Am I dreaming?

The other day I gave a talk on the subject of soil. The direction of the topic was of my choosing, but the angle of the story alluded me. What would connect with the people listening? What would generate some interaction and discussion? Over and over, the subject bounced around and around in my mind. Days went by. The answer was slow coming, but like many answers, it was clear from hindsight. Why not? Talk about what you know, and what you have learned.

Western culture seems to thrive on the concept that more is better. That may be so. Despite having grown up in a poor single parent household, I’ve never known true hunger. Food has always been available. In my youth, food was basic, and mostly prepared from raw materials. It tasted, kind of like food was meant to taste. Something changed over the years though. Around the turn of the century, with a bit of age under my belt, and greater economic security than I’d ever previously experienced, I began wondering about why fruit had lost it’s taste over the years.

Skipping a bit of unnecessary background, at the time we purchased fruit from everywhere we could think of, hoping to rediscover taste. If you ever wondered how we came to have 300+ fruit trees growing here, well, we had to employ some of the old Chris and Sandra do-it-yourself ingenuity fluffy techniques. That’s how. After we’d planted many of the trees, we eventually found a commercial orchard committed to producing tasty fruit. They have supplied us for many years, especially when a marginal crop (for this location) such as apricots fails due to unfavourable weather.

Anyway, once you have all those hundreds of fruit trees planted out, the question becomes: How do you get them to grow and produce tasty fruit? Back in the day I used to write amusing and informative essays for the hippy press (Earth Garden Magazine and its cohorts). For US readers, it was probably the down under equivalent of ‘Mother Earth News’. One the knowledgeable gardening folks in the magazine used to promote the benefits of using ‘mulch’. So we brought in mulch. An awful lot of mulch over the years. Maybe six hundred cubic metres (about 800 cubic yards). That’s a lot of mulch.

The fruit trees however had other ideas, and they didn’t grow fast, or even produce much fruit. Adding mulch eventually produced a nice black sandy loam when it broke down, but still, the trees still didn’t grow fast here. A few years ago I’d read an oblique reference to mulch being promoted by the American author Ruth Stout (please correct me if I am wrong in this belief). Now Ruth was growing plants in Connecticut. They probably get more reliable summer rains there, and so the mulch laid down probably turns into soil quicker than here. Summers here can be hot and dry, and any mulch just sits there providing feed and shelter all year around for every slater (aka Woodlice) ever known to mankind. To add to the insult, those insects were eating the bark on the fruit trees. I’ve seen enough mulch for one life time and so stopped buying it.

In the early days of writing, the various magazines couldn’t take the volume of writing produced, and so I began writing for the lovely permaculture folks. At the time I became sort of enamoured of the whole ‘food forest’ concept. There’s a lot to like about the idea. So we trialled it here. Underneath and around the fruit trees, we grew berries and nitrogen fixing plants. What we learned was that the growing season here is very short. We also learned that you can grow a lot of happy rats and rabbits in the dense ground cover. The increased plant competition around the fruit trees during the short growing season didn’t benefit any of the plants. The soil remained cool and so everything grew poorly. And with thick foliage in and around the fruit trees, the rats had a serious party time. Abandoning that idea, all the vegetation under the fruit trees was dropped to the ground, and nowadays we keep the ground cover cut very low and away from the tree trunks. And the rats? Well, they’re nervous, as they should be.

But I was still troubled about how to feed the soil so that the fruit trees grew quickly and produced fruit. I’d heard that the Rodale mob in the US promoted compost and additions of dolomite as soil food additives (again please correct me if I am wrong in this belief). Compost wasn’t much more expensive to buy than mulch, and dolomite is readily available at plant nurseries. I’d give it a go. That didn’t work here either. Turns out the word ‘compost’ can mean literally anything that people want it to mean.

This purchased compost has sat here for almost two years

Thanks to the prodding and assistance of a lovely reader (you know who you are!), I began to comprehend the concept that a gardener, farmer, or anyone interested in growing plants, simply can’t slavishly accept any old guidance as a silver bullet solution. Most of the concepts you hear about probably work really well where ever they were originated and promoted from. Look at the purchased compost in the image above. That stuff has sat there for nigh on two years, and you’d expect that if it was super fertile, the remains of the mound would be covered in weeds. All I can see is a mangy chunk of grass. Without even testing the stuff, I know it has too much carbon and too little nitrogen, and is probably not much better than the mulch we used to buy in bulk. It’s possible that it is even the same stuff as the mulch, just a finer grade. It’s not to say the material is bad, but will it grow plants even more demanding than weeds like say: vegetables; and fruit? I don’t think so.

What to do with regular large quantities of coffee grounds?
Fruit trees grow faster when they’re next to the limed paths

It’s not my place to tell other people what should work for them. Nowadays, we try to make the materials we have access too, work with the conditions that we have. And the fruit trees are now growing fast and fruiting a lot more. The vegetables, berries and all the rest of the edible plants seem to be doing OK. And they taste good. But I’m only getting to know how things work here, and that’s it.

It’s been a sunny and cool week here. The growing season is coming to an end, but over the past few weeks, the plants on either side of the many concrete staircases have grown strongly. In some places it was becoming hard getting up and down the staircases. We trimmed all of the plants and fully reopened the staircases.

The vegetation was cleared away from the staircases

All of the cut organic matter was taken down into the paddock and dumped on an area where the ground cover plants looked like they needed a soil feed. Then the mower was used to mulch it all up.

The mower drags a trailer of plant cuttings down to the paddock

Another steel rock gabion cage was made.

Another steel rock gabion cage was made this week

Observant readers will note that Ollie is tied to a sturdy olive tree. Ollie must learn to amend his ways, or get older. The cage was installed as the first of two cages which will retain the soil on a rather steep garden bed.

A second layer of steel rock gabion cages retains the soil on this steep garden bed

After a couple of hours of rock scrounging, we had enough rocks to weigh down the gabion cage. Woe is us, Peak Rocks is very real. We have to smash up some boulders over the next few weeks so as to get access to more usable rocks.

The new rock gabion cage is filling up

There will only be two second level gabions on that wall. Elsewhere on the long retaining wall, mid-sized rocks will perform a similar function, and many of those were also brought back up the hill and positioned.

Mid sized rocks are used here where the soil is less steep

The low gradient path project now has only approximately three more work days before it is completed. This week the highest section of the rock wall is being installed behind the old formerly rat infested shed.

The low gradient path project is nearing completion

It’s hard to see in the above photo, but a lot of soil was removed so as to make the path there much wider.

Speaking of rats. The twitchy nosed little rodents have been unable to get into the house and/or chicken enclosure, so they have cracked the sads and broken into the greenhouse. I’d say it would be an unwise thing to consume so much chilli in one meal, but rats know their own business.

The rats made an unpleasant meal for themselves

Wanting to put an end to the rodent mischief before they consume everything in the greenhouse, we sealed up the entrance near to the underside of the door where they’d broken in. A sturdy 100x100mm (4×4 inch) chunk of timber was used to seal any minor gaps.

A better greenhouse door stopper was made

The timber now sits flush against the door, and the rats will have a very hard time breaking through, until the next weak point is discovered.

That should keep rodents out, for a while

Just in case, we picked the remaining chilli’s. It would have been preferable to leave them on the plant so they stayed fresh for the winter, but there is no point putting temptation in the rodents path. And we’ll eat dry chilli’s.

Yum! But the squiggly chilli looks scary!

The parrots were getting interested in the persimmon crop, so those were also picked. It’s a non astringent Fuyu variety, and reasonably tasty.

Half a bucket of persimmons were picked

We’re learning how to store all of this produce so that it keeps well during the winter months.

That’s only half of the pumpkins

As we get closer to winter, we’ve opened the gates on the blackberry enclosure so that the wallabies, wombats etc. can dine upon the leaves. Once the leaves are mosty gone, we’ll prune the canes and feed the soil there.

The blackberries are now free for the wildlife to consume

In a new garden bed, we’ve begun transplanting some of the many self seeded lavender plants.

Self sown lavender plants were transplanted into a new garden bed

Onto the flowers:

The Roses were fed a few weeks ago and have all produced delightful blooms
I like the multi-colour Roses
They’ll all need pruning soon!
It ain’t winter yet, says this Rose!
But it is leaf change time…

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 12’C (53’F). So far for last year there has been 338.8mm (13.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 333.2mm (13.1 inches)

45 thoughts on “Am I dreaming?”

  1. Yo, Chris – Always a problem, to bend English to your will. To enable you to get across the points you want to make … and also make sure no one falls asleep! 🙂

    I’m having a similar problem. Sort of. You may (or have may not) have noticed that I suggested, next time we have a vote on a theme post, over at Mr. Greer’s, that it be about food. So, I’ve been puzzling over how to exactly title that, so that more votes fall to my team, rather than “The Bead Game,” or some such. The best I’ve come up with so far is: “Food, Cooking and Cookbooks, During the Decline.” There was quit a tangent, on his blog, last week, on that topic. So, I think the interest is there. Maybe.

    Not only fruit, but I think a lot of things have lost taste, since I was a kid. Eggs, for instance. Even though I don’t eat much meat, I think it also has lost some depth of taste. These days, even the Thanksgiving turkey tastes a bit bland.

    Well, you still mulch (scary old wood chipper) and compost (worm farm.) But it’s your own mulch and compost. You know what’s in it, and where it comes from. I think your advice was good. These “magic bullets” might work wherever they were developed. But not necessarily on your patch. For you, it was a long and winding road (low gradient path? 🙂 We had the same results on a pile of “compost” that the Master Gardeners brought in, last year. Nothing grew on it. Not even weeds. But I hadn’t noticed it, til you mentioned it.

    The gabion cages are just so … stately. Monumental architecture on a home scale.

    Oh, that’s tragic about the chili. I’m glad you were able to salvage a good part of the crop. That’s a lot of pumpkin and squash! Ought to hold you, for awhile. Zucchini? Where are the zucchini?

    Nice that the wombats and wallabies, cooperate in your blackberry clean up. And probably leave fertile little gifts, behind. I had to depend on goats, which did the job. Did you see the article and pictures of an odd wombat? I think it was in Tasmania. Some hikers caught footage of a wombat, in broad daylight, taking a stroll down to the seashore to get a good drink of sea water. Wombat specialists are baffled, and used the out, “We don’t know much about these mysterious creatures.”

    Looks like you’re far from “the last rose of summer.” 🙂 Peak roses? They are lovely.

    As is the picture of your leaf change. A calendar worthy, shot. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    A difficult subject to be sure, and having spent an inordinate amount of time over the long years in very dull meetings, I keep a sharp eye on the audience to see whether they’re connecting and are still engaged with the subject. There were times at Uni lectures at night after a long day of work, the eyes drooped and the head nodded forward. Always something of a risk during super dull presentations. The thoughtful audience member hopes to avoid snoring and dribbling. Such acts send the presenter a strong message. But would they change their dull ways?

    With the graduate program I used to run many years ago, chocolate worked. So I used to wait a bit until the initial enthusiasm died down, and then pelt miscreants with chocolate bars. Being a decent shot helped, and that always perked up the room and got a laugh. Probably can’t do such things these days, people would get upset. But it worked…

    I did notice your suggestion, and you know I’m always up for a discussion upon the subject of all things food related. Food is good, it’s not the problem, it’s the answer. 😉 All of my suggestions to date in that forum have come to naught, so you have my unequivocal support here. I’m sure the glass game concept thing is genius, but hasn’t that subject already been done? I’m sure it has been and I didn’t see the big deal then. Look, every time ol’ Herman is mentioned I just get this ear worm: “Get your motor running. Head out on the highway… “ You know what I’m talking about.

    Well, thinking about your topic concept, it kind of reminds me of all them pumpkins. Now, we grew a lot of pumpkins. Eighty five to be technically accurate. That’s a lot of pumpkins. 😉 So what the heck do you do with them all? Isn’t that an interesting dimension to the topic? Dunno. We’re trialling recipes that we like, and for your info, the ‘plum’ book mentioned pumpkin casserole. Never would have thought of that recipe (so thanks for mentioning the book), and so we modified it and now produce a tidy pumpkin casserole more to our liking. Most people do not know how to produce a meal from raw materials, or even what ingredients work together. Yes, things are that bad. Didn’t Mr Kunstler write about the, what did he call it again … … was it ‘pudding’ in the ‘World made by hand’ series? Like an odds and ends hot pot casserole? We forget our roots.

    It’s funny you mention eggs, but at this time of year the chickens are down to one or two eggs per day. The eggs we buy to make up the egg deficit are meant to be pretty good. Except the yolks are smaller, less brightly coloured, and less tasty. What does that say? I dare not even trial lesser producers.

    About maybe two decades, or more ago, we had lunch at a very remote pub up in the alpine country. We were heading home after camping out in the quiet bush. They had venison steaks on the menu, and those slabs of meat had some serious flavour.

    Of course! Silly me, I’d forgotten both of those sources of mulch and compost, but yes you are absolutely correct. Magic bullets is a great way to describe the promises, and I’m sure they work where ever it is the idea originated, it’s just here and maybe in other areas conditions are not quite so fluffy optimal. Very funny! 🙂 Thanks for the laughs. I suspect that such material being sold as compost is derived from municipal waste which is heavily dominated by woody material. It’s probably good in garden beds where you’re growing flowers (maybe), but for demanding fruit and vegetables, I just am not seeing it working out. The compost and mulches being sold, reflect the decline in diverse soil minerals all around us. What did everyone expect would happen?

