27 June 2007

Heavy Weather

Monday night saw us weathering a blazing gale-force storm.  Sadly no rain came with the wind!  Happily we had a few drops (8mm) last night and this morning; our storage had reached about 26% draw-down: one tank was almost empty after six weeks of almost no rain (2mm in that time!)

The house rocks like a Spanish Galleon in these howling winds, and it kept us anxiously awake deep into the wee hours.  The Chicken House blew right over!  Luckily there was just enough light for the boys and I to right it in time for the Chooks to get to bed and prop it up with a motley assortment of poles and ropes.  I guess we're in for a spot of repairs and rebuilding, now; opportunity to implement the design changes I've been thinking about for a looong time, now.

We lost power around 5:30 on Monday evening, and it was finally restored around 2 this afternoon -- about 45 hours.  I was getting just a bit anxious about the freezer full of Summer Tomatoes.

At least four trees came down around the place -- we're still counting.  At least we won't want for firewood anytime soon.  Thankfully Dale is home for university vac., and very good with helping out on these chores.  I'll post some pics as soon as I get some, but things have been happening so fast, and the camera is definitely not one of the things foremost in my mind.

I confess that being without power for a couple of days has given us cause to rethink some of our priorities around getting more self-sufficient.  A new fireplace (ours is rusting to shreds!) is less important than a wood-stove.  A manual/wind/solar pump to move water from the storage tanks to the header tank.  Rebuilding the Pizza Oven.  Canning/drying/pickling as a way of preserving food instead of freezing.  Building a high-efficiency freezer and/or fridge.  We are getting quite a few of things right, and I feel quite please and proud of that.  But still have a lot of gaps to fill! 

23 June 2007

Self-sufficiency and Stress

The week past has been a journey back in time, back in psyche and spirit, back into a world I no longer inhabit.  It's been a worthwhile journey, sharpening my understanding of just how far outside the circle I have managed to wander.  A week performing a "code audit" of a large-ish software system.

Basically this means analysing the software using a variety of techniques and tools, knowing where to look for likely problem areas, and then writing a report on what you think of the whole mess.  Too many hours sitting chained to a PC so that the job gets completed "on time" -- whatever that means.  Too little time being physically active in the garden; too little time doing the myriad of small things that need doing around the farm; too time spent solving real challenges.  But it will bring in a little bit of money, so...

A new blog I just tripped across -- After Peak Oil: Awakening:
we had thought about "the good life" some years previously, but shelved our ideas since it felt like we would be giving ourselves additional stress and complications in return for some fanciful daydream about keeping chickens and the like.
The additional stress and complication?  Well, complication, yes.  But stress?  Looking back on the last decade of my life, I guess I have to acknowledge that there was stress involved in moving from a 9-to-5-pension-medical-annual-holiday existence to our somewhat-self-sufficient life.  Most of that stress was money stress.  Initially the stress of "where's the money going to come from", through the stresses of letting go of "normal" expectations around the "normal" flow of money in-and-out every month, every year, to my present state where, while I think its fun to have and use money, and its useful stuff for a limited number of purposes, I don't really feel it touches me any more.  Not in the way that most of humanity is hooked into the Conventional Money System.  Trapped in it, really.

But really, I think we Braamekraalies suffer far less from stress than ever before in our lives, and the reason is really very simple:
Human Beings are not built for single-tasking.

We evolved out on The African Plains, wary for the multitude of predators that think we make a tasty midday snack, keeping a sharp eye out for our own lunch.  We are intensely social monkeys who constantly touch, taste, see, hear, smell, constantly challenged, constantly problem-solving.  We are not well suited, physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually, to the low-input environment, the repetetive tasks provided by office jobs and suburban life in front of the desk, TV and steering-wheel.  Subjected to that sort of existence, we begin to break down.  To suffer stress.

Simply put, a self-sufficient lifestyle (at whatever level) keeps us challenged, interested, awake and alive.  The sheer variety of tasks that we face is the important thing, here.  Our brains and bodies are well adapted to variety.  Need it, in fact.

21 June 2007

Ring Out Those Solstice Bells

Merry Mid-Orbit.

Not sure if its today or tomorrow, since both days share exactly the same sunrise and sunset times.  But at least tonight is the longest night of the year.  Hooray!  Where's the bugger we have to off to ensure the sun rises again?

Ach! well, at least the days get longer from (about) now.

Temperature was 21C today(!), so I can only assume that Real Winter is still on its way...  Still time to put some Kale into the ground to keep the Chooks through the Hungry Gap.  As you can tell, my thoughts have already turned to The Spring Madness and Summer Planting.  I feel that I have things quite in-hand this year, since I'm already clearing and preparing beds for next Spring.  I really feel that we've kicked our Self Sufficiency Efforts up a notch.

A Very Small Notch.  But a Notch nevertheless!

17 June 2007

Horrible Weather

Hot, dry, adiabatic wind from the North-West battering at the trees.  Too hot for serious work, too dry for transplanting.  Blowing so hard I can't even offload the horse-shit I collected on Friday into a compost bin; it would all just get blown right back into my face.

No rain in sight.

I seem to have lost the seed I had for a very nice-looking Golden Wax Bush Bean.  The couple of plants that have made it will have to do for seed saving.  The one bean I tasted was spectacular, and I really need a couple of good bush varieties to use as interplants.  As I recall, the seed was one of those packets from Baker Creek that was less-than-satisfactory.  Along with the Golden Beet I was so looking forward to, what I got was dismal germination rates, and very low plant vigor.

Moan, moan, moan.

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