A constant theme I see repeated often, and have heard said from plenty of visitors: Here’s a way to make money from your property. It’s consistent enough that there must be something in there. Beats me why people keep saying that. I’ve got a day job. That makes money, the farm, yeah I don’t think so.

Anyway, maybe it’s because Sandra and I do most of the work around the place? Isn’t that what poor people do? Maybe the thought is that we should pay other people to do the work. Dunno, it’s a mystery. Few people would consider the reality, which is that I just really like doing hard physical labour. When I was a kid, I worked regular jobs before and after school. It was no hardship. My sport was distance running, which I was moderately good at, and several nights a week I trained at the local Dojo. There has never been time for sitting in front of the television, and when there wasn’t sport, there was study. Lot’s of it.

As a kid, I got to see my mother sitting in front of the television getting drunk night after night. Candidly it wasn’t an appealing prospect. These were the same people who turned on me too. When I was about eight, and the youngest, the household collectively decided I was gay. Dunno why. I’m pretty certain I had no idea about sex at the time, let alone any confusion about something I knew nothing about. And remember those were the days when high profile people were dropping dead of HIV. The instigator was my step-dad, he set the tone and the others weakly followed, possibly knowing if they didn’t, they’d be next in line. I asked my mother for help, she said deal it would toughen me up, make a man of me, or some rubbish like that. All it made me do was increase the distance. There never was a bridge to repair with those relationships. And enduring such an ordeal, left me with a strong sense of independence.

There’s no getting away from the rest of the world though. Even the wealthiest and most powerful folks are dependent on the system, probably more so in some ways. The other day I was reading a thoughtful article on class and wealth inequality issues. The final paragraph or so, included the bizarre sentence: Trump is a monster. Let’s be very clear here, that’s crazy talk of the sort I wrote about in what the adults and my older sisters used to call me. As a sentence, it lacks all meaning. The larger point though, is why would you want to hang around with or give energy to such people – any of them?

On the other hand, I used to love the idea of monsters, and owned many of the ‘In Search of’ books. The thought of a world inhabited by ‘Big Foot’ or the “Loch Ness Monster’ filled me with a sense of awe. Those things are monsters, people are just people. Life was pretty hard all the same, and escape into the world of monsters, or sci-fi and fantasy, was a relief from the reality.

I ran away (briefly) and even skipped school for a couple of weeks. The system always dragged you back in, there are processes for that. Give it a couple of weeks, you’ll like it, they’d say. Yeah, sure. Perhaps the experience did toughen me up though? I don’t really know. The hippies used to talk about: ‘beating the system’, it just sounded like a whole lot talk to me. The system has been well honed, sharpened and tested. A different option is to engage with the system. And there are processes for that too.

Study was a good way to get some distance from the family. It wasn’t long before I dropped off their radar, and could just do my own thing. My bedroom was a small shack out the back, barely big enough for a single bed, a chest of draws and a desk. Winters were cold, but at least I could jump the back fence, and be off and away on an adventure. I’m sure the adults didn’t know where I was a lot of the time. I had friends. Fortunately for me, one of my sisters went way off the rails, and that absorbed what was left of the adults energy. The adults lives went even more bonkers, and a sort of peace prevailed for me. First opportunity, I left them all, and never looked back.

If you engage with the system, you can take things pretty far indeed. There’s no end point, and why would there be? The system is arranged that way. More education. Climbing the corporate ladder. All the trappings are there, if you want them. A person can sort of win that game, for a while at least. Problem is, I didn’t want that stuff, any of it. Never really did. So when I’d gone as far as I wanted to go there and the world was spinning with the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, I reached down deep inside myself and asked where did I want to be? Turns out it was a small holding in a rural area. And if it all looks like hard work, hey, that’s fine with me too.

Thirty. You read that right. Just for emphasis, I’ll write it again: Thirty. That’s how many eggs we’ve harvested this week. Last week, none. It’s a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Some chickens are just bad eggs. And over the years, I’ve met with and dealt to a few of them.

That chicken was a bad egg

Earlier in the week for about two days the wind was feral. The surrounding forest was mostly OK, but the tree which lost part of its head a few weeks ago, lost the remainder this week. Termite damage presumably. The tree will be fine and recover, and loss of the head will probably kill off the termite colony through exposure to the winter weather. The termites sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

The remaining head of the tree fell this week

Being about only six weeks on from the winter solstice, the sun is still low in the sky to the north. When the rain falls in the valley to the south west of the farm, we get to enjoy some spectacular rainbows. This week produced an absolute ripper.

A complete rainbow formed over the valley. Two pots of gold!

Almost two months ago, we’d placed an order for a couple of new water tanks. The manufacturer makes the water tanks to order, so you have to wait. We waited. And earlier this week, a lovely bloke who I had a great chat with, dropped the two water tanks off the side of the truck and onto the road. I then rolled the water tanks down the hill.

Small water tanks are easy to roll

Small water tanks are easy to roll, but the bigger ones are a serious nightmare to handle. Those things can kill you, like totally dead. Best to have an excavator or some other machine on hand to deal with those. Anyway, for common sense reasons, I prefer smaller water tanks. I rolled them both from the road down to the house. Then they were rolled further down the hill near to where they would be located. A couple of days later, we dug a flat site and lifted the water tanks back upright.

A bit more water storage can’t hurt

We’ve decided to install a rock wall so as to retain the soil on the down hill side of the water tanks, and so began work on that upgrade. The soil is reasonably stable, but a rock wall retaining the soil is just an extra bit of insurance with the water tanks. It’s not like we didn’t get a 5.9 earthquake (and a lesser 4.0 one) within the past two years. It pays to be careful.

We’ve begun getting the various bits of the garden ready for the coming growing season. Winter is the time for such work. The blackberry enclosure was pruned.

The thornless blackberry canes were cut back hard

The two terraces with the rows of roses and raspberries were also cut back hard. In the next few weeks, we’ll feed the soil in all of those areas.

The roses and raspberries were cut back hard

A citrus orchard was planted out about this time last year. The grass there had grown, and so that was cut back from around the trunks of the young trees using a line trimmer. And all of the lower growth on the citrus trees was removed.

The young citrus orchard is slowly developing

Some of the more established citrus trees are producing fruit right now in the middle of winter. The trees produce when nothing else does.

A tasty Pomello gets added to the breakfast fruit and toasted muesli combo

Near to the citrus orchard there are plans to have a couple of extra growing beds for vegetables. Hopefully the plans come to fruition in time for the coming growing season. The soil in that area has been fed with goodies for over a year now in preparation, and at this time of year, you can actually see the difference that has made.

The darker green rows are where a couple of future vegetable beds will go

There are a couple of hundred fruit trees in the orchards, and from time to time they all need a little bit of care and attention. This week I began pruning many of the apple and pear trees in the shady orchard. I don’t know anything about the art of pruning, but recently read an extensive book on the subject, and just headed out into the orchard with a saw. Despite what some folks may tell you, pruning doesn’t seem particularly complicated. There are a couple of simple rules with apples and pears:

  • Reduce the height of the trees – My main consideration with fruit trees is keeping the branches out of wallaby reach. Those small forest kangaroos are right little vandals, so the side branches have to grow taller than wallaby reach. Anyway, if the trees get too tall, you won’t be able to harvest any of the fruit, because it will be out of reach. The birds will no doubt appreciate the efforts.
  • Cut out any crossing branches – Branches which touch and cross tend to cause damage to the bark of the tree, and things can go badly from there.
  • Remove the vertical branches – Just because you cut short the main trunk of the tree, doesn’t mean that other branches won’t want to reach for the sky. Sooner or later, your tree will be too big again, or wonky and liable to topple with the weight of too much fruit.
  • Open up the guts of the tree – Let a little bit of light and air into the core of the tree, and disease risk is reduced.
  • Apples and pears are best pruned during late winter due to the lower risk of spreading diseases around the various trees which may be carried on the cutting tools.

Here’s Dame Plum in the shady orchard prior to the pruning:

Dame Plum says let’s go with that saw

I followed the basic principles mentioned above and the tree now looks less busy.

Dame Plum is getting tired, and it’s only the first tree

I could probably still take more off that tree. Once it has grown some more, I’ll reduce the height. But for this year, that tree is done, a couple of hundred more trees to go.

Some of the branches cut were quite large
The height of this tree was reduced to about nine foot

All the limbs pruned were fed into the scary old wood chipper. I love any excuse to get that old machine out and running. I spent hours feeding branches into it. And the mulch spewed out into the garden bed.

Scary old wood chipper does the work!

By the end of the chipping job, there was probably a bit more mulch than needed in that garden bed. I spread the stuff around all of the ferns which were planted out last week.

Ollie admires the huge pile of newly created mulch

Spring isn’t far away now. A Manchurian pear has just broken dormancy and is producing blossoms and leaves. Usually we get some snow falling this week, but perhaps not this year (or last year, or the year before that)…

A Manchurian Pear has broken dormancy

Onto the flowers:

The Silver Wattles in the surrounding forest put on a good show
A Bushy Needlewood (Hakea decurrens) in winter bloom
A few of the Roses continue to bloom
A black (deep purple perhaps) flowering form of Hellebore

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 568.6mm (22.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 558.2mm (22.0 inches)

37 thoughts on “Righteous”

  1. Yo, Chris – You may remember a scene from the film, “The Graduate.” It’s only a minute long.


    That man whispering in Dustin Hoffman’s ear, is the devil. Sometimes, he whispers, “management.” 🙂 During the 15 years I lived in downtown Centralia, the cafe next door changed hands, 7 times. The folks who lasted the least amount of time, and ran the business into the ground the fastest, were those who thought they could just kick back and “manage” the business.

    I hope you realize that when I toss out Money Making Ideas for Fern Glade Farm, that it’s usually in jest. Look for the 🙂 . Anything that sounds remotely serious, probably isn’t. Management is not responsible … your mileage may vary.

    My. 30 eggs. Did you lay them yourself? 🙂 Hubris, hubris.

    Termites: A house that is built on sand (or, sawdust, in their case) shall not stand. I bet the birds had a feast.

    Nifty rainbow. I was going to make some smart remark about Apollo’s bow, or Diana’s bow. Glad I took a glance into the rabbit hole. Nope. Some Greek chick named Iris. Messenger of the gods. I wonder which came first, the goddess or the flower? A rather minor mythological figure. Her parents, and siblings, were unfamiliar to me. Two pots of gold? How will you manage them? 🙂

    Smaller tanks? Go big or go home! Actually, the smaller tanks (besides being easier to handle) are more in keeping with the scale of your holding … and you.

    A week of happily hacking at things. There’s something to be said for creative destruction. I don’t know what can be said, but there’s something … The Master Gardeners keep a spray bottle of alcohol, in the garden room extension. Or maybe, it’s the annex. Frequently used on garden tools, between hacking at this or that. To prevent the transfer of anything nasty, between one plant or another.

    I’ve never encountered a Pomello, up close and personal. Is all that thick rind, edible?

    Flowers = pretty. You take what you can get, this season of your year.

    Well, I’ve got blueberries, to wrangle. And boxes to break down. As long as I’m out, might as well water and maybe cast about some more blood meal. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Plastics indeed! Yes siree, the future is bright for plastics. 🙂 They’ll probably make good fuel at some point in the future. I must say that Dustin Hoffman’s response to that bloke was very good – he said something like: ‘what exactly do you mean by that?’ Puts the onus back on the person asking the stupid question, or in that case, posing a stupid assertion. That’s a tool I sometimes use, although I had to learn that tool the hard way, as you do.

    I couldn’t believe that Dustin was 30 when he played that role. He looked much younger than his age. Management indeed!!! 🙂 Thanks for the laughs. The thing is though, when I was a very young bloke, I reckon that story may have worked. It is just that over the years decline has wiped out the possibility of the strategy working, yet the dream remains. I’ve heard it spoken out aloud over the years, and can only but wonder at the audaciousness of the idea of just sitting back and raking in the mad cash whilst others do the work. I’m yet to see it work out in the real world for anyone other than the investment class, but maybe I need to get out more? Have you ever run across anyone for whom that dream has played out for?

