Don’t be the load

Wednesday morning, about 10.30am, the connection to the Internet suddenly died. There was no notice, no prior warning of any impending failure. Nope, none of that. Notice would have been useful, but no. It would have been OK, except for the mountain of work to do. That for me was the real problem. And suddenly the mountain of work became that much greater, because the Internet connection mystery also had to be resolved, and quickly.

Early indications as to the source of the problem, was that a crucial bit of communications hardware had failed. Someone long ago, once asked me: “What shops are in your area?” At hearing that question my mind pondered: “You don’t get out of the city much, do you?” However, good manners and a polite demeanour meant that the words weren’t voiced. The face however, may have betrayed an incredulous look, thus proving that a career in poker would not end well.

It’s a long way to the shop from here, but it’s an even longer way again to the nearest large well stocked computer shop. Wednesday and the next two days were a nightmare time of doing long work hours using the backup methods of connecting to the Internet. Frankly, the backup methods weren’t all that great, but the work got done albeit sometimes very late into the evening. There were also two visits to the nearest large computer shop (over an hour each way) combined with much mucking around, before the problem was resolved.

By Friday night around about 7pm, a brand new system for connecting the computers with the Internet had been installed. And more importantly it was working well. The expense was extraordinary, as built in obsolescence meant that every component in the system had to be replaced. And the new system has become even more complicated than the old one. Admittedly, the new system works much faster and seems stable, but the old system worked just fine – until it didn’t work, of course.

Bread and circuses. Are you not entertained!?

The reason a second trip to the distant large computer shop occurred, was because one of the original devices purchased, was faulty. And that was where things became weird. The hardware supplier had a phone number for technical support. The lack of knowledge on display from the technical people on the other side of the phone line quite surprised me. Despite the product being faulty, they suggested that the blame lay with the telecommunications company, which in this case was untrue. What they hadn’t realised was that I’d already put the nice people at the telecommunications company to the question.

The sort of technical assistance being offered from all corners was really basic advice such as: have you powered the device off, checked connections, and performed a factory reset? All of those things, and more, were done prior to contacting them. The people were pleasant enough, but unfortunately my expectations of more detailed technical assistance were beyond their capabilities, and worse, their knowledge. It was an alarming level of inadequacy.

The experience caused my mind to begin considering the question: How much do people know about the complicated systems which keep us all doing the things which we’re doing? Probably the lack of knowledge isn’t too much of a problem when it comes to small consumer devices. But what if that lack of knowledge as to how things work, is far wider than I realise?

As a young bloke I was a bit of an electronics geek and thought nothing of assembling amplifiers and other electronic devices such as radios. After being legally recognised as an adult, and obtaining my drivers license, I mucked around with repairing the various cars I owned. Later, Sandra and I became interested in repairing houses in the mid 90’s after we bought one that needed serious work. Nowadays I’m mucking about with edible plants and all manner of other systems which keep the farm going.

The thing is, there aren’t that many people I meet who are prepared to muck in and give things a go. I believe that a sort of learned helplessness has somehow crept into our society. It’s not a good thing, because when I observe people stridently campaigning for an electricity grid powered by renewable energy technologies, I do wonder how much practical experience they personally have with this stuff?

My fear is that people are shouting slogans that sound and feel good which they’ve learned from some other source – which may have an agenda. Always a possibility. Maybe, it’s just me, but I tend to give things and systems a go and muck around with them, prior to endorsing them. That way I know whether the idea is a dud idea or not. As to what other people do, I can’t really say.

What I do know is that over the past week or so, the media has been mooting the idea of ‘load shedding’ with the mains electricity supply. That’s where the demand for electricity exceeds the supply, and sectors of the grid get cut off from the supply. I guess it’s a result of the policies of the past few decades. I don’t know how all this will turn out, but based on experience, don’t be the load which is shed.

Earlier in the week before everything went crazy, we managed to install the rest of the polycarbonate cladding on the new greenhouse. Then the first raised garden bed was assembled using thick slabs of timber sleepers (which were recovered from another project). And finally we hauled in a huge load of soil. I’m trialling a new compost product, but am yet to add in the various mineral and organic matter additives to the mixture. Ollie finds the new compost mixture to be delectable!

Yum! Yum! Stinky tasty snacky compost poo

Even only a few days out from the winter solstice, the inside of the greenhouse is warmer than the chilly outside air. The various plants which will end up in the garden bed in the photo above, have been moved into the greenhouse and are already enjoying the conditions. There are two types of Ginger (usual variety and a Japanese variety), a Babaco and two tea Camellia’s.

Ruby enjoys the mid-winter warmth of the greenhouse

Early in the week, a storm rolled over the farm and the winds were strong. The farm is in a very protected volcanic amphitheatre, and so it is only rarely windy. But it should be recalled that rare does not imply never! Anyway, the wind acts as natures pruning tool and a number of large branches fell from the tall trees.

Wouldn’t have wanted to be under this one when it fell
Or this one!

The war on rats is going well, brother! After a few weeks of hiatus, I went on the offensive against the rats and removed several other access points to the chicken enclosure. I’d observed that the rats could climb up a Californian Redwood, limber along the limbs, then jump onto the roof of the chicken enclosure. It was a move worthy of the best James Bond stunt.

Branches can be removed and chipped up, and fortunately I have a scary old wood chipper (side note: I feel an unnatural fondness towards the machine because it is so well made with a heavy flywheel) and chipped up the Redwood branches. Whilst I had the machine out, I also did a bit of winter pruning in the orchard – and blitzed the branches. There were also further modifications made to the chicken enclosure.

Scary old wood chipper. Love it!

My able assistant in the ratting department, Dame Plum, assisted me with the work.

Dame Plum assists with the ratting work

The parrots have decided to begin harvesting the many kiwi fruit which are hanging from the vines. Parrots tend to enjoy slightly under ripe fruit, so I’m guessing the fruit is near to harvesting. Had a taste this afternoon, and the fruit is really getting there.

Parrots have been chomping upon the kiwi fruit

In these cold no-summer growing years, the latter ripening fruit have been the winners. It’s an impressive sized crop from the three vines.

A portion of the fruit hanging from the vines

Onto the flowers:

Canary Island Foxgloves look set to produce new flowers
This Daisy has grown into a Sage bush

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 495.0mm (19.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 466.8mm (18.4 inches)