Monday, 24 October 2011

July 2011 - The solar cooker

Our solar cooker
Now I ask you - what homestead is complete without a solar cooker?

We acquired one in June, but actually only had an opportunity to try is in July due to rain, rain and more rain... but we should not complain though seeing at it benefits all of our gardens, and the wild flora as well.

But the day finally came where we had glorious sunshine, and promptly decided to try our new solar cooker. So .. Jan found some chicken pieces, some random veg, and placed everything in a glass casserole. This went into the cooker with lid on, and then we just had to let father sun do his job. :-)

Our casserole in the cooker
The notion of not having to do anything at all to cook a meal was quick strange, and initially we would check the cooker very 5 or 10 minutes just to see if it was actually working. We soon discovered though that cooking food this way takes longer than an oven, and we then left it.

Jan checking our lunch

 It was still all rather exciting though, and we discussed it at length wondering what a solar cooked meal would taste like even..

About 2-3 hours later after having checked the cooker probably a hundred times in between, and having watched it slowly start to simmer, and emit the most amazing smells, we took it out of the cooker. But I have to add, that this thing is super efficient, and even though your food takes longer to cook, the steam and heat created inside is very very hot!!

Our chicken casserole
So we had our chicken casserole for lunch, and boy did it taste good. The flavours were so pure, and untarnished if one can say say that about food. It was a nice simple dish,with a lovely flavour... definitely worth the investment, and definitely something we will do again once we have more sunshine days. :-)

July 2011 - Chicken progress..

Many happy chooks
Mid winter came along, and the chooks were thriving, getting fatter and growing to be lovely birds. But there was one problem... we had waaayyyy too many. This led us to think that we would have to make a plan to either separate the flock, or start slaughtering, or sell some of them..

They all still looked very much alike though, and being new to the whole chicken farming thing we could just not tell them apart, except for two very definite roosters.. :-| I have to add though that even though we knew that there was too many, we really have taken a liking to the chickens being on our smallholding, and enjoyed the interaction with them just so.

One of our Buff Reds

Always happy to get fed
The chook house complete
We soon decided that what we needed for our chickens, or at least four of them, and also for our veg garden was a chicken tractor. And after much research in Permaculture books and on the net we soon found a host of different tractors to choose from. We actually ended up choosing one from what we consider to be the bible of sustainable living: John Seymour's Complete book of Self-Sufficiency. But since there were no dimensions mentioned in the book, we had to find some on the net. But more on that later... :-)

Jan fitting and adjusting for the handles.

Friday, 21 October 2011

July 2011 - First dig for the digester

Marking out the pit for the Bio-Digester
Trying to live a sustainable life comes with ups and downs, trials and tribulations. It comes with a host of decisions to be made about which practice would be a "green" one, and which solutions one should implement in order to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Since we have always had an interest in doing the "green" thing, it seemed logical to get a bio-digester for our own black water, and animal waste and other waste which would be good for this purpose.

Just checking the measurements..
Finding a location for the digester was quite a contentious issue, with many discussions, and pro's and con's etc, but we eventually settled on a central spot just beyond our Apricot trees. Jan diligently started marking out the size, and location of where the pit should go, and Rene, who is always short of pocket money, decided that he would do the ground break. So both set to work early in the morning, and the situation soon turned into a worker/foreman relationship...hahaha

Rene happy to work..
But nevertheless, the digging started, and Rene was very gung-ho to actually do a good bit of work. And he actually did a good initial trench which was about half a meter wide by half a meter deep... Good job!! He could not finish though, as Sunday rolled on, and it was back to hostel, and work of a different nature. :-) But he dig the initial dig, and created a good  start to the worker who came during the week to finish the hole.

Rene digging for China.. hehehe