"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 26 October 2013

Wet, but well fed... :)

This pic was taken 2 minutes ago and shows the
waterfalls cascading down the Langeberg Mountains
12 kms to the north of us
We had an absolute downpour last weekend (40mm), and then more rain yesterday and today (25mm) - they are probably the last of the heavy falls for this year. It topped up the dam beautifully though - oh, and the bentonite that RMan lined the dam with, is working a treat, as the dam is holding water far better, and for longer, than it has done in the past.
This pic shows two waterfalls (in the centre
between the two trees)
- these are roughly 25 - 30 kms to
the north east just above the
local town
Our rainwater barrels are all overflowing - that'll help us during the forthcoming heat of summer.
Silly girl - she got soaking wet.
And then she went under the
shelter... <sigh>
Miranda and Kris are determined not to take advantage of the magnificent stables that RMan built for them.  Perhaps that is just as well in this instance - the rain was so "solid" that I'm sure that the noise of it falling on the IBR (galvanised corrugated roofing) would have spooked the two of them.  Perhaps we can sort that out by placing a layer of shadecloth on top of the roof.  It will also help to keep it cooler in summer...

But, there is nothing sadder looking than a soaking wet alpaca.  My heart ached for Miranda - her coat is so much thinner than Kris' as all her nutrition is going to her cria.
Kris has such a thick coat on him
that I doubt the rain has a
chance to penetrate.  He looks
hysterical, though, with his
fringe plastered flat on his
 I feel that she is lonely, pining, cold, wet and miserable...
Miranda - soaked through...
  The recycled containers, (which were
thoroughly cleaned) from our eco-friendly paint
make perfect water containers :)
At least that is what she looks like...

We have discovered the cost of animal feed - the alpaca's eat a portion of 12% maintenance meal (lucerne pellets, tiny chopped grass / seeds, and crushed corn) twice a day, as well as lucerne and "long grass".

With that in mind, a local farmer friend popped passed a couple of weeks ago and said that he was going to be harvesting in a few weeks time.  When we enquired if we would be able to purchase bales from him, he was more than happy to oblige.

So, when we were running low, we gave him a call.  He gave us directions and off RMan toddled with the trailer...
We never suspect just how useful the trailer (that
we purchased for nothing) would become LOL
RMan managed to fit two bales into the trailer - the second one was perched rather precariously on the end of the trailer, but it made it safely home :)
All hands on deck to move the
bale - it weighed 180kgs
He also discovered that, inadvertently, he had made the alpaca pergola a perfect size - the bales fitted through it as though it was made for that purpose.
What is this...?
No sooner was the one bale in the first paddock than the curious alpaca's couldn't hep themselves - they had to investigate what this "foreign" object in their paddock was. 
RMan, Wayne and John rolling the 2nd bale to
Kris' future paddock
 RMan, Wayne and John placed the 2nd bale in the 2nd paddock...
This pic to give you a perspective on the two
paddocks - the 2nd one - Kris' future home -
is behind the shadecloth protected trees in
the background
... well, Kris will have to move there shortly.
Gotcha!  Guess they finally couldn't resist sampling
the meal on offer.
Yum, yum :)
Four hours later the two were spotted helping themselves to what had just been placed in the pantry.

And the birds are loving having the alpaca's around - nothing nicer than swiping the odd seed here and there from the bales.  A stocked pantry for them too :)

Life is good :)

Thursday 24 October 2013

Thought for Thursday - 5

Here are some more wise words from TUT:

We're given a priceless gift everytime we have an
amazing sunrise or sunset.
The pic above was the sunset on a crisp
winter's evening this last July

"A Public Service Announcement from the Universe:

Be on guard against those who help others in the name of sacrifice, selflessness, or altruism, instead of in the name of joy. Because usually, they don't really help all that much. 

Sad is the life, that gives without realizing how much, in turn, it receives."

