Fluffy business

Tomorrow it’s the King’s birthday public holiday. Long live the King and all that stuff, although the bloke is getting on in years, so we’ll have to see how that works out in reality. Whatever, I appreciate the public holiday. Most people, even the locals in Australia, don’t realise that King Charles III, is actually the head of our government. There’s some power there. His representatives sign each act of Federal and State Parliaments, in effect giving them Royal Assent. In less technical terms, that ol’ Charles giving us the OK to pass laws. And in 1975, the Queens representative sacked the entire Federal Parliament, so the power there is no mere fluffery.

I’ve been thinking about fluffies and power this week. It’s been extraordinarily cloudy, but not yet record breakingly so. There’s been nine consecutive days of thick low cloud, and solar photovoltaic panels produce very little energy in those conditions. To put it mildly, the weather has been rather discouraging for those who may believe in a future industrial civilisation based around renewable energy technologies.

Spot the fluffy. And it’s hard out there for solar PV

Regular readers will recall that the house here uses electricity supplied by an off grid solar power system. Since the first official day of winter, which is the first of June down under, the house batteries have not yet been fully charged from energy derived from the sunlight. Here’s the results from the solar power system converted into minutes per day of peak sunlight:

  • 1st June – 70 minutes
  • 2nd June – 35 minutes
  • 3rd June – 44 minutes
  • 4th June – 43 minutes
  • 5th June – 29 minutes
  • 6th June – 61 minutes
  • 7th June – 14 minutes
  • 8th June – 22 minutes
  • 9th June – 26 minutes

For most of the year we require about on average 84 minutes of peak sunlight to do all the things required to keep the lights on and food upon the table. That’s not always possible during the three weeks either side of the winter solstice when the sun is at it’s lowest in the point in the sky and the winter weather brings thick clouds and storms. In the past nine days, the petrol (gasoline in US parlance) powered generator has made up the difference of about 450 minutes of equivalent peak sunlight.

There’s not much a person can do about the situation. Even doubling the number of installed solar PV panels from 40 to 80, won’t make up the difference between needs and the energy available from the sun. Plus the cost and problems involved with that massive expansion, are just not worth the effort. And it truly would bring some epic technical problems. Sure we could do that work, but realistically it’s a nonsense project. So basically, the system is mostly as good as it’ll ever be. And it’s not good enough, and never will be.

Oh well, at least we’ll have a public holiday tomorrow! Most likely on that day we’ll continue bringing in the firewood for next year. Now that’s a reliable locally derived energy source which keeps us warm on the very worst days during the cold winter months.

It’s cold and damp out there in the orchard

Yup, it’s a public holiday tomorrow, and that means a day off work, unless you work in the hospitality or the retail industries, or you’re like us and are bringing in the firewood for next year. I guess a lot of people must work on public holidays. I’ll bet the politicians aren’t working! Although they must have been working recently because the largest coal fired power station in the country which was due to be shut down next year, has had it’s life extended for a further two years. That’s the Eraring Power Station.

The massive coal generator behemoth is owned and run by a listed company, but after the recently announced $450m government funding, I guess the public is now on the hook for the giant machine. In less polite language, that may well be described as: nationalising. Perhaps it is a preview of the future? At least the numpties in charge are finally thinking about: just what will happen to the electricity grid without all those coal fired power stations? Well, at least you’d hope they were. Renewable energy generation is so intermittent that it is only ever as good as the worst conditions. Trying to explain that concept to true believers in the technology is tiresome. And they usually have little to no practical experience with the stuff, I mean how else could they think and say aloud such crazy thought bubbles?

Anyway, my experience with this renewable energy technology has not been reassuring, but whatever, let’s not worry about that, because it’s a public holiday tomorrow, long live the reigning King and all that stuff.

Speaking of reigning, the dogs have been reined in of late. Regular readers will recall the recent and thoroughly unexpected canine dramas with the psychoactive mushrooms. Well, as you may imagine, we’d had enough of all the tomfoolery. All dog activities are now thoroughly restricted, and they’re supervised at all times. Like politicians, the dogs are not to be trusted. One of the dogs (the name shall be withheld to protect the innocent) is now attending dog obedience school, and the other two are benefiting from the knowledge and skills gained there. It feels powerful exerting bad boss dude energy, and that has put an immediate end to the mischief.

The hard work we’ve done with the dogs over the past couple of months, is not a bad metaphor for the decline of the west. As a civilisation, we don’t seem to be able to put a cap on the mischief, tomfoolery and excesses. And all the while, who’s actually thinking about the future of the very institutions and conditions which keep most of us fed and spared from the worst of the weather? It’s been my experience that if the dogs are not acting responsibly, it is unwise to leave things as is. And just look what we had to do and become (exerting bad boss dude energy), to re-exert control over the situation! A preview for the future, me thinks.

The past week has been very cloudy, but mostly dry and without much in the way of any wind. That’s almost perfect conditions to begin harvesting firewood for use next year. Due to all the forestry activities since the 1850’s, and also the naturally falling trees, we’re simply cutting and splitting timber that is already on the ground.

After the firewood has been split into nicely sized chunks, we load it up into the power wheelbarrows and dump the stuff next to the firewood shed.

The firewood pile for next year begins to grow

By summer the firewood will be toasty dry, and then we’ll store it out of the weather for when it’s needed during the colder months of the year. By the time the stuff gets used, it’ll get down to a moisture content of around 14%, which is a pretty respectable result, and the stuff will burn very cleanly.

