It’s not often that I get the right post on the right day – that’s no surprise to folks that know me in person. My relationship with time has always been an uneasy one – we don’t seem to have a lot of regard for each other!
So here’s the Thursday Post, on a Thursday for a change!
This is a sad post for a change, too. After a glorious weekend away and a good night’s sleep, I went out to check the aquaponics and discovered an absolute disaster!
Lots of dead fish were floating under the Styrofoam sheets of the floating beds! Some had been dead for a few days and some, freshly dead.
I checked the pumps and they were working. The water was a touch acidic, which is unusual after dead fish have been in the system, it usually tends toward alkalinity.
In the cold weather either the water doesn’t hold as much oxygen or the fish are less able to extract it. I’m not sure which way around it goes. Either way, the system needs more circulation and oxygenation.
I’ve given it a couple of days of thought and have worked out a better way of doing things so that there is far more circulation and oxygenation. I’ll also be reducing the size of the big tank so that the temperature will fluctuate more with external conditions and give future fish a greater range of temperatures in the water to help them find their sweet spot.
This means that the system will be more space and energy efficient but its sad that the changes came at such a high cost.
When I go anywhere with Jelina, art is always on her mind. It wasn’t any different this weekend as we sojurned in Victor Harbour for the weekend.
This was Jelina’s first foray back into the arts after 6 years of absence while writing her PhD. She submitted the first draught last Friday, so had a weekend free from thoughts of academia, if that is ever possible. To celebrate and participate in the event, Jelina broke out a couple of her signature hand-made felt dresses that went on display and a few spectacular felt necklaces to sell on the day.
The real standout was the set of panels but you can read more about them in the last post.
We took rest of the weekend was taken at as slow a pace as possible and saw some of the sights. A morning walk in the surf at nearby Port Elliot was the real highlight for me – sunlight, clean water, clean air, nobody around… Heaven.
Weekday evening meals were a bit more difficult. Victa is a tourist town and is suffering from the ‘inconveniences’ of covid, border closures and lockdowns. There were few places open for evening meals but we did find a couple of restaurants but for two nights made our way to the Indian/Mexican restaurant at Port Elliot. We found it one night while out looking for food and returned for more the next. The best Mango Chicken I’ve had in many years!
Our stay was at the Grosvenor hotel and had a nice little room that opened to a balcony that had a good view if the town and a little glimpse of the ocean. 5 nights there was nice, with no other folks around in our side of the building bar one night.
Over the weekend, we tried to move around to as many little family owned shops and eateries so that our limited budget could reach out into the local economy. I reckon we did pretty well!
Stand out meals and nibbles were at the following places, if you’re ever at Victa – schnitzel at The Grosvenor hotel, Shaa-Kou-Tuh-Ree for coffee and pancakes , several good meals at Ind’O’Mex, great pick me up juices at Romy’s, vegan bits at Delicia nibbles and coffee at Qahwa during the day. Cafe Primo for one night’s dinner too!
Any inconveniences we suffered. from due to the covid precautions were pretty insignificant when we the heard stories of some of the locals. I realised that it doesn’t matter what folks feel about masks, vaccinations and the other goodies awaiting us due to the pandemic. The place that we both work from, in our hearts and minds, is the place where we all must band together to help us all get through. There are a million facts and conspiracies out there, you can cherry pick trends and information to create a package tailor made to to fit snugly with your world view but the thing is that none of it matters if we don’t help each other out. Governments won’t do it, big business won’t do it, the billionaires won’t do it. It has to be us – the folks on the streets, the small business owners, local charities… you get the picture.
Today’s post comes from the balcony of the Grosvenor hotel at Victa. Victa is what we South Aussie call the lovely town of Victor Harbour. I’m sitting in the afternoon Sun, writing this and am hoping to have a very relaxing weekend.
