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)

41 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.


  16. Hi Inge,

    The leaves on the French Sorrel are quite distinctive, and I’ve also never seen those plants in the wild, or anywhere else for that matter. Good stuff, and having plants which grow all year around is a real bonus and very useful. The borage like Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens) which grows like a weed here, does that too, even during the deepest and darkest winters with snowfall, and the leaves remain green. Good forage for the chickens. It was once used as a medicinal plant of quite notable and intriguing properties.

    That’s good to hear with the goats. To be honest, most animals don’t generally do well in wet summers, and I’d been wondering how your sons goats were coping.

    Absolute respect, and thanks. 🙂 I’m reluctant to keep a garden diary lest the act itself out-sources the part of my brain which is used for responding to the observable conditions. It’s complicated, but unlike my grandfather, I didn’t grow up on a farm and so have to learn everything, and also gain a feel for all of the many natural cycles, the hard way. I do hope you understand the dilemma I face?

    As to crop rotation, truly I fought the idea. Surely with all of the modern resources and ideas I could bring to the predicament, the old school methodology of crop rotation could be defeated? Turns out that my best was not equal to the realities of the many ill side effects of not practising proper crop rotation. 🙂 And your experience of not planting the same family of plants in the same tubs year after year, is what needs doing. Did you discover the need for crop rotation in your tubs through trial and error?

    Brr! That’s cold. Inge, I just looked up the weather for your isle in the coming week, and for summer, it’s atrocious. Your poor plants will be shivering along with your good self. Brr! Honestly, it’s obviously colder here up in the mountains during winter, but the daytime temperatures you are experiencing are not all that different from Melbourne’s winter forecast for the coming week.



  17. Hi DJ,

    Top work for both of you, and hope the ceremony was well received and the spirits were revered and remembered. Alas, sadly you have discovered that insight which being thrown into far corners of remote parts of Asia taught me: home is actually pretty good!

    The weather has again been rather bleak today. A bit record breaking with all the thick low cloud cover. Whatever, just spotted the local owl hanging around the chicken enclosure and took a photo. Hopefully the owl is not too annoyed by the use of the strong LED flashlight, but probably was. The bird has been hanging around the house of late.

    It’s a problem that, and is one of the reasons I repeat the same story over and over again – despite having the correct number of 42 solar panels installed for the house, the situation ain’t gettin’ any better! 😉 The land of stuff appears to currently be dumping below cost, or at least heavily subsidised electric cars down under, and I do wonder at what point the mains electrical grid struggles with all of the additional heavy loads?

    Yes, we all know who the fluffy in question is. And it’s neither Dame Plum, nor is it Ollie. A mystery! 😉 It is Sandra who is learning, Ruby is merely following instructions. Oops, I let the Kelpie out of the bag there…

    Lewis would likewise agree with your interpretation of the bizarre remains of the pump covers in several millennia time. Possible ritual objects. As an explanation, it kind of works. I reckon they’d have some troubles attempting to work out what an electric water pump even was that far into the future.

    That was a close call, and I’d imagine neither you nor your lady would have been aware of the welcome woman arriving to assist with the kitchen magic? Hope there was plenty of coffee and tea to assist the following day after only a few brief hours of kip? Sometimes nature does indeed provide.

    Mate, everyone is different, but I’d be happy enough if only a few good friends gathered to remember, celebrate and send-off, should the inevitable take place. And I note your estimate is closer to my expectations of such events, and you kind of both hit the mid point of your estimations, but also the magic number. Thanks for retesting and confirming this heady statistic, and surely it would have cast a good light and vibe over the event? It is amazing, yes.

    Ha! It is a known thing that it is easier to unload a van, than load it in the first place. Unless you’re like that courier a few years ago who almost dropped several thousand dollars of lithium batteries off the tailgate, because I dunno, the person just didn’t have their brain switched on. I was anxiously prepared to step in and stop the mess, but events worked out ok in the end, just.

    Lovely stuff, and isn’t it good to catch up and yak with people you know and are familiar with?

    Those winds are rotten sounding. Has the wind died down yet? It’s calmer here now, thankfully. Hey, the guy may not have had his brain switched on…It’s been my observation that within any system, you’re only ever as good as the weakest link. 🙂 Hope there are no more of such events for your summer?



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Very funny! Man, seriously, in five or so years at the rate the bill is increasing, 30% compounding, it’ll take every scrap of income to pay. Whenever people ask me why I believe there are economic troubles brewing, that bill pretty much is indisputable evidence. Without general home insurance coverage within the larger population, the construction and lending system as it stands will no longer be viable.

    The interweb has much to say on which areas of Idaho are impacted more by that church and it’s followers. The general consensus, not that I know anything about the matter, sort of suggested that the eastern half of the state was more likely to come under that influence that the more westerly half. But yeah, that’s good practice being known as an upstanding citizen in a small town. Doesn’t hurt to care about that, and word gets around. Small towns do come with their fair share of complexities.

    Well yes, that’s true. And the Aussies heading to the US probably reflected the change over of allegiance from the UK to the US. When I was a kid at Primary School, we used to stand to attention and sing the national anthem, God Save the Queen. Sometime in the late 1970’s it all changed and the national anthem was changed. It’s a very boring song, and hardly at all inspiring. Intellectuals, rock bands etc. headed to your country. Incidentally, by and large it was reported as having a difficult market to crack, but some folks did, including the ones you mentioned. You know, I’d not previously heard of Orry-Kelly. Education these days, huh? I’ve never heard of that band either.

    Good shot. Always good to shock friends, and I too hear the ‘why haven’t you got a TV (not even a smart one) in the living room’? Truth is, that room is where living happens, that’s why. TV is fine, I just never got into the habit, mostly because I’ve been too busy doing other things. It’s heresy to pick and choose what technology you burden yourself with you know. Respect.

    Oh my gawd, I saw that biz about AI as well. The windumbs system has an AI feature as well. It’s in an awkward spot and sometimes I accidentally click on the thing. Shut it down quickly! Wise to wait, and the same thing is true here as well – the computer keeps pestering me to take the leap. Is this really something we want or need?

    Thanks for that thought about the condition of the soil there. I’d not considered that, and yeah, there probably is something going on there with the soil. Hmm. I’ll take a closer look over the next month or so. It is a bit of a ways away, yeah.

    Good to hear the spray is working and that there are less wood lice, pesky things. Your slugs are unrelenting in their hunger! Ouch. It’s always hard to replant seedlings you’d already planted out, but it seems to be the way of things. You’ve got heaps of the growing season left to go, so the seedlings will be fine, at least that is what I reckon. It’s hard to really know how things will go from season to season, but all we can do is observe, act and hope for the best. Did you ever get the farmers almanac for your area? Hopefully your over enthusiastic weeding crew miss the chamomile plant?

