"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 28 July 2012

welcome Howdy

Please join me in welcoming two new followers to my blog.  Firstly : 

Melissa who states on her blog that she is "gardening through drought, dust, sheep and wallabies in rural NSW. Yes happy ..yes (always )"

Melissa's blogs can be found at the following links:




Secondly, welcome to Stay @ home gardener of Michigan, United States. 

He profiles himself with the following message:

"A wily pilot with an idea to tear up the lawn on a .17 acre city plot to grow a years' worth of food. This is the story behind it!"

Welcome to both of you and thank you for hitting the follow button.  I always reply to comments, but due to a current erratic internet connection on the farm, it may not always be on the same day.  But - I always reply, for I believe that if you have taken the time to comment - then the least I can do is take the time to reply to you :)

Sunday 22 July 2012

Winter hits

The small cold front that hit us as we were moving was a teaser.  It was a tickle.  It was an inconvenience. Nothing more than that.

And it was nothing compared to what lay ahead.

We woke up last Friday morning (to quote, Derek Van Damm, our local weather forecaster) to a "substantial cold front".  Which deposited loads of snow on the mountains.  In July????!  It even closed national roads in the Karroo - and that seldom happens!
Snow on the mountains - peeping out below
the clouds
Building work on the garage, naturally, came to a standstill, which meant that that first morning RMan and I could take the time to lie in bed and look at the snow through the lounge window - warmly snuggled beneath the duvets with hot tea and coffee clutched in our cold hands.
Not just the mountain in front of us, but every
mountain top in sight was liberally sprinkled with snow 
Snow in winter has been known to fall in this country.  But not often.  Not every year.  And I think this year it is a little early.  We normally get it at the end of winter, in August / September - and even October.  And it does not normally fall within reach.  So, a snowfall literally becomes a national holiday here LOL  We decided that we would take a trip up the Tradouw Pass and see if we couldn't carefully 4X4 our way to it.  It looked like it was lying low enough on the mountains - low enough to reach out and touch it...
Could we reach it...?
The drive up the Tradouw Pass is spectacular, and even more so when such snowy excitement is in the air.
The view down the valley on the Tradouw Pass
This time even I learnt something.  I didn't know that Tradouw is a Khoisan word for 'the women's path" - and I wonder which path the men used?
I'm always amazed at how such mountain passes
were built using the antiquated tools of
Unfortunately, the snow was too high, and I wasn't keen to damage the flora by driving along mountain sides to get to it.  If it had been in reach of the tar road, or there had been a firebreak road which we could have driven along - well, that would have been a bonus.  But veering off the road - that's not my thing.  I have too much respect for what Mother Nature has created.
Buffeljags River - in full flow
We decided to drive through to the closest village of Buffeljags (trans. Buffalo Hunts). Driving over the bridge we saw that that river, normally a boulder strewn trickle in the ground, was full to capacity. 
A road towards the village of Buffeljags - underwater
from a rain formed dam to the right of the road
And, veering off the N2 down a side road, the road was submerged - rain water was forming puddles of water everywhere.  There is an old wooden railway bridge on that road which has seen too many floods, and which has been replaced with a new, higher, steel bridge.  But the road remains at ground level.  You would not believe the flood of water rushing over the road.
The older wooden bridge on the right,
and the newer steel bridge on the left,

with the "road" in the centre.
There is a movie (I can't remember the name of it) where two guys stand at the end of a runway and scream as a plane takes off.  The noise produced by these flood waters created just such a noise.  And I couldn't resist a good hearty scream myself.  You couldn't hear me above the noise.  Very therapeutic :)
A wonderful scene - the perfect end to a brilliant day :)
As we drove home along the muddy track we call a road, we came across a local herdsman moving sheep.  Big smiles all round - I guess even they were enjoying the bracing cold, and the magnificent views of the snow capped mountains.

Friday 20 July 2012

Sunrise, sunset...

I can't get enough of them.  Our town house was situated in the outskirts of town, in a valley.  Because of the mountains either side of us, we never saw the sunrise, nor sunsets.  And here they are a daily occurrence.

And last week I had both within a day.

I have heard the saying:

"Red sky at morning, Shepherd's warning,
Red sky at night, Shepherd's delight."
7.45 a.m. and the sun is just lifting it's head
above the horizon
"I'm on my way, don't worry..."
There was nothing wrong with the day.  Blustery, with a wind that blew my washing horizontal on the washing, and strong enough to blow each and every crease out of it.  Which is just as well, as I don't do ironing - ever!  How did the wind know that? :)
Tie your hair up, it's too windy to let it
hang loose today...
Sunset on Wednesday - the kind that songs are written about, and which poet's can more aptly describe than I ever could.
Sunset - and all is well with the world...
That was Wednesday the 11th July 2012.  Friday would turn out to be a little bit more than even I could've imagined from the exquisite sunrise and sunset that I had just had the privilege and pleasure of watching...

Thursday 19 July 2012

Welcome to both of you...

