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F Agricola

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since Jul 10, 2018
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cat chicken fish forest garden homestead hugelkultur cooking transportation trees urban woodworking
Köppen Climate Classification System: Cfa (Humid Subtropical)
USDA Plant Hardiness: 10/11
Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Recent posts by F Agricola


Firstly, I’m neither defending or opposing refrigeration but, looking back at the options and lifestyles, modern refrigeration certainly did improve efficiency, quality of life, and life expectancy.

Again, when making comparisons on a website it’s important to realise there are people from different climates, so these comments are related to the Sub Tropics/Tropics.

My Grandparents were a good example because over time they had pretty much all the historical options – it reflected the times, from tank water to reticulated town water connection, and, from candles/kerosene lamps to mains electricity:

1. ‘Meat Safe’ – a perforated metal box with a door and shelves. It hung in a shaded spot - under a verandah or inside a well ventilated kitchen. Fresh or cooked meat was placed inside and the cooling effect of a breeze kept it from spoiling for a short time. Some were modified with a hessian cloth and water reservoir – the evaporative effect increased chilling and food longevity. This meant that the need to butcher animals for food was reduced to, say, once a week for fresh meat or longer if it was preserved via smoking, pickling, etc. Things like poultry, fish, shell fish and crustaceans were NEVER kept – they were killed and eaten on the same day.
2. ‘Ice Box’ – a cabinet with a tray that held a block of ice, which was delivered routinely depending on seasonal needs. The cooling effect of the ice and robust nature of the cabinet extended food preservation to about a week.
3. ‘Kerosene Fridge’ – a BIG breakthrough, very similar to a modern electric fridge. A pilot light fuelled by kerosene heated ammonia which chilled the insulated, heavy steel container. Food preservation for more than a week.
4. Modern fridge and upright/chest freezers – a combination of short term and long term preservation. Could now eat things that were out of season without the need for added sugar/salt/smoke.


So, rather than living hand to mouth, with every day dedicated to food collection, cooking and preserving, a huge amount of time could be set aside for betterment of ones lot in life – civilisation. Besides better nutrition, I imagine the reduction in continuous strenuous work and the toll it took on people, improvements like refrigeration also increased life expectancy.

Although the Royal Flying Doctor aerial service, and outback Veterinarians, routinely visit remote Stations and Missions, refrigeration also means inoculants can be kept viable for longer periods – for both animals and humans.

In our climate butter will definitely go rancid. Mould on butter is usually an indication of incorrect churning – too much moisture residue. On the farm each kid had one specific job in addition to normal work, my Dad’s was to hand milk the cows twice a day, and operate and maintain the milk separator. So, there was always a shitload of milk and cream being produced from the 100-150 cows. Most of the cream would be transported (horse/cart or boat) to a Butter Factory for processing and on-selling. Some was obviously kept aside for home use where my Grandmother would make butter or use the cream for cakes and desserts. Buttermilk was fed to the pigs and ducks = extremely big meaty critters.

Excess butter was always made into Ghee, which lasted much longer and was more useful for cooking – olive and other such oils weren’t readily available until the influx of Europeans after WW2 drove importation and local production. In fact, olive oil was sold in tiny bottles in the chemist (pharmacy/drug store) much like other medicines!

So, without modern refrigeration, the household depended on the traditional breakdown of duties – the wife/mother kept the household, children and budget running, the husband/father did all the food production, construction and farm maintenance; and once the kids were mobile enough, had duties to assist – care for smaller animals, cleaning inside the house, picking/preparing vegetables, etc. Once teenagers, they were expected to assist their Mum and Dad in whatever way needed – killing livestock, working for other farmers, in addition to being schooled and passing exams.

There’s no way I could be functional without a fridge or freezer – it would only be survival. (It also helps that my next door neighbour is a refrigeration technician!)

A simple thing like refrigeration frees p a lot of time, whether that time is put to constructive use is another thing!

20 hours ago

Like most people I keep the 'smart phone' nearby all the time.

So, when a thought pops to mind it gets saved in 'Notes' on the phone.

I usually leave it for a day or so to consider it more thoroughly. If it has merit, it gets emailed, added to an Excel spreadsheet, prioritised with other worthwhile proposals, then saved on an external HDD for record keeping.

Sure saves doubling up on things.

2 days ago
If the Bill gets enacted, that's some pretty sick shit!

When I hear dodgy laws being swept through like that, it smacks of profiteering by well-connected parties regardless of consequences, scientific analysis, potential to be corrupted, morals, etc.

Dig deep enough and no doubt some of the politicians have business connections in the schemes.

In regards to movie scenarios, although it sounds like Soylent Green, there's more concern if it's like the movie 'Coma' starring Tom Selleck - unscrupulous doctors cause otherwise healthy people to become brain dead so they can be used as organ donors to the rich.

The main business for business is making money, so they'll need a continuous supply of bodies. It reminds me of 19th Century grave robbing.

There's a good opportunity for Permaculture to be promoted in newspapers, TV and The Net: on a split screen, in one frame show a person being liquified, spread onto a Big Ag farm, and a kid eating one of their carrots. In the other screen show a Permie in their food forest using compost and worm tea, and a kid picking their own carrot and eating it.

