"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 27 September 2014


I have three favourite flowers - daffodils - my all time best, sweet peas (in Spring) and clivia's.
Sweet peas - freshly harvested from the garden
especially for this pic :)
We have never had the climate to grow daffs, but sweet peas - I just chuck 'em in some soil, and if they produce, I score.  As for clivia's - they are such easy plants to grow, and so rewarding - year after year.

Back in mid-2012 before we left our town house I ensured that I had some of the seeds from my favourite flowering garden plant - clivia's.  

Their only requirement is dappled shade and some water, and, although I wasn't sure where I was going to plant them on the smallholding, I wasn't leaving without some :) 

As I hadn't dug up any of the existing plants I didn't think the new owner would object LOL

I took some of the seed heads, peeled off the outer sheath - a bit of a messy job - and shoved them in some sand in seedling trays.
Harvesting clivia seeds whilst we were still in our
town house
Thankfully, enough survived for me to plant.
Clivia's a really easy to propagate from seed
- the details can be here
By the time the plants were ready to go in the ground, I had found the perfect spot for them - outside the kitchen door.
Ugly - I definitely had a plan for this area - even
back in 2010 when this pic was taken
This area had taken a lot of punishment during the building, and had become a repository for scrap, and an accumulation of building materials, etc.  An absolute eyesore.  Because it was the only sheltered, shady spot, it also became the place where I shoved all the small pot plants from the town house - until I could figure out where they needed to be planted.

It was a spot crying out for a bit of colour.  Kitchen doors can be such "messy" places, can't they - and which accumulate anything and everything.
Neat and orderly - just like I like it :)
After clearing up all the bits of plastering cement from the ground (why are builders so lackadaisical  when they plaster?), adding lots of compost and a border of left over bricks I got to work.
Planted up with my clivia seedlings - September 2012
This is what the bed looked like in September 2012 - I couldn't wait for the builders to leave site, so climbed in around them LOL  Once I was finished, the area was strictly off limits - except when they had to paint the exterior walls of the house.  Then I "supervised" their entire time there ;)
A pink azalea in a pot by the back door steps,
my worm bin - handy for the kitchen -
my stacked self-watering herb stand with
parsley, basil an garlic chive plants,
lettuces growing above the clivia's, and
the ducks - all four of them ensuring that
no slugs, snails or other creepy crawlies lurk
in the undergrowth LOL
This is what that spot looks like today.
Clivia - stunning, rewarding and
so simple to care for.
I wasn't planning on having the structure with the self-watering repurposed Styrofoam boxes on it, but it turns out that it is too hot, even in my shadecloth veggie patch, to grow lettuce, so this is the only way I can harvest it year round.

You win some, and you lose some.  I reckon I'm winning all the way :)

Monday 22 September 2014

Deepest Darkest

Living here at the southern tip of Deepest Darkest one gets a distorted view of the rest of the world.
I have lived for all of my adult life under the impression that South Africa was a really, really tiny spec in the grand scheme of things.  And, as for Africa - I mentally pictured it as sort of the size of North America.

Well, that mental image took a drastic u-turn this past weekend.


Because this image appeared in an article in the Weekend Argus (page 21). 
Africa's landmass could accommodate the US,
Mexico, India, China and most of Europe
This misguided impression I held is caused through the Mercator projection which distorts the size and shape of the countries due to the scale increasing from the equator to the poles.

For instance - in reality, the landmass of the various countries is as follows:

South Africa = 1 221 037 kms2

The USA = 8 080 474 kms2

Australia = 2 589 988 kms2

China = 9 596 961 kms2

Mexico = 1 972 550 kms2

India = 3 287 590 kms2

Great Britain = 243 610 kms2

So 7 X South Africa's could fit into the USA, or 2 X into Australia, etc.

Just shows you that you shouldn't undervalue where you are, who you are, and the potential impact you could have on positively addressing the dire circumstances which, according to the scientists - and judging from the peculiar weather being experienced world-wide, this beautiful planet is heading towards catastrophe at a seemingly uncontrollable rate.

