"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

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Eco gadget 1

Firstly, welcome to Marlene Bezuidenhout from the Eastern Cape.  Thanks for hitting the followers button, Marlene :)


Last week Natasha & Wayne gave me an early birthday present.  Well, they didn't mean to give it to me early, but RMan, unknowingly, let the cat out of the bag, so they figured why wait?
Dust - the bane of my life.  And something which
RMan can resist running his fingers over, thereby
emphazising it even more... <sigh>
I had been complaining about sweeping the floor here.  Due to the fine clay, which sneaks in any opening when the wind blows, or is schlepped into the house on the bottom of our shoes or on dog paws, everytime I take a broom to the floor all our furniture gains a fine sheen.  Dusting that off only causes it to be relocated, with most of it landing back exactly where it was before.


Last week Natasha & Wayne had to pop through to Somerset West to collect some cladding for their cabin.  Whilst they were there, they popped into Game Stores.

And bought me this :)
The Bissel  vacuum cleaner
It is a Bissel vacuum cleaner.
Starting from the left these are all the
attachments - the floor brush, the h
the motor section and the crevice g
It breaks down into a handheld dustbuster, with an attachment which allows me to clean in all the crevices on our lounge suite, one which, with the addition of a handle, acts as a floor brush, and the floor brush and motor section are usable without the long handle too :)

But, the best part is that it only consumes...
... 140 watts of power.  So it is perfect for using with our current solar power system.

I can assure you that it works more than adequately, even vacuuming the dust mites and skin cells off our mattress beautifully (RMan was grossed out again when I showed him the contents after the clean).

A perfect example of less is more LOL

As much as I love my 2500watt Rainbow vacuum cleaner, using it means that we have to start up the generator.  With the Bissel, I merely have to plug it into an electrical socket, and away I go :)

I'm a happy little puppy...

Monday 29 July 2013


Welcome to my newest follower, Maree of Tarlton in Gauteng.

Her profile states:

"I am a watercolour wildlife and conservation artist and Nature Student living on my little piece of African soil, in love with life, chickens and nature! :: I sit and drink tea in the mornings, and come out at dusk to listen as the world tucks itself in for the night ::"

Maree is a gifted artist - her work is stunning.  Please, drop by her blogs and take a look.

Maree, thanks for hitting the followers button.  I always reply to comments, but it may sometimes be delayed due to our solar system not providing me the electricity to have some fun on my blog :)

Thursday 25 July 2013

Muddy winter gardening

Silly me.  I didn't put my gumboots on when I went into the garden after recent rain, and this was the result..
My faithful crocs...
But, it gets much worse than that...
...Let the mud in LOL
... being "holey" shoes, the wet clay can't resist seeping in any available orafice.  So now I have socks to clean - they had to be white ones too, didn't they :}

But, taking about gardens, I have discovered the strangest thing.
The  tomatoes are on the southern side
of the broad bean / pea bed, so they've been
protected from the frost.  Is that the answer
to growing tomatoes in winter...?
I am able to grow tomatoes here during winter.

There was a single self-seeded tomato growing with my corn, sunflowers and squash last summer, and when I removed the last of the corn, I left the tomato plant in situ - it had a couple of tomatoes on, and I thought I'd just wait until they were ripe.

Lo, and behold, in the shelter of the broad beans and pea plants, if this plant didn't grow wings and fly :)
Gorgeous, lucious "winter" tomatoes
I have waited until they're a near decent size, and have had to harvest them green, after which I've left them on my kitchen windowsill until they turned red.  But - I have had more tomatoes from this one plant, then I did from all those which grew when the mice were in control last summer.

Yes, the mice have had a nibble or two, but they've been more interested in my fresh young peas so the damage hasn't been as severe to this lonely plant.

I've decided that next summer I think I'm going to devote a small "out of the way" veggie bed especially for the mice - perhaps they'll leave the rest of my vegetables alone - and I don't mind giving them a tithe of my crops.

But - it's good to know.  I'm going to plant a couple of tomato seeds late next summer, and see how they do through next winter.
Strawberries growing in July???
Also, my strawberries are bearing fruit already...!!!

We haven't had much rain so far this winter - I wonder if that has had anything to do with it.  Most mornings here are around 4 - 6oC.  And the plants are in the shade created by the (winter) north positioned sun hitting the garage before it can get to the strawberry bed.