Another couple of hours work and the pile grew in size

It’s nice doing the work a day here, or a couple of hours there. If a person had to devote a couple of continuous weeks to the job of processing the seasons firewood, I’d imagine that they’d soon begin to feel overwhelmed. As it is, for us the work is quite meditative with the side benefit of cleaning up the mess left in the forest after over 170 years of an utter lack of care.

The local birds all watch us whilst we do the work. Any juicy wood borer grubs found when splitting the timber are fed to them. The grubs get thrown a respectable distance, and the birds swoop in on the juicy chunk of protein. Hauling the split firewood back uphill with the power wheelbarrows is all part of the work. And once we move away from the processing area, the birds fly to the ground and rifle through the pile of organic matter. They feast upon any insects found, usually termites and the other species of ants. After the firewood has been dumped in the storage area, the birds will again go through that lot as well. No bitey stingy bull ant remains unharmed, and to my mind, that’s a good thing.

We processed quite a bit of firewood this week

Way down at the forest edge, there is a dangerous tree which is leaning over on a precarious angle. Due to the lean, the tree will eventually fall over, and so it has zero chance of ever growing to the usual size and age of this Eucalyptus species. With that outcome in mind I’ve recently begun thinking about the possibilities of milling some timber from the tree for use in projects.

A mound was lowered and the hole next to it was filled

In order to be able to fell the tree safely, I have to have an exit which is at a 45 degree angle to either side of the rear of the tree. Unfortunately there was a mound on the uphill side, and an adjacent depression on the downhill side, both of which were in the 45 degree angle escape path. And the big mound and the big hole were probably also the reason the tree was moving slowly to the horizontal position. Just another strange loggers mystery! I’d have to suggest that decades ago, the loggers used a bulldozer and chain to pull a large tree, roots and all, out of the hole.

We can fix that mess. The scary old rototiller was used to loosen up the soil on the mound. Then I shovelled the soil from the mound into the hole. The soil in that whole area is now flat, although it is far too late for the tree as I do not have the equipment to bring it back to vertical. Still, in weeks to come the tree will produce some very useful building materials.

We’re less than two weeks out from the winter solstice, and some of the more cold hardy plants continue to grow. After a good feed a few weeks ago, the Globe Artichoke plants have put on some size. For plants which look a lot like thistles, they need plenty of water and good soil fertility.

Globe Artichokes are enjoying the well fed and watered soil

We use a lot of lemons in the kitchen, but sometimes the Meyer Lemon out-produces our needs. The tree is full of tasty fruit.

How good are Meyer Lemon trees?

Next Sunday morning, the weather forecast for the area is predicting freezing weather of 0’C / 32’F. Hopefully this blast of cold air encourages the hundreds of Kiwi fruit to produce some sugars. Right now, they’re a bit starchy tasting, which is not what you want.

It seems weird to look forward to a frosty morning, but that’s Kiwi fruits for you

The area where a strong and very localised blast of wind took down a few trees not all that long ago, appears to have had some further troubles this week. An area of the property best avoided for the immediate future. But at least it will provide plenty of firewood.

Despite the lack of wind, there was even more wind related damage this week

Onto the flowers:

The Salvia flowers are stunning
They won’t like the frost later this week, but aren’t they lovely?
Clearly the Roses enjoyed their feed from a few weeks ago

The temperature outside now at about 11am is 5’C (40’F). So far for last year there has been 415.6mm (16.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 413.0mm (16.3 inches)

16 thoughts on “Fluffy business”

  1. Yo, Chris – After his long wait, I wonder if King Charles if finding being king, all he thought it would be cracked up, to be? Is the office meeting his expectations? Could probably do without the family dramas.

    Well, I looked into your parliamentary crisis of 1975, and couldn’t make much sense of it. Lots of gassing about “block supply,” which I take it has something to do with money allocations. Not that it was mentioned, but I wondered if it had anything to do with the gas / petrol crisis of 1973. Oh, well. I barely understand the ins and outs of our government system, let alone another countries. I see there’s been a European parliamentary election, and it looks like a swing to the hard right. Interesting.

    Well, I see the garden gnome, off in the mists. Ah! I think I see a fluffy, to the far right. Although it could be a wombat. 🙂

    Maybe, you need to just hibernate, three weeks wither side of the winter solstice? 🙂 Seems like a lot of cultures just tuck into their beds, for the duration. We’ve got about 10 more days, before our summer solstice. And it’s all downhill, from there!

    O.K.. I give. What is the corrugated structure that looks like a miniature WWII, Anderson Shelter? Maybe I’ve been watching too many home-front series?

    Go local birds! No wonder your local populations are increasing. What with you providing an easy to access buffet.

    The Globe Artichokes, Lemons an Kiwi, look like their all well on their way to a good harvest. Do you think you might get snow?

    If there’s some tightly closed rose buds, they may ride out the light frost. Maybe. They sure are pretty.

    Popcorns made, and “Sasquatch Sunset” is on tap. Review to follow. Lew

  2. Hi Pam,

    No worries! 🙂 I was just mucking around, and despite the winter solar power doldrums whingeing on my part, the system suits me well enough – even the backup charging system. It’s pretty robust and there’s a plan B system as well. The reason I write about the subject often, is merely to dispel the strange beliefs which get attached to the technology. You don’t have to live with the stuff for very long to see the downsides, and I can’t even imagine how it would work in an area with lots of winter snow for weeks on end. Oh well.

