Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blessed beyond measure

YES! Running a small holding is hard work. YES! The overheads are high - the rates, the vet's bills, the maintenance which never stops...

BUT, every day brings with it precious moments to treasure. Sights, sounds, smells - all working together to form a special blessing.  I am so grateful, and so aware, that we are so tremendously blessed to live in this lovely place.

Having a week's break from school has enabled me to give free rein to create and craft and be with my animals and I have taken full advantage of it. Not only that, I have had time to spend with my husband in the studio - me, painting and crafting and he, making a mini xylophone out of discarded marimba notes, our dogs sprawled on the floor around us, beautiful views of the herb garden and bird life around us, listening to soothing music.  Just bliss!

Acrylic painting by me inspired by Mexican Folk elements

Fruits of the Spirit reminder boxes crafted on hardboard with fabric roses
Close up of Peace box.  There are peace quotes written around the sides.

Dear Husband working out his xylophone design...

The notes all sanded and sealed...
 Farm news is that Ben has been neutered and has had his extra toes removed.  After being very sore yesterday, he has spent quite an energetic day!
My beautiful Big Ben!
 This is part of our new mini nature trail at the bottom of our property...reminds me of England!  It is such fun for the dogs to charge along.

Lucy stopping for a rest
This is the planned area for a fire pit.

Roses and Morning Glory in wild can accuse me of having a manicured garden!!

Gardening, Baking, Reading, Crafting, Caring for Animals, Painting, Watching TV and Pizza with the whole family......And that was the first day of May 2014!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Autumn is not my favourite time of year.  The heat at midday can be searing, leaving all living things wilting.  However, the evenings are pleasantly balmy, with some beautiful starlit skies.

We are on school break at the moment, and loving every moment of getting stuck into our house and cottages, trying to finish all things undone and have a massive sort before the new term begins. 

News for the animal front is that Lucy, our St Dane seems to be expecting puppies. Of course, Ben, our new Great Dane has had something to do with it.  Although Muddy Paws has seen the birth of many creatures, puppies will be a first!  Watch this space! 

We have also had a new addition to the animal family - Eeyore, the donkey came to live with us at Christmas time.  What a character!  He soon made himself at home, and now rules the roost.

More country recipes coming soon...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Garden crafting!

The school holidays are upon us, as well as beautiful sunny winter days. What better place to be than getting your hands dirty in the garden - a happy few morning hours spent propagating, bagging, replanting and recycling tin cans into delightful miniature planters, leaving me pleased with having spent my first 'holiday morning' productively...scenes from a morning at Muddy Paws Farm.

Use a hammer and a thick nail to knock at least 10 holes in the base of the can to allow for drainage (if doing this with children, please be careful - but, they just love it!).  Next, cut a piece of wire long enough for a handle and turnings.  Put the can on the ground sideways with the opening facing you.  Use a long nail and a hammer to drive a hole through the side of the can, and repeat on the opposite side.  This can be a little tricky.  Thread your wire through each hole and turn so that the handle is secure on the can.  Put some loose gravel or stones in the base of the can, fill with potting soil, and plant your seedling!  Don't forget to water every day, as the pot can dry out quite quickly.

These added some fun to my shed wall!

Chamomile transplants

Moyo resting - a little disgruntled because Mum is in the next field!

My beautiful Daisy girl!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Little Moyo is born!

After a long wait, Daisy's first little calf, Moyo, has been born!

We had been expecting his arrival around Sept. 9, and he was born at 4 a.m.  on Friday 14 September.  Daisy had been showing all the signs of imminent labour since Sunday, but I could see that she was very very uncomfortable on Thursday evening around 6 p.m.  She kept on pressing her sides against the fence, and lying down, then standing, then walking.  She did not touch her late afternoon feed.

She lay down around 1 a.m on Friday morning and strained - I recognised this as the second stage of labour.  We were so excited to see a little hoof appear. We thought progress was being made, but then Daisy stood up and the little hoof disappeared.  She walked around a while, and then lay down again and strained - again the hoof appeared. She soon stood and the hoof disappeared again.  This stage had lasted 2 hours, and I was worried.

I phoned our vet and he asked me to feel internally for a sucking response from the calf.  When I did this, I could not feel any signs of life, and tried to resign myself to the fact that the calf would not be born alive.  I called our vet, and he told me he would be there in 20 mins, and to get two ropes, warm water and dishwash liquid ready.

