Continuing my previous school tales:- The more English than the English high school, where I was unceremoniously transferred as a teenager, practiced compulsory sports for all students. Since I enjoyed distance running anyway, I joined the schools distance running team. The running team trained after school two nights per week and then competed all over the countryside on Saturdays. That school managed to consume a lot of my previously “free” time. Fortunately that loss of free time did not hinder my little capitalist ways, and I was able to continue working paid jobs. Unfortunately that meant that I had to get up earlier in the mornings for the daily newspaper rounds, and I hate early mornings!
Back in those days marketing was less sophisticated than it is today. A good example of that is that 'Way Back Then', adults used to lie to kids and tell them that they could 'Do Anything'. Competing in the sport of running, proves just how preposterous that lie is because there is always someone who is faster, or who can run further, than you. And it just doesn't matter what you or your parents may believe about potential running performance because every single week the placement results gave you a reality smack in the head!
Fortunately, such concerns were far from my mind because I was the second fastest runner in the school. The kid that was the fastest runner in the school was marginally faster than I was, but I knew deep down that he was just a better runner. Being a better runner, he never had any serious concerns about his hard won status as the best runner in the school. However for me, I discovered that being second best in anything is a cool place to be, because there is absolutely no pressure to constantly perform at your best. And who performs at their best all of the time? Especially first thing in the morning.
My favourite distance to run was 10km (6.2 miles) but I also occasionally ran 20km (12.4 miles). Over such distances, you get to enjoy a lot of free time in your own mind. Sometimes I used to sing songs in my mind that set a good cadence, and to me the experience is a lot like meditation. As a minor digression, in later years I was rather fond of the artist Moby's song, Bodyrock which had a thumping dance beat which suited my running pace. I have heard that some people struggle with that lack of noise when they are running (and swimmers too), but I am quite comfortable with the quiet of my own mind. As another interesting side story, the editor and I once walked a 130km (80 mile) forest walk over five days in the south west of this state carrying all our own gear on our backs. We headed off on that long walk with great expectations that we’d somehow have awesome thoughts and insights, but no, nothing materialised. Mostly I was thinking about when the next chocolate snack would be. And more importantly which chocolate snack would it be (edit: Chris always got the Turkish Delight because I didn't like it, but I told him that I saved it especially for him as a treat!) I reckon my time would have been better spent down at the local pub enjoying a tasty meal and a full pint of dessert stout!
Some cheeky wag penned a story many long years ago about an anthromorphised tortoise racing an anthromorphised hare. The tortoise won that race against the much faster hare in what was an unlikely outcome. Clearly the author knew a thing or two about distance running, because a runner has to pace themselves and take into account their abilities and limitations. Over the long years of running, I knew many runners who like the hare, bolted away from the start line early and hard. However, after a short while, those hares were surprisingly easy for me to chase down as they ran out of puff (usually very early on). The tortoise’s strategy however, produces consistently good results. It is a bit of a shame that few people these days want to be identified as a tortoise. I'd be happy to be known as the little tortoise that could (clearly a pint of very excellent dessert stout may assist that imagery)!
Anyway, the more English than the English school trained me well for the workplace because a lot of big organisations have surprisingly competitive cultures. And many of those workplaces have lunchtime running teams which compete against other workplaces. I have spent many lunchtimes running around Melbourne’s botanic gardens. Some people may know Melbourne’s botanical gardens as a delightful historical garden with which to spend a few pleasant hours. I on the hand recall that botanical garden as being surrounded by a gruelling and fast paced running track (with an steep incline at one point) where corporate folks compete against each other for bragging rights. One year, the team that I was running for won. Just saying... (not that I'm competitive. Whatever!)
Over the years, I began running with older people (easier to win!!!) as part of the corporate world so I got to know plenty of them pretty well. I also noticed that a lot of them were showing signs of wear and tear from all that running, and it started me thinking about the process of entropy, and I was forced to consider my own future response to all of that wear and tear.
So it was that one day many years later, I found myself in the physiotherapists clinic seeking help for knee problems. That event was a turning point in my life, and I knew I had to let the sport of running go before it consumed me.