    Thanks. When you are on the side of a mountain spur and the land slopes, those rock gabion cages are worth their weight. Even if the undersides of the steel eventually rusts, the exposed steel will still hold the rocks in place. They really are good at what they do.

    Hope the rodents guts hurt badly after that meal of chilli. We grew plenty of chilli’s, but I would have preferred to have left them on the plant during the winter months so they remained crispy and fresh. Whatever, we’ll dry them now.

    The zucchini are at the back and to either side of the photograph. There are actually double that amount (and more) with the other batch of pumpkins.

    All the wildlife here enjoy the thornless blackberries, and that conversion is very much on my mind. The cane berries will all be pruned back hard anyway over the next few weeks. Hey, I also saw that article about the wombat heading down to the ocean. Cool huh? Being from Montana, the couple were probably happy to see a less toothy critter! 🙂 It was interesting the article mentioned mange, but that wombat looked super healthy to me, and was clearly familiar with the wave action. I reckon a chunk of seaweed would be a good find for a wombat, lots of trace elements in that meal. Heck, I like nori rolls, so seaweed is probably a delicacy for a wombat. They’ve got rather large brains, so such behaviour doesn’t surprise me. Wombats probably don’t stick to their lanes that’s why they are found right across the continent.

    🙂 The rose terraces are a delight, and the weather for the next week or two suggests that they’ll hang on for a bit longer.

    The Japanese maples produce stunning autumn colour here – and are super hardy (and self seed) – and in the background is a Sugar maple, which is another hardy tree. Shh! Don’t tell the tourists…

    Hmm. I’d not known that about WWII food sharing prior to you mentioning it. The thing about such black markets is that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Just sayin… One of the issues I’m struggling with over the years is that the social capital we’ve spent so long building, can slip away through no fault of ours. It’s something which is on my mind. Do you have any advice in relation to this matter?

    Potatoes do seem to grow wild here too. The things even set seed and you’ll get feral potato plants. Are the tubers any good from those? Well, when in Peru it was hard not to notice that the locals had a very wide and diverse collection of tubers under the name ‘potato’. It seems rather unfortunate that the west seems to fixate on only a few varieties. Probably not a smart move. And yeah, I hope your potato trap catches more. Is there a tally going? 🙂

    Fingers crossed that you avoid a late season frost. I read Professor Mass’s post on El Nino coming to an end.

    Ha! Dude, I got a little warning at the back of my mind the other day about someone considering the trees, and will say no more. Man, even I’ve heard of the promotional saying: Get your kicks on route 66. Although it all sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it? 🙂

    Oh no! That’s rotten. I’d be feeling let down too. You go to the Club with hopes for Tacos, but hopes flounder upon pot luck reality and get dashed. Hope the whinge helped? Hey, didn’t you get food poisoning after a pot luck one year? It’s possible you dodged a bullet there?

    We’re on the same page in relation to books. You can’t enjoy them all, and reading time is both precious and in short supply. Nah, don’t stress, I’d prefer to dip my toes into fictional worlds and explore the far horizons. You have had far more recommendation hits than misses, so the overall score is pretty good in your favour.

    I’ll mention the book to the Editor.

    Nice score for the Club pantry!

    Had to do a bit of work this morning, but then continued the digging and rock work on the low gradient path project. It feels good to be nearing the completion of that project. It began back in March last year. The weather was quite cool and cloudy, so that’s great digging conditions.



  3. Hello Chris,

    Thanks for sharing the soil story.

    Soil is amazing. What our food ate. We are what we ate, so we are soil. Ashes to ashes etc.
    I often think of one of the essays of David Holmgren, explaining how they started to get health problems when they only ate food that came out of their own piece of land, due to mineral deficiencies of their location. Which was remedied by a few tons of some rock dust, when they figured out what was missing.
    Soils are not created equal.

    Yesterday I visited a friend who grows nuts on a piece of land with 20+meters of thick lime-stone rich clay soil on top of the granite bedrock. Almost flat land, and trees that get started grow like crazy.
    Most likely, they have all minerals they ever need in their soil for the next millenium or so.

    At our place, the sandy soil is leaching nutrients as soon as we look the other direction. We now build humus first with lots of mulch, just to be able to sustain more life and keep water in the soil. Later, the rock dust amendments will arrive.
    I hope we will still afford some diesel the next few years… 😉

    A few kilometers to the south of our place, there is a packet of deposited clay on top of the sand, up to 2 meters thick. In the 1800s, people would walk there with wheelbarrows and dig out chalk-rich clay and bring back to add to their fields.
    In one spot, our topsoil is clayey, and maybe it is the result of dozens or hundreds of walks with the wheelbarrow?
    When will I (have to) restart this ancient practice?

    Our friends with the high-throne seating arrangement just got green light from our municipality today for their nutrient arrangement. Soon they can open their café to the public!


  4. Hi Göran,

    Wow! That’s a good win for your friends and their system. Hope they know how to make a good coffee? There are high standards to achieve you know. 🙂 If they roast the coffee beans, the husks are worthwhile, and let’s not forget the coffee grounds, which are a form of seed-meal.

    My pleasure, and I tell you man, it’s been a journey. I’ve been to Mr Holmgren’s farm on a tour, and it is not far from my friends of the big shed fame. He seems like a nice bloke, and the place looks good, but yes, that area would have some soil mineral deficiencies – as does here, but different ones! Rock dust is good, and can be had at affordable prices. I hear the secret with rock dust is to select the darkest variety of minerals, which down here is a bluestone granite (similar to that used in Stonehenge – fun fact).

    Improving soils over such a large parcel of land is a complicated process. Hmm. I’m now having soil envy with such loose talk of 20m+ lime stone enriched clay over granite bedrock. Although, none of us know what elements may be in short supply there? Maybe you could swap some of your soil, for some of your friends soil? Not always practical, or easy, or even cheap to do. 😉 One can always dream, then there is that wheelbarrow you mentioned.

    Out of curiosity, is your soil sandy, or is it more of a loam? Just a wild suggestion, if there is clay beneath your sandy soil (and there may well be), maybe you could dig a pit and re-mix the clay into the top soil? Of course, anything can be done, but the cost is always a limit. Depends on how deep the clay is hiding.

    Ah diesel is a wonderful fuel. Yes. I can bring say a cubic metre of mulch back up here in the Suzuki using a trailer. A diesel truck, can bring ten times that amount. I’ve often wondered if all the petrol used in our civilisation is actually an incidental by-product of the search for the heavier more useful grades of fossil fuels, like diesel?

    With all the work you’ve been doing, can you see the improvements in your soil and plant growth?



  5. Yo, Chris – Yes, some people are in love with their own voice. 🙂 No one else, is, but they are.

    Funny, when I was at the Club, the other day, a woman who I didn’t know too well, and I started talking about food. Well, an hour later …
    I saw an article on beans (aka legumes), in Blue Zones, and sent it to my friend in Idaho. She didn’t even comment on it. Oh, well. You can lead a horse to water … And they wonder why as they get older, it’s more and more trips to the doctor. Counting peas, I probably eat legumes three or four times a week. Peas, Garbanzo and black beans. I need to expand my bean horizon. Might be time for another three (or more) bean salad.

    What to do with the excess pumpkins? Jack-o-lanters! 🙂 You can save the seeds from those, to eat. I took a quick inventory. I have three pumpkin cookbooks. Though one is just pumpkin spice. If you look in the index, of any of your general cookbooks, you’ll probably find some pumpkin recipe ideas. Or, the internet. Search: “Pumpkin Recipes.” Just about any squash recipe, can be adapted to pumpkins.

    I always pay a little extra, for eggs, that are better quality. Our last food box had something interesting. Usually, we get a dozen commercial eggs. This time, I checked the date on the carton, and it was a couple of years old. What? It was a recycled carton, and, judging by the bit of chicken poop clinging to the eggs, someone donated a local product. One was broken, and it looked fine. The rest, I’ll crack into a plate, before adding them to the pan.

    My Dad always liked to hunt deer near farm areas. Corn and grain fed deer! Tasty. Deer from further into the forests could taste a little “gamey.” But not unpleasantly so.

    Municipal waste compost might also have ground up lumber scraps. Treated with who knows what chemicals.

    Chili is about as hot, coming out, as going in. I curse your rats with digestive distress!

    Maybe the Wombat just needed a little salt, in his diet?

    Yes, you have to work at keeping up social networks, a bit. And, as opportunities present themselves, build new ones. Or, expand old ones.

    The volunteer potatoes I’ve tasted, are just fine. Sometimes small and fiddly, but worth the effort. Sometimes, I just split them in half, nuke them, and put on some butter, a pinch of salt and pepper.

    Well, weather. We have snow in our forecast, for tomorrow morning. I don’t think so. The overnight low is only getting down to 37F. The Master Gardeners showed up, this morning. Ted and I managed to get the second 4×4″ post up, between rain showers. We finally threw in the towel. The hog wire, top piece and braces, will have to wait til next week.

    You can get your kicks, on Route 66. Who knew The Rolling Stones covered it?

    “Born to be Wild.” 🙂 Lew

  6. Hi Chris,

    What a lovely article on one of my favorite topics! We stand on the shoulders of giants, like Steve Solomon, who in turn stood on the shoulders of giants who worked in the 1900s and told us the story of what they learned in a way that we can apply to our gardens. I didn’t achieve my goal of good tasting and good yielding vegetables until I started giving my soil the minerals it was missing and figuring out what actually works when gardening a loess hill.

    We don’t have to worry about peak rocks, because we don’t have any rocks, and haven’t for the last several thousand years. Thank you, glaciers.

    The soil test I had done early this spring suggested that my soil has become too low in sulfur, perhaps because I stopped applying gypsum when I ran out of it a few years ago. That may be why I had a plague of cabbage worms in last year’s garden. I have obtained and applied gypsum to the beds as I plant this year’s garden; we’ll see if my hypothesis proves out or not.

    You are breeding extra smart rats at your place, with all of the different ways you are finding to foil their plans to raid your various stores of rat goodies and forcing them to respond to your evil denial of the food they need. Soon I’ll see a headline about a new species of rat, the Cajun rat, discovered in the greenhouse of a smallholding in Australia. 😉

    It remembered how to rain here. More to the point, it remembered how to rain too much here. In the past week I measured 1.3″ of rain that fell on the garden. For the whole month we have received about 9 inches of rain. I managed to get out between the rains to prepare and plant the beds for all of the seedlings I grew, which are doing fine. This week and next, once the soil drains a little, I will dig and plant the last two beds, one with beans and one with the squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and melons. Meanwhile I am watching for ripe strawberries, but the slugs are beating me to them.


  7. Hi Chris,

    Well I had written a pretty lengthy comment and accidentally hit some button and it disappeared. Well I’ll try again.

    Yes it is Ruth Stout who wrote about using mulch. I use some myself but not to the depth she did. It does a good job keeping in moisture and controlling weeds plus breaks down pretty quickly. I have mentioned before that we have a pile of composted leaf mulch which is put to good use but I do wonder what nutrients it’s missing.

    I have friends who have a food forest. Pretty interesting concept but doesn’t provide all that much food yet.

    Due to the freeze and thaw cycles rocks are always showing up in the farm fields after they’ve been plowed. In fact I need a couple to anchor some cardboard covered with mulch in the garden so I just walked out into the field next door for a few. I need the cardboard in my never ending battle with reed canary grass in my garden. This particular grass is very invasive and grows from both seed and rhizomes. We have a fair amount of it on our property due to the fact that it was grazed in the past. It’s very difficult to get rid of – takes years of herbicides which is something I try to avoid using.

    You can keep your rats as we have plenty of our own critters including lots of squirrels. Now in general they don’t cause many problems and sure are fun to watch. However a couple of days ago the brake indicator light went on in Doug’s truck. He opens the hood to find a large squirrel nest with four babies who I’d say were adolescents. Now he drives that truck daily and it’s hard to believe they’ve managed to thrive in there. He had quite a time extricating them as they kept burrowing down farther into the engine. Why the mother would pick that spot when we have lots of oaks and hickorys is beyond me. Anyway, Doug found one wire chewed which he was able to fix and so far so good.

    We had some very much needed rain a few weeks ago but once again it’s dwindled to small amounts when forecasted to be significant. I don’t see much on the horizon.

    Poor Ollie. I hope he’s learned his lesson and can earn his freedom soon.

    We had our library tea fundraiser Sunday before last. It went well but ticket sales were significantly down. I’m back to monitoring the bluebird trail though I think this will be my last year. I am concerned about ticks and really have to dress appropriately as I’m off trail checking the boxes. The fact that an acquaintance contracted a very serious disease from a tick (can’t remember the name) and almost died gives me pause especially as he does a lot of restoration and is very careful. In fact he ended up in kidney failure and is on dialysis though it’s believed that it’s temporary. This particular disease is not too prevalent here but is increasing though Lyme disease isn’t uncommon. I spray all my clothes with permethrin as well as my bag with my supplies, pull my socks over my pants and do a thorough check when I get home. While you can still pick up ticks on the trail it’s much less likely. I check myself even if I’ve just been out here on my property working.

