"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, 14 January 2017

Alternative presentation, same contents

Getting greens into RMan is never easy.

But, thanks to our daughter, Natasha, RMan is now happily eating more greens :D

RMan phoned Natasha to ask if she knew of anything I would like for Christmas.  RMan and I are at an age where gift buying for each other becomes problematic as we basically have everything we need.  Married for 36 years, with kids long flown the nest, we really don't need any more "possessions".  In fact, if truth be told, I am currently offloading still useful things I haven't used for years on my children...

But, Natasha and I have been chatting about spiralzing marrows in an effort to reduce our carb intake and improve our veggie consumption (for our read "RMan" tee hee).

So, naturally, Natasha suggested a spiralizer to her Dad.

RMan, blindly accepted her suggestion, (thank you Natasha) and this is what was in the present that I opened at Christmas.
Being quite bulky, I have no where to store this, so it is
 "hanging about" in my under stair cupboard
Talk about fun lol
Spiralized marrow, potatoes and (not so successful) carrots
 together with the first of my homegrown heirloom tomatoes,
 and red / orange peppers
Carrots, zucchini and potatoes were put through the machine last week.
The spiralized stir fry with peanut chilli sauce
All the veggies, except the potatoes were stir fried, and, with the addition of a peanut chilli sauce, some crumbled feta and chopped walnuts, were served for dinner together with...
I have to confess, this spiralized dinner was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s :D
...deep fried spiralized potatoes (and a small steak for RMan).

It was outstanding.  And, more importantly, RMan declared that he "thoroughly" enjoyed his dinner, and would, in fact, eat that every night :D

The deep fried potatoes worked really well, and would also be ideal if you have unexpected guests and need a "snack" - viz. homemade crisps, not shop bought.  I have recently been diagnosed with slightly elevated blood pressure, so salt free (and added chemical free) homemade crisps is just the ticket!!

The carrot didn't really form spirals, but their different shape was obviously more appealing to RMan.

Plus, I have a couple of homegrown butternut that need experimenting with.

I have a fancy to make something else as well...

If it works out, I'll share it with y'all ;)










For more info on how you can obtain your own Foothills DryAway solar / wind food dehydrator please click the link.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

It's all about proportion...


RMan and I watched "The Day After Tommorrow" again last night.  DsTV showed it over the holidays, so I taped it.

When the movie was finished, I checked news on my phone (I live in hope of beneficial changes in this country so check news when I wake, and just prior to going to bed...)

What was on Sky News?

California

The US of A

Europe

and, locally up north of SA
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10158045619180553&set=o.776021659127170&type=3&theater  or https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210598060723625&set=o.776021659127170&type=3&theater  ...

Seemed quite appropriate to read that news - and I found it quite sad and sobering - that a 2004 film has had no noticeable effect on day to day life on this planet.  Okay, it is just a film, but it has an important message.

I came across this the other day and have had a lot of fun with it:




I couldn't resist, could I - I had to see how South Africa figures when it is not placed on the mercator map.
South Africa in terms of the world

South Africa in terms of Alaska

South Africa in terms of Australia

South Africa in terms of China

South Africa in terms of the east coast of the USA

South Africa in terms of Europe

South Africa in terms of India

South Africa in terms of Russia

South Africa in terms of the west coast of the USA
So, starting the day out feeling like we live in a Mickey Mouse country (I think the current "President" has something to do with that personal outlook) I am left encouraged that South Africa CAN make a difference on this planet.  We just need the correct leadership, vision and commitment to play as large a part as anyone else in combating climate change / global warming.

Do we have a large enough (collective) voice.  Yes.

Do we have the (collective) will?  Yes.

Do we have commitment?  Yes - providing we are all on the same page.

Such a beautiful country.  Such an amazing planet.

Where there's a will, there's a way... :D








For info on how you can obtain your own Foothills DryAway please click the link.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Rye bread

All good wishes for 2017 to all my followers.  I hope it contains all and more than you hope for.

We had a wonderful, relaxing family-filled Christmas, but, all good things must come to an end, and work looms on the horizon again from next Monday... 

So, back to more mundane matters.

I have been disappointed in my bread machine.

Not because the bread it produces is inedible, but because the bread doesn't stay as fresh as shop bought bread. 

Well, duh, there are no added chemicals / improvers in my locally manufactured stone ground flour, homemade bread, Dani!

But, I was feeding the chickens / chucking away too much bread - RMan and I can't eat a loaf in 2 days.

