"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

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Soapy tale and the ongoing piquanté pepper giveaway

Please head over to my other blog to read the soap tale : http://sustainablefibressa.blogspot.com/2015/04/softer-soap.html

Chickpea finally received her piquanté pepper seeds, and the piquanté pepper giveaway continues here...  If you'd like a chance to win the portion 3 of 8, please leave a comment on her posting before the Friday cut-off time.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Customer service

Given our solar power set-up I always establish the power consumption of any electrical appliance before it enters this house.  If I am unable to obtain this information from the manufacturer, or their accredited agent / distributor, then they don't get a sale.  And, trust me, too frigging many manufacturers can't / can't be bothered / won't give me any answers...!

So - I have been on the hunt for an electric bread maker.  My solar oven is great in summer, but is not that reliably usable in winter. The Rosie - we don't have it on every day during the winter months - only the days that warrant it.  Which means that I have to buy bread from the shop.

Every electric bread maker I found on-line didn't have any detailed info on the power consumption of the item.  Frustration!!   When will manufactures learn that consumers are more aware and need to be given such pertinent information, especially as more and more people move either off-grid, or who move from the land to the towns and become grid connected (having to budget for their power use) and who will make greater demands on the power providers??

On our last trip to the co-op in Swellendam, I went looking in their kitchen appliance section, and came across two bread makers - a Russel Hobbs model, and a Mellerware one.

The Russel Hobbs, at 1200 watts was too power hungry for our solar system, but the Mellerware at 610 watts was more promising.  However, their recipes state that the average cooking time for a loaf of bread is 3 hours.
Ma Baker Bread Maker II
610 watts for 3 hours = 1830 watts?  Nope, no usable with our system.

Or is it?

I know that mixing, proving and baking all require different human effort / heat.  Therefore, mixing and baking can't use the same amount of watts.  Similarly, nor can proving and baking...

I took a phone pic of the contact info of the bread maker's distributor, and, when we got home, I sent them the following e-mail:

From: Dani
Sent: 14 April 2015 05:19 PM
To: Creative Reception
Subject: Bread maker

Good day

I am interested in purchasing the Mellerware 26500B bread making machine.  However, we live off grid, and have only so much power, I was wondering if you could tell me how many watts in total the machine uses to make a single loaf.  Obviously, mixing the dough, proving and baking will all use power, but how much per function?  And how long does the unit stay at maximum wattage for?

I would be grateful if you could answer these questions.
Kind regards


A few days later I got this reply:

Good day

I am sorry for the delay in response.

The results for the 26500B bread maker.

Cycle 1: 76.9W(Mixing Intermittently for 5 min)
Cycle 2: 86W(Constant mixing for 5 min)
Cycle 3: Off(1W for 20 min)
Cycle 4: 86W(Constant mixing for 15 min)
Cycle 5: Off(1W for 80 min, proving)
Cycle 6: 610W baking for 55 min

Kind Regards Beverley      |  Customer Care

 021 931 8117
 021 931 4058

 20 Tekstiel Road, Parow, 7493, South Africa
Service Center Share Call: 086 111 5006

Now - that is what I call customers service.  For their trouble they are rewarded with a sale - the unit was ordered this last Thursday and I should receive it next week.

Well done Creative Housewares!!  You understand that if your staff are equipped with the knowledge of the product you are selling (or they know who to turn to in order to obtain such answers), and are thus able to provide answers to any prospective clients questions, then you are in a far more favourable position to successfully sell your wares.

Using the locally grown and produced stone ground Eureka Mills flour, this is one more item which will enable us to be more self-sufficient (or should that be self-reliant lol), which will free up my fridge space (I keep my weeks supply of shop bought bread in the fridge to prolong it's life), and finally, commercially produced "fresh" <sic> bread is something which I will no longer have to purchase during the winter months... :)

Given my dang tennis elbow, I am also going to get the bread to proving stage in the bread maker, and then bake it in my solar oven and Rosie - when it is lit :)

Win Win :)

Disclaimer:  In writing this I received absolutely nothing from the aforementioned Creative Housewares except their wonderful customer service.  My motivation for writing this was to share Creative Housewares positive commitment to their customers.  I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Wednesday 22 April 2015


In honour of Earth Day 2015

I'm not into rap - but this does get the message across to those who probably normally would be exposed...