Please join me in welcoming two new followers. Firstly, Flowerlady, of South Eastern United States
Flowerlady has a few blogs - they can be found here:

She is "happily married to my best friend. We've been married since Sept. 1969. We live, love and play in our compound which includes our tiny 50's cottage, a workshop, outbuildings and gardens on 1/4 acre."  Your cottage sounds delightful :)  And, Flowerlady does some wonderful things with a needle and thread  - I admire what you are able to create, as my fingers could never get the knack of using a needle with any visible signs of success...

And, secondly, welcome to Kirsty of Bowerbird Blue from Victoria in Australia.
Kirsty "loves old things, and the stories that they tell. I am passionate about environmental education for kids. Just like my nannas, I feel most at home in the garden, hands in the earth, flowers and children at my side."

She sounds like my kind of lady.  Her two blogs can be found at: 
http://landcare.blogspot.com/ and http://seeddiary.blogspot.com/

Welcome to both of you.  I always reply to comments - and try to reply on the day they are posted.  But, until my internet connection is vastly improved, that may cause my replies to be delayed by a day or two :)  Please - bear with me...

Tuesday 17 July 2012

The first days

The day we finally moved coincided with a minor cold front.  Rain lashed, wind blowing a gale - but, nonetheless we had timed it well.
As we were approaching a neighbour called RMan's mobile and said they had dinner waiting and they would meet us on the dirt road to hand it over.  Bless them.
A small lasagne each - how very thoughtful
A delicious lasagne...
And a delicious salad, complete with olive oil and
balsamic vinegar dressing ingredients
... and salad.  The lasagne was hot - straight out of the oven.  "Thank you" doesn't cover the gratitude we felt at their thoughtfulness.

We tumbled out of the car, schlepped the last of the boxes and suitcases into the house, collapsed on the dining room chairs, gobbled down the food and then headed straight to bed.

Chaos ensues inside - with boxes everywhere - seemingly on every inch of floor space.  And not just packing boxes either.  There are also cooler boxes which are filled with the last of the fridge and freezer contents.  And a dog.

And they are all determined to catch me unawares LOL  Nothing worse than hurdles, in dim light, to ensure that one stumbles headlong at least once an evening - with or without a cup of tea / coffee in your hands.
Chaos - and not easy to see at nighttime when the
kerosene lamplight creates dark area's and casts deep
shadows across the floor
But - this too will (eventually) pass.

MKid spent the last few days of of his school holidays with us - and like all little boys - the irresistible urge to make a warming fire in order to cook marshmallows supersedes even inclement weather, and the hurdles of a topsy turvy house LOL 
MKid on a mission...
Not even drizzle dripping down the back of his neck dampened his enthusiasm and the quest for (blackened) oozing hot marshmallows merely encouraged him to huddle closer to the warmth of the fire :)
The reward of wet clothing and raindrops dripping
down the back of his neck - melting
marshmallows :)
What we didn't know was that this minor cold front was a precursor of bigger and better things.

Seriously, our timing could not have been better... :)

Saturday 14 July 2012

The final days in town...

I'm taking a chance here.  My internet connection is currently anything from 3.7 - 400kbs (upload) and a whopping 1 - 10kbs (download)...  Not the easiest way to blog, but I'm missing it and I'm missing all of you :)  I am also trying something different.  Normally, with the ADSL line I would just write this online.  Now, I have opened the page, disconnected from my connection, and I am typing it off-line, and I will try and post it when I am finished.  Let's see if it works? :)

Very disgruntled, unable to send out quotes for the business, barely able to check e-mail, too scared of the slow speed to try and even blog, throwing a good portion of my toys out of the cot, and following a call to the service centre, we have had our (new) service provider (Vodacom) send a technician in order to see if we need a booster aerial (duh!).  He came all the way from Cape Town (a three hour drive) - did all the tests - has returned to Cape Town and will give all the data to the network technicians.  He says that they will do the necessary, drive all the way here, install a booster aerial so that I can get a 2Gb edge connection (the best edge connection) - and this service and the booster is going to be no charge????  I will be amazed if that is the case - and I know of at least 6 other houses here who will make use of their service if this is successful.  Clever - marketing with a difference.  Because they know that if it does work I will  take out a two year contract with them - and that is still a plus for me, as it will be cheaper than the only other option available to our area.  It looks like at least one company in this country is cottoning on to pleasing the client - as they do in 1st world countries.

