Monday, January 31, 2011

A commune?

I was chatting with Rae from African Bliss this morning (If you haven't tried their soap you really should). We were saying that there is always so much to do on a farm- no matter how small it is- that perhaps a commune or kibbutz system is the right way to go.
Think about it. If you are really looking for a decent quality of life, good untainted food and personal security, it could take you all day just to keep up. And it is on my part. After cleaning house, doing washing, cooking and baking, playing with Max and doing school, feeding and caring for animals, all I really have time for is a bit of weeding or watering. Where's the sense in having this beautiful place if you can't go exploring and enjoying it?

Must investigate this as a whole idea...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Could Storks Visiting be an omen?

We have been watching storks on our neighbour's fields- stalking around- ha ha! Even without binoculors, you can see their funny, halting walk. Do you think it could be an omen about our adoption happening soon? I will choose to think it is! There must have been 20 of them in the dead oak tree until I scared them trying to get a clear pic.

Our first potatoes from a tyre tower! It worked realy well considering I only had 2 tyres up and they were. not really full of soil. Our staff were suprised they weren't eaten by ants but I think it may be too hot in the tower for ants. All we found were LOTS of lovely earthworms! We'll knock over the next one next week for dinner. Eating those little earthy spuds brought back such memories of my Granny's garden. And fresh potatoes have such a nice texture.
I learnt from Jamie Oliver that if you are cooking whole potatoes and don't want to the outside to cook before the inside, put them in the cold water to come up to the boil.
You can just see a purple bean leaf behind the bucket. They have been delicous! If Max sees them, they don't even get to the kitchen! We have had green ones too but although they taste good, they are strangely pale. There have been a few Roma tomatoes but these are never my favourite for eating. Can't wait for the Criminee de Noire to be ready. Yum!
Granadillas have been great- I think curd will be good with these.
White radishes have come and gone, peppers are still on the way, various squashes, lotsa herbs, spring onions, strawberries, gooseberries, currants, leeks- blah blah blah- I sound like I still have a shop! I love my garden. We have made a teeny dam with the water leaking from the real dam. It's right above the veg garden and this feeds the garden very nicely and uses the leaking water instead of it just running into the fields. Very nice and so much more to come...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grace & Vodka

I think this should be the title of my book as it very aptly describes what is required to run a farm.

Not for a minute did we think living on a farm would be a breeze when we lived in Jo'burg, we just did not know the challenges we would face. Some have come as a complete suprise (see previous post "The wheel fell off") and some we suspected all along (workers not carrying out instructions for example- not unique to a farm).

We did know this farm and all about it was neglected and rather run down but we did not know it was un-loved. The poor tractor needs almost daily repairs to stay going. The tyres are so old, they are literally wire-bare. Still going since 1967 though.
The "plumbing" - and I do use this term loosely- has been cobbled together as new developments happened in the world. The kitchen, bathroom and washing water goes underground and pops up outside our bedroom windows. Thank heavens for small mercys that the toilet desn't too! For now, this has not been a headache.

The horses break fences on a daily basis by rubbing their tick-infested behinds on them. The driveway washes out with each rain. The dam still leaks despite our best attempts to fix it- albeit not as badly as before. The old wooden floors in our bedroom sag more each day.

All this and we haven't even got to the critters yet!
Actually, they have been fun. We now have bee hives around the farm and whilst they are not ours, hopefully they will trap the bees so we can get to the areas they are swarming and do the work that is needed.
I have found several kinds of frogs & toads- VERY large limestone coloured to tiny vivid yellow and brown striped ones.
When Vanessa and Adam were visiting for lunch, we found a huge tortoise- about 40cm long- and have found a few babies too.
There are lots of snails and some serious slugs- remind me a bit of the banana slugs in the US.
There are tons of birds and unless someone is playing a joke, we keep hearing a fish eagle call. The birds of prey may be a problem for our chickens but we hope to manage that by giving them lots of shelter.

Now it may sound like I am moaning but it's far from it. I couldn't be happier to be picking up horse poo, scratching in the various kinds of soil, stomping around in gum boots all day. It so beats the vulnerable feeling I had in Jo'burg. Do you know the cops visit all the farms in the area every month - just to see that everything is ok? Now that is different. And very welcome.

The wheel fell off! Not again?

A while ago Jan was driving into Riversdale and his back right wheel came completely off. It had sheared off on the shaft (or something) and rolled miles down the road and into the bushes as Jan tried to prevent crashing. We found the wheel and got it all fixed at great expense and a long time.

Can you believe it- it has happened again! Same wheel. What the ...? One of the downsides of the farm is the distance to anything if something needs fixing. And Gunda is so heavy to tow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monkey around the farm

 A new bicycle and how frustrated he was that he could not instantly ride it. He could not quite get the hang of the brakes being a back pedal but he has it now. Those training wheels won't be on there long!
 Walking through the wattle forest. We found evidence of wild pigs and of bokkies- maybe bushbuck butthe tracks looked a bit small.
 Max now has his own piece of garden but boy is it a mission to get him to do anything on it. I suppose he is only 3.5. But he does so well unpacking the dishwasher!
 CRITTER! We went looking for black berries and he hid from me. Next time I'll start walking back home without him.
 Ultimate Survivor Max with his camp, fire and net he "made" to catch fish. Funny little thing. The Calvin side of him is starting to show. He isn't grossed out by all the things Bear Grylls eats and always starts to recount them at dinner!
 Hot days require lots of water play. This kept him busy for a few hours. Needless to say I got dowsed and didn't get much done.
This is our beautiful stream. Jan says he tastes iron in the water not the tannin we all think makes the Cape waters brown. I dunno. Bears investigation. We had been working on the stone cottage and stopped at the stream on the way home to take a bit of a breather. The water was lovely and cold on hot feet. We think this will be a good place for a wier and a plunge pool as it is already half done.

Holly the New Filly

 Meet Holly. Born on Christmas day (we guess) and seen first on the 27th- this pic. We let them into the yard but her mom was very skittish to have her close to us.

She is so sweet and would love to come closer and have a sniff. Her mom is a bit of a hand brake!
This was after about 2 weeks and she has since grown very nicely. So cute with her long legs and knobbly knees.

It is so sad that these lovely horses are so neglected. I just don't think it fair that a domesticated animal should be allowed to go wild and breed. I wish they were mine so I could do something about it. Know anyone who would like 12 horses? E-mail me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This beautiful place

 These photos show what it looks like on a 38deg day- in the early morning of course. I pinch myself almost every day that we live here now.
 Looking down the driveway to the veggie garden.