Africa, and specifically South Africa, is as important as every other country on this planet.  Especially when one considers that if we all combine our efforts - and I'm specifically beseeching  President Zuma here with the announcement over the weekend that he is in the process of approving 6 - I repeat 6 - new nuclear power stations which we, as a country firstly, can't afford (ZAR1 000 000 000.00 each - one frigging trillion rand, and which, secondly, shouldn't be imposed on this planet and, finally, and especially, if you don't know what you are actually doing...!?) to make this a eco-friendlier, healthier planet.

(Not too sure how one person can be empowered to make this decision - especially one as important as this?)

I shudder to think what would happen if another nut was misplaced in a reactor (as happened at Koeberg a few years back), or if we had a Chernobyl or Fukushima situation here...  Our (generally) pristine beaches and coastline have the potential to become a life threatening mess, as opposed to the vitally important source of marine life, food, and income that they are at the moment.

C'mon guys - especially JZee - please, please, please consider the alternatives. Solar and wind power - far cheaper from the start.  Far kinder on this planet. And far superior long term benefits for everyone concerned.  Rather allow this beautiful country to become a shining example and world leader utilising renewable energy, than a future beacon of nuclear waste.  We are more fortunate than many other countries - we have the land, we have the climate, we have the sunshine and the wind...

Anyone wanting to put their name where their mouth is, can do so here or here (the petition is in the top left hand corner) - if you go to those sites you'll notice that there are very few people who, up to now, have been prepared to stand up and be counted.

My plea to those in positions of authority - help make a long lasting difference, a more caring, positive difference through choosing the more intelligent solution to our power problems.

Update: Our TV news station reported last night that a deal was signed yesterday for 8 nuclear power stations!!!!

Saturday 20 September 2014

In spite of the drought...

... my garden is slowly springing to life :)

This photo was taken two - three weeks ago - the
water level is even lower now.
As you can see from the exposed white paint on the
jetty supports, the dam level is very low.
Thank goodness we coated the dam with bentonite -
I am convinced that if we hadn't, it would not still be
holding water.
 Guess you can't keep Mother Nature at bay LOL
A tiny strawberry - the
first of the season
This is the first tiny strawberry that I harvested this week.  But, I am not discouraged...
This one (of about 70) plant is covered with
flowers / minute strawberries - it looks like it
is going to be a good strawberry season this year.
It would appear that the load of alpaca poo
 and straw that the strawberry beds were dosed
with at the beginning of winter has worked
a treat :)
... as the strawberry plants are well covered with flowers / tiny strawberries in the making :)
Having googled how to prune a berry bush, even
our youngberry bushes are full of emerging flowers.
Last year we had a very disappointing youngbery harvest - addmittedly the bushes were still young, and incorrectly pruned by moi.  This year I got clever and googled pruning fruit bushes.  The apparent results speak for themselves :) But, it is a thankless chore- the tiny thorns are hectic!!  I even had one work it's way deep into my finger and go septic.  Ah, the pleasures of gardening LOL

My pumpkins / butternut and tomatoes are all slow - but I think the ducks have been digging up the pumpkin / butternut seeds - it was a nice, wet, straw-filled hollow and just perfect for ducks to forage in...  So, (for the third time) I've started them off in seedling trays - well away from the ducks.
What a sight for sore eyes
Although, at the moment, I am madly harvesting broad beans, I'm not able to get into the garden as much as I want to - we have been so busy with work.  (As a side note, there is nothing nicer than cooked, (inner) peeled broad beans with a dab of butter and a splash of lemon juice - I'm salivating just writing it LOL)

But, I think I am keeping on top of the planting.  I have restricted the produce I am going to grow this year to what we enjoy eating the most - peas, beans, swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers - sweet, chilli and piquanté peppers (all three types of capsicum have, amazingly, survived the winter and, after a pruning, are already producing flowers), potatoes, carrots, garlic, onions and aubergines (once the seedlings are available in my local nursery) and, hopefully, pumpkins and butternut.