Jelina and I are down this way because Jelina has some of her incredible artwork in the ‘I am Here‘ exhibition at the Coral Street Artspace. I’m along as driver, general dogsbody and to have a break from things in general so that I can go back refreshed and start working properly on our upcoming books. While I’m in ‘down mode’ I’m also getting into Bookchin’s ‘The Ecology of Freedom’ and hitting all of the second hand bookshops looking for 70’s scifi and more contemporary solar punk works.
Before she was an academic, Jelina was a well known textile artist, specialising in felting and garnered followers and collectors from around the world. Her weaving work with Aunty Ellen Trevorrow is in collections and museums around the globe and their partnership continues to create thought provoking takes on the traditional Ngarrindjeri weaving style.
This exhibit, which opens on the 14th of August has two of Jelina’s exciting felt pieces and, as an exciting bonus for us, showcases a much older work.
That older work is a series of hand made panels created at Camp Coorong and other places almost 11 years ago. When combined, the panels show the Bight that spans SA and features human use and abuse of the ocean from the pristine past through to the industrial present.
What made Jelina and I happiest is that this is the first time that the panels have been hung and lit properly. Their length has made them difficult to hang in the past but the gallery has custom made a rail specifically to hang them and presenting them on a curve is something that Jelina has only dreamed of being able to do. Needless to say, she is beaming.
These panels were made way back when we were active with the Wilderness Society and activists used to come to our house at Willaston to create art fitting for their campaigns. These panels were made for the ‘Save the Bight’ campaign and many of the other artworks created at that time are still around. The panels are a real piece of South Australian environmental activism history.
We’ve done a massive pruning of the front garden and neighbours have been reminded that there is actually a house behind those plants!
We planted the deciduous trees to block the Western afternoon Sun in Summer and they did their job beautifully, giving us the coolest garden in the neighborhood (in more ways than one).
Over the years, though, we let them grow way too tall and it was nearly impossible to harvest from them. We even had to resort to netting individual fruit to protect them from the birds.
Now that the world is in a bit more of a mess than usual, we thought that we would like a bigger and more reliable harvest from our fruit trees and maybe let a bit more light in to those plants that live at ground level. They’d been struggling a bit and we weren’t getting good crops from them either. With more light, we can grow healthier greens and a few more varieties of plants for ground covers. The bulk of the leafy veggies and Tomatoes will still be grown in the aquaponics out back.
So, today, I got stuck into bringing the trees down to a more manageable 2 – 3 metres. Well, mostly; working overhead isn’t good for my bad neck and I’m going to be sore for the next couple of days but the bulk of the work has been done. There’s still a little more trimming but that can be done after the rain. At least the trees will have a day to heal up a bit before that hits later in the week.
I would have liked to have pruned earlier but the weather was against me. It’s early enough to get some good new growth before the heat hits. These trees fruit on second year wood, so I’ve left some of that on there so that we get something this year. After this year, there should lots of new growth much lower down on the trees which means more harvestable fruit in 2022. The 2021/22 season will be a bit light but as we estimate that we lost about 6 kg of fruit from every deciduous tree because of height and general inaccessibility (by us, the birds did fine), we will more than make that up in 2022/23. After 2022 I’ll have a much better idea of how the trees respond and will be able to keep harvests up for the long term.
I really had to knock the Tagasaste tree down by a lot too. It grew to nearly 6 metres tall within two seasons and though it shaded the chook house nicely, it was too top heavy and branches swayed dangerously close to our phone line. It is a bit of a shame because it was in full flower and attracting heaps of Bees, insects and birds, which is exactly why we got it (that and as chook fodder, but the girls won’t touch it). I’ve left the main trunk and a few flowering, lower branches. We’ll keep under control this from now on.
Sometimes, as the old song goes, ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’. Now there’s several days of mulching ahead!
You may wonder about cooling the house? We worked out that a lot of the tallest growth was really in excess to what we needed. Most of the shade came from lower growth and from vines. As we’re on the ball with the vines this year, we should be able to cycle them so that we get more production a better harvest as well as earlier, thicker growth.
Let’s hope we’re right!