Hello Nelspruit!

The city of Nelspruit (newly named Mbombela)

It’s quite a change moving from a tiny town to a city again, albeit a small city.  I am not a city girl so I am glad to say we have found a house to rent on a farm about 10 km’s from the city where we don’t hear traffic and still get to hear the occasional African Fish Eagle call.  We decided to get a small place so that we can save our pennies for our farm. And so we found Tiny House.

Tiny House

 It’s really very tiny but steeped in history (built in 1946) and has lovely Oregon pine floors and high ceilings. We have a stunning view over a sloping pecan nut tree orchard to the mountains and hills in the distance. What is also great is that we are still near the Kruger National Park so I can get my fix of wild animals and the game reserve.

This area has a fantastic history of a gold rush, a tragic war, trade routes and of course Jock of the Bushveld, Tsetse fly, malaria and sleeping sickness all played a roll in hindering development for a long time.

We have spent this last weekend unpacking, but will be out exploring from next week. I can’t wait.  

 

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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. 🙂

 

It’s all about food…..

Everything I have been doing lately is all about food and it has been so much fun.  My first batch of vegetables are finally planted. This has been two years in the planning so it’s a big thing for me.  They are all safe and sound, away from browsing animals and the baking sun in their little cool cloth house.  I made raised beds using recycled broken vegetable crates with shade cloth liners.

Functional but not very pretty. I will be cutting off all the excess cloth to neaten things up a bit.

My whole food healthy eating plan is continuing well and I am feeling a difference already.  yesterday we had this super fritata for breakfast

and made some homemade cold drink using rosella flowers and lemon grass.  It turns bright red once it has been in the fridge for an hour or two, sweetened with a touch of honey and absolutely delicious.

so much food on my mind, I even painted a cabbage 🙂

This painting is one of six macro paintings I am doing to hang as a group in my kitchen. They are on stretched canvas so will not need to be framed.  I have also completed one of a slice of lemon but I am not happy with it.

I wonder how many other people have ever painted a cabbage 🙂

Answering your questions

A few days ago I asked you if you had any questions about my life in the bush, and today I will be answering them.

The first question came from Jocelyn from O Mighty Crisis (and from Quin)

What foods do you wish you could have easy access to…but don’t?  What do you crave?

Although our home is quite isolated, we are about 23 km’s from the nearest town. In town there are two national chain supermarkets which carry most products that we need on a daily basis although sometimes our choice is limited. For instance, it took us some persuading to get the supermarket to stock my daughters favorite breakfast cereal.  Before that, we got people to bring some to us when they came to visit.  She still wants another variety too but I’m not sure if it is still being sold in South Africa (Fruit Loops?)

Things like tahini, that I need to make my own humus, is not available, so a couple of us from our town place orders when someone is going to a city.  Other things we crave sometimes are Kentucky Fried Chicken and Sushi (we can get a limited amount at one of our restaurants on a Friday evening only – and then you have no choice).

 

 (drool!)

I think because there are quite a few luxury international safari lodges in the area, the shops tend to stock most of what we need.  Besides food though, we have a very limited choice when buying shoes and clothes and prefer to drive a few hours to do that kind of shopping.  There are also no fabric stores, movie cinemas, home decor stores, or book stores, and we don’t have a functioning fire station (a few homes burned to the ground recently) or a decent hospital.

The second question came from Greg from Greg’s World

What is a legavaan?

Well Greg, it’s kinda like a huge lizard. (rock monitor)

(image from here)

(Varanus albigularis),  the legavaan or white-throated monitor, is a species of monitor lizard found in southern Africa. It is the second longest lizard found on the continent of Africa and the heaviest bodied.

Last week Cleo, my dog, had a run in with one at the pool. She barked at it and grabbed it in  her mouth and tossed it into the air until I called her off.  The legavaan didn’t seem to care much but moved off eventually.  Cleo is very lucky that it did not hurt her.

Question 3 comes from Sweffling from Stopping by woods

Which animal/s do you have the most difficulty keeping out of the house and allied to that, which animals wish to come in and share your house during the winter?

