Monday, March 28, 2011

The end of the rooster era

We're planting!

After more than 3 years of farm life, we've finally started planting food! This auspicious event occurred on 21 March: Human Rights Day - we have the right to grow our own food. It was also the autumn equinox, full moon and the 2 year anniversary of mother's passing, so hopefully this will bode well for our veggies and ensure a good crop. We've created one raised bed (with the help of wwoofer Freya) and went for the lazy man's answer for the rest: planting in potting soil bags and old tyres. Instant gardening...I'm all for working smarter not harder!

Who would have believed that it would take so long to get some vegetables going? Most of our previous experimental attempts have ended in disaster. Our wheat grass got attacked by baboons, birds and rats; strawberries were ravished by a variety of creatures; cows repeatedly chewed our lettuce and the most colourful insects known to man feasted on the rest. Now that we have a secure (?) growing tunnel, we're finally farmers.

We planted eggplant, tomato, cucumber, basil, leeks, spinach, wong bok, beetroot, onions, turnips, chamomile and lettuce as well as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots - now we await the next level of self-suffiency with bated breath. We're pretty much self-sufficient in terms of eggs: Penguin lays one a day and since we're not particularly big on eggs, it serves our needs. Not that these are the cheapest eggs on the planet.

Due to the bad behaviour of Lovely (one of our roosters) we decided that he should be moved to the chicken penitentiary with the two naughty Golden Boys. A vicious cock fight ensued which sent feathers and blood flying. After an emergency family meeting, it was agreed to split the chicken pen into 2 smaller holding cells by splitting the cage with our old wrought-iron head board. Luke was in favour of eating Lovely, while Kevin and I wanted to take the chicken to the forest to live it's last day/s in freedom before entering the food chain. The voices of the animal activists: Mila and our new vegan, animal-loving WWOOF volunteer Amanda were most persuasive, however. We ended up keeping and feeding 4 roosters and one hen, the price to pay for an egg a day...

Amanda came to Africa from her native Sweden where she was involved with Green Peace and protecting the indigenous forests of Scandanavia. She prepares delicious vegan meals and entertains the children with endless jokes (which she is forced to repeat daily to their utter delight). She's been weeding, planting, mulching and mending the holes in the growing tunnel caused by the cows scratching their horned heads against it. Having experienced some farming concepts first-hand over the last few years, I am rather inclined to agree with her vegan outlook on things. Being a vegetarian is simply not enough to stop the suffering & killing of animals. By enjoying milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream we are still feeding the cow industry whereby mommy cows get separated from their babies in order get them into the milk production line. What to do with the baby boy cows but eat them? Not to mention roosters which (in my experience) can be a rather nasty by-product of producing eggs. I tend to think that humans should never have domesticated animals.

On a lighter note - a cleaning angel named Fransiena has made repeated appearances, cleaning like a machine and restoring our home to neatness I have only previously imagined. My prayers have been answered! Suddenly I have spare time to spend with Kevin and the children (although yesterday, I spent this free time scrubbing dog wee off the car seat!).

We leave to Cape Town tomorrow for a fun-filled long weekend of circus and city lights. I'm rather apprehensive: the last time we went to Cape Town for a weekend I received the call that my mother passed away and we had to reroute to Pretoria. I trust this weekend will end more enjoyably...


Back from Cape Town, where we had a lovely long weekend. First stop, of course, was Toy Kingdom where Luke spent hours shopping for new Ninja Lego and Mila exhausted her hard earned stash of pocket money. The city was beautiful as always and the Cirque du Soleil was utterly enthralling, as was the Grand West Casino complex: a kind of Sun City/Montecasino experience, complete with fake trees and painted ceilings. After the show Mila headed straight for the ice skating rink and would not leave for 2 hours!

The first day of our arrival was rather emotional as I recalled the shock, turmoil and despair of our last visit. The holiday house we had stayed in when I learned that Trudy had died did not have a single blade of grass or any garden where I could find grounding. This time we stayed in a lovely guest house in Hout Bay with a wonderful garden which housed a flowering creeper that used to cover the walls of my childhood home. The velvety pink flowers of which look like fairies when turned upside down. I spent endless days as a little girl playing with these 'fairies" and if any plant could epitomize my childhood, this would be it. I could feel Trudy's loving energy embracing me in the Mother City.

The silence of the city was quite a revelation - to not be rudely awakened several times a night and ridiculously early in the morning by four lunatic roosters was a sheer delight! As I lay in my bed with the calming sounds of city traffic and far-off sirens, I begged the Universe to send a solution to our rooster problem...

Two days after our return, the lady at the Wolf Sanctuary agreed take the 4 unruly chickens in exchange for a baby guinea pig - she assured me that they would not become wolf food, but frankly, I don't care what becomes of them. At last we have our silence back!

We returned from Cape Town to discover 9 new baby rabbits in our cage - happiness is...

As I sat there cuddling the little angels, a feeling of dread and fear started rising in my being: what were we going to do with all these rabbits? And so, the idea for the Bunny Bonanza was born. I designed and printed about 80 invitations which were distributed at the children's school, inviting everyone to an open weekend of bunny love. Since I had always wanted to have a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, I decided to combine it with the bunnies and we ended up having a 2 day long, non-stop tea party. Kevin set up a temporary photographic studio in the rabbit cage where he took some incredible pictures and so managed to promote his photography as well. We managed to sell a few bunnies and the remainder were given to the pet shop...crisis averted.

Our mommy rabbit had another batch of babies in the meantime, but daddy Fuzzy went for the SNIP yesterday, so I trust that the rabbit population will now be curbed. I'm quite convinced that our new little guinea pig (Paris) will soon be impregnated by the resident Mr Sox, however.

We bid our Swedish wwoofer farewell last week and welcomed our latest arrival: a 19 year old Belgium chap, Amaury, who has started preparing our new fruit tree beds. In celebration of his arrival I prepared our most self-sufficient dinner yet - something called "Eggs in a Nest", basically a selection of stir fried vegetables and garden greens, in which indentations are made and farm fresh eggs poached in the hollows. We relished 7 of Penguins eggs and a batch of greens from our new veggie garden...well on our way to making John Seymour proud!


And on final sad note, another loved one has crossed the thin veil of this earthly reality to the realm of Spirit. Kevin's cousin Heather lost her dear husband Brian to a heart attack while he was on a business trip in China. I trust that Heather and her three lovely girls will sense his loving support and guidance from the Other Side, and that they will be blessed.