Trick or Treat?

I absolutely adore this rocking chair that B inherited from his Grandmother.

It has a feature spot in our bedroom in Tiny House.

If you are wondering why it is wearing socks, it has a nasty habit of sticking its feet out and trying to trip me when I am on my way to the loo in the middle of the night. After a few incidents of losing the skin off the top of my right foot I decided to donate a pair of soft comfortable socks to the old girl 🙂

Setting up a business in a small town

We are currently setting up a business manufacturing small steel / wrought iron decor items as well as making awesome lights and other steel work like balustrades and gates.  It’s been a roller coaster ride so far because it’s really difficult to source items when you live out in the bush.  Slowly things are really starting to look good and we have quite a bit of interest in our products.

One of our big stores here in Hoedspruit, that stocks pretty much everything that we need, has such a difficult system to work with that I avoid it at all costs trying three or more stores before having to go there. The system is such that you are unable to walk in, pick up what you want and go to the till. One has to find a sales attendant to help you. They are all so busy packing stock and doing online quotes and helping clients over the phone that they do not have time to assist customers in the store so they avoid eye contact as much as possible. After hanging about for 30 mins one gets frustrated and starts begging for assistance. You are told they will come now but they don’t often come back and when they do the help with one item they then disappear again. Also, some prices are marked quite high and your sales assistant is allowed to give you quite large discounts. So one has to be all sweet and kind even when getting bad service otherwise you don’t get your discount. It seems to be at the salesman’s discretion whether you get discount or not. These are good folk – the system just sucks in my opinion. Yesterday after 45 mins in the store – I walked out in frustration and got everything I needed in 10 minutes at another store, one item in particular being 50% cheaper than the listed price in the big store. Guess where I am going next time?

Here are a few pictures of what we are making.

As soon as I have some pictures of our stunning outdoor wall lamps I will put them up for you to see.

Arty update

While I may not have been blogging much, I have continued to paint.  Here are a few of my recent works.

These wet pebbles were for our “Going Coastal” assignment on Free your Art.

and an enamel bowl and jug – this was an exercise on white on white – I really enjoyed it.

I also painted two wall murals at two under-privileged schools for a charity which does really great work with the schools on raising awareness of our ecology and ecosystems and also running food gardens at the schools

Onion Harvest

Onions have turned out to be the most complicated of all my crops this season. It took many questions and a handy book from my farmer friend (and now boyfriend 🙂 )

Finally after 8 long months of growing, I have harvested my onions.  I did pick and eat quite a few through the season as onions can be eaten at any time during their growing cycle.

One has to wait for 70% of your crops leaves to fall over, then bend over the remaining leaves and leave the bulbs in place in the soil for 7-10 days to go dormant.  During these 7-10 days you may not water them and it must not rain (ha – try explaining that to my weather). You then pull them and leave them in full sun for one day and then outside in a warm, shaded, dry area for another week or so.  Then you can plait them and store them in a dark dry area for many months.

It seems some of mine have gone dormant well but those with thick stems have not dried out yet.  I think they might end up getting chopped and frozen.

I must say that I have been very impressed with the size of some of them.

 

Farm news, pickled eggs and vinegar

As South Africa goes through the throws of a bitterly cold patch with a first-time-ever of snow in all nine provinces, I continue to harvest from my garden in sunshine. Incredible.

The girls however have decided that they want babies and all but Ethel have stopped laying. Ethel, my midget chicken, lays one tiny egg a day and the other three pile onto it to try to hatch it. So all three end up on top of each other on top of the tiny egg.

I wonder how long being broody lasts?

Despite the go-slow on egg production I have ended up having a few too many eggs as I have not been eating them, so I needed to make something.  I am currently reading about, and learning, how to preserve foods, I decided to try pickling them.  I had never eaten a pickled egg until last year when I gave it a try and I was surprisingly pleased with the taste.  On investigation the recipes around are diverse and it seems anything goes as long as you include eggs and vinegar – so one can experiment with your own flavours.

Because my farm eggs are tiny I was able to fit twelve eggs into a large-ish size canning jar.

Hard boil the eggs and while they are boiling, boil up a cup or two of vinegar with some pickling spices and add whatever flavours you like. (Don’t forget some salt)

I used curry powder and turmeric (for  yellow eggs) and a teaspoon or two of sugar just for that slightly sweet taste.  I used my homemade pineapple vinegar which I think will be complimented by the curry flavour.

