Step one – Farm House revamp

We have started to close in one side of our the existing veranda. Its the side closest to the road. By doing this we hope to eliminate a bit of the dust from the road landing on the veranda as well as shelter the outdoor cooking area.  We are doing this part of the revamp ourselves as it is quite simple and can cut down on costs substantially.  

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We will be installing this braai (BBQ) into the wall.


In the meantime I have moved my whole kitchen out onto the veranda So that we can start fixing the kitchen and getting it ready for the new kitchen cupboards and windows.


​I’ll be cooking here for the next month. I hope our weather warms up a little.

Here wre two “before” photos of the old kitchen. I can’t wait to see it finished.


It can only look better! ​

Farm House Revamp

This is the original farm house on our farm. It has been built on to and remodeled a few times in its life. I don’t know how old it is. All I do know is that it was already here in 1953 when our neighbours dad moved in. It currently looks very old, square and dull and rather like a mustard jail.

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Phase two of our farm renovations involves remodeling this house to look more like the cottage you can see in the back ground. It will be getting a large wrap around veranda, a new section of roofing and a sparkly new kitchen. Also a lick of paint and new windows if we can manage that too. This all starts about now. We will for the next few months be living in a pile of dust I am sure.

This next week sees the installation of a new fireplace in our lounge for cold winter evenings. We have built the step for it to stand on

 

and our kitchen design is complete. This kitchen was designed by my friend Colleen Wall. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to get in touch with her to design your kitchen. She is just brilliant at interpreting EXACTLY what you have in your mind. She can help you no matter where you are in the world as it can all be done online too.

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I think a few “before” pictures will help us remember what  it started out as.

I can’t wait to get it all done.

Water wise

I am sure everyone has heard the rumour that the next world war will be waged over water. I am really not too sure if it’s correct but the issue of good clean water available for all is really topical right now. For us, the current drought has really brought it home. The 2015/2016 drought is the most intense drought on record in our area with the lowest rainfall and the highest temperatures.

We have water rights assigned to our farm of 1 hectare out of the nearby Crocodile river and 5 hectares from the Sterkspruit dam up the hill from us. This amount of water for farming our land is ample however we have to run a pipe down to the river (2,5km) to get the water from the Crocodile river which we will hopefully be doing in the next year or two. The Sterkspruit water is supposed to be delivered to our doorstep under pressure which is a huge bonus as it means no pumping or electricity usage. Currently the Sterkspruit dam is empty and the water was apparently all used up by farms in the area who do not have rights to it. There is a legal battle underway with no end in sight right now.

As a stop gap we buy our Crocodile river water from the farmer next door who pumps it over to us when we need some provided there are no water restrictions in place (which there frequently are right now). Currently each farm may only pump for 30 hours a week. Bear in mind that it is mid winter here and we have had NO rain for many months. We are  very glad we do not, as yet, have a crop in the ground and our nursery trees require little water.

Luckily our borehole has remained functional through the drought so we do have household water for ourselves as well as our tenants.

For the above reasons we have decided to catch every drop of water we can and store it for the farm. We have plans to catch rain water off all our roofs with the carport roof already all set up

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We harvest just under 100 litres of water for ever 1mm of rain that falls on this roof.

These tanks are connected to a tank at our staff house down the hill, via the chicken cage and the kennels which will have its own 2500 liter tank joined to the system.

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Water from the newly built cottage roof is going to be piped onto the carport roof where it too will fill the large tanks seen above.

We also have a natural spring right down near the bottom of our property. It’s not very strong but it still has a good trickle in the middle of this drought.  One can see it was used many years ago but the well area was old and crumbling.

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This week we emptied it out and rebuilt the wall.

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The water from the spring will be piped to a nearby holding tank which we will pump up to our reservoir at the top of the farm.

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Water collected off our farm house roof will also run off into this reservoir. This past month we have laid quite a few pipes to join everything together. We are so thankful for Victor who almost digs faster than a TLB. He loves digging as he says it gives him a free gym workout.

