"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

Thursday 31 December 2015

All is revealed

Last Saturday, I asked anyone if they could guess what the item in the picture was, and what I used it for.
What is this, and what is it's use?
Well, a lot of you got the right answer to the first question - that it is a clay pot, and drip tray.  Upsdie down.  But, only one person correctly surmised the second one - "what do I use it for".  Clever Leigh :)

I have scoured this country for this item.  I almost considered importing one - if I could find one.  Although the cost of the transport would've been exorbitant!

I have contacted pottery studios - most of whom were unable, or unwilling, to assist in making a single item.

So, I had to adapt.  Whilst visiting the (smaller) retail branch of SSK in Swellendam town last week I finally found someone who stocks real clay flower pots, and drip saucers.  (By the way, I hate all the plastic plant pots which abound in most stores / garden outlets, don't you?  They perish in the sun and heat up with the ambient temperature.  Utterly useless in my opinion.)

I wish you could've heard my "Whoooop" when I spotted them neatly sitting on the shelf.  It seemed as though everyone within earshot turned to see why I had made the noise lol.  And scratched their heads when they saw the mundane item in question.

Ha!  That's because they didn't know what I wanted it for :)

Taking my precious items home, they were thoroughly washed in very hot water, given a light layer of clean beeswax on the inside only, and put straight to work.

As what, I hear you ask?
My "make a plan" butter dish :)
The cork is to prevent any nasty
insects from invading the cool
interior via the drainage hole.
As a butter dish, silly :)  A type of zeer pot (or pot-in-a-pot fridge) - for my butter :)

I have been searching for a clay butter dish that is glazed on the inside, but raw clay on the outside.

Being glazed internally would allow me to keep my butter in it without it making too much mess on the "serving" surface, whilst the outer unglazed surface of the "lid", when it is moistened under the tap every morning, will keep the butter chilled throughout the day via the evapouration of the moisture it has obtained from that quick wetting.
If you click on either of the pics above you'll be able to see the beads of perspiration as evapouration
 keeps the butter chilled.

The butter in the pics above has been in the "butter dish" for 4 hours - can you see the condensation on the sides of the butter?  That is how well this system works.  This will also mean that during the hot summer months I won't have to keep opening the fridge door every time I make a sandwich or slice of toast for RMan and I, which should certainly help prevent the fridge motor from switching on unnecessarily because the door has been opened and the cold air has escaped.

Not using the whole slab, but just placing enough butter which is required for a couple of days, is the key.  That will prevent wastage due to the possibility of the butter turning rancid.  After all, the homemade butter dish is not a 4oC fridge ;)

The butter is firm to the touch, but still soft enough to spread on bread or toast without breaking it.  Before, when I needed butter from the fridge, it was too hard, and broke the bread when I tried to spread it - even if I "skimmed" it from the top of the slab.  So, most times I used margarine for spreading, and kept butter for cooking only (mashed potatoes, frying eggs, adding to gravies / bechamel sauce, etc.)

During winter I won't need to moisten the sides because the ambient temperature will suffice.  But, during summer, this will work perfectly. 

I have now, finally, officially ditched margarine :D

What a way to start a New Year!  :D

Happy New Year everyone - I hope your 2016 is filled with love, laughter and contentment.

Wednesday 30 December 2015


For those who deny that climate change / global warming is a reality, I would like to share the following:

Real feel temp is going to be 43oC
 The above pic is in Celsius
43.0oC in Fahrenheit is 110oF
 And this one is for those who use fahrenheit
Definitely 38oC at
12.00 noon when I took
this pic 
although Accuweather
says it is 32oC
Even though  Accuweather says it is currently 32oC, my outside thermometer states that it already 38oC
Even Norway agrees - today's heat will be the hottest temperature that I have even seen for our area.  Bearing in mind that our hottest months are from mid-Jan to the end of March, I dread the months ahead.

We have had exactly 15.0mm of rain for the whole month of December - the lowest monthly rainfall total since I have started keeping records - with no rain forecast in the next 10 days.  Our rain water tanks are over half empty, the country's farmers are unable to plant their crops so South Africa is havig to import maize which is the staple food of the majority of the inhabitants, the Orange Free State (the bread basket of South Africa) apparently looks like Saudi Arabia, and our dams are apparently full of blue green algae.

Add to that the state of our political affairs, and things seem quite dire.

Those who pray, please, could I ask you to pray for rain in South Africa.  