    Of course, I get your dry sense of humour and wit. 😉 It’s not you I was referring too, it’s more casual visitors to the farm because they are serious about the money making schemes. They hold a rather unflattering mirror up to me which reflects their desires and beliefs. And frankly I encourage the beliefs because it is a form of, what do you call it in your country, is it a flake-filter? Flake down here generally refers to deep fried and battered chunks of shark. So tasty. And it used to be served with chips too. Yum!

    Hehe! When I think back upon just how many eggs that chicken ate, it’s quite astounding to ponder. What was interesting was that the ginger chicken (in the photo on the previous blog) used to crack the eggs, eat the good bits, and then the other chickens followed in her footsteps. Sure the other chickens have a taste for egg, but they don’t seem to have the desire to crack the eggs in the first place. I no longer have any hubris in this matter, and wish I’d first acted long ago. Some lessons, you have to learn the hard way.

    Yeah, the birds probably did not waste the opportunity of a suddenly exposed termite colony. The magpies, kookaburras and parrots know more about the workings of this place than I do.

    Iris seemed like a good sort, but best not annoy her master Hera! Things may then go badly. All a person can but do is their best, whilst trying to dodge that most awful of states: Hubris. As to the pots of gold, well we can’t talk about that.

    Thanks, what can you do other than take an approach which just slowly knocks things off the list, one at a time? The water tanks are kind of like that. Plenty of people have much larger water tanks and apparently bottomless wells, but I prefer a touch of redundancy with such crucial systems – and in the long run they could work with no energy whatsoever.

    Speaking of turtles and things to do, I did another task today on my long list of things to do, and that was replacing the interweb modem. It’s one of those jobs which could take five minutes, or five days. It took a few hours, and eventually I discovered the dodgy cable. Felt good when it was all working fine. A bit of a relief really. And I must say that it is a special form of torture to supply instructions on the interweb for a modem that is meant to connect to the interweb. I had to get and watch the instructions on my phone, which is a bit of a pain.

    Sterilising cutting tools between trees is a good idea. I can be a bit slacker than you might have to, because there are less plant diseases down here, but the benefit is counter acted by a lot more critters. Exhibit A) The wallaby took off the large fern frond off the tree fern overnight, and ate the new slowly unfurling frond. The pith is edible I believe, although slightly bitter from what I’ve read.

    Maybe, the flesh of the Pomello tastes just like a grapefruit, and has a very tart flavour. I cut the pith up into small chunks and give it to the chickens. Lemon zest is edible, so perhaps Pomello zest and pith would be too? Dunno.

    🙂 There are more flowers in the warmer months! It’s always a bit of a struggle at this time of year to display different flowers week to week.

    Hope your chest freezer is rapidly filling with blueberries. And total respect, it ain’t just you, I also mixed up the coffee ground + wood ash + agricultural lime + blood and bone mix late this afternoon and spread it around the trees in the sunnier orchard. You can see the sap is rising in the fruit trees. Phosphates will ensure good future fruit production.

    Hey, I also think that is exactly what happened with your east coast timber workers who ended up down here. The timing is about spot on too. The gold rush here kicked off in about 1850, and it was pretty epic. And at one point the city of Melbourne was second in wealth to that of London. A lot of gold.

    I always listen to my inner voice when it comes to warnings. The mind sees things far before events become an actual problem. Oh my goodness, so I finished the Mr Mercedes novel late this afternoon. I feel impelled to add that I was bracing for max-carnage in the story, and was relieved that both the dog and the auditorium crowd survived. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed the read, and a little whisper suggests that the author was performing a public service by writing that novel. As always, it is the things that are not considered which can cause systems to come unstuck. Oh yeah. The book had me on tenterhooks. A great read. And go Holly! Jolly good shot there. 😉 Now, onto the Air Raid Book Club folks. Report to follow…

    Fortunately once the aeon is done, well, it is too far in the future for me to consider. But yeah, I feel much the same way about rock walls. In really wet weather, they will retain the soil better than sods. Mind you, the sods are very stable.

    The good professor was writing about an entirely different issue. Interesting, I’ve read similar stories recently about both Sydney and Melbourne. Hmm. Probably a thing. As a general rule, I don’t feed the trolls, those things can bite, the cheeky rascals.

    I like where you’re going with the parrot export thing, but I’d get into a lot of trouble. Not worth it you know. Anyway, you don’t really want them in your area, trust me on this, despite the heaps of mad cash.

    Dude, why would people be kissing pigs? 🙂 Very dodgy behaviour if you ask me. But a general rule prevails as well, which is wash your hands after contact with farm animals. Dame Plum is now hassling me to go out and see the chickens, she is obsessive about hunting rats at night. But if she wants to indulge her hobby, she first has to let the rodent population bounce back from her former efforts. Patience young kelpie… 😉

    Just took both Ollie and Dame Plum separately out to see the chickens at night – both on strings of course. It was feral out there with wallabies and wombats. We’re in the six weeks of want time when protein levels are low in the plants. The critters get a better feed here than anywhere else in the area, so yeah, I cut them all some slack – despite the tree fern damage – and they all enjoy a good feed. Hope the critters don’t take things too far. Always something of a problem.

    I’m with you in this regard. A crepe is not a pancake. I don’t care what others may say… Nice one! Butter need not apply, in this instance, yup. Seriously glad you gave the recipe the ultimate taste test.

    Ah, yes, that might be a problem with the book. Has the author forgotten the central mission, or overall thrust of the book? I note that the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance used that style of writing. I tend to consider those stories as a kind of parallel story-lines, although the author has to weave them together into a coherent form. It’s funny but I get around that issue (at least I believe so) by having a three part blog. Musings/Short story on what’s on my mind this week + Work around the farm + Flowers. Never had anyone comment saying that they read the blog purely for the flower photos! Fancy that, huh? 🙂 I reckon the author has to find a bit of a balance there. Dunno.

    Glad you didn’t write blueberry ‘perk’, I have just finished reading Mr Mercedes after all! Hehe! You know, it might not be a bad idea to cut those ones out. The reduced competition might increase the growth of the larger corn plants? It would be worth attempting the experiment and observing the results.



  3. Yo, Chris – My first clue that management wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, was when I realized I got the same wage, if I worked a 40 hour week … or an 80 hour week. At least I figured that out, early. 🙂 When they closed my bookstore, here, and I went to work in the Olympia store, I was never interested in the top dog position. Assistant manager or senior sales clerk, were fine. Work your 40 hours and go home.

    Some management works well. Those who are willing to get in the trenches with the worker bees, and find out what’s really going on. I have no respect for a manager who won’t pitch in, when necessary.

    Flake-filter. Not one I hear very often. Might be an east coast thing. But I know what you mean. As when I’d casually ask, each new owner of the cafe next door, “Have you owned a restaurant, before?” Have you ever even WORKED in a restaurant?” Wheat … chaff … yeah.

    Redundancy is a good thing. Sort of like having a plan B. Or, even C.

    Oh, no! Not the tree fern! I think the wallaby needs to make a trip to the worm farm.

    The blueberries, so far, are all in the freezer. 3 1/2 flats of blueberries = 11 “light” (not quit full) gallon freezer bags. I’ll top them up, with berries I pick here, at the Institution. And may be even able to fill a few more bags. But I’m taking a few days off of blueberries. Do other things, for awhile.

    Yes, “Mr. Mercedes” was a real cliff hanger. “The Air Raid Book Club” ought to make a nice palate cleanser. 🙂

    We’re supposed to have a fairly temperate week, and then back to the hot weather. Though Prof. Mass says it’s a bit far out there, to be sure. Heck, this week was supposed to be hot and clear. Didn’t happen. It’s quit nice, to work outside. I’ve got a major pruning job of my own, to tackle. Hack back the grape vines and cut the volunteers out of the Rhodies. Corn.

    It’s good that Dame Plum can keep up her enthusiasm for hunting rats! Keep them nervous.

    The Master Gardeners were here, this morning. Kicked around the idea of thinning my corn, and that’s another thing I’ll do. I floated the idea of trialing a Meyer, but got not traction. Because “They need to be moved inside, for the winter.” Dead stop I don’t know. I think some years, they might do fine, outside. Other years, not so much. Oh, well. The idea is out there. I told them my Australian friend gave me lemon envy. 🙂

    I picked the first round of cherry tomatoes, and they are in the dryer. Was only enough for three trays (and, light at that), so I put those currents I picked the other day, on the fourth screen. I have a mesh plastic insert, that I’m giving a whirl. See how that goes. See how the currents, go. I also picked a bunch of sweet basil, and have it drying on dinner plates.

    I saw an article, in our local paper, that may or not catch your interest.


    We’re still a rural county, though not as rural as we used to be. Lew

  4. Hi Chris,
    We get that comment as well. Doug’s friend was here recently and noted that we could make some money if I sold some of my berry crop. Seems that to some people if it doesn’t make money it’s not worth doing.

    Good to see that egg production is back to normal. I don’t recall ever having a problem with egg eaters luckily for me.

    We had a decent rain about 10 days ago but we’re back to having rain go south or north of us. Some of my tomato plants that were damaged from the spraying of roundup by the farmer are producing flowers again so we might get a few tomatoes though it’s pretty late in the season.

    My aunt is still in California. It appears if she wants any hope of getting back to normal she’s going to have a shunt put in to drain fluid in her brain which is causing memory and balance issues. This a result of surgery two years ago that didn’t go well. She’s very afraid to have the surgery but not sure what choice she has. I’m sure glad this all happened while she was in California visiting her daughter and not here. We were all seeing a lot of issues with her memory and she was falling more often. Not sure if she’ll even be able to come back.


  5. making money- yeah, I get why that’s the first thing folks wonder, but it makes me pause and decide- how much do I want to explain and give them a chance to flush from the matrix? Too far a mental leap to do with a brief chat with that quirky hobby farmer, so usually I deflect and make light of what we’re doing here.

    And this when the great majority of conventional famers around here don’t make enough money to get by without a job off the farm.


    Averages are tricksy things, but delving in a bit shows that the system is rigged for cheap food for the masses, and farmers as individual famers don’t have much ability to improve their lot with conventional commodity crops. They are as trapped as any other cog in the machine.

    For those things that aren’t denominated in dollars, we are doing ok, and slowly building natural capital.

    Drought- still dry here, still watering daily just to keep plants hanging on. Actually, it’s been educational seeing how the different veg reacts to the stress. As you’d expect, brassicas and cool weather crops are not enjoying this year. Further validation for growing perennials, the trees are hardly affected ( so far).

    As soon as I finish this darned greenhouse, it’s more water storage. Those meandering Rossby waves that get stuck will likely be a part of things going forward.

    Pruning- ack! I keep putting it off too much, and saying I’ll catch up next year. It’s not so bad with the young ones we planted, but the place has several big old trees that hadn’t been pruned in years. I did a severe pruning a few years ago, but it’s amazing how much new sprouting branches an apple tree ( they are the worst!) can put out when it has a well established root system and plenty of room.

    I actually climb up in the tree, hacking a tunnel as I go, and generate a huge pile of branches to haul off. And apple branches are the worst to try to feed into the chipper, they are so angular and oddly formed.

    Your bespoke water tanks- are they plastic or fiberglass? I couldn’t tell from the photo. If plastic, what kind?

    Tomatoes are kicking into high gear. Patsy has the canning gear out and fired up. Looks like our hazelnuts are going to ripen early with the drought. I’ll be on that chore pretty soon.

  6. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the straight talking answer, and bizarrely, that is also the path I trod with people who ask that question. I don’t really know, but as far as I can understand the issue, the person making the observation is merely reflecting their own values. And who am I to correct that?

    Did I read that 90% number correctly? Far out! Man, I don’t have anything to add on the subject other than farm outputs are priced too cheaply.

    Averages aren’t really all that meaningful. My understanding is that they roughly display an indicator about the territory, but the detail will be vastly different. The Daily Impact has a very useful discussion on this very topic.

    We’re doing the same. 🙂 It’s an option, which few would consider. And speaking of machines, I’m working towards doing all the servicing myself. The most expensive machine of all was in getting serviced, and it cost $560 (not sure what parts – if any were replaced yet) and that’s more expensive to service than a car! Yup, a solution presents itself, and it’s the old solution: sweat equity. I got this.