Sunday 19 April 2015

Detering the hares

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RMan and I met our first ever blogger friends on Friday.  Rae & Dino from  African Bliss were on their way to Cape Town, and dropped in for too brief a visit.  How do you cram getting to know someone into an hour... :(  They are wonderful, open, friendly people - and we both wish that they lived closer.  Finding, and finally meeting, people that you have so much in common with is uplifting - and not to be squandered.  Thanks guys - for taking the time to break your trip, schlepping along our sand road, and for dropping in :)  Now, when are you next coming our way...? lol

This passed summer was a complete washout as far as growing sweetcorn was concerned.  Three full packets of seeds only produced eight sweetcorn pants - why, because the hares kept nibbling the tender young shoots.  Those few plants which did survive  battled.  (I lived in constant hope of more showing themselves above ground, especially as I planted the 2nd, and then 3rd packet, but alas the hares with their nocturnal visits prevent that from happening)

So, I tried manually cross fertilizing the flower heads - obviously I didn't do a good enough job.
Evidence of inadequate cross fertilization
Similarly, my pea harvest last winter was a disaster.
The centre of the sweetcorn husk showed distinct
seed head origins
And my cabbages...
Cabbages chewed to death by hares
But - I am of the opinion that waste not is want not, so even those mangy veggies were used.  After all a stir fry is the perfect recipe to "hide" misshapen items and baby sweetcorn tastes and looks the same as what my garden produced :)
Stir fry consisting of home grown sweetcorn,
Baby Emerald squash, carrots, cabbage,
the last of my fresh yellow heirloom tomatoes
 and onions.
I may be slow on the uptake, but once I get the full picture I will go all out to prevent the same situation from occurring again - ever...!
My old shadecloth veggie patch to the right of
the pic and the new one in the background
We have all those alien black wattle trees in the area around us.
Black Wattle droppers as walls - you can see in the
foreground how many pathetic sweetcorn plants
the hares left me
And once again they came in handy.
This veggie patch is slightly bigger than the
original shadecloth one - that will allow me an
extra veggie bed
Gum poles for corner and centre supports, with Black Wattle droppers fixed along the sides to form walls.
The new hare proof veggie bed, with my original
shadecloth one in the background.  We have used
the bark which falls off the wattle / bluegum firewood
we order for the Rosie as mulch in the veggie patch bed
pathways - hopefully that will mitigate the winter rain
sticky clay effect when I need to harvest some veggies
I'm please to tell you that it's working - the new veggie patch "walls" are too high for the hares to jump over and my cabbages and peas are coming on fabulously this winter :)

Next spring we will be adding a shadecloth roof which will allow me to grow veggies there during the heat of summer.  I'm not going to bother with shadecloth walls - the wattle "dropper walls" will suffice as windbreaks / dappled sunlight.  And anyway, the field mice eat a hole in the shadecloth so that they can access the goodies inside.  So adding it to the walls is pointless.

Tuesday 14 April 2015


...alpacas can be found on my other blog

Saturday 11 April 2015

Going down...

Seriously, this is just a publicized example of Global warming / extreme weather / climate change.  But, imagine all those places round the world that aren't "important", aren't in a "rich" state in a 1st World country and are therefore not publicized...?!!!  Those places are home to many people.  People who may be misplaced / be forced to move to the nearest source of life giving liquid as their situation deteriorates further and further...

I have been told that the term "climate change" has a different connotation in the US of A - a more political overtone - and one which has hijacked the reality and is misdirecting the focus of what is a definite world wide life threatening situation - thereby deterring many people from making their individual contribution to helping this planet.

But, the following links can't be denied.
Oroville, California in July 2011 - 4 years ago

Oroville, California in August 2014
There are 7 before and after pics on the above site.  Very real, and scary stuff - seriously!

And, for a town that has been without water since July last year...

Please, clink on the links, share the information you receive from them via your blogs / facebook page / any which way you can and make as many people aware as possible.

The time for lethargy, and "it won't happen to me" is over.

Positive action is what is required - mass action - for the good of this planet...

Saturday 4 April 2015

Greedy feathered friends

RMan and I have our first cup of coffee / tea sitting on the patio most mornings.

We have moved two the bird feeder bottles to two trees directly in front of us - no point feeding the birds if you can't see them lol
A female Lesser Doublecollared Sun bird on top
of the ficus benjaminus to ask us to
please refill the bottles :)
We have noticed that when the sugared water runs dry, invariably a male or female sun bird will come and "advise" us of the dire situation they are finding themselves in.  One of them flies over and lands on one of the ficus benjaminus which are in a pot either side of the entrance steps.  It is too cute.
The female Cape Weaver waits patiently
whilst the male drinks his fill
They have us wrapped firmly round their little claws for as soon as they make us aware, one of us jumps up to go and refill their bottles ;)

The bird feeders have become a noisy meeting spot.
A Cape Bulbul and a female Marico Sun bird taking turns
to slurp.
 (I think it a Marico - the stripes on it's stomach are
unusual and no sun bird in my bird book has them.
It seems that all the birds in the area know about them, and the squawking and fights for possession are noisy instances in an otherwise quiet and calm early morning.
EIGHT Cape Weavers fighting over possession of
this one bird feeder.  Click on the image to see
the 8 - I've drawn a circle round them to make
them easier for you to see.
The two bottles last, on average, a day and a half.

Then it's time for the sun birds to pay us a personal visit once again...

Happy Easter to all - be safe on the roads if you're venturing out.  And save some chocolate for another day lol