    The vagaries of irrigation may strike your blueberries again. We might have different varieties down here, because mostly they don’t seem to require that much watering, although I will add that they are not all that far from the worm farm sewage system outlets. Do you reckon the blueberries would do better with some afternoon shade?

    Ah, thanks as I’d not known the name of the discount grocery. I have a friend who would very much be into that store and enjoying the largess and unusual finds.

    The trailer for the film was pretty intense, but yeah, where were the cows? I noticed in the trailer one of the vehicles was sucked away, and yet people were running in the other direction. Possibly not a good idea to delve too deeply into the reality, and just hang on, maybe strap yourself down like that bloke did with the Sirens, and enjoy the show. The lead guy was in that other film I’m not allowed to mention, which was incidentally quite enjoyable, but yeah, yeah, I hear you. 😉

    It sure gets cold up at those higher elevations in this state. Mostly Australia is a flat continent, but then there are a lot of mountains, and one very long range.

    We’ve all heard those solutions before. It happens. It’s a different spin on the ‘if we just all work together and implement a utopian plan, everything will be just fine, maybe’. I agree, that won’t happen any time soon. You’ve mentioned that talented Editor / Publisher before, an eye for what works.

    I forget, what’s the Roman book?

    Man, the entire day is about two hours off. Like that time change, but worse. I blame Ruby, pure and simple. Tonight things will not be a repeat I can assure you. Everything was going fine, before the incident. We didn’t even finish work until 8.30pm tonight. Too late in my books, but what must be, often generally is.



  19. Yo, Chris – Speaking of “no longer viable,” I saw an article, this morning. “Montana Has More Cows Than People. Why Are Locals Eating Meat From Brazil.” Couldn’t link to it, and it might be behind a pay wall. Maybe.

    It’s about some plucky locals who are trying to change that. The article mentions the four largest meat packers. They do 85% of the meat packing, here. The book that I read recently, “Barons,” mentioned two of the four are foreign owned.

    There was a recent book, and documentary about Orry-Kelly. “Women I’ve Undressed.” They were based on a memoir he wrote, that was lost, and then rediscovered. I read and watched, both. Interesting stuff, if you’re curious about the golden age of Hollywood.

    I don’t know if the spray is working, or not. I picked a few pill bugs, off the plants, last night. But, I’ll keep at it. I spent a couple of hours, dinking around in the garden, last night. I cut down a bit of volunteer Fennel, that was blocking the grapes. Left three or so, as they really pull in the pollinators. Also, hacked back a few errant grape vines. Did a lot of other weeding.

    I have three green tomatoes! They’re on that Oregon Spring that was left over, from the Master Gardeners sale. Also, the primary hose I use to water, is leaking. Got my shoes wet. Time to break out the Wellies. The Master Gardeners were talking about some kind of super duper hose. I’ll find out what it is, from them on Monday. And give it a whirl. Sigh.

    I went up to the regular grocery store, last night, and found a bag of onion rings. $7! For 11 oz. Baked them up and called it dinner. Tasty. But, I took a look in the rabbit hole, and next time I get a craving, there’s a way to make them, and not have to resort to deep frying. Which I avoid, as it’s a mess.

    Some of the blueberries, out front, may be ok. As there are early, mid, and late season varieties. When all goes well, they produce for almost three months.

    The Roman book is “Populous: Living and Dying in Ancient Rome” (De La Bedoyere, 2024). I was looking at the “new / on order” list on the library web site, yesterday. There’s a new documentary, “Pompeii: The New Dig.” A three part series. It’s on my hold list.

    Last night, I watched “South Park Joins the Panderverse.” You want flying cows? They sent up a number of recent sacred cows. 🙂 Very naughty. I loved it. Besides over the top pandering to diversity, they also dinged the over reliance on the multiverse to wrap up loose plot ends, in so many movies, these days. And, there was a whole plot line having to do with AI ending a lot of white collar jobs. And, how those white collar people can’t repair, anything. And realize, their college educations maybe wasn’t such a bright idea. There’s a small scene with a father telling his daughter, not to go to college. But get some skills that she can do with her hands. As AI had no hands.

    Signs. Miracles. Wonders. A white buffalo calf has been born, at our Yellowstone National Park. Not an albino, but a true, white buffalo. Lew

  20. Hi, Chris!

    I feel it best not to comment about His Majesty.

    I finally found the fluffy-in-the-fog. I hate long stretches of cloudiness. I am solar powered! The list of sunlit minutes, or lack thereof, is daunting. I’m not saying that your system is at fault, you work so hard to maintain it; it just has pretty severe limitations. From your comments, I would say that you have reached Peak Solar Expansion.

    You are cold and damp, we are hot and dry, but that is as it should be.

    How’s obedience school going, eh? The other day I was googling water systems on organic farms and a video of you and Fernglade was the second one listed – pure chance! Or perhaps a higher power was at work. And Toothy was in it, too! I enjoyed it so much.

    Another lovely – backbreaking – pile of wood. 14% moisture content is VERY respectable. So, now who’s man’s best friend, who eats grubs? Well, yes, you Ollie (no?), but I was thinking of birds, as long as we are not considering fruit trees. We did have a dog that ate grubs and loved cicadas, too. I don’t know if you have cicadas.

    What are you planning to build with the leaning tree timber?

    Goodness! A Meyer lemon bounty of great richness.

    I canned my first bush green beans today. This was actually the first time that I had canned green beans, and it was also the first ones of this season. They are coming in gangbusters.

    Thank you for the comments up top. And thank you for the exquisite winter salvia and roses. Ahhh . . .


  21. Chris,

    Correct. “There’s no place like home.” And I didn’t have to journey somewhere over the rainbow to discover that!

    The owl is near the house? Is the owl cold? Hoping for handouts? Trying to find a way into the chicken coop?

    Spokane’s bus fleet is going electric. Dunno how that will work in the winter. I’ve also heard of some other locations that moved all of their local government vehicles to electric only to have the manufacturers go out of business. No parts when maintenance is needed. Having politicians mandate changes doesn’t always work the way they intend.

    Darn! And here I was studiously avoiding mentioning Ruby by name! 😉

    Having the magic number of people at the event was funny. Never happen that way again, probably, but it made this event unforgettable.

    I was able to spend a lot of time visiting with my great nieces, those who are in their mid to late teens. After a few years of turmoil, they seem to be trying to get things together. I hope they continue on their better paths. They appear to have been THINKING and figured out how to change their direction.

