"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 28 February 2015

Home made

Earlier this summer when my youngberries bushes were in fruit I harvested a large bowl full.

Yup - some jam got made and added to the store cupboard, but having so many berries left over, I, for the first time, made some youngberry syrup from a recipe in my copy of "The Preserving Book" by Lynda Brown.

All it takes is fruit, caster sugar and a small amount of citric acid.
That's all we have
left of the homemade
youngberry syrup I
Although the bottle
is misted over, and
the contents unclear, the
cordial is a deep, clear
reddish colour - all
100% natural
 Oh boy - it's wonderful!!

And it turned out to be a memory jolt for my husband, RMan.  As a child he used to drink what he calls "Himbo" juice.  I never saw that for sale in the shops (but there again my parents weren't German so I obviously wasn't "attuned") and thus I had never tasted it.

When my youngberry syrup was ready I gave RMan a taste and he got excited.  "You made Himbo!!!" was his pleased comment.

Then his next words were, "You should market this".  Guess he really did like it lol

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and her family came to visit.  It was a warm day, so, during the afternoon I dished up some "Himbo" juice.
Baby cup discarded
at her feet - I want
Mum's ju
ice please... :)
My little granddaughter, HJG was busy with her baby cup, but her Mum held out the glass of Himbo for her to try.  HJG took a small taste - looked up at her Mum - then grabbed hold of the glass with both hands to prevent it being taken away from her, and with deep toned grumbling "yum, yum" noises in her throat, proceed to polish of the contents.  Apparently whenever she is enjoying something edible she "grumbles".

Guess I'm going to have to devote all of the youngberries I harvest next season to youngberry syrup.  It is so simple to make, and being able to feed your little one's with something that doesn't contact colourants, artificial anything nor preservatives - that's special :)

I'm so privileged.

Tuesday 24 February 2015


... possibilities.  If we were still in the building stage lol

I always thought I was a relatively lateral thinker, but I never even considered this.
Being a deep chest-type refrigerated unit, the cold air remains at the bottom.  Imagine if it was a freezer...?!
One might have to dress warmly in order to delve into the freezer, but, wow, it would certainly hold plenty of food lol
The above images came by e-mail, and to complete the contents of that e-mail, here is a bit of a laugh...:)

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Alternative uses for alpaca fibre...

... is over at my other blog.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Unknown plant

RMan and I went to Mossel Bay today - on a shopping trip for the farm / tractor.

As we were leaving Mossel Bay I spied a bush on the side of the road.  Unfortunately I didn't get a pic of it, but I did nab three berries - three large berries.

The bush - I think it was pruned, and had green thorns and lots of very pretty white star-like flowers and loads of these large berries.
A sticky white liquid quickly oozes from the
berry as soon as it is picked from the bush
The first thing I noticed was that as soon as they were picked the crown where the berry met the branch started oozing - a white, very sticky fluid.  I immediately wrapped them in newspaper - so they wouldn't leak the sticky gum in the car.
3 hours later the sticky white fluid is still visible
in the flesh and around the edges of the berry
When we got home I broke one of the berries open and this is what they look like inside...
The seeds are almost identical to watermelon
seeds, only much smaller
In the pic above you can clearly see the seeds - almost like small watermelon seeds.  The flesh is most appealing - soft and juicy.  I can't pick up any significant smell.

Does anyone know what it is?

If it's indigenous I fancy trying to grow them from seed.  It's a very attractive bush and should also attract birdlife :)  Maybe even the field mice might fancy it - more than they fancy my tomatoes and butternut...  That would be a win, and would form another aspect to eco-friendly pest control.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Reality of solar power costs

I get many e-mails, especially from others in South Africa, regarding our move off-grid.

So many people in South Africa are totally fed-up with Escom's load shedding shenanigans (enforced blackouts) and are eager to go off grid, but I think that the unknown cost of that is inhibiting most people from making the change. Perhaps it would be easier if I broke down the cost of our 1.12kWh solar system.

First, though, when we left our town house and moved to our smallholding, we were using approximately 15kWh / day.  At the time that was costing us ZAR1.37 / kWh.  Therefore 15kWh / day was costing us ZAR616.50 / month.
Minimum grid power costs over 5 years if we
had stayed 
in our town house
As you can see from the above, if we had not moved to our smallholding and gone off grid we would have spent approximately ZAR54 271.20 (excluding V.A.T.) over a period of 5 years.  And that is calculated at an annual increase of only 8% / year.
The minimum grid power costs over 4 years
on our smallholding 

- if we had availed ourselves of the service
Plus, if we had continued using Escom on our smallholding we would have had an additional service fee at a cost of ZAR589.00 - ZAR715.93 per month.  But, our electricity bill would have been even more than the total monthly amount in the image above.  Our smallholding neighbours spend on average ZAR 1200.00 - ZAR1500.00 / month.  Why - because they are not aware.

So - now to the costs of our solar power system.