    Thanks. Oh wow, the wind is blowing hard tonight, and will get stronger before lunch tomorrow. There’s a forecast warning for damaging winds in these parts, oh goodie, that should be exciting!

    Pam, I hadn’t known that oxalis had any uses, and this is one of the reasons I appreciate all of the lovely comments received. Speaking of sorrel species, we get sheep sorrel, and the chickens really enjoy that plant.

    The same is true here. I don’t have a compost heap for that very reason – varmints. I won’t tell you where I observed this, but I once spotted a rather deadly looking snake slithering into a compost bin. Clearly the snake was hunting mice, but do any of us need to encounter and startle the reptile? You’ll notice that we add any prunings to existing or new garden beds, and I sleep easier for that reason! The worm farm sewage system is sealed from rodent activity.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, it’s not just you wondering that question about Charles, because that’s very much on my mind too. Such leadership roles may not be all that they’re cracked up to be. And there are some serious family dramas to address, as you note. I for one wouldn’t want to deal with those, and the fluffy collective could probably vouch that my methods may not win friends. 🙂 The dogs took things too far, and now they’re dealing with the consequences of those acts of stupidity.

    We got in an did a bit more cleaning up of the loggers mess today. Had an epic burn off, and will harvest the recovered firewood over the next week or two. One of the ideas for the video channel was showing exactly what we are dealing with. Those folks long ago had some interesting ideas, like in a really bad way. I was looking at the mess today, and it takes a lot of effort to make minor inroads into the mess, and I just wondered whatever where they thinking? Probably nothing good! But that sort of work is a good way to stay warm on a cold day. And the wind really picked up as the sun set.

    Ah, think of the ‘blocking supply’ story like the constant dramas you lot have with lifting the debt ceiling, except the opposition remained staunch. The goobermint of the time had run out of mad cash, and sought it in strange corners. There was a scandal. They were hailed as a very progressive bunch who extracted the country from the mess in Vietnam, created free university education etc… They had a penchant for writing checks they couldn’t afford, then they ran out of mad cash. We had the oil price shocks with stagflation, and few were prepared for that. There was a long standing gentleman’s agreement between the two major parties that supply would never be blocked, and the opposition at the time held control of the upper house and so they withdrew support for supply and enlisted the help of the Queen’s representative to sack them, all of them. Despite the resulting furore from the sacking of the elected government, the election showed that the population had had enough and the opposition got into the hot chair. Sometimes, you know, you need a circuit breaker and I believe that historically the right call was made. It’s also worth noting that the labour party (who was sacked) have long sought revenge, and eventually a referendum was held in regards to becoming a republic, and even that failed. For some weird reason, the role of choosing the president was retained by the politicians. I don’t trust them, any of them. History in a nutshell. 😉

    In a strange twist to the story, the leaders of the two political parties eventually became friends. I met one of them at an open garden years ago. Not a security detail to be seen, mostly because we have plenty more where they came from!

    One day, your lot may decide to not increase the debt ceiling, although they may not get paid, so there is a minor conflict of interest there.

    Good spotting, and you are correct on both counts. That sort of weather may actually send a wombat on a foraging mission.

    Hadn’t thought about doing the hibernation trick, but it’s a good thought. If I was not required to earn a livin’, then we might able to pull that trick off. What you say is true, but due to the vagaries of thermal inertia, the hottest months await in store for you, whilst the coldest is yet to come here.

    Hehe! I hadn’t thought of the corrugated steel arrangement in those terms, but you’re right. Hmm. It’s a cover for two water pumps, which at this moment are disengaged because the large green water tank is empty. All part of the new larger firewood shed project.

    The wind has really picked up tonight. It’s feral out there. With a bit of luck, that leaning tree will fall to the ground. Save me a bit of work. I’ll be lucky if the roads are clear of fallen trees tomorrow.

    Because you mentioned the local birds, we took a photo of the birds picking through the cleaned up areas today. We’re on very friendly terms with the local birds.

    Dunno about snow. The Bureau of Meteorolgy has forecast a warmer than average winter. Frosts, absolutely. Snow, maybe? No snow has fallen in the past two winters. The warmer climate has most certainly shifted southwards.

    Thanks, and I’ll keep a watch upon the closed up rose buds after the frost and see what happens. It was 2’C / 36’F this morning. Brr! Headed to the general store to pick up a coffee bright and early, and wow, it was busy. There were even some large bush walking groups off to an early start. A lot of tourists enjoying the long weekend.

    Noooo! But so good. I watched the trailer and didn’t know what the critics were banging on about with that film. Was the Sasquatch film good?

    Far out, what a landslide, and that mess isn’t going to be fixed up any time soon. It’s hard to know, but the road looked to me as if it maybe was made upon fill between two hills. I looked at the treated pine posts and thought to myself: They need steel rock gabion cages. That’s what gets used in areas prone to landslides down under.

    Those words really do roll nicely off the tongue. The reality of being squooshed by a large tree would be err, complicated.

    Are you really intending to do the onion ring challenge?

