in Natural Medicine13 days ago (edited)

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Back in my city slicking days I thought farmers had an easy life. Sure they wake up before the first bird warms their vocal chords. But, after milking a cow or two, collecting eggs for a massive breakfast and bouncing around on an old tractor over a newly ploughed field - the rest of the day is free. And as for winter.....well what more could you fill your day with except to sit beside a fire, steaming mug in hand and plan what to do when spring arrived?!

Then we left the city and moved to our homestead. My romantic notions went up that winter chimney before we lit our first fire. So much for that steaming mug and a book. Little did I know.


Winter is the time for preparation. Cleaning, pruning, mulching, digging, repairing, storing and bracing yourself for the long scorching summer ahead. We are currently enjoying some fireside evenings here in the wintery Karoo. But it is after a very long hard day outdoors. Today we picked three big buckets full of lemons. These will be juiced and frozen (including the skin) for summer when the tree is bare. Our beautiful lemon tree is almost a century old. Twice a year it gives us a bountiful crop of huge organic lemons. When we bought our homestead it had been abandoned for years. It was only after we moved in and started cleaning that we discovered this beautiful old lemon tree and a naartjie tree (clementine). They have faithfully kept us in citrus through every winter. Even our free ranging chickens and the turkey pair enjoy scratching in the cool of their shade.


When @simplymike started this monthly #gardenjournal it really made me evaluate our gardening and homesteading progress. A photographic garden journal is a wonderful reminder that you are taking steps forward although it may seem that sometimes the steps back are bigger! Thanks to @riverflows Garden Journal Challenge Early June for keeping up this special gardening challenge. I promise I have limited my gazillion photos to less than ten.


Our seasons are quite extreme. Although we only get snow on the mountains and not in the valley - yet - we get hard frost. Sometimes black frost. The first year, in our ignorance we lost all the papaya and banana trees we had planted. Now we winter the young saplings. Recently friends blessed us with 30 avo trees - yes THIRTY. We are nursing them through winter. We will also use this time to prepare their own home. An animal proof tunnel type place. The less cold resistant trees, like our tea tree and the papaya will also be planted there.


Now that the farmers are flood irrigating again everyone has been scrambling to clear the riverbed for the flood irrigation. Farmer Buckaroo has been rebuilding the sluices on our lucerne (alfalfa) fields to manage the flood irrigating. It was an enormous and backbreaking project.


As the last yellowed leaves of the fruit and nut trees drop to the ground we have finished feeding and mulching our vegetable gardens. The extra mulch helps the little veggies through the cold winter months. We also added bounceback and diatomaceous earth to all the gardens when we filled up the beds with compost.


My enthusiastic little barefooted BuckarooBabies are always the first into the garden. Usually we follow the trail of lemon peels or compost to find their latest gardening nook. They are learning fast - although it slows us down - but I love the wonder of discovery as they help.


It is also special for them to harvest and then eat the fruit of all our labours. Except for a dozen small potatoes we lost our entire crop of heirloom potatoes to cut worm. But we are enjoying the delicious variety of the 5 different sweet potatoes indigenous to South Africa. We may work very long hours day in and day out, year in and year out, winter and summer but at the end of the day it is our home. We get to sit together beside our winter fire and plan for the coming summer.

It is not an easy life but it is a good life!



I remember in the early days of living offgrid, walking to my friends place to collect drinking water from their reverse osmosis system. It was such a wonderful freeing feeling and even the hard work of finding firewood, and just being constantly present for whatever came our way, was so much more fulfilling than living in mainstream society. I miss this life so much. It was hard work but it was good hard work. It kept my mind and my body healthy.

Your homestead is beautiful @buckaroobaby and I love it! 💚🤗

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Posted on

Thank you @holisticmom. It helps to share. That way you get another person's perspective. And often it is good. I also love looking at the archived photos. Then we can see just how far we have come!

 12 days ago 

It's not an easy life, but it's a good one - and there's the rub. What a lovely post as usual. I'd love to come and help out on your farm - it sounds a lot better than teaching, that's for sure!

Do you put diatomaceous earth under the mulch to stop the bugs? Does that work?

Sorry about the ten photo limit - you can cheat and use collages or put them side by side - I feel so mean, but the scrolling kills me, especially when some posts had three or four versions of essentially the same plant - aaagh. But your posts are always awesome.

Have you ever tried morroccan preserved lemons? They are GREAT for a salty citrus burst in couscous. And then there's citrus pickle, or lime pickle - yum. I have a lemon and a lime - it strikes me how similiar our environment is!

If I told you that the DE is to debug the chickens that free range through my garden, would you believe me? I wish I could say absolutely that it prevents bugs. Many people say so. I can't with certainty. I think it deters them. But what I am discovering is that DE is also a wonderful addition to building up denuded soil. And ours is. So here's hoping.

Please don't fuss about the photos. I'm teasing - I totally sympathise with your scrollllllllllllllllllllllling. Some people's children ;)

Please share the citrus pickle!!! Sounds delicious. I've never tried morroccan preserved lemons. But with those three buckets of lemons still waiting (and more on the tree) I guess there's no time like the present. Or maybe the day after that.......

 11 days ago (edited)

Hahah - yep, some people's children! Oh, the pickle - it's so easy! I actually found some pickle spice at the Indian grocers, so it was just a matter of salt, lemons and pickle spice!

and morroccan lemons are even easier, but kinda the same thing without spice!

I can't find my own post for them, but here's one:

I didn't fuss with how she cut the lemons - I just cut them into rough eigthss as they were big lemons and massaged them with salt so the juice runs out, pop them in the jar with the salty juice to cover them (might need a weight) and voila ! Great in couscous! Great sub for olives really, it's that salty taste that we crave sometimes? Tell me if you make them - I usually put peppercorns and bayleaf in mine. They last for ages, and great for chicken, couscous, rice, salads etc (potato salad with preserved lemon and capers? yum)

Love what you're doing, you got me inspired to try and make the most of this winter. I haven't been as motivated as usual but keeping a photographic garden journal is a beautiful idea and I think I just might begin with it soon.

Thank you for that sweet comment @fenngen! I'm happy it inspired you! It is sometimes - okay, often - overwhelming and uninspiring. That's why I appreciate the #gardenjournal. It really helps focus. It also helps to remind me

 11 days ago 

Your post has been featured in the Lotus Garden newsletter, which will be published tomorrow.

You've been curated by @minismallholding for Natural Medicine's homesteading newsletter, supporting gardeners, permaculturalists, foragers, environmentalists and other earth centred relationships with the earth.

More messed up photos...sigh, I wanted to see what you'd been up to...

Whaaaaat? Haven't you posted yet?

I tried to post when I wrote the comment and none of my photos came through. I checked back later and photos had been restored, so now I will go look at your post.

Oh no!!!

What is bounceback?

Rebuilding sluice gates sounds back breaking.... I, unfortunately, do not have running water here, so managing water is not in my skill set...

The official Bounceback website says this:

"Bounce Back is a unique blend of organic materials specially formulated for all your fertilising needs. A highly concentrated natural product, Bounce Back also promotes faster, healthier, sustained growth for all plants. It encourages the development of earthworm and microbial activity leading to healthy, well-structured soils.

Bounce Back is composted and steam treated and is then pelletised for easier and cleaner handling. These processes stabilise the nutrients, maximise nutrient availability and ensure the product is free of any parasites, pathogens and weed seeds. Most importantly, the resultant product retains the microbiology necessary to provide a ‘living’ food

But it doesn't say what exactly is in it....makes one wonder....