"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 31 August 2013

A spring in the step...

Spring is just around the corner and that is evident in so many parts of the garden.
The strawberry plants are all producing flowers
Our apple, apricot, pomegranate and lemon trees are still all hiding under the covers, but our peach tree is in full swing...
The peach trees are the first
to blossom
The peas and broad beans are providing their last - it almost feels as though I am stealing from the plants.  There are so few peas left on the plants, but I just can't resist.
How priviledged I am to be able to harvest
fresh, organic produce from my garden :)
Whilst shelling the peas and beans - even though I am thrilled to be able to harvest from my garden, I still find it slightly tedious sitting for 2 hours whilst mindlessly extracting the fruit from the pod.  During the course of one such session, I made an interesting observation  - there are no more than a maximum of 9 peas / pod.  How weird is that?  I wonder if the seed I am using (it is not an heirloom seed) has been "programmed" to only produce that many?
The maximum number of peas in any pod
never exceeded 9!
I also had to make a plan whilst harvesting my broad (fava) beans.  I was having to bend and stand, bend and stand and, trying to take care of my back, that was sometimes painful work.  And my apron pocket could only hold so many, which, as it filled, naturally became harder to fill.
There were only so many broad beans I could fit
in my apron pocket
So I had the brainwave of placing a suitably sized container inside the pocket and that worked by (most importantly) keeping the "collection area" (pocket) permanently open, and allowed for a bigger collection area, and prevented me from having to make those extra trips to the kitchen in order to empty out what I harvested. 
Now I can collect much more than before :)
We had big warnings broadcast on the TV and radio for extreme weather with an extended cold snap starting on Wednesday, and the maximum temperatures indicate a possibility of snow on the mountains?  I am loving the cool weather, but it is preventing my seeds from germinating.
Pumpkin and butternut seeds in their mini
greenhouses, all housed in an old styrofoam
container for added protection
You recall I did a posting on using empty egg shells as seedling containers. That worked really well last year, so I have to continue with this method agin this year.  I was also lucky enough to find eggs in my local Spar which were packaged in a plastic egg carton.  Why is bringing more plastic home lucky? Well, I figured that I could use the carton as a mini greenhouse :)
Sunset view of the spring blossoms :)
It seems to be working a treat :)
The beauty of nature - sunrise at 6.53 this morning
Here is a pic from Tuesday mornings' sunrise - a typical sight here prior to an approaching storm...

Tuesday 27 August 2013


There are a couple of new blog followers I would like to welcome, and to introduce to you all.

Firstly, welcome to Yoko from somewhere in the USA where it snows - and I'm talking serious snow here, not the temporary white stuff in which we all like to frolic playfully whilst trying to recapture our childhood years. 

How do I know - well, apparently Yoko has to exercise on a treadmill for it snows for a minimum of 9 months of the year.  I wondered, given her name, if Yoko was of an Eastern persuasion, but it appears that her husband looks like John Lennon, so she was nicknamed Yoko.

Yoko's blog can be found at: http://houseofyoko.blogspot.com/

Secondly, welcome to mel ~ of Park Falls in WI USA
mel ~'s blog can be found at: http://upnorthwithmel.blogspot.com/

To quote from her profile:

"I'm just a gal living in the woods up in northern Wisconsin. The purpose of this blog is to share my stories of my daily life ~ one never knows what the topic may be ~ AND ~ to share my love of nature,gardening and cooking. You never know what's on the cooling rack at my house!"

I adore the wonderful bird houses that you make!  I'm sure 1st Man will want one for his garden :)

But, I don't envy the bear visits...

Yoko and ~ mel, thanks for hitting the followers button.  I always answer comments, even if the sun delays that by not producing enough power to charge our batteries frequently enough in winter... :)

Friday 23 August 2013

Eco gadget 2

The rainy weather has been very welcome in our neck of the woods.  Not much fell in July so the 150mm that has fallen in August has been very welcome. But - the overcast weather has once again played havoc with my blogging.  At best I have been able to read all your blogs via my phone, and sometimes the comments I have posted have gone through, and sometimes they haven't...

Ah, well, you can't win 'em all!

And - talking of winning, I am now a happy, smiley, laundry washer.  No longer do we have to start up the genny in order to run my power guzzling, 9 year old front loader, a Bosch washing machine - which consumed between 1500 and 2500watts / cycle depending on the programme and temperature I selected, and, on it's quickest programme, required 1 hour 20 minutes of genny noise, petrol expense and waiting time.

It frustrated the life out of me.  So I went online to do some research - at both LG and Samsung's websites.

My mission?  To find the lowest wattage automatic washing machine available in this country.

The result of a few hours of downloading .pdfs, comparing specifications and writing e-mails to suppliers in this country has resulted in the acquisition of a brand spanking new Samsung WA90G9 9kg top loader. A top loader means that I don't have to bend down so far to get the washing in or out of the machine - all good for a dicky back...

