Long term readers will recall that last summer we produced a huge chilli pepper crop in the greenhouse. There’s still hundreds of the little blighters left to consume. We’ve added fresh chilli to all manner of meals this year. The fruits are a good source of Vitamins A, B6 and C. They also taste great and add a certain sort of zing to meals.
But consuming the hot chilli’s messes with my sleep. Anyone who knows me comprehends that messing with my sleep is a bad thing, most likely for them. And it turns out that consumption of chilli’s increase a persons metabolism, which leaves me feeling super hot at night – even in winter. Who knew that there’d be consequences for us consuming all of the garden fresh chilli peppers? And right now some of the fruit still hangs off the plants in the greenhouse – and it’s towards the end of winter. They’re one tough-as crop, and by all accounts are not as demanding on the soil as other members of the nightshade family of plants.
But whatever, the things mess with my sleep. I wrote a few weeks ago about worms, and that may have been true, but far out, it was probably the chilli. There’s this ongoing joke with Sandra and I about fatal disease, and certainly here I blame the Kate Hudson film: ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’, where the protagonist dies of colon cancer. Look, there’s no good way to make an exit from this life, and plenty of ways are probably perceived as being worse than others, but there’s something quite inglorious about some. So spare a thought for the long suffering Editor, who has to put up with my rather puerile sense of humour as I make stupid jokes about dying of ass-cancer. What can I say? I’d been sleep deprived for a while!
Being the crafty and resourceful person that I am, about a week or so ago I checked up on a list of possible things which can disturb a persons sleep. Blah, blah, blah. None of those. Ass cancer wasn’t listed. But then, there was this one vague reference to spicy foods. Then I noticed another vague reference to spicy foods in another source of information. Hmm. Twice may be a pattern here. That’s when things got suddenly serious. What does chilli do to your body? And dear reader, that’s for you to look into.
A serious discussion was then had between Sandra and I, and we chose to experiment. Firstly, we cut out all chilli peppers from our diet for a few days. Bam! That was a direct hit. For several nights in a row afterwards, I slept through the entire night without feeling overly hot. We still both love the chilli peppers and so then had to work out how to eat them, without the undocumented sleep side effects. Fortunately, we’d grown two distinct varieties of the plants. One was mild, whilst the other was slightly less than mild. As a side note, I’m not competent to consume varieties with names such as ‘Reaper’, or ‘Death’, and can only have but the greatest respect for those who do so.
What we worked out from our experiments was that the spicier of the two varieties could only be consumed at lunchtime, whilst the milder of the two varieties can be consumed at dinner time. That regime of consumption works for both of us, and we now get to enjoy the benefits of the fruit, whilst avoiding the downsides. And with better sleep and a clearer head, I could cut back on the stupid jokes. Everyone wins! Sherlock Holmes himself would be proud of our use of deductive logic, whilst probably claiming the credit for solving the case himself. The fictional character did seem like a bit of a bad egg to me.
It’s a compromise which works for us. It makes you wonder how folks other than us or the famous fictional detective employ deductive reasoning?
The other day I was reading an article about a bloke and his wife who were discussing the misgivings they had about their personal contributions to global warming from the holiday to Europe. The hand wringing didn’t stop them from travelling, and the article mentioned some horrendous statistic that at one point earlier in the year a dubious record had been broken: 22,000 commercial aircraft were in the air at once. Who even knew there were that many commercial aircraft on the planet? Fortunately, the holidaying couple experienced some rather hot weather whilst holidaying. With their concerns in the forefront of their minds and possibly a tax deduction claim associated with the writing income, they’d decided to get around the continent by using old-school human powered bicycles. A very laudable goal, and there was a touch of envy on display in the article at the electric bicycles which overtook them, especially up the steeper inclines. As someone who lives on sloping land, the couple have my sympathy. But the larger question remains unanswered: did they really need to travel halfway across the planet in order to get some exercise on their bicycles?
The famous fictional detective might point out that there is a certain disconnect between expressing concerns about a problem, whilst contributing to the same. Despite being a bad egg, the dude was nobodies fool. And just like with the chilli pepper problem we faced (of our own making too), a good nights sleep can’t be bargained around.