    I like how you think. In that fictional universe they were happy to destroy Vulcan, but the Earth, now that would be something else. Sometimes the plucky crew of the Enterprise should fail. They could use a spatial or temporal anomaly to rescue the storyline in an ‘and then I woke up’ ending. That would get the Trekkies frothing with anger.

    True, even I’ve got ideological axes to grind. And sometimes I annoy people… Oh well.

    Thanks for the explanation as to the book club editions. I’d never heard of them, but it’s a great idea, and also the word of mouth aspect will push some units (as they say in the trade).

    I found the article on Pompeii, and it hardly surprises me that some folks survived and moved to nearby cities. People are usually pretty good after a disaster, and I’ll note that after bushfires down this way, the authoritas tend to turn a blind eye to some of the living arrangements for a few years afterwards whilst people rebuild their lives. It’s not all grim.

    What? Didn’t you place forks around the Bachelors Buttons? Hope you are doing OK. I dunno man, some folks see every plant as a weed.



  4. firewood- yes, I find it meditative and of course, the idea of having a cold home, or scrounging wood once winter has set in- real motivation. Ants instead of grasshoppers.

    milling- How will the wood get milled? There exist mobile mills, of either the giant bandsaw or the mount your chainsaw styles, but it’s that or haul the mountain to Mohamed. Not so easy. Setting up a mill for one tree is also a small payoff proposition.
    I have a stand of suitable pines in one area, but access is tough, so they will likely never become boards.

    bad boss dude- A dog owner going into that mode has a specific goal in mind, and is able to stick with the plan to achieve that goal. When corrective energies well up in response to politician dysfunction, plans and goals can be unlikely. More likely is chaos and misdirected anger. The lizard brain is always there, with its short term focus.

    solar- We are friends with three families that are off grid, and they have shifted to even less reliance on electricity than you. While they do run in to town to do laundry, all other functions are quite simplified. They seem to be content with their lives, and have been doing this for years. I take notes.

    So maybe you’ve mentioned in the past, but do you keep a freezer and/or a refrigerator going on solar?

    WTH is that next to your firewood pile?

  5. Yo, Chris – Things were a lot simpler, when you could just send people to the Tower, and maybe behead them. 🙂 When I see headlines (I don’t bother to read the articles) about Windsor family dramas, I have my daily thought of, “I’m glad I’m single and childless.” I also think that, over some of the tales I hear down at The Club.

    Well, I’d say you’re loggers, it wasn’t their land. So, “What? Me Worry?” But, more than that, economics probably played a roll.
    Let it go Chris. Or, settle on one explanation you can live with. 🙂

    OK. I understand the 1975 political situation, over there, a bit better. It’s developed that here, the budget and debt ceiling are held hostage, as votes are withheld due to everyone’s hobby horses. You probably know we’ve come within hours of government shutdown, quit a few times, recently. “Although they may not get paid.” Not here. The government can shut down, and the Congress critters still get paid. Funny how they arranged that …

    “Kangs” were Chinese stove / sleeping platforms.


    A nice place to spend the winter. Some cultures in norther Europe had similar set ups. Or they retreated to beds, heaped with furs and maybe more than one warm body. I’ve seen pictures of … sleeping closets, in Scandinavian countries. People came up with all kinds of arrangements, to ride out the worst of the winters.

    Looks like we’re going to have some nice days, a day or two of rain, and back to nice days, again.

    Well, I watched “Sasquatch Sunset.” Filmed among the redwoods of Northern California. It follows a Sasquatch family, through a year. I found it quit intriguing, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. And, definitely not for children. There’s lots of poop and pee and sick. There’s a bit where they would stop from time to time, pick up large sticks, and rhythmically smack trees, to make noise. And then stop, and listen. Repeat. I trigged to the fact that they were attempting to see if any other Sasquatch, were around. I found it to be worth a bowl of popcorn. Though your mileage may vary. Soon to be a major cult classic 🙂

    I may do some shopping, for the Club. Might run across some onion rings. Or, not.

    Here’s a bit more about “The Book of the Month Club.” I see they’ve gone all e-books, but the history section tells what they were like.


    There was also a science fiction book club. Among others.

    Master Gardeners were here, this morning. Pill bugs and slugs are eating my beans. I’ve been out the past two nights, picking off pill bugs and spraying small slugs. Set up the potato traps, again. They had a few suggestions, about organic sprays and such. If I can just get them to their secondary leaves, all will be well. Lew

  6. Hi Joanna,

    The asparagus crowns are tougher than perhaps you and I have been lead to believe, and if their autumnal mass of foliage is affecting the overall composition of the garden, cut ’em and feed ’em will only surely assist things. I enjoy the aesthetics of the plants as much as their function too. Plants have adapted to being harvested by animals, and I reckon harvesting is the benefit side of the we’ll care for them story.

    About three quarters of an inch of rain fell here today… Ook!



  7. Hi Steve,

    Dude, thoughts of a cold house during the winter months are as you note, incentive to be motivated to get the firewood job done just right. 🙂 Sadly, the ants are very real, and the little blighters inject and spray formic acid, which is a very potent organic acid.

    Haha! Now we get into the guts of the milling matter. And thanks very much for asking, as I’d been doing a very deep dive into this subject over the past few months after I discovered a suitable 100x100x3000mm rot resistant post will set me back about $100. Treeflation is a very real thing down here. 😉 You nailed the dilemma clearly. I could purchase a suitable bandsaw mill for about $4k to $5k, however, it becomes yet another machine to look after and bandsaw blades have like 200+ teeth to sharpen! Oh yeah. And you need to take to saw logs to the mill, and keep the thing out of the weather. Economically, it made little sense.

