"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, 3 December 2016

Fruitiful

Last year the mousebirds ate ALL the berries.  Every b-l-o-o-d-y one of them.

To say I was displeased doesn't quite cover the emotion.

This year I was determined that the birds were gong to get their tithe, but that we would get the other 90%
The bushes looked magnificent with their display of blossoms.
...and the bees were ecstatic - and plentiful in their approval.
Both the bees, and the wood mulch worked
their magic on the youngberry blossoms :D
This year, when the berries started settling their fruit, I proceeded to take steps to ensure that the mousebirds shared the crop with us...

Out came the foil trays.
Foil trays strategically placed to deter the mousebirds
from the ripening fruit
And they worked beautifully!!
Yummy, luscious youngberries - a small sample of the
10kgs I have harvested this year.
Apart from what I have already shared amongst family, and what I have given to neighbours, this is my stash from the youngberry bush harvest.
Youngberry cordial dripping from the
fruit filled muslin cloth - RMan's
favourite drink which invokes
good childhood memories :D

From top left: 4 X Youngberry sauce (freezer), 2 X youngberry jam,
4 X youngberry cordial
Front: 1 X (open)youngberry sauce (fridge), 1 X youngberry fruit leather
Youngberry sauce (for the freezer) youngberry jam, youngberry cordial - and I even tried to make a youngberry fruit leather in the Foothills DryAway :)
My first attempt at fruit leather
To make the leather I took the leftover fruit in the muslin cloth (from the cordial) and spread it on trays in the Foothills DryAway.  It was a tad thicker than it should have been, and took a couple of days, but it seems to have worked :)
Youngberry sauce
I couldn't wait - as soon as the sauce was ready, I had a helping of the still steaming sauce on top of homemade yoghurt for breakfast - bliss :D

Now that is what I call a successful thwarting of the birds, and an excellent harvest.





For more info on the Foothills DryAway please click the link.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Definite indications...

...that all is not well.

This years rainfall has been dismal.

Bearing in mind that we live in a winter rainfall area, this year we have only received 274mm this winter, and 511mm for the year.  With an historical average of 33mm rain in December means that our total rainfall for the year will be approximately 544mm - which is the lowest annual rainfall since I started keeping a rainfall record in November 2013 - and 100 - 150mm less rain for the year compared to previous years!

That is hectic!!
Rainfall record
This November has seen only 12mm of rain fall in our area.  A pathetic 3mm + 6mm + 3mm which does nothing except clean off the leaves.  That is by far and away the worst monthly rainfall figure I have recorded.

North of us in the Gauteng area they have experienced hectic, unusual flooding in the last month.

Are there still climate change deny-ers out there?

We humans are strange creatures.  We tend to react only when something affects us - personally.  The only problem is that what is happening world wide is not only negatively affecting some of us, but is also affecting this planet on which we all reside.  A planet on which we all depend for our existence.  A planet which we have a duty to protect, and to treat thoughtfuly, responsibly and kindly.

Please - don't wait until you, personally, feel the effects of climate change in order to make b-i-g changes in your lives.  Make them now - for the sake of this planet and all who reside thereon.  Do it for the people who aren't causing the problem, but who will feel the worst of the effects of climate change.  People in rural Africa, South America or Australia, or those people who have no option but to live on low lying islands.

Droughts, flooding, extreme temperatures - both high and low - and above average snowfalls.  The indications are that these unusual weather conditions all face us in the future.

And we have caused this to happen.

Have you acknowledged your responsibility, and are you ready to accept your part in the cause of these extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change?

Preppers try and plan for their potential future requirements for a SHTF situation.  Self-sufficient smallholders are trying to reduce their dependence on multi national corporations for their foodstuff as far as they possibly can.

But - with todays attitude of...

1  "replacing" perfectly good items because they are a tad out of date / fashion
2  or turning up heating / air conditioning instead of adding / reducing clothing
3  or insulating homes against the outside temperatures
4  or running to the shops (which, in most cases, means wasting fuel / adding more poisonous exhaust fumes into the atmosphere) because you've run out of a single item
5  wasting precious water

...to name just a few, is not helping.  I'm sure you'll agree.

Consider limiting your shopping to once a week - or, preferably, once a month.  Our parents did that.  Why can't we?  Alternatively, are the shops close enough to walk to?  Do you really need to use your car?  Where possible walk - it's better for your health, and better for this planet.

Preserve food - line your pantry with preserved home grown food, or buy fruits and vegetables when they are on special in the shops and do your own future preserved "catering".  If I can learn to do it at my age - anybody can :D  There is a wealth of information - on the net, and in a myriad of books devoted to the subject.

Don't adjust your thermostat - add / reduce clothing and insulate your homes better.  Even something as simple as adding bubble wrap to your windows, or even hanging a thick blanket over them - these actions will reduce the internal heat loss / prevent the external heat  / cold from affecting your homes negatively.  Snuggle up on the couch of an evening with a blanket round your shoulders / knees.  Why turn the thermostat higher / switch on a heater.  Because you are able to?  Because you can afford it?  But what about the hidden side effects those easy actions are having on others - and on this planet.