    On the family front, my aunt who I’ve spoken of often is permanently in California in an assisted living facility near her daughter. Her condo in Chicago has been sold and my cousin is trying to disperse her belongings to family long distance from California. She and her husband will be in the first week of June to finish up cleaning all the stuff out along with those of us in the area. Sad as there are many memories associated with that place but at least my aunt has finally accepted her limitations and is relatively happy. She has developed dementia probably from the botched brain surgery she had a couple years ago but it’s not too bad. Though I’m not thrilled by flying or visiting that area of California I’ll most likely go out sometime this summer to see her. Cecily’s divorce is moving along. My granddaughters go to college in the fall. Cecily is also turning 50 this year so once again we’re hosting a party. Carla, who should have been an event planner is going full steam ahead with the plans. Cecily at one point due to the stress of her life didn’t even know if she wanted a party but Carla said, “She is having a party!!”

    This week and next are quite busy with graduations of the granddaughters and a play along with all the spring work that keeps taking longer as we get older.


  8. Chris,

    Rain. Zippo. Nada. Just a few drops here since Thursday night. The big “drought busting storm” did nothing on this side of the Cascades. We did get a lot of clouds, cool weather and cold, dry winds. Oh, and maybehaps a few snowflakes overnight with a hard frost forecast.

    Gnostic? I? Don’t know about that, although I typically don’t like labels. But, if you’re suggesting that I think, observe, try to have some knowledge and wisdom based on experience rather than aimlessly adhering to lists of rules, well, then that’s what I try to do.

    Compost and soil and mulch, oh my! Nice topic. One thing I refuse to add to my compost pile is grass clippings donated by neighbors. They might contain fertilizers and weed killers and who knows what else that I don’t want. Stray vegetable matter from many sources, as well as tea bags and coffee grounds I think work okay.

    The Princess was looking over my shoulder when I got to the rose pictures. She was in awe of the colors and the wonderful shapes of the blooms. Like Lew, she thought the photo of the tree with changing leaf color is worthy of being published.

    One thing I noticed in one of the photos…the one labelled “The vegetation was cleared away from the staircases”…there’s the pot with what appears to be 5 cacti. They look like 5 fingers, 4 of which are curled at the knuckles, the middle one extended to provide “digital communication”. That was also the first thing the Princess saw. Perhaps this group of cacti, and their communication, is keeping the barbarian hordes, or at least wandering zombie hordes, from ransacking your farm?

    Oh my! It sounds like the low gradient path might get completed this week? It is looking very good. That’s a lot of work, which I’ve said before. I bet you discovered an efficient technique long ago?

    A neighbor has been removing a retaining wall that was made from cinder blocks. Each layer of blocks was glued to the lower layer. These are the rectangular blocks with two holes in them. The wall was old when I moved into this house in 1996. On Sunday afternoon, the mother and teenage son were working on the bottom layer. Husband/dad was at his paying job. When I was outside doing some chores, I noticed that they were using a long metal pry bar to remove the blocks from the dirt. However, their technique was wrong…I wandered over, asked if I could give it a go. I had 5 blocks pried up with the proper technique in less than 2 minutes. It had taken them maybe 90 minutes to remove 1/3 of that layer. It took them 30 minutes to remove the final half once they knew the proper technique.

    How did I know the proper technique? Experience and physics. Lots of both. 😉

    I’m with Lew. Let’s hope that those peppers being “evacuated” by the rats hurt so much that they’ll never touch them again. Hopefully getting the greenhouses and mead halls rat-proofed will be easier than it was with the chicken coop!

    Squiggly little chili on my plate,
    Looks so weird my teeth do grate:
    Venomous snake if it could bite;
    Seeing it on a plate would be a fright!


  9. Hi Margaret,

    The software sometimes become hungry and is prone to occasionally eating comments. Please accept my apologies, and I fish out any missing and lost comments, but despite my best efforts some disappear completely.

    Ruth’s system probably works really well in Connecticut, but here summers are too dry for mulch to break down with any speed. I’d like to experience regular summer rainfall and warm soils! Have to laugh, when I took the talk the audience was smart enough to realise that we’d ended up in a less than optimal environment for growing vegetables, and weren’t afraid to point it out. Acceptance they tell me is a wonderful state of mind! 🙂

    I don’t really know, but I reckon fall leaves have often had the essential pan juices sucked out of them by the tree. There’ll be good stuff in there, but how much, and in what balance is the thing I don’t know either. Soil tests are simply too expensive down here.

    This afternoon I was listening to the national youth radio broadcasters news program about how people are apparently taking industrial medical preparations to counter act the supposed side effects of the industrial food system. My brain was fried after listening to that program.

    Rain is funny here too. It seems to now arrive in big splats, although I got home late this evening in pea soup fog. It’s cold now too.

    Well, we can only hope that Ollie mends his ways. If he doesn’t, that’s what leads are for. He’s smarter than this, but I dunno.

    Oh my! Squirrels sound like a total nightmare on the same level as the rats, and are keeping auto electricians hard at work. You’d hope that either critter aren’t on their payroll? 🙂 I feel for Doug with that squirrel drama. You’ll probably remember the hapless rat which blew itself up after having chewed through the most expensive hose in an engine bay here many years ago. It was messy, and not cheap to fix.

    Did the library folks consider the reduced ticket sales issue? How’s the book store going?

    Ticks are rotten little critters, yes. Lyme disease is a thing, so a person has to take precautions. Do you spray beforehand? When Ollie had the altercation with the wallaby, I found a flea on him, and the dogs here never get fleas. So I sprayed him, and then because I was getting itchy, got Sandra to spray me. Well, everyone has different health outcomes from all sorts of things. Yup.

    That’s great news that your aunt is closer to her daughter. I’d call that a best case scenario outcome. I’ve known some people to get super nasty when they have dementia, but if you’re not seeing that, then it’s all good.

    Happy birthday to Cecily for later this year, and everyone needs someone to steam roll such objections. 🙂 She’ll have a blast, and sounds like everything is already sorted.

    Hope both the graduations and play are both delightful events.

    Hey, this getting older thing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be you know.



  10. Hi Claire,

    Oooo! It’s always lovely to talk soil, isn’t it? The greats have done some solid work, and dare I suggest it: They’ve made our lives easier by sifting the seed meal from the chaff! 😉

    Your loess would have excellent drainage, but I hear you. What minerals are over and under supplied in that soil? I’m envious of your affordable soil testing facilities. I’m working backwards to the answer by considering what is here, what is being added, and how the plants are looking. That’s my el-cheapo approach, but the vegetables and fruit are tasting very good. Had a pumpkin and potato casserole for dinner this evening. Yum!

    Just in case you missed it, I mentioned to Margaret that I was listening to the national youth radio broadcasters news program this afternoon about how people are apparently taking industrial medical preparations to counter act the supposed side effects of the industrial food system. My brain was fried after listening to that program. At the back of my mind I was hearing the statistics and contemplating the depleted soils and what they’d be doing to the protein / carbohydrate ratios in plants… Once you know… Most people don’t know.

    Hehe! I’d send you some rocks, but candidly the costs would bankrupt the kingdom. They’re good rocks though! 🙂 Alas for Peak Rocks. Your area reached that point several thousand years ago…

    Gypsum is a good source of sulphur. It’s the cheapest form of lime here as well. I’ve got to add a lot of that to one half of the sapling fenced enclosure. I’m avoiding travelling much at the moment because the main road here is cut off due to construction of a roundabout near to the town, and it’s a good 20 minute drive to now get around it, so soil mineral trips are right out.

    Claire, the rats may be smarter. I’m honestly not certain in that regard, and if they’re less intelligent, they have gumption which could teach our species a thing or two. Spare us all the hyper-tested and super intelligent Cajun rat! 🙂

    That’s a wet month. Out of curiosity, do you plant melon seeds, or melon seedlings? They’re really marginal here due to cooler soil temperatures, and I’m just hoping that seeds work better. Hope you dodge the rain to plant out the rest of the crops.



  11. Hi DJ,

    Bummer about the rain. Has the dryland grass seed germinated? Oh well, back to watering I guess. Did the seed come with instructions? It’s pea soup fog here tonight, and cold.

    I went into the big smoke today for work. Came back late and had to drive the extra twenty minutes to get around the roundabout construction which has closed the main road here at this point on the mountain range. There are only like three or four roads across the range, and only two of them you’d ever use (one of which is now closed). Hope those dudes stick to schedule. Last I heard the road will be open after May 10.

    I don’t much like labels either, but the word pretty much describes your thoughts in the matter. And I share such views. Funnily enough there is a list of rules for here, but they form a legul (sic) response, just in case. Better to be prepared and not need the precautions, than need the precautions and be completely unprepared. The rules could be summarised into two thoughts: 1) be nice to each other; and 2) avoid defaming. It’s not hard…

    Oh yeah. That’s the thing, you never know what anyone has done to this stuff, and well, we do kind of live on a poisoned planet. Recycler Suez says herbicides in contaminated compost came from Melbourne council waste.

    Incidentally, I chuck those items you mentioned in the worm farm, and have never known of any issues with them.

    Please extend my thanks to your lady for the fine words of appreciation. 🙂 But don’t tell the tourists…

    Hehe! Probably with those plants. And there is a cactus deep in one of the garden beds – hidden. Surprisingly the plant has shrugged off the shading, and lurks. Occasionally we’ll get a snowfall and the cactus don’t like that at all. Bits will break off afterwards, and they just get replanted so you end up with those multiple trunks, and hidden cacti.

    Depending on the weather, the path should be completed over the fortnight. It all depends really. We do have to break up some boulders, and we’re not entirely agreed upon with the exit path for the ramp. We don’t always agree with how projects should look and work, and this time around we’ve decided to take a wait and see what emerges from the primordial clay. Then we’ll know. But yes, they do say that practice makes I dunno, faster than a bunch of first timer path constructors!

    How did you break the glue between the cinder blocks? Was it a mortar or glue? I’d have pried them individually upwards and across from an edge, thus breaking the surface tension. But absolutely, knowing the tricks of the trade (or having practical common sense) is an advantage with such work. Out of curiosity, had you constructed such a wall before? I’ve got zero experience with such materials, but have laid a few brick walls.

    You can only hope that happens with the rats. Truly, did they really need to destroy half a dozen chilli’s and yet only consume half of those fruits? I reckon it is one of those salient life lessons, and we all know it will hurt them.

    Thanks for the poetry! 🙂 Dude, I am frightened of that thing.



  12. Dirt- Yeah, it all starts there doesn’t it.

    I have had soil tests done for parts of our land, and the reports have all sorts of data, much of which I don’t understand how to interpret.

    Bottom line is, if you are taking a harvest, you better be putting something back. So much of the American midwest was cut down, plowed, and grown in monoculture grains that you just have to assume you are starting with depleted soils if you are trying to move to a more sustainable way with the land.

    For our garden, our compost and chicken coop cleanings is sufficient to keep building soil and tilth, but the farm field is another story. Since we barter the hay coming off the field for meat or other trade items, it needs replenishment. In the past, I have ordered loads of composted poultry manure spread on it, and a specific mineral blend to replace trace and labile elements, and it is due for another feed this summer.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch! The amendments are not cheap, and if we hopefully move to having grazing animals on the field, they have there own assortment of costs.

    We will be transplanting the onions and brassicas into the garden today. The cycle keeps on rolling along. And the hummingbirds and Orioles made it this far north this week.

  13. Hi Lewis,

    I actually thought you were joking about the archaeologists declaring the dodecahedron a ritual object. Far out! Cat toy sounds more likely to me. 🙂 Dude, I look at those things and they appear to have a random rolling function. This suggests to me that the item was an original decision making computer. So a person asks their question out aloud, the device is then rolled, and depending upon the side left facing upwards, the universe provides the answer. There would have been explanatory timber tablets, but those were over written by Roman commanders wives sending out party invitations.

    With food there is a lot to talk about. I was a bit shell shocked listening to the national youth broadcaster news program this afternoon. So, it appears that plenty of folks are using a certain industrial medicine to counter act the, I guess, effects of the industrial food system. Hope there’s no side effects.

    A good yarn is a thing of beauty. You didn’t mention anything about the quality of the conversation, but given it went on for an hour. Sounds good to me.

    You can only ever but try, then drop the subject. We eat plenty of beans and lentils too, and yours is a good collection of choices. Now you’re talking! That original k-f-c three bean salad was awesome (as we’ve discussed before). Thanks to intrepid food and kitchen adventurers, the recipe is splashed all over the interweb. I reckon the trick with the three bean salad is letting the mix sit in the refrigerator and ferment over night before consumption. Much tastier the next day. Some food stuffs are like that.

    Thanks for the pumpkin suggestions. 🙂 We might eat them all instead. Yum! I will check that out. They do seem to contain a lot of dietary fibre, and probably works a lot like a gut bottle brush.

    We do the same purchasing trick with eggs on the old garbage in, garbage out, school of food philosophy. Chickens will poop on their eggs occasionally, although with the new laying box arrangement, I haven’t noticed that for a long while now. Hmm. I might ask the Editor about this matter. Commercial cleaning of eggs I believe, does shorten their shelf life. But yeah, it’s hard to miss an off egg. What an epic stink! And only people who have broken such an egg into a meal comprehend why they should be checked before adding into any recipe.

    Mind you, there was an outbreak at a commercial egg facility, and I’d nabbed purchased scrambled eggs whilst on the road many years ago, and had a fine case of food poisoning. The eggs didn’t taste right, and after that, I wouldn’t touch them if I tasted that food weirdness.

