"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 29 October 2016

It's that time of year again... (part 1)

... when the garden works it's magic :D

Our washing machine is in our garage.

Rather than use that soapy waste water on my veggies, we planted 3 rose bushes just outside the garage, and they are loving the soapy water.

For comparison, these are the garage roses...
The outlet pipe from the washing machine can clearly
 be seen on the left hand side of the rose bushes.
 and this is a rose bush by our patio which doesn't get as deep a soaking as often.
Not as well watered nor as often.  The difference
 between the two rose bush moisture portions is clearly
 visible in their floral display.
Even though there are three bushes by the machine outlet, and only one in this garden bed, you can clearly see how much fuller the laundry water roses are.

Plus, I don't feel guilty "wasting" the laundry water on the roses either.  In fact, I''m grateful for the patch of colour that waste water provides.

Then, on to my fruit trees.
As the plums are already prolific this year
 it was time to bring out the foil pie trays
The good old dependable plum trees are laden with fruit once again, and a few of the hard unripe plums were showing signs of impatient birds.  So it was time to bring out the aluminium pie trays once again.
This front tree is so laden that I need RMan to
 make me a supporting tripod to help bear the
 load of  the growing fruit.  It looks like there
 will definitely be plum jam on the harvest menu
  this year  :)
There is so much fruit - and although I don't mind the mouse birds having their tithe, I'll be dammed if they can scoff the lot like they did last year!!

These trays work so bloody well at deterring the birds - they don't like the noise which is produced when the tray hits the branches and trunk, nor do they fancy the shiny reflections caused when the trays bounce around in the breeze.  I reckon it is the most eco-friendly bird control there is.  Just bear in mind that if you have a windy day here and there you will need to go out and untangle the string / trays from the branches.  But that's not the worst thing, 'cos it ensures that you check the advancing ripeness of the fruit at the same time.

If you have a bird eating fruit / veggies problem, please try this :D

Saturday 22 October 2016

Reminiscing on the simpler times

I read something recently on a friends Facebook page which lead me down memory lane.  I remembered that all too well, so, for the benefit of history, I am reposting what he had on his post today, but I have added more personal memories to it too.

Original posting
I was born in Tidworth, Hampshire and during my first few years lived on an air force base.  At the age of 5 my family emigrated to South Africa.  I grew up (mainly) in Cape Town and I am proud of my humble beginnings...

I am one of 6 children born to my parents - 4 sons and 2 daughters.

It was at a time when everyone treated each other like Family, and, as a sign of respect, every mature female that came to your house was "Auntie or Tannie" - even if they were no relation.

We ran around barefoot (wearing shoes was kept for "going out" with parents only), and we went outside to play on the streets where we built dens and climbed trees, made swings in trees, and see-saws out of a builders plank slung over a fallen tree trunk, go-carts were made out of rough wood with unused baby pram wheels and they had a basic pull-rope-push-feet steering mechanism, and catapults were fashioned from suitably sturdy twigs with the projectile propelling elastic (always kept to hand for replacing the worn elastic in underwear) being requisitioned from Mum's sewing box.  And for those with itchy fingers, finger knitting was done using a wooden spool.  
Finger knitting

This one uses wire, but we used scraps of wool
Scooby doo's were another favourite.  These, once complete, were dangled from simple plastic "bracelets" - worn proudly as evidence of our endeavours..

We didn't eat fast food...  We ate jam sarnies, home made food and chips cooked in a lard chip pan. Our plates were empty (including the vegetables) at the end of the meal, or we didn't get the occasional treat - pudding!

We got ice cream from within the depths of the enormous (to us) dry ice filled cooler box fixed on the front or back of the ice-cream boy's bicycle, and we had our milk (in glass bottles) delivered by the milk man. For special occasions, he also delivered orange juice in glass bottles.  (Small bottles of milk and juice were handed out in junior school at 1st break too and were consumed with a sarnie - if we were lucky enough to have one.)