Have you installed rain water tanks to collect water in order to reduce your demand on the system - which is - worldwide - showing the strain it is under?

Please - before you take each easy solution route - consider all those who don't have what you have to make their lives easier and comfortable, and who are going to feel the severe negative effects of climate change so much more than you are.

You / me - we're all responsible for what is happening.

Not the people who don't have electricity - and in some cases don't even have running water.  Who don't have a car, who can't even afford to go shopping, but have to grow the food to feed their entire familes.  Who have to try and provide in increasingly more difficult situations.  Through no fault of their own.

We are all members of the same human race.  Why did it become a situation of "I come first" and not mankind and this planet comes first?  Please - just because we cant see what effect our modern lifestyles are having on the underpriviledged and on the landscape outside of our little "worlds", it doesn't mean than we can just bumble through life without a care.

It's time for each and every one of us to own up, to acknowledge our part in the deterioration that is happening and to take enormous personal steps to mitigate our time on Earth and the footprint we leave behind.

We can't throw away this planet and buy a new one...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Just hanging around


We were given a piece of an airplant - Tillandsia - many, many years ago (like 20 years ago lol)

As it grew, I broke off / picked up pieces of fallen plant and slung it wherever a suitable spot caught my eye.
If youo look carefully at the pic you can see the
 flower - plus plenty of buds which have yet to open)
Two of the places I put a piece was on the ficus benjaminus plants which reside in pots by our front entrance patio steps.  (Ficus benjaminus have such invasive roots we dare not plant them in the garden.  There is a park in Cape Town - Ardene Gardens - that has fig tree with similarly invasive roots.  The roots are almost large enough to hide in http://www.ardernegardens.org.za/champion-trees/ and then look at the Moreton Bay Fig).  My motivation for putting them round the base of the ficus benjaminus was so that they could act as soil shade plants.  That has worked well too.

This year we have been rewarded for the first time with our perseverance with the Tillandsia.

One of the plants has flowered.
Doesn't it look amazing!!
A closeup of the Tillandsia airplant flower 
It's hard to believe that such a prehistoric looking plant can produce such a delicate, orchid-like flower.

Naturally, I immediately scoured the other 7 plants we have dotted round the place, but only this one has flowers.

Stunning - and so well worth the wait.  Why it took so long to flower I have no idea?!  And why the others aren't flowering - with the same care (or lack thereof) as this plant, I also can't figure out.

They are not difficult plants to grow - and are quite drought resistant.  We merely hung them up and sprayed them with water whenever we watered other plants round it.  We have never fed it either - we didn't know we should lol

If you'd ike more info on the Tillandsia :

http://maree-clarkson.blogspot.co.za/2015/10/air-plant-tillandsia.html

By the way - for those readers of my blog who live in, or near, Cape Town - if you visit the Ardene Gardens, try and spot the really o-l-d tap on one of the paths that run through the gardens.  It has fascinated me since I was a child playing in that park on our frequent family weekend visits.  I did, once upon a time, take a pic of the tap - but, given that it is at least 30 years since I took the pic, where it is now I haven't got a clue...

Friday, 18 November 2016

Foothills DryAway offered


Following numerous requests on how readers of my blog could get their own Foothills DryAway I am happy to announce that after employing 4 different manufacturers who produced 4 different prototypes, I now have a model with which I am happy and am thus in a position to fulfill those wishes :)  

Please check out the Foothills DryAway page on the top of the right hand column of this blog (or click on this link).
The final "Foothills DryAway" prototype


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

14 November 2016

I thought we would be thwarted by the clouds.

But, in the end, everything worked out.

This was our view of the supermoon last night...








We live on an amazing planet, don't we?!  Well worth saving I reckon :D

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Keeping cool(er)

Firstly, welcome, and thank you, to all my new followers and e-mail subscribers.  With blogger having changed which followers can follow and which can't, my numbers have gone up and down over the past few months and I thus can't always tell who's new in the zoo ;)   If you are a new follower (i.e. since January 2016) could I ask you to leave a comment with a link to your blog.  Google+ profile blogs aren't always visible to us plain ol' Google profilers ;)


But, back to today's posting.

