Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy, Happy...

I'm going to try and post this, but with numerous laptop blue screens, and my dicey, s-o-o-o-o slow, internet connection this may or may not happen...


So much to tell you / share,  but it will have to wait until we return to the adsl line.  I hope that everyone had a Merry, Merry, so all that is left now is to wish you all a Happy Happy...
Anticipation...MKid in front of the pomegranate
tree we had to use as our Christmas tree as we
couldn't fit our Christmas tree on the trailer :) 
Thank you all for your encouragement, for the inspiration you provide me with via your own blogs and e-mails, and for your friendship - I love that blogging allows me to bridge the many miles between us :)


May 2012 see the granting of your secret wishes, the fruition of your dreams, and may you have peace and harmony within all aspects of your lives.


God Bless - Happy New Year to you all :)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Due to the fact that our suppliers close their businesses for the season today (Friday 16th is a public holiday here), thus forcing us to take our yearly break as well, on Saturday morning RMan and I are escaping to the farm until round about the 7th January.


This will be the first Christmas we celebrate on the farm.  NGirl, WGuy and MKid will be travelling down from Johannesburg, and hopefully RSon will also be able to join us.
But, before that, we'll have plenty to keep us busy over our "holiday".  Our neighbour, CGuy, is in the process of completing his own house, and needs the solar panels he lent us after we had our burglary in January this year as he wants to install them on his roof.  That means we have to remove all the panels, and the supporting frame from our roof, detach CGuys panels, and replace them with some panels we have just purchased.  Bearing in mind that each panel weighs in excess of 14kgs, and there are three of them, it's going to be quite a mission to get the contraption off our double story 45° roof, and then re-hoist it up again.  At least three people are needed to successfully accomplish this feat.  And by three people, I'll talking about man power (as opposed to woman power LOL).
Then, I also have b-i-g (g-e-r) plans for my shadecloth greenhouse, so that is sure to keep me busy.  And we have loads of lemon trees to plant...


Finally, I want to create a water-wise indigenous garden at the front of the house.  I have taken most of the plants to the farm already, so it's be a case of turning the (rock hard) soil and adding plenty of compost.  I am also planning on planting the berry bushes (blackberry, raspberry and gooseberry) and some strawberry plants which I have had waiting in limbo at our town house.  My helper, John, says he is available, and his employment will naturally be shared with Roy and Teach who found him first - should they require his services.
I also want to use my solar oven as much as possible - the sun shines far more on the farm than it does in town LOL  Bread, vegetables, dinners - even biscuits - I can't wait to get going again.  The weather that we've been having in town this Spring / Summer (so far) has been overcast most days, with only the occasional single sunny day which was suitable.  Now I'm going to indulge myself - and my oven :)


It's going to be really strange having so much time to spend there - the most time we've had before is a week - 9 days at the most.  20-days is going to be a luxury :)  A foretaste of things to come... :)


RMan and I sure need the break.  It's been a really tough year - mentally, financially and emotionally, and that always drains one.  Even though we'll be "working" on the farm, it'll be a different type of work - one that is good for the soul.  And for the body.


I will be taking the laptop to the farm with me, but as I will be connecting through my cell phone, the connection is very slow as we are on the "edge" of our cell phone providers area.  I'm not sure how many photo's I'll be able to upload - even on our ADSL line in town that can sometimes take a while. (we have the old analogue line - not the latest fibre optic cable.)  So, I will still be able to follow your postings, and comment, but my blog posts may be restricted.
So, in view of that I would like to take the time now to wish you all a Spiritual, merry, peaceful, relaxed, convivial and enjoyable Christmas, filled with good food, family warmth, laughter and, finally, all best wishes for 2012.


These wishes go especially to all those people who give of their time, and themselves, whilst we are relaxing with our families and celebrating the season - the police, firemen / fire women, doctors, nurses and paramedics, taxi, train and bus drivers, etc.  Thank you - you are appreciated :)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Garden pests and Eco-solutions

This has been a frustrating Spring / early Summer.  Seeds had to be planted over, and over, and over again.  I think I sowed bean seeds four times before I finally got some seeds to poke their inquisitive little shoots above ground.

