"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, 11 October 2011

Bee-eautiful, best and always so very busy

CGuy, our 'townie' friend who has purchased the plot next to ours on the farm, came round for dinner the other night.

Now CGuy and I - we're on a mission.  The worldwide recession has caused us all to be a tad jittery, and the ongoing financial woes of the world, coupled with dire forecasts being released almost on a daily basis from many of the worlds' financial bigwigs, could also be adding to my nervousness.

With that in mind I am squirreling away dry goods every time they appear on sale.  Lentils, rice, beans, split peas, pasta - shapes / spaghetti, etc - they're all piling up in my pantry.  Well, they won't deteriorate over time, especially using a sprig of bay leaves from my tree in each bulk container to prevent weevils, so why not?

I have tried to learn to be as self-sufficient as I possibly can (with grateful thanks to fellow bloggers and Google) and have learnt whatever skills I can, in order to allow us to continue with our basic lifestyle in any situation.  Things such as growing as many of the crops we consume as possible, how to make my own soap, how to preserve, using the sun to cook our meals, make compost, use different farming methods (and which would be / could be applicable to our little farm), to name but a few...  I even have plans, and the wherewithall, to make a solar still in order to produce clean drinking water from contaminated / brak water.

... loo paper - hmmm - guess we might have to learn to use handfuls of grass (I know, I know - that's too much information LOL)

And, being off grid, has relieved me of the headache of fearing a power cut too!  Any appliances which I use on the farm will either be solar powered, or will be run using the petrol generator (and the only appliance that I can think of is the washing machine :)  )

So, with most of the bases covered, I'm now concentrating on the little, niggly things - like for instance we want to try and find a hand operated (preferably stone?) grinding mill for wheat which we hope to purchase from the local farmers.  And, of course - what am I going to do about sugar?

I am NOT prepared to grow sugar cane, even if I could.  Apart from everything else, rodents abound in sugar cane - and with the locusts, snakes and scorpions, I have enough to think about without adding rodents to the mix. Never mind how on earth would I process the sugar cane?  So - how to provide our sweetening agent?
Why, CGuy is just the person to help out there.  He has a couple of bee hives that he is going to install over the fence from us - and as we have both agreed that bartering is the way forward, CGuy is prepared to trade us honey for whatever we have that he needs, even if that translates to a meal a few times a week - well, CGuy isn't married, and can't cook... LOL

So, that's tea and coffee sorted - plus any sweetening that I many require for basic cooking.  But - and this was a big BUT before I googled it - what am I going to do about preserving?

I'm going to use HONEY of course :)
Those are busy little wings LOL
I found information herehere and this delicious sounding recipe here.


4 1/2 cups prepared (washed and hulled) fruit (about 2 quarts ripe strawberries)
1 box (1 3/4 ounces) powdered pectin (I'm going to try and see if homemade apple pectin will work too)
7 cups mild-flavored honey

Completely crush the fully ripened strawberries, one layer at a time, and measure 4-1/2 cups of the prepared fruit into a 8 lt (7 - 8 quart) saucepan. Add the powdered pectin and blend it in well. Place the pan over high heat, bring the contents to a full rolling boil and immediately mix in the honey. Continue to boil the jam for 2 minutes, while you stir it constantly. Then remove the pan from the stove and remove any foam that forms with a metal spoon. Alternately skim and stir the hot confection for 5 minutes to cool it slightly and distribute the fruit throughout. Ladle the product into hot sterilized jars—about six 230 gm (8 ounces) jars - label and seal them.

Making jam with honey - brilliant!  So that's another things I can cross of my list :)
But for a couple of honey facts that you may, or may not, have known:

1 Honey assists in the healing of bee stings :)  Gently apply a little honey to the area of the sting. 

2 Completely viable honey has been found in the pyramids - admittedly in a crystallized form, but nothing that a dunk in hot water couldn't sort out :)

Due to the antibacterial / antiseptic qualities of honey, it may be used in place of a medicinal ointment for general cuts and burns.  This is especially useful for those living in remote area's.  It is a very effective means of quickly rendering heavily infected wounds sterile, without the side effects of antibiotics, and has also proved effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

4 Honey has a low pH which hinders and prevents the growth of many species of bacteria.  It also has a tendency to absorb water from a wound, which effectively deprives bacteria of the moisture they need to multiply. This absorption dilutes the honey and activates an enzyme which produces hydrogen peroxide - which surely must be in everyone's medicine cupboard ;)

4 Honey, when used on wounds, will not cause the dressings to stick to the (healing) wound.

5 Add honey to a glass of warm milk to ease a sore throat.  Or have a glass of home-made ginger beer using honey in place of sugar LOL

6 Honey is more easily digested than sugar, resulting in it entering the bloodstream quickly and giving an instant energy pick-me-up.

