Thursday, December 9, 2010

Work done

 Here are a few bits of progress around the farm:
The dam wall is almost cleared and the holes are gradually being fixed. Patrick has done really well.
We have put some hurdles in to help catch some run off since we removed the shrubs.
We plan to make a small beach area and a floating jetty. Anyone for a swim?

 This is the "before" of the courtyard. Stay tuned for the after to come! Apparently the birds normally eat all the grapes but not this year. This is one reason you need cats on a farm- good bird deterent.
And I think the line on the ceiling is quite visible- that is the cleaned and not yet done, in the stone cottage. The black is the soot from fires being lit in this beautiful little house. My paint guru says I will need bonding liquid and 3 coats of paint to cover the soot- even after cleaning. GROAN! Again, it is on it's way back to being a great little hideaway. Just big enough for two...

It seems the work is endless but I am so grateful we can do all we do. We must have been preparing for this all our lives as our learned skills are coming in really handy.
Max is starting to help us with bits & pieces. His attention if he decides to help, lasts quite long. Especially if you need something taken out with a gunda gunda or destroyed. These things are fun!

We are planning to take the tractor down to the oak trees and do some clearing over the holidays. There are berries to pick and acorns to look for so we will probably get quite a bit done while Max does that. There are several dead trees- very large ones- which need removing. Jan & Wim were deciding how many strings of cortex they would need around each trunk to cut it! Could be noisy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

When it rains... not plan to bake bread for visitors, the electricity will go off when you need the oven. not take your car where only a 4x4 should go, it may not like to stay there overnight and you may get muddy walking home. not let your 69 year old mother do the gardening she wants, she will probably break her ankle. not let the kids wear their gum boots into the house, the floor will require hosing.

However, do make lots of crunchies, have good hot chocolate on hand and cuddle up with the ones you love and read Paddington.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We watched a dvd last night of Bruce Lipton explaining how your genes are not hard-coded but can be altered by stimulus. Stimulus comes from your beliefs about your "environment" so if you change your environment, you change your beliefs, you change your stimulus and therefore your genes. So really you get whatever you believe. Perhaps here on the farm, after all the vacuuming rat poo from the ceiling space (3 bags of it!) there will be time to think and maybe change some beliefs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clever Toni finds a Puff adder

We took our picnic blanket and food (of course food, Max can't go anywhere without food!) to where we were working on our veggie garden. Max had been digging up the leaves with his gunda gunda and Jan called him to go and find a leak in a water pipe. Off they went down the driveway but lazy Toni stayed on the blanket. They were just a few meters away when Toni started to bark. Jan immediately said "she's found a snake". And so she had.
With a small amount of panic around keeping Max away from a rather large puff adder, we started to catch it. The Gunston Man (remember him?) caught it with a piece of rope and put it into a large feed bucket. We walked waaaaaaay down the bottom of the farm and let the peeved snake go into the bush. It really was quite beautiful. About half a meter long and 5cm thick. Max and I had the previous day watched a clip at Granny's house where a guy let a cobra go back into the wild in India so he was chuffed to be doing so too.

And very well done to clever little Toni!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

South Africa: Detailed Analysis: 2010: Collapsing into a Failed State

I got this article from a friend and found it sobering, interesting and a bit depressing. I guess forewarned is forearmed. It's long but worth a read.

South Africa: Detailed Analysis: 2010: Collapsing into a Failed State
41% unemployment - The Super AIDS disaster for Black people...
Date Posted: Sunday 12-Sep-2010

This detailed analysis comes from Dr Jan Du Plessis who specialises in producing detailed analyses for large businesses. He is based in Pretoria. Dr Du Plessis is an old hand at this sort of thing having spent much of his life doing various intelligence analyses. I remember that prior to 1994 he was often on TV discussing aspects of the Cold War. He worked closely with my late mentor, Dr Chris Jordaan and others.

I received this from a regular supporter in Nambia who laid his hands on this July 2010 analysis. This is detailed.

Some years ago I published an analysis by Dr Du Plessis called, "South Africa: Beyond Democracy". When I last spoke to Dr Chris Jordaan a few years ago prior to his death, he told me that all the indications were that by 2010 South Africa would become a failed state. We are now in 2010 and Dr Du Plessis is basically telling us that we are pretty much there - except Government is hiding it.

