:: I sit and drink tea in the mornings, and come out at dusk to listen as the world tucks itself in for the night :: Please won't you join me? ::

In nature there is a large place for sentiment. Nature is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.

:: Living simply ::

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The simplicity of Nature

“Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy.”
― Isaac Newton

The inner peace and happiness created by nature forms a world in which one can view life through simple observations and clear images. Rural life is connected to nature in ways that urban life can never be. The attention to the smallest details that can come from rural life are impossible to get from living in an urban center. Living in a rural setting you are able to take in your surroundings to the fullest extent. This is possible because of the lack of distractions and slower pace of life. People experiencing rural life are able to make connections with nature and often create emotional states that accompany the happenings in this simplistic reality. This visualization of the simplistic aspects of the world is evoked through nature's response and interaction with the surrounding environment.

Many people find their greatest peace and serenity in nature. The natural world is exactly what it needs to be, no more and no less. There is no excess or clutter or a lack of organization in nature. Every rock, tree, drop of water, leaf, piece of sand and animal plays its part in nature with no thought as to whether they will match the local terrain or whether they will need extra storage to have all the things they want to have.

A walk in the woods in the fall, or in the mountains by a bubbling stream, or by the roaring ocean can bring a new perspective into your own life and how it is affected by its surroundings. Our own living spaces should give us the same feeling that we get from being in the outdoors. Peace, quiet, and the time to reflect on our place in this world.

Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty.

The benefits of nature is to experience the magnificent expressions of nature, who is our greatest teacher. She teaches us to experience and embrace the present moment, expand our deep appreciation and gratitude for all of life and deepen our love for self and other. Nature provides a feeling of full connectedness and aliveness with all, for all and stillness and a peaceful state of being.


Friday, 9 January 2015

My new chicken coop Episode 3 - Days 4 & 5 & 6

When you decide to acquire some chickens, you are going to need a place to put them once they are all big enough. You have a few different options when it comes to housing your flock. There are hen houses, chicken coops, and chicken tractors, but which one works the best for your flock? How many square feet should you plan for?

I must say I have always tended to "think big". Nothing small like a chicken tractor for me, it might be fine if you're living in town with not much space, but on a smallholding there is always more than enough space.

But I must say, once my coop started taking shape, I saw just exactly HOW big I had planned! It's almost big enough for a 1-bedroomed cottage, which might be a thought one day if ever I should not have my girls any longer. Mmmmmm....

Day 4 started off with another hiccup again - Solomon, the builder, never pitched until after 10am and then he seemed to pfaff around for ever and my lunch-time only 5 rows or bricks had been laid on the side wall. But by close of day, both walls were up to window-height. Just a few more rows until roof height!

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4 - reaching window height! Concrete lintels above the two side windows

Close of day 4 - both walls at window height

Artemis and the girls getting ready for the night, still in their old coop, after exploring every inch of the new coop inside and out.

Day 5's progress, below, ended with the last few rows of bricks which will carry the wood rafters, for which I used 6" tanalised blue gum poles and 2"x3" brandering. Then will come the job of laying the IBR roofing - I can't wait!

Day 5

 At close of Day 5 

Day 6

Day 6 nothing happened - no builders pitched, not a word of explanation! But it gave me time to take stock of everything and to check all the supplies. They usually notify me only when the last brick has been used or the cement is at its last, so if I don't keep an eye open, it just causes further delays.

Keep an eye open for Episode 4!


Saturday, 3 January 2015

My new chicken coop Episode 2

Day 2 of my new chicken coop project didn't start off so smoothly. First of all the builder, Solomon, had a family crisis and only got to the job at mid-day and then we had a short down-pour which delayed things a bit further. But once they got going, loads of bricks were carted to the site and they started with the mix for the floor.

Once the concrete slab has been thrown, the brick-work won't take all that long (I'm hoping!) as I've sort of set my sights on it being finished by the end of that week so that I could start painting and furnishing it. So the chooks will probably only be moving in the week after that... sigh...

But I'm not going to rush the project - we've waited this long, a couple of weeks longer won't kill us.

After another hour delay because of another heavy down-pour, the first half of the floor was done at the close of day. We do it in two sections to allow for expansion and contraction and to prevent cracks.

At least the new structure won't be a total shock to them as they will be getting used to seeing it grow as the days go by. I'm sure they'll also investigate inside the half-built structure in the afternoons before bed-time, so the big move might not be so strange at all.