    The cherry tree has a problem. That would be the Royal Ann cherry tree. Aphid infestation. The ladybugs are gathering, but there are just way too many aphids. They are NOT being herded by ants, which I’ve had happen to other trees. So, I hose down the tree every day with a nozzle. Seems to help, but it’s an ongoing process. The ladybugs sort of hunker down then get back to work after the leaves have dried out.

    Then there’s the wind. We’re in the midst of a 36 hour low to no wind stretch. However, winds are forecast to return Friday and last for about 10 days, although Friday and Saturday will be the windiest. Ugh.

    The Princess and I stopped for a feed and a pint today. We needed to just unwind, celebrate this the big event is over.


  22. Hi Pam,

    Ah, yes, I get your point there about ‘no comment’. All the same, he does seem to favour organic agricultural methods, and that’s good with me.

    Top spotting, that was Dame Plum hiding in the fog. A very clever dog, although none have yet to rival Sir Scruffy’s intellect, although she is close. Have you ever had a super clever dog? Bob super crazy does not count here! 😉

    Oh Pam, aren’t we all? I’m thirsting for the sun! Where art thou, oh warming circle of fusion reactor way up there in the sky? And that is the entire problem in a nutshell, production and systems has peaked whilst the sun is at its nadir.

    You make a solid case there for seasonal realities. I slept poorly last evening due to having a lack of time to consider a very local problem whilst awake earlier in the day (the dark of night is sometimes when the best thinking is done, but I’d prefer not to make a habit of that), but once fortified with some coffee this morning, we headed out and harvested more firewood today. The stores are filling up nicely.

    🙂 Sandra is very much enjoying dog obedience school, whilst Ruby is learning the finer points of canine interaction. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ruby may never be bestowed with a title, but the dog is more or less OK.

    No way! That’s an old video, however it is a subject to which I’ve given lots of thought and also put in countless hours of work. When water is a limited resource, it becomes a matter of great importance. How are your systems going in that regard? There will be more video content shortly.

    🙂 You may recall long ago when the steel in the old wood heater was burnt out through sheer, err, stupidity? The cost to repair that mistake was epic, as you’d imagine, and so I read a book on the subject of firewood – then changed every system feeding into that handy local fuel source. 14% moisture content is the biz. Hey, when splitting the firewood today, I found a juicy fat wood borer grub and fed it to the magpies. Happy birds and I’d not realised how closely they were watching the work activities. Also the King Parrot who followed me around last year introduced his girlfriend today, and we hand fed them both some organic rolled oats.

    We get cicadas, but as you’d imagine, the local birds treat the insects like a fast food diner. 🙂

    There is a need for a larger firewood shed.

    Pam, I didn’t even know that green beans could be canned. You’ll appreciate those when the winter months slow the growth of most plants. Yum! We tend to dry beans. Are the variety you canned broad beans?

    There’s a couple of nights forecast for 34’F, so hopefully the brave roses struggle on, maybe! All part of the cycle of the seasons.



  23. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, that’s where that observation came from. I recall watching that film as a very young child sitting in the back seat at the drive in. As a kid it all seemed a bit silly to me, but I missed the general themes and the film is a classic. I believe that there are a couple of drive in theatres still in existence in the big smoke. The Editor installed a sub woofer in her Dirt Mouse Suzuki, and the audio is awesome, so maybe one day we’ll put a drive-in theatre to the test? Hey, I’d happily ignore the over the rainbow stuff, for the pot of gold where the rainbow touches the Earth! Gold being kind of on the up in terms of price over the past couple of years. Those tricksey Elder folk though may not deliver on their promises…

    Ha! The owl swoops upon any unfortunate juicy moths attracted to the house lights. A clever bird. The predatory bird may have been hanging around the chicken enclosure waiting to dine upon any hapless rodents attracted to the rich feed and soils in that area. The sheer number and variety of owls is one of the reasons I don’t poison rodents. It’s a self defeating strategy, although what other households do is always a problem. Did I not say that you’re only as good as the weakest link?

    The Editor was hand feeding the King Parrots today. It’s the depths of winter, and those two birds needed a helping hand. One of them follows me around during the summer months.

    A car will use a lot of electricity to charge. Humour me for a second. The Euro area and the US appear to have placed some imposing import tariffs on those EV’s made in the land of stuff. As a result, they’re cheap here. One of them is being advertised down here at about, I dunno, maybe $40k drive away. And the thing has a 50kWh battery. That’s twice the capacity of the house batteries, and they were not cheap. Hmm. What does err, heavily subsidised mean again? To even produce that much charge in a day here using solar would require so many solar panels that my brain now hurts even considering the entire problem. At 200W for each solar panel, how many did you work it out be given there is only an hours peak sunlight? So a bus, well, that’s right out during the winter months, but good luck there. Hope they have coal, gas, nuclear for such moments.

    Do politicians know anything? Why would we even expect them too?

    Man, it’s really sweet that the correct number of people attended the event. 🙂 Out of curiosity, was the food well received? I’ve never cooked for so many people before, and that skill set would be astounding to wield. Has your lady incurred any social obligations to help out in turn at other events?

    Yes, DJ, did you know that plenty of folks believe the youngsters are half asleep at the wheel? This is only half true, and they are perhaps therefore a quarter asleep. But that is also because they’re young and need more sleep. I’m an old fella, and need more sleep too (which I did not get last night, more on that later). 🙂 Dude, jokes aside, they know the score, and will acquiesce up to the point where the costs become way too high when compared to any benefits perceived or real. Then things will change, but until then I am glad to hear that such folks are thinking. Whenever I get the chance to speak to younger folks I always alert them to the dangers of student debt. Once long ago the system was fair, and the returns were not meagre.

    I’m concerned for educational outcomes, because as someone who once ran a graduate program long ago for a very big corporate, a few days ago I received what can only be described as the stupidest query I’d ever experienced from someone else in my profession. A real head scratcher, and sadly I can’t go into details, but it was nuts. Oh well.

    Oh poop, aphids in any quantity are not good. Sorry man, that’s a situation beyond my experience, although spraying with water is a great idea. Can you get soapy water onto the leaves? Ants are usually the vector, but not in your case. I once had an ant originated sooty mould aphid issue. The pesky critters were all harvesting the sugars on citrus leaves. We had the yellow jackets harvesting aphids on a specific variety of willow (which sadly now has to go). Ladybugs are great little workers aren’t they? Sorry to say, but the literature on the subject of aphids suggests that you may well have a soil mineral imbalance for those fruit trees. Easy enough to correct, and a lack of nitrogen was at the core of the aphid issue here with the citrus tree in question. Need I mention that you have a ready and home source of that mineral? 😉 Remember not to make the neighbours blush!

    Holy carp! Ten continuous days of wind sounds unpleasant. Hope you get some rain for all that wind? Ugh, I hear you. The next couple of days look cold, but cloudy and dry. Oh well, winter and stuff.

