"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 July 2017

Fighting the effects of drought

Back in August 2016 I wrote about some extra special treatment that the fruit trees were going to get.  Chickpea said she looks forward to hearing about it...

So, Chickpea, here you go 😃

I first read an article in the local "Farmer's Weekly" back in June 2016.  Given the number of fruit trees we have (mainly our lemon, but also apricot, pear, apple and plum, as well as our berry and granadilla bushes) it piqued my interest so I contacted the inventor - Louis.  It turned out that he lives near us - in Bonnievale - about an hour or so drive from us.

I have, albeit from a distance, painfully lived through the development phase with him - impatiently waiting for his mould to be manufactured so that he can go into production of his recycled plastic water saving device - the TreeHog.

This will be a 100% SA product :)
A local farmer has developed a "box" to place
 around the base of the trees in order to 

preserve irrigation water
And is stated to be 100% recyclable.
70 TreeHogs awaiting installation
He finally stated production earlier this year, and I ordered 70 units which were received 2 weeks ago.

He has, with his prototypes, cut down his watering from 4.5 - 5 hours twice a week, to just 20 minutes twice a week - and that irrigates to a depth of 400mm.  The amount of water used - 11 litres / tree twice a week!!  That is one massive water saving!

The principle pf the TreeHog is that the water sprays inside the unit, hitting the walls.  It then runs down the walls to the soil (and tree roots) below, where it is absorbed.  The wind cannot deflect / waste the spray, and, being enclosed, the soil below is kept damp as the sun is pelting down, and the prevailing wind cannot cause evapouration of the moisture in the damp soil.  Given the opening at the top, any heat inside the unit is expelled up through that opening.

Given our current drought ...
Rainfall record from Nov 2013 to July 2017
and predicted future water scarcity situation due to global warming, our fruit trees need all the help we can give them.

Take a look at this link too:


The information there may give you pause for thought.

Our lemon trees are now - 7 years old and we are getting very little harvest from them.  Lack of water is, I think, the cause.  We feed them, and have given them water regularly.  But, fighting extreme heat coupled with reduced rainfall, doesn't help a tree produce it's crop.  Add to that 5 busy chickens who delight in moving every scrap of mulch we have placed below the trees, and you'll have some idea of what we've been facing...
Attaching the sprinkler or drip irrigation head to the inside of
  the TreeHog s simple.
The TreeHog opens up on one side and allows you to place the required irrigation head in a corner - according to your requirements.  Closing up the Treehog again is simple and a couple of cable ties holds the unit closed round the base of the tree.

Stay tuned - I will report back on the TreeHogs at the end of this coming summer. Not all our lemon trees / fruit trees ( or bushes) will get a TreeHog, so, in effect, I will have a control in place.  The difference is going to be interesting to note...

If anyone else would like some for their precious trees or shrubs:  http://www.treehog.co.za/  The cost, at R59.00 each, are not expensive.

The TreeHogs round the base of the trees look quite cute, don't they 😅
Although the tree in the foreground is a wild plum, we don't
 have the nerve to move it.  Given it's size I don't think it would
 survive, and we leave the fruit it produces for the birds to enjoy.

Disclaimer: I received absolutely nothing in exchange for sharing this info - it is merely my ongoing 'sharing is caring' taking place 😉

Friday 21 July 2017

Wednesday 19 July 2017

The Wartime Kitchen & Garden 2 / 3

For those of you who haven;t see it before, I hope you enjoyed part 1 - here's part 2 of 3 😊

Monday 17 July 2017

Saturday 15 July 2017

And then there were two...

... but before that some insight.

She has grown into a very boiterous canine companion, who goes absolutely moggie whenever any one, or any dog, visits us.  So much so that I said to RMan - Stellar needs a buddy.  A permanent playfellow, or, to be blunt, something to wear her out... 😂

We were so used to ol' Scallywag who was our only dog for 6 years that we took it for granted than another single dog would do the trick and fill the emptiness.  When we had to let Scallywag go he was 16 years old - or 112 human years.  Being so elderly he tended to just eat his food, lie around and genteely wag whenever anyone visited us.

Stellar - oh, no!  She is a completely different kettle of fish.

Her homemade raised bed did the trick getting her to stop sneaking onto our couches when we went to bed at night.

Her inability to eat what is in her bowl without scattering it across the entire floor is non-existent.

But, her natural exhuberence a.k.a. jumping up at everyone anytime they arrive or even leave the room and return - even if it's only for a few seconds - was giving us hints - and then some...

So, we decided to see if the local SPCA had any puppies that we could view.  After putting our name down, the  SPCA paid us a visit - to check that our home was suitable for a dog.

We passed muster 😉

Nope - 3 - 4 months ago they only had adult dogs.  I'm not keen on adult dogs as you don't know what "bad habits" they have acquired, and, with our alpaca's, we need to be able to train any dog that venturing into their paddocks is a no-no.

Four weeks ago I was contacted by the SPCA and told that they would have puppies available in 3 weeks time.

We duly toddled off to view / choose our puppy
It's always so heart rending to see dogs caged up -
 and even more so at SPCA.  We all know what happens
 IF they don't find a home...
Fonz - as he was named by the SPCA - is a mixed breed.  He came up and licked our fingers through the mesh, and we decided that he was the one.

Last week the SPCA called us and told us the puppies were now old enough to leave and so on Friday we went to collect the latest addition to our family.

RMan noticed that he was subdued.  And that his nose was running.  And that his stomach was quite bloated.

So, no sooner had we left the SPCA than we headed straight for our vet to have Fonz checked out.

The vet discovered that he had a temperature of 39.4oC  She was also a bit concerned about the puppy's bloated stomach.  Possible parvo virus was mentioned to RMan.  After a precautionary antibiotic injection, and armed with a deworming tablet and a warning to watch the puppy, we headed home.