Sunday 20 October 2013


I know, I know - I've been MIA again.  Between helping the Alpaca's settle in and trying to satisfy our SARS (local IRS) requirements, things have been a tad hectic here lately.

But, I have gained another three followers - lost 2 and gained 3 LOL

So, a big welcome to Fracas Farm - from NE Ohio.

This is how they (he / she?) describe themselves on their blog, www.fracasfarm.blogspot.com:

"We are Fracas Farm. We have a little 2acres in NE Ohio, where we raise chickens for meat and eggs, turkeys, a pig or two, and bee hives. We try to grow most of our food, organically as possible although we are not certified. We love to eat real, good food. I stress the good part."

Secondy, wecome to Ange from the midlands of Kwazulu-Natal - I think...?

"Our life, family and homestead... All under South African skies"

The link I found for Ange's blog was http://theallanpitoutabode.wordpress.com/ but if I cick on it now, the blog is not found.  Perhaps Ange deleted it???  The facebook link works though... https://www.facebook.com/OurHillsideHomestead

Ange describes herself as follows:

"My whole being is my family, a brilliant man I adore he is my beginning my end and everything in between he is the one... the one i draw strength from and 3 beautiful boys who make every minute every second worthwhile!"

And, lastly, wecome to Nina - from somewhere...
Nina does not appear to have a blog, and her profile doesn't state where she is, but I have a feeling it is from somewhere in southern USA :)

Welcome and thank you all for hitting the "followers" button.  I always reply to comments, but sometimes it takes a little longer than other times.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

The paddock inhabitants...

Remember I told you that way back in March / April Ronnie saw information on an auction in the local Farmers Weekly.

As you know we deliberated, hesitated, decided, and then fell in love, and have been busy preparing to receive the latest additions to our family.

So, with no further ado I'd like to introduce you all to the two (and a half) newest members of our family...
Can you see them - lying in the far corner of the
paddock by the gate?
Miranda and Kris.

They are alpacas :)
Mianda and Kris - our alpacas.
Aren't they beautiful :)
Miranda, the brown one on the right, is a 6½ year old pregnant female, and Kris, the white one the left, is a 2½ year old male.  The cria (baby Alpaca) is due at the end of February / beginning of March next year.

We are now one of only approximately 400 alpaca breeders in South Africa.

They are incredible animals.  Elegant, inquisitive, gentle and agile.  They are also very eco-friendly - they don't rip the grass out by the roots when they graze, and their padded feet don't dig into the soil. Plus, they wont cause us to run out of water - at roughly 5trs of water each per day they don't drink as much as cows and sheep - and we are supplying them from our rain water tanks too :)  Finally, mucking out their paddock is a breeze - they use a communal midden - and always use the same spot :)
RMan in action - 1/2 a wheelbarrow load after
ony 5½ days.  The empty midden can be seen on
the lower right corner
 Lots of goodies for my compost heap...!!!

