"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, 14 November 2021

Repurposing glass jars

I confess - I can be OCD.

For instance, there are very few seeds which pass through my kitchen without me having to "grow them on" - that has resulted in approx. 70 lemon trees in our lemon orchard, numerous apples trees, and most of my summer veg are all grown from something that originally passed through my kitchen and whose seeds were saved from last summer for re-using this summer.

I have another (annoying" habit to confess. I cannot chuck out a glass bottle or glass jar. Any size, small, large, fat or thin. I do drive myself crazy...


My kitchen windowsill is my plant ICU nursery. And that nursery prevented me from opening the window. I had to move all the sprouting veg before I could open the fly screen in order to open the window.

So, this morning I sat down and Googled. And found just what I needed to get that ICU nursery more conveniently situated without having to move it out of my kitchen.

The first pic is of my cluttered window ledge - you can see there is no way to open the fly screen without having to move the plants that are growing there.

 The second pic is of the hanging plants - and an empty window ledge. 

And the third pic is of the plain "strung up" jar.  

I think these will make excellent Christmas gifts too - add a bead or two, or some ribbon, or whatever takes your fancy in order to "tart it up" a bit.

The tutorial to make these jar hangers can be found here: 

Friday, 15 October 2021

Easy peeling fresh hard boiled chicken eggs

Has anyone else fund that trying to peel a freshly laid chicken egg which you have hard boiled results in the shell sticking to the egg white and ripping the egg white off as you try to peel it. I saw this hint somewhere and have just tried it - and as you can see, it works 😊
The hint?

Steam the egg instead of boiling it.

I placed a sieve which was suspended just touching boiling water in a pot. Place the egg in the sieve, and then put the (pot) lid in the sieve on top of the egg. Steam for 10 - 12 minutes. Plonk the now cooked egg in cold water for 3 minutes and then peel. The shell comes off beautifully.

The added benefit - you could do this whilst you're using the pot for something else - for example potatoes for a potato salad - thereby saving on electricity / gas consumption because you don't have to switch on the stove for a second time.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Learning something new at my age

I read somewhere recently that one can clear the glass of a wood burning stove with wood ash from the fire.  So naturally, after one of our winter fires left the glass all "smoked" up recently, I had to try it.
Dirty, smoked filled glass

I took a small wad of loo paper (I don't buy or use paper towel in my home) dampened it and dipped it gently in the cold ash of the fire and then carefully wiped the glass.
Just a dab of wood ash on some tissue (loo) paper

Wow - it works!! πŸ˜€  It works beautifully.

Previously, as it doesn't easily "rub" off, I had taken a blade to the gunk in order to carefully remove it without scratching the glass.  But this is now a breeze.

Just be careful to use the fine wood ash - not the tiny (or  bigger) chunks of charcoal which may remain in your ash tray.
Leave the "chunks" of wood ash behind and just take a bit of the finer ash

If only I'd know this since 2012 when we first had the Rosie installed and keeping us warm during winter...
The glass in front of the fire pit
is clean again.  Nothing nicer than
seeing the flames of the fire that
 is keeping you warm - it
somehow adds to the warming effect.

P.S.  The "ashed" bit of loo paper went straight onto my compost heap.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Thank you

This is just to reach out to all of those who have contacted me since my last post - whether through comments on previous blog posts, or through personal e-mails.

Firstly, thank you to you all - too many names to mention, but you know who you are.  I was so very touched that you took the time and trouble to contact me.  Bless you - you will never know what strength you sent my way - even through the tears.

It has not been an easy time since 17 August 2019 - and has been one of great loss, angst, misery, guilt, loneliness and adjustment.  I think I am finally coming out the other side with some semblance of sanity - I hope I am.  I still have too many "bad days" but at least there are longer periods of better days in between.

Covid-19 also hasn't helped anyone I guess - with life taking on an even more abnormal and surreal slant - if that is possible?  I hope you have all managed to weather the various lockdowns, and have successfully managed the virus if you were unfortunate enough to catch it.

Our son, RSon, or Richard as he is called, decided to relocated himself and his business to our smallholding so that I could continue to live here.  That would not be possible if I was on my own, so I am very grateful for that.  The thought of having to leave Ronnie's and my dream, and move back to a town and trying to live squashed between neigbouring houses (or even in a block of flats / apartments) seriously didn't appeal - especially after having spent 3 months in Cape Town with Ronnie when he was ill so that he could have instant and easy access to treatment.  But, I fear smallholding life is very isolated for a relative young'un and his chances of meeting with, and interacting with people of his age is now limited to clients that he may visit / work for.  That worries me.  But, he, for now, seems happy enough.

My enthusiasm for being self-sufficient and living an eco-friendlier life was completely drowned out by my loss, but I hope to get stuck into the garden and preserving, recycling and repurposing things once again this coming summer.  I am finally trying to keep busy once again - albeit in a much more muted fashion.

Without trying to lecture anyone, please can I ask you - go to your partners - hug them, tell them they are loved and show them your love in each and every small way you can.  Most of all, give and get hugs.  You have no idea how much strength, energy and warmth a hug gives until they are no more.

I will try and write a post when the urge is strong enough and I have something I think you would enjoy my sharing with you.  In the meantime, thank you all again.