It was cheap too - only R2100.00 compared to the R3500 -> R4900.00 for other top or front loaders.
This is the Samsung WA90G9 top loader
washing machine that we recently purchased
It uses slightly more water than the Bosch did, but I have no problem with that as we have diverted the waste water outlet towards plants - so I view it as less gardening watering that I personally have to do.

Using the local Eco-Soft, an enviro-friendly, phosphate free, biodegradable washing powder, ensures that the plants won't be overcome with too many harmful chemicals.
The washing machine specifications
And - as you can see from the above photo - the electricity consumption is between 240 - 330 watts - at most!  Happy days!!  Our system can handle that, so no more genny...!
The photo's above and below give you a pretty good idea of what programmes the machine has.
Choosing which cycle is easy, and with this detailed information to help me the first time, it is now quick and easy - almost, but not quite - second nature.
We have only connected the cold water supply, so I always choose that setting.
On the quick cycle, mid water level, cold wash and rinse the time required to complete the programme is 32 minutes.  On the fuzzy cycle the time leaps up to 45 minutes LOL  AND, the entire machine switches itself off completely at the end of the selected cycle, so there is no ghost power draining our batteries.

A saving in time, and power / fuel / fuel cost - it's brilliant!

Friday 16 August 2013

Croeso, Bula! and Welcome

There are a couple of new followers I'd Like to welcome.
John's favicon
Firstly, John Gray from Trelawnyd in Wales. John is a Google+ blogger, so it wasn't easy as a plain old Blogger to find his blog(s), but they can be found here, here and here :)
John's image on his blog
John's profile states : "Just over 50 and feeling it. I have been with my partner Christopher for 13 years! A previous career nurse manager who moved back to Wales in 2005. My life now is centred around life in a tiny Welsh village, a field full of animals, a pack of dogs and Auntie Gladys' scones"

John, I always wanted to visit Wales, but have never done so. Thankfully, I can now see a bit of it through your blogs :) 

Then secondly, welcome to Ronelle, from Naciriyawa- Fiji
Ronelle's favicon
Her blog can be found at: http://www.naciriyawa.blogspot.com/
The image from Ronelle's blog :)
Ronelle's profile states:  "After sailing more than halfway around the world....covering more than 30 000nM....we arrived in Fiji and decided to make it home.  This is our blog of our live on the island...and developing our farm...Naciriyawa."

I have a sneaky feeling that Ronelle was originally from South Africa...?

And finally, welcome to Arta .

I can't see a blog for Arta . so I can't give you a link.

Thanks everyone, for hitting the followers button.  I always reply to comments - please forgive me if that response is delayed - I'm dependent on the sun charging our batteries, which in turn give me the power to switch on the laptop :)

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Clean as a whistle

I made another batch of soap last weekend.

The previous batches I had made were good, but as we were running low, I decided that this time I would be more adventurous with the smelly stuff I added.

Cinnamon and honey were the first two batches, then I used lemon grass essential oil a couple of times, and this time I used pine essential oil.

I can hear some of you thinking, who would want to smell like a pine tree? LOL
My latest batch of soap - with an odour of
pine :)
Well, it all goes back to good memories.  Memories of relaxing in a deep, luxurious bath many, many, many years ago when I was uneducated and wasn't concerned about water usage.  My favourite "special occasion" bubble bath then was something called Badedas.  It is apparently made using "horse chestnut, cedar wood and light patchouli" but to me it smelled of pine trees. And it was wickedly expensive.  Funnily enough I haven't seen it available here for quite a few years, but, even if it was, I wouldn't buy it - we don't have a bath now, and as far as I know Badedas doesn't make a shower gel.  Anyway, who needs a shower gel with all the additives, when I can make our soap requirements? ;)
I can highly recommend silicon molds - the soap
slips out easily when it's time for the soap to
mature before use.  And, they're a breeze to clean!
I absolutely love my silicon soap molds even though I didn't buy enough to cope with the size of the soap batch that I make.  Ah well, the plain old block shape will work as adequately :)

I have to say that my skin is not nearly as dry as it used to be - and that is important as one gets older, as the skin is not as moist and elastic as it is when you're younger.  Using our home made soap is definitely more gentle on the skin than anything commercial on the market.

I wish you could walk into our spare bedroom, and smell the aroma which is pervading that space at the moment.  I can't wait to use the soap at the end of August when it has had time to mature...

Having been thoroughly confused by the recipe specifications on the internet (such and such a % of this, and a % of that) I want to once again send many, many thanks to Rae of African Bliss for providing me with the basic soap recipe which encouraged me to overcome my fear of caustic soda and into my first soap making foray.  Especially given that making soap is her business, and that through sharing her expertise with me, it has meant that I am not a customer of hers.

The generosity of people, especially those I have never met, is absolutely astounding!

Saturday 10 August 2013

Not that old...

... actually - I feel about 32.  Wishful thinking perhaps, but nevertheless, that is how old I feel today.

And, as they say, you're as old as you feel.

Thankfully, this morning RMan didn't greet me with this...
... in fact I got a cup of rooibos and a slice of toast in bed :)

Had to be quick though, as Dr A called on Wednesday night and asked if he and his lady could pleeeease come for the weekend, and RSon arrived on Thursday evening late for the weekend too :)  Full house means no "lie-ins", but who cares.