While I was talking to Solomon that afternoon, Artemis brought some of the girls along to come and have a look at the proceedings. They all clustered in the corner, discussing the events! The previous afternoon they entered the chicken run very cautiously, navigating all the equipment scattered around very carefully to get to their coop, but I assured them everything was fine, offering them an extra treat for their discomfort.

Hettie was not quite sure of what is going on in and around their coop! 

Chicky-Boo also seemed unsure of herself, but quickly followed me into the coop to see what the treat was. 

Artemis, on the other hand, was quite confident that nothing posed a threat but nevertheless kept a vigilant eye and comforted his ladies every now and then by calling them closer and eventually leading them into the old coop to settle down for the night. 

Day 3 dawned cloudy but warm and I was holding thumbs that the rain would not interfere with our plans for the day! But the weather held and within 2 hours the last of the concrete screed for the floor was thrown and Solomon started marking out where the walls would go.

 Soon the first row of bricks was in place and I felt my excitement rising!

 Solomon's handlanger (helper) did not pitch that day, so Solly, our trusty handyman (pusing the wheelbarrow) was called in to assist with the building.

 The progress by lunch-time

Shortly after lunch-time, the door was in place and then everybody had to run as the rain decided it had held out for long enough. We don't actually mind showers in between the building progress, the wet ensures that the cement does not dry out to quickly, which could lead to cracks.

But really, we were hoping for a very sunny day tomorrow!

Closing thought for the day : 

Follow the third episode, coming soon!


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Season's Greetings 2015!

Another year is coming to an end and I can honestly say this year has flown the fastest I’ve known any year to do! One of the greatest gifts provided to us by the Universe is the gift of friends. And I’ve been honoured and inspired by meeting so many friends here!

Here's wishing you all a day filled with wonderful things to be grateful for and a New year filled with LOVE, JOY and INSPIRATION!


Monday, 29 December 2014

My new Chicken Coop Episode 1

Since I hastily erected a make-shift coop in January 2011, when I was given Henny Penny and her ten babies, the time finally came in October 2012 for the up-grade of my chicken coop! it was long in the offing!

The current little coop was only 1.5m x 2m, with eight nest boxes and a couple of roosts, just big enough to move around in for cleaning and by no means totally weather-proof. It was supposed to be just for a week or two! I'm actually a bit ashamed to show it here, it looks so tiny in this photograph! But it'll be good to be able to look back and compare!

The old chicken coop looking lost and forlorn in the chicken run
Starting with the foundations for the new coop - pegged and squared and ready to be cleared for the new floor.

I'm also going to be landscaping the area in the chicken run, which is quite a nice big size, lawned and fenced. I'd like to put in shrubs and flowers that are pretty, hardy and chicken-friendly. I've got a Lavender bush given to me by a friend, obviously with much love in her heart because it has grown beautifully since I planted it, which I'll be transplanting to the chicken run (I'm not quite happy with where it is at the moment anyway) and I've just bought some nice Rosemary, Sage and Thyme bushes. A couple of Aloes, which don't need much water, might not be amiss either, as a great deal of the run gets full sunlight the whole day and the chickens don't touch them. And they provide beautiful colour during their flowering period in winter.

My young Lavender which I'll be transplanting

Beautiful winter-flowering Aloe ferox will really brighten up the chicken run

It was a difficult decision to make as to what materials to use. My first thought was wood, as it looks so pretty, but first of all, wood is an expensive commodity in South Africa and, secondly, none of us around here are carpenters of any sorts. My second thought, because of cost, was poles and metal sheeting, but that means very cold housing in winter.

The plan for the new chicken coop

So finally, I decided on a brick structure with a concrete floor and corrugated iron roof. Bricks are easy to work with (even I have built a few small structures!), cost-effective and very strong. It is also easy to decorate with the necessary nest boxes, roosts, shelves for storage and tools and secure and safe against the elements and predators. And a further cost-saving is the fact that I've already got two existing walls, so I only need to build two walls, the side and the front.

Ventilation will be window openings (but no window frames) covered with wire mesh for security. My materials list included 1000 bricks (for starters), cement, sand and stone for the concrete floor (4m x 4.5m - approx. 13ft. x 15ft), wood for the rafters (already in stock from decking removed from the patio) and about 6 or 7 corrugated iron sheets and a box of roof screws. Also a door and door frame and the hardware like hinges and door handles.