As I type away at this essay, it’s 5’C / 41’F outside, which is quite mild for a late winters evening. Some of the fruit trees are producing blossoms, and you can certainly see the sap is rising in many deciduous trees. The combination of decent rainfall and milder winter weather is keeping the surrounding forest growing strongly. All quite unexpected. Some mornings you can see where the overnight cool air ended up, as it pools in the valley below the mountain range.
A few months ago, we began creating a new low gradient all weather path leading down into the orchards. When you live on sloping ground, access during inclement weather is kind of important. The path project is maybe about 40% completed, and still has months of work to go. At the beginning of the week, the path work sort of ended abruptly in a steep ramp which leads to a much older path. The chicken enclosure is at the end of the much older path.
The plan is to add more soil to the path so that the decline becomes much more gradual. Soil doesn’t make itself, so unfortunately we have to remove it from somewhere else. The good thing is that we have a need to construct a bigger firewood shed. Long term readers will recall that last year we ran out of stored firewood – and that is a bad thing. We were short by about two weeks. Given that firewood is our only source of heating fuel, a slightly bigger shed will address the issue. A choice was made as to the location of the shed, all we then have to do is excavate a flat site.
Observant readers will note that in the above image, the land slopes about a foot and a half. That site was originally dug about a decade ago, and frankly we were in a bit of a hurry. In those days we had to hire the tools to do the work, and it was the outcome from those sorts of jobs which convinced us to slow down, do the work properly and purchase some tools. This is probably the last bit of the farm infrastructure we need to correct. And it’s a big job.
We spent a day digging and hauling soil from this area. There’s probably another six to ten days of digging to go on the project. Interestingly, the rock walls we made in those days are rubbish. Soil flows over the top of the rock wall. The rock wall behind me in the above image will be replaced by a double height steel gabion cage.
At the rear of the shed near to where we are digging soil, alert readers will note in the above image that soil and organic matter have flowed over the rock wall and now rest upon the shed. Without an air gap between the timber in the shed, and the ground, the timber in the shed frame will get damp and either rot, or become home for termites. This is a very bad outcome. The rock wall there has to be replaced soon. But firstly, we relocated the soil and organic matter to a garden bed, then removed a couple of inches of the underlying clay.
We’ll probably take a few more inches of clay from that area before we repair the rock wall with much larger rocks. And the rock wall behind the shed will probably get a double height wall of much larger rocks. We’re not sure yet. The existing small rocks from there will be used to fill a steel rock gabion cage. Nothing goes to waste here.
All the excavated soil was moved to the low gradient path project where the gradient has improved markedly. Another day of excavation and hauling soil, and that section of the new path will be spot on.
It’s been something of a week of digging, but aren’t they all? The two new water tanks were connected up to the existing water system. Then I had to work out a way to collect the rainwater which falls onto the uphill side of the shed, whilst the water tanks sit on the downhill side. To do this, a large 90mm / 3.5inch drain pipe collects water from the uphill side of the shed roof, then pipes it under the floor of the shed. The pipe outlet eventually reaches the water tank. Down under, those drains are known as a ‘wet system’, and are quite common. But first, I had to dig the trench under the floor of the shed.
With enough practice, you do get quite good at digging. The water pipe has to sit deep enough in the trench so that the machines travelling over it, don’t break the pipe. The UV stable PVC plastic is very strong, and seals well – it has to. Once the trench inside the shed was dug, I could see on the outsides of the shed where the pipe would pop out.
The downhill side of the trench had to be even deeper because the large water pipe had to run under a rock wall.
With about twenty minutes to spare before a rainstorm hit, the new large pipe was in place, and the soil surface was repaired. You can’t ask for a better test of a water system than a large rainstorm. And it worked fine, all using gravity and water displacement. It has been remarked upon elsewhere that during power outages, those two methods of moving water continue to work.
We now collect water from three points on the uphill side of the shed.
Two weeks on from the err, deft knife work on the psychotic chicken, we’re swimming in eggs. We consume lots of eggs, and the psychotic chicken failed to comprehend that is the sole reason we keep all the birds well fed and housed.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 584.0mm (23.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 568.6mm (22.4 inches)