"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

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New life...

...brings so much joy.

Allowing for a time to grieve allows for a time for hurt hearts to heal.  Memories linger, photo's remind - they always will.  But, the emptiness is there.

We sadly had to let Scallywag go on to the permanent fields of play last year.  At 17 he had lived a long, full and happy life.  RMan was deeply scarred by the action we had to take, and has taken time to heal.

I have been on the lookout for another dog for a couple of months.  We wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback as they originated in Suurbraak.  And "local is lekker"  😃  But, the cost of pedigreed Ridgebacks is horrendous.

Then, last week I saw an ad for puppies in a local publication...

I tentatively showed RMan the ad.

He didn't really react.

But, I couldn't forget about the puppies.

I showed him again.

Again - not much of a reaction.

What the hell.  I called the lady in the ad and asked if any were still available.

Yup.  There was one puppy left.  So off we toddled on Sunday morning - "just to have a look, RMan..."
Stellar - a little sad, probably a little car-sick, and
 quiet - but loving the pats, and strokes, and
 tummy tickles
They named her Stormy...

But we have renamed her Stellar - she is sooo black - like the night sky, with a milky way across her feet / legs and chest.
The car sickness wore off, and she wolfed down her dinner...
What have I (re)discovered about puppies?

Puppies are not for the fastidious housewife - a title I lay absolutely no claim to 😂

They will not be that mad about their first ½ hour car trip.  Even if they're in the footwell at your feet on a brand new soft and cuddly blanket, and you are constantly stroking them and petting them.

They will be sad to leave their Mum and siblings.

They will be quiet and reserved.

They will be still and slow to react.

Until they realize that "Hey, these guys aren't so bad!!".

And then it's a case of...

...sweeping the floor is an impossibility.  The broom looks like far too fun.  And - once captured - dragging it off at speed is one of her favourite games.

Ditto shoes...  And it doesn't matter how big and clumpy they are either.  She'll make a plan...
Crocs taste good!!
All books, business paperwork and Farmers Weekly or go! Platteland magazines have to be relocated.  Actually - being totally honest - most things within 3 feet of floor level have to be moved.

All curtains ( including shower curtains and the mosquito net around the bed) that waft about in a breeze cause barking, excitement and the hunt (and future capture) is on.  Trying to dislodge them from their hooks is imperative to a 9-week old puppy.  Dirty clothing tossed on the floor (before they are put in the laundry basket) is a prize which has to be shared with everyone.  Even if it trips one up as one escapes with ones "treasure".

As soon as a puppy wakes from it's nap, head for outside...  At speed!!  And 2-year-old newspapers are useful for "accidents".
Not good enough for Squeak, but definitely
 right up Stellar's alley 😆
Bell filled balls I purchased for Squeak - which she turned her nose up at - are fascinating to Stellar and will cause her to do multiple somersaults and cart wheels as she chases after and tries to catch them.

A tray of seedlings is meant to be munched.  Isn't it???

The joy with which a human is greeted in the morning brings indescribable warmth to the heart.

Clumsy, loping puppy walk is really something to watch - as often as possible.

Water out of a hosepipe isn't really meant for the plants - is it??

Being the one to give her a first ever taste of boiled chicken breast - you're best friends for life.

Tummy scratches are heaven!

Although we take a chance getting a puppy at this stage - because who knows who will outlive the other - it was a brilliant move.  So much joy, so much unconditional love and so much happiness.

A home without a dog just doesn't feel right...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

AWOL and thanks for the nekkid dancing...

My apologies for being AWOL - did anyone miss me??  😂

Things have been pretty hectic here - not only with the business, and some community issues, but also with harvesting.

My main crop every year is tomatoes.  Not necessarily to eat only fresh, but I grow as many as possible to preserve.
 Yellow heirloom tomatoes - in all their magnificent glory :D

