"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

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Where were all the easter bunnies then...?

Sorry about the delay in posting, but RMan and I contracted a head / chest cold from our (caravan) guest at the end of the weekend and we've been completely under the weather this week.

But, Ah! - the 4½ day weekend was a brilliant break.  If only we'd known that this last Wednesday and next Monday were also holidays, we probably would stayed for longer...  Shows how badly we needed a break.  I have never forgotten a public holiday before LOL

But, it was just as well that we went up to the farm this past weekend.  My lemon trees needed our help - big time!

From a distance all looked well, but as I got closer I noticed that the new growth at the tops had been munched, and on closer inspection, I discovered by whom, or should that be, by what...

One of the penalties of farming part-time!
It may be the most gorgeous colour,
but it's not welcome in my lemon tree grove
One had even munched enough
and had gone to hide in its' pupa
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for handing over a tithe of what I grow, but judging from the visible damage done, several tithes had been taken.

So I whipped out the balance of an eco-friendly solution which had been given to me by Diane of Starke Ayres Garden Centre in Rondebosch for the treatment of Wooly Fruit Fly.  (I have googled whether methylated spirits is eco-friendly and have found various sites where it is stated that it is - this is one of them).  The recipe for the solution is:

methylated spirits   {we mixed up roughly 1.5 ltrs methylated
water                    {spirits / 4.0 - 4.5lts water
5ml (1 teaspoon) Kombat® (which contains natural pyrethroid 20gm/lt)
Fruitfly / 5 lts water
5ml (1 teaspoon) dish washing liquid / 2 lts of mixture (this helps the above solution stick to plant leaves)

RMan did the deed - spraying them with gusto.  How many did he find - oh, approximately 40!

Plump and juicy - he should be - my small
lemon trees provided the sustenance...

But - it worked.  The next morning they were all spread out on the Weedguard - in fact the ants were carting them off to their underground nests!  They (the ants) didn't seem bothered by the mixture.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of that as my camera batteries were flat (I forgot to charge them before we left - idiot me!).

And, before the weather changed, we managed to get another row of lemon trees planted...

You can see in the above photo how the first lemon trees, (furthest from the camera, next to the shade cloth windbreak) which were planted during the 1st week of January this year, have thrived.  They have grown 4 or 5 times bigger in the intervening 3½ months and are beginning to peep above the shade cloth windbreak.  Obviously, lemon trees with ambition!

The area was desperately in need of some rain, so, as if on cue, the next morning we woke to the following scene...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
Clouds forming in the north west - a sure sign of rain
By early evening the signs were confirmed...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
Over the Langeberg Mountains the skies were
still clear, but over the farm drizzle had
just started falling
RMan quickly managed to get the foundation laid for his outside power room - we currently have the charge controller / inverter / batteries in the roof of the house - not a good idea! The batteries do give off sulphuric acid fumes, but we had no-where else to put them at the time. Hopefully, next time we go to the farm we will be able to build the walls, take the measurements, and have a solid / intruder proof door made for future isolated, but easy access to the equipment.

The welcome rain which fell for the next two days put paid to working outside, which was fine, because we had plenty to keep us busy inside.  I varnished and then RMan installed some extra kitchen shelves (above and below the counter) and he re-did the solar panel / charge controller and inverter connections (I'll be writing more detail on that in my next posting), finished the electrical wiring inside the house and installed the plugs / light fittings...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
So now we have 220v available from any plug / light fitting in the house!  To celebrate we switched on a pure copper lamp I had purchased off Bid or Buy for ZAR70.00 (+/- US$ 10.00)

(Taken via my cell phone camera)

It was very scruffy and after a good polish (with sifted wood ash applied via a damp cloth and a dry buff with a clean soft cloth) the true beauty of this little lamp became visible.  It is a brilliant little light which gives of the most amazing mood lighting, with pinpricks of rainbow colours (why rainbow, I have no idea) illuminating the wall.  The inner light globe holder and the on / off switch are made of Bakelite - a sure sign of the age of this lamp.  I'm very happy with this purchase - or should that be theft??  I'm sure, if the lady who sold it to me knew how perfectly it would clean up, and if she'd seen how it worked, she would've charged more.  And naturally, being copper, we won't leave it lying about at the farm when we're not there!  It's going to be schlepped with us and will therefore become a very well travelled little lamp LOL - just like our car radio hi-fi - some things are just not worth taking a chance on...