Luckily, because we have extremely mild winters, most animals are quite happy to stay away from human habitation in our area.  The creatures that give me most problems are squirrels because they like to make their homes in our thatch roofs. We have to regularly rescue birds that have flown inside and release them and on a couple of occasions have had to remove snakes from our cottages and relocate them. So far we have not had any inquisitive mammals who would like to move in (thank goodness).  On the insect front, it’s really another story. They ALL want to live with us and it’s an ongoing battle to keep our cottages reasonably insect free without resorting to poisons.  I must admit that even although I am considered a greenie, and I save and release spiders,  – cockroaches, flies, mosquitos and ants get sprayed.

My veggie garden on the other hand gets many visits from all types of buck, porcupines and hippos.

Question 4 is from Mark of The Idiot Speaketh

What is the strangest ANIMAL or creature that you have found taking a secret dip in your pool?

Now I know Mark is longing to hear about gorillas, and constantly teases me about them, we DO NOT have gorillas running wild in South Africa.  The strangest thing I have found in the pool is a long extremely thin worm like creature that wriggles and squirms its way across the surface of the pool. It is so thin that it almost looks like a hair and is a few inches in length.  I have yet to find out what it is.

Other creatures we fish out of the pool are bees, frogs (lots of frogs), huge beetles, grasshoppers and unfortunately once a drowned snake.  The larger animals on the game reserve don’t even come to drink the water from our pool.  They are fussy and I think prefer chlorine-free that they get from the river and watering holes.

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I hope you have all learned a little more about us and our home.  If you have any more questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll do another post like this if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blog post that should have been.

So I was busy preparing to write a blog post to show you this….

My home-grown, totally organic tomatoes picked fresh of the vine,  and this……

my first gooseberries from the tiny twig that thinks it’s a gooseberry bush.
All delicious by the way. I gobbled the gooseberries right there after I took the photo and the tomatoes were served with our dinner – just sliced up with a little salt so that we could see what they really taste like.  There is NOTHING like a home-grown tomato!  Anyway – I digress.
Then I was going to tell you how dry it is and how much we wait for the first spring rains here – it’s a regional past-time, guessing when it’s going to finally fall.  Waiting for those first big hot drops to fall onto the dusty red sand.  It hasn’t come yet, but the first beautiful tiny green leaves are starting to bud on the trees. So I thought I should go out and take a photo of the first greeness arriving when I heard STOMP! CRASH! SCRAPE! MUNCH! MUNCH!
I swung around on my chair (it swivels :)) to quickly look out the door, camera already in hand and who should be standing right there………..
eating all my new fresh leaves that I have been waiting for ALL WINTER!  Man oh man. So that was the end of the blog post that was planned and you get a photo of a greedy giraffe instead. (but you can actually see the greeness starting up can’t you?)
Not as planned but still quite awesome, isn’t it?
(this photo was taken from my study desk in my room)
If you have any questions that you would like to ask about our life in the African bush, please just post them in the comments.  When I have enough questions I will answer them all in a post (so long as I don’t get disturbed by another animal…… come to think of it – we had an incident with a legavaan today too… hmmmm)

Flying time..

It was just a short while ago that this little thing

was sitting on my lap learning to steer the car in an empty parking lot. It’s so clear in my mind. She was complaining about the big pigeons (seagulls) that kept landing in front of the very slow-moving car.

Yesterday we were in the car again and I glanced over at her…..

My word!  What happened???

It feels as if only a moment in time has passed.

It’s very hard for me to believe also that this fine young man

is about to become a dad early next year. (!!!)

Look at them now.

My children

Where has time gone?

What’s in a name?

Quite a lot it seems.

Since I bought my farm I have been trying to think of a name for my cottages.  A year ago I even asked for your input here on this blog.  I have received many nice idea’s but none seemed to ring true.

As my guest cottage nears completion I am under pressure to finally decide on a name so that I can begin to advertise.  I put the question out to my Facebook friends and have again got so many wonderful names.  Only after I had rejected many of them did I  stop to question myself.