What is also interesting and scary (and this explains why Julius Malema of the ANC Youth League is on his communist/nationalisation moves - to seize all the mines); is how the Black Population has gone backwards in terms of employment, health, education, etc. In short, most of black society has imploded to crisis levels and that society is now dependent on incredibly large handouts from just a few million tax payers. It is the collapse of black society which is now bringing blacks to the madness of wanting to seize mines and farms and to implement more socialism on a massive scale... and Julius Malema might just be the voice of the impending madness. My own viewpoint is that Malema might well be the President of this country within 10 years... and he will be our Mugabe.

The Management Briefing is aimed at the top echelon of a company or organisation.

It identifies on a regular basis the issues and trends on the socio-political and security levels in Southern Africa of that specific month and their potential implications. These are issues and trends people on the executive level ought to take notice of.

It is not a news service, but an analytical tool to support the decision-making process. The report does not propagate a particular party political point of view. It's objective is not to oppose or antagonise, but to explain in order to facilitate understanding.

What kind of crisis?

What kind of future?

  • The reader will have to appreciate that background facts and arguments were presented in the April, May and June issues of the Management Briefing 2010. These reports are available from Intersearch.
  • This paper addresses the issue of the perceived "crisis in South Africa". Some may point to the high levels of crime and murder in society and the collapse of infrastructure and identify these issues as the reason for the crisis. Others may indicate the World Soccer 2010 that was presented very successfully as reason for optimism. The country has the capability. What is needed now is some time and hard work.
  • Thus we have two different conclusions and two alternative perceptions of the future.
  • The reality, however, is more complex than these issues on the surface of society. If there is a crisis in society, then it is much deeper below the radar; not easy to observe. It represents a process over the past decade where dysfunctional structures have been created over time and where an abnormal society has been slowly emerging.
  • If there is a crisis in society, it has to be seen within a certain context of circumstances.
Between the end of the Second World War in 1945 and 1993 some 50 African countries became independent. The process of decolonisation led to political elections of one-man, one-vote and the subsequent formation of sovereign states. Decolonisation provided an easy mechanism for the transfer of political power from colonial power to the "new democratic government" - very often a different name for the new "clan" or "tribe" in power.

The claim to internal sovereignty made the new government basically untouchable, as countries were run into the ground in the name of democracy and sovereignty. Even in the darkest days of Zimbabwe when Mugabe turned against his own people (not to be identified with the Zanu-PF party) and forced them into hunger and poverty, both Mbeki and the SADEC leaders hid behind the doctrine of sovereignty, not to become involved in the country's internal affairs.

From 1945 to 1993 Africa produced a new sovereign state almost every year. Then in 1992 a new word entered the political vocabulary - the formation of a failed state. Somalia disintegrated into war making factions; law and order collapsed and the country and capital were divided among war lords. Since then, the country has not regained its former status as sovereign entity. From 2000 the external community has wearily accepted the fact that more failed states could follow as governing capabilities declined and in some cases basically collapsed.

The dysfunctional state has slowly started to push the sovereign state aside. The result has been total conceptual chaos. This reflects more or less the situation by 2010: how are the consequences of the failed state to be accommodated in planning and decision making? On these issues, there is no clarity at all. Unfortunately, it is perhaps the most importance issue companies and interest groups will have to deal with.

By 2010 it is clear that the ANC government has landed itself in a severe crisis. However, as a statement it is not enough to carry any weight. Some very important contextual information is necessary.
How has this come about?

Dysfunctional trends can be identified in society at large on three various levels with:

·         Government in crisis;
·         Population in crisis; and
·         Environment in crisis.
·         Erosion of Good Governance
Over the past decade, the essence of good governance - the relationship between Government and the governed - has been eroded. Four election victories have provided the ANC government with a solid majority in parliament.

This has boosted the profile of the ANC and there is little doubt about its political capital. The latter enabled the ANC to introduce its policy of transformation as mechanism to rectify the apartheid injustices of the past.