Chop up an onion (if you like) and put it in the bottom of your clean bottle and then pack in the peeled hard-boiled eggs.  Cool your vinegar mix and pour this over your eggs. You can dilute your vinegar down with some water if you don’t like very vinegary pickles.

Store in the fridge for a week before you start eating them.  They can be stored in your refrigerator in this way for months. My next batch I will make red by adding a beetroot to the mix.  Delicious!

During the process of pickling the eggs I used up all my homemade pineapple vinegar so I quickly started a new batch of vinegar – apple this time.

You will need an apple (or just apple peels and core), some non-chlorinated water, a clean bottle and a bit of sugar. (For pineapple vinegar just use your scraps and peels)

Chop up the apple into chunks,

Place them in the bottle and cover with a tablespoon of sugar.

Fill to the top with water and cover with a piece of cloth and an elastic band (or string)

Leave to ferment outside of the fridge for a few weeks. (Don’t let it get too cold or else your living culture will die)

You will be able to smell when it first turns to wine and then to vinegar. Once the vinegar reaches the acidity and taste you enjoy strain it and bottle.

And finally, I eventually got a good photo showing you how Cleo ignores the giraffes around here.  It never ceases to amaze me how she pretends they do not exist.

Heads up

Some of you may remember that I was rather stressed about my brassicas not performing in the vegetable bed.  They were growing very well but not making heads.  Around that time I made a new friend who is a veggie farmer who kept on urging me to just wait.  I read up about them and decided that I would have to pull them all up and start again.  I was again urged to just wait.

My new friend came to visit me recently, and walked into my veggie garden and yanked a complete broccoli plant out of the ground.  I nearly hit him over the head!

He showed me where I had J-rooted the plant but kindly (and probably because he saw my face) replanted the plant in the same spot.  I did not hold out much hope for it though.

Well today I can announce that my brassicas all have heads and I will be getting some cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbage.  Yay!

Some pictures from the beds

As you can see – I am loving my new camera.  So many new things in my life right now.  This is good. 🙂

 

End of the “Still life with eggs” challenge

Our first group art challenge is now over.  Thank you to everyone who participated. We had great fun.  Heather who I wrote about in a previous post was voted as the favorite.

My personal favorite painting was the one done by Vanessa.

Isn’t it beautiful!

We are now talking about our next challenge on our Facebook page.  If any of you who do not have facebook would like to put in some suggestions as to what we should all be painting next please leave a comment on this post.  Suggestions should just be whether you are interested in painting a landscape, still life, portrait, wildlife etc.  Once we have finalised this we will be looking for specific pictures.  Please post your suggestions.

Free range girls

After one and a half months of getting used to their new home Betty and the girls were ready to go free range this weekend.  I had been dreading this because when I first got them they escaped and it took ages and a lot of trouble to get them back into their cage.

I was assured by Alf who gave me the chickens that after a month they would have settled down and I would not have a problem getting them back into their cage.  So early on Saturday morning I released them into the wild to go foraging.

I noticed that they are no longer afraid of me and that they may even like me a bit now.  In fact they come when I call and I can get them to follow me.  I even took them to the compost heap to go scratching for worms. They followed me all in a row while I made chicken noises and scratching sounds.

Jackie the chicken whisperer 🙂

Come sundown they walked nicely into their cage for me and hopped up onto their perch.  I will be letting them out now when I am at home.  Although Cleo just watches them and has made no moves to chase them she does get very jealous when I talk to them.  I think if I leave her alone with them when I go out she may just try to show them who is boss.

Painting challenge – Eggs: Update

If you would like to know more about our painting challenge please click here to read about it

 

Below you will see some of the pictures already submitted for our challenge.  Some have done a quick colour study before starting their main painting and others have been submitting progress pictures as the go forward.  Some of these artists have either never painted before or last picked up brushes many, many years ago.

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I would like to encourage those of you who have not started yet to pick up your brushes and get going.  That includes me. I start in earnest tomorrow.

I have also heard via the grape-vine that my Dad MAY just pick up brushes for the first time and try this challenge.  Wow – I would be so thrilled if he does.  Come on Dad!!