That should give us a good variety - and a good mix of the necessary orange and dark green vegetables recommended for healthy bodies :)  And all are preservable so we can continue to enjoy them next winter.
The grape vines have barely any leaves,
but they are already producing grapes :)
Fruit - well we have that covered with strawberries, youngberries, plums, apricots, apples, pears, granadilla's, pomegranates and grapes.  Lots of fresh picking / eating, and jams / preserves in that lot, plus, once I've googled "how to make cordials", and souced the necessary bottles, they'll provide for that too ;) 
I also pruned the pomegranate trees correctly
this year (thank you Google) and they are
producing flowers too :)
For me, it's completely pointless using precious water to grow masses of food we don't eat / enjoy, and which would therefore be a waste - of time, water and effort.

Early tomorrow morning - it's weeding time...!

Sunday 14 September 2014

WhoooHoooo!!! Recycling has arrived

WhoooHoooo!!!!   Recycling has finally arrived in Swellendam :)  Paper, glass, plastic and tin :)
Drive down Koringland Street passed the sewerage
farm on your left and SSK on the right,

turn left at the Traffic Dept building
into Russel Street.  At the yield turn right and
travel +/- 150mtrs
Being at the other end of town, it's a bit of a schlep, but worth it.
Look out for Synergy's building...
Synergy Recycling is opposite Supaquick in Russel Street in the industrial area of Swellendam.  They are open Monday to Friday 8 - 5p.m but they are planning on leaving a container so that you can leave them a neat bag of recycling if you pass their premises during non-business hours. Please ensure that it is left out of dogs reach and is rinsed of any "attractive" foodstuff to prevent attracting vermin.

Please - support the recycling depots near where you live - without your support they cannot survive and all your recycling will then end up in landfill once again.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Vagaries of nature

Apologies for the delay in answering your comments to my last posting - we have just had a manic two weeks. The rep we hired for our Cape Town based business has inundated us with enquiries - and in particular one very large order.  It is the type of order where you can't say "Ooops - I left something out of your quote, so I am adding it on at the end" and we had to give it our undivided attention, checking and re-checking, and re-checking again. Thankfully, the quote is now finalised, and has been submitted, and now we wait to hear the outcome...

In the meantime, I need help.

Please, can anyone help me identify this tree? 
Our unknown tree is currently
3 - 3.5 mtrs tall
It is a relatively fast growing, evergreen tree...
This is a close up of the pinnate leaves
... with pinnate leaves.
The fruit hanging on the tree - not many,
but intriguing
For the first time this year I noticed that it had a few fruit on it (duh - I couldn't miss them, could I - especially when they turned red LOL)
Yes, the one on the right has had a little Dani nibble
taken out it  The taste is sweet-ish although a
little tart.  But quite pleasant.
Curiosity killed the cat,and it may certainly do the same to me.  I had to taste it.  Against RMan's advice.

The taste was quite pleasant - sweet, but tart.  There is roughly 2 - 3 mm of flesh and it has quite a large "hairy" pip inside.

I'd love to know what it is and are the fruit edible - hopefully someone out "there" can help...?  It would be wonderful if they are edible, as, in addition to our pomegranate, peach, plum, pear and apple trees, they can provide us with an alternative source of fruit. :) 

Then, secondly, I read about a tree - a Paulowina - in a magazine article a few years ago.  It was a tree of which I had never heard before, and my curiosity was piqued, especially after some googling where I discovered that it triples in size every year - reaching (harvestable) maturity in 15 years (if required).   Being short of shade here, it seemed worthwhile trying to grow.  And a few saplings were on offer.  The only problem was that they were on offer in Pretoria - roughly 1600kms from where we lived.  But, persistence pays, they say, and the seller managed, on a trip  down to the coast for a holiday a few months later, to bring me three saplings.
The first signs of leaf growth this Spring
They were planted in the ground, and placed on our irrigation line.  Sadly, we lost one of them (it got chewed by a dog), but the other two have weathered the first two years of heat and wind and are doing well - not quite tripping in height every year, but certainly sprouting higher and more quickly than the other trees in our garden.