But, all that aside, getting back to the move.  The last few days in town were were hectic - more hectic than even I thought they would be.  For all my "organisation" I felt helpless and out of control.  I guess moving the business to it's new premises didn't help much.  But it's finally all over :)

RMan was a star with his help - he even cleaned the electric oven shelves for me - well, his wrists are stronger than mine, and his thumb pressure - immense :)
As you all know the mover took the bulk of the stuff a week prior to the transfer going through.  
I was amazed at the size of the truck, not
believing that we would fill it - but we did!
They were amazing - it took them just over 4 hours to load everything in the truck - with most of the space having been taken up by our pot plants LOL
6 busy guys - 4 hours - all  sorted :)
As we approached the storage facility, RMan called the driver and asked him if he would be willing to make a small detour - if he would willing to possibly try and drive along our rutted sand road (if you can call it that - more like a dirt track) in order to offload the pot plants - and he agreed :)  But getting that enormous truck in our gate was another thing all together. Never mind - getting to that point was an immense help.  We offloaded all the pot plants and RMan whizzed them up to the house in his trailer.  Even that took 6 trips - just as well the movers accommodated our request - six trips from the storage facility in the closest town to the house would've taken hours! 
The moving truck - all the way down at our gate
We decided to clump the plant altogether - to give them some moral support LOL  Just until we have time to decide where exactly we are going to place them.  Sadly, a couple of my big pots didn't make it - but I will still be using them - I'll show you how in a later posting :)
We piled all the more tender plants
within the circle - to give them time
to acclimatize.
Then - it was back to the storage facility.  The size of it was perfect - 35mtrs2.  Everything was carefully stored inside, including the boxes - they even had the number on the box facing outwards, so that if I needed to get anything out of one, it would be no problem.
All of this fitted into a 210mtr2 house - and this is
only 35mtrs2 with space to spare?!
So sad to see our complete "past" together packed into such a small space.  I commented to RMan that my de-cluttering obviously worked.  But, even I was amazed at how little space our possessions took.  Never mind, it wont be in storage for long - the builder has said that all the works should be complete within 3 months - weather permitting...
MKid's wellies - where he left them in front of the TV
A week later, after transfer had been confirmed and finalized, we loaded, or tried to load, the very last of the stuff from the town house.  We had underestimated the amount, and the combined space of the company van, RMan's car and the trailer, were not sufficient.  We had to temporarily store some at the new business premises.  The picture above amply portrays the scene at the house for that last week.  MKid was with us for that week, together with his new wellies, and calling him for dinner (eaten on the floor) he leapt up from watching Top Gear, leaving his wellies behind.  So sad and empty - just a shell of the home that had been.  But, I am not heart sore - it was a move we had to make, and it is affording us both a new beginning - with a clean slate.  That is worth more than memories - which we still have time to make in our new home.

After a final clean-up (wiping out the last of the cupboards, the last wipe-down of all the wall tiles, vacuuming all the carpets and scrubbing all the floor tiles), and waiting for the new owner in order to hand over the keys, we finally walked out of the town house door at 3.30p.m.  We arrived at the storage facility at 7.00p.m. - unpacked what we could, and then it was time to finally head for the farm to offload the rest...

Thursday 5 July 2012

Hello from Foothill's Farm :)

Hello from Foothill's Farm near Swellendam.  And thanks to all those who have written to me to find out how the move went and if all is OK.  It is :)

Actually, I'm at the moment I'm at a free wi-fi cafe in Swellendam - so this will be a posting without pictures - that'll have to wait until I have a proper internet connection on the farm.

The past two weeks has been exhausting - what with finalizing the packing, scrubbing each nook and cranny (every wall tile, all the floor tiles, every cupboard - inside and out - the walls behind the fridge, washing machine and dishwasher, etc.) of the the house clean for the new owner, leaping tiredly into the car and then following the moving truck to our rented storage in the town near to the farm, off-loading there and then finally making our way to the farm at 9.45 p.m. that evening.  Understandably, RMan and I just collapsed into bed that night.  I reckon the stress of the past weeks / months is going to take a little while to work it's way out of our systems - so sleep is the main priority for both of us at the moment.  Mother Nature knows best - and that includes our bodies too :)

RMan had an important meeting with the local "water committee" on Saturday morning, so I started what is going to be a l-o-n-g period of unpacking what I could, sorting and trying to make just a small amount of floor space.  Thankfully, I had numbered the boxes, and had a list of the contents, so all the completely unnecessary boxes will remain in storage until the building of our garage is completed.  WGuy, MKid and their three dogs are still on their plot - connecting up their water, installing a couple of solar panels in order that they have some lighting at night, and also a way of charging their phones and 'puters.  They have popped round everyday to make use of our bathroom facilities, join us for their meals and generally have a bit of "people" contact.  Bless, WGuy - he's sorted out the majority of my 'puter set up, but I have to wait for my service provider to obtain a dongle with an external aerial outlet - I need a much better connection and without the new dongle that is just not possible.

MKid and WGuy and the three dogs have to return to Joey's tomorrow and will only probably return in either September for another preparatory visit or in December, when they're all (DD, WGuy and MKid and three dogs) are hoping to make the move permanent :)

So - until the garage is complete, and we can install the new solar panels on it's roof and the 6 X 2 volt batteries we still have to purchase, life is going to be a bit of a camping trip still, with our power supply very limited to 4 X damaged deep cycle batteries powered by solar panels being inadequately charged in mainly cloudy conditions.  Never mind - it'll be worth it in the not too distant future.

As soon as I have the new dongle and aerial, I'll be back to regular blogging and commenting / reading everyone else's blogs.  Until then, please bear with me... :)