Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Healthy soil means healthy plants and healthy food.

To qualify this, the optimal health and nutrition comes from organically grown food. However there is not much of this around unless you have an organic farm or shop nearby, or grow it yourself.

My “salad days” are here again in the tropical north,
albeit for only a short period, from the end of the Wet Season in April to September. However, on our Atherton Tableland, their growing season is much longer and potato growers can grow three crops a year. Nevertheless, I make the best of our short time. This is the time when I can enjoy tasty organically grown vegetables, and tropical fruits that have been grown without chemical fertiliser or poisonous spray.
 As a youngster and with a farming background I learnt a lot from my paternal grandfather, Franz, about vegetable growing, which was his hobby.  He was my role model. But as the years went by in Australia I have never stopped learning  - it is in my genes to always ask how or why. Life for me is a constant learning cycle till the day I die. I also inherited grandfather’s great sense of humour. I can still vividly remember grandfather saying to me: “Don’t go in the garden.  It is dangerous!” When I asked why, he would say: “The asparagus are shooting!”

Over the years I have given away “bucket loads” of veggies to appreciative family and friends. I always grow more than I need, and I derive pleasure from that. Gardening and growing things is therapeutic for me. My reward for giving  the spare produce away  is my pleasure  in giving, and seeing smiling faces. I remember one neighbour whose husband was of Italian extraction and he loved tomatoes, but his yard was too shaded and you need sun to grow veggies. I called out over the fence, and the wife came out. I said that I had a dozen tomatoes for her husband. She looked at them and, instead saying, "Thank you," she said, “Why do you grow so many and then give them away?” Well, there are funny people in this world who do not know that you shouldn’t look a gift horse in mouth.

My tomatoes taste like they should, and taste like the ones we grew in our garden in Germany. The tomatoes you buy from our supermarkets are absolutely tasteless, and have a tough skin. The same goes with my veggies. We never know how they were produced and what chemical sprays and fertiliser were used. We know that they are picked unripe and then go through irradiation. Grow them organically in your backyard, if you have one, or alternatively containers is another option, and the reward of eating healthy veggies is great.

People say to me, “I tried to grow this and that, but nothing was growing well and the plants look yellow, but the soil looks good.” It is of course what is in the soil that matters - not how it looks. It is like a good looking apple, yet it can be rotten inside. “Why does your veggie garden look so lush and healthy?” they want to know.  My answer is always, “Healthy soil with organic fertilizer and good compost, which I constantly produce, has a lot to do with it.”  My soil is a difficult one; it is sandy and contains silicon.  This means the silicon hinders water penetration. So, compost and fibrous matter is very important. This soil has to be kept moist at all times, if it has dried out it is a slow process to get it moist again. It is akin to having oil in the soil - you see puddles of water on top of the soil not going in. Perhaps the following my help a few wannabe veggie growers to succeed.

As I said before, it is important what is in the soil and not how it looks. Magnesium deficiency in soil can be a reason for bad results. Magnesium in the soil helps the plants to get the benefit of the nutrients in the soil. There are gadgets available to test the soil to see whether it is acidic or has the right alkaline value.

To get an accurate reading of any deficiency, the soil can be tested, but in the case of magnesium, the results are quite variable. Magnesium content can deteriorate quickly, especially during rain or watering. Magnesium is quite water-soluble and gets leached to the lower layers of the soil easily. It is brought back up by tree roots. It is therefore important to return the falling leaves to the topsoil or use them in the compost.

Magnesium shortage is a real problem in most parts of the world.
It is caused when we water or irrigate instead of growing what is natural for the climatic conditions. It causes a serious calcium metabolism problem in people and animals, because calcium cannot be used without magnesium.

Extreme magnesium deficiency is recognized by pale green leaves and by blossom and fruit rot, but don't wait for that.
Sprinkle dolomite or Epsom salts on the soil from time to time, or add a little Epsom salts to the water. Using a little frequently is better than using a lot once, because the excess just gets leached. There is a difference between lime and dolomite - the latter contains magnesium.

Epsom salts recipe:
Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 gal. of water. For healthy nightshade plants (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) water just as flowering starts. Or use this mixture as a foliage spray in the garden and on house plants.

Most soils have pH values between 3.5 and 10.
In higher rainfall areas the natural pH of soils typically ranges from 5 to 7, while in drier areas the range is 6.5 to 9. Soils can be classified according to their pH value: 6.5 to 7.5—neutral; over 7.5—alkaline ;  less than 6.5—acidic ;  and soils with pH less than 5.5 are considered strongly acidic.