Yummy compost in the making... :)
Miranda is the gentle one, and Kris is the tough, hasty male - he is so forceful when he eats from his tub that he almost knocks it out of my hands.  Miranda will happily take grated carrot from my outstretched hand - her mouth is warm, soft and, oh!, so very gentle.  Kris isn't interested in human contact yet, so his carrot gets added to his tub.
C'mon Kris, let me see your eyes...
They have both come from large-ish herds, so this is their first time "on their own". Alpaca males and females are generally kept apart, except when they are breeding. Normally, a pregnant female wouldn't allow a male in the same paddock as her - she will "spit" at him.  But, because they are "out of their comfort zone", and also as Kris is still too young to mate, we have been advised by the breeder to allow them to remain in the same paddock until January next year.
Even crouching down and trying to take a
pic wasn't successful LOL
But, it's not all bad - his Beatle fringe
helps to keep the flies out of his eyes...
The spent the first few days gazing mournfully and humming continuously at the gate through which their breeder and her vehicle had exited.  The "hum" noise that they make sounds like they are asking a question - "Hmmmmm"?
This is where Miranda spends all her time -
in the corner where she first entered the
It has taken a week, but they are slowly coming round to us.  Now, when we enter their paddock with their tubs of the lucerne pellets and maintenance meal  mixture, they rush up to us - they recognise that the tubs contain goodies :)
Where are all my buddies...?
Also, the trough that RMan devised is being used :)
Both Miranda and Kris chomped at the contents
of the feeding trough as soon as we filled it
But, we have been told that Miranda will continue to "miss" her herd of females - she will remain at the gate looking for them - rain, wind and shine - until her cria is born next year.  Then she will settle down :)
A hastily errected pergola at her favourite spot - to
provide some shade when it is required
As we are already experiencing some pretty warm days, we decided that we would make her a basic pergola out of the balance of the wood we got from the sawmill - at her preferred spot -so that she has access to shade - she is not venturing to the shade of the trees in her paddock.  Apparently, the farm from which they originated, in Noordhoek in Cape Town, is so shady that they have to be given Vit A, B, D and E supplements.  Vit D won't be a problem here...
This is Miranda's paddock - the first paddock we made
- unti we found out that male and female apaca's
need to be kept separate.
In summer we have temperatures in excess of 35°C (95°F) and do not that much shade unti our trees grow, so lack of sun (Vit D) is not going to be a problem.
This is the view of the second paddock -
Kris' future home.  The first paddock is in
the background behind the stables
As for the "stable" which RMan made - we managed to halter Miranda the first night, and, as we led her to the stable, Kris happily followed.  Since then Miranda doesn't want to know about a halter - so we are giving her some time before we "insist".  Let the poor things acclimatize properly.  It's only fair. But, there is nothing sadder looking than a thoroughly drenched alpaca! 45mm of rain over the weekend left them looking like they needed hanging on the line to dry out...

RMan and I are very chuffed - and very thrilled with the new members of our family.  They bring a smile to our faces every time we look at them :)

Now all I have to do is find a spinning wheel, so that I can spin their wool when they are sheared in November...


To give you more info on alpaca's I am quoting from http://www.alpacas.co.nz/Alpaca%20Information.htm hereunder:
Easily farmed on a small block, with stocking rates of about 5 to the acre.
Low impact stock. With soft, padded feet, the alpaca has an extremely low impact on fragile landforms.
Low level carriers of internal parasites.
Stimulated ovulators, thus they can be mated at any time of the year.
Accustomed to using a communal dung site.
Parasite infestation is therefore low.
Alpaca dung is a rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Alpaca droppings are almost odourless, and are low in nitrogen.
Grazers and chew their cud. They have a split upper lip which prevents them from damaging the vegetation's roots
Consistently trouble free when birthing. The birth of a new cria usually occurs during daylight hours, on a fine day.
Long-lived -- approximately 20 years.
Naturally docile and are typically "mustered" by calling them. Dogs are not required.
Modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach. They convert grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.
Small and easy to handle.
Intelligent, which makes them pleasant to be around and easy to train.
Adaptable to varied habitat, successfully being raised around the world from 15,000 feet to sea level.

Not slaughtered outside of their native South America, thus allowing us to profit from them without killing them.
Not susceptible to footrot.
Not subject to lice infestations
Not prone to blowfly strike.
Not in need of tail docking.

Saturday 5 October 2013

A paddock in the making - part 3

RMan outdid himself.  Not only did he create two wonderful paddocks - basically out of unwanted scraps of wood, but he also conceived, and constructed the following three very necessary items...
The first gate in the making
... three excellent gates...
A feeding trough - or shoud that be called a manger?
A feeding trough... or should that be a (1.2mtr high) manger...?  (Trough 2 is still in production).

RMan made two excellent stables - one in each
paddock.  Why two...?
And two stables with stable doors :)

He's been hiding himself under a bushel these past 33 years - I never knew about his exceent woodworking side...

