need a bit of time to build up a fan base. I wonder how much those execs making those decisions earn? Sometimes that can breed a certain sort of mentality which favours a safe bet. When I look at the music industry, you can sort of see how this is working out with the algorithms, or at least there has been the suggestion that this is the case. There is an awful lot of content too – and that is equally a problem. All up, there’s a lot which may be wrong, and a lot which can possibly go wrong.

    Again proving that the best ideas are other peoples. And I’d neglected the purple colouring for the Phelddagrifs. A fearsome beastie to be sure.

    Conveyor belts for the eggs are probably a bit beyond my needs. I have a design idea in mind, which wouldn’t take too long to make. But this task I have placed into the hands of the Editor for all sorts of reasons. Some of the commercial practices with birds, like err, de-beaking, whilst they may work for this purpose, they might not work so well with me. The more I think on the design problem, the more I believe that it might just work and thwart the pesky egg eating chickens.

    Bummer about the lack of biscuits and gravy. It would put me out of sorts too, and not just H. Oh well, these things happen. Did Bill try and rope you into cooking duties?

    Ook! That’s not good for Elinor. Hopefully, Elinor remains pleasant with her caregiver? They’re in short supply, you know. Cool to have an assistant. Maybe things will get done? Mate, despite my earlier professional status, deep down, I’m a worker bee, and that means working. I just don’t understand the desires people have to avoid work. It’s a mystery to me.

    Ah well, that may, or may not be good advice. But be on the alert for red flags, and then make your own mind up over time. That’s what I’d do with such information. How does that sound to you?

    Holy carp! That is one gourmet birthday pizza, and I’m salivating at the description. The ingredients sound perfect to me. How did it turn out?

    OK, the Roman glassware find wins. It’s good, and better than a whole lot of dead bodies. Wow, that underwater robot is a little ripper of a machine. Way to deep to send divers.

    Honestly, it wasn’t far off freezing this morning, so your weather really does sound nice to me. And it would make for pleasant hours in the garden. At least we’re getting some sun now. Don’t worry, rain is forecast for Friday.

    Have you seen any signs of the deer recently? I found a little circle of deer pellets in the orchard a few days ago, and Ollie has been on high alert when we’re out and about doing boundary patrol checks. The world would be an interesting place to a dogs nose.

    Finished work late tonight. Me tired. Sleepy…



  22. @ Pam – You’re welcome! Seems like they’re always coming up with new and more accurate dating methods.

    And the stuff they’re doing with DNA, these days. In archaeology. Never mind, true crime. Recently, they took another look at some bones, off the Swedish ship, the “Vasa.” It went down in 1628 (about the time the Pilgrims were doing their thing). What they thought was a gentleman, turned out to be a lady. And she was rocking a cool party hat! 🙂 Lew

  23. Yo, Chris – I love seedy dives.You meet the most interesting people 🙂 .
    Maybe, in a previous incarnation, the seedy dive was a hang out for Canadian Mounties? I don’t know if you remember a movie (1999) called “Blast from the Past.” A family thinks the US is under nuclear attack, and go into their bunker for 35 years. I mention it, because the passage of time is shown in an interesting way. Someone builds a sunny little ice cream parlor, over the bunker. And in 35 years, it evolves into a hard core biker bar. It’s really an interesting way to show the passage of time.

    Out here in the hinterlands, we’ll never see mustard Skittles. Or, pumpkin spice Hersey kisses. Or pumpkin spice M&Ms. No wonder people move to the big city. 🙂

    The books I mention are not sneaky. They’re right out there in the open, for all and sundry. Most aren’t even recommendations. Just things I’m reading that I mention, in passing.

    Watch “that other film?” No.

    Politically right or left, the extreme elements are … tedious.

    A conveyor belt could bring the eggs right to your breakfast table! I bet Rube Goldberg has plans. 🙂

    Mr. Bill knows better than to try and rope me into anything. He knows I’m The King of No.

    I think Elinor is incapable of remaining pleasant to her caregivers. Although I think, occasionally, the thought does cross her mind that it’s not them, it’s her. A thought that never lasts long.

    I listen and observe.

    I don’t know how the pizza will turn out. I’ll make it this afternoon / evening. I cooked down a good batch of tomato sauce last night. With garlic and oregano. I don’t know how it will turn out, but, when I’ve made them before, they weren’t half bad.

    I haven’t seen any deer sign. But then, deer sign is usually something that’s been munched on. I just keep scattering blood meal and urine, and hope for the best. Lew

  24. Hello Chris,

    Great topic on crop rotation. Very useful.

    Many greenhouses in the Netherlands used brominated “disinfectants” to “solve” the problem of buildup of nematodes and bacteria and mite, in order to grow tomatoes every year. Now the soil and ground water are so contaminated that many plots are converted to industrial zones…
    (as if that helps)

    The Romans had their own take: Forest->grapes->vegetables->grain->meadow->abandon
    A kind of sequential land-use described in the book that is available in English: De re rustica by Columella (*.html)
    He explains to great length how to prolong the sequence by adding manure and compost, but no crop rotation, and in the end the farmer should go out and look for another forest to clear.
    Until there were no more forests to clear.

    I suspect that this is where the medieval European tradition of lay and rotation was born out, of necessity and starvation.

    The Asian traditions have been better described by FH King in “Farmers of Forty Centuries”. In my opinion superior systems. Especially since they reuse their nightsoil.

    On the topic of using our own nutrients, I have a question for Chris and the commentariat.
    I am struggling with our bucket system for urine here at our place. The solid stuff is almost odorless in a paperbag system, covering each deposit with sawdust or soil, but the nitrogen liquid is another matter.
    We empty the pails every morning, and we keep a towel over the pails between deposits, but whenever I open the towel, a mighty stink raises out of the bucket.