An accurate soil test will indicate your soil's pH level, and will specify the amount of lime or Sulphur that is needed to bring it up or down to the appropriate level. A pH of 6.5 is just about right for most home gardens, since most plants thrive in the 6.0 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral) range. Some plants (blueberries, azaleas) prefer more strongly acidic soil, while a few (ferns, asparagus) do best in soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline. Acidic (sour) soil is counteracted by applying finely ground limestone, and alkaline (sweet) soil is treated with gypsum (calcium sulphate) or ground sulphur.

And here is a gardening trick from me for growing carrots. Carrot seeds are slow to germinate and weed grows among them much quicker, and when you pull them out the very small carrot seedlings come out with the weeds. So, I put radish seeds with them.  They germinate quickly and are ready to harvest in about three weeks. With the radish gone and the row full of weeds, just spray them with kerosene which kills the weeds, but has no effect on the small carrots.
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Turmeric, not just a humble spice.

Turmeric has been used in India throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye. But in recent times it has come to the fore as a contributor to good health and a pain killer. Turmeric was traditionally called Indian saffron since its deep yellow-orange colour is similar to that of the prized saffron.
Turmeric is anti bacterial and anti inflammatory.
  I have been taking a heaped teaspoon of organic turmeric powder daily for more than two years and I’m sure that it has contributed to my good health. It is important  that turmeric powder is taken in conjunction with fat and black pepper to help the body to absorb it, it is the piperine in the pepper that is doing it. My way of taking my daily dose of turmeric is as follows: 1. I toast a slice of wholemeal bread, and saturate it with coconut oil. 2. I put a heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder on top of it and spread it over the bread. 3. Then I add a liberal amount of black pepper and top it up with chicken or ham, and greens from my garden or whatever you fancy. As the saying goes: “Variety is the spice of life” to which I add – “Eating turmeric is wise”.

Turmeric is easy to grow and the tubers can be grated on salad or veggies for extra flavour.  It grows about 60 cm high and when the leaves are yellowing and start to wilt, that is the time for harvesting it.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavour is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related. Following is some information from a newsletter about Atherosclerosis, (Hardening of the arteries) which you may find interesting.

For more  turmeric information. Click here.
Warning! Turmeric stains are permanent, don’t get it on your clothes. I wish you good health. – Werner
My first encounter with atherosclerosis was a real sad one.
I lost a good friend who was just 35 years of age because of the disease. We all were surprised as he looked healthy. That was the first time I came to know about the name but since then I have observed it and found it is not so rare. More than 4 mn people in US suffer from it.

A bit more on atherosclerosis now.
Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by clogging and stiffening of arteries due to deposits of cholesterol, fats, and inflammatory deposits on the inner walls of the arteries. This causes various diseases based on the arteries affected like heart attack, stroke, etc. Generally people with diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and fat content, high blood pressure, smoking habits, etc. are more susceptible to the disease than others. The foremost thing to treat atherosclerosis is to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, like avoid smoking, high fat-content diet, perform exercise regularly, etc. turmeric for atherosclerosis.

The medications generally include drugs
to lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, hypertension, anticoagulants to reduce blood clots in the arteries and surgical procedures. Apart from general medication, several herbs like turmeric, green tea pomegranate juice, garlic and dietary supplements like fish oils have shown a huge promise in reducing the clogging of arteries and long term treatment and reversal of the disease, while reducing the general side effects of drugs and elimination needs of surgeries. This article will discuss the major role played by turmeric plays a major role in the maintenance of heart health, and thus helps in atherosclerosis.

How does turmeric help in atherosclerosis?
A very popular spice in the Indian kitchen, turmeric has been used in ancient medicine since centuries due to its amazing medicinal properties. The major active ingredient present in turmeric is curcumin, which possesses anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory (prevents inflammation or allergies) and antioxidant (prevents oxidation of other molecules) properties.

Overview. Studies have shown that turmeric can cure atherosclerosis due to its ability to reduce the blood cholesterol levels in the body, thus preventing plaque build-up in the arteries. Oxidation of bad cholesterol leads to the accumulation of fatty streaks along the arterial walls. Turmeric helps prevent arterial blockage by preventing this oxidation process. Moreover turmeric also acts as a vasodilatant (helps in relaxation of blood vessels), thus reducing the possibility of blocking of blood vessels.

