How do build a simple “clip on” guttering system in your lunch hour for less than $10

I love design, I love simplicity. I love the idea that we can rethink cheap readily available materials and use them in a way that was not imagined by the manufacturer. So in the video below I show how I use 75 mm diameter PVC down pipe as a guttering system. Building a rain water harvesting system normally takes a complicated range of fittings brackets screws and masonry anchors.But very often the same objective can be achieved using only 75 mm diameter PVC down pipe and elbow fittings.Watch this short video to see how we use this idea at Pebblespring Farm.


Click here to watch this excellent little video



pvc pipe


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Snakes Alive!

Of course we have lots to fear in this life. There are so many ways in which we can get hurt, killed, robbed  or betrayed. Everyday we are exposed to danger. Motorcars are viscous killers. Any home contains all kinds of ordinary looking things that can kill us if we are not careful. And I am not even talking about rat poison or pool acid, just ordinary stuff, which when taken in the wrong quantities can kill us, like vodka, or paracetamol or lying  in a bath. But it is of course not logical or acceptable to live in fear of bathwater, electricity or a motor car just because it can, in certain circumstances, be deadly. It seems though that we discriminate differently between Urban dangers and rural dangers. Or so it seems this week with the excitement caused by the appearance of two (very small) snakes in our rainwater tank. I have builders working on site and they were terrified. It effected their work. Some in my family too, (I dont want to mention any names) are hinting at not ever returning to the farm that is loved by all of so much. Of course I as a husband and a father must make every effort to understand that not all of us are the same and that some and may have different loves and fears. I understand this. It is not good enough for me to explain that as we warm up into summer, the snakes will be on the move and we should be on the look out.

Anyway, the snakes turned out to be two Spotted Bush Snakes Philothamnus semivariegatus. (thanks to the people at snakesofsouthafrica for help with the identification) which are not poisonous at all. There are dangerous snakes on the farm, like the Puffaders that like to lie on a sunny path waiting to be stepped on. What I am trying to say though, is that we are confronted everyday with a strong bombardment of ideas of what is “normal” and what is not. We are told that “Normal” is to work in a cubicle, commute to work in a Toyota Corrola, and watch rugby on Saturdays. So it is with normal dangers that confront us every day in the city. Because they are “normal” we tolerate them. Even when they kill us, we continue to tolerate them. But snakes, scorpions and frogs are “abnormal” dangers and they are to be eradicated, chopped into little pieces, burned, poisoned and obliterated. Such is the logic of our time.

So, while I can see that all this, to keep the peace I have had to make a visible effort to do something about the snakes. So I have cleared all the longer grass around the house and reduced the number of places snakes can hide. And also very cleverly I have installed a very innovative anti snake device onto my watertank.

You can watch the video if you like.

"Fullness of Health", for me, my family and for the Land.

I am quite sure I have more people popping in to the farm over the weekend “just driving past” that I have at my house in Walmer. I think its fantastic. I think its curious. Its definitely something about the rural setting that reminds us about being civilised, about being friendly, about being helpful, about being neighbourly. This interests me.

I spent this morning with the chainsaw again. This time working along the stream, from the dam wall toward the Oak tree. Most of what I was cutting though was Ink Berry. I cuts very easily. The Idea is to cut a path so that I can run the temporary electric fence through as I have done elsewhere. Slowly, slowly, I am beginning to make the land accessible. Beginning to make it manageable, beginning to put myself into a position where I am able to help the land achieve the “fullness of it health”.

I have set myself the objective of achieving the “fullest possible health” for this land. What does that even mean? Perhaps my objective for the land is the same as my objective for me and for my family. The fullest possible personal health. The fullest possible family health. “Health” is the correct term to use when setting an “Holistic Goal” for the land (as Alan Savory would suggest we do). “Health” instead of efficiency, or productivity, instead of profitability. “Health” because the land is a living system. It’s an organism, really, and if it healthy it is much more likely to be to us, efficient, profitable and productive.

I did some work on the dam yesterday. Introducing a “collar”
I have posted a video here:

The basic idea is to draw the water into the overflow from a little bit below the surface so as not to drain the dam of its most oxegenated, warmed water. (or its duckweed) This simple device will make the dam healthier!

The Old Oak Tree

There is an old Oak Tree toward the east of the dam. It is in thick bush. I cut my way through to it yesterday. I had found it before, some months ago, when walking a different route. My neighbour, Gavin Flanagan told me some months ago that there was an old Oak Tree, he told me there were springs and a “well” I set out to find all of those and I did. But having a closer look at the tree I see that it is not very healthy.Some of the big branches seem dead. Others have broken off. There are leaves growing off one of the big branches, but not vigorously. I see some places where there is rot in the trunk and in other places I notice the tell tales marks of wood boring insects.

So I am trying to find out what can be done to help this tree. Any clever people reading this know what to do? What kind of insect is likely to be boring into the trunk? Is there a safe method to get rid of them? Are there environmental changes I can make? (getting more light on the trunk, getting more cross wind?)

I measured the circumference at 2.3 metres. I have read somewhere that a very rough estimate of an English Oak’s age would be one year for every 25 mm of trunk circumference. Our estimate therefore is that the tree is 92 years old, having started growing in 1922.

I am interested because I really like trees and because I am am interested in anything that tells the story of the farm, the various chapters of its history. This is part of the appeal of the site. Its like a journey of discovery, unravelling a mystery.