    I am looking for a system to reduce the amount of bucket-carrying, and preferrably a less stinky system. The best “installed” systems I have seen are the German urimat-systems, where you have a kind of odor-lock, like a water-lock, but with vegetable oil instead, so that the pee sinks down through the oil, and the oil keeps the fumes inside.
    However, I don’t know where to mount a system like this and where to collect the goodies.
    Does anyone have experience with this? Any suggestions?
    Anyone uses a diluter, or doser for a water hose system?
    I am afraid to fertigate with this mix, since there is a risk of getting crystals into the drippers.
    I would like to build a better system, that is preferrably visitor-proof, so that I can disconnect the wcs of this place and only use composting loos.
    All tips are welcome!

    Here in Southern Scandinavia we have had a strange summer. No rain in May-June, and in July we have had rain every single day.
    I have never had a summer like this. (I am happy that we don’t have the 40+C degrees of Italy and Greece…) All the trees that survived the dry period are growing great now. As are all “weeds”.


  25. Hi Chris,
    I eat kale all through the growing season but agree about its improved taste after a few frosts or even a freeze. I have a kale salad that even kale haters love which includes grated carrots, dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. The kale has mostly survived the spraying of roundup by the farmer. The tomatoes took the worst hit. Beans look good and I’ll get some cucumbers but definitely set them back.

    We’ve finally had some rain. .6inch twice this week. Not at all enough but at least better. The heat has finally moved this way but won’t be too long lasting. Just to top off the fun it’s been pretty smoky as well.

    Took the chickens in early this morning. Someone else has a trailer of over 500 chickens for processing.

    My aunt is still in California with her daughter. She ended up in the hospital for 4 days and has a myriad of health issues. We’re worried she has dementia. She’s been told by several doctors that she shouldn’t live alone but is insisting that she is coming home soon and will live by herself. This isn’t going to end well. Marty had one of his regularly scheduled visits to the emergency room this morning due to “terrible” abdominal pain. Turns our he had fallen a few days ago (probably just didn’t want to tell us) and the pain was due to a large bruise on his stomach. I may have never mentioned it but he does love to go the hospital. He once called 911 because he had pink eye. Never a dull moment around here.

    Claire mentioned HOA’s . What a nightmare. My sister who moved near here from the city a year ago is in one of those. The latest is they don’t have the right bulbs for their outdoor lighting. Seems like they turn into little fiefdoms for power hungry people.

    Oppenheimer is the first movie I’ve been at all interested in going to for a long time. One of the founding members of the environmental organization that has the book store and does the recycling drives among many other things worked on the Manhattan Project. He’s been deceased for some time now but I remember him long ago warning against using plastic in microwaves.


  26. Hi Margaret,

    Isn’t it interesting how the taste of kale improves with the frosty weather? We cook kale leaves, but like any cabbage leaf, they do get chopped up small. The leaves get mostly added to rice / barley, vegetable and egg meals.

    Speaking of eggs, hmm, another chicken lost its head this morning. We caught the bird in the act so to speak, and it had to go. The last of that variety too. Unsurprisingly, we got two eggs today, and the remaining flock is now looking at me all funny like and stuff.

    Spray drift is a nightmare problem, and yes, like you, I too would move the garden beds. What else do you do?

    I assume you get the chickens back in a few days? It’s not much fun doing that job yourself, but it does get easier with practice – and remember to keep the knife sharp.

    Your gut feeling sounds right to me, but what do you do? What do you reckon Marty would find enjoyable about a visit to the hospital? I’m not much of a fan of those places, and do my best to avoid them, possibly this has something to do with knowing folks who go in, and don’t come back out again.

    What? Margaret, I do realise you’re not kidding around. But the right light bulbs? Sometimes you just know that a place won’t be to your liking. How does your sister accommodate herself to the dictates of the folks there?

    It’s always enjoyable to go to the films, and that film is getting some good reviews. Hope you enjoy it! Hope the popcorn wasn’t microwaved, although nobody would cook popcorn in a microwave, would they?

    Plastic is a nightmare, but also useful product. I’ve long been of the opinion that if we as a society were ever serious about recycling the product, there would be far less variety in the composition of the stuff, and uses for the recycled material would be far more common than it appears to be.



  27. Chris:

    Fusspot – hee hee!

    No, I haven’t ever tried any rhubarb. I wonder if I can buy it fresh in the store.

    We have lots of BBQ restaurants around here. In fact, I’ve seen them in all western and southern states.

    How wonderful – new water tanks.


  28. Hi Göran,

    Thanks, and I tell you truthfully, crop rotation was not something that I wished to do, and have worked hard to avoid the implications. However, it is a necessary practice.

    Oh my! My friends of the big shed fame, once grew a huge pumpkin vine up supports on a wall on the inside of their massive shed. The vine reached 6.5m off the ground and was full of huge fruit! Anyway, as is normal for that vine, powdery mildew ended its life as the season turned towards the cooler months. Except the powdery mildew spread, and then they had to pressure wash the walls and ceiling, which did clean it all up. Proving that some wisdom is learned the hard way. Some plants are not meant to be grown in a greenhouse.

    And that’s the entire point of the essay – which you clearly comprehend – you can’t grow the same crops on the same ground, year after year. Actually, to be honest, the disinfectants you mentioned, might actually be a sign that too much production is expected from too little land (or infrastructure in the case of a greenhouse). Hmm. The implications are astounding. Look, I tend to believe that the more industrial processes are only possible, until they’re not possible. Then all we have are the ‘old school’ practices and some damaged land. But long before that time, the older practices will have to be revived.

    But yes, I have no desires to grow plants that intensively or using chemicals, so a second greenhouse it shall be, and we’ll have to swap crops backwards and forwards between the two. If there were another way… 🙂

    There’s another option though, which may seem unappealing, but would probably also work. The ground and plant material gets burnt off. The fire (hopefully it is a cool fire) would most certainly knock back a lot of soil diseases and pests. It is of interest to me that down under, we don’t tend to get a lot of soil diseases, probably due to that historic practice. But we do make up for that with a huge number of hungry birds – and smart ones too. Try sharing your fruit and nut trees produce with parrots! Yikes!

