Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New beginnings?

A simple arrangement of the wild flowers which
abound - who needs a massive arrangement - I
subscribe to KISS (keep it simple, stupid)
The matchbox is to give you perspective on how
tiny the flowers are.
After a hectic festive season - entertaining and being entertained - RMan and I had a quiet New Year.  Just the two of us, parked in front of the TV watching the fireworks displays from around the world as those places reached midnight.  We didn't make it to our own.  And didn't crack our bubbly. So we had it with brunch today :)
A close-up of the tiny, tiny wild flowers
What is it about the New year that always inspires one to make changes - to one's life, to one's attitude or to one's modus operandi?

We have a whole bunch to look forward to this year.  Miranda will be having her cria in February / March.  Kris was misbehaving earlier today - trying to mount Miranda - so he has been placed in his own paddock.  It was only a matter of time before that had to happen anyway - they must be separated before she gives birth.
Kris certainly knows how to put on the
"poor me" face.  RMAn is feeling very bad
about plonking him in his own paddock.
No, he's not happy and is now firmly fixed to the area where he entered his paddock - humming and gazing longingly at Miranda.  But, we know he'll get over it in a day or two - or three...

At least they are easily able to see each other.
Miranda's "pond" - just a hollowed out area in the
ground lined with a double layer of the thickest
building plastic we  could find.  They have padded
hooves, so the plastic should be able to handle
the impact.
The alpaca's found a few of the days pretty warm - even with their shorn coats.  A sure signal that Miranda is hot is when she starts "pawing" the water bucket.  Some alpaca's love lying in water - to cool off the radiator area of their bodies - their stomachs.  Miranda is such an alpaca.  Kris - he's a typical male - who needs water...?
Kris - always the curious one, but that's as
far as it goes.  He's not going anywhere near
water, thank you very much.  "Rather, give
me a sand bath..."!
So, we set about giving her a small "pond" to cool off in.
  
So far, she hasn't used it, but at least it's there if she does decide it's worth trying.  Seems she prefers RMAn to let the contents of the rain water tank flow out of the hosepipe and she then careully positions herself down in the puddle that forms.

My veggies are coming on nicely, and I have made a decision regarding the preservation of them.  I do not possess a canning pot - and I wouldn't even know where to find one in this country.  Trying to buy one off Amazon is out of the question - it would seem that anything which is imported now - even a simple fly / mosquito net for our bed - carries such a heavy import duty that it is almost not worth the item by the time it is received.  I mean, seriously, I purchased the fly / mosquito net for $29.95 (roughly ZAR320.00)  In order for Customs to release the parcel I had to pay ZAR335.00 - so I ended up with a mosquito net for ZAR655.00????  Still cheaper than buying a bespoke one locally ( which will fit the bed in a similar fashion), but I feel that is still a lot of money.

Also, our growing season is so long that it really isn't necessary to "put away" food for any great length of time.  Beans, peas and spinach / swiss chard grow abundantly here in winter, and summer - well - summer's bounty lasts from the end of October to the end of April / May.

I also do not have an electric food dehydrator that can handle the hopefully abundent harvest which will be available in a month or two's time.  Nor do we have the power allowance to run an electric dehydrator for 2 - 3 days / batch continuously.

I have also had my electric chest freezer on for the past 15 - 21  days - but that is tantamount to running two fridges, and is proving heavy going for our solar power storage.  So, in the next week to ten days, I will be using whatever is left in the freezer before turning it off again.  So freezing produce is out of the question.

So, how am I going to preserve my vegetables?

Via a solar food dehydrator :)

RMan - that is (once again) where you are needed :)  I purchased the wood last year, but that got used for other "important" projects (like shelving for RMan's tools, and containers of nails, nuts and bolts etc).  So, once I am able to get more wood, then we are going to make a solar dehydrator.  Stay tuned for more news on that...

22 comments:

  1. Dani, I really enjoy reading about your life in South Africa. The differences in our life styles make me realize just how spoiled we in the States have become. I admire the way you find solutions like the solar dehydrator, and am looking forward to seeing how that works for you. I wish for you the happiest of New Years and that it will be a really good one for you and your family.

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    Replies
    1. Vicki - I'm waiting for the solar dehydrator too,,, LOLOL

      Thank you - I wish you a brilliant 2014 too :)

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  2. I have a solar dehydrator on my wish list, it keeps being moved down the list as with our limited summers and usual lack of sunshine it isn't seen as priority. I'd still love one though :)

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    Replies
    1. dreamer - It's been on my wish list for quite some time - since last summer / autumn in fact...

