"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Strawberry glut

My strawberry plants are certainly loving the dose of alpaca poo I gave them at the end of last winter.  They are all producing madly - almost too many to eat or process quickly enough.

Naturally, first on the list was dessert of fresh, ripe juicy strawberries - with cream or ice cream.  Yum :)
Fresh strawberries and ice cream
Then, naturally, I have made 12 jars of strawbery jam, and a few of bottles of strawberry cordial.

But, there are just so many jars of strawberry jam that we can consume in a year and, for the cordials, my fridge space is limited.  Why aren't there recipes for strawberry cordial which do not need refrigerating?  How did they do it in days of yore?

And, unfortunately, our weather is not ideal for solar dehydrating at the moment - so that is not one of the options open to me.

So, I have had to scour the net to find options of preserving them in different ways.
From left to right:
Strawberry infused vodka and the first batch of
strawberry jam
And I came across strawberry infused vodka ;)
The strawberries 
will be removed and the vodka strained of "hairs"
prior to being decanted into a more traditional
vodka bottle :)
So, that's exactly what I made this week - and will probably still make next week LOL

We don't drink a lot of hard tack - more beers for RMan, and white whine for me - but we do have neighbours who will appreciate being gifted with a bottle - for birthdays and Christmas.

One less "gift" to strike of the list :)

Bearing in mind that I do not have an electrical dehydrator, nor the "spare" power to run one overnight, does anyone have recipes for preserving strawberries which can remain at room temperature and which do not involve making jam, or refrigerating cordials / infused vodka or freezing?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Coo 2


Firstly, I've been meaning to tell DFW and Leigh for some time.  Whenever you both leave a comment, your comment goes to the spam folder of my gmail account.  I have tried adding your e-mail addresses to my contacts, but it makes no difference.  So, if I seem to take a while to reply to your comments, please understand that I don't always know they are there...  ( I do find them, but not always immediately).

Do you remember I posted about a tame Cape Turtle Dove that arrived at my daughters' house in Swellendam and how she asked us to take it back to the farm with us as her dogs, and cat, prevented her from keeping it with them.

I tried to find it's owners.  I really, really tried.  Even my daughter placed a notice on the Swellendam facebook page.  But nobody came forward.

So, it looks like we are now the caretakers of a Cape Turtle Dove.  I've named it a non-gender specific "Coo" (how does one tell the sex of a dove??)

I am not 100% happy about that - I saw Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Bird's", back when I was a wee slip of a girl, and the memory has never totally left me  (actually I am totally freaked by a bird flying anywhere near my head...)

Anyway, Coo has some habits.  I never thought that birds could have habits. Come to that, apart from domesticated animals, I've never thought that any "wild" animal would / could have habits.
Every evening, anytime after 5.00p.m. Coo
arrives on the front patio table
"What kind of habits?" I hear you think...

Every evening Coo arrives on our front porch.  He / she toddles around the patio table, mock flies into the lounge window (to get our attention), then, if we don't open up the door for it to enter, it patiently waits for Scallywag to open the fly screen when he goes outside to relieve himself so that it can use the opportunity to walk into the lounge.  And I mean walk literally.  It does not fly into the room.
If Coo can't see us through the lounge window
he sits on the back yard fence and waits for
someone to open the kitchen door
One inside, it talks a toddles round the room, lands on the couch and also on the dining room table.

I don't do eating my diner with a bird walking passed (with the occasional peck here and there) my glass of chilled white and plate of food.  So, I had to lay down some Coo rules.

No Coo inside until we're finished eating and are settled in front of the TV and my head is safely ensconced beneath the scatter cushion for the duration of it's "visit".
The closest head is where it prefers to
perch - it's not fussy - RMan's, Mikes -
and he's even tried mine...!!!!
Why would I be concerned about my head?

Well, it loves sitting on top of heads - RMan's, grandson Mikes (when he's visiting) and has even tried to land on mine.  You had to hear the screech that resulted in - I completely lost it LOL
Perfectly happy, isn't it
So, the scatter cushion remains on top of my head until Coo settles down on his "blanket" - a scrap of fabric RMan lays on the back of the couch to catch the bird poo it deposits whilst it watches TV with us.
Happily settled on it's blanket, with RMan
close by.  It spends the evening "talking"
to him - a sort of deep throated gurgling
coo noise - probably trying to tell RMan to
change the channel...
But, it doesn't only toddle on the floor, along the back of the couch or round the dining table.  Even now and then it takes flight - flying madly round the room - crashing into the ceiling, walls, etc.  That completely freaks me out!!!