    But yes, the use of night soil is something which we will have to all return to in time. No getting around it.

    Ah! Bliss! This is a favourite topic of mine, and it is always a pleasure to write about soil. 🙂 As you know we get all of our human waste into the worm farm, and that then gets back into the soil. I love that system, and we even dropped a dead chicken into the worm-farm this morning. It doesn’t smell very much at all, maybe a little bit earthy if you really stick your nose into the worm farm. It is a favourite practice to get curious visitors to stick their noses into the thing. 🙂

    Anyway, back to your topic. I’ll tell you a little interesting (but relevant) side story. Most chicken pens smell quite strongly to me. The chickens excrement is quite rich in nitrogen and other mineral goodies. However, common sense suggests that if the chicken enclosure smells strongly, that’s minerals escaping back into the atmosphere. A lot of ammonia, at a wild guess.

    So the trick really is to reduce the odour, so that you can get the maximum amount of minerals into the soil. In the chicken enclosure they have a deep litter (mulch) system in their run, and I turn a section of that every day using a fork. Inside the hen house, there is sugar cane mulch (which is like a fine straw from sugar cane residue). The chickens in the hen house do their business into the sugar cane mulch. Every day I turn the stuff over using a rake. Maintenance of the chicken run and attached hen house takes a few minutes a day. And that’s it, no smell, other than maybe a slight earthy smell.

    Are you seeing where I’m heading here? I reckon if you keep some soil and/or mulch in a bucket next to the pail, and you immediately empty the pail into the bucket, and then at a later time replace that soil and/or mulch every day, there will be no smell. And you’ll be getting all those extra minerals into the soil where they will be most beneficial to you, rather than losing them to the atmosphere.

    That’s how I’d do it. The worm-farm here gets a lot of nutrient rich water sent to it from the house, but the worm-farm is well aerated, and there is a huge amount of organic matter in there, so it sort of stays wet, but not too wet. And just works.

    It can get that hot here over the summer months, and reading about those fires is a bit of a nightmare. Glad to hear that the trees are growing great! Look forward to seeing some photos on your blog.



  29. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 You do, don’t you. You never know what is going to happen in a seedy dive, but you know the chips and burgers are going to be first rate. Ah, the rush to gentrification is probably some sort of flight to safety. I dunno, but you know what, I never felt unsafe in such places. A few of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever met, wore suits and thought very highly of themselves. The seedy dives were more honest in their outlook and presentation.

    Hehe! Nice one, very funny and I neglected to ask where the inspiration came from for the mural. You don’t often see Canadian Mounties in Melbourne, but that doesn’t mean that they occasionally don’t visit these shores. Anyway, for some reason the Monty Python Lumberjack song springs to mind, and I have no idea why.

    I’d never seen that film. Looked amusing. And it also highlights a possible need in bunkers – a window into the outside world. It is an interesting way to show the movement of time. Perhaps after the biker bar, the place could be converted into a muffler shop? 😉 Christopher Walken is a very recognisable actor, and clearly he probably turns up on time and knows his lines (as you amusingly put it) to have had such a long career. He’s got a really interesting voice.

    You’re probably right there about those flavours doing a no-show in your part of the world. Now take that idea, and imagine how things are at the bottom of the world down here. Are we both being deprived here? Actually, I had to order a specific part for one of the machines off the river tonight. I do my best not to use them, but some parts are just rare and hard to find. eBought was giving me nothing. Oh well.

    I continued to do a bit of servicing on the machines today, thus the discovery of the requirement for the part. I still haven’t got that machine back from the new farm machine repair dudes yet. Hmm, anyway, service and maintenance for all these things is clearly now my problem. I’ll learn some good skills I guess.

    And the little tug boat weather station thing which you can see in plenty of photos needed a bit of servicing too. The other day it recorded an inch of rain and an outside temperature of -40’C / -40’F and that was clearly faulty. Cleaned up, batteries recharged and it’s now sent back outside – where it belongs.

    In breaking chicken news. We staked out the chickens hen house today for about an hour. In a brazen act of defiance, a chicken cracked an egg and commenced eating it, in front of us. I looked at the Editor for the confirmation, and we both agreed – the chicken had to go. The knife was sharp, and the sordid affair was soon closed. As a test, we left two eggs in the hen house for the rest of the day, and by nightfall, the eggs were still there. I really hope that this is it.

    Now, I didn’t fully explain the situation. The egg eating chicken was getting into the laying area, with the chickens who were actually doing the hard yards and pushing out an egg. She was actually climbing onto and over the chickens. It was dirty to see. And you know, it’s not a protein or calcium thing, because they were fed a good chunk of ground beef not all that long beforehand. And I add fine shell grit to their feed. This was I reckon a chicken mental health situation. And we took the camera in (for a in-crime photo). What is “caught in the act” in Latin?

    Yes, sorry, please accept my apologies. I used the word ‘sneaky’ incorrectly, as you quite rightly noted. Some of my jokes fall flat, and that was one. On this note, the Editor is thoroughly enjoying the Air Raid Book Club novel. Lovely stuff, and I may read it next. Mr Mercedes is most intense and enjoyable. And the book has one of the creepiest mother and son scenes I have ever read. But I can’t put the book down at the same time. Gripping. As was said quite wisely in the Hangover films, there are some things that you cannot un-read. They actually used the words un-see, but the core of the sentiment is the same.

    Hehe! I see you remain unconvinced about that ‘other film’. I applaud your consistency of character, and discerning tastes.

    Yes, either extremes bore me silly. Tedious is it man.

    Oh yeah, that bloke would definitely produce an interesting contraption design for the eggs. In the meantime, I’ll walk to and from the chicken enclosure and collect the eggs (which hopefully aren’t consumed).

    I must say, you have successfully dodged getting involved in the Club’s management team. Respect. Your words match your proven track record.

