"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, 30 August 2014

Dry, dry, dry...

It's amazing what a source of historical information my blog is turning out to be for Rman and I.

When I want to check on how we ran our water or electrical conduits during the building, or on weather from years gone by, etc. I am able to quickly find the info I need on it.  So, forgive me if I babble on now - this posting will help us in the years to come... :) 

For those of my followers who don't know South Africa, the Western Cape Province (wherein lies our smallholding) is a winter rainfall area.  Winter in the Cape becomes the Green Season as far as tourists are concerned - a complete and welcome contrast to Gauteng Province (Johannesburg / Pretoria area) which gets it's rain in summer, and has a dry, brown grass appearance and runaway veld fires in winter.

This year we've had a below average rainfall - so much so that RMan's oats - which he spent so much time preparing the ground for, and planting so carefully - suffered very badly.
Who did I spy in the field, with a hosepipe in hand?
So, I wasn't surprised to see him in the middle of the oat field armed with a hose a couple of weeks ago.  (At that point in time we had only had 20mm of rain since the begining of July - and, trust me, the ground was d-r-y!!)  He was trying to water the oats, so that he could harvest at least some of the crop for the alpaca's as a reward for all his hard work.
I traced the pipe back to our rainwater tanks...
You recall we have seven 5,000 litre rainwater tanks.  They certainly came in handy this winter :)  Even the frosty mornings caused a trickle of melting ice into the tanks - admittedly, not much, but every single drop helps!
...and it stretched for 100mtrs to where RMan
was standing
All RMan had to do was purchase an extra 100 mtrs of 15mm irrigation pipe, hook it up to the one rainwater tank, switch on the 300watt pump, open all the stop valves...
Not easy watering an entire field by hand, so
RMan chose half of the field and gave that
some concentrated watering
...and out poured the water from all the tanks.  Totally free and 100% chemical free rain water :)
Nothing like a cold beer to quench a thirst :)
Naturally, seeing all that liquid squirting out causes a thirst in humans as well, so when I shouted to ask him if he was thirsty, the reply was "Yes please!!" :)  A cold beer (or two) sorted out the human thirst at least :)

What is the point of having rainwater tanks if one doesn't utilize the water they are holding when one needs it? :)

This past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had 25.5mm of very welcome rain fall, but RMan has decided that the crop is past saving.  It's barely above ankle height and very patchy.  So he is going to leave it to mature and dry out, and then he is going to turn the entire plant matter into the ground.  As it breaks down it should help to feed the soil so next year's crop will hopefully be a successful one.


  1. We here in the States seem to concentrate on our own problems with drought and forget that our friends in other parts of the world are having similar problems. So sad - losing your oat crop. I thought about doing a rain dance but I expect that would probably get me arrested, so I will just pray for rain instead. Prayer has much better results than a rain dance anyway.

    1. Vicki - Looking on the bright side, at least we'll be able to use the failed crop to feed the soil :)

      Yes - prayer always helps - thank you for thinking of us :)

  2. Dani - first off, thank you for all of your supportive comments on my tribute posts to SciFiChick - it means a lot.

    next up, oh i am so sorry that RMan lost an entire field of oats. but you are very smart to have that many rainbarrels. back in the city, i watered my small gardens from two 80litre rainbarrels and we filtered our rainwater through our Berkey for drinking water. here, we have no problem with it ever getting too, too dry. i haven't had to water anything except the greenhouse in a bout a week and a half. now mind you, we are not trying to grow a field of oats!!! we still use our rainbarrels for drinking water, but like RMan, jam has a bunch of hoses all over the yard as our gardens are spread out, for when we do need to water.

    i will pray for more rain coming your way. much love to you and yours, Dani. and thank you again. your friend,

    1. kymber - Although I didn;t know SciFi, I was also a follower of her blog and I was shocked at the suddeness and feel your loss - her friend for many years.

      Water - we have a 5000 litre tank specifically filled with fresh municipal water and that should keep us going if ever there is a shortage. Rain water - purer and cleaner - is solely for the crops. But, perhaps I should look at investing in a Berkley?!

      Thanks for the prayers, kymber.

      Take it easy my friend - SciFi knew she was loved by you, and her life was made richer for knowing you.

    2. Dani - my advice about the Berkey, and RMan is certainly capable of it - is to just buy the black Berkey filters, as many as you can, and then keep a savings specifically for additional Berkey filters until you have a lifetime supply.

      here is jam's home-made Berkey which filters 5 gallons in about 24hrs. have RMan google "homemade Berkey" - he will find all kinds of 5gallon bucket set ups.

      we swear by our Berkey filters. they are a true investment!

      your friend,

    3. kymber - Thanks for the tip :)

      Uhmmmm - RMan is not "technologically inclined" so I'll do the googling and share what I unearth with him and he'll take it from there.

      I'll check on your blog for Jam's homemade filter...

  3. What a shame to lose all the crop but at least the failed crop will help nourish the soil for next year. It must have taken Rman ages to water even half the field. No wonder he needed a beer (or two)!

    1. Mum - Any excuse for a beer will work :)

  4. Can you turn the pacas into the field to graze on the oat grass for a while, or are they like goats who don't graze, only browse?

    1. Quinn - Alpaca's are ruminants who browse. Problem is leaves of lemon trees and pelargoniums, amongst others, are poisonous to alpaca's so if we let them out of their paddock, they would have to be carefully, and CONSTANTLY watched until they are herded / led back to their holding paddock. Also, they have never experienced barbed wire, so that could also be a problem...!

  5. One of the main reasons I started my blog was so I could have a cyber journal to record everyday events. I too have found it handy when I can not remember a certain thing or happening...my blog comes to the rescue!

    I am sorry that Rman lost his crop but at least he tried to save it. Like you mention...what good are rain water tanks if you don't use them when you need it?

    I too am guilty of only thinking about the drought in Texas and forgetting that there are other parts of the world in worst shape than us. Hoping both of us see rain soon, as well as all those other parts of the world that need this precious liquid.

    1. Ms Belinda - Seems like the weather is playing up all around this planet - we know the cause, don't we...?! ;)

  6. And here's in been too wet, delaying my fall planting. Wish we could trade you some of our rain.
    I broke out into a smile when I saw the word "hosepipe." That's what we called a garden hose when I was growing up. Sometimes these days I'll revert to my childhood country lingo and use that word, to the delight and amusement of my wife. I'm pleased to see it in use two hemispheres away. :)

    Hoping your weather improves...

    1. Bill - LOL - glad to give you a smile, 'cos that's what I've always called it. Yeah, would certainly appreciate some of your rain... please :)


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.