I have, however, made some other excellent recipes in my bread machine - such as four ingredient corn bread, chocolate cake, banana bread.

Then I had a thought.  RMan and I love rye bread.  So, after contacting our local stone ground flour manufacturers, Eureka Mills, they kindly sent me a recipe for 50% rye bread to bake in my bread machine.
Too much dough which couldn't cook properly and caused the
 loaf to sink.
The recipe they sent was too much for my machine and caused the bread to sink in the middle as it couldn't cook properly.
The consistency of the 50% rye bread is great!!
I then tried halving the recipe, but, although the appearance of the baked loaf was better, the resulting loaf was teeny - barely enough to sink your teeth into.  Dainty sandwiches are great, but, sometimes you need a decent sized sandwich clutched in your grubby paws - do you know what I mean?
Half the recipe resulted in a teeny-weeny loaf
So, I finally tried 3/4 of the recipe.
This one is slightly misshapen, but 3/4 of the recipe gives me the best
 result 
That was much better :)
Soft, delicious - with an extended "shelf" life - without the
chemicals :D
If you would like to try out the recipe for yourself, here is the (adjusted) recipe with the quantities I use in red.
My 50% rye bread recipe for the bread machine
This rye bread stays "fresh" for a good 3 - 4 days, which is perfect for RMan and I.  I have taken to tossing in a handful (tablespoon) of fennel and caraway seeds together with all the other ingredients.

Yum :D

Wrapping my bread in towels doesn't keep it fresh in our dry climate, so, once the loaf is properly cool after baking,  I store it in a clear plastic bag which gets cleaned (washed out and hung to dry) out prior to another (new) loaf being deposited into it.  I think I have recycled the same plastic bag a good 4 dozen times thus far... ;)

Fresh bread in the house means we'll not go hungry this year... :D






For info on how you can obtain your own Foothills DryAway please click the link.

Friday, 23 December 2016

T'is the season...

... to celebrate with family and friends.  With that in mind, the next couple of days will be pretty busy, so I would like to take this opportunity of wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

Stay safe, relax and enjoy the Spirit of the Season.
I cannot justify chopping down a tree in order to decorate
  and use it, for a week or so, as part of our celebrations.
Our live Christmas tree (in it's pot on the front patio)
 is getting too heavy to bring indoors, so this year I have
  opted to go more modern with a Christmas tree-shaped
 bauble arrangement, complete with lights and nativity scene.
Thank you for your blogging friendship, for your valued comments, and for following my, often, rambling and soap-box like posts, as well as my personal observations of living off grid on our (getting there) self-sustainable smallholding.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Mulch rescue 2 a.k.a. preparing for water shortages


The signs have been there for the past months.

Our rainfall for the passed three years
Our rainfall this year is averaging out at 43.3mm / month, compared to last year at 60.3mm or 2014 at 53.5mm.  Looking at the graph you get the full sorry picture.  And, all the forecasts are not predicting any rain whatsoever in the next 10 days... :(

So, most things hereabouts are crunchy, crisp and dehydrated...
http://www.fin24.com/Economy/drought-is-a-wake-up-call-on-sas-water-needs-20160911-2
We were warned back in September that our dams were in dire straits.  Harry commented last week that everything looks so lovely and green compared to his brown, hibernating winter scenery.  Well Harry, pics can be deceptive.

As you can see from the pics below, we are well in the throes of a drought. 
Dead looking, dry and drab - that about sums it up
Between the unusually high temperatures for the time of year, plus the hectic drying winds, and finally with the lack of rain our garden is in a sorry state.

 But, forewarned is forearmed.  Between my rainfall records, and what has been published in the newspapers, we knew that it was gong to be extreme this summer.  So, we took steps to counteract the situation as best we could - without going greedily overboard with municipal water usage.

That was in our best interests because if everyone decided that bugger the cost, they were going to water willy-nilly, then how long would the water in our local dam last?  That municipal water supply is all we have - there is no nearby stream or river that we could use.

Believe it or not, our 8 X 5 000lt rainwater tanks are also empty... :(
Piquante peppers under a protecting
 blanket  of wood chip mulch
So eight trailer loads of wood mulch (roughly 8 X 1.5mtr3 or 12mtr3 in total) from our local sawmill has certainly assisted our fruit trees to produce their fruit - not as big as last year, but at least it was enough for me to bottle some - and make some jam / cordial.