    Well, all we can do is hope that Elinor’s arrangements continue.

    You’re cooking up a storm for that pizza. Now that it has been baked and consumed, was it good? Had rice, vegetables and mung beans for dinner. It’s an Afghan dish Shola Ghorbandi (also known as a version of sticky rice).

    If you haven’t seen signs of the deer, your strategy is probably working.



  30. Hi Pam,

    Depends what sort of fruit and vegetables your local store sells. 🙂 I’ve seen rhubarb stalks for sale at the markets. Do you even have markets in your part of the world? The nearest one to here that I’m aware of is called ‘Big Sam’s Shed’. Truly, that is what the place is called, and once inside the big shed, there are plenty of vendors and it’s like an old school market.

    Oh! Well different parts of the world have different businesses. Meat is getting quite expensive, and that makes a person grateful for not consuming much of the stuff, and growing lots of our own produce. I’m sure you know what I mean. How’s the new garden beds going? I assume they get more sun than the previous ones?

    The fires and heat waves in Europe are freaking some people out down here, but I have a more wait and see how it goes philosophy.



  31. Hello Chris
    That was certainly an incredible dust storm. I am surprised that the horse race was run.
    I now realise that I have been in one in Australia. It was enroute from Alice Springs to Darwin. I was out walking and saw it coming on the horizon. i promptly hurried back to where I was staying. We were then told to remain indoors.


  32. Yo, Chris – Back in the day, bunkers had periscopes. Now, it’s all cameras. There’s an episode in “The Last of Us,” where a character has an uber bunker. There’s a scene where he’s having dinner, and watching some monitors. One of the infected wanders down a path, trips a wire, and his head gets blown off. The character comments, “It never gets old. 🙂

    Last night I watched a new-ish film, “Book Club: The Next Chapter.” A rom-com for the older crowd. Has some of my favorite older, cougar actresses in it. They go to Italy. Frankly, it was lacking … something. “Mafia Mama” was a lot more entertaining.

    Speaking of Holly-land, they’re going to relaunch the “Exorcist” franchise, with three movies. The first is going to be “The Exorcist: Believer.” Out in our theatres, October 13th. Wonder if that’s a Friday? 🙂

    I have to make a trip to The River, myself, today. Doggy bags, doggy treat / dental chews.

    Your chicken travail brought to mind a book. “The Selfish Gene,” (Dawkins, 1976.) It’s been rereleased a couple of times. The theory is, animals, as part of the adaptation and natural selection process, do things to preserve their lineage. Such as, killing the offspring of other members of their group. It’s a theory. I like yours, better. Chicken mental health. A crazy chicken. Maybe it was early childhood trauma? Or, to quote “Repo Man,” “Society made me what I am.” 🙂

    “In flagrante delicto.” I should have known that one, off the top of my head. Usually used when unfaithful spouses are caught … sometimes followed by gunfire. The literal translation is, “While the crime was blazing.” Which I like.

    Here’s the ultimate breakfast delivery machine. Just over 1 minute.

    The pizza turned out well, I thought. Only one minor / major snafu. When I pulled the cheese out of the fridge, I discovered that I had picked up Monterey Jack cheese, instead of Mozzarella. Well, they both begin with “M”. And, are white. But, both being pretty mild, it didn’t seem to make much difference. I also found a pizza crust recipe, on the flour bag, that was a lot less complicated than the book on Pizza, I have. So, I ate half a 16″ pizza, and have some left for today. Cold, of course 🙂 I had plenty of red and yellow tomatoes out of the garden, and basil.

    Gee, the movie was about older Ladies going to Italy, and then the pizza. I guess I kind of had an Italian theme going. Lew

  33. Hi Inge,

    I recall the dust storm, and it left quite the impression on me. A week or two later, we were sorting out clothes and other items at school which had been donated for people affected by the massive bushfires. As a very young person at the time, the dust storm was a surreal experience, and the fires were difficult to comprehend. The first I really came face to face with the reality of the fires was when my grandfather took me along camping with his WWII and business buddies. The blackened scars on the land we saw on the drive there, with the trees denuded of leaves as they stood (or leaned) in stark contrast to the occasional recovering fern fronds. The grass was also growing in the rich ash beds of the fire damaged forests too. You kind of knew the power of nature and understood that it could swat you away, like a pesky common fly on a summers day. The ferns are some of the first plants to recover after such a conflagration, and can you imagine the sort of selection pressures over the hundred or so of millions of years which would produce such an outcome?

    It wasn’t just you either. The horse race made little sense to me as well, and must have been a special torture for the horses and riders.

    That’s a beautiful part of the world, and yes, that is where some of the dust storms originate.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    A periscope would be a handy device in a bunker. I would never have thought to install such a device. Thermal glazing is not as expensive as it once was, and I’d probably make a triple glazed window instead. Anything mechanical like a periscope relies on bearings and bonkers tight seals, which is not always the case, like that Argentinean submarine (the San Juan) which appears to have imploded all those years ago. Oh my, I must say that being a submariner does present lots of challenges, and if the list of incidents over the past couple of decades is anything to go by, when officers mess up, if they survive, they appear to be relieved of duty. Probably not a job I’d volunteer for. Even we had one incident listed – which was unexplained. Hardly reassuring for long term career prospects.

    Hehe! Zombies, aren’t they a pesky and tiresome bunch of undead bores? 🙂 Dunno, but do you think perhaps that it is the unrelenting nature of those undead that lend them their horror?

    Ah, I see what you mean about the crew of that film. All distinguished and experienced actors with fine pedigrees. Mafia Mama looks like fun, and Toni Collette is a great character actor. Haven’t managed to see any films recently. And proving how sadly lacking my education is, I have to fess up to not ever having seen the Godfather. The Editor watched it and suggested that the film was a bit violent for my tastes. Certainly not what you’d describe as a comedy.