First, won't you take a trip down memory lane with me...
May 2011
This was the state of our journey in May 2011 - half a house (combined lounge / dining / kitchen and bedroom all rolled into one with the temporary bathroom structure visible on the very left hand side).  There was no protection on the patio from the hot summer sun beating down.  But, RMan had an idea which was catered for when the patio was constructed - viz. the vertical wooden support poles....
December 2011
This is from summer of 2011 - the poles now support a shadecloth roof.  I always smile when I see this pic - in Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo & Juliet" the nurse was mocked by some louts as she walked down a road - due to her "size" and the flapping clothing, the louts shouted after her "A sail!  A sail!"  Poor thing.  This shadecloth did the same whenever there was a stiff breeze - almost as though the house had aspiations to take off and head for the skies.
December 2012 - slowly becoming more homelike and less of a
 building site
Summer of 2012 the rest of the house was built, and we still had to paint the outside.  The shadecloth was still "flapping" and didn't extend yet to the small wooden patio in front of our bedroom door.
December 2013
In summer 2013, apart from a few coats of paint, not much had changed...  relative comfort makes one complacent.
The view from the cooler shaded patio out to the baking fields beyond
The shadecloth roof that was there - flappy or not - was invaluable.
May 2016
Fast forward to winter this year.  We now have an extra support poles between the main posts and have secured the shadecloth between the wooden horizontal poles and a stainless steel cable - therefore there is no more flapping.  The supporting structure now follows through past our bedroom door, but still provides no sun protection for our wooden bedroom patio doors, nor the deck.  The door and deck wood is suffering - big time!

As we tend to have plenty of barbecues in summer, and we use an LP gas braai, the wind sneaks around corners of the patio and sometimes makes it difficult to keep the flame lit - especially when it comes to our cooking Christmas turkey.  The solar oven doesn't make the turkey crisp enough, and it's too hot to use the Rosie, so the only way we can cook the turkey is on the braai.

So, as you can see in the above pic, RMan fashioned a wind break out of wattle droppers.  It took RMan ages, and weighed a ton (the wood is still green).

But it was ugly.

Ugly, Ugly, Ugly!!

I was not a happy puppy - and when the wife is not happy, the husband is notified - frequently and unceasingly...
November 2016
Until last weekend... :D

After explaining - in detail - the solution that I proposed, I finally got RMan to remove the wattle wind screen - yippee!  (he's going to repurpose it near the alpaca stables.
Improvements effected for summer comfort this year:
1 the shadecloth now extends over the wooden patio in front of the
 bedroom patio doors
2 an additional support pole was installed to prevent the shadecloth
 from wafting about like a sail
3 the sideways wind screen to protect the barbecue when it is lit
In it's place we now have the same fabric as the upper shadecloth roof (for continuity lol) - but we have it installed sideways like a curtain.
When not in use, the "curtain" is secured out of
the way.  It slides easily on Coolaroo butterfly

 clips fixed to stainless steel cable "runners" which
  are repurposed from a client's "no long required"
 cable balustrade.
Now, we can open and close it when it is required. 
That looks much better :D
Aesthecially, it is much better.  Much, much better - and the wife is a happy little puppy again :D

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Butter sorted - finally


Thanks to everyone for their comments on my last post - t'was a fabulous day, thank you :D

Back in December I wrote about my frustration at not being able to find a butter dish anywhere, and I posted my solution to that problem.

The inverted plant pots worked a treat!  The only problem was though that the inside were supposed to be glazed.  Why?  Because the porous clay absorbed the oil from the butter and started smelling rancid - the base on which the butter lay especially.  Not even boiling water would solve that problem.

So, fast forward to July this year and my frustration boiled over.

There is a well known potter in Swellendam - Bukkenberg Pottery.  I have popped in there a few years ago, but the items on offer that grabbed my attention were a tad over my budget.

Desperation makes one lose caution though.

On one of our trips to town at the end of July for our weekly shop, I talked RMan into popping in at the pottery studio, and, yippee, David, the master potter, was open to making me a butter dish!

I explained what I wanted - a butter dish glazed on the inside (so that it couldn't absorb the oil from the butter), with the outside left porous so that evapouration could occur thus keeping the butter chilled during the hottest time of the day.  

David suggested a slight deviation - something he used to make years ago.
4 French butter dishes waiting to be glazed, then fired.
What he came up with is a French butter dish.  
The smaller butter filled section is inverted into the larger water
 filled half
It works by filling the smaller end with butter, inverting the butter holding base into the wider section which contains water.
This is what the French butter dish looks like when it's sitting
 on my kitchen counter
The theory is that the water covers / closes the exposed surface of the butter thus preventing oxygen turning the butter rancid.  It is recommended changing the water every week - or every time you finish the butter in our case - we do love butter :D

As water and oil don't mix, the butter isn't watery at all - just completely spreadable :)
Soft enough, and completely spreadable :)
David made 4 French butter dishes, so there are three going spare.  At R220.00 a butter dish, which holds approx 350 - 400gms of butter, and is specially handcrafted, I don't think that is too much to ask.  Perhaps mine will become a family heirloom one day...

However, remember that this is a bespoke order.  A bespoke order in the smaller towns are done in small town time - in this case the order was placed at the end of July, and the butter dish was ready last week.  Admittedly his kiln was enormous, and needs to be filled to make it viable to run - I'd hate to know what his electricity / LP gas bill is every time he fires up the kiln.

It was worth waiting for though :D

That'll definitely save throwing away rancid butter, or having to open the fridge unnecessarily in order to get the butter.
Pottery bird feeder
But - I noticed something else hanging near his studio workshop...   Isn't this the most adorable bird feeder you have ever seen?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

36 today and counting...

... but not another 36 - I don't think that's possible lol


36 what...?  Who can guess  :D