    Ah, that’s a tasty venison power move your dad had, and the farmers would probably appreciate the assistance. Deer can eat a lot of produce.

    It’s possible that there is a lot of timber material in that composted council waste. Green waste collection was introduced in the big smoke after we left, so I haven’t really had a chance to see what people chuck in that collection. I’ve seen what people drive to the tip here, and it is mostly branches and stuff. That sort of carbon heavy mulch probably won’t grow decent vegetables. I linked to an article in a comment on a very effective herbicide which allegedly ended up in that waste stream. Hmm.

    The rats brought that hot rear end poop down on their own heads. We can only hope that they’ve learned their lesson and stay away, although they may go for the winter radishes… How are yours looking?

    I think that is equally possible with the wombat. It did appear to be drinking the ocean water. Maybe the marsupial was simply curious? Although the wombat looked familiar with the wave actions. The critter could have been simply cooling off on a hot day? Dame Plum will happily stand in the water on a hot day, and wombats are smart.

    It’s true about the social networks and opportunities. I agree.

    The volunteer potatoes here have been fine too, if somewhat smaller than what people usually expect from the tubers. I noticed in Peru that the tubers were usually smaller than potatoes grown in the west. I wonder if seed raised potatoes revert to more wild origins over a few generations? Dunno. Oh yummo! A fine way to eat potatoes.

    Too warm for snow in my books too. Good to hear you dodge at least some of the rain. Your weather says to me: No hurry on that front.

    Yup! We were born to be wild. 🙂



  14. Yo, Chris – Oh, just something I noticed about many archaeologist’s reports. If they run across a mystery object, that they can’t figure out, they usually fall back on, “unknown ritual object.” You may be onto something. Remember Magic 8 Balls? They were a popular fortune telling device, back when I was a lad. I had one, as I remember.

    Who knows what great works of literature, were overwritten, by Roman commanders wives sending out party invitations. 🙂 Speaking of scrolls being decoded, there’s been a lot of chatter about another Herculaneum scroll being decoded. A lot more detail on the end of the philosopher Plato’s life … and, where he’s buried. Let the hunt, begin!

    I suppose you’re referring to the hot new diet drug, that all the cool kids are using. Yes, there have been articles about side effects. One side effect is that it’s caused the collapse of certain segments of the weight loss industry. Those who advocate a better diet and more exercise. 🙂

    Food adventurers have even cracked the secrets of k f c Cole slaw! 🙂

    I made a couple of egg sandwiches, for dinner, and used those, probably, local eggs. No problems. They were tasty. Especially on French bread with my own secret sauce of plane yogurt, hot mustard, and chopped up garlic. On Swiss cheese with a few seeds thrown in, for crunch.

    My radishes are looking pretty good. Something is nibbling at the leaves, but not too much damage. Maybe the pill bugs? I think they need a couple of days of warmer weather and sunshine, to really put on some growth.

    Yesterday, it was rainy, but cleared off, mostly, in the afternoon. Still a lot of clouds around, but some sun, and lots of rainbows. Drizzle, on and off, today. But, tomorrow is supposed to be clear and sunny. Prof. Mass didn’t say too much about our summer prediction, due to El Niño. But I saw a national projection, based on similar summers that fall between La Niña and El Niño. For our area, hotter and dryer. We’ll see. Lew

  15. Chris,

    No, the grass seed hasn’t germinated yet. I expect maybe another 10 days before it does. According to the directions on the bag, it could take up to 3 weeks to germinate.

    The nearest north-south arterials in town are Ash, one way road going south, and Maple, it’s twin that is only northbound. Both are hampered by road maintenance work until August 6. Meanwhile the next closest north-south arterial, Monroe, is going to be undergoing reconstruction beginning May 6. In other words, from the northwest part of town, it will be difficult to go anywhere. I feel your pain about your road closure and upcoming roundabout.

    Your rules sound similar to ours. We also include communicate. I also live by the idea that only very important things are worth truly fighting for. However, 95% of things that come up are not that important. Of that 5%, well, 95% of that isn’t worth getting in a lather about. So the Princess knows that if I’m digging in on something, it IS important to me.  I’ve witnessed too many relationships in which every single topic led to a heated argument. Totally avoidable.

    Oh, I forgot to mention Ruth Stout. I see that Marg mentioned her first. Good thing. I’m not well versed in Ruth’s writings. However, I am very familiar with the books written by her younger brother, Rex Stout. He wrote the Nero Wolfe series of mysteries. I’ve read those several times since discovering them about age 14.

    I’m finding that a lot of my woodworking projects work better if I sort of talk to the project and the wood, imagine it in my mind, talk to the project and the wood some more, then see what actually happens. The projects usually turn out much better that way. I’m having a similar experience now regarding a different type of project that the Princess has asked me to do. Research, think, talk to the “ingredients”. More on this project after it is completed.

    The glue? It was a black glue. I didn’t participate in the cinder block project until the glued layers had been removed. What they did was to use a good sledgehammer. Sometimes that loosened the glue. At other times, it broke the blocks. I would have tried your approach myself. And yes, I had previous experience with similar demolition projects. Your approach works often enough to make it worthwhile, maximizing the amount of blocks that remain whole and usable for other projects.

    That is one scary chili. I would be afraid. Very afraid. Why didn’t the rats eat that one? Be afraid.


  16. Hi DJ,

    Grass is a funny plant like that, and much depends upon soil temperature and available moisture. If it snows, that could be a problem. Fingers crossed that the weather co-operates with your sowing. I reckon it will look good when the dryland grass eventually reaches full size. Might take a year or two of growth.

    Dude, I thought you were joking with the names Ash and Maple. Don’t you think it is weird that nobody can recall why (was it Ash?) was converted into a one way road? The state road mob did a similar thing to a reasonably well used back road around here, taking it from two lanes each way to one. And as far as I’m aware, nobody even asked for that to occur. It just kind of happened one day. Weirdly, that was all later reversed after the uproar, and the road is now back to two lanes each way. I’m sure you’d have seen some strange things in your day? Before the freeway was put in, the local road was the main country road. It’s quieter now, but works well for slow moving agricultural traffic like tractors. Nobody wants to see a tractor on a freeway.

    I reckon what you wrote is the basis of the whole ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ concept, and I get a similar response from Sandra. If I’m making noise about an issue, it’s not for no reason. Over the years I’ve encountered some folks who’ll make noise about every issue, important or not, and I guess our ladies have learned to discern. Discernment being a useful tool to employ when considering whether issues be taken seriously.

    Oh man, you’ve been commenting here for a few years and may have noticed that whilst I don’t discourage discussion of topics, I do stomp the daylights out of squabbles. There are other places on the interweb for such excitable people. I agree, totally avoidable. My favourite trick with folks getting all worked up about a subject is questioning their mental health. Are you OK? is a powerful antidote to such antics. A mate of mine works in the field of mental health, and after probing questions he suggested a de-escalation tactic of asking an agitated person how their day was going. He’s cool and has had to deal with people having a very bad day.

    I felt really bad about that mention of Ruth Stout, but the word mulch can mean pretty much anything from a useful soil amendment to stuff you should never chuck upon a vegetable plot.

    Many thanks for the introduction to Ruth’s brother, Rex. Ah, we all build upon the word-smith greats which strode the land before us.

    Exactly, for all we know, the wood may have other plans in store? And our imaginations are in many respects limited and so we begin a process which has an uncertain end. Many of the projects here are just like that. You start with a vague notion, and after much hard graft, you end with a result. I’ve watched chainsaw artists tackling a block of wood and producing a coherent image. One of my regrets in life is not having purchased a carved wombat. Oh well.

    I will not hassle you in regard to this project. 🙂

    Hmm, a black glue. Could be some sort of asphalt? The old timers down here, and I mean way back in the Victorian era, used such sticky black mixes in mortar brick courses so as to stop damp rising up through the porous old red bricks. Nowadays we use a thick plastic, but I have wondered about the wisdom of such choices. The sticky black goo would adhere better than a sliver of plastic.

    Yes. That squiggly chilli was fed to the worms today. So we cut it up for lunch and I sampled one chunk. It took twenty minutes for my mouth to settle down. A very unpleasant experience. 😉 But then the dead rats stink set the tone for the day…



  17. Hi Steve,

    Oh yeah, it all starts there. And civilisations rise and fall in direct correlation to their care of: the dirt. 😉 The thing I’ve noticed over the years is that it takes a lot of effort to build soil fertility, and yet it is quite easy to destroy all the hard work, and oh my how quickly.

    Dude, there are some folks out there who I reckon would love to assist you interpreting your soil tests, and even probably help you along the road. I don’t know for sure, but I got the impression that Steve Solomon enjoys interpreting soil analysis tests as a hobby. The benefit he gets from the arrangement – and I’m only guessing here – is that it assists him building a picture in his mind of how things are out there in the real world. It’s possible he knows more about your soil than you may. In many ways and I’m guessing here, but have you considered asking the bloke for assistance with that task? If you don’t wish to do that, his book ‘The Intelligent Gardener’, takes you through the entire interpretation of your soil test result. You get an answer to the question: And then what? I can’t afford soil tests down here. It’s a good service though.

    But I absolutely agree with you. That is the thing, right there. When we treat the soils as a one way deal, and expect to export endless quantity of produce, that’s bad. Really bad. I doubt there are many locations with really decent deep soils now.

    Chickens are good for such work, aren’t they? But broad acre is a whole different matter. I’m following a chop, drop and return to the soils approach for that scale whilst not expecting any output. It takes a lot of years though. What you’ve done sounds good to me, and I’d do no differently. In fact once the roundabout road drama’s get sorted, I’ll bring back some stuff to spread over the paddocks. Can you get rock crusher dust in your part of the world?

    I avoid such animals for exactly that reason, but invite the wildlife in because of the lower care and costs even when they push things too far with the fruit trees. There’s always costs and responsibilities. I doubt that way back in the day, folks expected to consume as much meat as seems to be the norm nowadays. Most farm animals were kept for breeding (and what does that say about the fertility of soils in those days), work and manure, with the occasional sale, swap or harvest.

    Yup, the cycles continues rolling along.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    The dude who is studying the stone walls of New England would have a field day in some parts of this area. Stone walls were the original fences in the wider area and you can still see the remains of them today. And up here in the mountain range on steeper ground, the rocks were always used as retaining walls – just like what I’m doing. The article mentioned one of the aspects of the stone walls which I quite enjoy, and it’s when the mosses and lichens get a toe hold on the rocks used in the walls. The old stone retaining walls around these parts look like something out of Lord of the Rings. Where them elves a hidin’? 🙂 I’m sure rocks would be used in such a manner in your part of the world?

    Thanks for the stone pun. Yes, indeedy!

    There’s something not quite right about waking up to the smell of decomposition. The Editor has a less sensitive nose than I, and so was a bit nonplussed about the stink. Anyhoo, fortified with coffee and in work gear I ventured under the floor of the house to retrieve the not one, but two dead rats.

    So they’d got under the house, and I may have mentioned that previously, that we’d blocked the exit/entrance. I wasn’t sure at the time whether they were still under there. Anyway, we dropped in a special feed, just in case, which they ate. I’m reluctant to poison rats elsewhere because the owls and all manner of forest critters can be in turned poisoned, but when they’re under the house I can be mostly sure that I’ll get the bodies. It all ended badly for the rodents. And what a fine stink. The epi-centre happened to be right under my office, so it’s been a bit headache inducing. Even now as the smell recedes, I’ve got fresh air coming into the room from outside at 11pm. It’s not warm out there either, but the cold fresh air is preferable to the stink.

    One of the benefits of you being on the third floor is that the likelihood of rats is low. Trust me, this is a good thing! 🙂

    “Unknown ritual object” sounds like code word for: We have no idea. But why wouldn’t they put the call out to see what other ‘less close to the subject matter’ folks may see in the unknown ritual objects? What’s the worst that can happen? I guess there was that wooden sex toy found at Vindolanda! No doubt the museum display produced a lot of mirth and snickers from alert visitors at the unknown ritual object on display, until some cheeky wag pointed out the obvious. 🙂

    How have I never seen nor heard of a Magic 8 Ball before? It seems even better than the electronic random decision generator machines of my youth. Most electronic random numbers take very fine readings off an internal digital clock and present that as random, and most of the time, it is. Sun Tzu recommended divination as a way of introducing random elements into his plans. In warfare, best not to be known. Funnily enough, I often wonder why the modern media proclaims battle plans ahead of the day. That seems like odd behaviour to me because it is not like people in other countries can’t read those announcements as well.

    Hey, I heard Plato’s concluding diatribe to his acolytes penned in the final moments of life, was over written by a Roman commanders wife’s party invitation to her friends. 😉 It’s not like such items weren’t found at Vindolanda, and wooden writing boards are not cheap.

    It’s hard to imagine that the old curmudgeon, generally considered one of the great thinkers of all time, was whining about the music played at his death bed. 😉 I told you the Roman commanders wife’s party invite was a more lively affair. I doubt she was complaining about the music! The Romans would have dealt to that musical mischief for sure. It will be interesting to see if they find his remains. You never know. I agree, there will be people looking now that they have a clearer idea as to where he was buried.