    Has Hoollyrood run out of ideas? But still, the Exorcist remake trailer looked every bit as scary and mind bending as the original film. Hope they bring back the pea-soup spit scene, it was iconic. The soundtrack was super creepy too. And Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was an album I grew up listening too. It was an incredible sound journey and vision. In these days of music streaming when the first bars have to capture the listener, such extended works probably would miss out on an audience.

    Hey, you made me check, and yes it is indeed. 😉 The film people might just know what they’re doing there.

    Maybe it is me with the river, but I do try not to support private spaceships. But sometimes the best of intentions can run into reality – and nobody else was selling the part. I looked for a couple of hours before giving up and admitting defeat.

    That author of the book: ‘The Selfish Gene’, did a tour down under recently. I agree, it’s a theory – which coincidentally happens to ignore the very groups which had managed to avoid the thesis. The local indigenous groups managed the feat for upwards of sixty millennia. I doubt industrial civilisation can achieve that score. Hey, my best guess is that the theory is intended to bolster support for and justify the current state of affairs.

    Please excuse the pun, but the chicken was a bad egg. 🙂 Today we recovered three eggs, and sadly, one that was eaten. Investigations continue. But the odds are tipping back in our favour. Thanks for the Repo Man quote. What a film! 🙂

    Ah, well that is interesting. I do wonder how ‘In flagrante delicto’ came to be related to sexual acts when one translation means ‘in the very act of committing the offence’? And it has a legal definition. Social hijack perhaps? I also quite like ‘While the crime was blazing’ as well. Sets a certain tone.

    Dude, Tubular Bells is intense. Not everyday you hear the word ‘glockenspiel’ 🙂 It’s playing in the background. Blame the Exorcist! 🙂 The scene from the original film of the priest in the dark street with the lamp light is full of symbolism. It made a great movie poster too. A truly frightening film.

    I agree, Monterey Jack cheese doesn’t look that dissimilar to me, and anyway would have made a fine substitute. Only the most discerning guest would make an issue of it, and who wants to feed that lot? Hmm. We do a homemade pizza every couple of weeks, and the base looks to me like a foccaccia just flattened out. I’m curious, what did they do to the recipe to make it complicated? A lot of people seem to enjoy making recipes complicated, but I’m not into that.

    Speaking of which, we’re trialling a kiwi fruit enzyme thing. It tastes pretty nice, but cooks for many days. The Editor discovered that the yoghurt maker can do so much more. I did mention that was the case…

    Here, he studiously turns away from this loose talk of cold breakfast pizza. Standards must be maintained! Fresh basil is so good. But I’ve discovered over the past few years that the name ‘basil’ gets applied to all manner of plants. Last growing season we grew some lovely looking basil, which sort of tasted like what I expected, but then again the leaves weren’t exactly right. A mystery because I was expecting ‘sweet basil’, and got something else entirely.

    Yup, you had the Italian edition. And proving that life can be sometimes less than six degrees away, earlier that day I was fixing up an Italian made machine. Now, why they designed the grease nipple to be so stupidly hard to get too, then demand it be regreased every twenty hours! Ah, the joys of continental machines…

    Today I set out to do a single task, and it did not get done. A whole bunch of other work related stuff intervened. The fates moved against me. Still, it was a very pleasant day despite half an inch of rain falling overnight. Blue skies, no breeze, it almost felt like Spring. Spent a delightful hour this afternoon reading Mr King’s delightfully deranged book. But why did the dog have to. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. 🙂 Mr Mercedes is one bad egg.

    The egg and sausage breakfast scene was a hoot! I’ll bet the crew making those machines had some fun.



  35. Chris:

    Oddly enough, I was in our high end grocery store yesterday and what did I see but a pile of rhubarb stalks, and organic to boot. So I bought one stalk to try.

    We do have open-air “farmers’ markets” (they sell other stuff, also). There are 4 within my county and more in the surrounding counties. They are big enough to be worthwhile.

    You and I know that there are few things worse than a wildfire, so I can understand how people might be freaking out in those European countries. We just had a couple of days more of Canadian widlfire smoke. It should be about 100F (37.8C) today and tomorrow; it was almost that yesterday. Then Sunday, rain and we cool down.


  36. Yo, Chris – A window in a bunker would be the weakest link. You know, your fixation on submarines … well, maybe you were a submariner, in a previous life and it didn’t end well? Or maybe, it’s just a touch of claustrophobia. 🙂

    I never saw the “Godfather,” or read the books. The whole thing just didn’t strike a cord, with me. Cool theme music, though. There’s a lot of chatter over here, about a new Australian horror film. “Talk to Me.” I watched the trailer, and think I’ll pass. It appears all the actors have some weird speech impediment, that I find off-putting. And no, it’s not just an Australian accent, which I find quit nice. Maybe it’s an Australian version of the Valley Girl Dialect.

    Sometimes, the net is the only alternative for products. LOL. It’s not like I’m going to find a mom and pop pet store in the neighborhood. I do remember when they existed.

    Thinking a bit more about “The Selfish Gene.” The Roman Emperors. As a matter of course, they wiped out anyone who even had a vague genetic claim to the throne. Until recently, that seems to be the way a lot of royal houses, rolled. Come to think of it, it’s a whole genre, in books and movies. How often have we heard, “The rightful heir to the throne?” 🙂

    If you don’t have a gun handy, you can always set the bed on fire.

    Glockenspiel? You want Glockenspiel?

    Well, the book was a bit more complicated, as they seemed to think you couldn’t turn out an edible pizza, without pizza stones, peels, screens, dough scrapers etc. etc.. A kneading time of 15-20 minutes. The flour bag recipe only calls for 5 minutes. But I picked up little tips from both sources. So, the crust. I started the yeast in warm water, with a small dribble of honey, until it began to froth. A well in the salt and flour mix. Poured in the yeast mix, and stirred until it was about able to be handled. Plopped it out on a well floured surface. Fold, quarter turn, fold, quarter turn, to infinity. The dough seemed a bit dry, to me, so I was adding a little bit of water, before each fold. Finally got it to “elastic and shiny. Less than 10 minutes. Formed into a ball. Splashed a bit of olive oil in a bowl, rolled the dough ball in it, and let it rise about an hour, covered with a towel. Punched it down. Pizza pan, parchment paper, and a dusting of corn meal. Kept turning the pan as I worked the dough out to the edges. It was a good crust. Crisp, but not too hard.