This week we have begun the process of expanding the berry and tomato enclosures. Wallabies are a local marsupial akin to a slightly smaller kangaroo and they love to eat all of the plants in those enclosures. Keeping them out requires some heavy duty fencing materials as they are quite shifty. Heavy duty fencing support materials means in this case, large treated pine posts cemented into the ground. Anything lesser than those posts and the wallabies can push the fencing over. They are a truly fearsome beast!
|We sourced treated pine posts and cement which will be used to expand the berry and tomato enclosures|
Installing the treated pine posts which are cemented into the ground means digging holes where the posts will be located. I use my hand auger for digging holes in the clay, and that tool produces a surprisingly clean and deep hole. Of course turning the hand auger takes a fair bit of effort on my part, but I find the physical work to be quite rewarding.
|A hand auger is used to dig nice round deep holes for the treated pine posts|
The hand auger also cleverly compacts the clay soil inside the auger where it can be lifted cleanly from the hole and relocated elsewhere. I usually dump the clay into a crate which I then carry to another location to use as fill.
|The hand auger can also be used to cleverly lift the clay from the hole|
Six of the treated pine posts were placed in the holes next to the berry enclosure and then they were cemented into place. Observant readers will note in the next photo that the treated pine posts are a lot higher than they need to be. These posts will be cut down to a height which is consistent with the other fence posts in the future. Readers concerned about any potential waste will be pleased to learn that nothing goes to waste here and we have a future project in mind for those treated pine off cuts.
|Six of the treated pine posts were then placed in the holes and the cemented into place|
Another two posts were placed into holes and cemented into a garden bed today. One of the posts will be used to relocate a garden tap which is currently located in the walking path. The other post will be used to anchor a bushfire sprinkler. Incidentally the post that has the garden tap will also have a hose hanger to get the 30m / 100ft hose / trip hazard, off the walking path.
|Two other posts were cemented into a garden bed so as to remove a water tap from the path and also to anchor a bushfire sprinkler|
Unfortunately, the 12 Volt water pump which is used to pump water to that particular garden tap and bushfire sprinkler failed today without warning. So far I have tried about five different types of 12 Volt water pumps and other than one particular water pump which is performing very well, I am reasonably unimpressed with the other types of 12 Volt water pumps in terms of their quality and longevity. The water pump story is quite a frightening one, because every time I upgrade a water pump, the cost doubles over that of the previous water pump. On the other hand, if the water pumps don't work, they are a complete waste of money.
We adjusted the rocks in the garden bed below the berry enclosure and next to the machinery shed. The reason for that adjustment is that some of the soil had been washing off the garden bed and flowing over the rocks holding back that soil. The original rock wall was placed too close to the sloping garden bed to be effective in holding the soil in place. All of the rocks were moved away from the slope of the garden bed by about 25cm / 10 inches so that a more defined lip would catch any falling soil.
|The rocks in the rock wall below the berry enclosure were moved further away from the slop to provide a more defined lip|
A good dose of composted woody mulch was then applied to that steep garden bed. Previously we had applied a layer of mushroom compost. However over time, we observed that composted woody mulch is a much better material for a steep garden beds as it initially produces a waxy substance which binds the composted woody mulch together. This waxy substance stops the top soil from sliding off a steep garden bed. Mushroom compost on the other hand produces fines which get washed downhill, only to end up on the walking path.
|A good dose of composted woody mulch was then applied to that steep garden bed|
Water is everything here and I noticed that a garden hose which was 30m / 100ft long had developed cracks and was in danger of failing. Anticipating that this may have had unpredictable and very wet consequences for the editor who may have been using the hose at the time, I took action! This is not a good situation for me and so the failing hose was replaced. It is interesting to me that the original hose was only slightly more than ten years old, but the UV in the summer sun here is quite extreme and it breaks materials down very quickly. Anyway, as hoses have been failing over time, I have been replacing them with more durable hoses that can be expected to have a much longer life than ten years.
|A failing hose was replaced with a more durable hose this week|
Observant readers will note that in the photo way way way above of the expanding the berry bed, a raised potato bed was in the process of being dismantled. And that means fresh home grown potatoes were harvested from the soon to be completely dismantled raised garden bed. Yum!
|We have been harvesting home grown potatoes (and baking bread)|
The citrus trees produce well during the winter here although they have been very slow to ripen for some reason this year. The first grapefruit for the season is almost ripe, and look at how many more fruit are on that tree.
|The first grapefruit for the season is almost ripe|
And I leave you with some lovely winter flower photos from about the farm:
|African daisies put on a good show|
|I believe this is some sort of native fireweed which a daisy (Senecio)|