ANC cadres were widely introduced into the public service and serving whites were scattered abroad, to retirement villages and into silence. Transformation in formal definition was quite successful as statistics showed the effectiveness of the process, but in practice it eroded the capabilities of Government itself. The whites who left the public service took expertise and skills with them, which was never replaced. With cadre deployment came a new governing culture where stealing from the state (the taxpayer) has become an accepted way of conducting government business. Relocating tax money for the personal enrichment of government officials by tampering with contracts, tenders and pay-offs have become an all pervasive source of additional income.

The ANC won political control of the country, but it lost out on the governing capability. By 2010 the ANC just does not have the governing capital to attend to all the needs of society. As a result, large areas of society have become void of any governing capabilities - in technical terms society has become governmentally empty. The ANC commands a sound political majority, but signifies no governing presence within the key functions of Government.
With this, the broad outlines of the failed state have also come to South Africa as the structures for good governance have become destabilised. When Government is in crisis, the whole of society will reflect the nature of the crisis.

Population crisis - the 20/20 syndrome
The 20/20 syndrome explains a situation where society has been losing its human capital over a very short period of time. This, in essence, prevents society from regenerating itself. The impact of HIV/AIDS on the population has been devastating.

Twenty years ago the average life span of the population was a healthy 60 years plus. By 2005 it was rated around 50 years average.

Two years ago, it was Kwazulu-Natal that first arrived at 43 years. By 2010 the trend is down to 40 years. About one basic fact all the reports and analysts agree: the wrong people are dying in society - the group between 19 and 49 years of age. Society has been deprived of its human capital (expertise and skills) over the last twenty years.

Without human capital it becomes impossible to uplift a population.

The population crisis is not about too many people, but about too little human capital.

  • The number of people who are poor, is just too high (25.7 million people from a population of 49.3 million);
  • The number of people who depend on a state grant for their daily survival is not sustainable (13 million with the possibility of an additional 7 million);·
  • The number of people who are illiterate has become unmanageable (24% of adults over 15 years);
  • There is no solution for the number of jobless people. The most recent statistics indicate an official jobless rate of 25,3%. The real rate, according to the Bureau for Market Research at Unisa, has reached 41%. The figure used in the advertising industry for marketing stands on 63%.
  • The number of people with HIV/AIDS is terrifying, as it sucks the human capital from the middle sector of society (5.7 million people);
  • The large number of people who are going to die from HIV/AIDS may destabilize society eventually as it impacts on the productive middle sector of society (estimated deaths: 1 000 per day is the most recent figure available);
  • The number of Aids orphans is beyond the reach of Government and society (by 2015 some 5.7 million or 32% of all children will have lost one or both parents) and this fact in itself has the potential to disrupt the educational process;
  • The terrifying reality is that the number of people with the necessary human capital - the expertise and skills to support society and capability to pay taxes - is too few to carry the burden of the numbers in need. (5.3 million tax payers, with 1.2 million of them paying 75% of all personal and company tax).
Environment in crisis
The environment is one of the factors that determine the quality of life of the population. Of direct relevance are issues such as clean water, the effective disposal of sewage, roads, etc.

  • In January 2010 the Democratic Alliance disclosed in a statement that only 32 of the 970 sewage plants in the country are still functioning properly.
  • In a report to Parliament in February 2010 it was revealed that "when it comes to fresh water", only 30 municipalities out of 283 have the capability to supply clean water to the inhabitants.
  • Parliament's water affairs portfolio committee was told in July 2010 that "millions of litres of highly acidic mine water is rising up under Johannesburg and, if left unchecked, could spill out into its streets some 18 months from now. The acid water is currently about 600m below the city's surface, but is rising at a rate of between 0.6 and 0,9m a day."

"It can have catastrophic consequences for the Johannesburg central business district if not stopped in time. A new pumping station and upgrades to the high-density sludge treatment works are urgently required to stop disaster."

"Speaking at the briefing, activist Mariette Liefferink, from the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, said the rising mine water posed an 'enormous threat', which would become worse if remedial actions were further delayed."

"This environmental problem is second [in South Africa] only to global warming in terms of its impact, and poses a serious risk to the Witwatersrand as a whole. At the rate it is rising, the basin [under Johannesburg] will be fully flooded in about 18 months".