I was going nuts - I couldn't figure it out.  What was I doing wrong.  And who was causing the damage...?

Finally, I caught two culprits.


Firstly, I had a hadedah which kept paying my seedling patio a visit.  They give me the creeps because, to me, they are prehistoric looking creatures.

(pronounced hah-dee-dahs)
It's long beak is specially designed to dig deep into the ground to find whatever juicy cutworms, earthworms or insects that it can.  Normally I have no problem with them, for I welcome their devouring any cutworm they can find.  But, if they decide that my poor seedling trays are going to be their latest treasure chests, then they better know I have their measure.

And it comes in this form...
... a recycled stryrofoam container with netting (and a weight to prevent the South Easter from blowing it off.)  This works against snails too :)

And secondly, the starlings.

Below is the damage that both the hadedahs and the starlings caused to my seedlings.  I even tried covering the seed trays with a clear plastic tray (recycled) cover.  One, or both of them, worked out how to knock the cover off...!
  
The starlings also decided that the coir baskets round my strawberry baskets would make ideal nesting material.  So they proceeded to "purchase" a mouthful as the whim took them.  I discovered that nest construction always took place before 9.00a.m. in the morning.  Obviously!  The rest of the day was devoted to filling their stomachs!
My poor strawberries produced only a couple of fruit in the early spring, and then stopped.  I could only imagine that they weren't getting enough water, for the starlings removed so much of the coir that water just ran out of the holes the birds had created.


My cure was to line the baskets with some weedguard - no, it doesn't look pretty, but I'm talking about growing strawberries here, not creating a work of art.  I have left the edges protruding over the top of the baskets in order to fill the basket with as much water as possible.  And an added beauty of the weedguard liner is that it allows the water to escape s-l-o-w-l-y.  Water it in the morning, and the next morning the water will still be dripping from the underneath.  And the soil is not drowning - guess the water is lying somewhere between the coir and the weed guard.
And I foiled the starlings from eating all the strawberries also.  I have covered the containers / baskets in netting.  Take that, you dratted birds!
And finally,  I have tried copper coils, I have tried empty loo roll holders.  I have tried egg shells and coffee grinds - the latter two blow away with the good ol' South Easter.  These wretches still manage to get through the barriers.  But, there is one thing that they just can't resist.


And RMan is going to go short here...


The snails cannot help themselves - they have to have their gulp of beer - daily.  Flat beer, bubbly beer - any beer.  As long as it's beer!
Snails in the process of being
exterminated by beer :)
I wonder what attracts them to beer.  Is it the yeast?  Would yeast, sugar and  water work?

Personally, I'll buy them beer whenever they run out.  Or perhaps I should make them some.  Anyone got a good recipe?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

How about these as recycled items!

I found a brilliant site which has a whole bunch of photo's with ideas for recycling - anything.


These are some of the things I like :)


Using pennies / cents for wall / floor decoration...


I have loads of 1c and 2c coins which are no longer in circulation.  Reckon I've finally found a use for them...! 


Using wooden pallets...

 ... old corks...
 ... jars as herb planters in a kitchen...
I worry about the drainage in this one though.
Reckon it would probably be better for holding
things (such as pens / pencils, or kitchen
utensils, such as wooden spoons, whisks, etc)

off the working surface of your kitchen
counter
 ... loofahs as light shades...
 ... more wooden pallets...
I think this looks stunning - a table with
loads of character :)  If you slide a piece

of glass on the supports below, you
have a storage shelf which is removable if,
and when, it gets dusty :)
A nice idea using wooden pallets to cover
a wall on the hotter side of your house