    I’ve had some experience with drought, and the results were very similar. I’m guessing your trees are fine because you never mollycoddled them in the first place. The root systems have had to scrounge from day one, and that’s an advantage. The annuals end up looking exactly the same here during such weather. I water them in the evening at such times, and they bounce back and grow overnight. It all depends upon how much water you have access too, and that’s limited here.

    Your shed looked amazing. Respect. Hope the greenhouse looks half as good, and it will be a fine greenhouse. 🙂 Those things work.

    Yes, I agree apples are super fast growing, with lots of water spouts and bonkers side branches. Surely, the trees would have a little bit of consideration for the limited amount of time we have available to tend to their needs? Probably not.

    Polyethylene. Strong stuff. Nothing much sticks to that material. ‘Tes not natural!

    Yum, yum, yum! Fingers crossed for a tasty harvest too – which I reckon you’ll discover the tomatoes and hazelnuts are tastier, but slightly smaller, due to the reduced water and increased heat. There are some benefits to your weather patterns.



  7. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you very much for the insight, and yes that makes a lot of sense to me. It does appear to get down into value systems. Hmm. I will cogitate further upon your insight.

    It’s not just you, but in thirteen years of keeping chickens, I’ve never faced this egg eating problem to such an extent. Sure the occasional egg has broken and the chickens never wasted an opportunity, but thirty eggs in a week is whole different level of wrongness. Over the years I have had chickens which have had psychotic episodes and began eating their fellow flock mates. One of those eaten was my favourite chicken, a little brown silkie, and um yeah, there was no way she was going to recover. I stopped keeping Isa Brown varieties (similar to Hy-line) after that awful episode – and also stopped naming the chickens. 🙂 It is possible that the protein requirements of some breeds are quite a lot higher than I can provide? Trust me in this, we are sticking to heritage breeds from here on.

    Spare a thought for me too. There’s a lovely young lady I speak with in relation to chickens. Her experience is beyond mine, as she breeds chickens. I spoke with her this morning, and of all the people I’ve had to explain this horrid story too, that was the most uncomfortable conversation I’ve had. Far out, what do you? She was very nice about the situation and like you, had not encountered this problem.

    Hopefully the recent rain (now almost two weeks ago) helped your inadvertently sprayed tomatoes? I’d be going heavy on the seaweed solution as I believe those sorts of sprays make it harder for plants to get access to mineral feed, and possibly water. But I don’t know what chemical may actually have been sprayed. It’s a bit of a worry. During bushfires, the aerial folks can sometimes dump fire retardants into the water, and I dunno about that practice. You hear stories.

    Well yeah there is always risk with invasive procedures. From a purely objective perspective, having another procedure to correct an earlier procedure is suggestive that the whole thing is quite risky. I’m so sorry to say it, but falling is a bad sign. You’ve had quite a load on your shoulders these past few years on that front. Hope things settle down for a bit and stabilise.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Oh man, we’ve all been there. Far out, have we what. 🙂 I got sucked in the same way as you did in my first senior role. I was so young and naive, and like what you suggest, worked two jobs for the price of one. As you say, some problems are best encountered early on, like that one. You’ve got me laughing about this, but there’s a sort of mildly uncomfortable aspect to the laugh. The angles they get you on too, are pretty unsubstantial like status, or just words. Crazy stuff, but once bitten, twice shy is my motto – unless it is one of those super deadly snakes, then it might be once bitten, once dead. Or those death cap mushrooms, they seem pretty toxic too. Yup, nowadays, do my hours and go home. I’ll help after hours, especially if I stuffed something up, but there has to be genuine need, and not a genuine want – that’s a whole different thing.

    Exactly, I always sat out with the crew and they saw that I worked as hard as they all did. And problems were dealt with expediently and fairly in a way that all understood. That Sir Walter Raleigh knew how to run a tight ship, and get stuff done. An inspiration. It’s not hard though. Status and ego gets in the way every time. This is why I prefer small business.

    I dunno what the origin of that ‘flake-filter’ term is. Down here it would be known as a sh#t test (or more politely as a ‘poop test’). There was quite a good example of it in use in the Fight Club book, and that I believe is based on some monasteries, and is in use even today. It was mentioned in the ‘Fire Monks’ book.

    Hehe! Oh my gawd! Imagine running a cafe with no previous experience… They might do well, but the odds are candidly stacked against them, and yeah that’s an all-hands-on-deck experience, oh yeah! The potty mouthed chef has a very good series on getting wayward restaurant businesses on a better footing. It was called: Kitchen Nightmares, and I suggest the UK series is superior to the US series if you’re interested in what it takes to run a profitable business that sells food. No disrespect intended but your culture tends to breed roosters, even when they’re not all that good at the finer points of being a rooster. And you can see that in action by comparing the two series. In the US version the potty mouthed chef has to out-alpha the very people he’s trying to help before they accept the help, despite them voluntarily accepting the help. A bit like horse breaking really. But yeah, wheat and chaff is a great analogy.

    That’s the plan with redundancies. Have a B and C just in case, and hope you don’t need them, but just in case. Took a few more steps today on the path to doing all of the servicing of the machines here. Picked up some useful items for the work. Seriously, the items are all way cheaper than paying someone else to do that work.

    Yup, the tree fern. It looks very sad indeed right now, and I may have to give it some seaweed solution feed. The huge fronds are now little tiny nubbins, and the wallaby is looking rather well fed.

    Go the blueberries! And I know how you feel. Some jobs demand a break in between the next activity! And the Air Raid Book Club book is delightful. It’s good to remember that even when really sad stuff happens, life continues. I learned that at an early age, and just got on with life. I’m not entirely sure why some other folks indulge the negative feelings, and it’s an option, but I dunno.

    Palate cleanser! Honestly, Mr King had me on total tenterhooks for those final few chapters. All hands brace for impact!!!! It was very difficult to put the book down.

    Good to hear that your weather has cooled down a bit. The corn may not like that change, but I think you’ll be surprised. Did you pull out the smaller corn stalks? Wow, do you get volunteer rhodies? I haven’t seen any here yet, but they’re meant to self-seed here in this part of the mountain range.

    Dame Plum has a special interest in the rats. And I believe that she will keep this interest for her life. It’s good to have one of the dogs interested in the problem. The other two are a bit lackadaisical in this regard.

    Sometimes just getting the idea out there is all it takes. People used to say fifteen years ago that it was not possible to grow citrus in this mountain range. They may have been right then, but they’re wrong now. And plenty of the trees have survived snowfall to 28’F here, but I do grow them out of the winds. Lemons are such a handy fruit which have multiple uses.

    Yum! Dehydrated tomatoes are a real winter joy!

    Oh, how does the plastic insert work in the dehydrator?

    I’ll bet the drying sweet basil smells nice?

    Thanks for the article, and it was good to see the pollies getting out of the office and visiting local farms. It was a bit frightening though to consider the loss of small farms, and the consolidation numbers were quite scary. The same is true here. When we first moved here, there were far more farm gate options than there are today. It’s a bit like the machine servicing really, we got to enjoy some great services, and then faced decline and had to work harder just to keep in the same place. The farm gate which produced the bags of sun ripened tomatoes was an absolute favourite.



  9. Yo, Chris – I got a laugh out of Steve’s referring to your water tanks as “bespoke.” 🙂 Did you have a choice of colors, textures and patterns? At least, you didn’t have to get your inseam, measured. Or feel like an absolute rube, when the tailor has to explain to you what his question, “Do you dress to the right, or to the left,” means.

    I think Sir Walter Raleigh occasionally resorted to the same methods as you dealt with the chickens. Hmmm. “The Path of the Egg Eating Chicken.” Maybe we can work it up into some kind of management theory? Makes about as much sense as “Who Moved My Cheese.” Our fortunes are made! 🙂

    Sweeping generalization, but UK series ARE superior to copy-cat US series. Usually.

    So, yesterday, I picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes, and got them in the dehydrator. Wasn’t quit a full 4 trays, so, I filled the last tray with the currants I picked. The tomatoes look fine, but the currants still seem a bit “moist” to me. I left them in longer than the tomatoes. I may pop them in for a few more hours. I also picked a lot of basil leaves, and have them drying on plates. I could dehydrate them, but I have this idea that air drying is better. Just looked into the rabbit hole. Air drying is good for low moisture herbs, but higher moisture herbs can use a dehydrator. Basil, Chives, Mint, Lemon Balm. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll run a tray of basil through the dryer, and see if there’s a marked difference?

    Some of my tomato branches were sprawling (heavy with green fruit), so I tied them up. Tomatoes in bondage! 🙂 I did thin out the corn, but cut the sprouts, less than 1 1/2′ out. It opens the patch up, a bit. Better for air circulation. One stalk is now 6′ high. But no sign of cobs, yet.

    The plastic screen is from the same folks that made the dryer. But, I had to order them extra. Not that expensive. They’re for things that might fall through the regular grid. Such as, currents. Some herbs. They’re round, and made to fit the dehydrator. As the current seem to be a bit damp, I wonder if they cut the air flow, a bit?

    You and I are inhabiting the same fictional historic time period. Maybe our paths will cross? 🙂 Last night’s episode of “All Creatures Great and Small,” was the kick off, to Britain declaring war on Germany. Such a terrible time, for people. WWI was only 25 years past, and still vivid in living memory. Vets were exempt from conscription. Unlike the WWI, the Powers That Be realized that vets played a major roll in keeping farms productive, and the food flowing. But the “pull” of marching off to war was still palatable.

    There are no volunteer Rhodies, as far as I can see. Just volunteer walnuts, oak (thank you squirrels), ivy and gosh knows what else. Also, the grapes behind (or in front of … depending on your point of view) are over running the Rhodies. They also need to be hacked back. I have to keep an eye on our dumpster, when I start this process, so I don’t take up too much space. Last time, I had a couple of piles, that I slowly feed into the waste stream.

    Several of our local dairies, moved east of the mountains. Now, some dairy farmers blamed the Greenies. Such an easy target. But there were a lot of other things in play. Cheaper land, and more of it. Also, farmer’s kids not interested in the business.

    I can’t say I was very impressed with the Chehalis Farmer’s Market. Now, I didn’t take a close look, as I was intent on blueberries. But I didn’t see many stands with piles of produce. More stands of baked goods, or, I think cheese. Handicrafts. Bird houses and plant containers. In fact, at one point I think the Centralia Farmer’s Market limited the number of “craft” vendors. Both markets are rather on the small side. A single block, side street.

    Biscuits and gravy were had, this morning. Elinor is at one of her monthly doctor visits, so, H is crapped out on my bed, until she comes home. All’s right with the world. Lew

  10. Chris,

    Big news on the hand. ALL restrictions are lifted. Back to normal activities. Of course, that means ease into things. So said the Princess, with whom I agree. Also, I need to continue with the therapy things. I’m very excited.

    You mentioned stretching a bit again in a reply to me last week. Interestingly, the surgeon asked me what I miss the most from the past 2 months of limited activity. I said “Yoga.” His response was interesting: ” As an orthopedic surgeon, I must say that the very best exercise anyone can do is stretching. Yoga is perfect. The younger one starts, the better. Range of motion and flexibility are key as we age. So do your yoga religiously.”

    Of course, as we’ve also discussed, “chop wood, carry water”. Very good for conditioning and building strength. Add the stretching and you’re in a good place. Hence, work on your farm for you, yard work and upkeep for me, etc. Good stuff. And if only “poor” people work like that, the I’m happy to be “poor”. 🙂

    Oh, yes. The System. I eventually came to the conclusion that the best way to survive the work world was to not play the game. Easier said than done. Made more sense to me than trying to climb high in the organization. More degrees, play politics to get ahead, sell my soul and stress about getting ahead. No thanks.

    We were supposed to have a plethora of storms Friday night through Monday. Maybe up to 15mm of rain or more. Nope. We got 5mm. Raised the humidity. Ugh. Then the dry winds returned. We should get back to the 30C to 35C range by the end of the week. Now that it’s August and over 6 weeks removed from the solstice, the days are noticeably longer. The heat is a bit more tolerable this way. And it’s easier to sleep with the slightly longer nights.

    Smart using the small water tanks. Although the small ones look as if they would still hurt if they rolled over you. Best to avoid that. But good that you don’t use the big “killer” tanks.

    Thanks for the tree pruning lesson. I’ve got one tree to which I can apply the lesson – the flowering crabapple. If I don’t keep it opened, then it tends to get sickish.

