"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

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Penalties

There are plenty of those in life, aren't there.

And they crop up in the most unexpected way too.

Just as we are adjusting to having the cutest, brightest little (well, actually - not so little anymore) puppy in our lives, Stellar has presented us with a whole set of restrictions which we have had to put in place.

Sadly, wielding a rolled up newspaper and emitting a sharp "No!" is taking it's time to have it's desired effect, and accompanying positive adjustment in her behaviour.

Pushing the boundaries is what's it all about...

For instance - the couch - now that is quite the bet place for a puppy to stretch out and catch her beauty sleep.
What a sight - climber netting covering the couches
Not on my watch, it isn't. 

I prefer dog hairless couches when I settle down to relax of an evening.  So, that involved spending just a little bit of money - on a preventative measure.  We opted for a garden rigid-ish climber netting that rolls up when not required, but is uncomfortable enough not to allow for canine snoozes.  As soon as she gets the message, the garden netting will assume it's intended purpose in my garden - perhaps even in time for the peas to wind their way up...?

Then, the relationship between Stellar and Squeak is - to put it politely, not good.  Squeak therefore prefers to spend her days in our bedroom, with her access to outside restricted to night times (through the bedroom window) whilst Stellar is getting her beauty  sleep.  And all Stellar wants to do is play... (sigh)
The make-shift barrier to prevent broken puppy legs
And, staircases - being wooden, and pretty slippery for dogs to climb, means that in order to prevent broken legs, we have had to come up with a hurriedly thrown together gate made out of chicken fencing and our good old Black Wattle poles...

When Stellar is not requiring attention / stimulation (we must get another puppy as a companion I reckon) we can breath a sigh of relief. 
A bolster made our of RMan's old jeans
Stellar has decided that the recycled doggy bed we made her - and blanket and a pair of RMan's old jeans which had their leg "opening's" sewn shut after being filled with wadding - is perfect for snuggling into at night, and during the day...
Her favourite 40 winks spot - under
 my writing desk - and under my feet...
...whilst she can still fit - when she needs 40 winks - climbing into the space below my writing desk is her preferred spot.  Which means I have to sit at the writing desk with my legs crossed otherwise I will constantly be kicking her.

The joys of owing a puppy.

You get the picture?  ðŸ˜‚

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Water wise boundary decor

I started this blog posting back in July last year when we first started on this project...

RMan and a neighbour, E, used to do the installation and maintenance of the potable water system, and the reading of each individuals water meters in our smallholding communnity.  Even though there are 150-odd smallholdings in our area, we are not "formally" recognised by the local authorities as a "settlement" and are thus not entitled to "services".

Whilst travelling to do the water meter readings RMan spotted these plants growing at the entrance to once of the smallholdings.
I'm sorry I didn't get a pic of them in flower - they looked seriously impressive!
However, RMan did pick up some of the fallen flower buds / seed carriers.
No exactly sure how to propagate agaves,
 I just plonked the base of the "flower" into
 some potting soil and hoped for the best...

Not finding any info online on how to propagate agaves, I just plonked the bottoms into a pot of soil in effort to try and grow them, so that, if I am successful, we could then place them, together with some aloe plants, along the front (dirt road) fence of our property.  They may not look like much sans flowers, but they are certainly water-wise, and will help to distinguish our property from the others nearby.
Aloes with red flowers...
Isn't it funny how your tastes change.  Before we had our smallholding I used to think that these types of plants, and aloes, were damned ugly.  Now I understand why they are grown - for their hardiness, drought resistance, and striking feature qualities.
... and aloes with yellow flowers
Fast forward from July to March 2017 and this is actually what was planted along our boundary this week:


The successfully rooted Agave plants
http://www.southafrica.net/blog/en/posts/entry/a-spiky-kind-of-beautiful

Kei apple trees
https://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/dovycaf.htm
Spekboom - propagated from our existing plants
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulacaria_afra
Also, I understand that spekboom is excellent at
 carbon fixing - so, to help reduce our carbon footprint,
  I need to grow as many as I can, I reckon.

Home propagated lavender

NumNum bushes
https://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/carisbispin.htm

Geraniums propagated from our existing plants

The boundary fence March 2017 - it looks like nothing at this
 point in time, but I have high hopes of a stunning boundary in
 years to come.
 We have planted groupings of 14 plants / section so it
 should make quite a feature - once they are all grown up... 
We have planted groupings of 14 identical plants per section, so in years to come it should, hopefully, look stunning! 😉

Three of the plants are edible (Kei apple, spekboom and numnum) and all are waterwise 😃  Which is just as well as our drought continues and we have had only 5.5mm ( .2 of an inch) of rain since the 12th February...😟

Although I have never served spekboom in a salad or soup for our personal consumption - yet - apparently, alpacas can also eat it.  Due to their carbon fixing properties I'd love to plant up a whole field of them...  (Don't tell RMan, but I think I'm going to surreptitiously get that going.)

You can read more about the history of South African agaves here.  It's a pity that neither RMan nor I drink tequila... ;)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Sorting out my excess harvests

I had some fun this past week.

Even though our drought continues, due to the mountains of mulch we scattered everywhere, plus the neighbouring shadecloth veggie patch offers plenty of protection against the drying southerly winds, my 2017 piquanté pepper harvest is beginning to roll in.

The only problem is I still have preserved peppers in my cupboard from last year.  So, what to do with them all?

Why, dehydrate them, that's what 😃
Washed, de-stalked and halved - let the dehydrating commence
So, after the stalks were removed and they were given a quick rinse, they were cut in half and were laid on the inner drying shelf in the Foothills DryAway.
Chopped piquanté peppers - to speed up the dehydrating process
As piquanté peppers, like green peppers, contain a lot of water, dehydrating them was taking too long.

So, plan B.

I roughly chopped them and spread that on trays in the Foothills DryAway.
The dehydrated piquanté peppers were ground down to a
 powder in my food processor
When they were dry (later that day) I placed them once again in the food processor and blitzed away until I had piquanté pepper powder.  I purposely left the seeds in - for that little extra "bite" on the tastebuds.
Dehydrated and bottled - these piquanté
 peppers will last for ages 😂
I can taste the piquanté pepper sprinkled roast chicken that I am going to make in the Rosie this winter already... 😂







For info on how you can obtain your own Foothills DryAway solar / wind food dehydrator please click the link.