If you attached some chicken wire
to this and applied a cob mixture (clay, straw,

lime and water) layer, you'd have a pretty
nifty, warm and insulated extra room
or even a chicken coop :)
 ... plumbing pipes as a door handle on a large door...
 ... PET bottles and plastic tubs as self-watering mini greenhouses...
 ... bricks as a planter wall...
(not too sure how the sand would remain
inside the suspended bricks?)
... an old door as a wall hanging photo frame...
 ... bottles for bookshelves...
 ... an old rake as a glass holder...
 ... and a drum from a washing machine as a hanging light shade...
Guess this ceiling mounting must be quite substantial :)
Be warned - there are 186 pages of pics with roughly 8 photo's / page) on http://www.recyclart.org/ - give yourself some time :)


Lastly, I found the following three images on other sites (can't remember which ones though) - and love the concepts :)


Using guttering to grow lettuce, flowers, whatever...
These could be watered using porous pipe LOL
 ... and, for those who still have them in their homes, recycling energy guzzling light bulbs into a CFL powered side light...
But, I love this one most of all - in fact, I use the concept in our (town) house to "hide" important things from intruders.
A book in a bookshelf can be more than a book if you hollow out the inside and use that space to store something precious.
Not many intruders take the time to remove the books from a bookshelf - they are more interested in the "quick, grab and escape" items.  And, obviously, you wouldn't keep your most precious items there - those you would leave in a more secure hiding place :)  Or would you...?


Being held up by an individual armed with a knife or gun, who says: "Where is your safe - open it" - reckon you're going to do as he says.


But, is he going to ask you which book isn't a book...?


I love all those clever people out there who make me think laterally :)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Benvenuto

Continuing the introduction of new friends to old friends, please won't you join me in welcoming Caterina Serra from Cagliari in Italy.


Caterina has four blogs - the 1st deals with nature around her part of the world.  She has some stunning photo's of the Italian countryside on this blog.  The 2nd is about health, wellness and alternative medicine.  The 3rd has thought provoking images and information of our mysterious world and the last one handles the controversial topic of UFO's.


Caterina, I reply to all comments (even those placed on old postings), but given the size of this planet, and the different time zones, it may not be today by your time, but will certainly be by tomorrow.  And, if I am on the farm it may take a little longer...LOL

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Loo rolls vs egg shells

Okay - report back time.


This Spring I tried recycling empty loo roll tubes and egg shells into seed planters.


I managed to grow radish, beans, tomatoes and beetroot successfully in egg shells. 




 But the only thing that grew in the loo rolls was mealies (corn)
I wouldn't normally try and grow corn seedlings,
but, due to the fact that I wanted corn on the,
farm, and our visit was delayed, I decided to give
them a helping hand :)
Tomatoes, radish, beans and beetroot - nada!  I don't know what went wrong with the loo roll tubes - perhaps the glue they use contaminated the soil?  But I did find another use for the empty loo rolls - they make brilliant  cutworm deterrents / supports for tomato plants :)
I buried the loo rolls into the soil
slightly to give the loo roll and the
tomato plant a bit of support
So, hands down, my favourite is the egg shells - because they work!
And the egg boxes make brilliant holders too LOL
But, not only do they work, they will also add calcium to the soil when they are planted.  And they seem to be working well as a cutworm deterrent as well.

I left the egg shell whole until the seed popped itself "above ground" (this also helped to retain water for the seed).  Then I gently cracked the base of the shell to allow the roots room to grow and planted it into its permanent bed.

I am now collecting loads and loads of egg shells - and, if any should break, I'll just toss them in my compost container in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bless the Bees :)

There is a history of breast cancer in the maternal side of my family.  As a result I was unable to take HRT when I experienced the menopause.  (Yes, you can heap mountains of praise on RMan - he stuck with me through my menopause and all it's nasty effects, and that can't have been easy!)


I religiously take my calcium supplement to assist my bone density.  But - skin dryness - well, that's another thing altogether!


I permanently have hot feet - reckon I'm one of the few who has their feet sticking out of the duvet - summer and winter!  And I live in crocs.  In deference to the colder winter weather I'll shove on a pair of socks if my feet get cold.  But generally - it's crocs - or bare feet when it's sweltering.  As a result I have very dry feet.  Especially my heels.