    So we opted on the chainsaw mill instead. With a 15ft first cut rail system which looks the same like an unbranded Granberg mill, which was about a tenth of the price of the bandsaw mill, all up even with milling chains. I can take the rails and mill to the saw log, and I already maintain the Stihl 381 Magnum, which is now over a decade old. What’s not to like about that story? Is it going to be hard work – absolutely. I reckon the arrangement will pay for itself, several times over.

    And exactly, all of the timber here is likewise as you put it, tough to access as well. Mind you, we do not have any machines which will move saw logs. Those are expensive beasts, and defeat the entire purpose of the exercise – i.e. low impact and keep it cheap.

    Having plans and goals suggests that behind the err, canine directions, there is an overall vision. Yup, and what you wrote is true, and the same process is sadly going on down under, but maybe not in this tiny little corner of the continent. 🙂 Maybe…

    Ah, a question for your off grid friends: Do they use propane for cooking, heating, or hot water? We call it LPG down here, and a 45kg bottle is about $200 delivered, and the two bottles (one and a spare) incur an about $65 a quarter rental fee. We use that gas as little as possible nowadays due to the ever increasing cost, and even now are working out a system to get rid of the quarterly rental fee. I suspect that gas is cheaper in your part of the world if your gasoline costs are any guide, so please correct me. I suspect your friends may not use much electricity, but they use gas. Otherwise it is firewood all the way, or not much of anything and adapt to the cold! 🙂

    Yeah, the single width refrigerator has a small freezer section. That machine uses very little electricity, maybe a 1kWh a day. It’s not even that demanding when the compressor kicks off as it draws about 0.265kWh for only a few minutes. Dunno much about chest freezers, but most of our preserving methods avoid using the freezer for obvious reasons, except for storing all of the various yeasts and bacteria used in food preparation.

    🙂 It’s a home made water pump cover. Fire and radiant heat resistant! There are several such modifications to water pumps around here if you’re interested?



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yes, much simpler to make your annoying enemies simply disappear. Mate, I’m sure there are days when the authoritas would like to do exactly that. And there are weird days when the whole dead men don’t talk story plays out in reality. Best to not to put your head up, lest it gets chopped off is my thinking there. On your most excellent point, it is indeed true that our lives are simpler for that set of circumstances, but then it is the role of the parent to eventually let go so as to allow the children to become adults themselves. I often wonder what it means when I see articles of your leaders simply freezing up in public. I’d call that a bad brain day, and I doubt I’d have the energy to do that job at my age, no way! Plus I’d be tempted to implement some gulags, and then everyone would no doubts get upset with me! 🙂 Is it worth the hassle I ask you? Although it may quieten some of the sillier elements of society down…

    Ah! All very true about the lack of accountability with the loggers. I hadn’t quite considered that aspect, but yeah a top notch point. You know, it does look to me like the harvesting operations after the fires came to an abrupt halt one day. I’d heard local stories as to why that was the case, but it’s nothing you could ever confirm beyond hearsay.

    We’re getting closer to cleaning up the end of the mess, and yesterday we discovered a large near flat clearing next to the oldest loggers mess. There are signs of water races leading there as well, so it is possible that way, way, back in the day a sawmill operated there. I believe that a drought put an end to the large scale saw milling in this part of the mountain range. After that, they switched to ox carts and tramways which took saw logs way down below to the nearest train station. Imagine riding that tramway! Pretty scary if you ask me.

    Ook! It’s probably not a good look to be paid at the same time as holding other lesser employees pays as hostage to negotiations. I can’t imagine that potential shutdown would include the military? Would it? With that debt increasing at $1tn every 100 days, you’d imagine that they’d been keen to get rid of the pesky limit?

    The Kang bed-stove is a very clever adaption, not at all dissimilar to the Romans below floor heating system. Winters are survivable, and I’d imagine that we use far more firewood than the old timers used to, merely because of chainsaw cutting and hydraulic splitting technologies making the job easier. When you have to do everything by two person cross cut saw and splitting maul, you’re far more reticent of usage.

    Hopefully the nice, but short run of sunny weather gets those beans growing faster than the appetites of the pill bugs and slugs? It was very wet today, almost four fifths of an inch of rain fell. A good day to do paid work.

    I tend to agree with you, the film has all the makings of a cult classic, and many of the reviewers hated on it. Look, clearly the film is a polarising story (not to mention visuals), but some of the reviewers who took the time to consider the deeper meanings left some lovely words. Then there were those reviewers who made me laugh and intrigued: How bad could the film really be? Clearly, it is a very different film from the usual fare offered up to audiences.

    Were any onion rings harmed in your shopping experience? And did you travel to the store which looks as though it should have rats? In consumer news down here, I had a most excellent muffin earlier today: Berry and chocolate. It was good. And speaking of shopping, I’ve had to trial a new brand of fuel stabiliser mixture. Hope that it is as good as the previous stuff, which I can no longer easily obtain. The new stuff is made in your country, Sta-Bil, a very clever play on the words: Stable. Yikes, change comes whether we like it or not? And I also decided to stock up on light bulbs, despite the hour claims on the boxes, I’m not observing such longevity, and the electricity here is much easier on appliances than the grid. Oh man, the grid voltage is all over the shop depending upon how much energy your neighbours, and their neighbours etc. decide to use.