    A quiet pint and a feed are a truly most excellent experience. Good to hear you two are relaxing, and also that the rite sounds as if it went well.

    Oh yeah, sleep. Well, there was a pesky local problem to sort out, and I neglected to attend to the consideration during the waking hours. A real bummer… Oh well. Yawn!



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Oh man, when up north late last century, we ate a crocodile burger, and your guess was very good. Yes, it did taste like chicken with the consistency of lamb. Quite nice really, but it was a farmed crocodile and I believe the critters get fed a lot of chicken, so makes you wonder doesn’t it? Which came first, the chicken or the crocodile meat? That large territory (which is truly massive) has a ban on hunting crocodiles, so as you’d imagine there are a lot of crocs up there. When we visited late last century, you could happily swim in all sorts of delightful watering holes, but I dunno about doing that activity nowadays. My gut feeling is that eventually there’ll be some sort of happy balance between the croc and human population. It amazes me that reptiles even survived the dinosaur extinction meteor event. 20ft long and over 2,400 pounds is a hefty beast which is best not annoyed.

    I dunno about damaging artworks as a form of protest, despite what some activists may say. It’s possibly much easier to damage something, than it is to create and produce. It reminds me a lot of trolling. Sure, trolls may have opinions, but can they write anything of note? I’m inclined to believe that the answer is no. But yeah, everyone is a critic, yup. 🙂

    Thanks, and I found the article. Honestly, when small farms are thrown to the wolves as in ‘get big or get out’ style, well that simply concentrates wealth. Almost impossible for smaller producers to compete in such a market. Someone the other day was asking me about whether we sold excess produce, and I had to let them down gently. The system is mostly stacked against you, so why play that game? The chicken and egg biz is apparently very concentrated in this state. I’d heard some stories for sure which allegedly played out in supply throttling and prices. Always an option I guess, and those biz maybe can restock pretty quickly.

    I recall mentioning that one of the King Parrots used to follow me around the farm during the summer months, well he’s back and was showing off his girlie friend. Being winter and all, we hand fed them both some organic oats, which they very much appreciated. The wildlife here is where the excess produce goes.

    What a great name for a book, quite racy really. And what’s the chances of a tell all memoir being found in a pillowcase? The cheeky rascal.

    The slug hunt is long and going well Brother Lewis! 🙂 I’m really surprised that nothing is around to eat the slugs at your place. Actually what does eat slugs? Please excuse the unintended pun, but what a can of worms that question produced. Slug predators may not be in your garden sorry to say.

    Does your fennel leaves have that liquorice taste (or it used to be call anise)? But yeah, they are good for pollinators. Dill tends to self seed here, and it looks as if it is from the same family of plants, but it is a bit smaller than fennel. The seeds are useful. The weeding never stops, does it? Even now we’re pulling up weeds for the chickens feed.

    Holy carp Lewis! That seems quite expensive for onion rings, but the quest has now been fulfilled, and maybe that raid on the treasury is what it took. Hey, we paid $8.47 / gallon for petrol today. Ouch, but small cars and stuff, so at least they go a long way for every litre.

    Deep frying is messy as, and not to mention the subsequent clean up. Yikes! I recall the days of dripping being collected in mugs and then stored in the refrigerator. That stuff made the tastiest chips ever. Yum! How do you dodge the deep frying cooking method with the onion rings?

    Clever to plant early, mid and late season varieties, and that might assist with pollination as well. Plus give all the birds and other helpful insects a reason to hang around your garden for the summer. Fingers crossed you get some harvest from the blueberries. The birds take all of the blueberries here – it’s feral out there. The birds which do that trick are often ring-ins and not the farm residents. There’s a nearby blueberry farm within walking distance, so I’m pretty sure that’s where the birds picked up the taste for the yummy berries.

    The book on day to day life in Rome during the peak of the Roman Empire, sounds like a fight for survival, but with plenty of entertainment. What was the stealing precious water from the aqueducts all about?

    You’ve intrigued me, yes the Panderverse is not a place to be caught up in. 🙂 Ah, those funny South Park dudes, no sacred cow shall remain unpoked. Oh no, the episode was blocked, but the trailer looked like a lot of fun. Everyone needs to be sent up every now and then. I’ve never had dreams like Cartman seemed to be having. That’s genuinely funny, and probably all too true. Yup, AI has no hands, or a brain. 🙂

    A blessing and a warning, and a call to do more. Hmm. All up, I’d say that is on the not-good side of the equation. Omens. Well there are problems.

    Continued cleaning up today and turned much of the fallen timber into firewood. There’s something really cathartic about the cleaning up process. I’ll do a video on the subject over the next few weeks.

    And um, you know, sometimes being the man, means you have to be the man. 🙂 You read it here first! I had to sort out a local matter today, of minor consequence, yet it was escalating. Yup, life in a small town. Always exciting. And it must be the moon signs for such work, because yesterday I received the stupidest query from anyone ever in my profession. It was so dumb, there must be a new category for such queries. Maybe?

    There was even a tiny little bit of sun today. Honestly, given all the recent cloud cover, I’d forgotten what the thing in the sky looked like.



  25. Chris:

    I knew that about Ch3 and the organic farming. Name me another head of state that not only promotes such a thing, but is very involved in it.

    Bob Super Crazy does count, if sheer determination and will power count as clever.

    I can see why Sandra is enjoying obedience school. It can really be a hoot sometimes.

    What systems? No, seriously, we do have a water system but it leaves much to be desired. I have been at my son to put in at least a couple of large water tanks. If we have a drought – this has happened before – combined with a power outage so that our well pump does not work, his business is toast. I think he is thinking about not adding more stuff forwhen we move.

    Yes, I remember the burnt out steel. You sorted that out very well.

    It’s best to make friends with the birds, even if they don’t reciprocate. There is one Carolina Wren named Lewis (not after you, Lewis, but after an ancestor of mine, Meriwether Lewis) that comes to my back door every morning. He sings exactly the same tune each time. It obviously means “Where’s the food!? Where’s the food!?”.

    Not broad beans; I haven’t grown them in awhile. These are “snap” beans of the bush type.


  26. Yo, Chris – Apex predators are important, and sort of keep everything humming along. But, when you entirely protect them, things get thrown out of whack. And, I have mixed feelings about reintroducing apex predators to their “traditional” ranges.

    I think the people who vandalize art works, are rather lazy. You think they could pick targets, to make their point, that have a lot more impact. 🙂

    Joe Salatin pretty much covered the woes of the small producer. I think, as far as excess produce goes, one is better off (as things stand now) with a more barter approach. Or, as a way of building social currency.