As you can see from the above our system cost us ZAR54 886.39  That was back in 2012 - the cost of solar panels is lower now than it was then, so that cost would be reduced even further.

To me there is no comparison.

We live quite normally.  You just earn to become more aware.

If you discover that you require the use of a fridge and a freezer, and you don't have the power output for 24 hour use of both, then, if you are able to purchase a better energy rated side-by-side fridge /freezer unit, as opposed to plugging in a separate fridge and a freezer, you can have that requirement fulfilled.

Similarly the washing machine.  Front loaders use far more energy than a top loaders, and a cold water wash will clean 99% of your clothing as well as a hot water wash will do.

Selling on your now redundant appliances helps to offset the cost of the new ones.
Our Owl electricity monitor
We  have become completely aware of exactly what appliance / gadget we switch on, and for how long.   Providing you keep your eye on how much power your panels have produced (via the charge controller), and, with the assistance of the Owl electricity monitor (or similar), how much power you have consumed, then you can judge what you can switch on at any time on any given day.  This is especially true on wet, rainy days when less power is being produced.  Funnily enough, dry overcast, or cold sunny days often produce more power than full sun, hot days, This is because the heat generated by the sun on the solar panels reduces their efficiency.

For us, the current scenario is that in comparison to what grid power would cost us, within a maximum of 3 - 4 years our solar system is producing electricity for us at no charge - with absolutely no electricity price increases amortised into the cost of it's set up :).  The panels have a 10 year lifespan, and the batteries a 20 - 25 year lifespan.

Now, if only Escom would, firstly, agree to more sustainable power production via solar panel and wind turbine farms, and, secondly, allow for those who produce their own power to feed their excess back into the grid, then perhaps they wouldn't be in the mis-managed, shortsighted position in which they are now finding themselves - a position from which the whole country, and it's GDP / current and potential international investments, are suffering...

There you have it.  The nuts and bolts costs, and pro's and cons, of installing and living with solar power.

Friday 6 February 2015



For all your prayers / dances.

We had 22mm on Wednesday, and 9 mm the next day - 31mm in total.

Whoo Hoo!!
Sunset on Tuesday night - a prelude to the
 rain ahead.
That resulted in our water tanks filling half way - we can breathe easier again :).

Tuesday 3 February 2015


I often wake at night - and battle to get back to sleep.  So, I have been sitting in my armchair in the wee dark hours, playing solitaire on my phone until I am bored tired enough to try hitting the sack again.  Last week, when RMan asked me what I did whilst I was up at night, and I said I play innumerable games of solitaire, and he said "What about Scrabble?"

RMan hates Scrabble.  Getting him to play a game of Scrabble with me is asking for one enormous favour.

Years ago, back when we lived in town, I played Scrabble online - at this site.  That was back when we had an adsl line and unlimited bandwidth and there wasn't any farm work to be taken care of.

ISC has scrabble for many languages, and they even have Scrabble in english for those from the UK (SOWPODS) or those from the USA (TWL) - to make allowance for the differing ways of spelling.

When we first moved here we had very limited internet bandwidth.  Connecting to the internet was purely for business purposes and was done through an unreliable dongle.  Now, thanks to the business on-line requirements, I have reasonable whack of our monthly 10Gb wireless broadband internet available.

10Gb and a relatively stable internet connection means that options are open.
I guess most bloggers like writing.  Does that mean that most bloggers like words?

I do.

So - as RMan had reminded prompted me, I followed instructions.
Scrabble on my phone
Literally as RMan's words left his mouth I had my phone in hand and was busy finding a Scrabble game to download on my phone lol

However, that is not ideal, as the game chews through the battery.  And the dang phone keyboard is so small I can barely see it, never mind use it.
Scrabble on the laptop
So, I went back to my faithful Scrabble provider - ISC.  On the laptop.

I'm a happy puppy again...

I have laptop Scrabble when the power streams into the batteries, and cell phone Scrabble for nighttime.

Except,  now I still can't get any sleep because I constantly have words streaming through my brain with fingers permanently counting if they're a 7-letter word or not, or what to do with the dreaded v, c and u letters, or starting with wag, which becomes wage, which becomes wager, which becomes wagers, or swages...

It's hopeless...

... I can't stop my brain.

Yup - I'm reckon that I qualify as an addict!

Thankfully, playing this game - like the jigsaw site I gave you the other day - does not entail chopping down any trees, nor manufacturing any plastic, nor does it have a transport footprint, and doesn't cost me a cent - except for bandwidth, which is paid for already and is wasted if I don't use it.

For your info - you can either play a person, or, if after you have played the first 11 games, and have a verified score, you can play a "bot" - which doesn't have an atitude, is not rude, and doesn't distract with idle chatter.  Not everyone on ISC is like that - but there are some...

If anyone decides to join ISC, and you do a handle search (my ISC handle is in the top left hand corner of the screen capture above) and you see me online - why don't we have a game... :)

Sunday 1 February 2015

Fibre prep

Please - pop over to my other blog for info...