Also, turmeric can prevent the clumping together of blood platelets
and inhibit blood clot formation. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits the inflammatory enzymes and pro-inflammatory genes (genes that produce inflammatory products), thus preventing inflammatory deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels. Its anti-oxidant properties help to reduce formation of the free radicals (highly reactive chemical species that mediate inflammatory tissue injury), thereby further preventing inflammation. I discuss all these properties of turmeric and its ability to help in atherosclerosis in the following sections.

9 ways turmeric helps in Atherosclerosis.
1. Turmeric inhibits oxidation of bad cholesterol. An important effect of atherosclerosis is the accumulation of oxidized-lipid laden “foam cells” along the arterial walls. Thus, preventing oxidation of LDL could play a crucial role in preventing the formation of “foam cells” in the arteries and blockage. Research has shown that an important reason in atherosclerosis is the oxidation of bad cholesterol or Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). A regular administration of turmeric extract helped in inhibiting the oxidation of Low Density Lipoproteins and maintaining the cholesterol levels within appropriate levels. What it means?  Turmeric, due to its anti-oxidant properties prevents oxidation of bad cholesterol, and prevents fat and cholesterol deposits on the arterial walls.

2. Turmeric reduces atherosclerotic risks in diabetes 2 patients.  Patients suffering from diabetes mellitus (Type II Diabetes) pose a higher risk for having atherosclerosis than others. This is because patients having Type II diabetes have an impaired repair response system, which increases the possibility of rupture of atherosclerotic plaques and hence formation of blood clots. A study with human subjects suffering from type 2 diabetes has shown that treatment of such patients with curcumin (the major active ingredient present in turmeric) exhibits an anti-atherosclerosis effect. Also, it helps in the lowering of the atherogenic risks in this high risk population, by reducing the insulin resistance (a condition where body does not use insulin effectively) and body fat content. What it means? But when these patients are given a fixed regular dosage of curcumin extract, it reduced the risks of atherosclerosis significantly by improving metabolic profiles of the body.

3. Turmeric reduces total cholesterol content and blots clots. One of the crucial events in atherosclerosis is activation of platelets and their recruitment of inflammatory cells at the sites of injury. Also, high cholesterol and LDL content is another crucial reason behind the plaque formation on the arterial walls. Research has shown that turmeric oil components have reduced total plasma cholesterol content, bad cholesterol or LDL content, lipid induced oxidative stress and platelet activation. What it means? Turmeric oil can play a role in preventing arterial thrombosis (blood clot in arteries) and atheroprogression.

4. Turmeric reduces oxidative stress and LDL peroxidation.
Peroxidised Low Density Lipoprotein leads to the deposition of oxidized lipid coated fat cells and their proliferation along the arterial walls, narrowing the arteries. A research trial has shown that regular intake of turmeric, equivalent to 20 mg of the active ingredient curcumin, led to a decrease in peroxidation levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins) as well as HDL (High density lipoproteins) in patients having peroxidized LDL higher than baseline values.  What it means? Turmeric can lower lipid levels and used for treatment of atherosclerotic patients.

5. Turmeric reduces plaque formation on arterial walls. One of the important events in atherosclerosis is increasing formation of plaque, due to proliferation of fibrous tissue, owing to the increased migration and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells. A Study has shown that turmeric helps in inhibiting the proliferation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells.

6. Turmeric causes vasorelaxation. The major effect of atherosclerosis is reduction in delivery of oxygenated blood due to arterial blockage. Studies have shown that turmeric extract helps in the lowering of heart rate and blood pressure in the arteries by inducing relaxation of the blood vessels. Another study has shown that an extract of turmeric helps in the improved vasorelaxation of arteries in hypercholesterolemic rats.This property of turmeric helps in the reducing the blockage of arteries, making it an effective complement for vasodilatant drugs (drugs that dilate arteries). What it means?  Turmeric relaxes blood vessels, hence reduces blockage.

7. Turmeric reduces stroke damage. Atherosclerosis in the arteries of the brain leads to stroke. Curcumin itself cannot cross the blood-brain barrier efficiently; hence chemical modifications of curcumin have been carried out, to facilitate an enhanced penetration across the barrier. CNB-001, a novel hybrid compound of curcumin, helps to repair the damage caused by stroke at a neuronal level, due to neuro-protective properties of curcumin. CNB-001 has been proved to be therapeutically safe and an effective treatment for stroke. What it means? Turmeric compounds reduce motor impairment (loss of muscle control, paralysis) caused by a stroke.

