Farmer Dan’s Victory Garden

These are dark times in the kingdom of Siam as we live under the brutal fist of martial law.  Rampaging mobs control the streets and looting is widespread.  Food supplies have become unreliable, but I’m sure me and mine will be OK due to my intelligence and foresight to sow my victory garden with enough vegetables to feed an elephant!  Let’s have a look around:

Turmeric plants

Who’s up for a taste of India.  What you can see here is my second turmeric plantation.  The other one is dead or hibernating or something.  I don’t know if you’ve ever cooked with fresh turmeric but if you do, be warned that it tends to stain anything it touches, or even gets close to.  Be prepared to buy some new kitchen equipment, and a new kitchen.

Carrots

That’s the carrot patch.  Regular readers will notice that it’s somewhat diminished, but that’s to be expected with all the warm weather we’ve been having.  I’m not worried though, the other day I pulled one up and the root was almost as big as my fingernail.

Beans

The corn is gone, along with the sunflowers but there’s no point keeping this crappy ground fallow.  Those are long beans and I hope the kids like them because they’ll be getting little else if things keep going the way they are.

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As you can see we’ve been having some work done but the fucking contractors have gone off to a better paying job.  Typical!

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Here you can see Mrs. Rabbit sporting her new collar and lead.  Did you know that rabbits don’t like being on the end of a lead?  Well apparently they do.  Even though she completely flips out if I’m holding the end of it, Mrs. Rabbit will try to bite if I try to take it off.

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I’ll say this though, the banana plantation is going great guns.  Normal advice is to cut down the weaklings to encourage the strong, but this year I thought I’d just let them run riot and see what happened.  What’s happened is that we have a cool grove just outside our front door.  It’s nice to stand under the mighty leaves while the sun shines though and if you point the hose in the air while watering the garden it sounds like it’s raining.

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IMG_3693The banana trees are the best bet for providing sustenance though a long winter, and we’ve already got our first flower.

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The lime trees are worth a mention, we have two that we inherited and both were in pretty poor shape.  I took one out of its tiny pot and put it in the ground, where it’s been competing with it’s much bigger neighbour for height.  The other in still in a pot and was pretty much dead.  But with a little love and a lot of water and rabbit shit I’ve managed to nurse it into a little bush that spikes me with its thorns every time I do the weeding.

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Here’s some more basil that’s managed to cling onto life.  I’m saving this up so I can make some pesto, but you need a huge amount.  The trouble is that my mother in law seems partial to it and doesn’t mind stripping the plants bare so there’s a bit of waiting yet.  Not sure how effective pesto will be to get us through the lean times unless I put in some spaghetti trees.

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Here’s Son #1 washing his ride.

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Here’s a pretty flower.  Can’t eat them though.

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Chilli.  This is the mother in law’s bush, ha ha.  It’s been dripping with chillies but is essentially a vegetable of last resort in lean times.

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Finally, here some photos of the double rainbow we saw yesterday and Son #1’s terrified reactions.

We season is fast approaching so expect to see lots of photos of the house flooded, us sitting on the roof and so on.  It is a great time for the garden though as we have long days, hot weather and lots of rain.  Stay tuned for more gardening and political news in the next edition of Farmer Dan.

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Family Holiday at Koh Chang

I’ve been playing around with a gallery plugin and this is the result.  The photos are from a trip last year.

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Farmer Dan’s Blogpost

As promised I’m writing a garden update.  I don’t think that anyone would accuse gardening of being hip or trendy but I do enjoy wandering about, trance-like, pulling weeds, watering, clipping stray branches or otherwise tending.  Anyhow, here’s what’s been going on.

First up, here’s a 360 of the whole place:

PANO_20140308_155713You’re supposed to be able to scroll around that, like the inside of a big sphere, but I can’t be bothered looking for the plugin.  I made it with my new fancy-pants Google Nexus phone, which we’ve finally managed to procure at work.

As you can see, the ‘grass’ is making a very slow colonization of the dustbowl that resulted after my landlord dumped a pile of builder’s rubble soil on the lawn.  This could be helped along with some grass seed but such things are hard to acquire in Bangkok, where people ar emore enthusiastic about concrete carparks and potted plants on their open spaces.  As it is, I’ve been scattering birdseed, which grows into very convincing grass, but the birds don’t seem to have got the memo and keep eating it.

Corn

Regular readers will be stunned to see how rapidly the corn has ascended.  I co opted a small child for this photo to give a sense of scale, but I can assure you that the corn is taller than me.  Still, it’s been two months so there should be a bit of action.  There’s even a few ears developing, which has my youngest quite excited.

Carrot

The carrots aren’t as impressive, they’re not getting much sun.  We pulled up one of these little plants today and there was only a little root, which was not orange.  I expect we won’t see much until the corn is done and opens up this bit of garden bed, although I did prune the roseapple tree of it’s lower, eye-gouging branches today so perhaps we’ll see some more robust root vegetables soon.