We played jacks, hopscotch, rounders and marbles, Hide and Seek, Wolfie- Wolfie and tok-tokkie (knocking on a door, and running away - preferably hiding before the door was opened and you were "caught out" being naughty).   

After a good rainfall, the favourite afternoon entertainment in our neighbourhood was going further than where our Mum could see us, to somewhere we could find a large rainwater puddle.  Apart from jumping around in the puddle, tossing stones into that puddle and watching the resultant splash caused much entertainment, merriment and competition.  That particular form of entertainment was curtailed after one of my brother's decided to lob a large(r) rock into the pond (to make a bigger splash?), and my head was in the way.  That lark cost me 8 stitches.  After I came round, I discovered that the blood was everywhere and it seemed like the injury was more severe than it was 
(and my mother probably aged dramatically that afternoon).  Mind you - have I been normal since then...?  bwahaha

There was no bottled water.  Everyone drank water from the tap or the garden hose, and, if we had a (glass) bottled cooldrink we would share the same bottle of pop with whoever was there... after giving it a wipe with our mucky sleeves or the palm of our hands.

Wicks King Size and Chappies bubble gum - they kept us entertained for hours.  1d got you 4 Chappies back in the day!!!  I wonder how many "semi-antique" pieces of furniture still carry the hidden remnants of chewed bubble gum.

We had no kids tv channels and rode on our bikes for hours.

Any research information that was required involved getting yourself to a library, rifling through their reference card drawers, finding the book identifying number and then looking up the information in that particular volume of one of the many varied and vast sets of encyclopedias.  Google - although extremely helpful, certainly does not lead a child on a knowledge "treasure hunt".

We either cycled or we walked - sometimes miles - to the bus stop or railway station in order to get to school - no lift clubs existed then, and 1, never mind 2 car families were few and far between..

Making your bed, (hand) washing - and drying - the dishes, feeding the pets and completing countless other chores - they were expected of you, you didn't argue, and you performed them to the best of your abilities.

There was no such thing as a mobile phone or any other electronic device.  If I recall correctly, the only electric items in our house was the precious (valve) Grundig radio, the (non-steam) iron, a couple of heaters, the vacuum cleaner, a kettle and the stove.  The transistor radio was yet to happen...

Our Gundig radio eventually got replaced by a hi-fi cabinet and the turntable played vinyl 7 singles (played at 45 rpm) or LP's (played at 33.3 rpm).  No CD's, no iPods, no iPhones in those days.

Light globes had bakerlite fittings, and both the wall mounted and side light switches and telephones were made from bakerlite too.  They all lasted for ages.

Lawnmowers were either a manual push version or a petrol driven forward rotating blade one - if you were one of the more fortunate families.

Wooden doll houses / doll prams and push chairs, scooters and bicycles were the most sought after and cherished birthday and Christmas gifts.  An added bicycle bell was an bonus - and, again, often became a much anticipated future birthday or Christmas gift.  A bit if a b*tch if your birthday fell during the early months in the year - you had to wait yonks until Christmas or your birthday came around again...  But wait you did.

Otherwise a wooden or cardboard box and our imaginations sufficed.

Designer labels were unheard of - you were grateful for having clothing, and new clothing was reserved for birthdays or Christmas gifts.  The rest of the time hand-me-downs were the norm.  I remember once - I think I was turning 6 or 7 - being given a new pair of shortie pyjamas as a birthday gift.  Being excited about what I was going to receive, I couldn't wait for my birthday so I went "investigating"  Needless to say, I found my gift and had a preview.  Although terribly pleased with the choice I was disappointed as now I had no surprise left to look forward to.

Evenings were spent as a family listening to our favourite "soapie" on the radio in the lounge - "No Place to Hide" - with Mark Saxon and Sergei Grimiko (sp?) as the main characters.  Or, for a scarier evening "The Creaking Door".  As we became teenagers, my elder brothers created a wall chart of the hits played on "Springbok Radio's Top 20" - with the Beatles being the favourite group to chart, and the Rolling Stones begrudgingly allowed on the chart as comparison.  No spreadsheets - no computers...

