At Casey station, hot chillies from hydroponics are harvested, expeditioners travel to Cape Poinsett, new sprinklers are installed, and a trip to Browning over the ice reveals some interesting sights.

Casey chillies

It may be cold down here, but the chillies are hot, and getting hotter.

As a few of us enjoy that chilli flavour, we thought growing our own plants in the hydroponics facility would be a good thing over the winter. Not the fastest of producing plants, it is only now after several months that we are starting to reap what we have sown.

We had all six seeds germinate and grow, and at long last the plants are covered in fruit that is slowly starting to ripen — a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colours with differing degrees of hotness.

There is a big green relatively mild Anaheim chilli that has taken over a good section of one corner in hydro, the prolific Fire Cracker that is excellent in Thai curries (green or red), several lantern-like giant Habaneros that are good in anything, a fiery bullet shaped Serrano, and last but not least a small orange/red light bulb shaped chilli that can hold its own with the others.

Tonight Eddie our chef did crispy chicken drumsticks tossed in his special Louisiana hot sauce: spicy goodness and definitely something to clear your sinuses.

The only thing you need to remember when dealing with chillies is that after you prune or pick them, don’t rub your eyes.

Cape Poinsett

The time of year has come around again for the traverse to Cape Poinsett to do work on the automatic weather station (AWS). It’s located about 130 kilometres off station to the east. This year the team consisted of Gunny, Ian, Rob, Cary and me (Matt).

With vehicles, food and other items to take, there was a couple of weeks of preparation involved before the trip could take place. We were set to leave on Monday morning but due to three and a half days of bad weather we didn’t end up leaving till around midday Thursday.

Over the next couple of days we travelled to the AWS. Once we got there on the Friday morning it was worked out that what needed to be done to repair the weather station couldn’t be completed, and had to be brought back to station for repairs.

After that we packed up our gear and started on our journey home. We made it back to station on the Sunday evening.

Red shed sprinklers

Over the past few weeks a lot has been going on in the red shed (living quarters). The scaffolding has gone up and down in several places thanks to Scotty. Scaffolding is the only safe way to reach the sprinklers fitted in the ceiling panels and in the cavities behind them. These are being systematically replaced as, just like everything, sprinklers have a ‘use by date’ and have to be replaced every 25 years or so.

To replace a sprinkler is not as simple as screwing the old one out and then screwing a new one in. The water in the pipe work to which the sprinkler is attached first needs to be drained. This is not a pleasant job at all as the water is stained black and stagnant from sitting in the pipes for several years. Despite the colour, it would still put out a fire and that is the main thing.

While without a sprinkler system during this process, the red shed still has smoke and heat detectors which would alert us to any fire.

Quad trip to Browning

So far this year at Casey no one has gone to the Browning Peninsula via the sea ice on quad bikes so Steve H, Ian, Cary and I (Matt) decided to head out there. It was a good day with clear visibility and barely any wind — perfect quad riding weather.

We had a couple of setbacks near Shirley Island and near the Mitchell Peninsula with the sea ice having been blown out by the recent blizzards and strong winds. But after a couple of quick detours over the land, we got back on track with solid one metre ice or thicker the whole trip.

It was pretty unreal sights the whole way with icebergs, ice cliffs and crevasse fields all there to see from the safety of the sea ice.