Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 2017: Birthdays, baby chameleons, family visits

We're getting close to planting season: I bought 12 trees from Maureen, our lovely neighbour, at the first rain this week. I'm so excited to plant them all out. But I may be getting ahead of myself, as the rain down here was pitiful and it's still very hot. When we get back from the U.S. and Canada, we'll also go on our annual Tulbagh nursery trip, mainly to buy citrus. I wanted to go earlier, so I could repot the citrus and grow them quickly in the sunroom for 2 months before planting them out, but we have been seriously busy. And I love the anticipation. Nurseries are my thing. I'm determined to get some orange trees thriving. I think there's hope, but I'm learning one has to protect trees as much as humanly possible while they're small. I may have misinterpreted permaculture a bit, thinking that I could toughen trees up and make them stronger in the long term. My feeling now is that you should do everything you can to get trees established and relatively big, first, in a dry environment like ours. I do think planting as much diversity has been a helpful idea from permaculture, as well as mulch. By the end of this planting season, my goal is to have 100 fruit and nut trees in the ground. 

I think we may not plant next winter, unless my parents' house building goes remarkably quickly and smoothly. We're keeping a corner of the plot without trees right now, because otherwise they'll be killed during building. So I guess I'll still get to plant some more fruit trees after their house is established. 

Unfortunately this month was not without death: We lost Perry the Guinea Pig to a predator, and Lettuce Rabbitty to a neighbour's dog. Which means we now have a rabbit and kitten indoors together. The kitten chews (lovingly?) on the rabbit sometimes, and it's not totally clear if they'll be friends. 

We are finding that having this many ducks is a little burdensome and out of wack, and I'm working on a sprouting system to feed them barley grass. We're going to scale things back a bit until after we get back from the U.S. That is, we are planning on eating a lot of ducks. They taste really good as stew, but we're also getting to the point where I think we can eat even less meat and figure out how to make the farm more sustainable. I had had the thought that if we ate one duck a week, that would be our meat needs taken care of. But actually, having enough ducks to eat a duck a week makes for a very large flock, not enough food to forage, and rising grain costs. 

This month we had a lot of visitors! 

I've been wanting to see a baby chameleon for a really long time: this was it. It was amazing and tiny and fragile and we only brought it in for a minute before returning it to its branch.

I just wanted to show how I facilitate cupcake time. I buy crappy candy and let them do whatever they want, which usually involves piling on a lot of candy. That's a snail on the left. They love cupcake time, but I've learned to just set them up and go far away, lest I offer (unwanted) helpful hints... 
Silvermine dam keeps shrinking because the rain refuses to come. But the kids love it there.

Though Hana has started taking off her bathing suit soon after arrival. It's a good thing the sun is starting to get less fierce.

Baby frog!
We went on an incredibly long double hike, in gale force winds, with some of Eug's family, who are on a world tour. We loved meeting them. The boys loved their cousins. Check out their website-- they're doing amazing stuff

The kids ran ahead. It was terrifying and wonderful-- Eli did the whole hike (maybe 5 hours) without shoes.

This is Diaz beach, in Cape Point-- In addition to hiking to Cape Point lighthouse, we went down to Diaz beach (over 200 steps), then all the way to Cape of Good Hope. 

Eli's birthday trip on the Big Wheel... (and the acquarium, with Sam and Julie and Miyah, and Elona and Andrew and Kori, but somehow we didn't get good pictures of that...)

Eli's favourite birthday present, a plastic dinosaur. "It even has its own tree!!!"

My brother Will with his daughter, and I got to hold my lovely niece, who is now back in Australia

My brother Sam and Julie, visiting from Australia, organized for us all to go on a little rubber boat to see dolphins and seals. I've never been that close to dolphins in the wild.