Sunflowers

The sunflowers have bloomed.

SunflowersThey’re being made to face the wall as apparently that’s where the reflected light is coming from.

2014-03-08 15.56.31Again, in this shot a young child of indeterminate stature gives scale.

HerbsYou may recall that the last column ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Will Dan’s herb plot give bounty?  Or will it, like most things I’ve put in the garden, stubbornly stay beneath the soil and only host weeds and spiders?  As you can see from the photo I’ve got a respectable bed of coriander and some other unidentifiable yet aromatic herbs.

2014-03-08 15.54.21It must be a good time of year as I only put in this bok-choi and broccoli a week or two ago and it’s already going mental.  I put this in as a bit of a punt as I expect the lot to get eaten by caterpillars.

Kifs

Here’s the Kooper Kids digging up the lawn and playing while mocking their  father’s agricultural follies.

Banana BaneBut they’d better watch it because I’ve got this fucker.  The sword that appeared in last month’s post turned out to be rubbish.  I had the grinding attachment on the drill and many hours with a whetstone but it stubbornly refuses to be anything but a letter opener, and a blunt one at that.  Big blades are often made out of old leaf springs.  Spring steel is tough, flexible (duh!) and is soft enough to take a good edge.  The Banana Splitter was crap stainless that could apparently survive reentry, it is so hard.  And the bottle opener on the debole barely works.

Anyhow, I bought this Hong-Kong arm-pruner off the street from a purveyor of the sharp and pointy (really off the street, from a little pushcart stuffed with blades) and it’s crazy sharp with a mirror-finish, all the better to reflect sunlight into an enemy’s eyes as you circle him (or her) in one-on-one combat.  It’s a little top-heavy, which I don’t really like, and the hilt is too short for my hand, which is a shame as that makes it a little uncomfortable to use for long.  Still, I’m able to cut clean through tree branches twice the width of my thumb if I get a good swing, which is simultaneously handy and terrifying — going to have to be careful brandishing this about.

So that’s it for this episode.  Look out for next update where I’ll be beating off triffids with a halberd or something.  I leave you with a pic of Mrs Rabbit enjoying her hutch.

The rabbit

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Adventures in Horticulture!

Looks like I should have been a farmer.

When I moved into Chez Cooper a couple of years ago I was looking forward to having a yard for the kids to run about in, and lazy evenings form ,me with a book and the bats.  Of course, as it turned out, the kids only want to stay inside and watch cartoons and come sundown the air is choked with mosquitos.

However, one event has changed the way I think of and use the yard.  I don’t recall what it was but I took something home from the supermarket, put it in a pot and it grew.  Free food — coming right out of the ground.

I was a changed man.  These days most weekends I’m pulling weeds, watering, distributing rabbit shit fertilizer or generally knocking around the garden.  The big news last week was that the rose apple tree fruited for the first time in living memory.  The mango tree is flowering and already dropping a couple of little ones and the lime tree is much healthier for being out of its pot and into one of their the newly-established raised beds.

A couple of weeks ago the family and I bought a bunch of seeds from the weekend market so I thought I’d document the progress in the soil:

Corn seedlingsWhat this rather drab photo records is the rear-yard (actually against the front wall) raised garden bed.  Before anyone asks, the red bulb in the middle is a windfall rose apple that’s been selected to return it’s goodness to the earth. The seedlings in the foreground are yellow corn, they are joined by white corn (Duncan demanded it) and carrot by the tap, which you won’t be able to see in this photo, as they’re underground.

Corn seedlings

I guess this is after one week in the earth, the corn is already a strapping youth and climbing for the sun.  The stake at the lower right quadrant of this photo indicates that this is the white corn.  This vegetable has never excited me in the slightest but Duncan insisted that we buy the packet and sow it first, so I’m going to force him to eat every kernel that springs from these rows.

Carrot seedlingsHere we have a blurry and poorly composed image of carrot seedlings.  I’ve never grown carrot before and was surprised to see how small the seeds were.  After sowing, I spoke to my father who advised me that they shouldn’t be sown too deep (oops!) and that I may not see them otherwise.  But he never counted the punishing Thai sunshine, nor the unforgiving clays of Bang Sue, which sees dozens of infant seedlings push their way into the light.  It’s also here that I spray out the rabbits’ under-cage trays each morning so a steady diet of shitty, pissy water probably doesn’t hurt. As watersport-loving coprophiliacs, vegetables are probably the kinkiest of foods to grace our plates.

Sunflower seedlingsSquint just right and you’ll be able to see regular rows of sunflower seedlings marching into the sunset.  Due to the lack of space and the disappointing result of our last sunflower effort (not a single sprout), we put two seeds in each hole with the intention of stacking the odds.  As it turns out our defecating rabbits have done it again and each tender stem is growing with its twin.  Common sense says that I should abort one growth so that the other may be unhindered in its search for nourishment, but I think I’ll let them fight it out for my amusement.