8. Turmeric inhibits platelet aggregation. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for patients to suffer from atherosclerosis. A recent study has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric and its derivative, bisdemothoxycurcumin (BDMC) possess anti-coagulant properties, by inhibiting thrombin activities, thus preventing blood clot formation. Another related research has shown that turmeric inhibits platelet aggregation induced by arachidonate by inhibiting thromboxane production from arachidonic acid. What it means? Turmeric reduces the formation of blood clots inside the arteries, thus preventing arterial blockage.

9. Turmeric helps in reducing obesity. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for patients to suffer from atherosclerosis. Study has shown that curcumin has the ability to reduce obesity, along with obesity related disorders by inhibiting the differentiation of adipocytes (cells producing fat). Also, it interacts with adipose tissue to induce expression of adiponectin, the major anti-inflammatory agent produced by adipocytes.  What it means? Turmeric reduces obesity and related disorders, thus reducing atherosclerotic risks.

Dosage. Turmeric can be taken on a daily basis as part of the regular diet, in curries. Due to its low absorption in the body, it is suggested that one can intake turmeric with black pepper to enhance the absorption rate.

The recommended dosage is as follows:
Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day. Standardized powder of curcumin: 400-600mg 3 times a day. Fluid extract with 1:1 concentration: 30-90 drops per day.  Tincture of 1:2 ratio : 15-30 drops 4 times a day. Precautions Although turmeric does not have any known side effects, the following people should be aware about the intake of turmeric supplements and should consult the physician regarding the dosage. People taking blood-thinning medications (increase blood flow to brain and reduce risk of blood clots) must consult the doctors before having turmeric.Turmeric supplements should be avoided by pregnant women (may promote uterine interactions) and breast feeding women. Excess dosage of turmeric may cause nausea, diarrhea, rashes in patients allergic to turmeric. Also turmeric should not be had before any major surgery (interferes with blood clot formation). People having stones in gall bladders should consult doctors before having turmeric.

Research studies have shown that turmeric can help in multiple ways in case of atherosclerosis. Of course the results vary based on various factors too. It is best to include turmeric in your regular diet to get its benefits and prevent disorders and helping in treating existing ones. If you found the article useful, please share the benefits of turmeric with your family, friends or colleagues.
Source: Of this article.
My thought for today.
Time heals all things - except a leaky tap.  Sam Ewing****
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An excerpt from a migrant’s diary.

When I arrived in Australia with my wife Karola and 14 month old daughter, Sonja, a steep learning curve was in front of us. After we arrived in Melbourne by ship (Skaubryn) we were put on a train to Albury NSW and then sent by bus to the Bonegilla migrant camp just a few kilometres across the border in Victoria. We were there for a week and I was eager after 6 Weeks at sea to get to work and earn money.

I volunteered to cut sugar cane, although I had other qualifications.
I was a graduate of an agriculture college specialising in horticulture, centering in the main on viticulture and fruit growing, and I was also a cabinetmaker. I grew up on our family farm in Bischoffingen on the beautiful Kaiserstuhl in the far southwest corner of Germany. Our intention was to stay for two years only and then go back to Germany, but after a short time we decided to stay here for good; applied for citizenship and became proud Australian citizens in 1959 in Mossman North Queensland.

So, there was an awful lot to learn for me and Karola.
It was not only a change of scenery, but we also came to a different culture.  It was here where I for the first time heard the word "Prawns" - I ate some and got terribly sick. But we were quick and eager learners, we adapted and integrated into Australia’s life and culture. I hope that you find this excerpt from our life in Australia interesting.

 In the 1950s there was a shortage of cane cutters in NSW and Queensland. A meeting was convened to inform most of the men that came with our ship, what cane cutting was about. The immigration officials tried to persuade the men to go north and cut cane. The only exemption was people with special trade qualifications or people that wore glasses.

So, I went to the meeting to see what it was all about, and I put on my reading glasses for "protection".  We were told that it was hard and dirty work, but that good money was to be made cutting cane, and that aspect appealed to me.