    What a fascinating idea and club, although looking at the titles, I may not be of the usual audience the club is pitching itself at. A shame that club has such owners. There’d be downwards pressure applied there, maybe.

    I seem to recall that your beans may indeed grow faster in less fertilised soil, and we grow them here in more marginal soils. Dunno, I forget all these details.

    At least the wind appears to have died down, thankfully. No trees were harmed in the completely nuts winds last night – that I presently know about.



  9. Hello Chris
    Forget the oxalis plants. I grow French sorrel (Rumex Scutatus). It has larger leaves than the other sorrels and grows perpetually in a tub. It is less bitter than the wild sorrel which grows all around here.
    The weather here is ridiculous for June, I have had heating on all day.


  10. Yo, Chris – Well, there’s an old Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down.”

    So, you found some of that flat land, you were looking for? 🙂 I wonder if it was an old mill pond? Tramway or flume? There’s an actual ride at the Dizzy Worlds that are based on flumes. Any thoughts on uses for such a flat stretch?

    Government shut downs are funny things. The military, rank and file, are not affected. But civilian contractors, may be.

    Then there’s rocket stoves. They apparently don’t use much fuel. Looking at indigenous people, and subsistence people (the poor), in general, they’re a lot more thrifty, and have more “tricks” for extending supply. I think.

    The Master Gardeners suggested “Captain Jack’s Bug Kill.” It’s organic, and is actually some kind of bacteria that gets in the soil. Almost like nematodes, I guess. Safe for pets, and beneficial insects. So, I picked up a bottle, yesterday. I’ve been going out at night, and picking off any rolly pollys I find. They give a satisfying crack, when subjected to a thumb nail. 🙂 Potato traps are up, again. I saw a couple of small slugs, that succumbed to an ammonia spray.

    Some guys were here, today, fiddling with the irrigation system. I’d better e-mail the Master Gardeners, and give them a heads up. Just when they got everything set, especially for the blueberries.

    The store I checked out, last night, was the “Wish I Would Have Bought It, When I Saw It,” store. So, stuff comes and goes. No onion rings. Plenty of other junk food, in their frozen food cases. And, let’s face it. Batter dipped frozen onion rings are junk food. Next time I’m up at the regular grocery, I’ll take a look.

    You probably would have been more intrigued, with book of the month club titles, back in the day. The whole … intellectual landscape was different. People aspired to be well informed. Then there were all the returning GI’s, who had developed the reading habit, through the Armed Services Editions, given freely to the troops. There was also a history book club, for awhile.

    The weather here, is quit nice. Scattered clouds, bit of a breeze, temperatures in the low 70s. We may see some showers, this weekend. Maybe a good thing. Sunday is Father’s Day (Fathering Day?), and I’ll give the blueberries a second go-around of fertilizer.

    I watched an interesting movie, last night. Another, I thought it was a movie, and it turned out to be a three part series. I was intrigued enough, to watch the whole thing. “Nolly,” with Helen Bonham Carter. About a real person, Noele Gordon. She was an early television personality, in Britain. Probably best known for her long run on a very popular soap opera, “Crossroads.” She was unceremoniously sacked, and the poop hit the fan. Ratings plunged, and she was eventually invited back. Lew

  11. Hi Inge,

    Sorrel is a bit weedy here, and a few varieties already grow wild, but as you say the wild ones here are a a bit bitter. They all seem to have the oxalic acid, which lends them a slightly bitter, and sometimes lemony taste don’t you reckon? But I have never seen French Sorrel (Rumex Scutatus) growing in these parts. I’ll keep an eye out for it. Fresh leafy greens grow all year around here. I mean, right now, we have the leafy green mustards (a total sinus cleaner, let’s just say that the leaves have some kick to them), perennial spinach, kale, and silverbeet. It’s only the really hot summer months (and only then if they are dry) which are problematic for leafy green production.

    How the current range of all year around leafy green varieties came to be, was that one summer, maybe ten years ago which was quite hot and dry, none of the varieties we’d gotten used to consuming survived. There was nothing to be harvested, and even the edible weeds had a very hard summer. It took many months to recover the garden from that, and so, after that hard lesson, we selected for varieties which could handle the vagaries of the weather here.

    It can be hard knowing when to clear out the raised beds for the next crop. Do you find that, or do you keep a diary of such things? I’m always curious to learn better habits than we currently have. 🙂

    With all that cold weather you are having, how’s your sons feed for the goats going? Some cold and wet summers, we have really struggled to produce all the various plants.

    Brr! When summer is absent, that’s a hard year, sorry to say. We have the wood heater going right now as it is only 41’F outside. And the wind was quite breezy today, so it feels even colder than the thermometer suggests.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article on the hidden costs. And I’ve been saying that about insurance for a number of years now (let alone all of the other costs), so it is good to see the subject at least being aired in the media. It’s an optional cost for us that one, however, a person with a mortgage may find that if they quietly drop that insurance cost, they may be contractually in breach of their loan agreement. Keeping costs low, or at least being able to drop unnecessary costs if so required, is an option for us. I’m not entirely convinced many other households can take that path.

    Have your friends in Idaho mentioned rising costs, because that state scored a special mention in the article? Nobody wants to be a special mention in an article on hidden costs.