My plans include a corner with shelving to use as a storage space for food, buckets, baskets, brooms, rakes and any other equipment I normally have to fetch from the tool shed when I want to clean; ten nest boxes (double storey) and an area for roosts and food.

 Progress just after lunch-time on Day 1 - all cleared and ready to begin.

I'm sure my chooks were very happy in their old little coop (it always amazes me how they can make the best of what they are given, happily settling into their routine with no qualms), but my girls are long overdue for proper housing and they deserve it for all the happy hours they provide me with.

The trick is going to be seeing what they do when the old coop gets broken down and they return to the run late afternoon to find their whole routine disrupted. I might probably also have to herd them through the door for the first time and then leave them to sort themselves out. 

End of Day 1 and everything is ready to start mixing the concrete for the floor tomorrow. I put a generous layer of Diatomaceous Earth down before the sand and stone was added just as an extra measure to discourage ants and other pesky insects.

It's going to be fun watching the squabbling over the best perches or nest boxes and, of course, egg-laying will probably stop for a few days. But hey, small price to pay for the luxury of a beautiful new hen house!

Keep an eye out for Episode 2!


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Yesterday was a day of adventure in the garden!

Yesterday was a day of adventure in the garden!
First of all, hearing a terrible raucous in the garden (I knew it was the Fiscal Shrike – Lanius collaris), but it sounded like someone was being murdered! Upon closer investigation, I found her feeding her fledgling, and obviously she was not doing it fast enough, because the screeching coming from that little throat could have woken the dead! As I was focusing, she flew off, but the little chap was quite unperturbed at my presence and apart from giving me a quick glance, loudly carried on insisting upon being fed.
Mommy was up and down all day trying to keep up with its voracious appetite! Mom causes havoc in the garden, nothing is safe from her prying eyes and excellent hunting skills, other fledglings in a nest being her favourite. It’s heart-breaking to see her pluck a baby from some bird’s nest with frantic parents unable to do a thing. After killing it, she will then spike the hapless little thing on one of the thorns of the Acacia tree, using it as her larder, often returning to feed her baby. But in her favor, she does have a beautiful song when she takes the time in between hunting.
A total cutie-pie!
Next on the list was that I spotted a new visitor to my garden, a Whitewinged Widow (Euplectes albonatatus) sitting in the Buddleiea salvifolia (Butterfly bush) right at the opposite side of my pond, checking out the accommodation. He was accompanied by two Weaver-like looking little birds, females, I presume, as they kept close to him wherever he went. Maybe I’ll be lucky and they’ll decide to move in!
Endemic to South Africa and the only widow in the region to have white on the primary coverts, it breeds in damp, grassy areas. When not breeding, flocks frequent grassland and thornveld. It’s call is a nasal “zeh-zeh-zeh” and a repetitive “witz-witz-witz”.
In the middle of photographing the Widow, I became aware of a strange bird sound, definitely nothing that lives here! Great was my surprise when I eventually found the source high up in the Acacia tree, an Indian Ringneck Parrot. He blended in so well with the green, it took some time for me to find him. I rushed inside for some seeds, hoping to coax him out of the tree, but besides giving me the once over, he didn't seem much interested and after crawling around in the tree like a well-seasoned acrobat, he tucked his head under his wing and promptly went to sleep. He spent about an hour in the garden, then took off across the wall and disappeared into the distance.
My research shows that Indian Ringnecks are native to Asia and Africa and can be seen in forests or arid environments. It’s not uncommon to see them thrive in urban areas as well. Apparently they are often seen in rural areas feeding from bird feeders or relaxing in parks, but this was my first time. Further research shows that they are uncommon in South Africa with small populations established in Durban and at Sodwana Bay in Natal. So I've come to the conclusion that it must have escaped from somebody's aviary nearby.
The Rose-Ringed Parakeet or Indian Ringneck is classified as a smaller parrot known as a parakeet. These birds have a hooked beak, a long tail, and are smaller in size compared to most parrots. These parrots are about 16 inches in length and they have a stealthy appearance that sets them apart from most other exotic birds.
Every day in the garden brings something new, one learns so much, we get introduced to great colour and foliage and we stumble upon brilliant ideas that can completely change the way we think. Gardens are essentially an artistic reflection of ourselves, our lives and our lifestyles. Like all art, our gardens are subjective.
As somebody once said, "I hope you enjoy the garden, and if you don’t then that’s your fault”.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...