Tuesday was the Melbourne Cup public holiday. That’s the public holiday for a horse race. Sandra and I spent the hot day fixing up the fencing on the new 600 square metre (6,500ft2) vegetable and citrus enclosure. The combined weight of the fencing had pulled the four posts out of alignment. Those post are kind of important because they support the five foot wide steel gates. The gates allow a person to get into, and then out again, the enclosure. The posts had moved enough that the gates no longer worked properly!
It was all easily fixed though. Ratchet straps were used to bring the four posts back to the correct alignment. To stop any further movement in the gate posts, diagonal bracing timber was installed. The diagonal timber was cemented into the ground, and both bracing and posts were bolted together. The cement will be left alone for a week or more to cure, before the ratchet straps are removed.
A few weeks ago we’d had to stop installing the final 30m (100ft) of fencing on the enclosure because of the issue with the gate posts. Hopefully this fix does the trick and the gates work for many years to come. That’s the plan anyway!
Whilst we were busy fixing the fencing, and the horses were on the track, the official interest rates in the country were again increased. Mad cash sure is getting expensive these days, and the amusing but also prescient quote from the investor Warren Buffett, popped into my mind: It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.
Fixing things around here has been on my mind of late. The responsibility for repairing all of the machines around here has fallen onto my shoulders. Sandra is learning alongside me with this task. Her input with the work has been excellent, and sometimes she’ll see things that I’ve completely missed. The old timers used to say that: Two sets of eyes are better than one. It’s true. And of course it’s not just the machines, other things go wrong with the rest of the property, like those tricksy gate posts. Living here, keeps your brain sharp!
When we observe a problem like the gate posts out of alignment, we consider how to correct the issue, then implement a solution. The solution gets observed, and hopefully, but not always, the fix works. If that fix doesn’t work, we try something else. But the goal is always to correct the issue.
Yup, fixing things has been on my mind of late. If you’re heading into difficult times, it doesn’t hurt to have the things around you working at their best and in good condition. With inflation pushing up prices for stuff, wages growth not keeping up, and the cost of mad cash rising, that looks like a recipe for poverty to me. It genuinely surprises me that continuously increasing the cost of mad cash, is the only option being considered for fixing those pesky economic problems.
Seems like not a day goes by when there isn’t an article in the media about how to make ends meet when you suddenly have less mad cash to spend. One of the more hard to explain articles I read recently, suggested to stop purchasing fruit. Apparently the stuff is expensive. Last I checked, fruit is way cheaper than meat. But regardless of the economics, cutting fruit out of your diet, is probably not good for your health. But what do I know?
The declining quality of fruit was one of the concerns that sent me on the journey which has lead to where we are today. Many years ago, in order to obtain better quality fruit, we bypassed the supermarkets and instead went directly to the orchards and cold stores. That worked for a while. Then we began sourcing fruit from specialist orchards who cared about the taste and quality of the produce. But it wasn’t long before we began to accept reality, which was that we had to learn to grow our own fruit trees. And that’s not as easy to do as you’d imagine!
The reality is, you can only grow a handful of fruit trees in the backyard of an inner urban Victorian era workers cottage. Even with the diminutive size of dwarf fruit trees, a few of those will hardly produce enough fruit to preserve in any great quantity. It didn’t take too long, before we were looking for more land.
Fruit trees are a huge investment in the future. For many years you have to feed and nurture them, and you’ll get very little return during those early years. Then one day after many long years, the fruit trees begin producing fruit in earnest. And you discover that the trees tend to produce better every second year. The deer, rabbits and wallabies (a smaller solitary forest kangaroo) will inexplicably destroy some trees. Birds and rats will take a good share of the produce. Sudden shifts in the climate can wipe out entire crops. I tell you, a person has to be nimble when it comes to protecting a developing fruit crop. And even then, and after all that work, the trees have to continue to be fed and nurtured. It never stops.
Growing fruit is a long term and complicated proposition. So if a person can obtain the produce for a tiny outlay of mad cash, that’s what I call: a bargain. Managing economic woes is also a long term proposition. But if the folks put in charge of that problem can only bring themselves to try one fix in the face of competing causes, well that looks like failure to me. If they were serious, they’d be more nimble.
Here are some photos of the developing fruit at this early stage of the growing season:
The weather this week has been warm, humid and monsoonal. Late in the afternoon as the sun sets, the sheer humidity can be seen.
The monsoon, when it arrived, brought some decent rainfall which the garden appreciated. The days began clear, sunny and warm. The thick dark clouds built up during the afternoon, and the rain when it hit, was brief, but very heavy.
Whenever it rains during the warmer months, at night the tree frogs will take advantage of the lights from the house to hunt insects.
Thursday morning was very foggy and cool, and with the surrounding forest being so damp, we had a massive clean up and burn off of forest detritus. If a fire ever gets into that forest, the whole thing will go off like a frog in a sock. Best to clean it up beforehand.
Last week, we’d put a couple of steel rock gabion cages into place so as to retain the soil of a very steep garden bed. A shed is close to that garden bed, so it’s no good if the soil washes over the retaining wall and ends up against the shed. And that was exactly what was happening with the original inadequate rock wall. The steel rock gabion cages are far more solid.
We’re in the process of dismantling an older rock gabion cage, and so we were able to relocate all of the rocks there to this newer cage. Now the new cage is ready to be sewn shut.
With all the rocks we’ve been utilising of late in the various projects, it is hard to assure readers that Peak Rocks is real. Some delightful readers have even suggested the case maybe otherwise! However, we now have to travel a good distance to extract rocks from the land, not to mention the huge effort it takes to break apart boulders. Those things resist our efforts, but it’s been said elsewhere: Resistance is futile!
In our rock scrounging efforts over the past couple of weeks, we discovered three large rocks which could be brought back up the hill and used in the low gradient path project. The project gets ever closer to the chicken enclosure where the path will widen out.
It wasn’t all about rocks this week. We also cleaned up the sapling fenced enclosure of weeds, and planted out two rows of pumpkins, squashes and melons.
The kitchen cupboard doors are in the process of being fixed. Thirteen years ago, we installed a basic kitchen with vinyl wrapped cupboard doors. The doors have the benefit of being hardy and cheap. However, sometimes, there is such a thing as too cheap. After thirteen years, the vinyl wraps have all degraded and discoloured at different rates. Some of the doors are the original white, but most look like they’ve spent a decade in the house of a very heavy smoker, because they’re a sickly looking yellow.
It seemed like a stupid idea to replace the cupboard doors with the same vinyl wrap failures. That’s when we had the bright idea to do the fix up this time around, for even less mad cash. You can purchase the doors in their raw condition for less than a third the price of the vinyl wrap doors. Slap on ten coats of paint – you read that correctly, and the kitchen looks better than new. And we got to pick a super bright blue colour – which they aren’t usually produced in. We’re halfway through that project.
Just before we get to the flowers, here’s an update on the zucchini seedlings:
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 758.2mm (29.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 752.8mm (29.6 inches)