7 Finally, honey is good for the skin and apparently, when applied as a face mask, reduces the appearance of wrinkles.  (Reckon I could do with a couple of litres of the stuff LOL)
Nutritional information: Honey contains potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid, as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

Sugar contains very little nutrients - therefore, in my book, honey is Queen :)

A word of warning to those with little ones under a year in age:
Honey may contain spores which can cause infant botulism in children aged one year and younger.  In immature infants’ digestive tracts, however, the spores are able to germinate and release a toxin. Symptoms of infant botulism include constipation, lethargy, poor feeding, weak cry, droopy eyelids and, occasionally, respiratory arrest. By the age of 12 months, infants develop a digestive tract mature enough to handle the toxin


African Bliss said...

Aaah so there we have the honey story.I once read somewhere that your body drops immune system is compromised for a full five minutes after consuming a teaspoon of sugar.

Jane said...

The perfect relationship, bartering for honey. Those are great neighbors to have!

Mr. H. said...

Your going to love using the honey, my wife and I substitute it for sugar in almost everything now. There is also a plant called "Stevia" that should grow well in your climate that can be used as a substitute for sugar. We have grown and used it before but our season is a little to cool and short to make it worth while.

I agree with you that times are getting a bit precarious and being well stocked in food is an excellent idea. Thanks for the tip on bay leaves, didn't know about that.

There is a plant called Mullein that makes a great loo paper...:)

Dani said...

African Bliss - That's probably why man has such immense highs and lows of energy when consuming sugar. Honey WILL provide the most stable / usable energy :)

Jane - I agree :)

Mr H - Hmm, Stevia sounds interesting - how do you prepare it?

Mullein? LOL I'll do some Google research.

1st Man said...

Dani, Mr H has a great suggestion. Stevia is an herb that is easy to grow, probably very easy in your climate, and it's a great sweetener. I grew some one year in a clay pot in the back yard (it didn't like that, the ground is probably better) but while it was growing, I would take a couple of leaves, crusht them up a bit and put them in my iced tea. It sweetened it as if I had added sugar. I believe you can boil the leave to extract some of the sweet from yet but I haven't tried that. It would be a great additional resource to have. I hope to grow some at our farm.

Love the honey article, ironically I just posted a similar article on my blog after I had people asking about honey and the health benefits when I took my beekeeping class this past weekend.

Keep up the great work on your blog, love it!

Elephant's Eye said...


This looks like your sort of thing.

Dani said...

1st Man - Thanks for the info - have already e-mailed my local nursery to find out if they can help with sourcing the plant :)

Elephant's Eye - T'is indeed - thanks :)

Stitchin' time said...

Another great post and some interesting useful comments. Love visiting here :).

garden girl said...

I grew Stevia a few years ago - it's great, but I haven't seen it in the nurseries lately. Let us know if you find any.

Dani said...

Stitchin' time - Thanks :)

garden girl - Will do :)

garden girl said...

Found Stevia at Somerset Mall Benbel this weekend.

Dani said...

garden girl - Thanks. I have also enquired at my local nursery. Am just waiting for them to get back to me, otherwise I'll stop off at Benbel on my way to the farm :)

Linda said...

Hi there, I don't know how I missed this post but it's great. I'm an amateur beekeeper so I was very interested. I bought an electric mill from a company that sells hand mills as well. http://www.skippygrainmills.com.au/hand.htm
They are in Australia but could be a good place to start looking. I'm growing Stevia in my garden but it's tiny. I tasted a leaf and couldn't believe how sweet it was. A bit weird really! Not the flavour you expect from chewing a leaf. Apparently you can boil a syrup and use it in cakes etc.

Dani said...

Linda - THANK YOU so very much. Your link enabled me to source a company which sells the mills here in Cape Town :) Cool - very cool !!!!

Apparently Mr H uses stevia as a sweetener - for his tea / coffee / cooking, etc.