She said the rising mine water had the same acidity as vinegar or lemon juice and was a legacy of 120 years of gold mining in the region.

Acid water is formed underground when old shafts and tunnels fill up. The water oxidises with the sulphide mineral iron pyrite, better known as fool's gold. The water then fills the mine and starts decanting into the environment, in a process known as acid mine drainage.
(Johannesburg on acidic water time bomb) Mail & Guardian, Jul 21, 2010.

Context of the crisis
South Africa has a problem with a variety of issues such as law and order, potholes, sewage, bad education - the list is almost endless. These are all problems, but the crisis lies on a different level. The crisis is embodied in the structures of society which are supposed to carry society at large, but have become dysfunctional. When Government is subjected to functional decay, the population in a process of distortion and the environment is increasingly being contaminated - then the essence of the crisis is really showing.

The country reflects a crisis on three different levels. This makes the country rather unique in the world.
In addition, the crisis has been exacerbated by the fact that the three various levels of functional decay, has now started interacting with one another. Very few South Africans really understand what is happening to their own society. The real problem is not the pothole or the burglar, but the internal functional collapse of Government and society.

What kind of Future?
In terms of planning and decision making it is easy to fill a pothole, but how do deal with functional decay is a completely different challenge. The reader has to accept that there is no proven remedy or fixed solutions - the way ahead will be one of trial and error. Existing political perceptions and beliefs will have to be shattered and altered and mindsets will have to change. There is, indeed, not a very easy road ahead.

The ANC's political victory in 1994 enabled it to introduce a new democracy in South Africa, as embedded in the constitution of 1996. That provided the ideological and political base for the introduction of the process of transformation.

What emerged was a numbers driven society where race percentages became the norm for appointment and position.

The immediate result was the corruption of society, as the whites with expertise moved out and "cadre deployment" took over. Political control became the dominating factor in society and capabilities were very often excluded.

What followed was a swift and dramatic decline of governing capabilities. Service delivery as envisaged in the constitution deteriorated rapidly, but it happened out of sight and was not immediately recognised. There was a sewage problem, but it was not linked to a decline of governing capabilities. For the sake of democracy, people looked the other way.

By 2010 the key functions of Government are all under severe pressure.

Then the electricity crisis of 2008 triggered a reaction. Every household was affected and the mismanagement and cover up of dwindling coal stock piles became common knowledge. This was followed by a flood of information about the status of dams and rivers that impacted on the supply of fresh water. Next to this, the sewage problem that had been building up for years suddenly showed its ugly head.

What paralysed the government of President Jacob Zuma was that it all happened at the same time.

What made this different? People were compelled to live with the situation. Being without electricity, using contaminated drinking water and physically living with sewage changed minds and attitudes. As problems increased, government officials and services became more absent. The constitution promised a better quality of life, but Government left the people out in the sewage. A contradiction emerged in the political profile of Government: a clash between the political capital and the governing capital - a process of internal erosion. For decades people have been told that apartheid was to blame for everything and suddenly they discover the real culprit behind the council building - Government.

The country was still a major democracy, but Government's inability to deliver was slowly penetrating society. A very large section of the population came to exist outside the confines and guarantees of the constitution. A small town where the sewage flows down Main Street is basically beyond or outside the protection of the constitution.

Similarly, the urban community that provides its own security and pays for it, is also beyond the protection of the constitution.

The result was the creation of alternative functioning structures. This was not motivated by a resistance against Parliament or an effort to push Government aside. The real reason was that a very specific need had to be addressed; otherwise a specific section of society could not survive.

As strange as it may seem, people started moving beyond the constitution for self-protection.

Farmers started repairing the national roads in their vicinity; otherwise goods to the market could not be transported. Parents invested in additional teachers in order to secure a future for their kids. In this process, a whole range of new functional structures in society have been created - with or without the consent or cooperation of Government. The eventual effect is that a large section of society is in the process of breaking away from government structures - and eventually from Government control. This is perhaps not so much anti-democratic as a-democratic, i.e. outside the democratic process, as it bypasses the formal structures and creates new ones when the need arises. The driving force at this stage is not the will of the people, but the need of the specific sector of society. In this process, the nature of democracy will eventually change.