    Thanks for the flowers. We’re in between on flowers right now. The autumn flowers should start soon.


  11. Hi DJ,

    It is exciting. 🙂 Do you reckon that with a bit of consistent stretching and slowly regaining the strength, the hand will be feeling back to normal? I guess I’m asking if the nerves have been repaired. What I’m hearing from you sounds as if that is the case, and that is exciting. No more wood gouges for you – forty years! 😉 A safe margin of error there.

    Oh that is good to hear. Always reassuring to hear our opinions confirmed by someone who has to deal with the unpleasant end of that story. Speaking of ends. What’s a poop doctor called again? Anyway, whatever, I heard one of them saying many years ago that a person should aim for the consistency of a cow pat. Aren’t we going places today?

    Funnily enough, in many an historical novel, the staff of a mansion who are generally consuming a good but basic diet, and living in reasonable-ish conditions, often out lived the aristocracy by a considerable margin. Clearly the well-to-do folks were indulging in some food fads. Not as much good for you as a rice, lentil and a vegetable mix. Me too, I chucked my lot in that direction many years ago. The wealthier alternatives weren’t all that appealing.

    Hehe! You sure do get nimble trying to avoid playing the great game. And you’re right, only those who’ve occasionally been unstuck by it realise the precariousness of dodging to and fro like a headless chook (sorry, been on my mind of late for some reason). Mate, the system always drags you back in. My best wishes are that the folks on the rez can insulate themselves a bit from that behemoth, and I don’t know how things would roll on that front, but mate, even here, sometimes it’s a struggle to build some distance. It’s a hungry monster that thing, and this is as far as I could quietly sneak away. One of the undocumented side benefits of the Limits to Growth, is that the ability to extend a certain sort of grasping reach, lessens with each passing day.

    I also wonder what is going on with the weather forecast models. The same is true here. Sure there’s been rain, but all up I’d call it a fairly mild winter. Maybe Sunday night – Monday morning, it might get cold enough to see a few flurries based on the forecast, but that’s about it at this stage. Glad Sir Poopy is no longer alive to witness such warm winters! The Swedish Lapphund bloodlines would be curdling in anger at the mild climate turn of events.

    Yeah, you’re a bit further north than I am south, so the summer nights would annoy me too.

    The smaller water tanks will hurt, but it would be a recoverable hurt, so no real drama. Now the 33,000L water tank has a diameter of 5m or 6m, or something crazy like that, that’s a whole different load of problems. It doesn’t sound like much, until you have to roll the thing and it weighs in at 750kg. That one will hurt.

    Yeah, I’d hack away at the crabapple trees too and open them up a bit.

    My pleasure, and hope your fall garden blooms with life, like the mini-spring which it is. How cool was the deep purple Hellebore?



  12. Hi Lewis,

    You know some folks sometimes make the observation that a person died doing what they loved. But crushed by cheese rounds? That’s a hard fate, and probably a step too far. I’d imagine that the shelving was in a fairly dry environment, but all the same, based on the warehouses I’ve seen, there is no substitute for strong steel shelving – which is well anchored to a stable and solid floor. That’s a lot of ifs in there. Oh well.

    I missed seeing the falling space junk, but far out, the videos were impressive looking. Makes you wonder if anyone has discovered any chunks which may have hit the land. One of the videos had someone suggesting that it would hit water. Anyway, you reckon that someone would be out looking for the stuff. And who even knew that we had a Space Agency? I wonder what they do all day?

    Now you may laugh, but water tanks are actually made to order and come in a wide range of colours. Plus, it gets more complicated because you can specify where the main water inlet and outlets are located. And! And (just for further emphasis)! There are options for where the outlet valve is placed. It is not a simple one size fits all process. Oh yeah, this is really happening.

    The tailors did not ask such candid questions back in the day, did they? Lewis, I’m already blushing, although I’d imagine that the tailor made suits fitted the wearer better than off-the-shelf suits? I recall the days when clothes were made down under, and it wasn’t all that long ago given I used to work in manufacturing. Remember that? My recollection was that the items were of better fit and cut than what most people seem to accept as being normal nowadays. I refuse to pollute the digital airwaves with my recent recollection of the lady in the bank queue who was wearing trackie-dacks and using her fingers to publicly pick and remove said garment which had ridden upwards because it was so poorly made. What is this thing called deportment and etiquette?

    Well the adventurous dude knew how to send a strong message to the crew. He was probably OK that bloke. I wonder if anyone has ever written a book on this subject of chickens which you suggest? Oh my gawd, my brain was just exposed to ten pages of interweb nice people giving me nice advice about egg eating chickens. I doubt that any of them have ever had to contend with a psychotic egg eating chicken having a major episode. Hey, let’s forget that money making idea. 🙂 It’s no good. Anyway, like moving cheese which has now clearly proven to be a dangerous activity, so I reckon the cheese moving idea won’t fly either! 🙂 In the most senior role I’d done, in the first meet and greet, the accounts department had just gone through a big problem, and they were feral as a result. It only took one head to bring them into line. It’s like that old comedic story about err, sex and goats, in that it only takes one err, awkward-as-totally-busted incident for the legend to stick. With the goats that would be a bad story to have hanging around you. Ruin your chances of a date on a Saturday night, that’s for sure. But Sir Walter, he would have cruised through his career carrying around that legend. To be honest, based on my observation of the human experience and conflict, the headless bloke probably deserved it.

    True, but then I doubt that the folks in the UK would ever dream up a series as complicated as Six Feet Under? But Kitchen Nightmares is a no contest win in that regard. I got tired of watching the potty mouthed chef having to out-alpha the very US people who requested his assistance. Half the show was eaten up by that – every time. Nope, stopped watching.

    Yeah, different fruits require differing times in the dehydrator. I’ve even noticed that where the racks are placed makes a difference. Go with your gut feeling in relation to the currants, and if they need more time, they need more time.

    Wow! How do you reckon the herb leaf drying experiment is working out? I’d never considered using a dehydrator for such items. Interesting indeed!

    Set the poor helpless tomatoes free, but maybe first harvest any sun ripened fruit. Surely the tomatoes are innocent of the charges my good Sir? 🙂

    The cobs develop pretty fast, but it does depend on how much longer your growing season has left in it? We gave up on corn last year because the growing season was so poor. I reckon you’ll have at least another six to eight weeks left, which should be enough.

    That’s an intriguing question as to whether the currants reduced the air flow. Hard to say really. Did the trays feel warm when you removed them from the device?

    Maybe! It’s possible, the book club folks are widely read, but already there is mention of tension as to what was suggested to be read next. Such a lovely book, and the characters display quite thoughtful dialogue between themselves. Quite charming really. The book is a delightful mental space to inhabit. Just the thing!

    It’s an interesting topic isn’t it? I’d read about the pull of the call to war, most especially leading up to WWI. There was a bit of naivety as to how long the entire affair would take, but the pull was real enough. It was wise that the vets were exempted from service. No point fighting if there is nothing left to eat.

    The squirrels sound lovely, but please do keep them in your part of the world. Out smarting the rats has been a bit touch and go over the years, and frankly it’s not a good look to be proven a chump by a bunch of twitchy nosed rodents! But imagine having to deal with squirrels as well? Nope, no parrots for squirrel swaps will be entered into.

    The Rhodies won’t like being over run by the grapes. We had a native clematis vine climb over on the rhodies, and it now looks a little bit flattened and worse for wear. It’ll bounce back, but not quickly, let’s put it that way.

    I don’t see much green about the greenies. They usually haunt wealthy inner city abodes and do their best to paper over blatant hypocrisies. When we first turned up here over a decade and a half ago, some of the old timers put the hard question to us about whether we were greenies or not. Those dudes don’t mince words. I’d like to think that we made a favourable impression, and maybe we have. 🙂 I’m sure you’ve heard such talk as well in your travels?

    Oh yeah, be wary of the dumpster, especially given what happened with that incident where it was over-filled. No need to repeat the effort because hard questions may be asked.

    Lewis, I reckon it’s hard to make money on a small farm. The odds are stacked against you. Gene Logsdon wrote about that subject and he picked a useful middle ground. A solid guide that bloke. That reality might underlie the farmers market.

    Go H! And hope that she is enjoying her big day out? All’s good here too. Did paid work today, so not much to report really. had a nice muffin this morning, and picked up the mower. Turns out the blades needed replacing, they’re made of Modern Damascus Steel and that’s why the job was so expensive. Interestingly, the original method for producing Damascus steel has been lost to time. Fancy that! Probably took a lot of effort.



  13. Yo, Chris – “Australia’s space industry is leveraging its experience from adjacent industries to build world leading expertise.” Sounds like a mission statement. One of those “sound and fury, but signifying, nothing.” What do they do all day? They write mission statements. 🙂

    Water tanks: I’d be paralyzed with all those choices. The same feeling you get when entering some aisles at the grocery store.

    I think tailors were more likely to ask such candid questions, back in the day. Pretty straightforward information, for a good fit. Before everything got larded over with a search for “meaning,” that wasn’t even there, or intended in the first place. And, Savile Row was pretty much a dudes only space.

    So, all these folks with “helpful” chicken suggestions? Drugs? Apps? Maybe the address of an institution that re-educates egg eating chickens? 🙂

    I think the closest the UK came to a “Six Feet Under”, kind of a show, was “William and Mary.” 2003-2005. Staring Martin Clunes. But really, not even close. It was more a rom-com. An undertaker with a couple of kids, meets a midwife with a couple of kids. Blended family comes about. Hilarity ensues. But it was interesting, as it explored the balance between the beginning of life, and the end of life. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I liked it.

    Whatever I’m drying, I always rotate the racks, a little over half way through. I also let stuff sit out for a couple of days, to get really dry. The currants seem to be a bit more dry, today. I’ll let you know when I get around to the herb drying experiment. Not in my nature to plunge right in.

    When I took H out for her walk, this morning, I saw a squirrel come down from the walnut tree, across the street. Carrying a green walnut. He headed down Washington Avenue, going, gosh knows where.

    Greenies are an easy target. I know someone who firmly believes, that there are oceans of oil to tap, and we’re only thwarted from accessing that oil, by the Greenies. It’s never declining stocks, or advances in technology, that mean fewer people hired. See: the coal industry and timber.

    The dumpster was completely full, last night. Empty, this morning. So I may be able to toss some grape vines, in, tonight. No worries, about them. They’re light. They wilt pretty fast, and any added garbage smooches them down. Timing. It’s all in the timing 🙂 They’re talking about another dumpster, just for yard waste. Maybe, next year.

    I’m reading a book (no surprise there.) “The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession.” (Finkel, 2023). It’s a bit of a complicated story, but here’s a review …


    If that link doesn’t work, there are plenty of other reviews. The story is interesting, if a bit complicated. A young, self entitled little twit, and his girlfriend, stole stuff from museums and churches, all over France and Germany. 200 heists in 10 years. Around 2 billion dollars worth. But did they do it for gain? Nope. He just liked to possess and look at the stuff. So it was all crammed into two rooms, in his mother’s attic, where he and his partner in crime, lived. Lew

  14. Chris,

    Time, more stretching, and regaining strength should get the hand back to normal in a few more months. The nerve seems to be intact…the surgeon reconnected it and the vibrator therapy allows me to feel the nerve getting vibrated. However, the feeling in the upper third of the finger isn’t back yet. That feeling should return at the rate of 1mm per week or maybe 1cm per month. So I need to remain patient.

    Gastroenterologist = poop doctor. Aka the guy who peers up backsides. Rumor has it that the first gastroenterologist liked to wander underneath bleachers during rugby and football (soccer) matches staring upwards. His name was Seymour Butz. 😉

    It was very nice getting the stretching and/or yoga confirmation from the surgeon. After 2 months away from yoga, I am starting slowly. Did a 12 minute routine last night and a 15 minute routine this morning. Felt a LOT better with that kind of stretching. I wanted to jump into one of the 30 minute routines but knew better. Will continue to slowly get back into this.

    Amazing those stories…the workers by necessity had a pretty healthy diet, at least compared to the fancy and overly rich fare of the aristocracy. Add in the hard work versus lives of dissipation whose meager exercise might have been a short and leisurely “daily constitutional”. Eating a lot of legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains is healthier and we feel better than with the usual American diet.