    That’s a great saying from the Japanese. They call that down under, ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, and for some reason it’s a particularly Aussie saying. Some websites said it relates purely to females, but that’s not true, it’s an equal opportunity saying that one. Intellectuals, or at least those who saw themselves as such, used to head back to the ‘Old country’ of the UK back in the 1970’s. Another story to that perspective was that that the market here was too small for such folks to earn a living. We’re a bizarrely conformist culture down under, although the Editor and I tend to do our own thing. However, doing your own thing is OK, but making a big fuss about it, may provoke a social reaction. Hmm.

    The historical origins of the present country, being a huge offshore gaol and farm for the UK, kind of bred up that conformist response in the culture.

    Hehe! Yeah, now that you mention it, maybe we did find that flat land we were looking for. 🙂 Ah, nature sometimes provides. Those would be fun, but there simply isn’t enough water in this area for such novel ideas. I’m going to have to put some brain cells towards that large, flat and mostly cleared area.

    Good to hear that there is some sense to the debt ceiling threats. It’s never a wise move to mess around with the military payroll.

    The rocket stoves look pretty good to me, and they capture a lot of heat that would otherwise be lost up the flue. Mate, I’m getting thriftier the longer I’m on this journey, and those folks would all have generations of experience on their side to guide them.

    Mind you, we went to the pub for a pint and meal this evening. It was burger night tonight, and so I had a beef burger, which was very good indeed. The chips had a bit of salt on them, it is a pub after all, and I’m feeling the after effects of the greedy salty chip scab. But they were super tasty. 😉

    Nematodes are worthy critters, as long as they keep off the root systems of plants you’re wanting to grow! A product which has been around that long is probably quite effective. Obviously the name pre-dates the Billy Joel song of the same name, something about illicit substances on Long Island in the early 70’s. Those little critters are apparently edible, but you go first. 🙂

    Are you noticing any reduction in the predation of your seedlings?

    Nooo! Oh well, that’s probably it for the blueberry harvest for you this year. Makes you wonder what the dudes were doing with the irrigation system? Had the master gardeners organised them?

    Man, you’ve completely lost me there, and I may need a guide. What do you mean by the: ‘Wish I Would Have Bought It, When I Saw It store’? Did you really miss out on the onion rings? 🙂 Surely they’d be fairly regularly stocked items? Maybe… I can see that you are beginning to talk yourself out of this onion ring odyssey. Perhaps the Club could be induced to make them and sell them as a snack? You get your onion rings, the Club gets some mad cash, and everyone wins. It’s an idea…

    That’s the thing with reading, isn’t it? Of course it is entirely possible to be both informed and entertained, and that’s a healthy balance. The present offerings from that book club didn’t really call to me, mostly because the demographic it was aimed at, I don’t belong to. The group I meet up with once per month most certainly doesn’t work on a consensus arrangement, and in fact ideas get chucked around, and then debated for their relative merits. Not for the timid. There’s an awful current in society which suggests that some ideas should be accepted despite their questionable merit. I find that to be a rather disingenuous strategy. Ideas, like the rest of us, have to earn their keep. An old friend was discussing off shore wind turbines the other day, and looks like he got upset when I mentioned that the business folks are reportedly very unhappy with the down time for those huge machines when they’re plopped into the seas. Chuck a complex machine out onto the ocean – what could possibly go wrong? How to lose friends and make enemies… Ook! How am I meant to know it was a hobby horse? Far out.

    Reading is such a great tool, and it is an activity I very much enjoy. As no doubts so does your good self. 🙂

    Well fathers day has little meaning to me, on any front! Life, huh? 😉 It’s been cold here, but no snow. Hey, at way higher elevations elsewhere in the state, they had a good dump of snow. The pictures are quite nice: Mountains looking white as winter finally arrives

    Have your blueberry plants produced any flowers yet?

    What a fascinating story, and I can’t believe the actress was unceremoniously sacked just one day out of the blue. Man, I’ve been sacked too, and it’s a brutal experience, but that publicly would be super tough. The lady cannot be faulted for a strong work ethic. The number of episodes was in the thousands. It interests me that afterwards the actor turned back to the theatre, and never reprised her role. Sometimes the powers that be just get an idea in their heads, and it’s a rubbish idea. Such acts send a strong message, which may loosely be interpreted as: Loyalty will not be rewarded.



  13. Hello Chris
    The French sorrel doesn’t grow wild as far as I know. I bought seeds, planted them in a tub and they grow all the year round only stopping for a short while if the winter gets very cold. They must have been in the tub for over 10 years now.
    There is plenty of feed growing for the goats. In fact the excessive rain has produced excessive wild growth.
    I don’t keep a diary on my containers and don’t seem to have any trouble remembering what has grown where. I don’t grow the same item in any tub the following year, so there is constant change around.
    Have had the heating on all day again.


  14. Yo, Chris – You’ve been saying that about insurance? When? 🙂 I also sent that article, to my Idaho friends. They have their place paid off, always have. So they can go naked, if they decide to. They do pay a lot for things they can’t do themselves. Or, their son-in-law can do. I keep telling them, they pay more because 1.) they’re not from there and 2.) they’re not Mormon. 🙂 Small towns.