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Here you can see how terribly dry it is. We expect our first decent rainfalls in October and according to our local weather experts we should be getting “la nina” rainfall patterns this year so we can expect an above average rainfall.

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We hope to catch a couple of thousand liters every time it rains. Every drop counts.

Winter veggies

I am finally growing our food again. Its been too long! The joy of winter vegetables in our area is the lower incidence of nasty bugs that want to eat it all for themselves. We are blessed in our area to be able to grow food all year round. Here are a few pics of our food for the next few months

 

Keeping clean

If you followed my old blog “the slowvelder”, you would already know how interested I am in becoming more self sufficient. That means I need to make things from scratch when and where I can. I have been really slack with this lately. I have also found myself being more and more interested in my diet and trying to move away from unnecessary chemical exposure where I can.

A few months back I decided to move away from using conventional toothpaste for various reasons, one of them being flouride to which I am not partial (in excess of course).  After looking at a few options in health stores I decided to rather make my own. It’s been an interesting experiment and I am pleasantly surprised at the results. If you are interested in looking into this its worth googling. There are lots of videos and websites where they even claim to be able to remineralisze  damaged teeth. The jury is still out on that however I am enjoying better gum health.

Today I have started my “no shampoo” challenge. The boggling list of nasties visible on the back of most shampoo bottles is my motivator. Our skin is our biggest organ and we absorb all of these chemicals into our bodies. Whether they are classified as detrimental or not, I would prefer not to have them in me.  With encouragement from one of our neighbours, Tarryn, who follows this method also, I washed my hair in bicarb water and conditioned with apple cider vinegar water (with an essential oil to mask the smell a bit 🙂 ) . It is important to do both as bicarb does make your hair too alkaline so one needs the vinegar to return the pH to one your hair and skin enjoy.

I used these two products

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I mixed 2 tbs bicarb with 6tbs water and rubbed it through wet hair and left it for a minute or two before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. I then rinsed with a 1:4 acv and water mix (cold) with a few drops of bergamot essential oil. Do not rinse the vinegar water off your hair.

So far so good. I am going to stick with this for a month or two to see how I like it.  Following results on the internet folk either love it or hate it. I will let you know.

Painting again

With all the aloes around the farm flowering I have been inspired to paint one. In fact I have been working on this painting in my head for about 18 months so it’s been really good to get it out onto canvas. This is quite a large canvas standing chest high (to me).

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I plan to hang it in our sitting room once the walls have been painted.

Fire break and ring road

Today we started on our fire break and ring road.

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Winter fires in our area can wreak havoc on farms in our area damaging crops and fences. The previous owner of our farm did not often clear the farm of long grass and flammable scrub with the result that winter fires raged through the farm damaging the neighbours fences etc. In order to protect our fencing, our neighbours fencing and his pecan and macadamia crop, ( and our reputation with the neighbours 🙂 ) we are running a fire break right around our farm against the fence line. This should stop any fires jumping onto our land or from our land to our neighbours. The resulting “road” around the farm will be necessary anyway once we plant our crops and also comes in very handy for running the dogs.  There are some very bushy areas at the bottom of the farm that will be great to get through too.

Planning water

Due to the current drought and the great effort one has to go to here to get water to ones farm we have had to come up with a good plan and an underground network of pipes to get water to all areas of the farm. Bobs has some awesome drawings of this network that he has planned. 

An important aspect to this project is rain water harvesting. We have four large roof areas that can be used. To start off the project we have recently acquired two 5000 litre tanks which will start collecting water from our carport.

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These we bought from Rototank in Gauteng as the price was good, the quality and guarantee exceeded those available here and of course the most important to me is the colour was right 🙂 

These tanks will supply water to the kennels and the chickens as well as to the farm workers area for showering etc. It will also connect into the network leading to our reservoir should there be excess rains (hopeful). Our next step will be to lead water run off from the cottage onto the carport roof where it will run into this system.  Water from our house roof and the other small house roof will be channeled directly into the reservoir.

This system will run separately to our existing borehole network.

One small step leads to the next and before we know it we will have our system in place. Now to get the rain……..