    The hungry monster is very huge. Everything is connected to it to some degree. The Rez is far from immune to this. Unfortunately. For me, even though I refused to play THE game, life at work was still difficult…the attempts to force me back into the game were endless, coming from both (mis)management and coworkers. I’m very happy to be out of that world.

    I’ve found for the past 20 years that the “official” government forecasters are less accurate for this region than is weather.com. We had a small storm front move through this morning. It was supposed to bring nothing but clouds and breeze. Both the government guys and weather.com missed, as we got about 3mm of rain. Refreshing and here in early afternoon the temperature is still a mere 20C! This has also cleared the worst of the crud out of the air, allowing us to open the windows for the first time in weeks. It feels good. Enjoying my coffee in the rain and the cool this morning was wonderful.

    750kg water tanks? No wonder you use the smaller ones. That’s like a small car in weight. Lifting those would be hard and painful.

    The deep purple hellebore? Gorgeous. Very unique color and flower shape. Which leads to an ear worm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0i9jQSoItg


  15. Hello Chris
    Just to say that I am still here but inundated with other peoples problems; another is just arriving. Hope to get back to you properly, soon.


  16. Hi Lewis,

    I wasn’t entirely sure whether you’d made that mission statement up, and then you got me wondering whether the central goal was all about expertise, or in more human terms: jobs for experts. At that point, my brain exploded, and now what’s left of me is picking up chunks of brain splatter off the walls and trying to fit it all back in place. A few staples connecting the skull bones, and bam, done. As good as new, but there was this one bit of splatter left over, and I dunno where that was meant to go. But then without the splatter put back in its proper place, would I even notice the difference? I think not, so let’s move on before there is another brain exploding incident. 🙂

    Hehe! The water tank choices are a bit like that and let’s not even talk about toothpaste choices? I’m always left wondering if there were better options which I’d missed out on. But in this case, I merely copied the choices on the other existing water tanks.

    Headed out today to the nearby gardening club to pick up all the seeds for the new varieties of plants we’re going to trial this forthcoming growing season. We’d had plans to visit a nearby pub for lunch, but err, I slept in. The alarm went off this morning, and I reached over and switched it off, and woke up two hours later. This is very rare behaviour for me as I prefer to keep regular hours, but I had the most astounding dream. It was of the ‘Green Man’. It seemed important, and I must ask Mr Greer about this dream. Anyway, the lunch kitchen was shut, so we headed to even more local haunts which had the benefit of open kitchens.

    It was hard not to note that the word ‘bespoke’ was equally applied to the more recent Savile Row tailors. That’s pretty funny your comment about a search for meaning. Maybe the people saying that are bored or something like that?

    Oh, I must say that I’m really enjoying the Air Raid Book Club, and am now well over a third of the way through the story. Lot’s of tea references, and I can understand how the book kept you up at night. Lovely stuff.

    You’re probably right about that, but you know that old conscience thing of mine would not allow me to offload the psychotic chicken onto any unsuspecting folks, well meaning or not! Other peoples mileage may vary in this matter. Mate, sooner or later, I’m going to have to get into breeding chickens, but right now there’s a lot going on and so I have to take the risk that someone will offload a psychotic chicken at a poultry auction / sale.

    What a fascinating concept for a series: One sees folks into the world, whilst the other sees them off at the other end. Both businesses would be remarkably hard to market and promote.

    Actually, it is interesting you rotate the racks, but we also move the fruit around the racks about halfway through the day. With the solar power, we kind of can, but choose not to, run the dehydrator overnight. No point flogging the batteries unnecessarily, not that the machines use much energy, but it does kind of add up. Easier to run the machine when the sun is up in the sky. Letting fruit sit out for a couple of days is basically what the old timers did, mostly because it works. We do that with the chili’s, and they just sit on a tray inside the house with a towel under them and they dry just fine. Good to hear that the currants have dried a bit more today. I’ve never dried those berries.

    Yikes! Good luck with the squirrels, and may they keep out of your garden. Has there been any further developments in the garden damage investigation? Any new theories?

    Well they do lend themselves to ridicule, and as I pointed out to someone the other day (nobody here!) we’re all hypocrites in our own way. The other day I read that a new record was reached of something crazy like 22,000 commercial aircraft in the air at one point. It seems like an impressive effort, and I always ask people with green virtues how often and when did they last fly. It’s like barrel fishing – you can’t miss. 😉 And if they’ve got that one safely in the bag, I merely go on to the next topic. It really is that easy. And I dunno, they know not what they do, they do know what they say though. And that dissonance is a complicated mess.

    Good thinking! The vines will dry down to not much at all. It’s probably not a bad idea that there is no compost pile there, because it has to be turned, but the rats – and trying to stop people chucking the wrong things in the pile, like say bones and meat (which attract rats) – would be hard indeed. It would end in arguments, that’s what I’m thinking. What do you reckon about that? And yeah, timing is everything! 🙂

    Hehe! Mate, with those heist folks, truly they have some skills and probably will end up consulting for the very folks they pinched stuff from. However, it’s an interesting angle not selling the stuff, but just enjoying it. Probably why they avoided being busted for so long. How did they get busted anyway?



  17. Hi DJ,

    Sorry mate, I’ve utterly run out of time to reply this evening. The dreaded mid-week hiatus has struck, and it did involve going out for dinner this evening. Had a very tasty seafood paella accompanied with a local cider. The plans all changed due to accidentally sleeping in this morning. I must have been tired, because I vaguely recall switching the alarm off in my sleep, only to wake up two hours late. That never happens, but today it did. And in between the alarm going off and waking up, I had a truly odd dream involving the ‘Green Man’. Anyway, the rest of the day was out of whack completely, and already being late, we missed lunch at a nearby pub (it’s our day off work today). Being of a flexible mindset, we went out to dinner this evening and at least some of the patterns have been restored. But the two hours were gone, and I did search behind the couch. They weren’t there, although there were a few dust bunnies the colour of Ollie’s hair. He denies leaving them there, but we all know. 😉

    Will chat tomorrow.



  18. Hi, Chris!

    We’re poor, too. We do all the work around here ourselves. Unlike you, I wasn’t even allowed to have a job until I left home and went to college. A status thing (theirs), I guess. And unlike your freedoms, I was given none, which was why I began finding ways to gain some as a young teenager. I am very lucky that none of my escapades went seriously wrong.

    I think Sun Tzu would agree with engaging with the system – at least as a start. There are ways to work within the system . . . By the way, I have finally ordered The Art of War.

    I am astonished at how your egg production turned around.

    I am thinking that the termites will probably just move . . .

    What an enormous rainbow. It’s like seeing the curve of the earth.

    I have never heard of bespoke water tanks. Those are so nice. Ollie is very proud of them. Or is he having a sunbath? What a fine, big row you have already.

    Pomello’s have a cushion inside!

    That’s a lot of pruning – thanks for the tips.

    We have been looking over the hefty old snowblower that we have. My husband and son say that they can turn it into a stump grinder, which will better serve us as the thing mostly tosses our driveway gravel into the woods with the snow.

    The Manchurian Pear is regal. Thanks for the flowers; those are really unique ones.


  19. Yo, Chris – Or, Proctologist. 🙂 The only contest I’ve ever won, was one Halloween, at a bar I worked in. I borrowed some surgical scrubs, from a friend of mine. And made up a name tag that said, “Dr. Lew: Proctologist. Our Lady of Perpetual Depression Hospital.” Some of the Ladies inquired as to what a Proctologist is. I told them it was kind of like a Gynecologist … only for men. 🙂

    Take the left over brain splatter, and put it in the kitchen junk drawer. Never know when it might come in handy …

    Must be something in the air … or the water. I also overslept, this morning. But only by about 15 minutes. I always feel like I’ve been shot out of a cannon … trying to catch up. I also had an odd dream. There was a big earthquake, and all the brick buildings in downtown Centralia collapsed. I could hear the bricks, popping out of the walls. Don’t get dreams with sound, very often.

    I’ve got a book about Green Men, kicking around here, somewhere. Pretty interesting fellow. They were found all over Europe, mostly in early churches. We had a nice concrete Green Man, on an outside wall, here at the Institution. Until last year. It was about 10″ wide. He disappeared. I figure either a.) some religious fanatic thought he was “demonic” and tossed him, or b.) he’s now part of someone’s apartment decor.

    All you need is a rooster, and you’re in business. But that can be tricky. Roosters have a tendency to be even more prone to psychosis, than hens. But in different ways.

    I figure the garden damage was due to a psychotic chicken. 🙂

    I only run the dehydrator when I’m around, during the day. I really don’t feel comfortable leaving anything plugged in, if I’m not here. Or, asleep.

    I spent awhile hacking at the grapes, last night, and cutting volunteers out of the rhodies. I even found some Holly in there. Like the oaks, also from the woods up the hill. Thank you birds. I got about half the job done. I’ll check the state of the dumpster, tonight, to see if there’s more room. As pick up is tomorrow morning.

    Every year, some newbie pops up with “What about a compost heap?” And, it must be explained that some people can’t grasp the concept of “no meat scraps or baked goods.” Besides, someone has to keep it turned, from time to time.

    I haven’t got to the part of the book where our merry pair of crims get caught. A heist. Another term used here is the slang, “boosting.” They really didn’t plan out there crimes. They were more crimes of opportunity. But they put themselves in places, where opportunity presented itself. Three weekends out of four, they’d bring something home. And, nerve. They had nerve. Or, chutzpah. Once, they argued with a policeman, over a parking ticket. While having a 15th century painting stuffed under his shirt.

    Although the book had a color photo section of some of the stolen art, I thought it odd that there were no photos of the daring duo. So I looked them up, online. Interesting. The book describes them as rather colorless, and unremarkable. I didn’t think so. I think they’d turn a head or two. 🙂 Lew

  20. Hi DJ,

    I’m back and with time this evening. 🙂 Always nice to be a bit more relaxed, with the hours stretching before me. Today we dug and hauled soil for many hours, and you probably guessed it already, but we are correcting the soil height and rock wall of a project done almost a decade ago now. It’s not good looking at the work done all those years ago, and much of the work over the past two years has been about getting those sorts of systems working. I look back on that earlier project with a frame of mind which suggests: “could have done better!” So, better we shall do, and the soil height will be lowered, and the failed rock wall will be upgraded to something far more substantial.

    But anyway, we need soil for the new low gradient path project and so hauled all of the excavated soil over to there. Now we’re running short of large rocks… Oh well, nobody said that life would be easy.

    Mate, that’s great news that the feeling is slowly returning. Far out, you did a job on that finger. Dare I suggest that before feeling fully returns, stretch and rehab, and after feeling fully returns, stretch and rehab! I just made that up, and am feeling quite smug about it. 🙂 I’m really pleased to hear that things are going well on that front. And patience, well it’s not for everyone, but think of the old tortoise and the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ story. Of course, nobody wants to think of themselves as tortoises, but I reckon they’re OK. Hares on the other hand get chased down by the fluffies, and Avalanche would do no differently. Hope Avalanche has been respectful of you in your hours of need? Dogs can tell you know.

    Yeah, that’s the dude’s job description. Oh that’s funny, yes much like the joke name Richard Head. 🙂 Always acting the fool that bloke.

    Did you just write that you know your limits with those yoga routines? Now here you’ve left me with a conundrum, is it you who knows your limits, or was it your lady who enforces your limits, or just for a third option, a combination of the two? Mate, what a decision we have to make here!!! 😉 I’m so pleased that you’re getting back to normal after the gouge incident. The local wood working tool supplier has now got me on their email list, and every time they send an email promoting this item or that item (I got taken the other day, oh my gawd, the Japanese pruning saw they shipped is amazing) I think of your incident. But the tools are outstanding. Hope your friends at the wood carving club are giving you heaps about the err, time out? 🙂 Probably their way of showing they care.

    Yes, exactly the super tasty expected diet is probably not all that good for us. I call it the celebration food edition. Says it all. Before celebrating, eat legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains. After celebrating, eat legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains. I don’t really speak about food issues because years ago my mate who died of a heart attack during that period of time which shall not be named, had a bonkers freak out when I innocently remarked once that the dogs consume a lot of err, legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains (as well as some meat). As a comparison, Dame Scritchy got to nineteen years of age. People believe what they want to believe, even if it ain’t so.

