"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

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Blockhead part 2

I took a wander down to our sad dam the other morning.
The photo is deceptive - the water is just barely
 covering the dam floor
The above pic is deceptive - the dam is even lower than it was a couple of weeks ago - we seriously need a good heavy shower to fill it again - even halfway up would be reassuring.
A huge gash is developing where the road
 gully enters the dam
Standing on the jetty and looking up the gully which runs to the dam from the road, the effect of the water flowing into the dam is visible.  The sand is being eroded from the sides.  we are trying to prevent complete erosion, and thus raising the floor level of the dam with the wash away by placing some stones rocks in the gully.  I don;t know if we are going to be successful.
A fair sized pomegranate
Walking back from the dam I spied on of the few pomegranates our trees produced this year.  It's a goodly size and holds the promise of pomegranates in the years to come.
I was crouched next to this pomagranate bush
when I look up and saw something in the distance
 that required closer inspection
Looking up from where I was kneeling next to the pomegranate bush I spied something in the distance.  Why, it's Blockhead - our eco-friendly (bird) pest controlling scarecrow.

Blockhead - a mere shadow of his former glory
Time as taken it's toll on Blockhead.  His underarms, and stomach, are showing the effects of gravity - very similar to what happens to mankind lol.  The cotton fabric covering his "face" is disintegrating, and although faded, the jeans seem to be holding up - and may last another couple of years.  As for the acrylic wool jersey - it is still in a surprisingly good condition - albeit somewhat dirty from being outside for 3 years.

The condition of that jersey is a simple example of how long it takes for synthetic man made products to leave this planet...

Blockhead definitely needs reviving next Spring if he is to be an effective bird / hare deterrent.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Sunrise, sunset...

Winter is heading our way.

Apart from the slowly changing temperature, how do I know?

Well, it's the only time we get stunning sunrise and sunset views due to the cloudy skies.

Sunrise - with misty valleys...

...sunset - with stunning skies.

Love it :)

Now, if only those clouds could disperse their promise...

Thursday 26 March 2015

Planned obsolescence - or sheep to the slaughter...?

RMan and I watched the first episode of "The men who make us spend" on TV last night.
We were horrified at what seriously low depths manufacturers have stooped to to get us to buy their products so that they, and their shareholders, can make a profit.

We have literally become a willing race of lambs being led to the slaughter - all because mankind has been programmed to "must have" the latest version of whatever...

... and it has a name: "Planned obsolescence"

Talk about manipulation.

And, this first episode deals with how manufacturers of electronic items signed a mutual agreement to pre-programme their products to stop working after a specific time period so that you have to purchase another item, and if the product lasts longer than the programmed time, how they were / are fined for breaching the agreement - and this was specifically with the original light globes - Osram, GEC, etc.

The show also reveals what happens to all those perfectly repairable unwanted "old" models.

The good news is that there is a company in the US of A that repairs those supposedly unfixable gadgets - they can be found here:  http://ifixit.org/ and for locals in this country : http://ifix.co.za/contact/

Please - support ifixit.com and look for alternatives before you rush out to buy new because your phone / printer / electric toothbrush, etc have stopped working...

I can't wait to see what the other episodes reveal...

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Yin and yang of gardening

Strange as it may seem, both of these pineapple sage plants, positioned at the entrance to our shadecloth veggie tunnel, were potted at the same time, using exactly the same soil mixture.  And both receive water on exactly the same day / at the same time.
One pineapple sage bush is in bloom, the other
plant - nada
As you can see, the one on the right is in full bloom, whilst the one on the left shows nary a sign.
Pineapple sage flowers
The flowers are exquisite, and, given their tubular design, attract the sunbirds with their long beaks.  The flowers themselves do not appear to have a scent, but the leaves - on being gently crushed - exude a distinct smell of pineapple :)

kymber - there may be a very small parcel arriving - shortly...

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Piquanté Pepper winner

RMan did the deed.

On Sunday morning, whilst we were sitting at the dining room table I held my hat towards him and said, "Shake the contents."
I wrote all the name on a piece of paper
and then cut out identically sized scraps
before placing all of them in my hat
Closing his eyes - I have no idea why because every scrap of paper was folded identically, he put his hand in the hat, gave it, and the contents a twirl round, and pulled out one of the pieces.

