Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The Rainbow Homestead

One of my tasks for the day was to take a lesson from the Eco Schools books and teach it to Kei and Oriah. They are being home schooled. Part of the session/lesson took place with Kei hanging upside down in a tree, yet every time you ask him what you said, he could tell you and he was obviously practicing his balance. The lesson was this - find a log and look at what lives on and from it and how they relate then later back from the field trip, draw a picture of one of the creatures you saw.

This is all great, but there is this over simplistic pyramid that goes from log to insects to insect eaters and ends up with a Leopard at the top of the pyramid. This is all good, but where are the big Herbivores in this story? I get the impression that they are trying to give the impression (indoctrinate the idea) the pyramid systems are natural and normal and carnivores are always at the top, they are not. Yes, this whole pyramid thing takes place, but then the tree becomes compost for the soil, new grass grows and this also feeds the Zebra’s and Elephants and Rhino’s, but this is not mentioned at all and another and, the Leopard also eventually dies, becomes food for new plants, so this should be more of a circle, according to me. 

Maybe I am making a mountain out of a moles heap, but I am very much aware of the amount of indoctrination in Educations and it is very often done in such suggestions. This is just a thought and as I said this was my first ever teaching experience.

Under the circumstances, this being my first attempt, things went pretty well, until after the drawing session.  The drawing session produced three painting – Oriah drew a spiders with caterpillar friends and some clouds and Kei also drew a spider but a big scary one, which he insisted was a male (I enjoyed teaching him that the big spider is always the she, he he). Gabi (Dale's one son) also showed up during the painting session and he painted two fat men and a bag of peanuts, don’t ask, because I do not know why the fat men and peanuts.

Then the drawing thing got boring and the home made clay which served as planets earlier that morning where now being reshaped and tasted. Eventually lunch arrived and we all got through lesson one alive, accept for a few termites which got crushed when we turned the log.

Kei developing a taste for Saturn

I do not have much time or power for writing, but the Solstice was great fun, we did the dress up thing and had loads of fun, food and fire….

Here are some pictures from the Solstice

Me, all dressed up

Around the big bonfire

One of the lanterns made out of Zulu melons

Shiva doing the Shiva

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Beautiful old building in Pietermaritzburg, as much as I do not like cities, I love old buildings

Suddenly I am all alone, Riaan left yesterday, he is going to work for Protrack and look after our Rhino’s. Protrack is an Anti Poaching organization in the Limpopo province of South Africa. A Part of me feels very lost and lonely but I am also very happy for him, it is great to be able to do things in this world that can really make a difference. Life carries on and I have a lot to keep myself busy, we will see him soon enough.

 I still feel exhausted two days after I took Riaan to the bus station in Pietermaritzburg. What a nightmare! Driving in a City I do not know, in Friday afternoon traffic; it took all my willpower and Yoga breathing and unearthly power not to go crazy. I have a claustrophobic streak (got stuck in a lift once) and peak traffic will drive me insane, I feel completely trapped. How do people put up with this on a daily basis without road rage reaching pandemic proportions, I do not know. People are different, that I do know, but I think I should seriously stay away from big cities and traffic jams, they will drive me to Cream soda and School boys. The funny thing is that I am a very calm and relaxed passenger, I can just close my eyes and go somewhere else, but you cannot do that when you have to drive.

My little project for the week was to make a canvas window for the communal kitchen area. The problem is that the smoke from the donkey blows straight into the kitchen from that specific opening.

So the measuring continued (after the land meter job) and then the cutting and the gluing and now it still needs to be hanged and here I get stuck, Shine found some wood that I can use and this wood must now be nailed to a cob and wattle wall and I think I am going to need some help here. It also needs to be stitched, but so does the canvas for the new Yurt, so I am hoping that will happen soon.

The slow Internet does remain a bit of a challenge, but we went to WESSA this week and that one day at high speed makes such a difference. We or rather me are busy trying to put a basic website together for the Rainbow homestead and this with numbingly boring slow Internet, but patience is a virtue so we will try that and if all else fail, I will eat a cookie and start again. Our neighbor just got Wi-Fi, so maybe it is worth looking into, it is faster and cheaper.

The other points of focus are the fundraising for various projects and for this we need to put together a Portfolio. Something Sam and I urgently need to work on. Then there is the marketing of the Empendle Eco tourism and more specifically the Voluntourism programme. 

Another thing on the to do list is to register with SARS as a PBO (Public Benefit Org.), the huge advantage of facing the red tape and tons of paperwork that comes with it, is that your sponsors can deduct their contribution from tax. This obviously makes fundraising much easier.

Then there is the Space of love gathering next weekend and we might be planning on “building” a Gingerbread house or a big Gingerbread man.

Aumji building a Dehydrator

David, with the compost toilet in the background

I haven’t said much so far about the people that live here. People come and go, the old story; you still have to make a living, but let me introduce you to the Rainbow Homestead crew - you have Sam Rose and Shine Murhpy and their children, Kei and Oriah. Then you have me and Aumji living near and working at/in/around the homestead. Then there is David and Evelyn, they also live on the farm and  work here every day. There are seven other houses on the farm and there are some of the people I haven’t met yet, like Dale. He stays in a beautiful big round cob house further up the hill and we wave at each other in the distance, but we have not actually met.