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  3. Dani, as electricity is quite expensive here in dear old RSA, I often just use the sun. For instance, when I have an abundance of tomatoes, I wash, cut them open, salt, pepper, maybe a bit of thyme, leave them in the oven for just a small while (or 1 hr for many trays) and then I just leave them outside in the sun (covered off course) until they are totally dried out. Then I put them in sterilized bottles with a bit of garlic, more thyme and some parsley and pour olive oil (or a good blend, which is cheaper and still good) over them and keep them closed for a week or so. Oil can be used on salads or quick fry-ups and off course, you will have the most fantastic dried tomatoes to use for whatever you want. I have also, in the past, dried apples in similar fashion for the most delicious dried apple rings. Would love to see that solar dehydrator.

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    Replies
    1. Marlene - Never mind Escoms prices, we have to consider the power we have produced with our panels.

      Yeah - I've thought about that, but the flies, and dust, here are something else. So, I'd prefer a closed dyer. Once you've put your tomatoes in oil, don't they have to be refrigerated...?

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  4. You can't buy a canner in South Africa? But even if you had one, you'd need jar,s lids, etc. They sell all that in our Walmart. Can you have one as a gift or would they still charge you duties? I sent a friend in Israel some peanuts, we like boiled peanuts here and she had never had any. So I bought a big can. But the Israelis wouldn't let it into the country at first because they ban importing "raw" peanuts, but these were boiled. It was such a hassle for my friend I expect she wished I hadn't done it.

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    Replies
    1. Harry - I have the jars and lids, and have done water bath preserving, But pressure canning is what I've never been able to do.

      The company that sent me the mosquito / fly net labelled it as "gift", but even that didn't help. Customs demanded an invoice... :(

      Sounds like the RSA customs and Israels' are in cahoots?!

      Delete
    2. I'll send you a pressure cooker from here if you want. The worst that can happen is they throw it away. Do you have a 110 power source, or can you step down 220 if that is what you use there? It can be a present from us to you.

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    3. Aww Harry, bless you for the thought - that is so very nice of you. :)

      But I couldn't let you spend that much.

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    4. Well I will ask at the post office and see what it would cost to send one. It might not be so bad. Also the power doesn't matter, I got confused and was thinking about a crock pot but a pressure cooker doesn't use electricity.

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    5. Harry - seriously, you have touched me very much with your kindness and generosity. But I would feel terrible if you spent $80+ on a pressure canner.

      There are pressure cookers available here (as opposed to pressure CANNERS) - I'm going to see if I can adapt one to suit.

      Bless you.

      Delete
  5. Hi Dani, just want to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year from both Rae and I and we hope that you have a marvelously productive and happy year ahead of you! Maybe this will be the year that we finally get to meet each other :)

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    1. Rae & Dino - RMan and I wish the same to both of you, too. I agree - if you can finally find a buyer for your wonderful farm then perhaps we will finally meet... ;)

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  6. what do you plan to sundry? Fruit, tomatoes? If I buy sundried tomatoes, they are sold dry, not in oil. Would use a LOT of oil.
    Wish you a good year ahead.

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    1. Diana - Yeah, definitely tomatoes for one LOL But, the sundried one's that I have bought in the past have been refrigerated... I don't have the fridge space...

      Fruit - oh yeah!!

      Thank - I wish the same to you too. Perhaps this is the year you will be able to transition from EEPB to EEFB?

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  7. My aunt and uncle live in the south (Arkansas) and many many years ago they dried all their fruit (peaches, berries, even tomatoes, etc.) by halving them and set them on their metal roofs (covered with net). Pretty straightforward. There's lots to be said about lots of sun and frequent breezes. Heck, I've dried stuff on old screen doors (well washed) a couple of years ago and they turned out fine. Good luck with your dehydrator. Happy New Year. :-D

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    1. Kris - Thank you - and all the best to you too. I hope this year is a 1000% improvement, health-wise especially, for you.

      Uhmm - I have a plan up my sleeve, so a proper solar dehydrator is a must ;)

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  8. Hi dani, the flowers are so pretty! We often have hodgepodge arrangements of flowers, thanks to two little girls who just love picking them, and they are often prettier than those I carefully select and arrange. I'm looking forward to watching your solar dryer efforts!

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    1. Linda - Oh, how precious :)

      Yeah, will let you know...

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  9. It is very nice to read your experiences in Africa. We are living in Tanzania for about 6 months now and I still cannot get used to many things and adjusting proves difficult. We rent a house on a sharing compound with paving so we settle to grow inside plastic bottles -great recycling value! I will look forward that solar dehydrator thingy would love to preserve tomatoes and such in a way that wouldn't require a fridge -which we don't have. For your freezer problems how about investing a good A++ fridge with on-frost freezer section. In Turkey lots of people use that instead of standalone freezers. Unless you want to keep an abundance of food to feed an army it should be sufficient for a family of 3-6.

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    1. Nihal - Welcome and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Well done - I've also grown veggies inside plastic bottles - they work well as mini greenhouses :)

      A+++ fridge/freezers are available hete, butbthey are wickedly expensive. The fridge and freezer I have use +/ - 180 watts each, but we just don't have that extra 180 watts to spare...

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