    I wondered about the order of stuff. Did a quick look up, on line. Red sauce, cheese and then the rest of the toppings. Who knew? I wondered how much fresh basil, to put on. Discovered you should put it on, after the pizza is baked. Again, who knew? You could either put it on full leaf, or chop it up. I opted to chop it up. I’m sure I violated several “rules” of pizza baking. But, it was tasty, and had a nice texture. A wild card is that I don’t think my oven runs up to 500F. So, a pizza that should have taken 8-10 minutes, ended up taking about 20.

    Your right about the basil. There seem to be weird varieties, out there. I bought from a source where I could look at it, and sample a bit. So I know I got “traditional” sweet basil. I’ve got 5 plants in different parts of the garden. Four are doing well. The one I put in the Horse Radish tub, is not. Off color and flavor. Live and learn.

    My tallest corn is up about 5′. The rest not far behind. I’ve been watering the part of the plot that I share with the night manager. He had surgery (kidney stones), so for a few evenings, I watered his bit. His tomatoes were over running a bit of my plot, so I staked them back from the border. Discovered that one of my Pimento peppers has a well developed pepper on the go. I’ll let it go red, before harvesting. Lew

  37. Hi Pam,

    Oooo, I’ll be interested to hear how the rhubarb stalk experiment turns out. We stew the stalks and add them to the breakfast toasted homemade muesli and yoghurt. I’m sure you’ll find a recipe that suits your taste, although citrus juice and sugar get added here. What I’ve noticed about the stew is that possibly because the stuff has so much surface area, it does tend to go stale quickly. So, I’d suggest to consume the stew within a day or two at most. Thinking the stuff will last for longer than a week is perhaps a step too far.

    Lucky you! The farmers markets here tend to be once per month, and honestly that really isn’t often enough to in my opinion develop a regular market.

    Yeah, exactly, just like floods. A flood will take out everyone, but at least with a fire there is a chance of surviving the experience. Speaking of which, I may head downhill and continue the ongoing clean-up tomorrow. 100’F is hot, but the funny thing I’ve noticed about such weather is that the plants respond well to it, if they have the water. I don’t mind 100’F at all, that’s just summer. When it gets to over 110’F, that’s when things feel rather unpleasant for me.

    A favourite local band almost had their WWII bunker studio flooded last year during the big floods. There’s an interesting (and brief) interview with them which covers this time: How The Rubens recorded ‘Pets and Drugs’ in a WW2 bunker. It’s a good song too. 😉



  38. Hi Lewis,

    You’ve got a point there about the weakest link, but the thermal glazing can cope with some seriously high temperatures. It’s an interesting glass, and here we’ll talk some shop, but if you look edge on the glass it has a pink / red hue, rather the more usual green hue you’d expect to see in most glass. Not sure what mineral is mixed into the glass to produce that effect.

    Honestly, it’s not just you wondering about that. I’m not fussed about claustrophobia and have worked in some tight spaces over the years. Replacing timber stumps with concrete stumps whilst under the timber floor wasn’t too much of a drama. However, there was that one awkward moment when the rotten corner timber stump just kind of fell away at a touch. It was at that moment I realised the house was sitting in the fresh air, and I was underneath. Probably not too much of a problem, otherwise it would have already collapsed given how little was holding it all up off the ground. Maybe… Mind you, I did replace that stump rather rapidly, and from the outside of the house. Hey, probably sunk a lot of ships too, and did some other unpleasant business, before things went badly as you’d expect. Oh well, karma and stuff. 🙂 What would Alfred E Neuman say?

    I’m with you on that, and the Editor’s review of the film told me everything salient I needed to know about The Godfather. Sure it’s a classic, but yeah, nah. Well that is an interesting horror film, and you’d hope nobody gets any ideas about err, doing such things. There’s a lot of risk there, probably not worth mucking around with those things, but who listens to me in such matters? For no other reason that merely being careful and prudent I’d strongly advise against such activities. There was an article about the film. The accents are perhaps due to the age of the actors, I’m guessing. Although the trailer sound bites were too short for my ear to really tune into what was going on there. It is possible that you and I are not the target market, thus the audio quality, but I’m only guessing there.

    Far out, you’re not wrong there. We’re down to one local bricks and mortar feed store, and they’re good, but it wasn’t that long ago that there was a bit more competition. Yikes! You’re possibly ahead of us there.

    Interestingly, I’d thought that the bees had died off over the winter. The hive appeared to be in need of some cleaning by the bees (a lot of poop on the landing pad). Hmm. Anyway, the past few sunny days, and they’ve been out foraging for pollen on the plentiful Silver Wattle flowers. I had no idea that they’d harvest from those plants. And they appear to be cleaning up the poop mess too – as they should. It ain’t my job.

    Yeah, those Roman Emperors sure did some strange stuff. With (as you noted) – six in one year – you’d be kind of nervous in that role. I’m of the belief that if the predecessors only made it for two months or less, the odds are frankly not good to achieve anything better. Maybe they spent too long bopping potential competitors, and so ignored the job they were elevated to do? That’s my guess. Probably the cards were stacked against them from the get-go.

    Pah! I’m confident enough not to suffer from insecurity in that regard. 🙂

    Dude, you know I now can’t unsee or unhear that Glockenspiel mas-up. 🙂 The guy had some serious talent to have mashed up that many songs, and I knew a few of them, yeah. Very funny. The rubber ducks on the shelf all lined up, were hard to comprehend.