Bare earth

Here’s something to keep you awake late into the night, wondering how things will turn out.  I know it will be soaked sheets bunched around my quivering limbs for me over the next agonizing week or so, for this final plot was only yesterday seeded with all the leftover seeds from the last couple of years, most of which have never sprouted.  I’m making a permaculture-type bed here with the idea of letting whatever grows first take over, or at least form an uneasy symbiosis with its bedmates.  Your nails will be bitten down to the quick, as will mine until the next bulletin from the bottom of the garden.

Next episode: The Trials and Tribulations of being a Banana Farma and Meet the Banana Splitter:
Crap sword

P.S: there’s also a lump of ginger and a bunch of garlic cloves that have sprouted that are in their own mini-bed.  The previous tenants left a fine clump of galaga and another of turmeric (the former I only know because they came over and told me, the latter I only recognized after my own started to grow) and many chilli plants (that I had mostly pulled, assuming them weeds) so I’m hoping to infest the property with my own leavings works before I, too, move on.

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Behold the Rabbit Penitentiary!

So the Rabbit has a new home.

IMG_3375The hutch features no 90° angles and very few straight lines.  I expect that this will protect the occupant from hounds of tindalos tunnelling in through the corners and is an object lesson of the false economy of purchasing a jigsaw.

IMG_3391Initial reactions were positive.  Note the plumbing to the right of “Starler the Rabbit.”

IMG_3379From this shot you can see that the floor is elevated.  The idea being that the beast doesn’t have to sleep on the cold ground, and the little scamp can wriggle under there when she’s feeling adventurous.  I expect to be combatting some The Great Escape actions from this quarter in the future.

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Here we see the rear wall hinged down.  You can see the egress to the main chamber, and you can also see the upper floor, with its own portal.  For this initial effort I decided not to install a fireman’s pole, feeling that the scramble to the upper level will put Oryctolagus cuniculus in a proprietorial frame of mind.  This mezzanine is designed to be a snug and private space for the occupant and features an old t-shirt for comfort and amusement.

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Due to the solid-wood construction and massive over-engineering the hutch is immovable by children and a struggle for an adult, hence the handles you may have noticed in fig. 1.  This is semi-intentional as it presents a challenge to passing cats, dogs and pythons.  Depending on future tests by both occupant and visitors, we may install tent pegs at a later date.

IMG_3387As a final shot, here’s the enclosure sealed up.  The latching mechanism is a simple eyelet and hook apparatus.  The intention here is that if something big does start rattling her cage, the door should pop open and give Miss Rabbit a fighting chance at fleeing, assuming that she has already retreated to the mezzanine or main chamber.  We are, of course, yet to test this theory.  Stay tuned for updates.

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San Francisco Panoramas

I’m still editing down the photos from the trip, but here’s some tasters.

San Francisco Street 2

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Beer’s Nuptuals

My head of Engineering’s nickname is Beer and she got married last Friday.  Here’s some photos of the ceremony and the Andovar crew:

At the Wedding

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Poppa Joe’s 90th

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The Great Flood of 2012

My house flooded last Thursday night.  We’ve had a little water come in once before which pooled in the laundry and kitchen and that’s how it started on Thursday.  I did the normal thing, which was to stuff towels under the back and side doors and across the kitchen doorway.  Two hours later I came downstairs and there was enough water in the hallway to cover my feet.

Flooded Kitchen

What’s wrong with this picture? The blue towel was across the doorway to stop water running in the red mat should be in front of the bathroom door and the fridge power lead should be on top of the red ice bucket.

Things weren’t much better in the hallway:

I took these photos after unplugging everything that was underwater, fishing out the vacuum cleaner and leaving it to drain and sorting out anything else that was going to get wrecked by immersion.

Being radical and unconventional, our bathroom doesn’t have a drainage plug in the floor, it’s got a hole in the wall at floor level.  This has the benefits of poorly draining water from your shower, making the bathroom a bugger to keep clean, but also means that when it floods the water has an easy entry to the house.  Guess what I forgot to plug.

I can tell you that it’s pretty weird having a shower ankle deep in floodwater.

The living room, the highest and most expensive part of the house was also innundated.  You can’t really see it from this photo, but the water’s up around the castors of that office chair.  You may notice the eerie mirrored surface of the floor.

Astute observers will notice the odd perspective presented by the fan. It’s actually on the chair to keep it out of the water.

Now let’s have a look outside.  My yard  has been flooded pretty much continuously since it’s started seriously raining.  It’s been kind of weird washing paint brushes with the hose ankle deep in muddy water.

That can’t be good for the grass.

Someone leave the hose running?

The watering can is bitterly ironic, given the circumstances.

Duncan will be disappointed.

No chilling in the little deckchair tonight, unless I put my feet up too.

The water level has dropped by about half now, it was over the step at its height.



So in the end not much damage was done, although there’s been a lot of cleanup of floating garbage and the like.  I’ve got some sandbags so we’ll see how things fare next time.

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Blue Fanta

image

Wtf?

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