Why is this so hard?  It was easier naming my children. With my problem solving background I never once stopped to itemize a list of what I wanted in the name and that is why I was not getting anywhere.  How could I expect friends who have never even been here to come up with a name that “just feels right”?

This morning I sat down to summarize what I was looking for.  These are my thoughts.

The cottages are rustic with only basic amenities. They are old but the guest cottage is clean and is busy getting replastered and painted. They have thatch roofs. The finishes and linen are all new and add a little comfort to the basic design.

They are in the middle of the bush – African bush, which is harsh dry and prickly with animals roaming about – some can be rather dangerous.  Still, there is an amazing vibe here – peace, tranquility (besides the bird noises and the occasional hippo and wildebeest grunt.)  It’s sunny and hot most of the year, and lazing by the pool is a super experience – far from the madding crowd. At night the milky way shines brightly in the pitch black sky as you sit around the bonfire, listening to the magical night sounds of the bush. You almost feels that you can just reach out and touch the stars.

How can one name reflect all of this? Short and sweet – I don’t think it can – that is why it has been so hard to find a name.

So, taking the above into consideration, I need to find the nearest fit.  My thoughts so far are

  • I don’t want a native African name – this has been overdone in the area. ( Unless an astounding one catches my eye)
  • Soft gentle names that make one think of gentle lawns and flowing streams with happy bunnies hopping about just won’t fit. I would like to reflect the rugged beauty of the African bush.
  • I still need it to sound homey and comfortable in a rustic way.
  • It must not sound like a 5-star lodge – people will be misled.

Finally, after making all of these notes I feel that I can narrow down my selection (although I keep thinking that as soon as I decide on a name and make it official, I will find another that I prefer – that’s just me 🙂 )

So – this is my final call for any suggestions you may have.  Please feel free to make as many as you like.

Here are some pictures to help you along.

Slowly does it – painting progress

I started going over my acrylic work with oils this weekend.  The progress will now be a lot slower as oil paints take much longer to dry (very, very much longer).  I got the background and the bill done.

Here are some earlier photos of the same picture if you did not see them in recent posts:


This weekend we had awesome weather. Not too hot and not too cold.  We are still able to wear our summer clothes but the overwhelming heat has abated.  The Bean had a friend stay over and apart from quite a bit of homework the girls lay in the sun trying to touch up their suntans. We had a visit from a giraffe too which was a treat for Beans friend.

What did you do this weekend?


Mess/time/motivation ratio

I guess I could sit here and work out some clever formula to calculate this ratio but I just don’t have the time.

Again my choice of a slow, simple life brings me a conundrum.

I used to live in the city where school and shops were closer, I had domestic help to clean my house and clothes, as well as an automatic washing machine and dishwasher. I had someone to do my gardening. I even had help most days with the cooking. I could buy pretty things too.

Now I still work a full day, my driving distances are further to school and shops, I do my own cleaning, wash dishes by hand, and I have a twin tub washing machine that demands a little more attention than an automatic. I also have to do the garden although, because it is mostly wild, this just entails keeping the pool clean and sweeping the paving and of course my vegetable garden. I also do the cooking.  On top of all this I am now doing way more art, learning to make cheese and grow food and make things from scratch.

Autumn + bush + sand + storm + a swimming pool = mess



So now I sit and wonder why I thought I had a hectic life?  What did I do besides my job?  Why was I always looking for a better way of life?

I would never have thought that all the washing and cleaning and cooking would make me a happier person but it has. I am financially poorer and way busier albeit in a very beautiful part of the world. Things that never appealed to me take up much of my day – and I am happier for it. I am physically much more active and I can look back at everything I do with a sense of achievement and satisfaction.  It’s a busy, very basic life – and its good.

I have had to make some concessions – I live with a little more dust, and my cottages only get a good cleaning once a week.  Some weekends I skip some tasks, and they just have to wait. It’s about being more flexible too.