Rainy days were spent playing board games (snakes & ladders / scrabble / etc) or reading or knitting (mainly dolls clothes lol)

We weren't AFRAID OF ANYTHING. If someone had a fight, that's what it was...a fist fight.  Kids didn't have guns or knives.

The street lights were your curfew or until your mum shouted out the window. School was mandatory, but you'd could (apparently - although I never did) still bunk a couple of lessons every now and then. 

We watched our mouths around our elders because we knew we'd get a "clap" with a belt or shoe, slipper, wooden spoon...  Talking back was not an option!  Nor even a muttered comment under your breath as you walked away after your rebuke.

My favourite after school lunch was white sugar sprinkled on buttered bread (margarine hadn't been invented yet), and, on special occasions, condensed milk on buttered bread.  (Maybe I was more active after school than during - dunno, don't remember.  There again, with all the outside playing that occured in the afternoons we probably needed the energy boost...)

When, and why, did childhood become so complicated?

Life was simple then - and our imaginations played the most important role in our lives.  Children were allowed to be children then, not young adults.

Times certainly have changed haven't they...!?

Saturday 15 October 2016

Fish conundrum

It has been a melancholy week in my part of the world.

Firstly, I am concerned about the presidential candidates in the US of A.  From where I sit neither of the candidates are going to be beneficial leaders - either for that country, nor amongst the leaders of the First World order.

I will not be directly impacted by this on a day to day basis as I do not live in the US - but, whoever is president will affect the country I am living in, and the country of my birth through their foreign policies and trade deals.

Maybe I'm wrong.  I hope so.

And then you add the events unfolding in this country.

Perhaps you haven't heard anything about them - South Africa is, after all, a minor irritation in the grand scheme of things.  But, for us who live here, the potential of it sliding into another Zimbabwe is great at the present time.

I have felt like crying - and have had a throat constricted with emotion.  With despair in my heart, and dread in my soul.

I have been disheartened, disillusioned, distraught and devastated at the unconscionable political shenanigans unfolding daily in this country.

Great shuddering sobs want to emanate from within me.

I weep for this country.

I weep together with the despairing millions who live in this country. Those millions who continue to suffer because of the actions of unaccountable selfish, self-centered, greedy and ruthless people in positions of power - powerful people who care absolutely nothing for those who elected them into those positions - those powerful people whom they still trust to fulfil the election promises they were / are fed and the traditional leaders who sway them into believing that the leopards are going to change their spots.

When will this country again be given a chance to shine - to fulfil the amazing promise it has already displayed. That promise that was given accolades by the world for the peaceful transformation and transition from oppressed to free.

Or is it already too late...

Despair floods my heart and soul.

And finally, the other issue I have been agitated and fretting about is fish.
Fish is the mainstay of millions of people around the world.  

Meat - in most cases that is completely unaffordable for the majority them.  Majority being not millions but billions of people.  Their main source of protein and minerals / trace elements are derived from the fish they consume.

Although I do not touch red meat - in any form - I do thoroughly enjoy my fish once or twice a week.

But a few articles from around my world have caught my attention recently.

One of them is regarding the contamination of marine fish due to the leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant.  You don't hear much about it anymore, but, boy, that leak is still ongoing.

There is no magical wall in the ocean to prevent that contamination from spreading - affecting anything that it comes across in the water.

And that includes the fish we all eat.

Fish from the deep, fish from the shallows.  All is becoming contaminated.

There is no magical wall...

I would prefer not to consume fish contaminated with radioactive waste if I am able.

So I thought that perhaps, if I could find a trout farmer in our area I could get my fish fix from that source - but, there are none that I can find!  I can't even find frozen trout.  Is there such a thing?  Or canned???

I've never seen either.

Finally, I read this article this week:


I know that all of these things that I have mentioned above are out of my control - I can do tiddly squat about them - but still they concern me...

< sigh >

My apologies for a negative posting - I'm sure that next week I will be in a better, more positive frame of mind.  Until then...