Prior to this meeting; rumours went around the camp such as, "They have to burn the cane to remove the dry leaves for the harvest," which was true. What wasn’t true, but everybody believed it, was that the cane cutters have to first kill badly burned carpet snakes that live in the sugar cane for their food and they have to kill them to put them out of their misery. Needless to say; there were no volunteers to be found.

And since I grew up on our family farm and was used to hard and sometimes dirty work, I went to the immigration officials and said, "I want to go and cut sugar cane." The officials looked at me and said, “You don’t have to go as you are wearing glasses." I took them off and said, "I only wear them for reading." So they put me on to their list. I’m sure that I was the only volunteer - the others were “volunteered” under the pretext that there was no other work available for them at the moment.

Within two days we were on a train in Albury with the prospective cane cutters including their wives and children. The prospective cane cutters were taken as far as Cairns and were "unloaded" in towns where cane cutters were needed and the required number of men were picked up by farmer organisations and brought to farmers that needed them.

The first train stop after Albury was at Newcastle NSW and all the wives and children were told to get out, and were then taken by bus to the Maitland immigration centre. The immigration officials couldn’t tell me when I would see Karola or Sonja again, and this was a difficult "departure" for us.

The next stop was Grafton NSW and the names of sixteen people were called that had to go out; I was one of them.   We were split into groups and allocated to cane farmers in the MacLean district north of Grafton, whose farmers supplied the cane to the Sugar Mill at Harwood Island.  In our group of five men, four came from big cities and were office workers, and I started to wonder how they would perform carrying out this hard and dirty work. I was made the ganger (foreman) of the group, so I was the liaison between the farmer and the group, and responsible for organising things like our food. I had to write out a list for the butcher, the baker and the grocer then give it to the farmer who took the list to them.

Since all of us had only twenty pounds that was given to us by the government, the farmer paid for all the food and then deducted what we owed him from our wages on payday. As the ganger I earned one extra pound. Unfortunately, as I suspected in light of the poor performance of the four men, and with the small amount of cane we were cutting, I could foresee that we wouldn’t get much money after the farmer took out of our pay what we owed him. And this is exactly what happened.

So, on the weekend I went to Turkey Island where another German gang was. I first asked them how much they earned, and learnt that it was four times more than we did.  So then I asked them if I could join them, and they said, "Yes please."

Turkey Island is in the Clarence River Delta. (As a matter of fact, there are 99 Islands of all sizes in this delta). Turkey Island is very small and the Macleod family was growing cane there, and like most other cane farmers they also had cattle and their milk brought extra income.

The cane cutter housing consisted of three tents with rough single camp beds. The bedside table was an empty 20 litre oil drum and light on top of it was a kerosene lamp. The kitchen was a freestanding structure and consisted of two posts with a roof over it and with a wood stove under it. The kitchen utensils were hanging on nails in a board above the stove. It was certainly nothing to brag about.
This is a very old black and white picture, but I put some colour in it. The man with the cane knife on the left side is me.
One of us had to be the camp cook, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. The drawback of this was, while he did this he didn’t cut cane, yet the remuneration was per ton cut and the pay for this was shared by all four of us.

After about two weeks, immigration officials came and told us that our wives and children will come and were to be housed in the seaside resort of Iluka NSW. That was music to our collective ears. We stayed there on the weekend and were taken there by a truck sitting in its tray and then ferried again back to Harwood Island from where we made our way on foot to Turkey Island. To get there we had to walk through some headlands of other farms. And, to get to Turkey Island we had to use the rowing boat that was always attached to a post on the opposite side of the river. Also parked on the other side of the river was the farmer's T model Ford.

I said to the others, what about if we ask our four wives if they would be our camp cook. To have one of them for our camp cook would mean all four of us could cut cane and we make more money? They thought this was a good idea, and since the cane cutting season had only four weeks to go it would mean that each wife would only have to do the cooking for only five days.

So, when I came to Iluka on Friday afternoon I had an emotional reunion with Karola and Sonja.  Later on, I arranged a meeting with the other blokes and their wives to come to our unit and over a cup of coffee; try to hammer out whose wife would be the first one to be camp cook. When the question was put, there was a long silence and nobody put a hand up. To get over the apparent impasse, Karola said, "I go first."

So, on Monday morning the truck came to pick us up, and Karola and Sonja were given the "luxury" of sitting in front beside the driver. So when we arrived at Turkey Island it was a tremendous shock for Karola to see  that the sleeping quarters were three tents, yet seeing the kitchen, if you could call it that, gave her the biggest shock, despite my telling her a little bit about it at Iluka.  Karola, Sonja and I slept in the middle tent.

