01 March 2010

Long Blog, No Time

It's true. Really, really true. The Earth does go around the Sun! Night falls noticeably earlier. By 7 of an evening we want lights to read by, and suddenly we know it's Autumn. And suddenly we realise that the Summer past has been a complete disaster for our self-sufficiency efforts.

Sign that Bushbuck came to dinner...February was shaping up to be a particularly bad month. What the drought had not yet killed, the Bushbuck came and ate. And what little they left was pulled out by Baboons.

And then the rains came. Not enough to believe that the drought is over yet, but enough to bring this February's rainfall up to the average I've recorded over the past 8-or-so years. The average, mind! And we're ecstatic to have it. The Tomatoes - all 34-odd varieties - are gone. I think I've lost the last of the OSU Blue. Fortunately I still have some seed of all the wonderful new varieties sent by kind people all over the world, but now I'm going to have to wait until next year to discover what they look like, taste like,... their preferences and peculiarities. Gone, too, the 2-dozen or so Chile varieties... A small handful - perhaps 8 plants in total - have survived the drought only to get munched by the Bushbuck. At this stage, if I still had a doggie to feed (I don't eat red meat, myself) I'd be sorely tempted to fill the freezer with Fillet of Bushbuck!

Bottom dam before the rainsBottom dam after the rainsDespite the reasonably good rains, dams are still pretty-much empty. The soil was so dry that every drop was absorbed and very little runoff water made it into the dams. Pictures here are of the bottom dam; on the left is the dam before the rains, on the right is after. As you can see, very little change in the water level. The only change is a mysterious Red Tide floating on the water's surface. No doubt it'll be gone quite quickly. If you click through to the full-size image on the right, you'll see J standing at the water's edge, and Myah the Bumpy Dog swimming; at the point J is standing, she would be up to her armpits in the water if the dam was full!

The Forest, breathing coolly after rainAt least the Forest gets to breathe again! And, as though they've been waiting forever for the rains, mushrooms have burst out of... everywhere! The lawn is a mass of yummy Agaricus campestris. We found a well distributed cache of Boletus aestivalis - a close relative of the well-known Porcini (B. edulis), just smaller and with a thin stem - a short way away in the Pine Plantation Down The Road. So, in some fashion, life goes on. I do think a lot, though, about how our Winter prospects would look if we were truly dependent on only our own produce. It's a frightening picture, because we would certainly be facing severe hunger, if not outright starvation. As it is we're near the end of our money reserves, and having to buy in dreadful bought lettuce... We haven't had to buy veggies for probably 8 or 10 years, now... It's a blow, I can tell you!

Mmmmm.... Portland Porter!

But life goes on...

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