Stellar went besperk when she spotted the puppy that RMan placed on the grass.

Runinng round and round, up and down, being a general nusiance and causing the puppy to yelp at the onslaught - we managed to get the puppy inside where he climbed onto the big cushion we had purchased for him and lay down.

And lay down.

And lay down.

Not much to eat (although he did willingly ingest the deworming tablet), but he did drink water.  Thankfully.

During the night I was awoken by the smell of puppy poo, and upon investigating, discovered a squishy pile with so many wriggling worms it was impossible to believe they were all in his stomach.  And he had a bad dose of darrhoea definitely!!!

The next morning, the puppy was still very lethargic so RMan returned to the vet.  The puppy's temperatu was now 39.7oC  So the vet said he must stay there for the weekend so that they can monitor him.
A poorly puppy placed on the couch by RMan
The vet phoned us the next morning and told us that she couldn't believe the number of worms the puppy was passing.  The diarrhoea was ongoing, and he still wasn't eating properly either.

Monday morning and the vet called again.  She said that she couldn't find any indications of parvo virus (thank God) and that his temperature was down, the upset tummy was settling, and he had started eating during the day on Sunday.  All indications were that he was much perkier and so he could finally come home.
That's better - Stellar and the puppy climbing into their respective
 bowls of dog food.  Even better, the puppy now locates and eats
 all of  Stellars "scatterlings" 😂
What a different puppy that climbed out of the car this time!
Ah - look how innocent we look...
You know what the newspaper is for, don't you... 😉
And Stellar - she couldn't believe that her buddy was back.  I think that perhaps she thought that she had frightened him off with her exhuberence.
Hello, little one
He is the sweetest little thing - and we have renamed him Dusty - for the colour of his coat matches the land.
The puppy shelters from Stellars clumsy, heavy paws whenever she can
To evade Stellar's exhuberence he has learnt to shelter where "those paws" can't easily reach...

Although Stellar is becoming adroit at contorting herself in her attempt to reach him.

Admonitions abound at every puppy yelp - for now.  The puppy must learn to give tit for tat eventually...
Inseperable 😊
 They have become inseperable in the last 5 days...
This is, at the moment, their favourite game.  I'm not worried
 about the socks - there are plenty of odd socks that the washing
 machine spat out over the years
 ...and delight in playing tug-of-war with some hole-y socks (mine).  The tug is a bit unfairly balanced, but they're having fun 😃
Who is more comfortable?

As for RMan - he's smitten with puppy love all over again...

And (groan) the puppy is being lifted onto his lap - ON THE COUCH!!!  I  give up...

Saturday 8 July 2017

Rose hip oil

I recently read an article on rosehip oil...


...and, being midwinter / July, it is almost time to prune my grey water irrigated roses.

Rose hip in the top left corner of this pic was just
waiting for me to pick it.  I didn't disappoint ;)
But, not before I collect as many rosehips as I can.
Excess waste matter removed
 After removing the remains of the stamens and petals, the rosehips were rinsed/
 Cutting them open...
A halved rose hip showing the remain of the stamens, and the rose

Halved rose hips in the sun for a bit of extra Vit D before they
 were warmed in oil
 ...I placed them in the sun for the day - to absorbed as much additional vitamin D as they could.
Almond oil
 I added (non-eco-friendly) almond carrier oil to a  stainless steel bowl...

The oil didn't look like much, but, thankfully, turned out to be enough
 added the halved sun-kissed rose hips, and, because I didn't have a slow cooker, I placed them over a pot of boiling water (double boiler)
Halved rose hips as they were being heated
 Thankfully, we had the Rosie going that day, so I left them to slow cook on the edge of the stove.

12 hours of warming through the rose hips are all soft
Then, I made a mistake.  In an attempt to "squeeze out" as much rose hip goodness as possible, I tried to be clever...
"Mushed" rose hips - I will avoid this step next time.  I think the
 oil would've been easier to drain if the rose hips had not been
 quite so "mushed".
 ......and I blitzed the lot.  Not a very appealing mush presented itself to me at the end of that step.
Rose hip infused almond oil being
 strained out through a bit of muslin
 cloth suspended above a jug
I placed that mush in a muslin cloth and suspended it over a jug to drip.
Mushing up the rose hips in the oil cost me about 80ml of oil :(
 The next morning I was rewarded with just over 230mls of rose hip infused almond oil.
Strained rose hip oil with vitamin E and a few drops of essential oil
 added.  It is recommended that the infused oil is stored in dark bottles.
It is recommended that Vitamin E is added to the rose hip infused oil (as a preservative and as additional skin nutrition), as well as a few drops perfumed essential oil.  I only had lavender and lemon grass - so, after dividing the rose hip infused oil between two dark bottles (recommended container for storing this oil), one bottle received 3 - 4 drops of the lavender and the other bottle the lemon grass essential oil.

The almond oil is very readily absorbed by my skin which pleases me no end, as now I don't have to purchase a commercial moisturiser anymore :D 

The guilt I felt regarding the almond oil (growing almonds is very water demanding) is, in my head, counter balanced by the lack of chemicals and reduced shipping footprint of all the ingredients in commercial moisturisers.

Info on "Whole Rose Hip Oil"

Rose Hip oil is obtained by low temperature extraction of the whole rose hip in a carrier oil. Whole rose hip oil is different form rose hip seed oil, which is obtained by liquid extraction of rose hip seeds. Whole Rose hip oil is believed to possess skin rejuvenating, revitalising and general health beneficial properties and have been used in cosmetic and herbal medicines for centuries. The oil is all natural, free of synthetic or artificial additives.

Sunday 2 July 2017