    Humour me for a second. Just assume that I know nothing about that drug story, and so there I am listening to the youth news and what I hear does not instil me with confidence. It was a truly fascinating program, much like listening to the early stages of a zombie outbreak. I tend to be of a similar mindset as you, better food, more controlled portion size and exercise. There may be easy paths, but my observation upon the universe is that most easy paths have hidden costs. One of the researchers spoke of this sort of thing ending badly in the past, which again I know nothing about. It sounded like a horror show to me.

    I’d heard a rumour that the farm machine repair dude was using that stuff to lose weight before things went badly for him, not that I’m suggesting causation there. It’s only rumour, but that was the first I’d ever heard of the stuff.

    Those brave food adventurers would have learned a thing or two on that particular quest. 🙂 My opinion is that particular variety of ‘slaw is a bit watery for my tastes. I’m more of a traditionalist in such matters, but rarely eat ‘slaw anyway. Now the three bean salad is a whole different matter. Yum! Yum! That’s a double yum situation. Did you end up making it?

    Your probably local eggs are an exciting new dimension to the food boxes. I think it’s probably a good thing. A fine dinner. We had the baked pumpkin and potato with curry casserole for dinner this evening. Having the smell of decomposition gently in the background did kind of detract from the overall excellence of a roast veg treat. Oh well, tomorrow it shall be better, hopefully.

    It’s exciting. Hope you enjoy the radishes, and they grow to harvest so fast. We grate ours and add them to salads. Are the leaves even edible? A mystery! Hope you get some warm and sunny weather. It was only mostly cloudy here today. The house batteries have been a bit depleted over the past few cloudy days and are now only two thirds full. I like to keep them topped up more than that, just in case. Reasonably stable weather here for the next week. Might break rocks and/or dig tomorrow. Dunno.

    The upside of a warmer and drier year is that if you have access to water, the garden will really produce. And you’ll get to test that air con machine. It’ll make a difference to your liveability there.



  19. Yo, Chris – Thinking about asphalt glue and demolition projects, it brought to mind a demolition project I was involved in, decades ago. Removing floor tiles from a many hundred square foot space. I forget who told me, but, first you lay down a good sized square of dry ice. Give it a few minutes, and hit it at an angle, with a crow bar. While doing that, you can be chilling the next section of tile. It shatters in a very satisfying manner, and then just needs to be swept or shoved up.

    I had a vague memory. Yup. Ruth Stout had a long running gardening program on Public TV. Some episodes are still available on U – Tub.
    Kuddos to DJ. I didn’t know her brother was Rex Stout, the mystery writer.

    We have two major one way roads, here. They form a huge loop, through, and between one town and the next. Part of it is the old, pre-interstate freeway highway 99. Sometimes, when it floods, one or both are closed between the towns.

    You had so many early immigrants from the British Isles, the tradition of stone wall building was probably brought over. We don’t see to many stone walls, on this side of the mountains. But over DJ’s way, I can remember seeing many. My uncle had a small farm, way out in SE Portland. There was a stone wall, between his place and the next. It was, however, made with rounded river rocks and cement. The rocks were “mined” from a nearby creek. It was the neighbors who build the wall, long before my uncle ever acquired his place. The neighbors were, as I remember, rather well off. Big sprawling house, and horses.

    Nothing like the smell of decomposition, in the morning! 🙂 Time to break out the vapor rub! I’ve smelled, that smell, on occasion. Though I could not tell you when. One tends to suppress the memories, as quickly as possible. Yes, lucky I’m on the 3d floor. Especially since there’s an almost 1″ gap under my door. I saw a rat, trying to get up the garbage chute. After that, they got traps in, for the dumpster room. Come to think of it, about 6 months ago, there was that smell, in the dumpster room. Apparently, the trap needed to be emptied.

    About 2 years ago, a snake got in the front door. Followed the wall to the night manager’s (different one, at that time) apartment, and crawled under the door.

    Yes, that was a pretty interesting dust up over that “tool” from Vindolanda. At first, it was identified as something used in weaving. Not that far off a possibility. Might have been a duel use tool. And then the Romans slapped phalli on everything. For luck, and to avert the evil eye. In fact, just the other day, they found another one, at Vindolanda, carved in stone. Couldn’t see a way to link to the article, at Heritage Daily. But, here’s an interesting bit. Just like stone walls, phalli have a classification system. “Each architectural type of phalli have been grouped into one of nine morphological traits: the rocket, the hammer, the kinky-winky, the splitcock, the pointer, the double-dong, running hard, the beast, and the lucky dip.” Probably won’t come up at the next pub quiz, but you never know! 🙂

    Yes, hard to keep battle plans secret, these days. I’ve always thought it was pretty amazing, that, for the most part, D-Day was kept pretty secret. The where and the when.

    The Romans had those wood and wax writing tablets, that were probably pretty pricey. The stylus had an “eraser” end, to smooth out the wax, so it could be re-used. Most of the writing (including the birthday invitation) were done on thin slats of wood. Think, shingles. Made of native birch, alder or oak. Probably from scrap wood.

    Diet drugs, illegal and legal, have a long history. And, carried to extremes, often had bad endings.

    Oh, I’ll get around to the 3 (or more) bean salad, eventually. Now it’s on my mind. I’d guess the local eggs were a one off. Once in awhile, we get cage free, organic. But, usually, it’s from commercial egg farms.

    Taking a quick look down the rabbit hole, reddish greens are edible. Though it says some might have a fuzzy, unpleasant texture. That can be mitigated by cooking. I put out potato traps for pill bugs, last night. We’ll see how it goes.

    Nice, today, rain tonight, nice early tomorrow. I didn’t see any frost around, this morning, and the temperature at the airport only got down to 36F.

    I finally got my recertification paperwork, to sign, and return. Which I did, last night. My rent only went up $15 a month. You would not believe the convoluted calculations involved in figuring out our rent.

    I was able to clean out Elinor’s pantry, last night. Mostly, tinned stuff. I hauled about six bags over to my apartment. There was, mostly, the things we get in our food boxes. I got a goodly amount of meat. Tuna, salmon, and chicken. Some spam. Lots of veg. A bit of fruit. And, a few one off, odd things. A tin of coconut milk. I wonder who will tackle the quart of prune juice? 🙂 It will all be used, eventually.

    I made myself a big bowl of popcorn, with melted cheese, and settled in to watch “They Live,” last night. It came out in 1988, and in some ways, was a bit prophetic. The lead was Roddy Piper, a very popular wrestler, back in the day. Who also did a lot of B movies. An adequate performer. The real stunner, was Meg Foster. Those eyes. A man could get lost, in those eyes. 🙂

    Time to make up a batch of my four fruits and oatmeal. I do that, about every three days. I notice I’m down to about four gallon bags of blueberries. Will the crop come in, before I run out? The suspense is killing me. Lew

  20. Hi Lewis,

    Cleaning up floor tiles is very much a part of ‘making good’ a commercial property. You sent me on rabbit hole, as I would never have considered using dry ice for such a task. The stuff lasts for hours too depending on the size of the brick. Such low temperatures would do weird things to the ceramics and adhesives. Thanks for the tip. I’ve got an attachment for the electric jackhammer which can deal with tiles. Just like the dry ice, sometimes you need a bit of extra authority!

    I’ll check out the Ruth Stout video and see if my perspective changes. I don’t mind hard work though. Had to get under the house again this morning and crawl around – this time more thoroughly. The decomposition stink was less powerful today and getting less, but still present. A mystery. Discovered two older, but desiccated rat carcasses. Removed those. Tried to enlist Dame Plum who was petrified at the thought of helping me out under the house. Abandoned that idea. Instead Ruby was press ganged into assistance, but didn’t perform any better than my nose did. Poured vinegar over the area where the two were removed from yesterday. Can’t hurt. The aroma however persists, and the windows are open letting in fresh air.

    Oh well. After that, we headed down below to the area we cleaned up a week or two back and began breaking up the boulders there. We might now have enough large rocks to finish the low gradient ramp project. Just gotta bring the heavy monsters back up the hill. And do some more digging. No decision has yet been made about the exit ramp at that far end of the project. I’ve chucked out an idea, but will it float?

    What a nightmare when local roads flood. Of course you and I don’t drive through flooded roads, however this is not always the case for the average citizen! The things I’ve seen over the years.

    That’s where the stone wall concept came from. Hey, the old timers also used to plant super spiky and thick Hawthorne hedges. You still see a few of those today. It’s tough livestock which can get through that sort of hedge.

    Rounded rocks are no good for a rock wall, for the reasons you cited and: Cement is required. If rocks have more random edges, they’ll stick together and form a cohesive mass. Most horses I’ve seen are over stocked and that damages the land. Why else would horse owners sell off their pony poop? Horses run feral up in the alpine country far off to the east of here. A herd of those would be a complicated and possibly dangerous thing to encounter.

    Just like napalm! 🙂 Nah, I was thinking of what you wrote about the vapour rub, but I needed the nose to discover where the dead rodent stench was coming from. I’m not at all certain that my odyssey was fruitful.

    A 1″ gap under the door could allow access for a rodent, but then you’ve got H, and it would be her moment to shine, maybe. That’s horrid about the snake, although they’re not poisonous in your part of the world, are they? Although it could have been an escaped pet, and who knows what venom it may have? Probably easier to get bitten down here where there is more access to anti-venom for the local species. A different night manager. Hmm. Didn’t die suddenly due to unknown causes?

    I remember the explanation that the tool was some sort of weaving tool or implement. Look it’s possible, but you know, it kind of looks like a… 🙂 I like where you are going with this though. Yeah, dual use. I’d never have thought of that, but yeah. Best not to be wasteful. Thanks for mentioning the Heritage Daily article, and the names for the various phallic representations are pretty funny. I’d not known that it was an official Roman state icon.

    I’ve never been to a pub quiz. Been to pubs though, and went tonight for a pint and a feed. Was talking to another local I knew about the ‘cost of living’ pressures, otherwise known as inflation. He’d skipped the meal (presumably ate at home) and was enjoying the drink. A lot of people talk to me about this issue nowadays.

    Yes, we have done better in the past on that front, and the secrecy and ruses around D-Day was taken very seriously – for good reasons. In these more enlightened days, plans are blurted out in the media beforehand, which seems very odd to me. Even Sun Tzu acknowledge the presence (and employment thereof) of spies.

    Did the Romans write upon animal skins? Ah, I see, they did. I hadn’t realised that material was also known as parchment. Weren’t degree certificates from once reputable institutions long ago printed on parchment?

    The leading to the bad ends with those drugs was what alarmed me. I guess time will sort it all out. I mentioned food for the fifth week discussion, but my ideas rarely fly there.

    Common opinion seems to suggest that radish leaves are indeed edible, but cooked for the fuzz reasons you mentioned. Did you catch any wood lice in your potato trap? How’s the competition going?

    That’s close to freezing, but as they say, no cigar. The nights here are getting colder. Although 44’F is warmer than that reading at the nearby airport of yours.

    They do say that inflation is low, and it may be true. I just don’t think so. How’s the $15 increase going with your budget? Just paid a subscription which went up 12%. Another software annual fee went up 11%. It’s getting hard out there… The convoluted calculations are probably not ever intended to be made by your good self.

    Is most of that stuff heading down to the Club? I chuck a little bit of coconut oil into my muesli, fruit and yoghurt breakfast, and quite enjoy the stuff, although the cocount milk will be a bit runnier. There was a Singaporean restaurant near to where I used to live when in the big smoke (almost typed bog smoke, whatever that means?) and they used the coconut milk in a dessert. On the interweb it’s described as a coconut rice pudding. People add strange items to the dessert, but the one I knew was basically boiled rice, golden syrup and coconut milk. It was very tasty. I’ve seen it sometimes made but using tapioca pearl rather than rice. You don’t see tapioca used much nowadays down under, but my grandmother used to make that dessert.

    A quart of prune juice may have some interesting side effects. 🙂

    Did you enjoy the film ‘They Live’? It’s on the to-see list here. Yes, Meg has some astounding coloured eyes.

    Yikes! It may get close with the blueberry reserves. And you’re assuming that the weather is conducive to a decent blueberry harvest. We had a very bad year for blackberries – mostly due to the heavy rain during pollination.

    Might dig some soil tomorrow, but me tired after the rat carcass hunt and rock splitting today.



  21. Hi, Chris!

    It’s no dream . . .

    I love your discussion about soil. One can never have too many thoughts about that. We have horse manure compost that we bought about three years ago. I am still adding it to beds because – though you cannot plant anything straight in it, it has no weeds on it, like yours – it does loosen up our clay soil and helps it retain water. And we already have it.

    What I really like is our homemade compost from kitchen and garden waste. The kitchen stuff has been attracting a lot of varmints that might like to eat, or fight with, Mr. Baby (contrary to his name, he is one tough egg). So we have bought a worm castle – also know as a “Vermihut” to try our luck inside. I mean, it’s posh. And it comes with servants – just like the cat: Us. Since we can’t name each of these new pets, I have named the whole clan after some nice neighbors that we used to have: The Wormingtons.

    I don’t often buy fresh fruit at a store, except for lemons, and melons in the summer. It has no flavor, as you mentioned. We actually grew a few Meyer lemons inside on a tree this past winter. But growing melons here, they either don’t, or animals eat them.

    The rock gabions are beautiful. They look like drystone walls. Will they stay in place once the cages rust? I am in awe of the vast number of boulder and junior boulders, that is, the cut-up ones, that you have lining the paths.