    You seriously lost me at the 15 to 20 minute kneading time. I make pizza dough in minutes, and it always works out. And glad you dodged that version of the recipe too. It was like that dessert with 91 steps which won some competition a few years back – probably a bit complicated if you ask me. Your recipe sounds perfect to me. Well done! And yeah, getting the dough to cook just right does take a bit of trial and error with the temperature, baking time and shelf height, but certainly we gave up on pizza stones years ago. Just don’t need them.

    Years ago a friend gave me an instruction in how to make pasta using flour and egg, and the kneading. The kneading! I’m not saying it was a form of torture, but make your own mind up here. It went on for twenty or thirty minutes. Thoroughly unnecessary, but during instruction, exceptions are sometimes made and whinges are ignored. Rest assured though, such exceptions aren’t repeated. It seemed too hard, and was made to be that way.

    Rules? Yes, but what if the rules are wrong, or time wasters put you off future attempts? Such strategies have been known to occur in the competitive world of cooking. Fortunately, neither you or I seem like the competitive sorts. I’ll bet you’ve encountered some of those recipe furphy’s over the years?

    You dodged a basil bullet there. We got stung. Next growing season, there will be taste trials, and we may give up on the seed raising for that plant. What is a horse radish tub? And do you actually consume the roots of that plant?

    Far out, your corn grew fast. It seemed like only last week we were discussing the tiny seedling green shoots breaking through the soil.

    Ouch. Hope the dude doesn’t have to pass the stones out through you-know-what. If he does, it’s gonna hurt. On the other hand, this is not something you have to worry about, and it was very thoughtful to have watered his plot during his period of being indisposed.

    Go the peppers! 🙂



  39. Chris:

    I did stew my little rhubarb and I liked the flavor, but boy was it tart. I normally use almost no sweeteners, so I added peaches to it. Tasty, but still really tart, so I added honey. That was good; I ate it all up.

    Our farmers markets are once a week. We are spoiled!

    If the temps get over about 75F I start to suffer, so I am suffering!

    So that’s where last week’s title came from. So, the bunker became an island. I guess we can see how since it’s next to a river. I think they are smart to have a studio like that where they can record, just the five of them. Maybe not so smart to be next to a river . . . but what a great bus!


  40. Yo, Chris – I wasn’t so much thinking about heat, as impact. We have people running around out there, with rocket launchers. Ah, here’s the scene where the raider’s attack Bill’s compound. From “The Last of Us.” Bill’s hidden bunker is actually under the basement of his house.

    Well, when you start wearing a life vest, into the tub … 🙂

    I was looking at the new items, library list last night, and discovered a new zombie film! French. And a comedy. “Final Cut.” It’s on my library hold list.

    Cleaning up bee poop is not in your job description. Above your pay grade? Ya got to teach those little fellows responsibility! We’re getting more bees around our gardens. Guess they finally found us.

    I was reading a chapter in the “How to Survive History,” last night. “How to Survive the Sack of Rome.” (410 CE). The author tips his hat to the many theories on why the Western Roman Empire fell. And the revolving door emperors problem. He felt the fatal flaw dates all the way back to Augustus, and the fact that succession was not a settled matter. Written into law. I must say, having a clear set of laws, for the peaceful transfer of power, has worked out pretty well, for us. At least, until recently 🙂

    I thought you’d like the Glockenspiel mash-up. Did you catch the tiny little clip of “The Exorcist?”

    People get in this mind-set that there’s only one, true way to approach something. Runs all the way from religion to food. LOL. Maybe, food is some people’s religion. Guess I’m just not a “true believer.” 🙂 There was a blog I saw, some years ago. The poster had a photo of what a recipe was supposed to look, like, and then a photo of her results by following the recipe. It was pretty funny. Nothing looked like the original photo.

    I have two wooden tubs (aka half barrels). One has horse radish in it, the other Jerusalem Artichokes. Both can be invasive, so, it keeps them under control. Haven’t worked up the nerve yet, to try processing some horse radish. 🙂 It also expands my garden square footage, by a couple of feet.

    Our Night Manager, was pretty upset. He had four cucumbers, that were almost ready to harvest. Now he has one. Some of these old ladies have light fingers. Looks like they also may have cut a couple of tomato branches off, to better get to the cucumbers.

    Many of our tomato plants have leaves that look like they’re not getting enough water. But, they’re green and healthy. Just kind of … crinkled. The Master Gardeners say it’s because our night time temperatures have been so low. Around 50F. But that it causes no harm to the plant. I wonder when we’ll have our first frost? The earliest one I have recorded, was Sep. 28, 2019. That was a La Nina year. Other first frosts are scattered through October. I doubt we’ll have a repeat, of last year, where the first frost was in November.

    They zapped our Night Manager’s kidney stones. I thought they did it from the outside, but it does involve some micro surgery. Who knew?

    I was looking through a book I got from the library, last night. “Temples of Books: Magnificent Libraries Around the World.” A big full color “coffee table” book. Some libraries are over the top, Baroque extravaganzas. Then there are the more restrained, Classical or Gothic libraries. Even a few Brutalist architecture ones. There’s an old library in Portugal, where they allow a small colony of bats, to flit around, inside, at night. To keep the book bugs down. Wonder what they do about the guano problem? There are a few pages of your State Library Victoria library. That’s really a handsome looking building. And the recent renovations inside, are pretty nice. It’s amazing how many libraries were repurposed, from other buildings. There’s a couple that were train stations. One has the library shelves, on the old tracks. They can be moved around to create a meeting / performance space. Lew

  41. Hi Lewis,

    Of course, my plans don’t include that sort of response. With any zombie invasion, or even those stupid folks in their uber bunkers in some remote part of New Zealand, eventually you run out of ammo, or even get unlucky. And what was Bill doing standing there in the street just asking to be shot? There’s a lot to unpack in that scene. A bit of cover wouldn’t have hurt, but perhaps hubris was a factor there? And weirdly, without getting too bogged down into the details, he had a single shot rifle against a whole bunch of raiders. Like who thinks that’s ever going to work? Basically, the fictional character died of stupidity. I’d take my chances with a mead ceremony, the odds are frankly better.