Stay safe everyone.


Sunday, 18 August 2019

Ronald Peter Nieckau

Ronald Peter Nieckau

18/07/1953 -  17/08/2019

Rest in peace, my very, very dear Ronnie.  

The horrific, last cruel four and a half months should not have to be endured by anyone - least of all you - the bravest, gentlest and kindest person I know.

Your bravery, compassion for others, sense of absolute fairness, enjoyment of life, humour and oh, so gentle spirit lives on in our memories.  Your achievements and fulfillment of dreams are recorded on this blog. 

Forever now I am a rudderless ship - adrift at sea.  The gaping hole left by your loss is unbearable, and my only consolation is that the cruel, short illness - so very, very bravely born - will not, and cannot, harm you anymore.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Rest in peace, my Ronnie Bunt.  I love you.  Always.

Wiedersehen - until we meet again…

Monday, 29 January 2018


I will be taking a leave of absense from this blog.  I have started another blog to help the residents of Cape Town who are about to hit Day Zero.  

Day Zero is when the 5 dams which supply Cape Town hit a collective total of 13.5%.

It is the day when level 7 water restrictions take effect and when everyone within the Cape Town metropole is limited to 25 ltrs (+/- 6 gallons) of water / person / day.  That 25 lts must include what they need for drinking (hydration), food prep, hygiene, cleaning, laundry, pets, etc and also covers what they use at the gym school and workplace...

It is no mean feat.

Day Zero is currently expected to hit on 12 April 2018.  Should weather conditions remain hot and windy, evapouration will bring that date forward.

All the hints and tips I'm sharing on this new blog are from the members of the Water Shedding Western Cape facebook page.

Having them all in one place, makes them easier to access - and removes the negative, complaining posts that tend to abound in public forums / facebook groups.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention!!  I'm blown away with the amazingly innovative ways that people have come up with to reduce their water usage.

You're welcome to join in - you never know, one day you too may need some assistance, or idea's on how to live with 25 ltrs / person / day...


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Let there be light

We have tried various solar power lights for our front entrance steps and finally I have found something that actually works.
The builders left us a problem - an
 uneven top step designed to confuse
 anyone decending the stairs in the
The tread of first step isn't equal to the rest, and this sometime throws off your "mindset" as you decend the steps.  Add nighttime to the equation and it's even worse.

So, when I saw an ad on TV for a solar powered light that not only looked bright enough for my purpose, but also shone in a wide arc, I had to have one last attempt at solving our problem.

Allowing the lights a day to charge up, RMan installed the lights either side of the staircase.

At nightfall we rushed out to see if they would fit the bill.
The view from the garden
They were perfect πŸ˜€
What a welcoming smiley face πŸ˜€
 They are even attractive and welcoming during the daylight hours... 
Each tread is perfectly illuminated - so no more tripping - ever.
That image just about sums up my contentment with these solar lights 
What is the view from the top of the flight of stairs?  

A heart πŸ˜€

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Emergency action

This is probably a boring subject to most of you, but the reality is that the drought in the Western Cape, and specifically Cape Town, may cause Cape Town to be the first ever metropolitan to run out of water.  Ever.


There are 5 dams which feed Cape Town:

  • Theewaterskloof Dam.
  • Wemmershoek Dam.
  • Steenbras Dams (Upper and lower)
  • VoΓ«lvlei Dam.
  • Berg River Dam

The Theewaterskloof Dam is the largest, and it is currently sitting at 16.05% - 10% of which is unusable, so basically that dam has 6.05% water left to give Cape Town.  The combined total of all five dams is 29.1%  When that total hits 13.7% Day Zero has arrived and the only water supplied to the entire city will be by water tanker.  This is predicted to happen on 22 April 2018.  If we have any heatwaves before then, then obviously that date will be brought forward.

So, I have been researching how to "create" water, and this site gave me a few idea's: http://all-about-water-filters.com/awesome-diy-emergency-ways-to-filter-water-in-the-wild/

I tried out # 5, and this was the result.
Empty jar inside muddy water filled glass salad bowl
I took a clear glass salad bowl and added some muddy water to it.  
View from the side
An empty jam jar was placed inside the salad bowl.  
Rock / weight placed in the centre of the plastic wrap
The salad bowl was then covered in cling wrap, with a stone in the centre. This is so that any condensation which gathers on the cling wrap will fall into the empty jam jar and not back into the muddy water.
A drop of water in the making
Placing the salad bowl in the sun I left it for the day.
Small rock / weight placed in the centre of the plastic wrap
Condensation is clearly visible on the inside of the plastic wrap.
Water collected in the jam jar via condensation
At the end of the day, this is how much water was collected.
Roughly 25mls of water
Placing it in a measuring jug, roughly 25mm was collected.

Considering I used a clear glass salad bowl (in order to demonstrate the principle / take photo's), that's not bad.  Had I used a black container instead of the glass, I'm sure that more condensation would've taken place and the yield would've been greater.  To produce enough water to drink / stay hydrated would probably require a number of containers, but I am chuffed at the success of the experiment.

A word of caution though.  This does not produce "clean" water.  It produces clear water, which will still contain germs / bacteria.  Therefore, I would recommend that anyone who tries this method, boils the clear water prior to drinking.