We need it desperately.

Tornadoes in the US, thick snow in Texas, floods in Argentina with over 150 000 people affected, 12oC in Salzburg, Austria on the 24th December, and currently hectic rain / flooding in the UK.

Climate change / global warming is a reality...

Update:  Prayer works.  Yesterday afternoon a solitary cloud came overhead, and dropped 10.5mm of rain in half-an-hour.  Thank you for your prayers. 
I kid you not - a single cloud drifted overhead
Please continue to hold South Africa in your prayers - our farmers need your help desperately.
Rain falling over Swellendam

Sunday 27 December 2015

Can you guess?

Can you guess what this is, and, more importantly, what I use it for?

It is approximately 14cms high, and 13cms at it's widest point.
I have had to "make a plan" because I could not find the real thing...

(the answer will be revealed on the 31st December 2015)

Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone who reads this a peaceful, safe, calm, happy, grateful & contented Christmas.

In honour of RMan's upbringing, we have our main meal tonight, instead of tomorrow as most people do, so I'm off to cook...

By the way, if anyone wants to know where Santa is on his trip round the world, click this link : where is Santa? 

Merry Christmas :)

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Missing followers?

Has anyone else noticed that their "followers" numbers have decreased?

Want to know why?

Check it out here.

I follow Chuck Croll's (nitecruz) Real Blogger Status - he is one of the top contributors / responders on the Blogger forum and his blog is extremely helpful.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Eggs in one basket

When Tweedle Dum, the ornery rooster, was returned to his original owners, he was replaced with Cluck who was still a young hen.  So young that she hadn't started laying eggs yet.

I felt sorry for her - Tweedle Dee definitely did the hen pecking and constantly chased her away from any food that was scattered on the ground in the evenings before they were locked in their coop for the night.  (To ensure that she was getting enough, I used to inveigle Cluck away to one side and throw her her own handful away from Tweedle Dee.)
Cluck took the frame coop on the right - I think
 Tweedle Dee made her life a misery when she
  joined her and the chicks in the wooden one
 at night.
The poor thing also spent the first few nights in the wooden coop with Tweedle Dee, but from the second that the chicks started roosting with Tweedle Dee, Cluck wasn't so happy, and put herself to bed - alone - in the water container frame house. I'm sure it's because Tweedle Dee was making her life a misery when they were locked up together in the wooden coop...

A couple of weeks ago, when the chicks were exactly 4 weeks old, Tweedle Dee started ignoring them.  Walking off on a constant solitary mission, it seems as though it fell to Cluck to tend the chicks.  She took to it like a duck to water - even though she is a chicken.  Rooting round under the trees and bushes with them, settling down for a midday snooze with them tucked into her sides - she was a natural.

Tweedle Dee went back to her old habit
 of laying her egg in the lucerne container
Having studiously ignored her chicks for roughly 5 - 6 days, suddenly Tweedle Dee started laying again.  We discovered the egg one afternoon when we went to give the alpacas their rations - hidden in the corner of the container on a bed of lucerne scraps.

She didn't lay them in the quaddie tyre in which she had been laying before, and where she raised her brood, but back in the lucerne container where she had first laid her eggs when she arrived on our smallholding.

I tried padding up the new nesting boxes in the wooden coop with straw instead of the wood shavings to see if she preferred that.

Nope.  Nada.  Always in the blooming lucerne container.
Can you see it hiding in the straw in the far
nesting box?  Clever Cluck laid her first egg - and
 in the nesting boxes too!  :) 
One day, after I had retrieved Tweedle Dee's morning offering, I went to change the water in the wooden coop.  What did I spy - another egg!?   I deduced that Cluck had started laying too :)

It took Tweedle Dee another 6 - 8 days before she decided that "if the nesting boxes were good enough for Cluck, then they were good enough for her too".  And, she didn't choose to lay her egg in the vacant box next door either, she is laying her egg right next to Cluck's.

Almost as though she is trying to enforce her "superiority"?
Now both Tweedle Dee and Cluck lay their eggs
in the same nesting box - right next to each other
Chickens - they're strange creatures, aren't they...?
The potential rooster...?
I guess it won't be much longer before the chicks start laying too - if there are any hens amongst them?  I have no idea how to tell the difference, but I think the one does seem to be developing a roosters comb.  Time will tell.
... and together with two of it's siblings,
  for comparison.  "He" is the one at the back.
Whatever - we are certainly egg-sufficient now :)

Tuesday 15 December 2015


I do not normally share my political views, because, well, they're private.  But, I have to confess that this past weekend I have been abysmally dejected, despondent and disheartened with the human race, per se.  I feared the worst for this country - and it's future.