    That book “Barons” was rather an eye opener. I mean, I had a general idea of the monopolization of food, but really didn’t realize the extent. By the way, over 80% of the coffee supply is controlled by one reclusive German family. And they’ve only been at it, since the 1980s. These food barons are deep in the pockets of politicians, and courts. To make sure things go their way. And make things tough, or impossible, for the little guy. And they sell so much under different brand names, it’s really difficult to figure out exactly who, is behind your purchases.

    So, the King Parrot imported a girlfriend, from afar? I wonder if she was a picture bride? 🙂

    I nailed a few slugs, last night. But they were outside the garden beds. I picked more pill bugs, off the green beans. Yes, the fennel smells like liquorish. Our dumpster room smelled like an explosion in a candy factory. 🙂

    Basically, you coat and bake the onion rings, instead of deep frying them. Donuts can also be baked, instead of deep fried.

    For some reason, the birds seem to leave our blueberries alone. Maybe there are visiting cats, from the neighborhood? At least in the area, they are in. Now our strawberries do draw the birds. Usually, I net them, but there hasn’t been enough of a crop, to bother with, this year.

    The book on the Romans had a section on water and stealing water, was mentioned. Apparently, the aqueduct workers, were mostly imperial slaves. Who could be bribed. 🙂 There were periodic crackdowns, but from what we can gather, the penalties were rather light.

    The South Park white collar workers, attack a college. With a catapult. Which comes boxed, and, as they have no skills, they can’t figure out how to put it together.

    The moon is waxing, right now. A good time to plant crops, that produce above ground.

    Looks like we’re going to have a rainy weekend. Nothing major. Scattered showers, now and again. I see by the radar, that a band of rain is coming in, from the coast. Nice weather, all next week. Scattered clouds, low temperatures. Lew

  27. Hi Chris,
    Whoa! That’s a lot of lemons.

    Marty is the latest challenge. Last Saturday he was found by Gwen and the staff member from her group home who had brought her over to visit Marty, unresponsive on the floor. Turned out he had
    encephalopathy of an unknown origin. He was delirious and didn’t recognize us for 24 hours. Over the next day or so he gradually started acting like himself. However, he has been falling a lot lately so he’s in a nursing home for awhile to gain his strength. We don’t really think he’s safe living by himself anymore especially since his apartment is full of so much stuff. We’ve been trying to convince him to get rid of stuff and got him a walker but it’s only a matter of time before he has a serious fall sadly. There’s not much we can do as it’s up to him. Anyway he’s taking up a fair amount of time at the moment.

    We continue to get a decent amount of rain though it’s going to get quite hot for awhile.


  28. Chris,

    We put on Wizard of Oz as a play when I was 12. The director and school principal was Bing Crosby’s niece. We did 4 public performances that were sold out. Whenever that movie is on, I can still quote all the lines and sing all the songs. IF I want to watch it, which I don’t. Call it “Toto Burnout” at age 12. 😉

    About 2 weeks ago we had a nice early evening thunderstorm. Our part of town could see a double rainbow, both portions being complete, total rainbows. I figured twice the gold, but the rain quit before I could find anything.

    For similar reasons, I refuse to use any toxic sprays on the trees for insect and mold control. The birds are more important. Other critters live in the trees. No nasty chemicals to kill weeds either. Some neighbors use all these things, but at least there’s one yard that is safe for everyone.

    Cool! Hand feeding the king parrot. I saw something interesting today. The birds were all quiet this morning, except for one crow sounding the alarm and some young hawks making a ruckus. One adult hawk and 2 young ones were circling the area, calling back and forth. All of the other birds were spooked. As soon as the hawks left, the other birds came out of hiding. Don’t always see the younger hawks getting trained.

    Hmmm, another 250 solar panels simply to charge a car? Bwahahaha! The main concern I have about the local bus system is how well they will hold the charge during cold weather. I’ll be watching attentively.

    Yes, the food was received well. Very well. There were some donations, things like pies and cupcakes. Someone donated some salmon which the new batch of volunteers prepared in the morning. Due to the nature of the giveaway during the event, the cooks and singers and drummers are all given gifts. No *formal* reciprocity is needed. However, as many people (Princess included) help at other persons’ functions, it all sort of evens out eventually.

    I can’t say much about the 3 nieces publicly. I’m just happy that they have started thinking again. I really enjoy interacting with younger people. They can teach me as much as I can teach them. Or more.

    Educational outcomes? Yes, I have some horror stories about those, too. Often involving job applications, but sometimes watching engineers forget basic physics and maths in their designs. Ugg.

    Nitrogen deficiency in the soil? Perhaps. Tree involved? Yes. I think I can figure out how to add nitrogen to the soil without the neighbors getting blushed or offended.

    One early trip to the Rez was at a LARGE billiards tournament. The only two caucasians were the bar owner and me. I had to visit the loo, where I was quickly (and jokingly) told “Hey! No white guys allowed in here. You gotta use the tree across the road.” My rapid response was “Dang, I’m a city boy. You’ll have to show me which tree and show me how to use it!” That was greeted with howls of laughter and “You’re okay for a white guy!” Apparently, I passed some sort of test.


  29. Hi Pam,

    You got me there! Of all the possible interests that family seems to be into, it’s a very decent option. And of course once fossil fuel availability declines far enough way off in the far distant future, organic agriculture will be the way of things. Seems wise to get started on that knowledge early don’t you reckon?

    Hehe! Go Bob Super Crazy. 🙂 We have such narrow views as to what is considered intelligent. I’ve known some very accomplished folks who disdain common sense. Hmm. Speaking of dogs, we’ve been cleaning up the danger zone area where the wild mushrooms and wombats roam free. The wombats will be fine, the mushrooms on the other hand will be lesser in quantity, but eventually the wombats will have more food for themselves in a year or two when the plants re-establish. I took Dame Plum down there this evening, and she seemed OK. For obvious reasons, she has been banned from entering that area, as has Ruby, but sooner or later you have to put the dogs to the test. What a nuisance the whole thing has been, but still if they cannot control themselves…

    Dog obedience school has been fun, and Sandra is coming to terms with the fact that Ruby may be in class one for at least a year, but that is normal for the dogs. Repeat, repeat, and then repeat again! Some of the dogs get promoted to class two, too early and that is a problem for both dogs and humans.

    Droughts, we’ve all had our fair share of those. Yikes! I can understand your sons reticence there, because people generally don’t pay any more for a house and land, even if the infrastructure is very well sorted out. All the work we do here is for our benefit and enjoyment, I doubt people would want to pay extra for all that stuff. How many bedrooms has the place got? What do you mean there are all those fruit trees, what a hassle…

    Turns out steel plate isn’t all that strong. One must be super gentle with fireboxes.