    I guess we should have expected rats in the greenhouse. They figure any place is worth trying to break into. Those must not be hot chillis? I don’t think they would have taken more than one bite each if the were hot ones. Could they have climbed through any of the ventilation?

    Look at those pumpkins! How does one store persimmons?

    Oh, my! Thank you for the roses! And the autumn leaves.


  22. Yo, Chris – I’ll keep an eye on the mail, for the invitation to the ribbon cutting 🙂 . Maybe build a stone arch? Gatekeepers cottage? Turrets, moat and drawbridge?

    Yes, when it floods here, there’s all kinds of signs about (both on the roads and on-line weather reports), “Don’t Drown Turn Around.” Of course, a certain segment of the population thinks such warnings don’t apply to them …. A sense of entitlement may kill you.

    The thing about building with river rock is, you probably have to use forms, of some type or another. I’ve seen a lot of river rock fire places. I wonder how they build, those?

    We have quit a few wild horses, in the American west. And, burros. Here’s an article. Kind of long, but current policy is down toward the bottom …

    After the change in administration, here at the Institution, we’ve run through night managers at a pretty steady clip. I think Chad is our 4th? 5th? One was in poor health, from the get go. Two others, I think, didn’t care for the management’s “style.” 🙂

    Yes, there’s a lot of chatter about rising prices. I went on a shopping trip, last night, to a store where I can usually get things I can’t find at the Dollar + store or the other low price store. Six items cost me $63. But, I was buying large sizes of things. A five pound bag of H’s Very Special Food was $14. Swiss cheese seems to have disappeared, again. At least, there was none in the two stores I checked. Settled for Mozzarella. But my rent increase bothered me, not at all. My income went up, a bit, so my rent went up, a bit. As my rent is tied to income. Still the best deal, in town.

    Yes, the Romans used parchment. And, also, a lot of papyrus paper, from Egypt. I haven’t heard it, in years, but getting a degree was sometimes referred to as “getting a sheepskin.” As the certificates were on parchment.

    I followed up your vote, over at Mr. Greers, with my own, for food. I groaned, a lot, reading his new post last night. At some of the suggestions. And, although I would never say it, I think a lot of the suggestions would be better over at his other blog. I’ll check it out, again, tonight, and see if anyone else climbed on the food band wagon.

    I did see some very small pill bugs, when I checked the potatoes, this morning. Last night, I hunted slugs (not many), and noticed there were a lot of pill bugs, about.

    I took three bags of food, down to the Club, last night. Our commodities box should come, next Wednesday. Maybe I can stretch all this food into two weeks.

    There was Tapioca, when I was a kid. Grandma’s. I think that was just when the mixes were coming in.

    Oh, yes. “They Live” was worth a look. I swung by the library, yesterday, and picked up 10 DVDs. And, a book. I watched a Nova science special, on Easter Island, last night. The book is “The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War.” It’s by Erik Larson, who has written several non-fiction histories. I think I’ve read most of them. I stayed up way too late last night, reading.

    You may, or may not remember, that each year we can sign up for some “credits” to be used a farmer’s markets. Until last year, they were paper coupons. Last year they switched to a credit card like format. The fruit stand where I had bought my blueberries took the coupons … but last year, not the card. 🙁 . So, I went to our local farmer’s market. Not only did I not get as much, I had to haul the flats several blocks to my truck. Any-who. It was announced, yesterday, that we can sign up, again.

    Speaking of decline, and such, there was an article I saw yesterday, that was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the only way to link to it is through the bird social network or face-plant. The title is, “Why Britain’s Towns and Cities are Going Bust.” Lew

  23. Chris,

    We’ve gotten very busy the past two days. Projects. Errands. More projects. Errands for more material for the projects, etc.

    I recently found a new author, well, new to me. Louise Erdrich. She is Native American. I completely enjoyed “The Round House”, which was a very good story that included Native humor, life on the Rez, as well as some coming of age ideas. After that, I read “The Painted Drum”, also by her. Totally different than “Round House”.

    One paragraph in particular I found interesting in Painted Drum. The following is a direct quote:
    The wolf said, “We live because we live.” The human thought, “So they do not look around them and wish for a different life, or shorten their lives resenting humans, or even fear than any more than is appropriate. They are efficient. They deal with what they encounter and then go on. Minute by minute, one day to the next.”

    Anyhow, me tired.


  24. Hi DJ,

    Ah yes, and then there is this here thing called: life! 🙂 It does tend to get in the way, totally get that. Hope the errands were run with high levels of efficiency, and even more importantly, the materials were not too expensive? Inflation being a serious bummer. You may recall my recent Alaskan mill device – which I’m yet to test. Too many projects on at any one time make my head spin, so it must wait. Incidentally I noticed a really thick burl on one of the tall trees today! Drool worthy for the likes of a carver. 🙂

    Thank you for the introduction. Karen Louise has lead an interesting life and was also given a gift late in her life, by what looks to me like a healer. Sometimes words can come from trauma, other times they can come from the heart. The ones from the mind can sometimes read like a little list. But to tell a story and engage an audience, hmm.

    Ha! Thanks for the quote, which was thoroughly enjoyed. Some in the culture of the west were also raised by wolves. Yes. Always has it been thus.

    Hope you had a chance to relax and chill. Me, I dug soil today and thought about maybe adding in 5 minute videos on the week’s work. Never fear, the words are where my heart resides.



  25. Hi Pam,

    Thanks. Candidly I was a bit worried that it was a dream.

    It’s no hardship for me to discuss soil, most of the time I’m not allowed to do so. 😉 Just kidding. A few years ago courtesy of Claire’s prodding in the right direction, my poor already overloaded brain had to suck in even more new esoteric information on the subject of soil. However, when the objective person looks back upon the entire matter from a return on investment perspective, well, the fruit trees were hardly growing before that time, so yeah it was all worth it. Yes, a person can never have too many thoughts on that particular subject, and history records that civilisations rise and fall on their particular attitudes to maintaining soil fertility. Did you know that the Romans knew about adding lime and also crop rotation practices?

    Yeah, that’s so true about pony poop. Years ago when I was active with the local seed group a very young lady turned up to the meeting to try and organise a swap of pony poop for vegetables. In theory it sounds like a good idea, but practice and theory are often different – as you note with your usage of the stuff. Incidentally, once the roundabout situation is corrected, I plan to bring back some of that stuff, although when it is sold down here as mushroom compost it is often mixed bedding straw and pony poop. Exactly, for all of those reasons.

    Mr Baby sounds like a notable veteran fighter, with a name which doesn’t quite represent the reality. 🙂 A bit ‘A boy called Sue’, if I may add! To a cat, as you rightly point out, all humans are their servants, and our antics are there to amuse them and meet their needs. Hey, when we were in the big smoke, we had a similar set up, and yes it is proper posh. What I found was that the worm juices built up pretty fast, and so instead of having the collector chamber at the bottom, I just chucked the trays directly into a large raised bed and planted vegetables around it. The compost juice went straight into the soil where the plants grew and saved me having to empty it. And best of all the naughty rodents couldn’t break into it. Some may say lazy, but it sure worked. Lovely neighbours!

    Melons can be a bit hit or miss down here too. When garden grown, they taste amazing, but probably wouldn’t stand much travel. The year we grew melons successfully was the 2019-2020 Black Summer of bushfires (which didn’t reach here). It was a hot year, but wow, did the melons grow then or what, and have failed each year since. Have you consumed the Meyer lemons yet?

    I tend to think that the rocks will stay in place once the steel rusts. Of course the steel will not rust equally, and soil infiltrates the cages no matter what I do, plus the rocks settle. We’ll see. Report to follow in a few decades time. We spent yesterday breaking up a large number of boulders. That low gradient path project eats large rocks. We dug more soil today.

    That was only half the pumpkins and zucchini. I must say that they seem rather full of dietary fibre. 🙂 The persimmons are stored on a tray, and presumably blet and soften – that’s the fancy word for ferment. Once the persimmons are done, it will be kiwi fruit harvesting time. The rats are already onto them, but there are hundreds of fruit to pick, and they’re still unripe. They may need a frost, dunno.

    🙂 Hey, I was thinking of a 5 minute each week video showing the projects in action, and other stupid stuff, like the dogs etc. Trust me, it won’t detract from the words, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on what might be of interest to show in that visual format?



  26. Hi Lewis,

    Possibly with the way the world is heading, it would be a smart move to add in turrets, moat and a drawbridge! The gatekeepers cottage would certainly draw the attention of the local authoritas who’d want their cut in the form of fees for what they’d consider a bed and breakfast accommodation. Defending against the zombie hordes may not cut it. I got my property taxes in the mail today and they went up 4%. Fortunately that lot are limited to a 5% annual increase, which will be a real bummer for them should inflation creep past that number. To be honest, from what I’m seeing of bills, 4% is a cheap increase. Most are in the realms of the 10%+, which is a bit scary. Would the ribbon cutting ceremony change if the fortifications were more pragmatic? What I was wondering was whether miscreants should be chucked into the moat? Crocodiles would be useful there in the moat, but they’d require regular feeding. That could become expensive.

    That’s a catchy slogan for reminding people to not drive through floodwater. It rhymes too. But do people listen to the good advice? Maybe. I like your final analysis of the situation, and can’t argue with such fine logic.

    Form work is not hard to make. Mostly nowadays people use plywood and structural timber, and that’s it. I’ve seen some poured concrete walls where the builders used heavily grained timber, and that leaves a really interesting finish on the concrete. You don’t see such work around much these days, but then the buildings do end up looking a bit like a bunker. In the UK, I’ve seen some polystyrene click together blocks used as form work, and it’s probably fine, but there can be leaks.

    Cement is a funny material. You can’t use a standard mixture on fireplaces because the moisture content drops markedly with the energy of the combustion and weakens it. Now, what do they do? … … Seems like there are many different ways to mix up refractory mortar. That stuff can stand some serious heat.

    Ah, things are different down here with the mustangs. They get culled down to sustainable levels. There’s always a bit of an outcry, but possibly only a person who’d never experienced an unanticipated shortage of food, would get excited by the prospect of large herds of feral horses starving to death. Speaking of such matters, after removing four rat carcasses and keeping the house well ventilated over the past few days, the stink of decomposition seems to have reduced. I reckon the aroma gets into things… Now to stop the rodents from getting under the house in the first place. The house design is not bad, but it could be far better in that regard.

    Dude, high staff turnover is a sign that something maybe ain’t right. It’s been my observation that employees who are paid appropriately and treated well, tend to be likely stick around. Not everyone agrees, and that’s fine. Life is a journey.

    Prices are all over the shop (please excuse the word pun), but generally down here they seem to be on the up. And I’m thinking about growing more edible plants next growing season, and constructing a second greenhouse, although that may be a next year project. Good to hear about the increase not bothering you. Always wise to be coasting along. I’ve got a number of bills I could drop if necessity dictated. It is a good deal that you’re getting. It’s the clever bloke who knows when to be content with what.

    Isn’t papyrus an interesting material? It doesn’t look too difficult to make. We often get reeds growing in damp areas here. Obviously they’re a different species, but still who knows what the pith can do? That’s it! I’d heard the term ‘getting a sheepskin’ somewhere long in the past.

    I saw your vote. Fingers crossed, although I don’t recall ever being successful in that forum. It’ll probably end up being the glass beads. All we can but do is try.

    Hope the bags of food were well received, or at least cleared out of the Club pantry. Have you observed any increase in the speed the stuff is moving out from the pantry?

    You don’t see Tapioca served much nowadays, but I recall that it was quite good. But then anything mixed with coconut milk and golden syrup would probably taste pretty good. The serving sizes were always very small, like a smaller version of a traditional rice bowl.

    The film is rapidly moving up the to-see list. Thanks for mentioning it, the film is a bit of a cult classic. It’s probably never a good time to be stuck on Easter Island. It could literally be claimed that things were better on that island in the initial stages of settlement.

    Speaking of films and stuff, I was thinking of maybe adding a regular 5 minute video showing the projects as they’re being done with me saying fun and stupid stuff etc. The Editor has been dragooned into doing the hard bits of editing etc, so it’ll make no difference to the words and discussion here. Do you have any suggestions or advice?

    It’s good fun to stay up into the wee hours reading an un-put-downable book. 🙂

    I do recall your local food mad cash system and the difficulties it presented last year. It is possible the card readers are not cheap. So are you intending to sign up again? Seems like you just have to do the leg work to make that system work. Dunno. So free offers aren’t all that free.

    We dug more soil today on the low gradient path, and finally agreed upon how the exit ramp will work. Of course this now means even more digging than anticipated which is work for another day next week. We also have to test the path to see whether it works for the purpose it’s being put too. Best to do that testing before the rocks are placed.

    I’d been reading about such possibilities with those entities. I was reading about Birmingham, and had a thought: well Rome went broke too, and had better mosaics. It’s a truth that everyone wants something, and all the time. Mostly what I read were people demanding a bail out and saying how much they needed the services. You have to appreciate that my perspective is that I divested myself as much as possible of the need for such services. But their reach is still far too great, and the demands too complicated. It took me four thick folders of paperwork to simply get permission to build a house. That seems like administrative overkill to me. There are cheaper ways to do these sorts of things, but who will step away? I’ve already done so, and note that it is easier to walk than be pushed.