Wafting it in the air, dramatically he said, "And the winner is..." before handing it to me to open lol

Chickpea - you're the recipient of the piquanté pepper seeds :)
Chickpea's name was pulled form the hat.
All the seed packets are ready to post off.
You'll notice that the name of the seed packet
is written upside down on the envelope.
That's because when you plant the seeds
you can hang the little envelope on a stick
near the seedlings (right way up) in order to

help you identify what you've planted there :)
Chickpea - please send me an e-mail with your address.  The next time we go through to town I'll post them off to you.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Still harvesting

Although my garden is slowly winding down towards winter, I am still managing to harvest some veggies here and there.

albeit late in the season, I spied some different squash seeds at our local co-op, and they appealed to me.  So, I shoved a couple of them into some neat alpaca poo and waited to see what happened.
Baby Emerald - an unusual shaped marrow,
with a slightly denser texture.
They are butternut shaped marrows.  Inside the flesh is slightly orange - like a butternut - but the consistency is more or less that of a marrow, with a hint of butternut density.  Quite interesting, and the single plant that handled the heat we've experienced this summer, is quite prolific.
I'm not too sure what message this carrot
 is giving me lol
The piquanté peppers are still cramming the bushes, so I decided to try and dehydrate some.
Sitting in the sun towards the end of the day
It has been so hot that I merely shoved them into black baking trays and placed them in the sun on our front patio.
Piquanté peppers dry beautifully, retaining their
 colour perfectly.
Two trays dehydrated down to one.  Those I'm going to put into a clean jhar and use them in casseroles / roast chicken / savoury rice, etc this winter.

Then on a trip to our local supermarket a couple of weeks ago I spied some kale.  That is the first time I have seen it available in this country.  Naturally, I grabbed a bunch - and then didn't know what to do with it.  I finally decided to make it the way I make my creamed spinach.  RMan loved it :)

So, off I toddled to the local garden centre / nursery and ask the owner to try and get me a 6 pack seedling tray.  That he did - and now they're planted in my veggie patch ;)

Now, all I need is for everyone to share their kales recipes with me ;)
The importers web page is circled
in the pic above.  They do have a
list of retail outlets which stock
their Ball preserving jars on their
Finally, on the second to last page of the latest issue of "go! Platteland" I spotted this ad.  Whoopee!!  Consol have apparently stopped making preserving jars, and that had me in a tither.  Now I can invest in some Ball jars instead :)

Short-sightedly, after finally getting a response to my e-mails, I have established that the importers / distributors do not have an on-line store, and will not supply the public directly, so, if, and when, I manage to get to Worcestor, or Somerset West, I'll have to try and purchase some.

Who doesn't have an on-line store these days...?

Ah, well.

Please - don't forget the piquanté pepper seed giveaway.  Closing time is midnight tonight so you still have time to enter.. The giveaway can be found here :


Saturday 14 March 2015


Ants.  This year they are hectic - probably due to the lack of rain.  They are everywhere.

Climbing up the trunks of our lemon trees, transporting scale on their backs and spreading the honeydew everywhere they venture...

... laying in wait round my pumpkin patch so that when I go to water the pumpkins I have to madly hop around to prevent being bitten to death...

... heading for the sugar water bird feeders in their droves...
So, I had to give the birds a helping hand.
All it takes is a strip of sticky fly paper wrapped around the branch of the tree from which the water bottle is suspended.
You will, naturally, get some macho ants who venture onto the sticky paper.  But, they obviously don't have many brain cells - even after their compatriots have been well and truly stuck they'll still attempt it themselves.

About the only thing, in my book, that the ants are good for, is creating breathing area's underground with their nest building, or consuming other pests in the garden.  Such as dead mice from our mouse traps...
... or those nasty cutworm from our compost heap.

It took the ants exactly 3 minutes to make this large 2.5cm (1") cutworm stop wriggling.  And the  whole insect disappeared in about 2 hours.