Quite peculiar I reckon...

Monday 22 July 2013

Aangename Kennis ( Welcome :) )

Ingrid, from somewhere in South Africa, is the latest person to drop her finger on the followers button.  Judging from her posting of 9th March she is in the Centurion area, in Gauteng.
Ingrids blog can be found at: http://ravencm.blogspot.com/

Her profile reads:

"I am in my late forties and loving every moment. I live on a smallholding with hubby, 6 dogs and all other creatures that feel like being here at the moment. I love being in my garden, and trying new tricks to improve my herb harvest or getting new veggies planted, cooking up a storm or working on a brew for the fleas that pester my furr-babies without harming my frogs. And so life is all about living, here, and now. Feel free to sit a while. Have a coffee, and listen to my stories. Be Blessed."

Your recipe for baked potatoes looks yummy, and will work perfectly in my Rosie :)

Welcome Ingrid.  I appreciate it when people take the time to leave a comment, and always reply.  But it sometimes takes a little longer as it is dependent on the sun providing enough power to charge our solar batteries.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Time will tell...

Sorry if I've been quiet this past week or so, but things have been happening here - good and not so good...

First the not so good.

Recently, I have been having constant back pain, together with pain down the outside of my leg and complete numbness on one side of my foot.

Finally consulting our new local GP in Swellendam after 4 weeks of discomfort the following was unearthed from the x-ray he requested...
Not so good...
After an MRI in Somerset West last Monday, it would appear that, due to my disc being sequestrated, the L5 / S1 vertebra has trapped the nerve.  The disc in the L4 / L5 position is in a similar condition and has affected the nerve there too. And, finally, the disc in the L2 / L3 area has a tear.  

We met the Orthopedic Surgeon, whom the GP consulted and whom he recommended, last Monday - a 3.5 - 4 hour round trip to Worcester - ah well, I guess that is a given when one moves to the country LOL

He has said that if the pain got worse, I should immediately phone him.  We have agreed on a conservative approach - anti-inflammatory medication for another 2 weeks, then I will return to see him.  If there is no improvement, he will give me cortisone injections into the affected area's.  If they don't solve the problem, then an operation is the last resort.  Good - I'm glad he's not rushing with the op - I hate the idea of anyone messing with my spine. Realistically, though, I have to be sorted so that I can climb into my vegetable garden next summer...

The injury is either due to my age, or trying to be too tomboy-ish in my life e.g. picking up something(s) that was too heavy during the move from the townhouse and then the subsequent move into our farmhouse, or through trying to "break the soil" here (LOL) - which, as I have mentioned before, is rock hard in summer.

Thankfully, he didn't ask me to go for an op immediately, because it is RMan's birthday today - nope, I'm not telling you how old he is, because my birthday is in 3 weeks time and that is all that separates us LOL  Suffice it so say - he can apparently, now, apply for a discount card at our local Spar...
Freshly made creamed mushroom and avocado sauce
A yummy fondue, with all the bells and whistles in on the cards for dinner.  I've just finished making a creamed mushroom, and an avocado sauce - later I'll add a sweet chilli, monkey gland and apple sauce to the offering.

Finally, our daughter, Natasha, has written the first entry on her blog Our Adventures at Windfall Farm  Please, won't you pop over and give her a friendly welcome to blogland?

Thursday 11 July 2013

Of mice - and a woman...

(With apologies for paraphrasing the title of John Steinbeck's novel, and using a line from Robert Burns poem, "To a mouse")

You all know the problems I had with field mice and my tomatoes last summer.  And, shamefully, you know of my one moment of weakness when I left out a dose of mouse poison to try and get rid of these pests.

