Hold on

Monday mornings recently have taken on a certain sort of unknown horror, like a vague and ill defined shadow lurking around at the edges of a Stephen King novel. In an earlier life I predominantly worked with big business. I could navigate my way around the sort of weird intricacies of such enterprises, usually with aplomb and with only the occasional bruise to show for my efforts. They’re a strange world unto themselves, replete with unfathomable hierarchies and complicated social structures and rituals.

The effort of navigating the corporate accountant-seas and rising to the higher pinnacles, eventually wore me out. Of course during this time I had also studied part time, repaired houses on the weekends, kept up with friends, and ensured that the Editor was well attended too. Some people believe that they know what the word busy means, and they can have their opinion.

After leaving big business, I decided to work instead with small business. It was quite the challenge to transition from one to the other, and the professional accounting body set some significant barriers for me to jump – which I did. The barriers would daunt most folks, as I’m guessing few if any people travel that hard road from big to small.

But now that I’m on the hard small business road, Monday mornings have taken on a certain sort of unknown horror. Small business owners inevitably have watched the news over the weekend, have taken it all in, discussed it with their significant others, and then formulated a survival response. Then on Monday morning they call me. Economically, the tidings are not good right now, and I just do my best to assist everyone.

Occasionally my mind casts its recall faculty back to earlier and simpler times. Way back in maybe about 2005, I’d learned of the concept of Peak Oil whilst I was also getting interested in digging up the front garden of my inner city terrace house, before then planting out vegetables (much to the horror of my neighbours). I’d seen my grandfather produce row after row of vegetables in his backyard whilst I was a kid. How hard could growing a few vegetables be? Turns out that it is actually harder than it looks. Who knew?

Anyway, that year I also read serious articles written by serious people suggesting that 2005 was the year that the supply of conventional oil peaked. That’s a real bummer, because after a peak inevitably comes the long, slow and ragged decline. And here we all are now sixteen years later, and isn’t it fun?

Nobody talks about matters such as declining industrial output, increasing pollution or resource depletion any more. I guess they are unfashionable subjects. And since nobody is talking about such things, it should be noted that they yet still go along their merry journey of decline. I tend to look at actions and background incidents so as to get a sense as to what is going on. This week it was announced that Australia would over turn almost 75 years of policy and commence construction of nuclear submarines.

Were there any protests in the streets to mark this abrupt change in policy? Well, it has recently become a criminal offence to protest in the streets – so, err, forget about that. No debate was entered into, the decision was delivered as a fait accompli. For those who don’t realise it, there is a bit of subtle humour at using a French phrase to describe the situation, because a French company was previously going to build Diesel-Electric submarines here. As you’d imagine the French have now withdrawn their diplomatic staff in protest. But to my mind, nothing really quite says we’re a touch uncertain about future diesel supplies (given we are 90% reliant on imports of oil) and probably need to defend the coastline, somehow, like this weeks startling events. Such decisions are what those folks making those decisions get the big bucks for.

Anyway, I had my own supply troubles this week. The low centre of gravity mower had been at the farm machine repair dudes for almost two weeks. A belt needed replacing. Just to get a feel for what was going on in the background, I contacted the parts distributor only to discover that they didn’t have such basic parts on hand and weren’t entirely sure whether the parts were in the country, or not. To their credit, they were at least honest about the situation.

The Editor and I had a discussion about this parts supply issue and decided to replace the low centre of gravity mower, with a new far sturdier machine constructed in Japan. Those Japanese dudes make some good machines. And I can report faithfully that despite the eye watering expense, there were no protests in the streets.

In an odd coincidence, whilst the protests in Melbourne were taking place, a paragraph from the book “Emphyrio” written by my favourite author ‘Jack Vance’ sprang to mind. I’d been reading the book only recently, and so purely for research purposes for the blog, will now reproduce the paragraph in full here:

“Amiante at last spoke – obliquely, hyperbolically, so it seem to Ghyl. ‘Freedom, privileges, options, must constantly be exercised, even at the risk of inconvenience. Otherwise they fall into desuetude and become unfashionable, unorthodox – finally irregulationary. Sometimes the person who insists upon his prerogatives seems shrill and contentious – but actually he performs a service for all. Freedom naturally should never become licence; but regulation should never become restriction.’ Amiante’s voice dwindled; he picked up his chisel and examined it as if it were a strange object.”

And so here we all are today. I’ve learned that the latest lock down in this state will continue well into October and November. It is an impressive achievement, and I also note that the goals set for us to be released from this state of affairs appears to have flipped from one impossible objective, to another impossible objective. And yet with almost 60% of the country locked down, I still paid an astounding $1.759 / Litre (3.8 Litres to the gallon) at the petrol pump (Gas in US parlance) the other day.

This week has again been rather windy, which is unusual for this protected part of the mountain range. However, with the spring equinox fast approaching at least the weather is also warming.

Many months ago, and it could even have been late last year (I now forget), we purchased a couple of extra replica Victorian era garden lamp posts. The boxes of these things were hanging around the dining room for so long that I barely noticed them any more. The editor had other plans, which involved cleaning up the dining room of such boxes. And so we decided to install the lights.

Several panes of glass had been broken

Upon unpacking the boxes we discovered that two panes of glass had been broken. The matter was discussed, and we’ll probably replace the broken panes with a sheet of polycarbonate cut to fit.

The lights operate off a 12 Volt off grid solar power system which also provides power to the garden water pumps. The electricity system has been in continuous operation for 15 years now and has performed sterling service.

Power cables had to be taken from the battery to the lights, and that meant digging a few trenches.

Plum assists with excavating a trench for the power cable to the garden lights

There were power cables going all over the place, and except for where we walk or operate machinery, the power cables sit on the ground and are protected by heavy duty conduit. We’ve found in the past that easy to access and easily repaired infrastructure is preferable to hiding every last chunk of infrastructure purely for aesthetic considerations. To do so risks being left to work out what went wrong, and then exactly where things went wrong.

Ollie also assists with digging trenches in the hard ground

The bases for the two lights were cemented into the garden beds.

The bases for the lamp posts were cemented into the ground with conduit for wires going both in and then out again

After many long hours of work, the lamp posts were fully installed and operational. A clever program in the solar power controller switches the lights on after dark (the machine knows when it gets dark) and then switches the lights off again at midnight. All very clever and I reckon it looks great!

Ruby is impressed by the new lamp posts

Spring is here for sure. The raspberry bed is growing strongly and hopefully promises bucket loads of fresh berries:

Ruby appreciates the strong growth in the raspberry enclosure, and the new path

Onto the flowers:

The Geraniums are producing heaps of flowers
The local Blackwood Acacia trees are in flower
The Editor suggests that this Succulent is more than 50 years old
Flowering Cherry trees are stunning – and also taking over that section of the farm
These Hellebores are almost ready to produce seed

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 903.2mm (35.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 886.8mm (34.9 inches)