Please - don't forget the piquanté pepper seed giveaway - you still have time to enter, and it can be found here :


Wednesday 11 March 2015

1+1+1-1+2 on Sustainable Fibres SA

Please head on over to my other blog if you'd like to read this post...

Saturday 7 March 2015

Piquanté Pepper harvest and giveaway

It's been a hectic couple of weeks here.  Firstly, last week / weekend was the end of our company's financial year.  That, for me as "the one who does the (basic) books", is pressure in itself.  All info the be captured, all the figures I need to prepare for the accountant, reconciling bank accounts, etc...

Secondly, I decided to upgrade our 6 - 8 year old laptop and PC into a single new laptop - and one that only uses 35 watts / hour :)  Compared to 65 watts on the old laptop and 90 watts on the PC - that's a lot of power available to use for other appliances.  And, will save a whole whack of time - as the laptop used less power I was using it downstairs for day to day dealings, and then having to re-capture everything I had done on the PC programme upstairs.  RSon was a great help with that - he patiently advised me on various models (I am very fussy - especially when it comes to a large purchase - I need to know I am getting what I pay for and that it will suit it's purpose for years to come), brought the new laptop here, and sorted out all the software installations it required (anti-virus, picture viewing / editing, etc...)  The PC will be kept in case the new laptop ever goes down, and the old laptop - well it has a new owner :)

Thirdly, I decided to upgrade the accounting software we use from a 2006 version to a 2015 version.  THAT has taken me more than a week to sort out as templates, legislative changes, etc are tedious, one-at-a-time adjustments.  New software looks different / handles different aspects, and, like walking into an unknown shop, takes time to familiarise oneself with.  But, I made it and all seems to be running smoothly :D

Whilst RSon was busy tweaking the new machine to my requirements and downloading the relevant software that was required, last weekend I harvested the first batch of piquanté peppers for this season. Bearing in mind that this is approximately 1/3 of the fruit on the bushes, I garnered a whopping 2.075kgs!!
The piquanté pepper bushes are bending over 
they are so laden with peppers
The bushes in the pic above are from last year - they survived the winter and produced plenty of fruit this year - so much so that the poor stems were bending over, and, in some instances, touching the ground.

On harvesting the fruit I noticed something strange.  Last year one of my piquanté pepper bushes produced no fruit whatsoever.  It was on it's own on the side of the shadecloth veggie patch.  I had planted two of them there, but one plant died.
Large pendulous fruit hanging from the
single bush
Thinking that it needed like species company, at the beginning of last summer I almost transplanted it next to the others.
Single bush fruit on the left,
fruit from the row of bushes on the right.
Notice the difference in size?
But, I'm grateful I didn't.

This year it has produced fruit, and that fruit is over triple the size of the fruit from the other bushes.
From the smallest to the largest fruit I harvested.
The middle one is the average size on all the
Both area's got the same dose of alpaca poo, water,etc.  Perhaps it benefited from the no fruit last year by allowing the roots to get a better spread / grip?  Maybe it like being placed next to my rosemary bush?
 I take this black stripe on the stem as an 
indication that the pepper is ready to harvest
Who knows.

Now - onto the preparation of the piquanté peppers and a word of warning.  The recipe I googled warned that gloves should be worn whilst processing the peppers.  I knew better, and didn't bother.
I used my nails to remove the remainder of
the stem
I used my nails to remove the remains of the stalk...

... and the handle end of a teaspoon to remove the seeds from inside the fruit.

After cleaning them out and putting the peppers into salt water for their overnight soak, I noticed that my fingers were tingling.  Slightly.  That tingle got progressively worse, especially under my rings.  Washing up the dinner dishes didn't help.  Neither did applying hand cream.  The only remedy I found that worked was shoving my hands into milk.

By the way - if ever anyone gets a "closed" burn (the skin isn't broken) the best home remedy I have found is to put the injured part into a suitable sized container full of cold milk straight out of the fridge.  This not only relieves the pain, but ensures that there will not be a blister.
Thankfully, I used the handle end of a teaspoon
to remove the seeds
The next morning there was still hot capsicum baccatum residue on my fingers - ask my eyes, they were the ones that discovered it...lol

But, after processing, four jars of piquanté peppers were filled to the brim - even squashed in.  I had to squash them in because I had no more clean, vacuum sealable jars.