Saturday 8 October 2016

Putting chickens to work

...is, I believe half the point of having chickens.  The other point is their eggs - and their flesh - not that RMan or I would ever be able to kill one...

But getting them to work effectively needs guidance :D

Since we have restricted them to the back area they have had a merry time destroying whatever they can.  That is a chicken's wont though, isn't it ;)
The previous poo pile worked - after a fashion
And once we had removed the black plastic cover from on top of our alpaca poo pile, creating havoc out in our alpaca poo area was one of their greatest delights.
But, as a chicken claw or two and soon the
alpaca poo was widely distributed where it
wasn't wanted
So, we had to step in and create some order out of their chaos.

Once again, the 3 mtr long alien Black Wattle "droppers" we have in the tractor shed came to our rescue.  ("Droppers" are so named because they are normally "dropped" in along a barbed wire fence to add some strength / stability to the long expanses of wire.)
Black wattle "droppers" to the rescue once again
Once again RMan used the garage entrance / door to square off the "frame" before screwing the pieces together.
One of the side frames before it was knocked
 into the ground
Then it was a case of knocking the longer end and middle supports into the ground, and filling the slots with pre-cut pieces of Black Wattle.  Thank goodness we have had a little rain recently - trying to knock anything into this ground in summer, when the soil is baked harder almost than concrete, is not possible.
You can see the far side "wall" is still short of some
"dropper" pieces - but 3 minutes later it was all sorted!
 Ha!  Take that chicks!
The one side was purposely left shorter than the other three.
Te shorter side is just the perfect height
 to use it for wheelbarrow emptying 
That was done so that we could collect the alpaca poo in the wheelbarrow, and then, using the shorter edge as a fulcrum, tip the contents of the wheelbarrow into the newly designated alpaca poo compost pile :)

This year there won't be a shortage of alpaca poo for the veggie beds and fruit trees.

It works a treat - and, because the poo is contained and the chickens aren't scattering the contents far and wide, the contents are keeping them much busier for longer :D   Not only that, but we have caught them sitting on top of the poo "fence" - no doubt providing them with a better view for surveying their kingdom.

A bored chicken gets up to all sorts of mischief!

Sorry it took so long to share, Mum - but there - now you have our solution ;)

Saturday 1 October 2016

Anyone suffer from arachnophobia?

Living on smallholding certainly keeps you on your toes.
This is quite a bland, boring pic -
 until you look closer...
Given the bird nest debris that washes down from our gutters, the other day I was cleaning out the shadecloth filters that we have at the end of our gutter downpipes where they enter the rain water tanks.
Can you spot the spider?
(between the conifer and the water tank)
Whenever I am outside, I keep my eyes peeled for anything that might be out of the ordinary.  And "this" certainly was out of the ordinary...

Not quite on the level of poisonous snakes, nor deadly scorpions, but, given my abhorrence, it fits in with both the aforementioned quite easily... 

I don't per se, have anachrophobia - at least not to the point that spiders cause me to become a quivering heap of jelly legs.  I ten to give them a wide berth and allow them their space, providing they don't invade mine. 
As curious as I was, it appeared to find my
 presence quite interesting too...
Hovering between the gutter downpipe, and the geranium bush (as seen in the first pic) there was this e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s spiders web.  

The web was quite stunning in construction!  And with the raindrops that clung valiantly to every strand, it was spectacular!

The occupant wasn't that evident - until I went closer, then he / she unfurled itself and came out to greet me..
The markings underneath the spider
It had quite magnificent markings, not to mention the web it had created. 
Upper markings
I have no idea what it is, nor what it eats.

It's body was about 2 - 2.5cms long and roughly .5 cm wide.  The length of the legs - I dunno :D

Didn't fancy trying to measure them either ;)

It was not the biggest I've ever seen, but it was not the smallest either.

It was allowed to remain where it was - it intended me no harm - and would, hopefully, employ itself usefully in the garden.

I wonder if it would like / could handle a mousebird or two... ;)