I cannot abide seeing "dirty", dry, cracked, "uncared" for heels, and so I have tried every product on the market - such as Dr Scholls, etc.


But, I have found a product which works better than Dr Scholls - works better than anything else on the market in this country.  It is called Nature Fresh BEE BALM.
This is brilliant stuff!


As you can see from the ingredients below, it doesn't contain a single chemical!
Wearing crocs all day I slather it on after my morning shower, slip my feet into my crocs and waddle around as it gets absorbed.  I don't like putting ointment on my feet at night, and covering them with socks or plastic wrap - just don't like the foot confinement LOL  Plus, if I applied it at night I'd worry about the ointment build up on my sheets...  This way works well for me.


But, as you can see from the directions below, it isn't only used for cracked heels.  I also apply it to my elbows every now and then.
It has the most amazing smell with a hint of honey (I wonder why LOL)
I don't use it continuously - every couple of days for a day or two.  As soon as you apply it your feet feel wonderfully smooth, and somehow refreshed.
Can't just tell you - have to show you :)
I purchase mine locally from Pick 'n Pay.  I don't know if it's available overseas, but, if it is, and you're not allergic to bees or bee products, please, do yourselves a favour, and grab a jar or two :) 


However, this product is not for everyone.  This is the warning on Nature Fresh's website:




Side Effects and special precautions:
Few side effects, other than allergic reactions have been reported with propolis. Do not use propolis if you are allergic to bee products, balsam or pine resin.  Allergic reactions may cause swelling, redness, eczema or fever and it may irritate the skin, causing burning, peeling lips, irritation, swelling, psoriasis or eczema.  Dilute the propolis and test a small area first. When used in the mouth, propolis may irritate the mucous membranes.


(Note:  I am not benefiting in any way for naming / promoting any products I mention on my blog.  I mention these products I find, and give links [where possible], because I have personally tried them out, and found them to be worthy of sharing :) )

Monday, 5 December 2011

Memories of when I was young

I received an e-mail today which takes me straight back to my childhood.  I have to share it :)  It highlights what is shortchanged in my life.  I'm a grandmother - but I only have one apron.

Given my useless sewing skills, I reckon I'll have to make one of Jane's :)  I reckon she has the most eco-friendly method which uses no electricity whatsoever - just what I like :)

Now... all I have to find are alligator clips...!




The History of 'APRONS'


Note: it says Medium size 14  -16
They are the smallest 14 - 16 inch
waists I have ever seen LOL
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.  After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.


REMEMBER:
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.
Her granddaughters' set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love...



When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace.

Welcome #2

Continuing the introduction of new friends to old friends, please won't you join me in welcoming Rob from somewhere in the US of A.


It would appear that Rob has a craft shop and offers classes in recycling - and from the few things he has displayed thus far on his blog, he is pretty inventive.  Being a huge fan of recycling anything and everything, I can't wait to see more of the work performed in his crafting / recycling classes :)  In fact, Rob, regarding recycling new from old, I have a posting planned for later this week - I'm sure you'll be interested :)


Rob, I reply to all comments (even those placed on old postings), but given the size of this planet, and the different time zones, it may not be today by your time, but will certainly be by tomorrow.  And, if I am on the farm it may take a little longer...LOL

Welcome

Continuing the introduction of new friends to old friends, please won't you join me in welcoming Tom from Miami in Florida.
Tom is (to quote from his profile) "a former soldier; former bad guy; former hell-raiser; former rassler; fighter; trainer, coach; head cook/ chief bottle washer.  Now... not so much.  Getting older, getting slower, but always getting smarter..."


Tom, I reply to all comments (even those placed on old postings), but given the size of this planet, and the different time zones, it may not be today by your time, but will certainly be by tomorrow.  And, if I am on the farm it may take a little longer...LOL


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By the way, I have noticed that I have gained another follower.  But I don't know who you are.  Please consider yourself warmly welcomed.  And thank you for following my blog.