Friday, May 6, 2016

April updates

We're doing well here, though I don't seem to have time to blog thoughtfully about it all. We're... busy. Not busier than you, necessarily. Just busy. But I don't want to forget things, so here goes:

I've started to do some research in Masiphumelele, which means less hiding behind my computer for work, but Hana does NOT take breastmilk that's been pumped, so figuring out how to fit work in can be hard. I am really happy about my research and wish there were more hours in the day (Yup, that's shorthand for "we're leaving all the duck poop on the verandah for now"). Hard things: this and this. We love Cape Town, but we're not homesteading in a vacuum or a beautiful utopia. We are so grateful for our lives and livelihoods, and somehow these have to relate in a good, honest way to the people around us.

I've been planting out a lot of trees, but now it's suddenly hurricane-windy again, so here's hoping they make it through. I'm trying to finish a small section with trees before the winter sets in-- so that no more trees will be added, the trees can settle in and enjoy a massive amount of mulch, and I'll just gradually add cover crops and smaller perennials. I need to take some photos of it, but it doesn't really look like much yet so I don't have much to show. I've been doing a lot of mulching and a lot of pretty back breaking work, particularly if Hana is on me. I love it. It feels like what I'm supposed to be doing. Which doesn't make it less back-breaking. Pacing ourselves is really hard, because everything feels quite urgent. There's so much to do. I've really been enjoying David the Good's permaculture and gardening tips, based on a Florida climate-- our climate is not too different and we're also dealing with sand. I like his (Christian) anarchist style.

Our chickens are laying-- three of them, at least. They're like clockwork, despite the winter, which means we are self-sufficient in eggs and should have extras to eat or sell once the other three start laying.  Anyway, without further ado, here are some pictures from April.

Applying for a U.S. Passport... (Eug and I also got our absentee ballots)

Noah's birthday present for Eli: Mouse train tracks, cut and play.

Eli's birthday cake. We are not the greatest when it comes to celebrations, so it's best you don't say anything about the train cake. 

Hana in Sheila's duck jersey (made it through Noah and Eli, to Hana!) and Angie's ridiculous (and very lovely) fuzzy socks. She's growing up really fast. 

Eli's birthday with his trains from South Africa (ok, really from China probably) and clothes from Korea (ok, really from China probably).

Friday, April 22, 2016

Our reservoir starts to fill

We're using a hose and gravity to move water from our Jojo rainwater tank to our reservoir, so it's taking a lot of time (this is almost 24 hours' worth of water in the picture), but with the waterproofing paint it seems to be staying in rather than leaking out. Now to add plants.

Our boys trying out their boats on this freezing cold day. We had a fire indoors, the wind was fierce enough that our roof started to come apart (that story is for another day, when the crisis feels less fresh!), yet they were in the reservoir playing...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reeds and revelations

So these people were looking for a place to dump reeds. Like, 8ft long reeds. I said sure, thinking it would be maybe a bakkie load. No. So far, 3 (smallish) truckloads. Maybe more coming. Each load must contain at least a ton of reads. They can't just be dumped near where we need them, because you can't just drive across our plot. I can carry about 25kg across the plot at a time, and so I've been carrying about 20 loads across our plot every evening for the past few evenings, somewhere between evening cleanup and sun set, while Eug puts the ducks and chickens to bed.

In the beginning, I was thinking about writing about how great it is that we're willing to do what nobody does. Like, nobody else wanted three tons of reeds. How awesome is it that we did, because now we have all this free biomass and our trees are mulched. And I'm no doubt glad we do have this biomass, but I'm also a bit more cautious about how we go about our homesteading mission.

I'm talking about this because I saw Eug sitting drinking coffee and drawing out on the verandah while the boys were nearby playing with water and the ducks. It was beautiful. My first response, to my shame, was not, "LIFE IS AWESOME ISN'T IT!" I noticed in my gut my first reaction was "WHY IS EUG DRAWING WHEN THERE IS DRY LAUNDRY RIGHT NEXT TO HIM CAN'T HE SEE THE DRY LAUNDRY THAT NEEDS TO BE FOLDED AND THE NEW LOAD THAT NEEDS TO GO IN THE WASHING MACHINE." Yes, I was thinking in caps. Because, see, if there's a moment when the boys are playing happily and Hana is sleeping and Eug is working, you can be pretty sure I'm rushing around trying to clean or cook the next meal or somehow feel like I'm ahead.

We're super into this lifestyle because we say it gives us time: we get to choose our time and so on, we're not slave to our employer or to schools or something like that. Right now, the truth is our lifestyle doesn't really give us time. I think we are very productive with our days, and our current lifestyle gives us many good things, but the choices over how to spend each moment are still there, and the choices of how to be in that moment-- how to spend time with the kids, how to do our work, and how to navigate the seemingly infinite work that is before us. The orientation I have towards my time is still pretty frantic. So I guess my point is, I'll haul reeds when I enjoy it, and recognise that some other stuff might not get done if I do. Our life is not all work, and that time spent with my kids and doing chores can be fun and enjoyable and not part of the endless list of things that we need to accomplish.