    Thanks for answering that question, and you know, it’s no different here. I wish it were not so, but it is. Feed the hungry ghosts and try to do your best to dodge the trolls. It’s not an appealing prospect, but it is what it is. I see no end to those rear guard actions, but happily accept that things could be worse. I’m always curious to hear how other people adapt to the reality. I really suspect that in the future the reach will be lessened.

    Your weather sounds quite pleasant to me! 🙂 The forecast suggests that rain is a guaranteed thing here tomorrow. I was hoping to connect up those two new water tanks, and that work will take most of the day. One of the large 90mm water pipes has to be dug under the floor of the long mead hall, so at least I’ll be out of any rain – mostly. That’s the plan anyway, reality may be otherwise.

    I wrote about the day one of those big 750kg water tanks got away from the supplier, rolled down the hill and crashed into a bulldozer. Fortunately nobody was injured that day. But the cost was bonkers, and the supplier eventually destroyed the tank, which had sadly been fixed. A thoroughly good learning experience on what not to do, and what to do when things go horribly wrong. We’ve all been there!

    I was thinking more Ozzy Osbourne with the deep purple reference, but far out those two had great voices. And great teeth! Plus I’d kill for such thick luscious hair like that.



  21. Hi Pam,

    One of the great advantages of being poor is that you have a level of independence and competence that most people can only dream about. As you note, it takes a fair bit of work though. Oh well, it’s been said before that with benefits come costs. 😉

    Ah, I can understand how that came to be, and maybe it was a status thing. Perhaps it may also have been a control thing (or equally something else, like say externalised anxiety thing), which you’re kind of also hinting around at. Other peoples motivations are really hard to know, and even if you ask direct and searching questions, the truth can be very difficult to ascertain. You do get eerie insights from time to time, although I’m not sure that everyone gets those. And that’s so true, if we’re still around unscathed to talk about those times, we were kind of lucky. Things can easily go otherwise, and I’ve seen that play out with other people. My love of Suzuki vehicles was born out of a head on car accident which I walked away from. Afterwards, that old 1982 Suzuki Jimny (we called them a Sierra in those days) 61cc four speed vehicle taught me to let the world go past me and just enjoy a slower pace.

    Life throws us challenges every now and then, and do we learn from them – that’s the question I reckon.

    I agree, it is a starting point, and not an end point. Respect for noticing. Hmm. Hope you enjoy the read, you’ll get through it in a couple of hours. If you get one idea from the ancient grandmasters words, you’re ahead! Dunno about you, but some interactions I have with other people are a kind of warfare in miniature. Bad apples, but what do you, they walk among us.

    Pam, it’s not just you, I’m amazed that one psychotic chicken could wreak so much havoc. And what really surprised me was that even though I monitor the chickens activities every day, I never suspected that it was that chicken. Pays to be sceptical, I guess.

    Or the birds will feast on the suddenly cold and exposed termites.

    The rainbow was amazing wasn’t it? The sun and rain were both in the exact right spots to see the entire curve. You’re probably right, and unfortunately the rainbow was gone before I could discover the pots of gold. Oh well, back to work! 😉

    Ollie was probably enjoying a sunbath. The poor big dog has only a thin coat unlike the two boisterous girls, and he does get cold over the winter months. All the same, he has a great sense of loyalty and will follow me around whilst I’m working. Dame Plum is the best behaved, and sadly Ruby is just Ruby and will never be titled. If I had to grade her, the report card would read: ‘Could do better’.

    Yes, thanks for the word, and I’ll never think of Pomello’s differently! Cushioned indeed! Some may say, thick skinned. 😉

    One day of pruning down, four to go. I love that scary old wood chipper. Will it’s like ever been seen again, what with the heavy flywheel? I think not. Dug and hauled soil for most of the day today, and me now feeling tired… I’ll have an easier day tomorrow. That’s the plan anyway.

    Are they serious about converting the snow blower? A bit of gearing reduction, strong bearings and a small flywheel, and some green-teeth, and I reckon the machine idea might just work. My stump grinder has only three teeth, but they are commercial wear sharp green-teeth. That stuff works. It’s the smallest machine on the market to use the commercial grade cutting teeth. Interestingly, the same model in your country uses cheaper cutting teeth and I’m not sure why. It might be cheaper to hire a stump grinder.

    The Hellebores are amazing at this time of year. Hey, had the first Daffodil today, or was it yesterday?



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, those are the dudes that do that work. Hope it pays well (although I reckon it would), and can you imagine a kid saying that when they grow up they want to be a proctologist? Even the spell checker didn’t know what that profession was about. That’s an awesome story about the bar Halloween gear. Funny stuff, and that’s a great name! You’re like super bad to say that to the ladies, and they would have loved it!

    Thought you might enjoy an image of an old Halloween costume party I went to in my misbegotten youth:


    Those dudes sure could chuck on a party. Brings back some memories.

    Oh no! Now I don’t know where that left over brain splatter ended up. I reckon it would be easier to remember if I had the chunk of brain in place. Thanks for laughs, but hey, how would I know the chunk might come in handy! So many questions, so few answers.

    Me tired tonight. We dug and hauled soil for many hours today. A new project has commenced – we’re going to construct a larger wood shed with an attached garden shed. Only seems sensible since we ran short of firewood by was it one or two weeks last year? I now forget, and blame the missing chunk of brain!

    All the soil is being hauled over to the low gradient path project. But right now, we’ve run out of large rocks. The projects these days are a bit of a juggling act so fortunately we’re not in any hurry. The plan is to have a quieter day tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to that. But still, it’s good to start this job and hopefully we’ll have it all done by the end of the year, more or less. It’s not that far away.

    Yeah exactly, that’s the feeling when you over sleep. Everything for the rest of the day is just that little bit off. Given it is winter here, the daylight ended really early yesterday.

    Holy carp! Hope you dream was not a premonition? All those mortar joins mean that brick walls often have little structural integrity when they are flexed past their elastic limit (which isn’t all that great). Best not be underneath the falling bricks, and popping sound is not something you’d ever want to hear.

    Isn’t that interesting about the Green Man. It looks like the early church adopted the motif from the Romans. I’m surprised that they continued the use of the motif given the origins, but it must have had popular support to do so. From what you’ve told me over the years, I get the impression that the Romans were very good at adopting the local deities into their own belief structures. All very clever, and that’s what strikes me as being a bit odd about the church adopting the motif.

    That’s a shame about the loss of your concrete Green Man. Seriously, I’m beginning to wonder if some of the ladies at your place might unearth some embarrassing details if say a background check was performed. The zucchini incident was a step too far.

    We’ve had roosters in the past, and some were OK, and others were just like what you said right little so and so’s. The worst one used to attack both the Editor and I on sight, despite the fact we were feeding him. I’d had enough of that foolishness. And another was very rough with the smaller hens. Not good. But then I had a total gentleman of a rooster, and named him Miguel, after Dexter’s friend in I forget Season 3, or something like that.

    Haha! You may laugh about the garden damage, but you never know until you eyeball the miscreant. What if one of the ladies has a pet chicken in her apartment, and only lets it out into the garden at night? Hmm. Just a theory. I wouldn’t have guessed the identity of the psychotic egg eating chicken until I caught the little blighter in the act. Sherlock Holmes deduction be damned, I want proof!

    I get that about devices. So much to go wrong, so quickly. Going off-grid for electricity is a very serious undertaking, and like what you wrote, it’s the same thing: monitor and be careful. I reckon most people don’t know how great the mains grid is, until maybe it’s not there. I was speaking today with a mate who’d hired an electric vehicle to go on a long drive. A bit of range anxiety, which I’d have too.

    Oh my gawd! Holly is a very tough plant, but the red berries do look kind of nice at the right time of year. Yes, the birds primary job is to spread seeds and fertility about the landscape. Did you get any extra room in that dumpster?

    Exactly about the compost heap. Such a thing would be asking for trouble, and who’d do the turning anyway? And I tell you, from what I’ve seen of green waste, people bag that stuff up in plastic bags before then dumping it. Far out. It does not surprise me that the land of stuff eventually stopped importing our plastic waste.

    Speaking of the land of stuff, I read recently that their imports and exports are significantly down. However, I was left wondering whether they’re just not reporting upon the other currencies used to make international transactions. We’d never know.

    I’ve heard the word ‘boosting’ used, but never knew what it meant. It’s not commonly heard here. What? How slack or lax can security be if they didn’t plan their crimes? Truly, to me it sounds like a lifestyle issue for them given the sheer volume of loot. Didn’t the Son of Sam get busted for a parking ticket violation?

    Maybe out front of a rock and roll band (a metaphor in this case) is where those two hide? They must have had something going for them to have enjoyed such a prolonged career. I’m intrigued to hear how they got done. 🙂 We all might learn something.



  23. Yo, Chris – I stopped down to the Club, this morning, to drop off milk and butter, for biscuits & gravy, and pancakes. I heard a story, that may, or may not be true. 🙂 Our club manager, Mr. Bill had a friend, who was at the grocery store, buying some meat. An old duffer siddled up behind him and declared, “Red meat is bad for you.” The man responded, “My Dad lived to be 97.” The old duffer: “By not eating meat?” “No. By minding his own business.” This moment of levity brought to you by …

    Then I went an bought gas. $5.10 a US gallon, for regular grade. 🙁

    That’s a great picture! You’re standing in the back, so, it’s hard to figure out. Who were you supposed to be? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Next time we get a dumpster full of dirt, I’ll ship it over. There was room in the dumpster, last night, so I finished up hacking out all the wandering grape vines. Cut more volunteers out of the Rhodie hedge. There’s one last walnut, but I didn’t have my folding saw, with me. So, it has a temporary reprieve. Our temps are going to be pushing 100F, Monday and Tuesday.

    Old unreinforced masonry walls are deadly, in an earthquake. A lot of old Victorian buildings have decorative parapets, up at the roofline. A building may stand, but those come right off and go crashing into the street. During our 1949 big quake, just a half block from where I lived, a parapet smooshed a guy on the sidewalk. Even though the fatalities were rather low, for such a big event, he was one of them. 8 people killed, 40% of business and residential buildings in Chehalis damaged. In Washington State, and estimated 10,000 chimneys needed to be replaced or repaired.

    So much is unknown, about the Late Classic and Early Medieval periods. The more politically correct name for the Dark Ages, these days. 🙂 Each Green Man may have a different background story, for why they popped up in early Christian churches.

    I’m probably the most likely suspect, for keeping a chicken, here at the Institution. 🙂 I see the River has washable chicken diapers.

    You hear stories, about appliances gone wrong. My last landlord had bought a new dryer. It was only a couple of weeks old, when it caught fire. Luckily, they were home.

    I finished the “Art Thief” book. So, how did they get caught? Well, that’s complicated. Now you must remember that they lived in NE France, and the thefts took place in 7 different countries. They were first arrested in Switzerland. They grabbed a painting, out of an art gallery. Across the street from a police station. They thought all the guards were looking the other way … but there were some plain clothes, and they were nailed. But, neither of them had any record, and the bottom line was, they couldn’t enter Switzerland for three years.

    As an aside, when it comes to theft of items, especially where no force is used, there are very light sentences. Doesn’t make any difference if it’s art, books, maps or art forgery.

    So, they carried on, in their merry way. Just not in Switzerland. The girlfriend, was kind of a “brake” on him. If a situation didn’t seem “right,” she’d tell him not to attempt a theft. Mostly, he listened to her. Mostly. But, things began to fray between them. She began to speculate on where all this would lead. What’s the end game? She had an abortion, he found out, went to her place of employment, and gave her a good smack. She moved out, and for quit awhile, wouldn’t make contact. They finally patched things up, but she lay some ground rules. He must always wear gloves (as, the Swiss now had their fingerprints), and no thefts in Switzerland. But, he went to a museum, he had hit before. Wagner’s castle in Switzerland. And, stole something out of a case. Without his gloves on. So, when she found out about that, they headed back the next day, alcohol in hand, to clean up any prints. She went in. He wandered around outside the castle. A dog walker (we do keep a tight schedule), who knew about the theft, had seen him the day before. He reported him to the museum staff, who called the police. He was nailed. They didn’t realize she was there, and she headed for home. A Swiss detective had begun to connect the dots, on all the multiple thefts.