Seem to recall a Sting CD was playing when
I snapped this pic on my cellphone

We have discovered that we will need to purchase at least 2  - 3 more 105 / 130Ah deep cycle batteries in order to run the freezer on freeze setting 24 hours a day.  However, we do have enough power during the daylight hours to run it on "chiller" setting (it is a multi-function chest fridge / freezer).  In fact "chiller" setting got so cold that 5lt bottles of water, placed on the floor of the freezer, froze solid.  That provided more than enough chilling to get the contents of the freezer through the night - switched off.  And chilled RMans beers to perfection too :-)

Our "absent" neighbour was actually home briefly this past weekend, and another neighbour, Frans, made a special trip to see him in order to give him "what for" regarding his cattle / animals which had wandered up and down the sand road looking for grazing / water.  I have a feeling the SPCA may be making a trip down the sand road to our "absent" neighbours farm in the not too distant future...  But we did manage to give his dog Ou Nooi (Old Lady) and his cat (which MKid named Maxie, but who is actually called Rusty) good hearty meals whilst we were there, and I left a huge pile of food for each.  I hope they eat it before the field mice find it...  I have also asked Frans and Roy to please put a bowl of something out if they see either of them. 

It was just as well we contacted the Easter Bunny (via text message LOL) to find out if he could make a very special early visit in Cape Town before MKid went back up country at the end of March - because we didn't see a sign of him this past weekend...  And I guess he would also have got wet.


wickets said...

And chilled RMans beers to perfection too :-)

Thats what freezers are for....anything else you put in there is just taking up valuable
space! btw, cant belive even little copper lamps are not safe,,,,rather sad state of affairs

Dani said...

Wickets - welcome :-)

Anything metal, which can be sold to scrap metal merchants, is highly prized. Even drain covers in the roads are being replaced with cement ones. What is even sadder is the fact that the money that is obtained for the scrap metal is usually spent on drugs / alcohol.

Anonymous said...


Dani said...

Frann - make lemonade / marmelade / lemon syrup - and sell fresh lemons too :-) I already have an interested customer...

Dani said...

oh, and Frann I'm going to barter with them - they are, after all, a good source of Vitamin C

ezrablu said...

Another wonderful post! Can you tell me how many watts your solar panels are and how many batteries you have so far? I'll be setting mine up soon and I know I need more panels but not sure how many. I need to go buy fruit trees and get them in the ground!

Dani said...

Ezrablu - we have the generous loan of 3 X 75 watt panels (225 watts total)

They are charging 1 X 105Ah and 1 X 130Ah batteries (yes, ideally they should be the same stength battery, but RMan reckons we should be OK).

Our next battery purchase will be 105Ah - they recharge more quickly, and cost less LOL

The three panels are producing more than enough power to run the freezer during the day - in fact our inverter (a 1000watt Cotek) gave us a warning that the panels were over charging the batteries. BTW the charge controller (regulator) should have cut out the excess charge - we think there may be a problem with the regulator.

Please could I ask you to wait before you hook up your solar panels / batteries / inverter / charge controller(regulator). My next posting will give you a couple of tips and some interesting information. There again, you'll probably have to double check me (maybe ttfnguy or JW can help) as I'm not 100% sure that what I tell you will apply to the 110v used in the US of A (we're on 220v in South Africa).

Leigh said...

Wood ash with a damp cloth to polish you say; great tip, I need to remember that. I know your rain was very welcome indeed. Sometime around July and August, we'll have our summer dry spell, then we'll be wishing for rain too! I have to say that when I saw your lemon tree gobbling caterpillars, all I could think of was "chicken feed!" LOL

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Once you get to the farm full time, a few chickens will get rid of those worms in seconds. And have you considered sealed batteries for your solar system. You do not need to vent them as they are sealed. The down side is you can not add water if need be but if your not over charging you will not need to. But once you figure our your problem with the charge controller it should not be a problem. The sealed batteries are reasonable and work very well.

Dani said...

Leigh - Chicken Feed - LOLOLOLOL

Jane - can't wait to get some chickens - not only for their insect eating capabilities, but also for their weeding and fertilizing LOL

The deep cycle 12v batteries we're using are sealed - but their still "leak" vapours / fumes and MUST be ventilated.

LG said...

I enjoy visiting this blog as I learn so much from you, I'm a very eco concious person but find difficult practicing it every day especially in my town and eenvironment which isn't quite yet there...so reading about all the interesting eco friendly sprays etc certainly a bonus for me...Up north it's also cold as Autumn makes way for winter too quickly...have a good week hope the cold gets better soon


Dani said...

LG - change starts one person at a time - we each have the power to change the course of the future through our actions - one small step at a time LOL

Thanks for your good wishes - this cold / flu is a nasty one...

Unknown said...

Wow, this is so great. Thanks for sharing.