    A lot of Australians also headed for America. Everyone from Orry Kelly to Mel Gibson. There’s a new movie out about an Australian singing family, who headed for America. It’s on the library “on order” list, but, as it seems to have a religious bent, I passed. “Unsung Hero.” The family’s name is “Smallbone.” Never heard of them. Then again, maybe they’re big on the religious circuit. I doubt the film is another “Sound of Music.” 🙂

    Doing your own thing. A friend of mine, Nick, was shocked and horrified that I didn’t have a smart TV. Or, a smart phone. And wasn’t interested in acquiring any of that gear. I see the Fruit company has announced all their whiz-bang upcoming products. Looks like my OS system is going to need an upgrade. But I’ll wait awhile, until they work out the major bugs. Looks like they’re flirting with AI.

    I gather the flat land is a bit away from the house. You’ll have to take that into consideration. I wonder what the soil is like. Given that it hasn’t seemed to be overrun with forest.

    There seems to be a reduction in the number of Rolly-Polly. I also caught a small slug, on the beans, last night. I reset the potato traps and sprayed around a bit more of the bug killer. Also, replanted some of the beans. Also, the sunflowers. Got my tomatoes in cages, before they get entirely out of hand. Pulled up the Spinach, which was beginning to bolt. Did a bit of weeding, here and there. I’ve tried a couple of times to get some Chamomile, started, from seed. No dice. But then I noticed one growing on the path. And not looking very happy. So, I moved it to the garden. We’ll see …

    Yes, the Master Gardeners had set all the watering timers, to their satisfaction. Who knows, now? I sent off e-mails to two of them, this morning, to give them a heads up. The blueberries do have flowers. The one’s in back, look fine. The one’s out front, I haven’t checked, lately. We had that two day warm spell, and the flowers looked pretty crispy. But at that point, the water hand’t been reset.

    “Grocery Outlet” is a discount grocer. I don’t know where they source their stuff from, but a lot of it looks like it comes from the Yuppie food stores. Or maybe other outlets that are closing, or discontinuing product lines. But you never know what will be in stock, or not. A lot of their stuff is close to the “use by” or “best by” dates. But some things I can pretty much find dependably.

    Speaking of wind generators, I saw the trailer for the new “Twisters.” Didn’t see any flying cows, but there were a lot of flying blades off of wind generators. Something that wasn’t so common, when the original movie was made.

    Those were very pretty pictures, of the snow. Best seen from inside, looking out. 🙂

    In finished reading (skimming) “Barrons,” about the food business. And how a lot of it has been monopolized. Not much in the way of solutions, other than “change the government and laws,” which isn’t going to happen any time soon. If at all. I’m paying a lot more attention to “The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America.” (Franklin, 2024). I guess she’s best known for discovering, or editing food folks. Julia Child, Edna Lewis, James Beard, etc.. But besides all the food stuff, she was the one who pulled “The Diary of Anne Frank” out of a slush pile (and, being a very junior editor at the time, not given credit for it’s discovery), and also was the editor for Sylvia Plath and John Updike.

    Also dipping into the Roman book, from time to time. Lew

  15. Chris,

    The big event is over. It went surprisingly well. It is good to be home.

    Ook! Foggy and +5C? That is chilly, as in definitely NOT warm. Appreciate your posting the actual solar numbers you’ve been experiencing. Doubling the amount of panels probably more than doubles the complexity of the system, doesn’t it?

    Some of us were discussing this topic at times over the weekend. It seems as if those who actually THINK know that solar and wind cannot replace fossil fuels.

    I’m trying very hard NOT to mention the name of your fluffy who is in obedience school. Glad to see that the lessons are assisting in your work with the other two. I bet you and the Editor are learning a lot also?

    So you have several of those corrugated water pump covers scattered about the property? Respect. Future generations of archaeologists will have no clue what those were for. None. Maybe some sort of shelter to store objects for obscure and forgotten religious rituals. Maybe place some other strange objects inside those shelters, like maybe modern replicas of those Roman dodecahedrons or something.

    The Princess went with an amended Plan G for the food. A few of us were peeling potatoes and cutting up fruit and vegetables when a welcome woman entered the kitchen. She has been doing such events for decades, so she dug in, began working, told us shortcuts here and there. Her ideas saved us a lot of time and allowed everybody to get at least a few hours of sleep before some other kitchen volunteers took over the next morning.

    We didn’t have a large crowd, but there were more participants than I had expected. We planned for about 75 or 80, while I expected maybe 2 dozen. In actuality, we had, wait for it, yes, we had 42 including the Princess and myself. Yes, 42. I counted 3 times and the Princess counted twice. We both counted 42 every time. Amazing.

    Meanwhile, I had rented a cargo van so that all of the items for the giveaway could be transported in one trip. It took Killian’s human and me about 3.5 hours to load it from the basement and use straps to keep the load stable. I had 3 people assisting me while unloading, all at least 8 years older than me. Took 25 minutes to unload.

    As always, being with extended family was a highlight. Catching up with people, joking, all good stuff.

    Now if the wind would just quit. It was windy during the hot weather, sucking most of the moisture out of the dirt from the recent rains. It’s windy with more normal temperatures today. Yesterday was transition from the heat with sustained 40 km/hr winds with gusts upward of 65 km/hour. Naturally, about 30km from here, some idiot was burning a slash pile of timber in his yard in the high winds. Poof! 75 acres or more burned up. At least no houses were damaged.


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