"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, 25 June 2016

Feathers of a different kind...

RMan was walking outside when his sharp eagle eyes spotted a couple of these feathers lying on the ground.
A feather from the Cape Parrot?

I have never seen a bird with these colours / markings here where we live.
The Cape Parrot is the one in the lower
 right hand corner
Consulting my Robert Birds of Southern Africa book, the only bird I can possibly identify it with is a Cape Parrot.  But, again, I have never heard anyone mention it...
The distribution map shows that although it's
 name Cape Parrot, it does not frequent this
  part of South Africa...
A Cape Parrot - which is not normally found in the (Western or any) Cape??

But there is no other bird in the book which comes even close to those markings / colour.

Naturally, I am keeping my eyes peeled for a repeat visit so that I can confirm the sighting.

But, if any of my readers can help me confirm / re-identify which bird these feathers belong to I would be very grateful.


We have been having a plethora of absolutely breath taking sunrises and sunsets - and I have to share these pics I took of the sunrise from the 20th June.
Skies such as this mesmerise me. 
The colours lingered for such a long time -
 almost right up until the sun rose above the
And make me realize how starved I was for both whilst we were living in our town house in the valley.  Surrounded on both sides by mountains, view such as this weren't possible.

They provide such an incredible way to start (or end) the day... :D

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Chicken feeder

I think I now know why our first rooster was so 'ornery'.  Our second rooster has been trying to 'attack' RMan - who defends himself with a well aimed kick with a sturdy boot, which has never made contact, but certainly shoo's the bird away.
I tried to wait until the last moment in the day
to feed the wild birds, but even then the chickens
were coming back to see what they could scrounge
before they hit the coop for the night.
The blooming chickens seem to be perpetually ravenous - even to the point of chasing the wild birds away so that they can eat the food which I throw for them every evening.

Perhaps the rooster and chickens aren't getting enough and they are hungry, I thought?  It doesn't seem logical, because they are 100% unrestrictedly free-ranging as well as being given a small amount of breakfast (a mixture of corn pieces, pearl barley, sunflower seeds, red lentils and laying pellets) when they are released from the coop in the morning, and a slightly larger amount for dinner before they are safely ensconced in their coop for the night.

So I decided to research chicken feeders that I could leave in the coop for them to help themselves to whenever they felt like it, but that wouldn't also feed / encourage the field mice.

I have seen various chicken feeders floating around blogosphere.  And all, except the 'stand on and open lid" one, seemed to be vulnerable to feeding the local rodent population.

And then I saw one that seriously appealed to me.

So, with RMan's help we set about sorting it up.

It entails a thoroughly cleaned, recycled 25lt bucket (left over from when we painted the house) and two drain pipe corners.
I tend to fill up the bucket so that the tops of the
drainpipe corners are covered.  That amount of food
 lasts the chickens for a week - in addition to their
 free ranging all day long.
After cutting a suitably sized hole in the paint bucket, the drain pipe corners were placed facing down in the new openings, leaving a 2.5 - 3.0 cm space between the base of the paint bucket and the lowest point of the drain pipe corner, and they were then siliconed into place.  That 2 - 3 cm gap will allow the food to continuously fall within reach of the internal drain pipe corner opening / chickens hungry mouths.
As I filled the feeder bucket for the first time,
 and before I had chance to place it in their
 coop, they all crowded round.  Munching took
place in the normal pecking order.
The bucket was then suspended from the roof and placed on two bricks to give it "pecking stability" - I didn't want any overly eager chickens knocking another one out with a swinging bucket lol.  Within 15 minutes of placing the new 24 / 7 feeder in place, the chickens were already inspecting it / filling their stomachs.
The one chick couldn't wait to get it's
head into the feed bucket.  Shoving
their heads relatively deep inside the bucket

 doesn't seem to bother them at all.
The bricks / height also ensure that the
 field mice can't access the bucket nor
 it's contents.
The beauty if this system is that the chicken heads are so far inside the bucket that they don't make any mess whatsoever.  So, there is no attracting rodents to munch on the mess and take up residence in the chicken coop :)
The bricks are under the bucket for stability
 and do not provide easy access for rodents to
 get to the food - too high for them to jump
 without having a non-slippery surface to
 land on.  Plus, they cannot access the food
 from the top either - again, too slippery :)
Serendipitously, the rooster has lost his aggression...! :)

How much additional food are they consuming?  Over a week it is roughly twice the amount that I used to feed them in a single day - i.e. 8 days worth of food over 7 days.  So, no great increase in feed costs, and, by way of thank you, all five of the chickens are now laying :D

Friday, 10 June 2016

Bats aren't in the belfry

At the beginning of May I was standing at this window watching RMan who waas busy with the alpacas in the paddock and noticed what I thought was a piece of wind blown litter in this little bush...
This is our east facing bedroom window (so
 that we can lie in ed and watch the sunrise -
 which we've never done lol)

So, I had to go and remove it.  That's me - OCD.
Can't remember what this bush is called
 but it came with us from our town house -
 t'was a self-seeded baby from the mother
Giving it a good squizz before attempting to remove it, I discovered...
On closer inspection "that" doesn't look like
a piece of litter.
... that it wasn't litter, it was in fact a bat!
That because "it" is a bat!
Out of the belfry!!

I wasn't going to touch it to find out if it was still alive - which it obviously was, because it wasn't there the next day.

I've never heard of bats that don't hide themselves away in the dark during the daylight hours, especially given that this is an east facing wall and it, the bush and the bat would've been in the sun all morning.


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Drying laundry in winter

I haven't used a tumble dryer in absolutely yonks.  Don't even own one.  If the weather isn't clement enough to wash and hang up laundry, I wait until it is.

Our washing line is situated in our back yard close to the washing machine for ease of hanging up, and close to the house for ease of removing from the line.  But that has it's drawbacks.
My winter shaded twirl dry
As you can see from the pic above in winter the sun doesn't reach the washing line.

That's where the beauty of  blogging comes to the fore.

Diana's garden arbour
A while ago, Diana, from Elephants Eye was contemplating what kind of washing line she should install in their new house.  She had received inspiration from another blogger, and this is what Diana erected - a laundry drying arbour.


That gave me an idea :)

Our garage looks like many people's I'm sure.  Plenty big enough, but a wonderful depository for all things non-vehicle.
The new carport - positioned in front of the
shadecloth covered veggie patch
Which meant that my car was standing out in the hot sun in summer.

So, I suggested to RMan that we add a shadecloth covered carport to our property.
It is still close enough to the house to
collect the washing if an unexpected clouodburst
happens by...
The placement of the structure has a two fold application.

Firstly, as a carport lol

But, secondly, it will protect my piquanté pepper plants from frost.

We have positioned it a couple of meters to the north of the shadecloth veggie patch.
Perfect - the old twirl dry is in the  background
in the shade , and the new washing carport lines
 are in 
the sun.
As you can see from the pic above, the old twirling washing line is in the shade, but the northern sides of the new carport are perfect for hanging those thicker items which take longer to dry.  There are two horizontal lines - which prevent the longer items from blowing against the car, and also they provide me with twice as much hanging space.

Damp washing is a thing of the past :)

Not as pretty as Diana's - but, thanks for the idea Diana :)

When there is no washing on the new lines you can't even see the extra hidden purpose of this carport.