Caption reads: Children are our future, as a parent it's your choice.

Wonder what the vegetarian and vegan communities think?!
2 days ago

Thanks Eric.

I have witnessed lightening over a firestorm, but it was some distance away. That was an 'interesting' day because we were in the bush at the time with it blowing in our direction and the only way out was either a three hour track walk paralleling the fire or to stay on the river. An air force helio dropped in during the night and evacuated some Boy Scouts, but left us because they had other operations to perform and we were experience bushwalkers - thanks fella's!

As a kid, when they burnt off the sugar cane fields in the cool of the evening, I've clearly seen lightening. (There's a famous Aussie song which captures that as a typical cultural experience - been there, done that, got the T-Shirt!)

What makes fire fighting difficult here is the almost continuous band of native forest (National Parks and Reserves) that extends from the outskirts of Melbourne, past Sydney and Brisbane and continues up to Cape York (Coral Sea) - the whole east coast. Besides providing habitat, it's the main watershed for most of our potable water.

About 35C with 8% humidity and strong winds at the moment, probably +40C in the sun - perfect fire conditions. The weather has been erratic - a few days last week it was 8C at night and 21C during the day with 75% humidity, then it seesawed all over the place. The gusting winds are late, usually hitting us in August and blowing all the flowers off the Macadamia Nut trees, but they've come at a high fire risk time, making things worse.

They're moving rural and city fire services around on a need basis, called in air force assistance for water bombing (a rare instance), and a group of NZ fire fighters are on their way to assist.


[Yes, a few of my Dad's mates were RAAF aircrews on Lancaster and Mosquito Pathfinder Force bombers over Germany in WW2 - their stories of dropping incendiary bombs were frightening.]


I'll gladly swap a -25C blue bird day on a Canadian snowfield with a +40C summer day here ANYTIME! Far easier to keep warm than to keep cool.


3 days ago

Whilst the northern hemisphere is cooling-off and getting ready for winter, with all the issues that can create, on the east coast of Australia we currently have severe weather warnings and bushfires.

From south of Sydney to north of Brisbane and about 300km inland there's severe to catastrophic fire danger ratings. To put that into perspective, that rather narrow strip of land area is about equal to the entire State of Montana.

The two video links explain the fire rating system and the current weather conditions that make it THE WORST rating possible - several lives and numerous properties have been lost in the last few days.


FIRE RATING SYSTEM

Bureau Of Met


The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service specifically noted: the fire intensities will be such that they are likely to create their own weather patterns - storm clouds and lightening, resulting in the possibility of further fires through lightening strikes. The wind generated will also carry embers at least 20km ahead of the fire front and a further cause of spot fires.


We're in for some interesting days ahead.

3 days ago

If you're concerned at possibility killing the 'good bees' or keeping 'the bad bees', how about netting the motel so when they emerge you can easily assess them before release?

I assume, in that cold climate, the bees/wasps are now inactive till Spring, so it shouldn't stop new arrivals I.e. In our climate, they're coming and going like a Hilton Hotel, so it would be a bit disruptive.

1 week ago
G'day Seth,

Callistemon is fine to use. The outer bark will breakdown quite nicely, while the inner will do so slowly, so it's like slow release fertiliser.

Also, if they're sizeable bits, you could try making some useful objects out of them e.g. Bowls, spoons, etc. It is also good for cabinets.

It makes a nice firewood too - BBQ, whatever.

1 week ago


I have a dream that more of the worlds Billionaires will become active philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to assist in fixing climate, ecological and social issues. The world needs the types of philanthropists that existed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, most of the issues now facing us are beyond national boundaries.

Similarly, I dream of world governments swinging back to more moderate positions - neither too left or too right, we need leaders who can establish working policies, without lobby group interference.

1 week ago

Here's a shot I took with a Smart-Phone - apologies to all the telephoto lens and 35mm film fanatics ... I was once like that until my rucksack got too heavy!

'Spot', the Australorp hen, is the last of her generation and appears to be still going strong amongst a much younger flock. She's taken on the motherly patron position and is content to waddle around, making gentle little noises, picking the odd blade of grass and mostly sitting in a hollow she made in the cool shade of a tree.

Although she gave up laying eggs a couple of years ago, she is now a loved pet, who is still capable of roosting high on the perch regardless of her bulk and substantial weight.

At 13 years old, she is well over 100 years old in human years - she retains her robust figure, black glossy feathers, red comb and wattles, shiny black eyes and, importantly, no cankles!

1 week ago


Depending on the breed you have, some commence laying earlier – but is obviously dependent on temperature, daylight length, etc.

So, I’d recommend to commence feeding them laying pellets now – if it’s cold, add some hot water to make a mash and mix in any vegetable peelings, they will virtually inhale this mixture because making eggs, feathers, and keeping body temperature regulated takes a lot of energy.

As Marco and Mike advised, keep a container of shell grit freely available, otherwise the egg shells will be thin and, more importantly, it can strip their metabolism of calcium = weak bones = VERY serious as birds already have ‘aerated’ bone structures, so they can’t afford low calcium levels.

1 week ago