RMan is besotted with it.  He can't wait for it to arrive on the patio each evening, and, when he first goes outside in the morning to feed the alpaca's, he checks that it is still around and has survived the local barn owl visit furing the night.  And gets totally concerned if he doesn't spot it during the day - fearing that a bird of prey might have snatched it whilst he wasn't watching.

Before we go to bed, RMan slowly moves his hand towards it's feet, it hops on, and is then taken outside to bed by RMan...
Straw filled box or old towel for a bed,
with the b
ird feeder out of the wind in the
corner of the quaddie carport.
 ... to where I have tried to make it a comfy spot - complete with smorgasbord.
The lid beneath the bird feeder prevents
99.9% of the seed from landing on the floor
and thereby feeding the local fieldmice.
As you can see, the quaddies are taking
some strain - but I guess it will wash off
But - both failed.

The bird feeder is frequented more by other wild birds (how on earth do they find it beneath the quaddie roof?), who scatter the seed everywhere - especially on the ground, much to the delight of a field mouse or two, until I got clever and placed a "scatter tray" beneath the feeder.
It doesn't like the straw filled box,
nor the old towel.  Rather it perches
on the very rim of the box for the
night
Even the bed of straw I placed in a box, or an old torn beach towel.  Nope, it uses neither, preferring to spend the evening perched on the thin rim of the box. Weird, because in the lounge it snuggles down off its claws.

Ah well, at least it's outside for the night LOL

There have been a couple of other wild turtle doves which have been hovering in it's vicinity, and I firmly hope that it will find a mate, and loose some (if not most) of it's human habits.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Granny's home remedies

I received this by e-mail today.  Can't help but share the giggle :)




"For better digestion I drink beer, in the case of appetite loss I drink white wine, in the case of low blood pressure I drink red wine, in the case of high blood preesure I drink scotch, and when I have a cold I drink schnapps."

"When do you drink water?"

"I've never been that sick!"


No wonder I'm always hungry - it's all the fault of the glass or two of white wine I have each evening with RMan... (giggle)

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Shearing time

It that time of year to shear the alpaca's again and this year there are three of them :)

This will be Minky's first experience of being secured by the legs whilst lying prone on the floor, and I have a feeling that he is temporarily going to forget that RMan is his best buddy.

The other day I caught him pruning one of the two black wattles which provide shade in their paddock.

It started out quite innocently with a casual nibble here, and a nibble there... 
Minky and Miranda have pruned this black wattle
over the past few months
 ... and then he got more involved...
Now the leaves are starting to just
be out of Minky's reach
Until he got to the point that he just can't help himself.  He had to get whatever leaves he could reach...
Ha!!  Clever boy.  I didn't know that
alpaca's could balance on two feet :)
I guess it's a case of whatever works
to enable an alpaca to eat leaves
that are growing above head height...
There's no problem with him eating the leaves / stripping the lower branches. At least the upper branches will ensure that they still have some shade in the paddock.

Minky is now 7½ months old, and his days with his mum are slowly becoming limited.  Much to RMan's dismay, it is getting close to the time that he moves into the male paddock.  Once he's there RMan won't be able to see him from the front porch - or from our bedroom window.

He is a typical scruffy, sand playing, mud rolling mischievous little boy.

The owners at Helderstroom Alpaca's have very kindly offered to travel to us in order to shear our alpacas.  That means that thankfully, we will not have to try and source a horsebox this year - three inside would definitely be a crowd!! (Am I the only one who finds it strange that it's "a horsebox", not "an horsebox" LOL - I mean it's not a hotel, but an hotel).
A good brush and a summer haircut will do him
the world of good :)
Getting this coat sorted out before Wednesday when the shearer from Helderstroom Alpaca's arrives is going to be one heck of a chore for Minky's best buddy... ;)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Did you know...


... - some of them (e.g. potato vs banana for potassium content) I didn't :)












Also, I'd like to welcome the following new readers:

Geoff Green - I can't see a blog for Geoff - if I'm mistaken Geoff won't you please let me know and I'll update this
Mariska Spoormaker - again, I can't see a blog for Mariska - if I'm mistaken Mariska won't you please let me know and I'll update this
Gail Harris - again, I can't see a blog for Gail - if I'm mistaken Gail won't you please let me know and I'll update this
Sandra - again, I can't see a blog for Sandra - if I'm mistaken Sandra won't you please let me know and I'll update this

Thanks for hitting the followers button - I'm honoured :)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Prepared


I take note of synchronicity.  And I especially take note of synchronicity when it involves health.  And / or safety.

Being 1/2 an hour out of town, and living in an area where there is limited emergency treatment available, I believe in being prepared - for any medical emergency.  That means I have most necessary items on hand - for any unforeseen accidents around the home, or sudden ailments such as vomiting, diarrhoea, eye infections, etc.  I did a CPR course many, many years ago when our children were small and we installed a pool in our garden, and that kind of knowledge you don't forget easily.