When he arrived, it was all systems go.  I held Daisy in her harness and my son and husband and vet pulled on the calf.  To our horror, Daisy overbalanced and went tumbling down a low bank.  Thankfully, she rolled onto her side and the calf was freed.

The calf was large, and very still.  We really thought we had lost it.  Daisy was lying, flat on her side in shock.  Suddenly the little calf made a snuffly sound and we realised it was alive - our vet rubbed and rubbed the little calf, and, as soon as the calf was breathing and trying to lift its head, he dragged the calf around to Daisy's nose.

What happened then, I will never forget.  My dearest Daisy, who I thought we had lost as well, took one sniff and lifted her head and began licking that dear little calf with all her might.  It was not long before she stood, all the while licking and mooing gently.

It took nearly 2 and a half hours before the little calf, male, was able to stand and suckle.  I had milked some colostrum into a cup for him earlier in order to keep his strength up and I am sure this helped.  For two days he was very weak and unsteady on his feet, and I was very worried.  Every time I went down to the field, I coaxed him to get up and showed him Daisy's teats.  Daisy was only too happy to oblige, also licking, nudging and coaxing him to drink.  By the third day he was trying to frolick and was healthy and strong, thanks be to God!

What an experience - but, oh, so beautiful the result!  I am hoping to begin milking on Saturday - the good old-fashioned way, taking only what we need for our purposes and letting the calf take what he needs.  This has been a time of huge learning for us on our journey towards self-sufficiency, and we continue to learn...

We searched and searched for a suitable name, as the calf has a very definite heart shape on his forehead.  We eventually found "Moyo", which means "heart" in Swahili.

All our dogs were very curious at the new addition, but have since grown used to Moyo - even giving him a lick on his nose now and then!
Isn't she adorable? Little Lucy is our new St. Dane.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Birthday celebrations!

My men enjoying their starters...
Last Sunday we closed up shop and headed for the beautiful green hills of the KZN midlands after kidnapping my dear husband in order to treat him to a special birthday out with a very special lunch at La Lampara, a delightful Italian restaurant.

What a beautiful place!  The food was delicious, nothing was too much trouble and the friendly service was impeccable without being pretentious...The beautiful red brick buildings and lush green fields surrounding the restaurant which is set on a farm had my mind imagining what it must have felt like to come upon this prime piece of property and then build a dream of opening a hugely successful restaurant miles away from anywhere off the beaten track - I will never stop dreaming!

As we approached this place, comments were heard from the back seat occupants - "I bet we are going to be the only ones here, this place is so far from anything...".   I had, of course, researched this restaurant and read the reviews, and so I just smiled knowingly.  Upon entering the car park area, the said words needed to be retracted!

The greatest blessing of the day was that we spent time as a family together - these times are few and far between these days with our young men all grown up!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Of Cows, chickens and abundance!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him..." - Romans 8 vs. 28
Simple, abundant beauty in violas
Summer lavender

One of my favourite corners

I noticed last Sunday that my Daisy cow had been unusually quiet, and whilst walking her back to her pen for the night, discovered, to my absolute horror, a tick infestation on her udder and in her back right groin.  I immediately suspected a tick borne disease.

Monday morning saw a dramatic rise in temperature and the vet was called - my suspicions were confirmed.  The vet gave Daisy an intravenous treatment and two intramuscular shots - and left me with two syringes for the next couple of days.  Now, injecting Daisy is one of the things I just HATE doing - the thought of it brings instant nausea - but I know that if one keeps a cow, these things are inevitable.  The fluid in the syringe had a stinging effect and this made it all the worse.  Imagine my horror when two days later, the vet prescribed another 3 days worth of injections as Daisy's temperature had spiked yet again.  Well, we got through it, and Daisy appears on the mend.  We just hope that the little calf will not be affected.  I am still picking ticks off Daisy...I have compassion for all things, but I can't stand cockroaches and ticks!

I am watching Hansie, our new arrival, very closely and checking him constantly for ticks, as they are obviously on the land at the moment.  What a dear little fellow he is, with such a wonderful personality - I think we need to get him a little wife!

Summer Herb Garden
This week also saw the arrival of 8 happy and healthy chicks to 3 mummy hens.  We have separated them into 3 chicks for one mummy and 5 for the other, and the third one is still pancake flat on the eggs which are as yet unhatched - some of the eggs were laid much later by some other hens who insisted on their right to lay eggs in the same nesting box as the broody hens - resisting all growls and pecks!