    What a beautiful bird. How hard do the wrens work keeping the gardens free of pesky bugs. A lovely song too. Yes, where is the food? 🙂 Aren’t birds lovely? You may enjoy this magpie song: Australian magpie singing. Talkative birds, and they even have a specific alarm call which I can recognise.

    Lovely, and that’s really early in the growing season to be harvesting snap beans. Top stuff!



  30. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and I’m picking at least four to five lemons a day, dicing them, then adding them to the chickens feed. A good winter source of Vitamin C for the spoiled birds. 🙂 We use lemons in cooking, but the tree continues to outproduce our needs. There are another two Meyer Lemon trees growing elsewhere, but they’re only just beginning to produce some fruit. My understanding is that the trees last only a couple of decades before they begin to fail.

    Alas, it is my impression that your occasional winter extremes are just a bit too much for citrus trees outdoors. Kind of reminds me of the coffee shrub we grew years ago which was awesome, until the first snowfall. Died within two days of that.

    Nobody wants a brain malfunction. If I’d discovered Marty face down unresponsive on the floor, I’d think the worst had just happened. Discovering the origin would be very complicated, and probably not all that useful, don’t you reckon? You have to kind of deal with the symptoms and Marty as he is, and glad to hear that he now recognises you. But falling repeatedly is not a good sign, I’m really sorry to say. How’s Gwen holding up with it all? And how are you going? You’ve had a lot on your plate.

    Decent amount of rain + quite hot = jungle! Until things dry out of course.

    We’ve been down at the forest edge cleaning up the loggers mess of late. It’s hard, but satisfying work.



  31. Hi DJ,

    Oh man, I’ve heard of child actors peaking in their careers at such young ages. Look, all we can ever but satisfy ourselves with was that the performance was super awesome. Thus the packed out houses. Unfortunately, after the age of 12, that side of your career was all downhill. The pain is real for sure. 🙂 Glad you moved on into the world of physics, then tested your wits and survival instincts against the dark side of bureaucracy.

    Oh total bummer, although a person does have to be quick. Maybe next time during a summer storm?

    Well that’s it isn’t it? It’s like a chain. Poison one link, and the gunk travels along the rest of the links. A few years ago the concept of competitive lawns came to my attention. Like, what did you just say? That was my initial reaction, but in these more enlightened times, the activity simply mystifies me. Honestly man, I’d be happy if people simply cut the grass and left the clippings to decompose and break down where they fell. It would save everyone a whole lot of hassle… The birds will know that your place is OK for them, and given less poisons get used, well there’ll be more life. That’s the thing, isn’t it?

    We took some photos of the King Parrot, and friend. Last summer, I swear the bird was trying to tell me something when it followed me around squawking at me. You’d hope the message was more than: Dude, where’s my food?

    Wise to keep a low profile when apex predators are in the area. Things are a bit different down here. When the Wedge Tail Eagles circle overhead, the tiny magpies will send up a sortie. It’s like the Battle of Britain over the skies of Cherokee, and three or four magpies will harass the huge eagle. Talk about courage! The eagles pretend to act as though it is beneath their dignity to acknowledge the much smaller birds, but I note they generally move on to easier parts of the forest. When the Kelpies were tiny at just twelve weeks, the eagles were constantly overhead. The dogs survived fine.

    Respect, and thanks for doing the calculation, because that is the number of solar panels I came up with as well. It won’t end well. As it is, the solar power system has to be robust enough to survive the sort of energy that welders produce, but for hours and hours on end. 105+ amps at 58 Volts is no laughing matter. And the system runs cool at such energy flows. That was no small achievement. Adding more panels and increasing the current, simply frightens me. 🙂

    There’s an easy answer to your weather related battery concerns. The batteries may have heat mats around the cases. Lithium batteries do not appreciate freezing temperatures. Of course the electric heat mats will reduce kilometre range and battery capacity, but they will work. Probably don’t want to get them too hot either. That chemistry likes operating in the goldilocks zone. Fun stuff.

    Thank you so much for providing the food details. Yum. And the talk of salmon is making me salivate. Yum! Ah, good to hear that there is a sort of system in place. Such things are organic in nature, and always impressive.

    No worries at all, I totally get that. I’m also always interested in others opinions and journeys.

    Ook! And double secret Ugg! 😉 Far out, forgetting basic physics and maths is not good and makes you reluctant to engage with the person, although everyone has to learn from someone else. Funnily enough, I did not hear from the folks as asked the super dumb query. What annoyed me about it the most, was that the query was framed as if it were my fault. An impressive achievement. Oh well, I let them down gently and put a firm end to the mischief, although I’ll have another conversation about it next week, just because that’s how things will work out. A very confident approach to be so wrong, yet apportion blame elsewhere. I guess we’ve all done dumb things from time to time. 🙂

    Hehe! DJ, you have the power, and the innate ability. Go thee forth and feed thy aphid riddled fruit trees!

    Man, that line is most excellent! Thanks for the laughs, and I will definitely remember that one. You know, a bit of self deprecating humour can go a long way to soothe tensions.



  32. Hi Lewis,

    It’s not just you that has mixed feelings about such matters. One of the assumptions the well intentioned people make before reintroducing apex predators, is that the area is in its traditional state. Like what could possibly go wrong when said apex predator gets hungry, and heads to town? 🙂 One of the things I’ve never really comprehended about our civilisation is that it has this notion of an area being ‘wild’, whatever that means. Humans down here have been modifying and adapting the continent for tens of millennia, and so taking a doing nothing approach, will ultimately produce an environment that nobody knows anything about, and maybe so full of plant life, that there is little room for anything else. And we get huge fires as a result. It’s probably not all that smart.

    Spotted something weird this morning. A huge stag was clearly rubbing it’s antlers on a very big and old tall Eucalyptus tree, and stripped part of the bark off. The bark is there for a purpose. Hmm.

    There is an element of laziness to it, yeah. I’d not considered that side of the story, but it makes a lot of sense. A bit like protesting and holding up commuter traffic, which does happen from time to time. Simply alienates the folks who’ve gotta work for a living. I agree, and honestly, I’m totally unsure of the desired outcome from those activist folks.

    Joel is very much correct in his assertions. The system was never arranged for his benefit. Like constructing a small one-off house design, like we did. The system favours the project builders. Hmm. Generally that’s what I do, although lately I’ve reduced those sorts of gift of produce arrangements, mostly because nobody says anything about it. That makes me feel uncomfortable that I’m crossing some sort of social line I’m unaware of, but seriously I don’t know. It wasn’t always that way, but something changed a few years ago.

