Dwelling on the Web

Finding Self-Sufficiency & Simplicity In The Karoo - Tricky, Daunting, Rewarding


My Definition Of Simple-Earth

Travelling through the Karoo, since my childhood days, kindled my love for the isolated and natural areas of the world. Even from my first day of work, during my career in software engineering, I formed the plan to live simple and close to the soil; away from disturbance, befoulment, and the troubles people drag with them. Unfortunately, because of analysis-paralysis and lending out my ears to naysayers, it took almost twenty years to make it a reality. Now, Alexia and I are out here, actually building this life. We started on a small-holding, then moved up to a Karoo farmhouse rental and now finally, we are exactly where we need to be.

Simple-Earth(.org) is the eventual name I decided on, for myself and this journey. Simplicity is what we all lack the most, yet yearn for. As my own dreams of living simpler, happier and healthier also tied in with engaging with my world more (weather, plants, animals, food and time), I could not come up with a simpler name than Simple-Earth. I registered this domain name, created this website and used it to share what I learn. Subsequently, the video episodes became a new (but challenging) passion. If any of this inspires or merely entertains just a handful of you, then I will be satisfied.

Renoster veld on the southern side of our hills

The Strategy, Goals & Story

I put myself into a position of survival and self-sufficiency by stepping off that crazy treadmill. I went cold-turkey after the company I worked for imploded, an opportunity that gave me the chance I needed. Alexia stands with me the most through this journey. We share a common dream for our land, animals and future and so we consult, plan and dream up our goals, together. She continues to work and does what she loves, working remotely from our wilderness homestead here. We spend and plan together on common goals and projects, but I carry my load and risks. Why? Because I cannot expect to motivate, inspire or share my experiences with you if there’s any doubt that I can power through this myself. After I got retrenched, I solved the issues I had by finding work, satisfaction and solutions through old school toil and challenges at every level of managing life and land. To prove the strategy, means and successes, I need to provide you with a realistic perspective.

The strategy, ever-changing in its nature, remains true to our first reason for departure from the city. We have to learn something new every day, and re-energise the old knowledge that our human ancestors had to live meaningful lives. Depending on (broken) systems and services is futile, and relying on mass/bulk/feedlot style food-chains is an expensive and unrealistic undertaking. A natural piece of land, allowed to produce abundance and thrive, lies at the top of our strategic roadmap. We want to be a part of protecting and building our land to enable it to be itself, while providing for us. Plants, animals, water and soil are but a few layers of this larger system.

We lived in the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa, for many years. There was already clarity on our goals back then, which is why we spent so much of that time camping, exploring, and staying in the mountains and valleys of the Western Cape. Searching for the answers, one weekend at a time, brought us to our first little micro-homestead in the town of Tulbagh. Tulbagh taught us the “level one” of self-sufficiency. We produced a large amount of our eggs, vegetables and animal feed there; we were 100% off the electrical and water grid. That homestead was amazing. However, our hearts were pulling to the Karoo, a semi-arid desert area here in South Africa; a place so remote, so difficult to conquer yet so in-tune with our needs.

After a brief (year) rental at acquaintances’ farm, we bought raw, open wilderness land. It was and still is preposterous to buy developed land. It’s very overpriced now, caused by the tremendous exodus of escaping city people. In the end, this worked out well, because we could afford to get into this magical, untainted piece of wilderness without debt. It didn’t leave me with much in the bank, but we have isolation, privacy, and wildlife roaming around. Let me tell you, though, it’s a lot tougher than any of us thought. At the time of writing this page, we barely have things sorted out. We have water; we have solar powered electricity, homes which still need a lot of work and an assortment of animals getting ready to work and produce for us. There’s a pile of doggy friends, and some trees too. Our access road is hardcore, sometimes impassable when it rains. Life is really raw, but we are as happy as a bug in a rug. It’s a realistic life, taking a hard-nosed responsibility for everything and blaming no-one but ourselves when things go haywire.

The morning sun creeping in over the northern hills. The goat and sheep kraals are visible in the front.

When the sun peers over the hills, early morning, we enjoy coffee together. Staring at the hills and absorbing the low solar angle light, we contemplate the plans for the day. While Alexia resumes grinding her career, I set out into the land, working through tasks and projects every day, all day. The plethora of lurking daily chores is unavoidable and abundant. On top of those are obligatory maintenance and construction of solutions and infrastructure. It never ends, it always gets more, but it never becomes a burden. This is my work and life. I am my own "king & peasant", and everything we do is for ourselves in the end. Alexia ends her day by returning to farm work, focusing on animal husbandry, while I wind down and take a breather. That is a perfect day.

Get Out There. Become A Friend.

Gumtree poles ready for a project. Waxed on the butt end for underground protection.

The YouTube Channel & Patreon

I loved writing, and there’s been hundreds of posts I made around the web. This website became my first official platform for writing posts with content that aimed at sharing and caring for simplicity, survival and self-sufficiency. Then there was video and film, another passion which I never picked up or believed I could do. The YouTube channel straightened a few things out for me. It gave me this chance to plan, film, direct and edit video and music together on the very topic that I so much love. For this very reason, the YouTube channel is important to me, and a passionate ongoing project and personal duty.

I am engrossed in land, animal and my daily projects. I also try to simplify things to a level that makes them possible in the first place (with finite time, funds, and resources). This is the same issue many of you may have. Filming and editing for the channel between this takes immense amounts of time and cuts into the homestead work, as well as my after-hours resting time. Fortunately, Patreon makes it possible for those who’d like to, to support me by funding the channel. Working to build a self-sufficient life, using elementary tools, basic methods, and even bushcraft is a miniature part of what the channel content covers. Mindset, ideas and thinking strategically simple is another.

Whether the channel gets support through the Simple Earth Patreon page, or from your subscription, views or likes, I aim to always convert it into more frequent content, better quality, better sound and more diverse topics. Funding is just a 'pay' for the work I put in and give out for free. To those who contribute, I share and give a little more, though.

This is for all of you, and it helps me.

Channel Content

Building an off-grid homestead, a farm in this wilderness requires thinking and constant DIY. I try to film everything. Some episodes are for learning how while others are highlights of what can go wrong. The simple nature of how we operate means that we use mostly hand-tools, with outstanding success, because of their reliability. We design with permaculture in mind, but all of them must be simple, affordable and maintainable. I take a bushcraft approach to many things. For Patreon members, there are extra content too, along with other behind-the-scenes stuff.

One of our dorper ewes staring at the camera through the bossies.

A few keywords that define our life out here, and thus what you can see and expect on our video content:
Our animals (nigerian dwarf goats, Dorper sheep, chickens) and their medicine, health, feed, purposes and issues
Our pets and their lives (Labradors and Border Collies)
The machines and tools we use
Bushcraft and camping (as a solution, exploring and scouting the land for resources)
Stoves, Ovens, Kilns, Cooking, Pottery, Woodworking
Fence construction (primitive, electrified, and stone)
Water harvesting and management (Fountain water, Well water and Rain water)
Cabins (100% wood so far) and the future wilderness cabin build
Growing food (arid desert gardening, hydroponics etc)
Maintainance, Issues, Problems
Buying, Renting, Life Rights and Options for land
Permaculture, JADAM and other methods combined
Keeping things simple while still having nice things like Internet and good infrastructure
Self Sufficiency (the long road to becoming self reliant and self sufficient)
Wildlife – Supporting and Assisting local causes
Much more than I can think of, delivered honestly.