Bypassing formal government will not occur if some disillusionment has not emerged in society. It is basically twenty years since formal discussions began to dismantle apartheid. A whole new generation has emerged. Black youths are aware that their education does not prepare them for the 21st century. White youths experience that the market place is largely closed to them, in spite of adequate qualifications. The struggle generation of politicians that took over in 1994 are now in the process of moving out and there is nothing in place that can take the country into the 21st century.

Some form of resistance against the functional decay is inevitable. However, it is not expected in the form of a rebel movement or attempt to unseat Government by force. Within the black community the present demonstrations and burning of council buildings may continue. Within the white community, resistance may take another form.

Amongst whites there is a complaint that they pay twice for everything. They pay tax for "security of person" (chapter 2 constitution), but they also pay for their own security. They pay for education and then directly pay for additional teachers; they pay for road maintenance and do the work themselves. The bottom line is that this government is very expensive to keep around, with no benefits coming from it.

In reaction the next step may be a formal note to the minister of Finance and the Receiver of Revenue, demanding a tax discount for services promised but not delivered - and then delivered and paid for by the taxpayer himself. What could emanate from this is ground level emotion and indignation. The reality that 5 million taxpayers are already supporting a nation of close to 50 million, plus an additional 9 million from neighbouring countries, does not go down well.
The figures do not add up. This is one direction Government does not want to go. By 2010 the population has ended up in a total imbalance which the next election will not be able to rectify.

It is in the nature of governments, when things go badly for them, to start withholding information from the public.
The country must speak with "one voice", with one government spokesperson and one official broadcaster. All this is supposedly, "good for nation building". Who would ever forget the statement of a former NP minister in parliament that he would not allow television in the country, because it would be bad for the public morale?

Any information that may threaten the position of Government may be questioned as "anti-democratic". Very often, this is all lumped together under the nice, formal concept of "national security". To the common citizen this may sound extremely dangerous and therefore needs his support.

Then the question emerges: what is secret and what not? There is much information that is freely available, not secret at all, that can directly threaten the position of Government, officials and ministers. Government is known to be sensitive to any photos of farm murders, statistics about crime and web pages that explain too much of what happens in the country.

Can Government prevent this flow of "dangerous" information, as the latest proposals of legislation from parliament attempted to do? The answer is short: No! It was possible during the Cold War. The Russians built a wall across central Europe to keep people and a free flow of information out.

In a technologically driven world every person with a cell phone (and camera), and computer on the desk has the immediate capability to send information all over the world. Every person with a cell phone has the capability to photograph potholes, schools without toilets, policemen asleep on the job and text messages about politicians who buy luxury cars and officials who are corrupt.

This implies that every citizen has the potential to send information, "dangerous" to the Government, abroad.

In this process, if this legislation is pushed for reasons that existed in the previous century, every citizen has the potential to become the enemy of Government. An effective withholding of information can only be done when all cell phones are confiscated and all computers smashed.

Government may win in parliament, but is going to lose on the sidewalk of society. This is one avenue Government does not wish to pursue.

With its enormous political capital behind it, the ANC commands the voting power in parliament, but it does not have the doing power. The lack of governing capabilities may eventually result in the domino effect. Individual "problems" like sewage, clean water and education start interacting. The one affects the other and begin a self-driven process that leads to accelerated collapse. There is, for example, little doubt that HIV/AIDS has made the major contribution to the internal collapse of manpower in the defence force. With an HIV-infection of 90% among truck drivers - tested on the border with Swaziland - the impact on the freight industry, and the economy, will be devastating. Public education already is in bad shape, but add HIV-infection to the problem and many schools and universities will find it very difficult to continue teaching.

The most unthinkable result of the domino effect will appear when local government becomes so dysfunctional that citizens are compelled to take over services on a large scale and in this process government authority is pushed back to a few urban areas. This will signal the start of a new political system.

How will the decision maker finds his way through this complicated situation?

From 2010 and beyond the quality of expertise and skills of any company or organisation will determine its economic and social survival. What should be assessed here is the level of human capital.

Human capital in combination with other assets such as infrastructure provides the all important intellectual capital - the competitive advantage. Without intellectual capital very little value can be added to any business or society. A clear definition of intellectual capital is also imperative.