Our daughter, Natasha, S-i-L Wayne and Mike, our grandson, were also impressed.  So much so that they had to try it out - to see if their three canine famiy members could gain access.  So, one evening they schepped their pregnant mama goat, and two 5-week-old male kids round to try it out for sze.
The extended family en route

Allow me to introduce them all...
From left to right:
Mama Goat (Dolly), Natasha, the two male kids,
Wayne and Mike
On the dam wall:
Muffin and Gambi
and hurting towards me, Mandy :)

Did the dogs manage to get in to the goats in the paddock?

Nope :)

Thank you for your patience - but I had to capture all the effort that went into preparing for the future inhabitants.

All will be revealed in my next posting.  The final teaser I can give you is that they are very eco-friendly animals...

Wednesday 2 October 2013

A paddock in the making - part 2

Given the length of time that has elapsed since I last posted (we've been busy - very, very busy from sun-up to sundown, 7 days a week for over 2 weeks), I'll refresh your memories as to where I left off the previous post...

"But, our local unofficial sawmill has ran out of suitable scraps of wood, so, on our way to purchase "chicken" wire from the nearby co-op I had a brainwave..."

There is an enormous "official" sawmill, "Sutherland Sawmills" in Swellendam, our closest town.  I asked RMan to take a drive passed it prior to entering the wide open doors of Co-Op once again.

All we were looking for was the off-cuts - the "unwanted" scraps of wood that were unsuitable for sale to wood merchants.  Wood that the sawmill would happily "give away".

We were in luck - they weren't prepared to "give it away" but they were prepared to sell it to us at a ridiculous price.
Sutherland Sawmills - a local sawmill which
processes the wood from invasive pine trees
It was wonderful to visit the sawmill - they use every scrap of wood that they can get out of a tree - be that for beams, planks, poles, wood shavings and even sawdust. 
Bags for sawdust in the foreground, piles of wooden
planks ready to ship to the wood merchants in
Cape Town behind that, and our "planks" in
the far background.
Some of the scrappy pieces (similar to those which we purchased) get used in the making of trugs.

Large trugs with 3 "feet"...
The smaller off-cuts are repurposed into
attractive trugs
...and smaller trugs with two "feet".
The smaller trugs which are manufactured
by Sutherland Sawmills and then
transported to garden centres in
Cape Town
The "larney" wood is cleaned, holes are cored, and it instantly becomes spiffy fencing poles.
Pukker "larney" fencing
But, we weren't iterested in the "larney" stuff - we wanted to repurpose their off-cuts - their junk wood.

And, they had piles of it - far to much for trug orders :)
One of four trailer loads we relieved the sawmill of :)
Four trailer loads later...
A close-up.  As you can see, there is nothing
wrong with the wood - it was just waiting for
someone - anyone - to put it to the use for which
it was grown :)
... we had what we needed.  And at a fraction of the cost of conventional wire fencing - be that barbed wire strands or chicken wire type fencing.

Our fencing stretches for approximately 120 linear metres (excluding the two "stables" we have erected), and each metre had roughly 5 - 6 (sometimes 7) "planks" - thus 720 linear mtrs of fencing alone.
The white dog in the foreground is the cause of
our using "sometimes 7" planks on the fence :)
"Sometimes 7" was because we had to prevent Natasha's Pekinese, Griffin (I call him Muffin), from gaining access to the paddocks at ground level.

But, taking an average of 6 planks / metre of fence at a total cost for the installed fence of ZAR4000.00 = ZAR33.36 (ZAR5.56 X 6) / metre (at today's exchange rate) that equates to €2.43 or US$3.29 per metre - wood, whole and split gumpoles, screws and petrol for the genny.  We couldn't have found a cheaper way of fencing off the paddocks if we tried.  And that is without amortising in the cost of all the wood used for the 3 X 2 mtr and 2 X 2 mtr stables either!

And, as RMan said, "We're re-using wood that wasn't wanted"!  I'm proud of him :)