    What? How have I never heard of that before. 80% you say? Hmm. My, my, but they do seem to be rather low profile. Interesting. I know a bloke, who’s parents used to own a coffee plantation up in the sub tropical north of the continent. I’m of the opinion that such concentrations of wealth are one of the signs of the end point of a civilisation. When such things happen, the civilisation fossilises and is unable to overcome issues.

    🙂 She probably was a picture bride! The King Parrots are lovely birds to have around, although they do want a share of the produce, as do the other species of parrots.

    On Monday, which was the public holiday, I chopped and burnt off the root ball from a large tree which was part of the loggers mess. Anyway, today I cut part of the trunk into log lengths of about five or six feet thus making them easier to handle. The tree itself had been almost buried in the clay. What was interesting was that the outside of the tree had been burned (probably from the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires), and the insides (despite being buried in clay) were pristine with only a bit of rot in the core. Once we removed part of all those logs, we could flatten the area out (the tree was partially buried, as you do). Hard work man, I’ve gotta head back down there in the dark and push the fire together. The logs will be turned into firewood over the next few weeks.

    It was also very cold and cloudy today. Apparently the city folk have noticed the cold weather as well, and apparently winter hasn’t been this cold for at least five years.

    An explosion in a candy factory! Funny stuff. When I was a kid, you could get those candies tasting of anise and they were a black with white stripe lolly. You’d buy them by the large glass jar. Have you ever come across glass for such things back in the trade days?

    Ah, I see with the baked onion rings. Makes sense. What? Baked doughnuts? That’s the Aussie spelling for donuts by the way. Looks a bit like dog-nuts, which sounds slightly pervy! 🙂

    Lucky you with the blueberries. My observation of birds is that they can learn, and teach when there are tasty crops. People swear that the birds won’t consume Chilean Guavas, but they’re wrong. The birds here will most definitely eat those tasty fruits. I’ve even caught the local Currawongs (like a huge Raven) pinching tomatoes…

    Strawberries are a mystery crop (almost typed misery crop) here, and that’s a total bummer, because I really enjoy them. Anyway, I’ve given up on the hybrid varieties and must satisfy myself with the easier to grow Alpine strawberries, which are good, but lesser tasting. The old timers used to grow strawberries in this area commercially, so it is possible that I’m dealing with more than my fair share of plant diseases with that berry? Dunno. Do you reckon you’ll get any strawberries as the season goes on?

    Thanks for the info on the Roman aqueducts, and I’d not realised that they were run and maintained by Imperial slaves. You’re reading about bribes, but I’m thinking about Onion soup urine content from the Fight Club book. Good to hear that the slaves were open to making some mad cash on the side. Such acts keeps the water wheels flowing.

    Oh no! That’s seriously funny. I must get this South Park episode… I’d have that catapult sorted in no time at all, just sayin’! 🙂

    I’ve heard that moon story, and it makes sense. Something to do with the water table being higher at that time. Dude, it’s pretty muddy in the area we were working today. All the machines had to be hosed down at the end of the work day – as did my boots. I was getting taller by the hour.

    Heading into the week of the winter solstice with cold days, even colder nights and near constant thick low cloud, just wanted to say that I’m rather envious of your weather! 🙂



  33. Chris:

    I don’t know. A property seller could probably entice me with all that neat infrastructure, like you have. But does she have the bucks?!

    A lovely and interesting song the magpie has. I can imagine him talking. Thanks!


  34. Hello Chris
    I think that I always knew about the need for crop rotation. No idea where the knowledge came from. I knew that it was absolutely essential for potatoes and that runner beans create some chemical (forget what) in the soil which helps other plants. No doubt there is more of that sort of thing. Of course farmers leave areas fallow for a while, or they used to.
    I have all my heating on. Every now and then the sun shines and the next time that I look out of the window there will be rain tipping down. It is very windy at the moment.


  35. Yo, Chris – I’ll lead with weather, today. 🙂 There’s a huge heat dome, building up over our NE and upper Midwest. I’m concerned about Claire, Pam and Margaret.


    It rained enough, yesterday, that I didn’t have to water. When I took H out, this morning, it was dry. We got lucky. Just as we headed back inside, it started raining. And then, bucketing down.

    The stag might have been, “In velvet.” Or, ending being “in velvet.” It’s a yearly process. Deer and elk shed their horns, every year. As they regrow, they’re covered with a velvety layer. At a certain point, it’s no longer of use, and the animals needs to rub it off. If you count the number of “points” on a deer or elk rack, that’s the approximate age of the animal.

    Something I’ve been aware of, for awhile, is that large companies and LLCs, buy up smaller companies. But, it was outlined, again, in the book “Barons.” Say you have a nice little organic food company, selling … something. Your product gets popular. In waltzes “big business,” and makes an astronomical offer for you business. And, of course, they promise that “they won’t change a thing.” It’s been a slog, you’re tired, and retiring to a tropical island, has a certain appeal. So, you sell. The big business gets bigger, and, knocks off a competitor. The monopoly grows.

    You see the same thing, with farms. The kids aren’t interested, the old farmer is exhausted, and gets a spectacular offer for their land. Retiring and “moving to town,” (or, Florida), has been going on, for quit awhile.

    Some people start those little organic companies, with the hope that there will be a big pay-off, in the end. As with apex predators, I’m kind of in two minds about this kind of thing.

    The evolution of land, is just a snapshot, in time. Pick a picture to get excited about 🙂 .

    Oh, yes, glass candy jars, were pretty collectible. Along with all kinds of other general tat, found in the old general stores, or drugstores. Advertising collectibles. They tend to be a bit on the rare side, and, there’s lots of reproductions floating around. Can’t say I dealt in a lot of it, but some, from time to time.

    I think I’ve mentioned, if you want to know a lot about the ins and outs of Roman waterworks, read Harris’s “Pompeii.” A novel, but you learn more about Roman water management, than you ever wanted to know. 🙂

    I read an interesting bit, in the editor Judith Jones bio, last night. When she was 72, and recently widowed, she was driving home one night, in Vermont, and a few miles from home, came across a culvert that had flooded. Her Welsh corgi, sat on the seat, beside her. She couldn’t tell how deep the water was, over the road. But pressed on. Next thing she knows, the car is moving with the water. She gets out, and is swept into a nearby stream. She’s pinned against logs, swept under logs, but finally manages to make it to shore. So does the dog. She wasn’t rescued until the next morning. Bruised, scratched, with a touch of hypothermia. Told her rescuers, she was “doing ok.” Tough old bird.
    🙂 She lived to be 93. Lew

  36. Hi Pam,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there. In the past week we’ve been doing a bit of forest clean up of all the left over loggers mess (photos to come). Anyway, that’s hard, but satisfying work which is marginally easier than splitting and hauling large rocks. The thing is, that’s why the property was cheap going on nineteen years ago. Most people looked at the mess and just said ‘No’! Clean it up though and construct a house, and the land is pretty good, just a lot of work. Been the story of my life actually. 🙂 I’m sure you know the feeling.