    Hehe! I had not thought of that, but then I do enjoy lounging around a hot bath. Hmm.

    Thanks for the laughs, the trailer for the French zombie film ended with a young actress asking the hard questions: “You think we could skip me being vomited on?” Candidly given the rest of the trailer, the odds were not good for the young actress!

    Good to hear that the bees have discovered the garden. That’s a good thing, although I note that plenty of other insects do heavy lifting. And I refuse to clean up their mess. That is the bees problem, which they do seem to be attending too.

    Speaking of mess, we cleaned up the last of the ‘tree dudes’ mess and had a big burn off. I’d become a bit concerned that how they’d left the mess would make it easy for snakes to hunker down for the winter. I must say that cleaning up that, and not being bitten (or encountering a slithery adherent of the cult of Set), was like personally surviving the zombie apocalypse. I told you the mead ceremony would be a better way to go.

    Out of curiosity, was the author referring to survival for the bloke on the street, or the Roman Emperor? If it means anything, succession planning even today is a subject which is not handled all that well. Well, now that you mention it, there are a few problems there… 🙂 Not my circus though. Two words, Good Luck!

    I really enjoyed the Glockenspiel mash-up, and yes, there was a nod to the Exorcist, not to mention a few other interesting choices, including one local band, who performed the song ‘Dance Monkey’. The guy has talent, and is in the vein of Weird Al, but with a Glockenspiel. Again, a lot to unpack there.

    Me neither, dunno about you, but the notion gets into my head which roughly translates to: “Does this idea work”. And if it doesn’t, or the costs are too high, then again, not my problem. Yeah, the food blog kind of suggests that ‘way of the pragmatic’. Honestly, I’m of the belief that there are folks out there who try to make simple processes complicated so that they can capture them. And food is one of those stories for sure.

    Dude, it’s not just you, we’ve got a large patch of horseradish and I’m a bit nervous too about using the roots. They’re bonkers hot – and perhaps could be used as a zombie defence? Plus the tubs would have excellent drainage in those occasional bonkers wet years, that’s not a small issue.

    That’s not good, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that our species has this weird desire to push at boundaries, and pilfering three cucumbers is a bit of a dog act. Are you sure it wasn’t a critter of some sort? Out of curiosity, does he have any idea why the one cucumber was left? Surely there is a theory there to be explored? Anyway, I don’t hold the belief that just because someone is a female, that they are automatically a gentile lady, after all, exhibit a) my mother.

    50’F is a bit cool for tomatoes. Yeah, that will lower the soil temperatures as well. It’s not like such things don’t happen here. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and muddle through is my thinking.

    Oh! I thought such zapping was done by ultra sound, like how they use that to clean a carburettor. Blows up the kidney stones, apparently, but a dudes still gotta pass them. Ouch.

    Lovely! Libraries are delightful places – usually. The State Library is a really beautiful building. It used to house the museum when I was a young bloke, and the explorations there were always enjoyable. The museum was moved to the Exhibition Gardens and the State Library expanded into the space. That’s clever using the rail tracks to move exhibitions.

    Better get writing!



  42. Hi Pam,

    I see, yes tart would be how the stewed rhubarb leaf ended up. Honestly, a bit of sugar helps with the stewing process and eventual taste. And whilst you’re at it, a touch of lemon juice assists as well.

    Use of the peaches was a good idea. Did they have flavour? But the honey, yeah nice thinking, and that would taste good. I’ve enjoyed stewed rhubarb added into muffins, and that’s good. Yum!

    You are spoiled for choice with a once per week farmers market! 🙂 They’re once per month here, and that’s too long between drinks for me.

    Sorry to hear that about the temperature. As a person stuck in the grip of winter, 75’F does sound very nice. We did a huge clean up and burn off today. Me tired, and still have to write (better get cracking on that task!), but it was good to be out in the forest making a bit of order out of the chaos left behind. And, I think the temperature was about 54’F, but even that felt hot – especially close to the fire.

    Hehe! Hope you enjoyed the song too? They’re a really great Aussie band. At least their sandbagging efforts saved all of their equipment. That’s the thing about rivers, most of the time conditions are rather bucolic, but every now and then… The same can be said of the forest, which is why we continue the clean up.

    I always like to chuck in a musical reference every week, somewhere… At the very least, it amuses me. 🙂



  43. Yo, Chris – Bill doesn’t die. Due to Frank’s handy stitching and splashing about of “antiseptic.” One more film clip and I’ll leave you alone. 🙂 It’s after the army has rounded up everyone in Frank’s town. You get a nice view of a typical American big box hardware store. 3 minutes.

    Survival of the bloke on the street. If you’re a bloke on the street, as the barbarians come in the north gate, you go out the south. Hide in the hills for three days. Then it’s safe to go back.

    Master something complicated and make everyone else look the fool. “How to win friends and influence people.”

    The Case of the Missing Cucumbers. My theory is … aliens.

    I went to the Club, last night, for hot dogs. Forgetting that they’d decided to give tacos, a go. (Pronounced “take-O” in some parts of our fair country.) They come in a hard or soft version. I went with the soft. Ground meat with taco seasoning, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Guacamole. Had two. Very tasty.

    Speaking of hot dogs, I started reading “Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs.” (Loftus, 2023). Turns out, it’s a travelogue. Zipping around our country, sampling hot dogs, along the way. The author makes her living as a comedian, of one type and another. She’s even one of the writers on “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” And yes, I even laughed out loud, a couple of times (in the privacy of my own home.) “Epilogue: On Bun Integrity. If you can’t toast a bun to hold everything, stop putting wet s___ on my hot dog. I don’t care how interesting and regional it is. If your bun can’t hold, then close the establishment because you are sick and you are lost. Goodnight!” I tend to agree with her. If you’re going to serve something that oozy, put it on a real plate and provide a fork. Lew

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