Well, it would appear that moving all the remaining building rubble, remaining bricks, wood piles, and even RMan's ride on mower (which saw major damage to the wiring occur) away from my vegetable growing area, didn't solve the problem.
The shadecloth veggie house is planted up
with onions and garlic hehe
This winter I planted up my shadecloth veggie house with onions and garlic - the mice, thankfully, don't seem partial to that diet.  Hopefully they will forget the smorgasbord they enjoyed there last summer...
A rogue tomato plant lives on amongst the
broad beans - the mice, naturally have
found that... (I didn't know that tomatoes
grew in winter)
I decided to plant broad beans and peas where I previously had pink popcorn, sunflowers and squash growing.  They love the spot and are thriving.  But, it is too close to the empty field next door, which is home, apparently, to many more mice than even I had bargained for.  They have had a field day with my precious pea pods.  I envisage the broad beans suffering a similar fate, and decided, no way - I've been pushed just a tad too far.  This is WAR! 
A chunk out here, a chunk out there -
not nice!
Having read that tomatoes do well with a sprinkling of urine, I thought that perhaps that may deter the mice.  A perimeter pour was applied.
Telltale signs - one of the mouse runs under the
It caused a 36 hour hiccup in the diet.

Nope.  I'm not giving up.
My poor peas
When  Natasha, WGuy and Mike arrived with their 2 dogs and 2 hamsters they also brought along Sam - their grey cat.  She has proved excellent at assisting in diminishing the mouse population - to the point of leaving the lower extremities on the floor of Mike's bedroom - no doubt awaiting the accolades she feels she is due for the services she has rendered.  (note to Sam - if is completely unnecessary to bring these rodents into the house - I am aware of your superb feats, without needing the physical proof - please!!!!!)  But, as grateful as I am for 2 mice having thus met their timeous demise in the past 10 days, I reckoned that stronger action is required.
Again - they don't eat the entire pea pod -
just a mouthful here and another
mouthful there - selfish creatures!
Google to the rescue.

Beds of lavender apparently deter these nasty critters.  But - I seriously can't  wait for lavender bushes to be big enough to make a difference - not if I want a successful harvest next summer.

Lateral thought was applied.

So, off to my local pharmacy, and "Yes!!!" they had it - lavender oil.  Lavender and lavender oil - they have to be the same surely?

I mixed roughly 6ml of lavender oil with 5 ltrs of water and started spraying.  The first spray consisted of only one section of pea plants -  and round the very base of the plants where they emerged from the soil, as well as round the base of the support poles - just enough to wet them.  As the bottle says for external use only I made sure that I did not spray any pea pods and I telephoned the manufacturer to clear this use of their product.

The next morning there did not appear to be any newly munched pods...

Hmmm... that emboldened me.

Thus a two pronged attack began.
Damp used cat litter strategically placed along
the fence to the neighbouring property where
the mice reside
Firstly, the (damp - but not "solid") contents of Sam's cat litter box, which she was allowed for the first couple of days whilst she acclimatised to her new location, were spread between the pea / broad bean bed and their visible mouse runs - no, not right on top of the plants but roughly 3½ metres from the bed next to the fence.

"Smell that and quiver you mangy rodents" <evil grin>.

Secondly, I took the balance of the 5lt bottle of lavender oil and water mixture and sprayed a perimeter ring around my pea and broad bean veggie patch  -positioned at least a metre away from the veggies, and ½ metre wide.

It is now Day 10 and there is a dramatic reduction in the number of peas which are showing signs of being munched, so I'm hopeful.  It seems the lavender oil is effective for 6 - 7 days, and thereafter a perimeter respray is required.

I am prepared to fork out the R83.00 a month (until I find a wholesale supplier that is) for 20mls of lavender oil in order to create a perimeter ring to deter these incontinent pests away from all my vegetables.  At least I know that it is the eco-friendliest solution (and one which wont also harm the nearby resident owl) until I purchase and plant up a whopping crop of lavender plants....
Peas are the one veggie that RMan will consume
with gusto - even raw.  and, he's willing to shell
as many as I can pick.  I have to save the peas
from the mice!
The moral of the story?

Don't mess with a woman who is trying to provide for her family ;)

Saturday 6 July 2013

Moving forward...

... or should that be the circle expands?

I don't know how many of you have been waiting to hear the stupendously exciting news I have, but here it is... :)

Whilst talking to our daughter on the phone about 5 weeks ago we were informed that our grandson would be attending the local school near us as of the start of the new school term on the 15th July 2013.



Because DD, WGuy and MKid were leaving Johannesburg and moving down to start building their futures on their plot over the sand road from us :)


They have moved because:

They want a better environment for MKid to grow up in - where peer group pressure is not as materially motivated and where he is able to play outside after 5.00 p.m. (can you believe that the complex where they live recently had to impose this curb on all children living there because a number of the other selfish and thoughtless inhabitants, even after installing speed bumps to prevent speeding, were still driving dangerously fast between the bumps).