Without a clear assessment of human and intellectual capital, society will be unable to regenerate itself.

Dr. J.A. Du Plessis at Intersearch, Tel. +27 12 4606 366 +27 12 4606 366
AfricanCrisis Webmaster
Author of: Government by Deception
"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Work around the farm

 Chainsaw Man! We decided to clean up a stand of gum trees near the house. Nothing grows beneath them because of their closeness to each other and all the leaf litter. It will soon all be shredded into it's own compost pile as I can't put it on the regular heap.
My new Silky saw was very useful to cut most of the branches and Jan did the big ones and a dead tree with the chainsaw.
 Weedeater woman! This area is next to the gums and above the veggie garden. It has lots of stumps and crap lying around. We have kept the livestock out so it really needed a clean up and so off I went. Jan was busy on the gate into the veggie garden and Max was "helping" in the background with his gunda gunda.

Can you tell it's hot? And Max doesn't like any noise he isn't making- hence the ear muffs. Between chainsaws, shredders, weedeaters and the tractor, he gets a lot of frights on start up. Soon he'll be doing it for us...

Naughty dad and Max throwing rocks across the dam at mom. And Jannie, quite pooped from trying to fill this hole in the dam. We were carting clay from the other side to tamp in and other than wheeling the heavy barrow up the dam wall, the tamper must weigh about 30kgs. I think any jelly bellies are a thing of the past!

Tomorow it's crumpets and then to finish the water to the veg garden and more weedeating. Unless it rains...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gunda and other vehicles

Jan's beloved old Land Cruiser is at the doctor's again. The back left wheel sheared right off on his way to Tai Chi the other night. So lucky it happened where it did and not on a major road far from home. And he was not hurt at all. Who knows when we will get it back- and it is the only 4x4 vehicle we have. Better not rain too hard.

Unless you count the tractor whose seat is not fixed to the body. I have no idea how Patrick (our farm labourer) has managed to stay on it. I think this must be Jan's next job so I can learn to drive it. Very useful old thing.

We have a large trailer for the tractor whose wheel keeps going flat. Jan bought a new tube and it looks like that has done the trick. Now don't drive it over very pointy things with those old wheels! Very big chunks of rubber missing from them and I don't think it has had any new tyres in a very long time.

May have to trade my Condor in for a double cab bakkie with diff lock. That should go about anywhere on the farm. Could be worse- I could have to have a vehicle for dodging taxis.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Working on the farm

Yesterday we began working on Granny's cottage. We did some damp-proofing and sealing and today we filled and began painting. She very kindly sent lunch and while I sat to eat it, I realised she has the best view of all the houses! She looks directly at the mountain with no other houses visible except ours though the trees. Just divine and tonight as I walked back home under lots of stars I felt so fortunate to be able to do this for my Mommy. Tomorrow I will check my second coat and she can begin moving in. Max has even said he will spend a night with her. Now that is a BIG step! And Granny thought she was moving to peace and quiet...


Last Friday I had to put 1 of my 5 black cats to sleep. She was not my favourite cat- I have never met such a stupid cat! But I rescued her from a night club where she drank beer and ate chips and she was one of my babies. I miss my silly Chilli.
Her daughter has also been sick and so some very expensive tests later, we will see what is up and if I will lose anymore children. I don't do well with animals in pain/suffering or dying.
Our labourers lost 2 sheep to the rooikat in 1 weekend and then 1 got sick. They did what they could but really did not know much. And what do I know about sheep?!! Anyway, I had them help me drag and carry a really heavy sheep into the shade and sat with it to slowly pour water into it's mouth.
What it makes me wonder is- Am I ready for any other animals which may die? I am planning chickens a 2 geese but it could be heart-breaking. Dare I risk it?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Evil-looking mushroom

 After the first lot of rain, we put on our gum boots and went for a walk. Toni & Helix- our boy cat who thinks he is a dog- came with us. We had to carry the children- all 3- across some of the river branches. None wanted to be left behind ( a lot of woofing and meowing going on!)

Along the way we found the usual puff ball mushrooms (mostly not-edible) and this Red Stinkhorn. And boy did it!

