Tales of the unexpected

A couple of days ago the median (which is the exact middle price point) for house prices in the big smoke of Melbourne just passed the million dollar price tag: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-16/the-median-house-price-in-melbourne-has-just-passed-1-million/100073806. That’s inflation for you, and I guess a million bucks isn’t worth what it once was!

For some reason, the article took me on a journey into the now far distant past. Times were simpler back then. My mother had had enough of me getting drunk with my mates and making noise late at night. And I had been getting drunk with my mates late on weeknights and plotting plans. The ultimate confrontational conversation with my mum went something like this: ‘It’s about time you moved out’. To which I replied: ‘Moving out Saturday’.

And true to my word, that Saturday a truck driven by a mate turned up, parked in the lane way behind the house, removed all my stuff and relocated it to a new abode. The timing was a total coincidence, but perhaps it is also true that the wise man knows when it is time to make a run for it.

All the same, it felt super-cool to be fleeing the family house. I was 19 years old and my mothers weekly board demands were sending me broke, if only because they represented about 40% of my meager salary. In those days it was actually cheaper to move out and live in a share house with complete strangers.

Except that they weren’t all complete strangers, only three of the five other people in the household were strangers. The mate who introduced me to the nightmare collective, well, I used to walk to school with him way back in primary school. We were the same age and traversed the same route to primary school, so we became best mates.

Living with utter strangers is a good way to round off the worst edges of your personality, if only because utter strangers won’t put up with the sort of stuff which you might get away with, within the cozy familial environment. I’d like to think that I had no worst edges to smooth away, but then don’t we all think that?

Unexpected things can happen when in the close proximity of strangers. Exhibit A: At that house my bath towel was never quite dry. Now my thinking at the time was that the bathroom where the towel was left to dry after use was a very humid room, so it was therefore hardly surprising that the towel never quite dried properly. Reality was that a young lady who was also a resident of the household had also been using my bath towel. After a year at the house, I felt so much closer to my housemates.

Yup, unexpected things sure can happen, and that’s part of this here thing called life.

Many years ago, I recall a very different account from a work colleague who was attempting to evict his now adult son. The adult son, let’s call him Garth for the purposes of this story (the name has been changed to protect the identity), was clearly disinclined to leave the familial nest. After all, home life for Garth by all accounts appeared to be far better than my own experience. So my work colleague suggested to Garth that he was to move out of home once he passed his final undergraduate University exams.

At face value, it seemed like a simple enough suggestion. The long dead military genius Sun Tzu (and everyone needs such a guide) wrote: In conflict, direct confrontation will lead to engagement and surprise will lead to victory. Those who are skilled in producing surprises will win. Garth apparently (as far as I’m aware) never sat his final University exams. Why would he? To do so, would also mean to be evicted from a very sweet and beneficial domestic arrangement possibly involving much hardship such as sharing of bathroom towels!

Talk about unintended consequences, but I see people making plans for other people all the time, and have strong reservations about the wisdom of this strategy.

In business the technique is known as top down directives i.e. You tell someone else lower down the food chain what they are going to do. If the lessons of Sun Tzu can be taken to heart and then employed, it becomes clear that failure, as an option, is always a surprise possibility.

Maybe I’m just old school? Dunno. But if I wanted another person to do something, I would first ensure that they understood the need and then had the desire to do whatever needed doing. Without motivation and the other persons committment, nothing expected will ever happen. Way back in my days at the big end of town I regularly sat down and had a chat with my staff in order to get their views on the world. That regular chat alerted me as to whether the staff wanted to do what they were being paid to do. It also provided a formal setting where they could raise any problems they were encountering which required my (or other) assistance. For various reasons, some folks needed more regular chats than other folks, and that was how life goes. Everyone just understood what they had to do, and that’s how things more or less got done.

Confrontation by way of contrast, rarely works. Even Sun Tzu may have suggested that instead of confrontation, I keep my bathroom towel in my bedroom. Another problem solved!

Last week the editor and I went to an agricultural expo in a town a bit over an hours drive from here. We love agricultural expos, and lunch was a particularly tasty cheese and chilli Kransky served in a bun with onions, cheese and mustard. Yum! Followed by a soft serve icecream dipped in chocolate with a feature ‘flake’ chocolate, served in a waffle cone. With a lunch like that on offer, how could you not like an agricultural expo?

A working dog breeder and trainer struts his stuff

A bloke who breeds and trains working sheep dogs (i.e. Kelpie dogs – hello Plum and Ruby) was at the expo and he put on a display of his dogs in action. During the demonstration, the bloke mentioned to the crowd that some dogs have the working instinct, and others, well he sells them off to be pets. This confirmed my worst fears in relation to the most recent additions to the Fluffy Collective – the Kelpie sheep dogs: Plum and Ruby. Just to prove his point, he brought out a couple of puppies (so cute) and you could see that even at fourteen weeks, some dogs have the work instinct, and others ran into the crowd to be petted. It was an awesome sales technique and I could see that kids loved the puppies who escaped into the crowd. Oh well, fortunately we don’t have any sheep for the two Fluffy’s to have to round up.

The Seymour poultry group has a shed at the expo set aside to sell chickens. Chookflation is real, but the editor and I needed to restock the chicken collective, so we purchased six new chickens. They were well priced relative to the other extensive/expensive offerings, and let’s just say that our new chickens have uncertain parentage, but they’ll be fine layers.

I don’t really fuss around too much when introducing new chickens. My secret technique involves just adding them into the enclosure and letting the chickens sort out their own business.

One box of three chickens was added to the chicken collective
Another box of three chickens was unceremoniously unloaded

Of course chickens have their own funny ideas about the world. For a while everything seemed calm as the old guard surveyed the new comers.

All very pleasant. The old guard survey the new comers

Eventually one of the new comers always gets a bit uppity, and that’s when the feathers fly.

The feathers fly! The super tough light Sussex takes on the new comer

After a few minutes of action, the new comers were put firmly in their place, quiet reigned, and then everyone went about the important chicken business of the day.

A further three feet of soil was excavated from the developing shed site.

A further three feet of soil was excavated from the future shed site

Sometimes it is hard to remember just how much soil has been excavated from the future shed site, but excavation cam tells no lies:

The amount of soil excavated and relocated is quite mind boggling

All of the excavated soil has been very useful in constructing a low gradient ramp leading from the house and down into the orchards.

The low gradient ramp is nearing completion

The relocated soil is also being used to construct a flat utility area.

A flat utility area is also being constructed using the excavated soil and rocks

From a position standing on the utility area, you can see how the various projects combine relative to the house.

Looking from the developing flat utility area to the low gradient ramp where I am standing

The autumn weather has been really good for this sort of work. Cool and wet, but not so wet that the excavation and relocation of soil has been difficult due to mud. The old timers used to suggest to: Make hay whilst the sun shines, and we’re excavating whilst the conditions are right to do so.

Unfortunately autumn weather also brings on the dreaded leaf change. And leaf change brings out the tourists.

Leaf change is here, and it’s real

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtium is always lovely – and edible, although not a favourite green
Salvia’s are really enjoying the recent conditions here on the farm
Lavender, Geraniums and a Salvia brighten up a garden bed
This daisy is difficult to photograph for some reason. The colour is superb
Geraniums liven up any garden

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 324.6mm (12.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 322.4mm (12.7 inches).