    I’ll chuck in a photo of the magpies at work, whilst we’re at work. Those birds alert me to trouble, but then they also expect help, so it all evens out in the wash.

    Better get writing!



  37. Hi Inge,

    It’s funny where knowledge comes from, and incidentally, I’ve learned that crop rotation story, the hard way. And I really tried hard to feed the soil enough so that it negated the worst effects. Oh well, now I know. 🙂 You know, I’ve had a similar foreknowledge that any particular parcel of land has an upper limit on the amount of life it can support. That story was hard wired into my outlook on life, and I’ve understood it from a very young age. Frankly speaking, it is at odds with the current paradigm in our civilisation, but time will sort out whom is correct. As to crop rotation, I am in total agreement with your view. Green leafy mustards do similar things to the soil, and there is a system developed down here called ‘clever clover’ which uses green manures and biofumigants to improve soil fertility. That all sounds very technical, but I tend to think of the system like the clover versus grasses punch-up in the orchards ground cover plants. When soil nitrogen is low, clover dominates. But when soil nitrogen is high, grasses dominate. There are also heaps of different species of plants in the ground covers doing there own thing, but no one plant dominates, and they all work towards storing that tiny bit of surplus energy which they all harvest from the sun each year. That’s why leaving ground fallow, works. We are working towards, and sort of doing that. It’s complicated!

    Brr! What a summer you are having. Oh my goodness. I’m doing the same thing here with the solar power system. Every once in a while, the sun will shine forth, and I’m hoping that the position of the sun works with the solar photovoltaic panels. Ook!



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Nobody wants such hot weather, and the article suggested the nights would only cool into the low 70’s. Is 97’F an extreme temperature for the north east of your country? I only ask because those are normal sort of summer temperatures here, so I have basically no idea. The warmest night I’ve experienced here during summer was 84’F, and that was one crazy as heatwave. Fortunately, the more usual summer temperatures are tolerable, but the outliers are err, difficult.

    Far out, you did dodge a bullet there with the heavy rain. The weather gods were smiling upon you and H, and hopefully acknowledging your good works, or at least they missed the bad stuff! 😉 It was pretty cold here today, but mostly dry. We took the dogs for a walk late this afternoon, and there were drops of icy rain which stung your face.

    Had a quieter day today, and just pottered around doing this and that, with no particular goals in mind. Spread the coffee grounds + wood ash + garden lime + blood and bone meal mixture around the new citrus orchard. Kept the bonfire going by doing an emu bob clean up of forest litter. Had a late afternoon nap with the wood heater going. There were originally plans, but those were shelved.

    Hmm. Thanks for that information. There are a few herds of deer roaming in the forest. The local legend suggests that the deer farm in Barringo valley (down below this property) allegedly let out their stock when the business may have collapsed. I don’t know the truth of that, but now we have Sambar deer roaming the forests. I see the herd roaming, and some years there are culls, but the deer remain. You know, I’ve never found a set of antlers. I’ve seen the things for sale at the local feedstock business. Dog chews apparently. Can you imagine H chewing on those tough bits of bone?

    Your story is pretty much how things roll. There used to be two cherry farms just south of here, and now there looks like there is only one. Hmm. What most people fail to comprehend, is that those biggey biz take on an awful lot of debt to fund such acquisitions. The statistics for corporate debt are quite telling.

    Ouch. But it’s true, and that can be the goal. It is a mistake to believe that businesses are there to be run as a business for the longer term. Sometimes, they may be run so that they present a healthy take over target. Man, I don’t work for such businesses. And like you, I’m in two minds about such activities. It’s an option for sure. What it leaves behind, I can’t really say for sure.

    That’s my impression of how land is meant to look as well. Go back far enough in time, and it wasn’t all that long ago, Australia would have been the equivalent of Brazil in that it was covered in one third rainforest. Things would have been different back then for sure. As far as I comprehend things, plants have punch-ons with each other, and the cheeky vegetative scamps may not be as nice as gullible humans believe them to be. We’re working towards dealing with the conditions that are present, based on what was done years ago, and also now. I’ve seen things on that front…

    With your glassware, could you easily spot a fake? I do wonder about such things because of all the reproductions. Some would be pretty good, I’d imagine.

    Yes, I do recall you mentioning Robert Harris’s book Pompeii. Who can forget a story of civil engineers battling Roman corruption and land speculation, with waterworks? It’s an unlikely story don’t you reckon?

    Judith Jones, and the corgi were more lucky than she probably knew to survive driving into such flood waters. But yes, the lady was a true survivor in the most literal sense (please excuse the book pun). I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of flooded waterways, and I look at them and think to myself: How much time am I really saving here by crossing this flood? 🙂 Cars get washed away all the time, it’s a problem, but seems kind of Darwinian.



  39. Yo, Chris – Here the forecast is for a steadily increase in temperature, until by the end of the week, it will be just over 80F. But, the nighttime lows will be 50F.

    You may remember the recent story, about the two brothers who were attacked by a cougar. They were out looking for shed antlers. It’s a foraging thing, to pick up a little extra jingle. Besides dog chews, they’re used for crafts, for knife handles, and even jewelry.

    Speaking of cherries, there’s more hundreds of years old preserved cherries, from Mt. Vernon. Home of our first prez.


    The local (east of the mountains) cherries, are beginning to appear in the stores, here. So are the strawberries.

    Glassware repros can be hard to spot. You need to do a lot of research, and keep on top of it. Most of the repos come from the Land of Stuff and Taiwan. Pottery reproductions, are a lot easier to spot.

    Judith Jones had an interesting approach to editing cookbooks. She pretty much demanded that the recipes, even foreign ones, be able to be replicated by the home cook. And that the ingredients be obtainable.

    It was a popcorn night. I watched “Godzilla x Kong.” Worth a bowl of popcorn, if you need a bit of silly fun. Apparently, between fighting battles against other creatures, Godzilla prefers to curl up and nap, inside the Roman colosseum. 🙂 One thing, never addressed, is that even with the “good” monsters, the collateral damage, is immense. Thousands of people, must be killed or injured.

    There’s a bit of chatter, over here, due to another creature feature. “Under Paris.” Sharks in the Seine!


    Stephen King gave it a thumbs up. The reviews have been pretty good. One review I read said, “Can “Under London” and “Under New York”, be far behind?” 🙂

    Not many pill bugs, or slugs, last night. I sprayed more of “the stuff.” Lew

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