In the tent on our left were two of our crew sleeping. At midnight a hell of a racket of swearing and screaming awoke us.  Wild pigs had run through the tent and under the two beds and tossed the sleeping men out of it. I said to Karola that it was really nice of the pigs not to select our tent.

When we went back to Iluka, the three men couldn’t tell their respective wives’ quick enough about the "Fly-by-pigs" at midnight on Turkey Island.
This resulted in the other wives refusing to be our camp cook, and typical of Karola, she said, “Well, I do it till the end of the season”- yet Karola was 6 months pregnant.
On Turkey Island we had my/our introduction to prawns. Mrs. Macleod brought us a big dish full of them, which her husband had caught in the river. One of our crew who spoke fluent English explained the cooking instructions given by Mrs. Macleod to Karola. None of us had ever heard of or seen prawns. These prawns were the small ones, and were cleaned and ready to cook. To us they looked like the larvae of witchetty grubs, and not especially appealing. However Karola cooked them according to instructions. At first I took tentatively small bites, but found the prawn very nice and started to eat them with abandon like everybody else.

However, I got terribly sick after a short time with vomiting, but luckily nobody else did. Karola said to me, "You look green," and I replied, "That is exactly how I feel." I was so sick from a bad prawn that I couldn’t cut cane for a day. From this time on I couldn’t stand the sight of a prawn. Whenever I saw them inadvertently in a shop, I got goosebumps all over me and had to walk away or look to the other side.

Now I’m jumping 20 years ahead, to when I was managing Dr. Lesley Westaway’s 95 hectare cane farm located on the Captain Cook Highway at Smithfield, which also went down for two Kilometres on one side along Yorkeys Knob Road.

At the end of the harvest season it was customary to have a feast with delicious finger food and drinks, and everybody who worked in some capacity on the farm during the season was invited. Margaret, Lesley’s wife, arranged all that. Amongst all the goodies I spotted a big dish with small battered fish. I ignored most of the other food and made just about a guts of myself with this lovely battered fish.

At the end of this feasting Margaret said to me, "Werner, take as much as you want to Karola and the kids." So I loaded a big plate with a variety of these goodies, but the biggest portion was the delicious fish I had eaten all afternoon. When I came home I said to Karola, pointing to these lovely battered fish, "Those were the best fish that I have ever eaten." Karola took one look and said, "Those lovely fish are prawns!" That was a bit of a shock and I lost my faculty of speech for a few seconds. Then I said to Karola, "Are you sure?" "Yes, I’m 110 % sure. I worked long enough in Cairns Hotels as a cook and I know what prawns look like."

Well, the moral of this was a clear case of mind over matter. My utter dislike for prawns, and the goosebumps had suddenly disappeared, and a profound liking of prawns has replaced them.

Now back to Harwood Island, another culture shock was in store for me. As I wrote before, we had to walk through several headlands of other farms to get to Turkey Island. In Germany it was drummed into us kids that when leaving a room to close the door. In winter it kept the cold out and in summer the heat. So when we came to an open gate of a cow paddock, my mind was still sort of in Germany and I closed the gate, thinking that I had done the right thing.

So, when we had our "Smoko" time in the morning (Smoko is an Australian vernacular for a 15 minute work break) we saw a farmer from the other side getting into the rowing boat and we thought he was coming to see Mr. Macleod, but he wasn’t. He came straight over to us, asking, "Who of you shut the bloody paddock gate?" I said, "I did". He responded with, "Why the bloody hell did you do it?" "Well  we always closed doors in Germany". "You are not in bloody Germany now!” He advised me: “If you go through a gate or door that is open, leave it open, and if it was closed, close it again."

What I of course didn’t know when closing the gate was that the farmer was at the other end of the paddock, and wanted to herd his cattle into his milking shed through this gate. So there was a big herd of cows at the closed gate.  I learnt a valuable lesson in my new country.
And another lesson from a farmer was: “If you want to avoid stepping on a snake look in front of you when walking, and if you want to look at birds flying above you - stop walking.” I took this valuable advice to heart, I left doors or gates as they were and, I never stepped on a snake. – Werner
My thought for today.
You learn something every day if you pay attention. ~ Ray LeBlond
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