There is nothing nicer than adding home made tomato puree and tomato concentrate to all those winter dishes - the privilege of last years harvest dances over my tongue with every mouthful.
The golden yellow heirloom tomatoes are generally
 great big brutes - just the way I like 'em ;)
My favourite tomato is a golden yellow heirloom...
I simmer the tomato mixture until it is good and thick
...as it makes the most gorgeous, golden-red tomato concentrate.
Tomato concentrate in recycled plastic tubs all ready to go into
 the freezer.  Those tubes are re-used, and re-used until they fall
 apart - and only then are they sent for recycling
Apart from water-bathing jars of concentrate, I also shove 125gm tubs of it into the freezer.  I find making bottled whole tomatoes a waste of time because when they are decanted, as we don't eat that many pizza's, they are mainly only suitable for "blitzing" into a sauce anyway.
Spiralized butternut dehydrating in the Foothills DryAway
I've also had fun spiralizing home-grown organic butternut and dehydrating it in the Foothills DryAway.
This is precisely why I made the middle shelf in the Foothills
 DryAway.  So that any food that dropped through the drying
  net could easily be retrieved.
When the butternut spirals are dry they resemble butternut tagliatelli 😃  Storing that in a preserving jar in the larder frees up freezer space for my tomato concentrate lol

To get to my "thanks for dancing nekkid" bit in the title of this blog post - kymber and Jam kindly performed a nekkid rain dance all the way across the planet in Framboise, Canada.

kymber - thank you my friend - it worked 😂

Four days later we had 40mm of rain... 
Oh - we waited so long for this sight...
Even the alpacas enjoyed the shower
...glorious rain.

It was enough of a sudden downpour to fill our dam by a third.
40mm of rain filled the dam by a third...
Although the water didn't last too long as the dried out shell quickly absorbed most of it resulting in the dam being almost empty again, it's also not surprising given the heat we've recently been experiencing.
...and caused the grass / grazing to turn a welcome
 greener colour
At least the rain caused the "grass" turned a little greener than dried out brown and is showing some sign of growth - especially in the alpaca paddocks. 😊

kymber and Jam - please, feel free to continue dancing nekkid - we need much, much more to come even halfway close to last's years rainfall...

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

Friday, 3 February 2017

45 minutes...


Only 45 minutes of your life.

Please - don't tell me you can't spare 45 minutes to watch this documentary...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Consequences of Insane

I'm not meaning to harp on the topic, but just want to show you the consequences of below average rainfall last winter, and non-existent rainfall this summer...
8 January 2017
The pic above was taken on the 8th January 2017 - a very sad looking dam indeed. 
There is evidence of nocturnal visitors in the exposed mud
A week later...
The state of the dam on 16th January 2017
What was interesting was to see what nocturnal visitors had left a sign of their visit / search for liquid refreshment in the wet mud.

But, it's not just the land which needs some moisture.  There is another very important part of the equation which is suffering.
Bees - clamouring round a rapidly drying lump of clay on what used
to be the bottom of our dam - seeking any moisture they can find
 Even the bees are battling to find water.
Bird bath / water bowl below the lemon tree.  In times of
 plenty it is a bird bath.  In times of drought, it is merely
a water bowl filled with anything to help retain moisture
 for the birds and the bees
 I have a "bird bath" / water source positioned below a lemon tree - the bees are making use of that.
Close up of the bird's water bowl - I added bits of wood
 chip to aid the birds access to the water, and to try and
 prevent excessive evapouration
Taps, which recently spewed out water, are being requisitioned for whatever remnants recently passed through the damp spout.
Damp taps - another important source
 of moisture for the bees
 This is the state of the land: 
Crisp and dry and depressingly brown... :(
 And, as for the dam...
The state of the dam on the 23rd January 2017.
The white which is visible on the bottom is no longer water,
 but is an indication of the bentonite which we added to
the dam to try and help seal the dam floor
A different angle of the dry and cracked dam floor
The dam is in a very bad way.  It has not run dry since we added the bentonite.  Now - it is a cracked mud hole in the ground.
These cracks in the mud at the bottom of the dam are at least 7 - 10 cms deep
At least the dried out cracks allow us to see the bentonite we added way back in May 2013.

The birds - they're fine.  I have various water bowls scattered around, as well as the sugar water bird feeders which we ensure are always topped up.

Our 8 X 5000 lt rain water tanks?  They certainly helped, but we'd need a 300 000lt reservoir to provide us with enough water to see us through a summer.

Following below average rainfall for quite a while and the distinct lake of manna from heaven this summer, the Western Cape is in a full blown drought situation with less than 40% water left in the dams which supply our towns.  That equates to less than 88 days of water left for the inhabitants of the Cape Town metropole.
Rainfall graph from November 2013 to date

Prayers, rain dances, whatever rocks your boat - please do any of them.

We need rain - urgently...!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


40oC - in the shade!
This is insane...!!!

We shouldn't be hitting these temperatures until late February / March...

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?


The US of A


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
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.