But, at the end of last summer I noticed for the first time that there were flower "pods" on only one of the branches.  They did absolutely nothing, so I reckoned that they had developed too late and the winter cold and frost had killed them.
A couple of the "pods" have
suddenly burst into flower
Ha!  Exactly how much do I think I know?

In the last 10 days those "dead" pods have started to bloom.
The flower is orchid like in appearance, with
"tracks" running down the inside as though
to guide the bees to the stamens
A truly spectacular orchid-like blossom with the most wonderful perfume.  I can imagine that when the tree is more mature, and bearing many pods which burst into flower, the scent will be wonderful.  Apparently, trees can be grown from the seeds they produce - not easily, but it is possible.  I love a challenge :)
These young leaves are already bigger than my hand
- and they only emerged last week.
The leaves - well, they grow to about the size of a bread plate and they seem to be handling our wind OK.

Happy days :)

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Wild thing...

Early last week, when we went through to the nearby town for Mike's birthday, as we were leaving after the party our daughter had a request.

Could we please adopt another feathered friend - a Cape Turtle Dove.

Only that morning she was working in the kitchen when she heard a noise and turned round.  There, walking on the floor, was this little dove.  As it was tame it was obviously someone's pet.  She shooed it outside, but it just came in again.  

This tame little creature wouldn't last long there as our daughter has three boisterous dogs and a cat.

So, with Mike's help she had placed it for safekeeping in their garden shed until Wayne came home that evening.  But she was at her wits end as to what they were going to do with it.

So, we agreed - although I was reluctant...
Here - I have to stay here...?
The little thing is so cute.  As soon as we got it home I placed it near the duck enclosure (birds of a feather, etc LOL)
Okey-dokey - I'll start by having a munch...
But, it wasn't happy there.  It had a quick munch of duck food (crushed corn), and a long slurp of water, and then flew up onto a nearby rain water tank.

It stayed there overnight - I was worried that the owl that frequents our fieldmouse-laden property would go for it that night.

The next morning it was still on the tank.  So I served it breakfast in bed. 

During the course of the day we checked on it and it was nowhere to be seen.

Then we heard an "Ooooo" from the backyard area.  (It makes a deep "Ooooo" sound when you're nearby).
Can you spot it?  Look on the far left handlebar of
the left quaddie
(btw, the numberplate does not make the quaddie
road legal - it was juts me having a bit of fun with
an old numberplate)
On further investigation we spied it sitting on the handlebars of my quadbike - in the shade.  Clever bird :)
Hmmmm, not too shabby.  Iguess it'll have to do
It seems to have taken up residence there, so I have secured a small bowl of water and one of duck food against the strong south easterly wind, and have provided it with a bed (a cardboard box filled with hay and weighed down with bricks) - I have no idea how it was housed previously, and I don't want to make it feel unwelcome...

I reckon that it is used to having easy access to it's owners house though...

... as it even waddled into our lounge from the front patio last night.  RMan and I were busy at the dining room table, Scallywag was sleeping on the floor, and all we heard was this close - very close - "Oooo".  (I had to distract Scallywag with skins of the cooked broadbeans I was shelling whilst RMan picked it up and took it back outside - I don't do bird poo in my house LOL)
So tame it happily goes to RMan's hand,
and then up his arm, and onto his shoulder,
finally settling on top if his head!
But, it's presence has been gnawing at me.  This little turtle dove is someones pet. Yes, it is illegal here to catch and cage wild birds, but someone has - maybe they hand reared it?  And they are probably missing / worried about their pet. So, last Friday, when we went to town for our weekly groceries, I asked Mike, my grandson, to visit all their neighbours and find out if they are missing their pet.  Although it is able to fly, it doesn't fly far, so logically, it must have come from a neighbours property...

Also, I have placed notices on the boards at the local supermarkets to advise that I have a "bird" - they must identify what it is before I hand it over to just anyone LOL

I hope it gets reunited with it's owners - we must be a strange set of people and circumstances that it now has to adapt to...

Saturday 6 September 2014


Oh, my...

Even the best laid plans can be thwarted.

Back on the 8th of July I introduced you to the latest additions to our farm animals.  In this case, it was Dilly and Dolly.
So cute - Dilly & Dolly
I was so excited - finally the possibility of having tiny new born ducklings was within a few months grasp.

