Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Usual Winter Storm

Every June, almost without fail, a winter low pressure weather system forms off the coast from us and produces a lot of rain and wind. It’s a kind of winter cyclone (hurricane) that lasts for a few days and usually causes some flooding, minor building damage and electricity outages.
I first experienced this the weekend I moved into the house a few decades ago.
That time we had 500mm (20 inches) of rain in the three days which produced a 50 year flood.
At the time I wondered if I had bought a ‘lemon’. But the house will always be safe on the hill and while our creek, breaking its banks, floods the lower paddocks, it soon drains away. This happens even quicker when the coastal lake our creek runs into is opened to the ocean by the raging surf that always accompanies these storms.

This time we had lots of rain, some wild thunderstorms and plenty of wind.
We woke to the inevitable power outage, which the power company said would be fixed in a few hours.
As time went on we realised we had a continuing ‘brown out’ despite the power being back on. Some of our valley residents were experiencing the same problem. Neighbour Bob and I walked the power line that runs through our property from the main one on the highway to us and our neighbours. We found that it had become tangled in trees. The power company was advised, came quickly and made repairs.
On a sad note, the thunderstorms caused one of Bob’s horses to panic and get caught in a fence.
It was so badly injured he had to put her down. For a man who loves his horses this was very distressing.
We all felt for him.
The downside, for us, out of all this? Our house water pump did not like running on reduced power and threw in the towel after 25+ years of life.
Neighbour Steph is a plumber and will have a new one installed in the morning.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Welcoming Committee

We went to visit some friends just down the road today.
This was the welcoming committee in their front yard.
They were obviously enjoying the warm sunshine out of the wind on what was, for us, a relatively cold winter's day (10deg C/50 deg F with wind chill)
My stopping to take a picture disturbed them a little and they all stood up.
When driving out, however, the just looked up from their prone positions and didn't move.

There are thousands of kangaroos in the area and they virtually go where they please.
Fences have to be pretty high to keep them out.
Growing vegetables and fruit (and grapes) need special protection. Our all over netting works out quite well.
But you have to be really careful driving the roads at dawn and dusk when they are active. They have no road sense and hitting one can make a mess of your car, not to mention the 'roo.
I know to most, especially visitors, they have the 'aaaawwwww' factor, but for many locals the general reaction is 'gggggrrrrrrrr'.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Making Traditionalists Cringe...Again.

Australia has led the way in replacing cork with screw caps as wine bottle closures.
There was plenty of eye rolling, sneering and outright derision particularly from the 'old world' wine making countries about this development.
But I think it has become clear this may be the way of the future.
Now for the next step.
Crown seals replacing wired corks for sparkling wines (Champagne).
Quelle horreur!
The winery at my old wine school, Charles Sturt University, is producing such a wine.

When you think about it there is no reason not to proceed down this path.
The traditional Champagne production method, méthode champenoise, (or méthode traditionnelle everywhere else but the Champagne Region) involves fermenting the base wine in a bottle under a crown seal.
Only when the bottle has had the sediment removed and the contents topped up is the wired cork inserted.
Why not then just replace the old crown seal with a new one?
The problems of cost and poor quality cork still exists with sparkling wines as it does with still table wines.

The argument that the 'ceremony' of opening of a sparkling wine bottle (always should be a hiss, not a pop) is what is expected and is part of the pleasure is a strong one.
But we had a similar traditionalist argument with the opening of a still wine bottle ie. the pop of the cork when extracted by a corkscrew. You hardly ever hear that around here any more.
Some of Australia's most expensive wine is now under screw cap.
It will be interesting to see how the Charles Sturt experiment progresses.
Pass me the bottle opener!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Dam Tractor!

One of our neighbours. no names/no pack drill, has been a farmer all his life.
He keeps his place immaculate and all his farm work is very precise.
His fences are straight, the posts are all the same height, the wires evenly spaced to the millimeter.
The strainers are a work of art.
Not that he says much, but when he 'inspects' my (and my helper, Stirls) work you can tell by the look on his face he is a little bemused about the 'near enough is good enough' approach.
When he says "is that finished?", when it is, you sort of get the message.
I have learnt a lot of farming things from 'the master' over the years.
This is the latest.
NEVER leave your tractor on a hill unattended with the motor running and the brake not engaged.

The other thing learnt is that screaming "NNNNOOOOOO !!!!" from a distance does not stop a runaway tractor.
No one was hurt in this incident apart from a little bit of pride.
Luckily help was almost immediately on hand for the rescue and it was retrieved with a minimum of fuss.
The local mechanic has been at work and the engine has been stripped down and rebuilt and other moving parts refurbished.
In fact I heard it roar into life yesterday.

Apparently, despite all efforts to keep things quiet, the whole town was soon aware of what had happened.
I think it took over a week before tractor jokes could be openly told.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Dental Implants

My mother always said I didn't look after my teeth well enough and that I would have trouble in my later years.
A series of dentist encounters during my youth put me off the profession for life.
As a result I only ever went when pain was an issue.
This meant, as time went on, lots of fillings, numerous root canals and finally broken teeth and extractions.
It came to a point last year when my dentist said, after the last of my bottom molars was extracted, "you will need a denture or implants to protect what teeth you have left".
He suggested implants; two of them.
Not the cheapest option by far but we did a deal based on my getting them both done at the same time.
So for the last five months we have been going through what is a pretty long and drawn out process.

This is not always the most comfortable experience especially getting the holes drilled into the jaw bone.
But we survived that bit thanks to my dentist's skill, lots of novacaine and 20mg of diazepam.
One of the worst things was being on soft food for almost half a year. I missed my steak, apples, raw carrots, fresh crusty bread and nuts. However the co driver thought up all sorts of new recipes to get us through. Some will even stay on our list.
So last Thursday the crowns were attached to the 'pegs' during another marathon session.
Then it was all over.
We celebrated that evening with a big thick filet mignon and a better than usual bottle of red wine.
The moral of the story?
Always listen to your mother!