They were finding that the Johannesburg traffic, and behaviour of certain drivers, had become even more impossible than it was before - with those certain drivers ignoring 99% of the rules of the roads or the purpose of traffic lights - sometimes even right in front of Traffic Officers who are sitting on the road side with the speed camera's, and who just turned their heads the other way.

In addition, the infrastructure is falling to pieces - we all know about the electricity blackouts, but apparently the other services (water & sewerage), and the maintenance thereof, is also falling by the wayside.

They want to achieve more in their lives than an 8 - 5 job.

Both DD and WGuy have found that in recent years that the people living in Gauteng have become increasingly unfriendly and impersonal - self-centered - with everyone seemingly feeling more important that the next, and they feel that there is no common courtesy left. 

They want to slow down time - to ensure that days are more rewarding, and more meaningfully spent.

And they want become more self-sufficient - not only in providing whatever they are able for their table, but also insofar as their electricity is concerned - they already have the basics of their solar system, and they will grow that as they require it.
We were waiting at the gate, and MKid was
so excited that he had to run down
the rest of the sand road to greet us -
welcome exercise after a 18-hour trip,
I'm sure
They arrived at 2.40p.m. last Saturday - carrying what they need for the next three weeks until the rest of their boxes and furniture arrives.  So - we have 3 very welcome house guests - DD, WGuy and our precious MKid - plus Baby who is due in December :D

They will be staying with us whilst they build their house - happily we have the space, and plenty of useful advice / personal experience and contacts to share with them.
"Oh Yes!  Oh, cool!"
MKid made a beeline for the jetty (dock)
Reckon it's going to be his and RMan's
favourite summer spot
We're very, very happy.

Full circle.  We developed our lives on our smallholding to illustrate to our children that one could be more than comfortable and content whilst demanding less of this planet, and with less unnecessary material possessions, and they are now willingly embracing our way.  What more could parents ask?

I don't mean to sound high-and-mighty, or in any way superior, but I reckon that RMan and I are living proof that even only two people can make a difference through the example they set - imagine what could be achieved if everyone did?  Proof to all those naysayers who say that one person cannot create meaningful change on Mother Earth.  Ripples always expand outwards :)

Happy Days :)

Btw, DD (aka Natasha) and MKid (aka Mike) have decided to start their own blog - in order to share with their friends upcountry and also to document their journey towards a gentler way of life and their personal self-sufficiency.  I'll give the link as soon as they have it up and running... :)

Thursday 4 July 2013

Thought for Thursday 4 - Simple pleasures

When last did you enjoy a simple pleasure?  Something that costs nothing.  Something that everyone, if they are still young at heart, can enjoy?

I loved this e-mail which I received from a friend this week.
Heavy, dark, ominous clouds don't necessarily
mean that your day is going to be clouded, nor
need they be  potent sign of disaster -
they can also signify the potential of life giving water
spilling down from the skies above, and a chance
to have some innocent fun :)


A little girl had been shopping with her Mum in Woolies (Woolworths / Walmart / Tesco).

She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth that it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the Woolies.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world.  Memories of running, splashing, so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, 'Mum let's run through the rain,' she said.

'What?' Mum asked.

'Let's run through the rain!' She repeated.

'No, darling, we'll wait until it slows down a bit,' Mum replied.

This young child waited a minute and repeated: 'Mum, let's run through the rain.'

'We'll get soaked if we do,' Mum said.

'No, we won't, Mum. That's not what you said this morning,'the young girl said as she tugged at her Mum's arm.

'This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?'

'Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything! '

The entire crowd were completely silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one left. Mum paused and thought for a moment about what she would say.

Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

'Darling, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,' Mum said.

Then off they ran.

We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles.

They got soaked.

They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars.

And yes, I did.  I ran.  I got wet.  I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health.  But no one can ever take away your precious memories...

So, don't forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.


Take the time to live!

Keep in touch with your friends, you never know when you'll need each other...

 ...and don't forget to run in the rain! :)

And, to all my American followers, Happy Independence Day.