    She informed his mother. Now, this is all speculation. As, the mother and girlfriend stonewalled. Being international, and all, it took a couple of weeks to get a search warrant. By that time, Mom, and maybe the girlfriend had cleaned out the two attic rooms, repainted, and filled in the nail holes, in the walls. So, the stuff … a large quantity of the silver, ivory and sculpture items, were recovered from a near by canal. The paintings … close to 70 paintings have never been seen, again. Speculation is, Mom built a bonfire, in the woods.

    When all was said and done, the thief spent less than 4 years in prison. Mom spent 4 months. The girlfriend? A single night. And, he went on to reoffend, though not on the scale as before. Once he was arrested for shoplifting clothes. And, later, a painting. He had a new girlfriend, by this time. But as soon as she saw the painting, she turned it over to the police, and blew the whistle on him. Lew

  24. It’s been ages since I stopped by here, and your farm is looking better than ever. I was interested to read your backstory, as it were, of your youth. You survived that amazingly, and can be proud of your success, as I know you are. Your blog exudes the satisfaction of work well done, and the joy of harvesting the fruits of your labors. May God grant you health and strength for a long time to come.

  25. Chris,

    Upkeep and upgrading things take a lot of time and energy don’t they? Hopefully you will find enough rocks for this. Maybe some appropriate size meteorites will land on your place. Unique rocks for your walls. You could give tours of the “space rocks”. Charge entry fees. That way your farm would make you some money. 😉

    Nicely said! Stretch and rehab indeed. You put words to my plan of attack. You also discovered a secret to my endeavors when I’m successful: be like the tortoise.

    I understand that Richard Head’s cousin is Seymour Butz.

    Yes, I DID indeed write that I know my limits with the yoga routines. I even came up with these limits on my own. This time. Experience, right? Then I ran the limits past the Princess for her input. She thought that what I’d come up with was fine.

    I try not to look at the carving tools in magazines. I have enough of them. Well, until I see something that I just totally have to have. 😉

    Surprisingly, the carving club isn’t teasing me much. Could be due to my telling lots of jokes about the injury. The gent who would be most likely to tease me is getting VERY old and rarely comes to the meetings. Two or three of us usually tease him mercilessly when he’s around. He replies in kind. I know he would be giving me endless grief were he still able to attend regularly.

    Today was somebody’s birthday. Not mine. The Princess. Rumor is that she is now 35. That’s what she claims. We have been together for 32 years. Yikes! That makes it sound as if I robbed the cradle. Truth is, she’s older than I am. By my calculations, if she is 35 and we’ve been together 32 years, then I wasn’t even born when we had our first date. As she says, this means that we were made for each other.

    We had a good day. Lazy start, ran some errands. Pint and a feed to top off the day. Good food.

    Once when I was well hidden and camouflaged, I was staking out an apple tree during deer hunting season. I watched a coyote jump and pick apples, then eat them. All of my dogs have always enjoyed it when I picked raspberries: they knew I’d give some to them to eat. Canines eat things besides meat. The proper diet helps a lot. 19 years for Dame Scritchy is amazing. Then again, look at the diet and the activity level and the fresh air she had.

    The pleasant weather is about to disappear. Supposed to have another 4 days between 37C and 40C. Then another cool down. August, when anything is possible.

    Yeah, Donny and Marie Osmond had great teeth. Great hair. Good voices. Their own television program. They did sing well, too. That was always my favorite of their songs.


  26. Hi GretchenJoanna,

    Thank you for the kind words. And I also am enjoying the aesthetics of the farm.

    Yeah, it was a super weird experience, which I endured stoically, left them behind in the dust, and got some help for the trauma. It’s all fine, and the experience made me who I am. Things could always have been worse too.

    And blessings on you and yours as well.



  27. Hi DJ,

    You heard it here first: Peak Rocks is real. 🙂 I used to know someone who worked in concreting, and they remarked long ago that there were sometimes shortages of the aggregate (small crushed rocks) used in the mix. Things perhaps may not have gotten better in the intervening time? Anyway, we’ve run short of large rocks, but I may tackle breaking apart a larger rock tomorrow. It’s always exciting when the huge rock finally splits along the desired seam.

    Space rocks! You know if I had some of those, I’d probably sell them off. There are collectors for those things you know. 😉 Maybe our fortunes will then be made? I just haven’t found any here. The rocks here tend to be one of either of about three types. And each of them vary in terms of hardness and density.

    That’s very amusing about the entry fees, and I now studiously turn my gaze to the side and pretend such words are beneath my dignity to notice. 🙂

    Exactly, the tortoise may be considered the more boring of the two stories, but the strategy does work. Speaking of which, the two new water tanks were connected up to the other water tanks this morning. Then I spent the rest of the day installing a drain pipe which collects water from the guttering on the uphill side of the shed, sends it under the floor of the shed, and deposits the water in one of the two new water tanks. Me tired, but the job got done. A trench had to be dug through the floor of the mead hall shed so that the 90mm water pipe sat underground, and that was the hardest bit of the job.

    You’re probably right. I heard that Seymour Butz fellow was a bit of a nuisance. There’s probably other silly names out there?

    Your yoga routine sounds pretty good to me too. And pacing, yup, we are of one mind in relation to that. One of the things I noticed about long distance running is that plenty of people knocked themselves out early on during a race. As a strategy, and kind of like your rehab, I’d start slower and then build to my preferred energy level. It was kind of like a game of slow attrition and you’d just consistently pass other runners over the course and end strongly. Hey, you see that in workplaces too with people going too hard, too early. Oh yeah.

    It’s raining outside, just for something different. And I am glad that the rain held off whilst the water tank work was completed today. The forecast suggested that it may have begun raining earlier – which it fortunately didn’t.

    Hehe! Thus proving that the interweb is a bad influence because those tool catalogues are a bit of a trial of the spirit I can tell you!

    That’s kind of good to hear that your mates at the carving club are not giving you too much lip and teasing you. A shame the cheeky old rascal can’t attend. Do you reckon he’s continuing any carving work?

    Just went outside and checked the new drain (in the rain), and observed water trickling through the 90mm pipe into one of the two new water tanks. Yay! The plastic welding compounds are pretty good, but all the same it is nice to double check how the pipes work in practice. And glad the rain held off until the job was completed.

    Happy birthday to your lady, and best wishes for a most enjoyable day – which it sounded as if it was. About the only good bit of advice my mother ever gave me was to knock at least ten years off a ladies age. And even then, things have gone badly, quickly! Just between you and I, I’m happy to be around, other peoples feelings may differ markedly! Who knew? Your maths are beyond my comprehension, and clearly display the workings of an agile mind. 😉 Respect for your achievement. 29 years here.

    A pint and a feed sounds like a lovely way to celebrate the day.

    Oh yeah, dogs will eat apples. If any apples fall to the ground, they get consumed. Hmm, yes, berries are also something of a problem. You may note that we grow berries in fenced enclosures, and strawberries are in a cage. Some treats are too good. The local foxes gorge themselves on blackberry when it is in season. You can see the seeds in the scats.

    That whole dogs only eat meat and bones thing is weird. It is possible that people have confused cats and dogs? Dogs aren’t fussy and will eat all manner of foods. Dame Plum had a seizure today, and I had wondered whether she consumed some wallaby or wombat poop which contained an otherwise toxic plant – or mushroom. Hmm. Anyway, glad I was there to help her through the seizure, and she’s fine now, but a bit tired. It’s been about a year and half since her last seizure, and it is mushroom season right now. She’s sound asleep on the white couch behind me after earlier managing to enjoy a rawhide chew.

    Yikes! Your forecast weather sounds unpleasant. Hope the forecaster got it wrong.

    It was a lovely song.



  28. Hello Chris
    There has been a lull, long may it continue.
    I have not read ‘The Air raid book club’ but shall investigate.
    Your water tanks look huge to me.
    I sat out in the sun the other day, it was the first sun for over 5 weeks. It is wet and grey again today. Noticed that the humidity in my bedroom was 90%. This is ceasing to be summer. Tomatoes have started to arrive but all are green so far.


  29. Hi Lewis,

    Truer words are rarely spoken. And if I may be so bold, nitpicking ones fellows is a sure sign of porous personal boundaries. And as Mr Bill averred, doing such things may end badly for the nitpicker. Thanks! It was a pretty funny response which I’m studiously committing to memory. 😉 Anyway, some of us have to learn that lesson the hard way. When I was a very young bloke I’d happily dispense free advice, now as a crusty old fella, I don’t say nothin’. And am quietly grateful to never have encountered Mr Bill’s dad!

    Holy carp. That’s some expensive gas. Makes you wonder at what stage the lady inmates will bad together and construct a methane digester – like what they did back in that: ‘The Good Life’, show from way back in the day. Seemed to work for them, although I prefer to get the excess nitrogen back into the soil instead. A gallon of petrol here is about $7.22, and I’m surprised it is that cheap given the Aussie dollar seems to be (please excuse the unintentional pun) tanking (as in petrol tank). On reflection it was a lame pun.

    Spare a thought for Dame Plum who had a seizure today. It’s only the second we’ve observed. I called for her, and she ran to me and then promptly collapsed. Not much you can do other than try and calm her down, which I did. She seems fine now, although just like me, is now a bit tired. After the worst of the seizure past, I carried her back up the hill and brought her inside the house where she rested up. It was less stressful for me this time around , because I’d seen her have a seizure already and so had a rough handle on where things were headed. At this stage I’m guessing it is either something she ate (it is mushroom season again, just like last time a year and a half ago), or a misfire in her brains wiring. Either way, she has to live with them. She spent a quite couple of hours on the couch resting up this afternoon and now seems fine although is now sound asleep.

    On the other hand, my day was far from quiet. I connected up the two new water tanks to the water system. You have to check for leaks with all of the pressurised connections, and over a few hours the water tank levels equalised. Then I spent the remainder of the day connecting in a new 3.5 inch water pipe to one of the new tanks. The pipe collects water off the up hill side of the roof on the recent shed extension. It sounds like a simple enough job except that the pipe had to run through the shed and under ground. A mate once said I dug trenches faster than anyone he’d seen do that work, and that may be true, but it’s still hard work. Glued up all the pipe connections, cleaned up as night was setting in when a rainstorm hit. Talk about good timing, and something, something, only just ahead of the curve. About a third of an inch of rain fell, and that was enough to test out all the larger water pipe connections. Fortunately it had not rained earlier in the afternoon (whilst I was still working). The forecast suggested that it might have done so.

    They were a pretty fun bunch. The memory is a bit hazy, but I think I was some sort of scary monk. Not as scary as the insane clown posse in the background though. 🙂 We were all collectively scary enough to frighten the neighbours, that’s for sure!

    Thanks for considering the soil needs here with that shipment. Probably wouldn’t get past customs I’m thinking. A local earth moving contractor once told me that you never have as much soil as you think you do. He’d been doing that work for decades around here. He was a good bloke, and was nearing retirement and could be super picky about the work he took on. I’m glad we passed muster because I learned a lot from working with bloke. A regret was that I didn’t ask him more about the local history, as he’d originally cut the road in here and knew a thing or two. After I’d earned his trust, he confided in me the names of a few people around here to avoid, and why.

    A folding saw is a handy bit of kit, and I hope you have a sheath for it you can hang off your belt? I’ve got a super sharp Japanese pruning saw for that work. Bonkers sharp that saw. Back in the day when hand tools were more commonly used, they’d have the apprentice sharpening blades all day long. Not a job the apprentice would want to muck up due to err, consequences

    Oh yeah, I can see that about the Victorian era decorative parapets falling during an earthquake. The last house we fixed up from a brick shell to something far more cosy, had those parapets. A concrete urn adorned the parapets on either side, and those things would hurt if they fell on you. Probably fatal, like that unfortunate bloke you mentioned. You never know when your lucky numbers are up, however, some places are safer than others in that regard.

    Do they reinforce your masonry walls? Interesting. I wonder how they do that? Are the bricks hollow? Here they attach the skin of single layer of bricks to a timber frame with a whole bunch of ties, and that seems to work. The timber is the structural component, and the bricks in this case are purely for cladding.