We are expecting two Volunteers to arrive in early July and that also put the yurt building business on the priority list, the weather is not playing along. The first attempt blew over and some of the poles broke. Back to square one!

Dale's house

My "house"

Monday, June 11, 2012


Sam in the kitchen

It is freezing cold and apparently it snows every year. I have ordered some snow for my birthday in July.

The wind is howling outside and it is blowing away the little bit of connection we have, but never mind, we are going into Howick this week, to the WESSA Office and they have Wi-Fi and I can get a lot done in one day at high speed. 

We are also upgrading the whole solar system, 6 new batteries arrived last week and the new panels will hopefully be here next week, in the meantime we are also a bit low on power. This does mean that a lot of other things are suddenly happening.

 Everybody seems to be in cleaning mood, Aumji tackled the shed and found a Puffadder, amongst other strange things, Sam and Shine and the kids where sorting through clothes and I braved the communal kitchen. A bit early for spring cleaning but maybe we all feel the need to shift some energy.

I start my morning by visiting the horses, I can honestly not think of a better way to start a day.

Some of my new horse friends

Gardening is a whole different ballgame, we actually have seasons! No more Paw Paw’s and Banana’s, now it is all Cherries and Berries. There is a surprising amount happening in the garden for this time of the year, but according to my calculations not nearly enough to get us through the winter. We will have to see.

Riaan came along to look at work options in this area. I do not think he will stay for long, he has pretty much made up his mind that Eco living is not for him.

 I am playing “landmeter” and is in the process of mapping (to scale) the whole area surrounding the homestead. The reason for this is because we are planning on extending the garden with new bed and it is always wise and a very good idea to have a map and do some decent planning before you start acting, it is much less labor intensive in the end of the day. This whole mapping business has been fun and frustrating at the same time, I was taught how to take proper measurements when I did the Estate Agent thing, but I have never been good with sums and figures (even basic ones) it makes my brains hurt or maybe that is just my imagination.

Yurt building team, Aumji, Shine and Sam

There is also some Yurt building going one, we are expecting more Volunteers soon and we are a bit short on accommodation so a plan must be made. This is probably the quickest way to create warm and comfortable living space. I will tell you more about this whole process and how to "africanize" a Yurt at some later stage.

Over and out for now, need to save some power…. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Gathering at the Space of Love

The trip is behind us and we are now at Zuvuya farm.

We came up a few days earlier because zuvuya (Rainbow Homestead) is hosting a Space of Love gathering and I was curious about this. It was a soft landing, just a group of like minded people getting together and sharing feeling, thoughts and food. It is very much a family friendly affair and people bring their own musical instruments and we make our own noise.

Part of the plan of action is also to teach people some green skills, this weekend we ended up building a Rocket Stove with cob. The cob process is definitely different from area to area, it mostly depends on the type of soil and other materials that are available. In this case there is all this beautiful clay soil and all you need to add to that is some straw and you can built. The soil and straw mixture goes through a “rolling” process until it is nice and sticky and workable and then you built, let dry and use. You place the soil and straw on a plastic sheet and add water. You work this mixture with your feed and every now and then you fold the sheet and foll the mix over, then you step on it some more, repeat this process until the mix is nice and sticky. 

Making cob

Rocket Stove and Shine

This was the very first Space of Love gathering here as Rainbow Homestead. There is no entry fee and you do not pay to pitch your tent and the food is all communal meals, prepared by the group for the group. You bring what you have, you add and we all share. This makes so much more sense than each little group looking and cooking for themselves, it also creates a feeling of sharing and caring.

These gatherings are based on the ideas in the Ringing Cedars Series and I have to (shamefully) admit that I have not read these books, but I am aware of them, the whole series was at KD.  The way I see it, it is an introduction space for people seeking to get out of the rat race, a place to learn and a place to experience and to  use a compost toilet and make a donkey and built a stove, things like that. You also get to meet the people that live here and some very interesting people called volunteers, (basically people on working holidays, they are for people from all over the world).  It is a good place to start for those people that are looking for cleaner, more self sustainable ways to live and to practically experience it.

Itl is also a space where you can talk about your process, everybody is on some stage of realization or the other about what is really going on in this world. The unfairness and inequality of it all can make you angry, but I found that the people I met this weekend have stopped being angry about this gross obstruction of free will (capitalism) and are looking for solutions, a way out of the one way rat race.

These are people that stopped worrying about keeping up with the Jones’s for long enough to look up and see the brick wall at the end of the one way street we call Capitalism. 

Obviously they want out, but as soon as you run against the main stream, you become a “problem”, you just don’t fit in anymore. There are suddenly “Comms” or Eco Communities and Sustainability centers popping up all over the country.  By attending a Space of Love gathering you can get a very good feel for the whole way of life and you will realize you are not alone.

As Sam puts it “There is no point in complaining, yet you support and benefit from a system you bitterly complain about”.

We are planning the next Space of Love gathering for the Solstice weekend at the end of June. I am looking forward to that.

More about the farm and the homestead and the weather and the garden and all that next time, right now I am too cold to think.