  27. @ Pam – I had a worm box, running for years. I got a large plastic storage box, drilled a few holes in the top, and one drain hole in the bottom. Set it up on 2/4s with a smaller plastic box under the drain. As it filled, I’d put the “worm juice” in a gallon jug.

    As I’d add kitchen scraps, I’d work my way around the inside edge of the box. By the time I got back to the starting point, whatever I’d put in there was gone. That worm juice was really a magic elixir! I’ve seen it bring back plants, from the dead. 🙂

    When I move here, there was really no good place to put the worm box. (I had mine on the front porch, of my old place.) So, I set the worms free, into the gardens. Born Free!!! :-). Lew

  28. Yo, Chris – There was a mention in the Civil War book I’m reading, that in defense of a fort on Charleston Harbor, a moat was dug. Was it filled with water? It didn’t go into detail (sandy soil?), it wasn’t. But the bottom was filled with quick sand. In the most recent “Walking Dead” series, (Daryl Goes to France!), some bad guy had a French castle, and filled his moat with zombies. Always an option. 🙂

    Seems like every time we have serious flooding, an old duffer or two, drives into deep water, gets out of their vehicle, and are swept away. My theory is, when some people get to a venerable age, they get the idea that they are immortal. Imagine their surprise …

    I’ve seen that wood grain, pressed into concrete. Quite a nice effect. It does, in some instances, humanize brutalist architecture.

    There was a lot of hoop-la, here, about “harvesting” wild horses for dog food. Don’t know about this link ….

    Don’t I remember some similar article involving kangaroos?

    Maybe you’re just getting used to the rat stink? 🙂 And it does seem to cling to everything.

    Yes, there was quit a bit of turnover. The horrible woman who was running things then, has moved on. But her minion is still in place. Little Mary Sunshine. Miss Personality. But things are a bit better. The old harridan had this philosophy that new staff should be acquired, periodically, to keep things …. fresh?

    Well, I checked last night, and there was one more vote for food. But, I’m afraid it’s a lost cause. Oh, well. That’s one week I probably won’t be reading the essay, or following the comments.

    Food pantry at the Club. Well, here in the states, poor folks can sign up for what used to be called, “food stamps.” There again, they were paper coupons. But, quit a few years ago, they switched to a credit card like arrangement. An EBT card. Electronic Benefits Transfer. During You Know What, the food benefits were increased. And, there were food programs for families with children. Now that the “emergency” is over, those food benefits have been cut back. Once that happened, I noticed that more basic items, that had languished a bit, were getting hit, harder. And toward the end of the month, when people have perhaps run through a lot of their food allowance, things in our food pantry move out faster.

    Thoughts on you doing a video? Will there be a music track? 🙂 Get an agent. Steer clear of bubble baths. Though it was effective in that Wall Street movie. Oh, I’m sure you’ll do, just fine. Your bread video on U-Tub is quit good.

    Yes, I’ll sign up for the farmer’s market card, again. Somehow or another, I’ll find a source of blueberries. Takes the edge off the cash outlay. It’s kind of irritating, that in theory, we should have quit a few blueberries, from our bushes here at the Institution. But the last couple of years, the watering has been screwed up, for one reason and another, and the crop was poor.

    It’s worrying that our county and two major towns are always dipping into their “prudent” reserve, to meet budget. It shrinks. So far, they haven’t had to sell off any infrastructure. Privatize it. If that comes to pass, it will signal the beginning of the end. Lew

  29. Yo, Chris – Speaking of soil … Here’s an interesting short video on farmland contamination due to bio solids …

    I forgot to mention, I diddled around in the garden, for a few hours, last night. Got the Patriotic Petunia Basket, planted and up. Sang a few bars of the national anthem, to it. Dead headed the miniature iris and parsley. Did some weeding. Planted a few more areas of Bachelor Button seeds. I see a few plants are coming up, where they were pulled out. I’ll figure out something to fence them off, more effective than plastic forks. I checked my pill bug potato traps, and they seem to be working. A few more days, and I’ll dispose of them, and reset the traps. I wonder if there’s bio solids in any of the dirt I’ve added to the garden? Guess I need to read the packages, more carefully. Lew

  30. Chris,

    Nice try with the burl, but I am NOT drooling. Self control. Ooops! what’s this puddle on the desk underneath my mouth? Oh nuts! I’m drooling!

    The errands were done efficiently. Things ARE expensive, but when the items are necessities for projects for sister’s memorial next month…

    Killian’s human picked me up at noon today and took me to Costco where she has a membership. It’s one of those huge warehouse stores where everything is sold in large portions. I was able to score a LOT of things for the memorial there at better prices than elsewhere.

    Yes, Karen Louise has led a very interesting and complicated life. Her getting a second chance was fortuitous, to say the least. She is a good writer. “The Painted Drum” is a book that I likely wouldn’t have finished, except her writing style kept me entertained enough to stick with the book until I found it fascinating. I’ll have to find more of her books from the library.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the quote. I really enjoyed it, too.

    Yes, relax and chill. That’s this evening. Tomorrow is carving club, then relax and chill in the afternoon, mixed with chores. I’ve also got the mystery project to work on Sunday, as well as another project the Princess has for me.

    We have rain in the forecast Saturday night through Monday morning. The forecast calls for up to maybe 18mm of rain. I’m of the opinion that anything more than 6mm will be a bonus. I’ve been here through other drought cycles and 18mm seems ambitious.

    Meanwhile, Sunday is also the day of a big race, Lilac Bloomsday Run. I participated as a runner in 1979, the 3rd run, the first to have over 10,000 participants, and the last to have an 8.2 mile course. The Princess and I have also participated as walkers several times, but not for more than 20 years.
    I think they’re expecting over 40,000 runners again this year. With the forecasted rain and the probable temperatures of about +6C throughout the race, participation might suffer.

    Don Kardong, founder of the race, was a distance runner in the Olympics. He finished 4th in the marathon at the 1976 Olympic Games, then started the Bloomsday Run the next year. It has been a fixture ever since.


  31. Hi DJ,

    It’s a good burl and worthy of such a reaction. 🙂 Unless the big tree falls over, the burl is a long way up the trunk, and thus is inaccessible. It’s hard to even imagine what may have caused the burl, they’re not at all common on the trees here.

    Thanks for the explanation, and yes, some costs are not too much to pay. I’m finding things to be increasingly expensive, and just had two large bills with annual increases of 11% and 12% respectively. Nice for some.

    Oh, they’ve got one of those warehouses near to the big smoke. Never been there myself. All large sizes, hmm… Whoa. Just read an article on what the warehouses are all about down under (note appears remarkably similar to your lot from what the text suggested). My brain now hurts. 😉 Hope the memorial goes smoothly and glad to hear that you saved some cash.

    I look forward to your reviews of future books from the author.

    🙂 Having several dogs running around the house getting up to mischief, gives me a solid appreciation for wolves. Dame Avalanche would likewise know such things.

    I’m rather envious of the relax and chill talk. Plans changed abruptly this morning, and I’d hoped for a relax and chill day, but alas. So I just kind of rolled with things and chopped up the huge tree head which fell to the ground a month or two back, and then used the brush cutter to remove grass away from the trunks of about half the fruit trees. Me feeling tired tonight.

    The chores never end. Was carving club good? I will not mention your creation, but hope it is going well.

    18mm is a great amount of rain for this time of year, although as you note: best not to count your chickens before they’re hatched. You never know, you may even end up with more rain than forecast? The next week is looking quite dry and stable. Sunny / cloudy days and now wind to speak of. Cool nights now though. Brr!

    You hadn’t mentioned running before, respect – and best to stop before knee damage occurs. Walking is a better sport. That’s perfect running weather in my books. 🙂 Most of those sorts of distance runs are done down here in the cooler months of the year. The results of the winners are astounding. Never seen a 12km run, but used to do plenty of 10km distances which was something of a standard. That’s a lot of competitors too. It’s been my observation that many runners knock themselves out at the very beginning of the course, my strategy was different. Would you ever try walking it again?



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry man, I didn’t watch the video on the alleged farmland contamination. Such things don’t surprise me, and you’d be amazed at the quantity of plastic we find in compost and mulches. I’d have to say that plastic plants and miniature plastic dolphins are not compostable – this does not stop people adding those items to their green waste. That sort of thing happens on a poisoned planet, and I’m assuming that biosolids was code word for composted sewage sludge wastes? PFAS are an intriguing chemical. When there are large scale bushfires, sometimes I believe fire retardants are added to the water which is dropped from aircraft.

    Singing such patriotic songs to the petunias will surely help them bloom perfectly. Oh yeah, I do hope that your Batchelor Buttons survive the helpful weeding activities this year? The dead bugs would probably make a good addition to the compost or soil. Lewis, people ask me that sort of question all the time. It comes from fear of growing your own edibles. There is a underlying assumption that ‘purchased, is better’, because otherwise the people asking me that sort of question would have to reconsider their own choices. There’s going to be some sort of contaminant in your garden soil, that’s life. Things however, may be worse where input costs are under commercial pressures and there may well be supply constraints too.

    I’d imagine that obtaining the quicksand for the moat would have been an extraordinarily dangerous endeavour? Did they go into any details? That’s a great use for zombies, and one I’d not previously considered. You’d be a bit nervous though if the zombies suddenly learned how to climb, or stand one upon the other? Still, the moat sends a strong message – approach with caution.

    Sadly, this country is also filled with old duffers get the idea that they’re immortal. It is worth noting that things can go wrong very quickly in a flood. It doesn’t take much water either. Just to get an idea of the force of the water, many years ago in a nearby town housing estate (built upon an old creek bed – seemed like a good idea at the time, maybe) the road flooded and all the neighbours were out and about. Just the edge of the rapidly moving flood waters was almost enough to knock me over. I was prepared for the force, but surprised by the strength of it all the same. And oh yeah, what you mentioned would be a surprise.

    The wood grain effect does tend to add interest to what would otherwise be the equivalent of one of those tilt slab sided buildings which are really quick to construct. Diesel fuel is a remarkable energy.

    Articles sure read differently in those days. Both sides of the argument were presented. There’s some sort of toxicity from wild horses which had consumed a particular toxic plant, so yeah I think it has been a problem in pet feed.

    I’m not used to the decomposition stink. It is fading, but slowly. Strangely enough, running the wood heater and radiators seems to reduce the stink. Not sure why that would be.

    Some workplace cultures are, err, difficult. There’s an old saying about a fish rotting from the head. Mostly in small businesses, such things don’t go on – they’re all busy earnin’. It takes a lot of surplus fat in an organisation to muck around with staff, and eventually the fat all gets burned up. I was never much good at the politics in larger businesses, it doesn’t help matters being a straight talkin’ kind of guy. People’s feathers get ruffled, and I just didn’t much care for it, generally I lost such battles, you know, politics and stuff… I’m sure you’d have seen similar things over the years?

    I like your food idea, and think it’s great. We’ll see, has anyone ever fact checked the essay result to the voting tabulation? It’d make a fun essay on the subject of vote counting intransigence! Down here where paper rules, the vote count process is super honest.

    Far out. Thanks for the on the ground view of the Club pantry activities. Wow. I’m lost for words.

    Ha! There’ll be no music track due to licensing issues. I knew someone who moved to the US and got involved in that work. When I heard about that, it gave me quite the attack of the vapours. I can learn and adapt though. 😉 I promise no bubble baths. Dude I don’t even think that I own that article, and probably don’t. Watching what works in that medium has been something I’d taken an interest in over the past year or so. There’s always something going on here. Yes, the Margot Robbie in the bubble bath scene was concluded with a sense of command that suggested a person with inner force and strength. I may have used that simple three word line… 🙂 Hey, it works.

    Yikes about the blueberries. I didn’t water the ones here last summer. They produced really well, but the birds were feral for the berries. They get a decent feed from the worm farm system. I suspect the plants are heavy feeders. I wasn’t able to really water them during the summer due to having to move the big green water tank. Hopefully that is all sorted out before next summer. Growing edibles is a very complicated process where you can go wrong at any stage, often without realising.

    Yup, a sell off is probably a bad sign. The state goobermint did that trick last time around to get out of a huge debt problem. Not sure what they’ll do this time. They look like they are in it up to their eyeballs to me.



  33. Chris:

    Claire has such great information on soil – and lots of other things pertaining to planting.

    I am not surprized that the Romans knew those things. They knew so much – except when to stop. Ha!

    About a year ago they built a roundabout in the middle of our little 2-lane highway into town; it took them a year and half to do so. I was bracing myself for trouble once it opened, but it has been really great as it was a rural crossroads where the traffic had gotten very busy, so it was quite hard to turn onto the highway. So maybe you will like yours once it’s finished.

    Yes, we ate the Meyers. They were delicious.

    I am looking forward to a rock report in 20 or 30 years. Since I am already 67, you might go ahead and prepare to send it on to Heaven.

    I made sauerkraut this spring from the last of our few winter cabbages. I had to buy some, too, to make enough. I just started eating it. Yum! Yum, yum, yum!


  34. Chris:

    I forgot to answer about your videos. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but will let you know if you do. I like everything you do.

    Ah! Dogs?


  35. Yo, Chris – Yes, it was sewage sludge. I guess all one can do is eat as low as possible, on the food chain, and hope for the best. Know, as much as possible, where your food comes from.