    10,000 chimneys! Wow, I’ll bet the brickies were busy that year! I’d imagine that more than a few of the chimneys weren’t replaced? Interestingly, I’m reading more articles lately on how people are getting into trouble by err, is it papering-over, their financial situation by ignoring insurance for things like cars. It’s a gamble that choice.

    Oh, who decided that the term ‘The Dark Ages’ was politically incorrect? Doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me, it’s not as if Arthur would take offence at the term. Yes, I noticed that the Green Man was attached to churches. It’s good to see that they were at least considering nature.

    Lewis, you are so busted! Bring out the chicken! Hehe! I’ve heard of people keeping chickens inside a house, but I really don’t think I could bring myself to doing that. The dogs would probably eat the chickens if the birds were caught napping.

    Oh yeah, most of the safety devices in an appliance can’t really be tested easily – especially the life saving ones. So much relies on: “let’s assume that nothing goes wrong”, because to put the devices to the ultimate test is a bit risky. Let’s just hope that nothing goes wrong.

    Who knew the world of art theft could produce such strange tales? And this evening I checked out a photo of the dude, and he has an innocuous face, even displaying a touch of worry. But wow, the guy has the runs on the board, no getting around that. And to think that allegedly many master pieces were permanently disappeared. Far out! Yikes! What a story. I read a few such stories (thanks for the interweb rabbit hole) and some dude called maybe Michael Landis – a remarkably talented artist – had some sort of donation thing going on. Some are motivated by the mad cash, others for the love of the art. The guy really should consult to security firms, the facts on the ground suggest he has some skills there.

    Such repeat behaviour may possibly be obsessive. It’s really hard to know what motivates other people, and plenty of times folks aren’t even honest with themselves in regard to motivations. But hubris is clearly a problem, even for the most skillfull of artful dodgers.

    Yeah, not all crimes are treated equally from what I’ve observed over the years. That seems strange to me, but I don’t really understand that system. In my career, I’ve seen the aftermath of a fraud – they give it an obscure name: defalcation – and it’s not a pretty thing. The problem I noticed was that the person also created a lot of other mischief. It was a lot of work to clean up, and it did make me wonder if some people just enjoy those sorts of acts of destruction?

    Can you imagine the sort of questions which took place between him and the new girlfriend (and this is all pure speculation): Where did you get that painting? Possibly things went downhill from there. A truly fascinating story.



  30. Hi Inge,

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying some quieter time. Dunno about your part of the world, but I tend to observe that visitors here are more common in the in-between seasons of spring and autumn, than say, high summer, or even the more chilly winter months. Softies! 🙂

    Yes, I do hope so. The book is a delightful read.

    Town water services will never be installed in this out-of-the-way hamlet. I believe that you are quite lucky to have access to such services. Anyway, it would not be economically feasible to connect up town water here given how few houses are here. Everyone around here has water tanks, and the storage is finite. My thinking in this matter is that having more water tank storage is a good thing. Those two water tanks were connected up to the rest of the system already in place. We’re very careful with using water, even in years where plenty of the stuff continues to fall from the sky. It rained tonight.

    Isn’t it pleasant to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sun. 🙂 The sun shone for a bit here today, and I certainly enjoyed that. Whilst I was working, Ollie made a small dog nest on the ground which was bathed in sunlight.

    90% humidity inside the house is rather challenging conditions. Your description does not sound summer-like, and hope you get some warmer weather soon.

    I must say that we’re down to the last of tomatoes. Hanging the vines upside down and keeping them in the greenhouse during the winter has been an astounding success. As a consequence I no longer fear green tomatoes! And candidly aren’t a fan of green tomato chutney.



  31. Yo, Chris – We learn as we go along. Somehow or another, the instruction manual, got lost along the way. 🙂 You may find this article interesting. There just aren’t many standards, anymore.


    I doubt the Inmates can agree, let alone cooperate, on much of anything. Off topic, but parking is a bit tight, here at the Institution. And what I can’t figure out is why so many of the old babes seem to think an enormous SUV is necessary. And they don’t seem to be able to grasp the basics of parking. Swing into a space, back up a bit, and aim for BETWEEN the lines. Seems like a simple concept, to grasp.

    I’m glad Dame Plume survived her seizure. That would be worrying. Maybe she became overwrought, at the thought of rats!

    Insane Clown Posse. What a bunch. They do have a following. Almost a cult. Sort of like the followers of the Grateful Dead. I even have a book, “A Gathering of the Juggalos.” Which is what they call themselves. Interesting photos.

    Oh, my folding saw is just a cheap thing. I only put in in my gardening bucket, when I have a specific task. Which isn’t too often.

    Those concrete urns on parapets, figure in many a British mystery. Who shoved the urn off the parapet, to squash … whoever. Usually involves inheritances, and such.

    Somewhere along the way, I heard an interesting story about all those chimneys that needed repairing. Never mind everything else. Masons and bricklayers came from all over the country, as they knew there would be work. Someone’s father or grandfather came out from back east. Met their future wife. Decided to stay.

    That look of worry is actually stress and loss. That all his toys were taken away from him. When he wasn’t stealing, or contemplating his loot, he felt very empty and depressed. There were a number of psych evaluations, done on him. None quit agreed, and none could quit put a finger on what motivated him.

    He was slight, and moved very fast. The author actually saw him “in action,” a couple of times. Once, jumping a coin gate, and once lifting a catalog from a museum. He also stole the author’s laptop, just as a demonstration. He moved very fast. The author was put in mind of a magician. Misdirection and speed. He had a real “muscle memory” for lifting things.

    Well, no pancakes this morning. After I hauled my half a lemon, all the way to the Club. 🙂 Those things don’t grow on trees, you know. At least, not here. Mr. Bill’s about ready to give up on Saturday mornings. Just can’t nail down a dependable volunteer. Saturday night hotdogs / tacos and the biscuits and gravy on Tuesday mornings, are pretty well taken care of. Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    I couldn’t agree more with you – we learn as we go along. It would have been nice to have an instruction manual, and I guess a sane and um, culture with a long term vision would assist with such matters, but here we are. It’s exciting! But then, it is exciting learning this stuff. Sometimes you get breakthroughs which are probably best described as ‘Doh!’ moments. Better to have those moments, than not at all.

    Thanks for the article and I’d been hearing similar incidents occurring, although at the stadium gig we went to earlier in the year it would have been unthinkable for such a thing to take place. For that night, we’d stepped a foot into the world a faerie, and such awful things don’t happen there. The Editor knows that should Florence ever turn up here all unexpected and stuff, she may be in for some stiff competition! 🙂 It was such a lovely night that gig. You know, maybe locking people in their houses for months on end and teaching them to view the world through a screen was not such a crash hot idea.

    Anyway, it’s an old story: The Blues Brothers (1980) – Rawhide Scene. What’s the chicken wire for? Indeed. And yes, let’s not mention the whip crack and the evil step son. People are people. We’re just now seeing the rawer side of humanity. It’ll get worse.

    Mate, the same thing takes place down here. Do people really need such large vehicles to transport one person short distances. Apparently we do. It’s one of those things I reckon, that we’ll do, until we can no longer do. And we’re getting close to that point given what I’m reading about insurance policies being skimped on. When I was a kid, vehicles were actually far smaller, and sometimes more fuel efficient. I used to own and work on such machines, and in some ways they were better than the product being pushed on us all nowadays. I go out of my way to use small vehicles, but I tell ya what man, I’m in the minority there.

    Yes, Dame Plum was way too focused on rats, or maybe toxic poop, to consider the consequences. It’s a hard way to learn, but I fully accept that this is a road she has to travel. This morning, it was hard not to notice that she studiously avoided the area which she was in yesterday just prior to the incident. Maybe she can learn? A mystery.

    Who doesn’t love a good music trivia teaser? 🙂 Yeah, that band was full-on, and would fill my dreams with nightmares! Respect for picking that one up – you do know your pop culture references. Yeah, the following is a bit cult like. I’d like to say more on this subject, but confidentiality issues prevent me from doing so. A very minor chunk of my income comes from that sort of source, but more local. 😉 That’s about as much as I can say.

    Mate, even cheap saws these days have amazing materials incorporated in them. With all that nickel floating around the landscape, and metallurgy knowledge a person need not find a skystone – but I suspect that time will lose much of the knowledge. The Damascus steel story suggests as much. The knowledge probably didn’t spread far and wide because no matter how good it was, the cost was probably too great for the times to support it.

    Jolly good shot – with the concrete urn! From what I’ve observed, the urns are attached to the parapet with a single rod of steel which after a century has kind of corroded, a lot. It wouldn’t take too much of a push (or wobble) to send them toppling onto some poor unsuspecting British mystery special guest death person. If I may be so bold as to suggest, it was their fault for not noticing the miscreant and missile earlier?

    Speaking of things falling from the sky, thank you so much for recommending the ‘The Air Raid Book Club’ book. Such a lovely read, despite the background random horror.

    That makes sense about the travelling masons and bricklayers, and yeah what can I say but sometimes a guy gets kind of lonely on a Saturday night, and there is that lovely young accommodating lady in need of a new chimney. 🙂 Yup, it’s a match made in the aftermath of a disaster.

    Oh you’re good. Looking again at the images, yeah I can sort of see that sense of stress and loss in the dudes face. Hmm. A compulsion perhaps? The facts on the ground sort of suggest that is the case. The author is wise to have noticed that the dude has what was used to be called ‘sleight of hand’. I read years ago a quote from a musician who remarked that: ‘Out front of a rock and roll band is where I hide’. There’s a lot to unpack there.

    Hehe! Glad to hear that you’ve embraced the lemon and sugar pancake lifestyle. 🙂 With a touch of global warming, you never know. The experts were wrong in that regard here, just saying. Saturday mornings are peoples admin-of-life mornings and so they’re usually busy, so it sorts of makes a lot of sense unless you want to put yourself forward for the work on the mixer and grill. I’d very much enjoy the taco night. Oh yeah! Yum!

    Better get writing. Didn’t do much of anything today, and it is very nice to have a day off any and all work. It was raining this morning and just too wet outside, which is risky for slipping on wet ground when using machines. Time for such stuff later, maybe.



  33. Yo, Chris – Might want to play that up on the travel brochures. “Australia! The Last Civil Country in the World!” I’m beginning to think I might be wise to start packing bear spray. And, not for bears.

    From beginning to end, the Blue’s Brothers movie is a classic. There’s a lot of chatter on the net, about the new season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” And one episode in particular. Here’s the trailer. About a minute … I’m sure you’ll like it 🙂


    If anyone comes up with a smaller, less complicated, reasonably priced car, their fortunes will be made. Maybe if we keep banging on about it, out here on the fringe, something might come about. They really pushed those titanic vehicles by banging on about the safety of having a ton of rolling iron, around you. “Don’t you love your family?” Really. And some of them turned out to be a lot of plastic, that shatters on impact. I have seen articles, though, that their sales rise and fall with the price of gas.

    Poor Dame Plum. Might have been an insect bite, or even less poisonous snake? Triffid grazing wound?

    Someday, you can write that “tell-all” book, and all will be revealed. 🙂 One of the Inmates used to work for different well known Hollywood / sports people. Nanny / assistant / chef. She doesn’t reveal much. Those folks have to sign a lot of NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements.)

    Speaking of all will be revealed, when I went for tacos, last night (quit tasty), I ran into a crusty old logger I see, from time to time. And it finally occurred to me to ask him about your logging mystery. Skip the next part, if you want. I think you enjoy living in the mystery 🙂 . It was a salvage operation, due to a big blow down / storm. They just cut out the good stuff, and left all the stumps and such. As to why some of the stumps are in odd positions, they just pushed them out of the way (maybe with horses, maybe with a small bull dozer) to get at more of the good stuff. They didn’t bother with any clean up, as more good stuff was probably beckoning. Clean up didn’t put any money in their pockets. I’d look into the history of major storms, in the past. I tried, but when it comes to “history,” and weather, “history” is yesterday, and there’s too much to wade through. Wiki – hoopy has an entry on “Melbourne Storms,” but I can’t access it, as it’s slipped into a temporal anomaly.

    The author of the art thief book also made the point that the girlfriend was very much the magician’s assistant. The pretty girl who is all part of the misdirection.

    It is Sunday morning, here. H and I are headed to the Club. Lew

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