Busy day / weekend ahead, so catch you later... :)

Wednesday 7 August 2013

The Old Man...

... is definitely snoring, because it's raining and pouring...

Not having had much rain this winter, the past 24 hours has certainly made up for it.

This is what our dam looked like yesterday at 17.15pm
The bentonite which RMan added in April / May
this year is definitely working.  We have had
unseasonably hot weather recently and haven't
had much rain since the last downpour in mid-June
and there is still water in the dam...
A positive sign :)
Then, the Old Man started snoring...

... this was the state of it at 14.50p.m. today
It's the first time we've ever had the tanks overflow
A close-up of the overflowing
water from the rainwater tank
Our rain water tanks are all overflowing...

And, at 15.40p.mm. our dam, which we estimate hold 750 000 ltrs is overflowing...
The dam is officially overflowing.
Uhhhhmmmm, RMan - the jetty is underwater...?

He didn't do such a bad job though, as he
eyeballed the height.  Not too shabby :)
As you can see from the pictures below, it is not just the water which flows down the gully that RMan and the digger loader created to direct the water off the communal sand road...
The gully from the road to the dam - in full flood!
What is it with dogs and water?  Snow is
expected on the moutains tonight so it's
freezing cold outside, the water is wet (
but they have to go in the water...

Water is steered towards the dam from everywhere
 ... but it is also the washoff the land that ends up in the dam.
Only the supports of the lower section of the jetty
are still above water.  Guess we won't be walking on
it at the moment LOL
Happy days - everything is full :)

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Amazing adapability

Our grandson, Mike, is adapting to life on their smallholding like a duck to water.
On RMan's birthday last month -
Mike learning that grinding
coffee beans with a manual
grinder works just as well as
an electric one - and is more
fun :)
He seems to have a special affinity with animals, and is delighted with the neighbours horses, sheep / lambs and cows / calves - although the cows are a tad bigger than him at the moment, and possibly a bit overwhelming...
Bless him - he couldn't wait to put on his
new school clothes, even though school wasn't
due to start for another week.
He is attending a local primary school, which is 1st language Afrikaans, and apart from some basic instruction in his old school, and a short period of extra lessons, he seems to be coping well even though he is being taught in a "foreign" language.  More than I could.  I mean, I can speak the language sufficiently to save my life if I had to, and to converse with the local people, but to be taught in that language - no way!  And I have been through an entire school career with it as a 2nd language.

He enjoys the school so much and has even gone so far as to say he's going to summer camp every day, not school! LOL  The school is delightful - his classroom is in a separate wooden structure on stilts - like a tree house.

The head master introduced goats to the school a few years ago.  The school has won awards for the goats milk cheese they produce, and the children are also involved with taking care of the goats, cleaning up after them, milking them and making the cheese.

Mike LOVES it!

Natasha tells me that the headmaster has commented to her that Mike seems to have an affinity with the goats.
That's Blackjack in the centre (with the
black stripe down it's back)
The goats can't get enough of what
Mike is feeding them... :)
We had to collect him from school the other day, and before we were able to leave, we had to go with him to meet "his" goats.  He has named one of them Blackjack.

Apparently, the headmaster has told him that the goats are due to kid at the beginning of September, and that he always has a few for sale.  So Mike and his dad, Wayne, are planning the shelter for their future goats :)

This is what childhood is all about.  Not being entertained by movies, the latest must-have gadgets, and material things.
Natasha, Wayne, Mike and their dogs on their
way to visit us one evening - just a short stroll
along a dirt road, with some LED headlights to
light their way :).
I am so thrilled that they moved here - not only because they are just over the field and we can walk to them, or they to us, whenever we feel like it, but also because it is a less stressful lifestyle and such a perfect environment for everyone, especially for children.

Friday 2 August 2013

Green spaces for growing vegetables

This is for all those who live in town, and think that they have no space to grow vegetables, be that because you are living in an apartment complex, in a township, or because you are homeless.
For more information on the above, please click on the link beneath the above pic or to watch the video, the link below this next photo:
Then - here is one for those who have recently left their lands and have moved to town, and are yearning for that special something they left behind in their rural village:
To quote from the above link:

"We know that water comes from the clouds, not from a tap. We know that food comes from the ground, not from a shop in the City. And we know that nature offers us these gifts for free, every day. Yet we deny ourselves the simple opportunities of celebrating this every day.

Why is this so? Are we too busy working? Have we become enslaved to the notion of “buying” goodness? Have we forgotten the difference between theprice of something and the value of something?

We speak of change, we say that want change. But change is not easy. Change takes guts. Change is for the social revolutionaries who are prepared for the consequences of contradicting the status-quo and exposing the lie’s or our consumer-based economies.

We need “every-day” heroes, who are prepared to fight for change, to herald new and meaningful change.

Start with the homeless, the poor - ”in every neighborhood, a revolution”

Thank goodness we have individuals out there who cannot help but inspire us all.

Change - it really does just take one person at a time...