And, that was all because of the actions on one pathetic individual who seemed determined to have his way - putting that before the country, before his (political) party and before the people who elected him.

What our "President" attempted to do at the end of last week was nothing short of a dictators action.  Thank goodness for the people of this land, and his peers, as well as the financial markets, have all let him know in no uncertain terms that his actions were unconscionable.

(please, if you haven't already signed this petition, won't you do so.  We, the public, cannot remove him from office, only the Executive can do so.  But, the more that the public make their wishes known, the better the Executive can act in the best interests of South Africa.  After all the politicians are not better than us, they are elected by the people, for the benefit of the people and this country.

"Be the change you want to see" - Mahatma Ghandi

But, it was because of that despondency that I was completely shattered and unable to write my normal weekly post this past weekend.

But, everything is better now ;)  Sanity in South Africa has prevailed.


Onto a more positive topic:

Would you like some inspiration on producing no trash / garbage?

I came across these two short video's on YouTube.  Please - check them out.


RMan and I have reduced our landfill quantity from 3 large black bags a week in 2005, to less than a third of a single black bag per week.

The bulk of our refuse we take to the recycling centre in Swellendam when we go through for our weekly shopping.

All it takes is a little bit of effort and the willingness...

Now, if our grocery stores would only allow one to purchase goods using your own containers that would be wonderful.  One day... :)

Saturday 5 December 2015


Whilst waiting for the fruit to ripen I lost all my plums and apricots to the birds in the space of 5 days.  Not only the semi-ripe fruit, but even the "green" fruit that was hanging on the trees.
The fruit trees held promise of an abundant harvest
this Spring.
And, we had exactly 2 handfuls of youngberries from the overladen 10 youngberry bushes.

I went to the berry bushes yesterday to start harvesting - and they were all gone.  Most probably eaten by the mousebirds.

Disheartening.  For I can't harvest unripe fruit...

And, this has certainly shaken me out of my fruit self-sufficient complacency.
No strawberry infused gifts this year...

I won't be preserving strawberry and youngberry jam / cordial this year.  And, there will be no strawberry infused vodka either.  (Not that we drink vodka - more beer for him, and white wine for me.  But, making strawberry infused vodka last year from our abundant and excess harvest enabled me to hand out a bottle to various neighbours come Christmastime.)

It seems as though one year I can have an amazing harvest, and the next year I'm swiftly brought down to earth with a harvest failure.  Or, more correctly, a harvest theft!

I tried hanging old CD's in the fruit trees - hoping that the light flashes would scare the birds away.  All that happened was that the "silver" lining on the CD's quickly eroded off - probably due to the unusually early excessive heat we've been experiencing this summer.

So, that bird deterrent is a no-no.
Do I care if I have more aluminium pie shells
on my fruit trees than fruit.  Not one iota!
I'd rather be able to harvest fruit when it is
ripe than worry about aesthetics!
Then, we tried hanging 2.5cms (1") wide strips of aluminium foil from the branches - again hoping that the sun reflecting off the strips would act as a deterrent.  The wind just shredded those strips.

Finally, I found a couple of old aluminium foil pie trays lurking in the cupboard full of stuff in the garage which we brought from our town house, and which I haven't sorted out yet.
Precisely two apples resulted from all those
 blossoms in my blog's current header pic- and
  I am going to ensure that I am able to harvest

So, this morning, in an effort to save the pear / apple and nectarine fruit, I have hung those in the trees.  They certainly give off reflected sunlight, and make a ruddy great noise when the breeze bounces them against the branches of the respective trees.

If they work then I will need to get some more for the pomegranate trees and grape vines.

Noise, and light.  A good bird deterrent combination.

I'm hopeful that they will work some magic.
Grape vines - awaiting aluminium pie trays...? ;)

Otherwise, I'm going to have to visit those trees early every morning and late every afternoon and harvest whatever seems almost ripe.

I'm not mad about the aluminium pie shells, but I console myself with the knowledge that I can re-use the aluminium pie shells over and over and over again.  And, that using them is far better than resorting to spraying chemicals in order to deter the birds.

But, in the midst of my disappointment, I came across this this morning.

Reading all that makes me aware that I very little to complain about...