I think I wanted to be a nurse when I was a teenager, but nothing came of that. But, unlike RMan, I am not queasy at the sight of blood (how can any mother be LOL?)  So, medical preparedness has always been left up to me.

Back to synchronicity...

My first indication was when I read 1st Man's posting on the 15 September 2014.

I replied to 1st Man's post with the following comment:

"Cool box :)

I'm embarrassed to confess I have an entire medicine cupboard in our bathroom. Medicines, tablets, ointments, suntan lotions, antiseptic - you name, it's in my cupboard.

To hide it, I've used a decorative cupboard. You wouldn't know what it contains unless you snoop and open the drawer / doors. Being so far out of town having a comprehensive medical supply is important."
The health and safety questionnaire my grandson composed
The second synchronistic moment was when my 11-year-old grandson, Mike, sent RMan and I an e-mail on the 21st September (exactly a week later) asking us to complete a questionnaire he had devised for a school project.

Both were to do with health and safety in the home.

Health.

And safety.

I was suddenly brought up short when I realised that I wasn't being terribly careful - especially as far as my granddaughter, HJG, is concerned.  Being 10 months old, she started crawling a couple of months ago, and, from the looks of her, walking is not far off.
The drawer, although not easy to pull
open, was full of potentially toxic tablets
and medicines.  As we are GP has given
me a broad spectrum antibiotic script
- for emergency situations only
My unlocked (and unlockable) bathroom cupboard full of medicines was not secure enough!  And the drawer full of tablets was an accident waiting to happen.

My only excuse is that I haven't been around small children for years, and I got comfortable.  But, that is no excuse!
The cupboard door are far easier to open
and inside there were filing shelves
filled with ointments, tablets,
lotions, etc.
So a radical re-think / re-organisation was in order.

Last weekend I spent Sunday doing just that.
High enough that little fingers can't access, and,
being in our linen cupboard, this is actually
a far easier option for us adults to access too :)
No more bending down to find what we are
looking for.  Different medical supplies are
in their respective trays.
I moved all the medicine items from the bathroom drawer and cupboard to a shelf I cleared out in my linen cupboard which is in our bedroom.  The shelf is more than a metre above floor level, so I'm not concerned that she will be able to access that anytime soon.
A safer bathroom cupboard
What I now have is a bathroom cupboard filled with hot water bottles, a back massage machine and infra-red light (both sealed in their boxes), aqueous hand lotion, and a left over bean bag which we cannot heat in our microwave as we don't have one anymore LOL

And the drawer.

That now houses suntan lotions, tubes of cal-c-vita (RMan believes in vitamin supplements - I leave that to what I eat ;) ), hand towels, baby oil and a pack of cotton wool.
Our quick-grab medical "toolbox"
But, I also have a quick-grab medical "toolbox".  It is kept right next to the linen cupboard by our bedroom door.  Easy to grab and move around with, it is invaluable - especially if it is needed outside in a rush :)

The large "toolbox" contains:
Anything and (almost) everything needed to
close / protect a wound
Various sized crepe bandages, burn dressings (antiseptic and paraffin), swabs, dressing tape, various sized elastic adhesive bandages, sterile gloves, micropore dressing tape, blister kit, Steri-Strip skin closures and a sling (which can double up into a tourniquet).
A good selection of anti-inflammatory patches
and burn dressings -
historically, RMan has not always been
that careful when it comes to fire, etc ;)
The inlay tray contains: antiseptic and antibiotic ointments, sterile wipes, scissors, quick grab sterile gloves, tweezers, tongue depressor (a.k.a. boiled ice lolly stick) antiseptic cleansing spray and lotion, scissors, sterile needles, quick grab Steri-Strip skin closures and a caustic pencil.  And a infection control mouth to mouth device.
Quick grab items to dress a wound
When I was browsing a pharmacy a few years back I spotted this mouth-to-mouth / CPR device which will assist in preventing the spread of infection - if, and when, I ever need to give a stranger mouth-to-mouth.
Easy to use, this mouth-to-mouth gadget will
help prevent the spread of infection via mouth
Finally, for those little accidents, which require a bit of a love and a cuddle, and a modicum of first aid, there is this little box.
Granny's quick-fix, "love you" box of plasters
for those little mishaps :)
It contains sticky plasters, Germolene antiseptic cream and a roll of micropore - just in case the plaster doesn't stick properly.

Thanks 1st Man and Mike.  I now have a safe home again :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Curly leaf

I have googled curly leaf, lumpy leaf, and a couple of other phrases to try and find out what is afflicting my plum trees, but cannot reach any conclusion.