It was lovely to see the river run.
Then it rained again! Eish! There is a drift which you cannot usually see from the house but we could this time. Just lovely.
Of course the dam is still leaking so all that lovely  water poured out and down into our fields. We will have to do something to try and fix it without spending too much.

We also used our indoor fireplace (everyone seems to have one around here) for the first time. We used lots of cast-iron pots and Jan did a sacrifice for he & Mom (that's a braai in case you were wondering).
First bread on the fire got a bit burnt on contact as the pot was a bit hot but tasted great. And I think we will be doing some more cooking like this because we have a forest of wattle to tame.
Next up a curry, another bread and more bones for Toni!

This a nice pic of Max digging up our driveway. Now that should keep him busy!

And finally, the future veg garden. This was taken before the rain when the holes for the electric fence were dug but not "poled" yet. The holes promptly filled with water so it took us another week before we could carry on. (The previous pic of Max shows him behind where I was taking this pic from. A long driveway to dig.)
 I have since filled the tyres and planted my first potatoes. The wires go in for the bokkies, pigs, rabbits etc tomorrow and then we can really get planting. It's so late in the year already but hopefully we will still have a long enough season to get a lot grown.

By the way the beginning of the driveway is at the end of the row of trees.

Can't wait to get going.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We have had lots of interesting challenges since moving to the farm. Today was no exception. The pump died. Technically this should not be a problem for us as the leivoor is about 10m behind the house over a 3m drop. We should still be able to get water. But this is life and not a technicality.
Jan has never fixed a pump before but clever boy that he is, he has been able to transfer his knowlegde of electrical, mechanical and plumbing stuff to this. Sadly he has run out of teflon tape! I think he had 3 rolls when he started.
He has used silicon grease to seal the nuts which drain the housing before the impellar (sp?) and is about to cut up and old gum boot to make a gasket.
He has had to re-wire it as it was wired backwards and not earthed. Oh and also not sealed. Not good in a potentially wet environment. And the worst of it was, he can't see how it was EVER serviced with all the mud and gunk he took out of the housing. Perhaps our water won't be such a lovely shade of beige anymore.
But we still don't need an alarm on the house.
We took the Tradouw Pass through Heidelberg to Barrydale a while back. It was so pretty and Barrydale is an unusual little town with the highway running right through it. There are lots of places to stop to eat and shop. Many Vaalies have moved there to get away from the rat race. Worth a visit.
We stopped for a picnic at the bottom of the pass at Max's insistence. Half way up would have been better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our newest family member has reminded me of how much a person learns in their first few years of life. And of how important "life" is. Not just to exist, because is there really a reason for living, but the amazing thing that new life is. Toni came from the SPCA in Mossel Bay and is not the Lab mix I had planned. In fact all I can recognise is a bit of German Shepard in her flopped over ears, the rest I don't know. Max is still a bit uncertain that when she jumps on him, she is not trying to bite him. Wonder where his fear of dogs came from.
She is very sweet, clever and has been very good. So far, no shoes have been chewed! She will be a medium-sized dog and we will still look for that lab as a friend for her. Soon. Can anyone sleep as well as a puppy?

Also new to our brood is Prunes- a calico cat which has been living on the farm. Perhaps we should have called her Hoover with the way she sucks down food. She is healthy and really doesn't seem to have the ticks & fleas one would expect from an unattended farm cat. She is loving and doesn't seem too phased by the other cats, puppy or Max. BTW, she too is named after a character in one of Max's books.

Next on my list of adoptees will be a few chickens. I am planning a chicken tractor to move around the farm but first off the bat will probably be just 3 and a small movable ark. I want them in the orchard first to manage any bugs as the fruit grows. The trees are so small, they need all the help they can get.

We still await the police clearance to continue with adopting our human family member.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have you ever wondered about life?

I have been thinking so much lately about how we humans think we are so important. How clever we are! And yet if you go outside and look around at nature, you can instantly see we are irrelevant (mostly harmful).
We think we can own land. Now really think about that concept. Pah! What a joke! All we are, is stewards. Best we each start behaving as stewards. Each day I will make a conscious decision to do or not do something which will only make an ounce of difference. That's enough.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Things are getting exciting!

