"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

December update

I am sitting listening to Gary Moore playing Parisienne Walkways as I write this. It is moving, magical music, bittersweet and sad. So too it fits this past year in many ways.
2016 has been a long tough year. We have faced our full share of trials and then some but times like this have to happen.
We have lost several dear members of our family, Jasmine our oldest cat who disappeared one night. Probably into a big snake unfortunately. Such a risk goes with living in this area.
Also Sen one of our two youngest cats was run over on the road out front.
Most recently we lost our beloved jersey cow Annabelle. After giving birth this year she had a particularly bad case of milk fever and despite everything we could do to help she died soon after. Anna is keenly missed. Anyone who has ever had a house cow knows how they become one of the family, especially if she is a jersey.
 I often find it easier to let people go than animals I love. I have a lot more faith in animals.
On that, I myself continue the battle against depression. This has not made the year any easier for my family I know. Life is improving nevertheless and we are making plans for the future.
I have begun investing in the bees- expanding the hives and have begun researching the local area as much as possible. My previous experience of beekeeping was on the Darling downs under very different conditions to the north. Here there are many different types of flora to learn about, different flowering seasons and the ability to work the hives throughout the year with out a winter downtime.
The youngest Cloud farmer is also very interested in learning all about bees! So much so that I was forced to purchase a bee suit for him due to him forever getting too close to the hives unprotected when I had them open.
I too am experiencing the joy of discovering bees through my sons eyes. It is a wonderful thing to watch him gently examining a frame of brood or search for the queen.
I dearly hope he will find the same passion for these remarkable creatures as I have. It would be wonderful to be able to go working the bees with my son in the future. Even better if one day I could hand the business over to him!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Q&A Tools

Talking to Karl, an old friend of mine the other day. We are both tool fanatics in that we both believe in using quality tools. During this discussion I was bemoaning the dearth of good machetes to be found on the market. Now for Karl this is no problem, he is a jeweler/blacksmith/knife maker and so can put together pretty much whatever he needs. I however must make do or in this case alter what I have to make it serviceable.
Case in point was a pretty horrible example of a Chinese made machete. Oddly enough the steel was not entirely terrible and would hold an edge. The grip though was a true nightmare. Too deep in the hand, split through its length and fissured just under the knuckles enough to make it impossible to use without a glove. It was made from some unrecognizable timber and for some reason sat in the hand in such a way as to make it impossible to strike a clean blow- the blade would always twist in the hand as it landed.
In a fit of desperation to get a job done one day I tore the old handle off and ground the rusted old rivets out. I then quickly made up a new splint grip out of native sycamore and fastened it with stainless steel bolts. Five minutes sanding on the linisher and I had a comfortable and solid grip good enough to last until I could buy a real machete.
I then discovered I had entirely changed this tool. It now cut cleanly and struck precisely and with force. I could use it for hours with no trouble. That was around five years ago....