And the wood mulch is a Godsend for my veggie beds.  A dose of organic nitrogen (a mix of seaweed liquid fertilizer / alpaca poo / chicken poo and worm casings) helps overcome the nitrogen leech than wood mulch causes.

An added bonus with the wood mulch is that weeds can't grow - so weeding is, for once, at a minimum :D  Yeeha!!!
There's not much we can do for the grass, and, as far as the alpaca's grazing is concerned, we managed to buy in oat and barley hay from the local farmers, so the alpaca's won't starve.
4 large round bales of hay to help the alpaca's.
The infamous, and over worked trailer is on the right hand side of the
pic, under the self seeded wattle tree.
But, the extreme dryness is not pleasant on the eye.  And the crunch underfoot makes one aware how dire the circumstances are.
A single turmeric leave is visible in amongst the rocket
But, on a more positive note, a few months ago I saw turmeric root for sale in the shops, and, as I had never seen it in our shops before, I couldn't help myself - I had to buy some. 

I immediately planted it all into one of the three raised beds in the shade cloth veggie patch - and forgot about them.  They hadn't forgotten about me though.  In the last week I noticed some strange green leaves poking up between the rocket, and deduced that the turmeric had decided it liked being where it is, and, by way of thank you, it would peep a lookout above ground to see it's surroundings.

Great excitement LOL
In the centre of the pic you can see a ginger stem, which
 was accidentally left in situ last year, and which is growing again too
I thought if it grew it would probably look something like ginger, but it doesn't - it's completely different.

Finally, an errant sunflower seed, which wasn't gobbled up when I fed the chickens one day, surprised me by showing it's face in the berry patch.

Sunny, bright and cheerful - an unexpected
 sunflower to add to the seeds I purposely
 planted in order to feed the chickens throughout
the coming year.
Aren't we blessed with being able to grow all manner of amazing plants - both big and small ;)





For info on how you can obtain your own Foothills DryAway please click the link.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

It's that time in the garden... (part 2)


The first shadecloth covered veggie patch is doing well - perhaps too well.  We can't eat what is growing in it quick enough... (so ruddy great armfuls get given away - neighbours / kids, etc)
Garlic and swiss chard - they did wonderfully this year inside
 the shade cloth covered veggie patch
My multi-coloured swiss chard did really well - a lot of self seeding went on at the end of last summer when the previous plants bolted....
Swiss chard city lol
... and I left them to it.
That parsley plant is roughly 45 cms in diameter - it obviously
 loves the raised bed


As the chickens loved my strawberry plants they had to be
 moved away from beneath the berry beds.  I placed them
in gutters, and fixed the gutters to either side of the raised
beds.  That has worked brilliantly and has kept most of
 the strawberry loving insects (a.k.a. snails and slugs) away .
 I also planted garlic between the strawberry plants
 in the gutters 
I then took a wander to the pumpkin veggie patch area.

I love recycling whatever I can and when we scored some raised bed pallets / boxes from the tile shop at the end of last year, I lined them with plastic and chucked alpaca poo into them during the winter months until they were full.  Then I tossed in some pumpkin and butternut seeds, ran a sprinkler head to each one, and left them to do what they wanted.

This is what they wanted to do - with no further help from me...
A recycled tiles transportation pallet, lined with plastic and filled
 with alpaca poo  makes a brilliant pumpkin bed - especially if it's
 placed next to an "anti chicken" wattle fence
 Those raised pumpkin beds are there permanently - I will empty them out every autumn, use the contents to work into other veggie beds, and start filling them with alpaca poo every winter so that they are ready in late August for more pumpkin / butternut seeds again.  I am totally addicted to growing pumpkin and butternut against a "trellis" - it keeps them off the ground so that RMan can still mow, keeps the orange filled orbs of deliciousness high enough away from slugs / chickens and other devious creatures / insects, and makes harvesting such a breeze.
The anti-chicken fence is ideal for growing pumpkins on :D
Finally, for the first time ever, I found some 2 year old artichoke plants in the nursery on the way to town.  RMan and I LOVE artichokes (however, after our latest cholesterol tests perhaps we'll have to go a little easier on the butter when we eat them).
It seems that the artichoke plants love their position between
 the two raised pumpkin beds
I popped the two artichoke plants facing west between the two pumpkin beds where they are protected from the worst of the wind - and they seem to love their spot.
Another couple of days and that artichoke will be ready for eating
I am amazed how quickly they grew, and started producing...

Yummy luscious-ness straight from the garden.  It seriously doesn't get better than that!




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

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...