We will finally be moving to the farm at the end of this month. I cannot wait to get out of this crummy rented house and start getting dirty.

While we have been here, we have been growing a compost heap and will have to figure out how to take it with us. I am sure it will be seen by the owners -and especially the letting agents- as a rubbish heap instead of what it is- a kajillion little happy and very valuable microbes. Now how exactly does one go about moving a not-quite-ready compost heap?
I think perhaps the older stuff will go into the worm boxes and the newer stuff into an old kitty food bag. Should work.

Speaking of kitties- these 5 are not going to be happy with me again. At least it's a positive move to lots of space. Enough for all of them to claim a spot and still be at home and safe.
We go for walks with Max around the neighbourhood here and almost always end up with a trail of little black cats following us down the street. Now I won't have to worry about cars- just ticks and snakes!

And about those snakes... This is definitely puff adder territory so I have been doing some research about what plants repel snakes. The consensus seems to be that anything with a strong smell will work as the Jacobson's Organ snakes use for smell is very sensitive. This means my permanent herb garden will be nice and close to the house for a good reason. Other than for how pretty it looks. Lemon grass, mint, rosemary, lemon thyme, garlic chives, penny royal.
The cats are a help too as they eat the rats & mice which would be a snake's food. No food = no snakes.
And it's time for Max to get a dog. He is so scared of dogs and we just don't know why. On the beach, I run towards dogs and he runs away. This will be an interesting choice to make.
We need something which won't grow too big- Lab or smaller- but not an excuse for a dog. Something which won't chase our livestock or the wild things. Something which will be Max's best friend. I have to say that a Staffie springs to mind. We will see.

And so to packing- again!

Dew drops

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I have tried to start this blog several times- without success in my eyes. So here goes again with the REAL blog.

Today we visited Eureka Mill near Heidelberg (that's in the Cape!). I used to sell a lot of their flour in Foxglove- especially when Penny Zeffert did her amazing natural bread courses.
We met Nico- the passionate miller (and everything else man). He took us on a tour and explained how they do things at Eureka.
I wasn't sure how to approach this, so this is what I decided on- I'll give you the facts and then my opinion.
Eureka does not use GM seed wheat. They do not grow organically (yet, as they can't afford to loose their crop). They stone grind all the wheat. They don't add anything (preservatives, bleaches, fortification- anything).
They collect, clean, sort, soak, mill, grade, seperate, pack, ship, build, bake- just everything- themselves.

If you hear Nico's explanation of what Eureka doesn't do, you will never use "large name brand" flour again. Why do you need to process wheat so far, that you remove the protein and good fats and then have to add vitamins for it to have any food value? That is not logical and in my mind should be illegal. The big guys should not be allowed to do what they do without disclosing it on their label. At least we can then choose for ourselves.

I suggest we all ask more questions. I am a strong proponent of READING THE LABEL but how about you try? Next time you buy something- anything- you try.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So this week I have had a taste of the "Small Town Syndrome". You know- the fact that everyone knows everyone and ALL their business. I have met a lady who is willing to share her opinions on everyone she has met in Still Bay in the few years she has lived here.
I will have to have my own opinions I am sure but it really is interesting to hear all the background.

People here seem to accept crappy service and poor quality without another thought. Anyone who wanted to come in here and take on any of the exisitng businesses, would have plenty to keep them busy. With excellent service and a great product, people would flock to it. I think complacency has set in and there neds to be a shake up.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In this little town, everything is left until the last minute. Manana, manana… It makes doing business very frustrating and difficult. However, with every whine, there is an opportunity to make a good business just by offering excellent service.

We have been trying the local restaurants and I am afraid so far they are appalling! The take-aways are awful too. We will have to go back to cooking more as we used to do. Got to plan the shopping too as not everything is available immediately or it is so pricey, to make you not want to buy it locally. Sad, as I would rather support local business. Silly and short-sighted, as it makes the locals buy out.

We 3 looking for the little holes to fill and finding big ones!

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the first day I arrived in Still Bay, we met a "tannie" who complained that it was raining. And last night, our neighbour over the road had her irrigation system going for over an hour. It rained most of yesterday. Don't these people know that the dams are only 18% full?! What will they do when they open a tap and nothing comes out?