    No, there were no details on how they constructed the quick sand moat. I read some more of the Civil War book, last night. I can’t say I’m a real “Civil War buff,” but you can’t live in this country for 3 quarters of a century, and not pick up at least an outline. And I did watch Ken Burns many part documentary about it. But, I didn’t know more than the bare bones details, of the lead up. History may not repeat, but it rhymes. Said someone or another.

    Yes, even a few inches of water, moving at a fast clip, can carry one away. It has rained, not hard, but constant, for the past few days. In the past 24 hours, every time I take H out, we’ve both gotten very wet. Doesn’t help that once she’s done her business, she feels moved to take a Sniff and Smell Tour. Sorry. Not getting soaked, just so you can satisfy your curiosity. Leave that for more climate weather. Looks like we won’t have clearing, until Wednesday. Could be worse. The news out of Houston, Texas, is not good.

    Office politics, just makes me do eye rolls. A waste of time and energy.

    I really thought with all the food chatter, back and fourth, last week, that there’d be more interest in a food post. Oh, well. I’ll just keep putting it forward until we’ve run through all the other people’s hobby horses.

    I’ll be fertilizing the blueberries, with ammonium sulfate, per usual. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Maybe we can make it through one season, without watering problems. Maybe.

    Well, yesterday was Friday, so, per usual, the elevator broke down. Little Mary Sunshine won’t call the repair people on weekends, due to cost. But she had no choice, this time. The elevator motor was racing, overheating, and the building filled with the smell of elevator distress. I was taking a couple of bags of food, down to the Club. I wasn’t going to take H, but didn’t want the firemen to have to throw a flaming dog out the third story window. Just as we were leaving, a firetruck pulled in. By the time we got back, the fire department was gone, and the elevator repair guy, was here.

    I heard this morning (from the night manager) that nothing can be done for the elevator, until next week. And that it might take three days to repair. I’d say, half the inmates (or more) can’t navigate the stairs. I think the fire department may have been here, to get inmates stranded on the first floor, back to their apartments.

    LOL. There may, or may not, be food on offer, at the Club, tonight. It may, or may not be cheese burgers. I just won’t get my expectations get out of control. Lew

  36. Yo, Chris – Here’s an interesting article, about why our food pantry at the Club is important. You can skip the video.

    There are costs involved in trying to reach recovery. Just as a couple of examples, some people are court mandated to have “breathalyzers” in their vehicles. You have to breath into them, before the car will start. They’re expensive, and, glitchy. UA (Urine Analysis) kits are $15 per. That’s what the Club sells them for, and it’s the cheapest price in town.

    So, anything the pantry can do, to take a little pressure off, is the goal. Lew

  37. @ Lew:

    That was something I tried: A homemade box like you mentioned, but on the front porch. It worked quite well – until the bear. And raccoons moved around a bit, but couldn’t get into it. There is no room for it in the house, except maybe in the basement, though that’s questionable. And it stays pretty cool down there year round, not sure what temperature worms prefer. We can fit the worm castle into the kitchen, and the thing is bought, so we shall see. Thanks for the advice, though.


  38. @ Lew:

    Hey, Lew – my Bachelors Buttons are blooming. They always make me think of you, since you like blue flowers and are a bachelor. Don’t know what your opinion is on buttons.


  39. Hi Chris,

    You asked what minerals were over and under supplied in my soil.

    When I first tested the soil, sulfur (the US spelling – never use two letters when one will do), phosphorus, and potassium were all deficient. Occasionally calcium has been deficient, but not every year.

    In excess – and not by a little, either – was, and still is, iron. I have no idea why, because our soil isn’t reddish in color. But sometimes I wonder if there isn’t an old dump underneath the vegetable garden. Whenever I dig a garden bed before planting it, I find things like shards of glass, bits of bricks and kitchen ceramics, and old rusted nails in it. A couple of days ago, when I started digging another bed, I found a broken bottle neck with part of the shoulder below the neck attached! I’ve found entire horseshoes in the soil too.

    My paternal grandparents had a cottage on one of the small lakes in Michigan. At that time there was no trash service to their cottage or any of the others that line the shore of the lake. Out behind the gravel road leading to the houses, my grandparents had a dump, a big bowl-shaped hole dug partway into the side of a hill in which they threw all the non-burnable trash they generated. This was the 1960s, before plastics became common, so the stuff in the dump was glass bottles, tin and aluminum cans, broken dishes, and that sort of thing. It’s a wonder we never saw any rats out there.

    The area I live in now was rural up until creeping suburbanization reached it in the 1950s. Sometimes I wonder if the former owners had a dump like my grandparents’ about where my vegetable garden is. If they did, it might explain why the soil tests out as high in iron as it does, and why I still find rusty nails and all the other bits of household trash in the soil.

    I still have a deficiency of sulfur every year because it dissolves so readily into the soil water. Potassium varies; this year it was deficient, some years it’s in excess. But I no longer have a deficiency of phosphorus. It seems that once a sufficient amount of it is built up in the soil, it stays pretty constant. That’s good because it’s the mineral we are likely to run short of the soonest. Build up your soil’s phosphorus to its optimum level while you still can, I always say.


  40. Hi Pam,

    Thanks. Yes, we shall do Dog Cam! 🙂

    I also have learned a lot from Claire, who correctly identified the core problem with the soils here. It’s been a long journey that soil story. How are the veg growing now that you have more sunlight?

    Hey, that same situation occurred here with the on and off ramps to the freeway a couple of years ago. Before the roundabouts there were built, and they took two years to do, it was precarious to exit on that freeway off ramp. In fact, due to the crazy volumes of traffic, I’d stopped using that exit. Exactly, too hard.

    The road they’re building the roundabout on is usually very quiet, but they’ve used two council owned paddocks (one on either side of the road) and constructed a footy field one side and netball courts on the other side. When matches finish, the road will be mayhem without the roundabout. It’s just the only direct road off the mountain at this point in the range, and its now closed for the construction. Oh well, it’ll be open again soon.

    Good to hear that you’ve worked out a system for a productive lemon tree. They need a bit of feeding. 🙂

    Thanks for the forwarding address for the future rock report. Glad to hear that you dodged the alternative forwarding address, I heard it’s hotter there, but can anyone believe such reports? I doubt I’m going to be around in 30 years time based on the life spans of the blood relatives I’m aware of.

    Yum! Yum! It’s quite tasty, and respect for growing any cabbages whatsoever. Those are not easy plants to grow, and err, we grow kale instead. 🙂

    Better get writing!



  41. Hi Lewis,

    Food inflation is a real thing, and wages aren’t keeping up at all. I’m hearing that sort of talk down here as well, and know a few people who eat well because they shop on the margins. There are non profits down here which assist with the financial side of peoples lives, and the rolling off from honeymoon mortgage rates has allegedly had quite the impact upon their services. I noticed an article in the news that the banksters were begging to once again lower the imposed upon them standards for lending. Hungry ghosts anyone? Anyone?

    Oh, I didn’t realise that people would have to pay for the devices to be installed on their vehicles. Makes sense. I’ll bet some cheeky scamps get their kids to blow into the devices? The cops down here often have random road side testing of drivers. You even see them testing mums during school pickup times. A few weeks ago I spotted road side vehicle checking, and vehicles were being tested for road worthiness, which is a legal term which can invalidate vehicle registration. Now bear in mind that I believe maybe a quarter of the vehicles on the road are uninsured for damage, and I’m observing a greater incidence of vehicles with panel damage. I was tail gated the other day by another local with that sort of damage, and so pulled over to the side of the road and let them pass.

    Most of the problem with sewage sludge is that you get numpties pouring all manner of unmentionable in polite company items down the toilet or sink. If sewage was clean and uncontaminated, it’d be a no brainer fertiliser, but as a society, people are careless. But what a massive lost opportunity to remineralise the soils. Oh well, I guess this is what decline looks like. I always enjoy mentioning the Fatbergs found in sewers. They’d be a decent energy source.

    Makes sense, and you have the re-enactors too? All we have down here are the LARP folks, and I used to know a guy who was into them, but he moved to Perth and it’s a long way from here. He played a healer, which I could understand. There’s been a bit of talk about such matters emanating from your country because I guess all the different tensions. It was a bit like down here during you-know-what, we discovered that in fact we were a federation of different states. Who knew? It’s a good saying too.

    Oh no! Bummer, but that’s what towels are apparently for. And dogs can be very different in their preferences for wet weather. Dame Plum won’t bother herself with such trivial details as super heavy rain, but Ruby is a bit more considered and will baulk at the idea of heading out into such wetness. Clearly H is of Dame Plums heritage.

    Holy carp! Nobody ever wants to experience 11 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. Thanks for mentioning that weather event because the local media here had no reports of it. That’s a lot of rain.

    Yeah, it is, and that’s why I moved into small business. Unfortunately, when confronted by other entities I’ve said some ungentlemanly and rather pointed things. Did it make any difference? No, did it make me feel any better about the situation, maybe?

    Here we may need to cite Cromwell, and ignore the gingerbread man and pie issues, for which I alone could never forgive. But we can say: Gentlemen, by the bowels of Christ can you not concede that your hobby horses are inconsequential when there is the subject of food to be discussed? Honestly, I don’t think it will make any difference. Maybe, we need to stage a marketing campaign for the food subject, earlier?

    You sent me on an interweb rabbit hole with the talk of ammonium sulphate. Hmm. The blueberries might need some organic matter too, plus some worm juice, or kitchen scraps would help I reckon. Watering is a very complicated activity.

    Hopefully there are no emergencies during the elevator blues? If I recall correctly, the thing was being heavily used last week for a clean out going down and food boxes coming up. The machine would have a certain cycle life I’m guessing. It’s not really the sort of machine which you’d want to fail.

    H might survive the fall? A cats chances would probably be higher though. Dude, I’m an older fella now, and sometimes I get a bit concerned about those sorts of future issues, and you know, it gives me motivation to continue my regular stretching routine, doing plenty of load bearing activities, and eating well. Look, the skinny bloke with the natty going out hoody and wicked sharp scythe comes for all of us, but a fair bit of maintenance has to go on all the time, whether folks like it or not. My general observation suggests that most people want to take a pill, or visit the surgeon and hope that sorts everything out. You may have missed this: Study debunks long standing medical myth that a torn ACL can’t heal. When I damaged my shoulder a couple of years back I stupidly said to the physio that: “I’m an absolute stretching nazi”, thinking it would be a witty and amusing way to say that I will follow any suggestions which will help the shoulder situation and am self motivated. Now she thought I meant something else, and cancelled all future appointments. 🙂 Proving also that stretching and maintenance is easy, whilst communication between folks is super hard.

    Haha! How did the food situation work out? Best to have a plan B ready for those sorts of situations.

    Oh, I better get writing, but first I have to make some dinner.



  42. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the lovely comment, and also for responding to my question, which was something I’d wondered about.

    Unfortunately, I have to get writing, but will respond tomorrow.



  43. Yo, Chris – I like that. Shop the margins. I certainly do that. It enables me to splurge a bit, on things I consider part of a healthy diet (for me). I also buy some things, in bulk. Usually, over the web. I generally have enough spare change, to make those large purchases. Or budget it out, in an informal way. I was getting low on my Stash Premium Green tea. But had enough back-up, so that I could put off restocking until after the first of the month. Which is when I pay off my credit card balance. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but so far, so good.

    We’re such an over medicated society, and a lot of that stuff ends up going right through, and ending up in the environment. Which may have something to do with mutations in amphibians and low sperm counts, in men. Poisoned planet, indeed.

    Oh, yes. There seems to be re-enactors of all kinds. Years ago, I read a book by Tony Horowitz titled “Confederates in the Attic.” (1998). He followed around Civil War re-enactors for a good period of time. If I remember the book, after 20 years, it must have been pretty good. 🙂 When I first came here, to manage a bookstore, I had one customer who was a re-enactor. He’s corner me, and bore me, until my eyes rolled back in my head. I used to pray that the phone would ring. Or, a delivery man would come to the backdoor … I finished the Civil War book, last night. A good read.

    Besides Houston, right now there’s pretty incredible footage coming out of our midwest. Tornados.

    LOL. As far as food and Mr. Greer’s blog go, I’m tempted to just shrug and say. “Then, starve.” Or maybe, “Let them eat cake.” 🙂 Which is often attributed to Marie Antoinette, but she probably didn’t say it.

    Well, we’ll just see how the blueberries go. I can always fall back on blackberries, which grow wild, in a lot of places, here.

    There was a lot of weight, up and down the elevator, recently. Also, the reconstruction of several apartments is underway. So, there’a lot of construction materials and fixtures going up and down. Usually, when we’ve had problems before, it’s that someone has bashed into the control panel, with something. I do hope they get it fixed, by Wednesday. We’re supposed to get our monthly commodity box, then.

    That was an interesting article about ACL. The meniscus, another knee thing is often surgically repaired. Which also may not be necessary in all cases. I had a torn meniscus, and so did my friend Scott. I let it heal, on it’s own. He went the surgery route. Can’t say our outcomes were much different.

    There was also a sidebar, about mandatory unpaid placements. AKA internships. Which we talked about not long go. Looks like your government is going to pay some, in the case of nurses, other health care workers and teachers.

    Maybe if you’d said “fascist,” instead of “Nazi” ….

    There were tacos, at the Club, last night. I had two. Tasty. Lew

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