Our little outreach art group started up again this week - we are working on Hearts as a theme for Valentine's day.  I hope to post some pics next week.  It was great to have these young people back again - I look forward to another year of creating with them!  I want to hold a little art exhibition for them towards the end of the year.

Herb Nursery

Dried lavender

Bookshop & Bric a Brac


Oils at Insight

Artful corner at Insight

His heart is Abundant and Beautiful..

They also discovered the granadilla vine, and had to be warned not to pick the green granadillas.  This immediately heralded a search for purple granadillas and a bounty of around fifteen purple granadillas were harvested and duly shared - once again the spirit of Ubuntu....!

There are so many little things that give me pleasure just to look at at our little farm, so many things that nudge me closer to God...yes, this week has been an abundant week.  Thank you Lord, for your amazing grace in so many circumstances and thank You for Your abundant blessings.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hansie - our new addition!


The goathouse

We are so very excited to have Hansie, a little goat, join our Muddy Paws Family!  A gift from a wonderful, gentle couple who visited our little farm with a garden club, and decided to trust us with a new home for their precious little goat, who they reared from a tiny kid!

The sturdy little goathouse was built by the gentleman who gave Hansie to us, and rests against a beautiful camel's foot tree in cool dappled shade in a large pen which houses the chickens as well.

Our dogs did not know what to make of Hansie, although Hansie is quite used to dogs.  They are still 'sniffin' the situation out!  I hope that Hansie will be very happy here at Muddy Paws!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cupcake Texture

Our little group has spent the last 4 weeks creating some textured cupcake art, and they were thrilled with the outcome!  Once again, my friend and hugely talented colleague, Carey (see ) shared this idea with me.  We decided to make these as Christmas presents for the children's parents.
We used little boxes which had been donated to us.  We then cut up sheets of words and pasted them in random order inside the box, covering them with a layer of podge.  The children then drew the outline of a cupcake, which they filled with toilet paper / glue mache.  They then brought them to life with some beautiful acrylics!

Once again I was intrigued to note that, as this project involved a few weeks and some children were absent and replaced with others, there was no worry about completing each other's work - a spirit of 'ubuntu' reigns, where all look after each other!

The children had also made Christmas cards which I had sold for them.  The joy on their faces after receiving their 'wages' was wonderful!  Not only were they being rewarded for their work, but the intention of letting them understand that their work was of worth was achieved.  The children who had worked harder than others, producing more cards, received more pay, and herein was another lesson!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Garden Fresh Harvest

I just can't keep up with the wonderful harvests waiting to be gathered in the garden - I try to plan all our meals around what is in season in our garden.  I have been 'home' for 10 months now, and it seems as if there has been an explosion of abundance in the garden, even though some of my seedlings are still very small.  I think that I must have missed the joy of this abundance last year, having been heavily involved in my music teaching post.
Spinach, Leeks, Strawberries and Mulberries!

 I couldn't resist sharing a photo or two - last night's dinner was spinach, leek and feta quiche, and tonight's dinner was vegetable soup.  The berries were put through the juicer - oh, wow!  An instant recharge!  What is great is that I know that no chemicals have been added to my land for the past 8 years at least.  Everything is flourishing organically, and I am constantly learning about the wonders of companion planting with herbs and vegetables.  So much to learn, so little time....!

Monday, October 17, 2011

13!!!! The story of the surrogate mother hen.....!!!!!!   Ian declared incredulously as he reached inside the nesting box to retrieve the last fluffy, beady-eyed chicken morsel of life.  I leaned forward to get a better view inside the basket holding the 13 day old fluffy chicks, forgetting that I was holding mummy Bella, only to be reminded as Ian jumped and shouted 'OUCH!!!' as Bella pecked his hand as I got too close!

We transferred Bella and her chicks to the newly vacated chicken ark that the 'teenagers' had vacated.  22 days ago, it was Fuji that sat on her eggs, but, only 4 days later, Bella was gripped by an intense jealousy and jammed herself solid on Fuji's eggs, refusing to budge, even when prodded.

Where's Wally?

Proud mum...
I prepared another next box in the 2nd chicken house, putting in 8 other eggs and waited for a bustling ousted Fuji to find them.  Find them she did, clucked joyfully and made herself comfortable, and we are now awaiting a second batch of chicks in the next couple of days.

Bella is an excellent mother, having gone broody and raised many chicks before, but it is a long time since we have had a clutch of such a size!  The colourings are also so interesting....can you spot Wally?