One jar was given to RSon, and the other three are in the pantry.

Piquanté Pepper recipe:

The recipe I tweaked to preserve my piquanté peppers is as follows: (adjust as necessary according to how many peppers you harvest)
500 - 750gms piquanté peppers
60 gms coarse salt
600ml water

Rinse the newly harvested peppers.  Remove the stalk and the inner seeds.

Fill a stainless steel container with the 60 gms of coarse salt which has been dissolved int the 600gms of cold water.  Add the prepared peppers - submerging them beneath the water and keep them submerge with the aid of a lid / plate / plastic bag filled with water.  Leave them submerged overnight.

The next morning, rinse the peppers well, and leave to drain in a colander (shake the colander to remove as much water as possible from inside the peppers).

Then, firstly, I placed the glass jars and their lids into a pot of water and brought them to the boil - and allowed them to boil for 15 minutes.  Leaving them in the boiling water, and whilst the peppers were draining in the colander :

To a stainless steel pot I added :

375ml white grape vinegar (I used 1.25 ltrs for 2 075 kgs of 
piquanté peppers)
Add a hefty chunk of freshly peeled ginger which has been cut into thin-ish slices (round or matchstick shapes - your choice)
Pickling spice to your requirements (I used 5 tablespoons to 2.075 kgs of piquanté peppers)
Dried or fresh garlic as required (I used 2 tablespoons of dried garlic flakes to 2.075 kgs of piquanté peppers)

Allow the vinegar and spices to come to a rolling boil.  Add the peppers and bring back to the boil for 1 minute.

Then place the peppers into your prepared warm jars, add as much liquid as necessary to cover the peppers, clear the rim of the jar and tighten the lid.

As an extra precaution, I then placed the sealed jars in a pot of boiling water and allowed them to "cook" for 30 minutes.  On removing them from the water, I made sure the lids were good and tight, and left them to cool on the kitchen counter.

RSon has already opened his jar.  He says they are brilliant, and go wonderfully on a toasted chicken and onion sandwich.  I reckon I'm going to try :

  putting them under the (breast) skin of a chicken before roasting;
  slicing them, and adding some feta, stuff a chicken breast with them
  before frying / baking;
  adding them to chicken gravy;
  stuffing with cottage / cream cheese, etc

And, what happened to the seeds that were harvested during the processing of the piquanté peppers?

They are going to be given away :)

So - this is not only a piquanté pepper posting but it is also a giveaway.  And it's open world-wide.


But, it's going to be a fun giveaway - a pay it forward giveaway.  A 1-in-8 opportunity of getting some piquanté pepper seeds. 

The way it will (hopefully) work is this:
Piquanté pepper seeds harvested last weekend
I am offering 200 piquanté pepper seeds to anyone who follows this blog and who leaves a comment.  (New followers entries will be allowed :) )

All the comments will be numbered as they occur and written on a piece of paper.  One of those pieces of paper will be randomly chosen by RMan  and that person will be sent all 200 seeds.  They should hold 25 seeds for themselves, and then providing a link back to this blog posting, offer the balance of the seeds on their blog.  The person who wins their giveaway may also withhold 25 seeds before offering the balance on their blog - again linking back to this posting - and so on until the last 25 seeds arrive at their destination.

To all the winner(s) wherever you are - please - make this giveaway open to worldwide readers of your blog.  The cost of postage on one envelope won't break the bank...

To anyone who scores from this giveaway all I ask is that you please leave a comment on this post - it will be fascinating to see where these seeds travel to around the world.

All followers comments posted before midnight on Saturday, 21st March 2015 will be entered into the draw.

Please note: I take no responsibility for the seeds, and whoever scores is responsible in ensuring that they are allowed to import the 100% organic seeds I am offering.

Tuesday 3 March 2015


Today is 39.5oC in the shade and the temperature is still climbing.

My poor veggies are taking some serious strain.

But, it's not as bad as Cape Town...

...never mind the wildfire which has devastated  a good portion of the southern peninsular and continues to burn...