I have tended them well - catered for their every need, protected them from the bullying drakes, and ensured that twice a day they have fresh water and food. Never mind cleaning out their filthy bath (ducks are not the cleanest of creatures).

What is the thanks that I get? 
There are defintely curly tail feathers on all four
They're all bloody drakes!!!!  Dilly & Dolly are, in fact, Donald & Daniel.

I ain't gonna get no ducklings from this lot.
From another angle - there are still curly tails on
them all
If, and when, I find some more Pekin ducklings for sale again soon, how can I introduce any baby hens - given that there should be 3 - 5 hens / drake?  I have no wish to have an instant duck family of 16 minimum.

RMan and I are unable to slaughter anything (except a field mouse or a snake) so it's not as if we could enjoy three duck l'orange meals in the near future either... (sigh)

Hmmmm, perhaps I can barter the well fed potential meal(s) for a couple of hens... :)  Let's see.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Keeping things tidy

It's been a busy, yet strange week or two recently.  And I've been in a deep, introspective and contemplative - almost sombre - mood. Be warned LOL

Firstly, the busy week - we decided to employ a sales rep for our Cape Town based business. That took some organising long distance and has kept me frantically busy for too many days.  But, no gain, no pain - so I guess I shouldn't grumble.

Then, on Thursday last week I read on kymbers blog that SciFi Chick of Bacon and Eggs blog had suddenly passed away.  So incredibly sad - she was a lovely lady and was so amped to get all of her harvest preserved in her last posting.  Her passing was the first "death" of a blogger I have experienced.  It shook me.

Then, I woke up one morning early last week and realised that I hadn't heard from my very oldest friend, Brat, in a while.

Brat has blown me away with her commitment, energy, drive and enthusiasm. She was a draughtswoman (who even did work for RMan and I when we were first married) for many years, but due to the downturn in the economy, and the sometimes unreasonable demands of her clients, she decided to have a change of employment and launched herself into a recycling business - and doing this all on her own and in her late 50's!!  Full marks to her - her recycling business is growing from strength to strength - and that is solely due to her personal involvement in actually sourcing customers, and physically climbing in with an assistant and loading / offloading all the recyclable goods, etc. into the back of her bakkie.  Where she gets the energy from I have no idea.

So, leaving her a Facebook message got no results, e-mailing her - Nada - and calling the two cell phone numbers that I had resulted in complete strangers answering and unable to help me.  I was worried.

Then I thought of phoning a relative of hers - searching for the number yielded no solution, so, digging deep into my grey matter I recalled that he'd had a restaurant in Sandton - and I successfully Googled his contact details.  He told me that at the beginning of August, whilst collecting recycling, she had had an accident  and was in hospital with a broken leg - a break high up in the femur.

Relief - I had feared the worst, especially as her house in Gauteng had recently been broken into - twice - by a gun-toting individual.  But, she has a heart condition, and because of that the doctors were wary of putting her through a general anaesthetic in order to operate.  So the hospital has had her leg in traction for over two weeks!!  I can't imagine how painful that has been for her.  But, the doctors finally operated last week and she handled the op OK and is on the road to recovery - thank goodness.

But, all of this highlights the shortfall in our modern communications.  I thought I had everything covered, but as you can see above, I didn't.  I need to revisit this for all the important people in my life LOL

The same applies to this blog.
Although I  started this blog to share any eco-friendly tips, sources and methods with anyone in this country who was interested, I am not sure that I want it to hang in space indefinitely when I leave this mortal coil.  I know that whatever info I have provided will be available elsewhere on the net if people take the time (and use the right keywords ;) )

So, I need to give my Blogger password to my kids, and ask my daughter or son to delete it when the time comes - obviously in the future LOL  There is no point in advocating eco-friendly anything / recycling / not wasting, and then letting my blog clutter up the Net indefinitely, not so?  I feel it's the responsible thing to do.

Never fear though - until then you're stuck with me - waffling on, having a soap box moment, or just sharing whatever interests me... :)