This is what some of the leaves look like:
And a close up:
Curly leaves, leaves with bumps - what is wrong
with our plum trees?
If you do know what it is, and how I treat it (in an eco-friendly way) I would be very grateful.

In the meantime I have been painstakingly snipping of each of the odd-looking leaves and tossing them in the trash.  I'm just concerned that when the tree gets larger I won' be able to reach the affected leaves, so woul like to try and sort it out now.

It doesn't seem to be affecting the fruit - the branches are happily full and growing well.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sprinkles and the importance of catching them

Last week the weather site I use which is based in Norway predicted that a lot of welcome rain was headed our way.
91.2 mm of rain was predicted

The palpable excitement from RMan and I was almost hysterical.  The first thing we did was to move the (small) balance of the rainwater from the water tanks near the house up to the storage tanks at the top of the property, so that it could be gravity fed wherever it was needed in future.

I also used the opportunity to plant some chitting potatoes into alpaca poo - it is an amazing nutrient rich growing medium, and whatever I have planted in the poo has produced wonderfully.

I duly went to the poo pile to collect some poo - filled up the bucket I was using (RMan was busy with our only wheelbarrow) and started trotting back to where I had the potato pots.  I didn't see the hole.
Alpaca poo pile in the background, with tree hole
midway between the alpaca poo and the camera
Yup - I fell in the hole.  The pot of alpaca poo I was carrying went flying, and I landed heavily on my right hand side, cracking or breaking a rib.  Googling whether it was worth schlepping to the doctor 30kms away, I found out that there is nothing they can do about that kind of injury - unless  the rib is broken and has pierced a lung.  Thankfully, I avoided that severe an injury, but I have not been a happy puppy - cracked or broken, it hurts - and laughing, hiccoughing, coughing or sneezing - even yawning - anything that causes the ribs to expand - those actions all hurt enough to cause the action to be halted half way.  Incomplete yawns (a very dissatisfying feeling), sneezes that get stuck in your nose, etc... ;)

I have been advised not to make any strenuous movements, so RMan is making beds, hanging up washing on the washline, etc.  Bless him.

So, our stock of medicines on hand (and, specifically here, I'm talking about anti-inflammatories) once again came to the rescue.  The wonders of analgesics (picture a dopey grin now LOL)

Add to that the fact that we have been rushing through internet bandwidth this past month - and I've been distracted of late.  It turns out that RMan's old, and new iPhones (given with the new contract he took out at the end of June this year when his old one expired), have been trying to upate the software - and with our erratic internet connection that meant that if it (they) failed 99.9% of the way through, it just started all over again from the bloody beginning.  The update is 765Mb in size. You do the maths LOL  With Wayne's assistance I finally discovered that it was the phones that were using the bandwidth and once their updates were switched off (uhmmmmmm - that only happened only on Monday 29th with the newest phone), sanity prevailed once again. We only have a 5Gb / month package, and I had to purchase an extra 4 Gb to see us through the month.  Grrrrr!!!! (guess what - I'm not mad about iPhones).

Anyway, back to the expected rainfall. 
The smaller white tank was sited where the grey
shape is.  Having purchased more downpipe
it now reached to the new position.
When the builders were finished, because we didn't have enough downpipe, we had dumped the small white tank just below the one downpipe next to the garage.  But, the tank was leaning to one side and digging into the ground.  So we emptied it out and moved it to a more secure spot next to the big rainwater tank.

We were ready...
32mm of very welcome rain gratefully
received

We didn't exactly get 91.2mm - more 32.0 mm - but, 32mm is better than nothing :)
That down pipe is fed by this one visible side of our
garage roof.  The length of our garage is 9mtrs X
+/- 4 mtrs wide.
The white tank in the photo was emptied
and cleaned out by moi when we moved it.  So we
know that every drop of water that is now in that
tank came from the 32mm of rain which fell over
the (extended) weekend.
Our garage roof area is 9 X 4 mtrs (36mtr2).  36mtrs2 of roof collected 750 ltrs of rain water in one tank. 
If you click on the pic you'll see that the water
level is sitting at just over 750lts/ 200 gal.
Considering that that amount of water was collected from one of our smaller roof areas,  and given that we have 72mtr2 of garage roof and 156mtrs2 of house roof surface area, we have been able to calculate that we scored roughly 4500 - 5000ltrs in total in all our tanks from that 32mm of rain.

If we did not have those tanks, we would have had to use that 4500lts-odd from our municipal water supply in the future.

The 32mm of rain was not enough to markedly make any difference to our dam water level.

Our top three tanks are more or less full, our 3 X 5000lt tanks next to the house are half full, so using municipal water will not be necessary at the moment :)

How much roof space do you have?  Do you have rainwater collecting tanks?