Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Polar Bear Challenge

Every year in the middle of winter, an event is held in the Champagne Valley: The Polar Bear Challenge. Anyone can enter to swim either 25 meters or 100 meters across the Dragon Peaks Dam at the resort by the same name. The water is normally icy cold. This year it was the coldest ever: 7 °C/44.6 °F ! 

Last month, Grant put his name down to swim the 25 meters. Although he's a strong swimmer, he'd heard about the stringent conditions of the water and thought he'd rather do the shorter swim than have to opt out of the long race because of cramps or other cold-related problems. 

Ironically, last week we were at our motorcycle AGM in Bloemfontein and the name of the weekend was Ysbeertjie which translates into English as Polar Bear. 

Champagne Valley Polar Bear Challenge is held in aid of animal welfare and the proceeds of the entry fees, donations and lots of pet food goes to the local township animals and an animal shelter in a neighboring town. 
Grant's shirt had "Ysbeertjie" / Polar Bear on the back 
The setting of this dam at the resort is particularly idyllic
 There is a great festive air at this event
 People brought their dogs, small...
... and large  

One young lady even brought a kitten
 Volunteers registered the participants
 One jolly young crowd wore glittering party hats - even while they swam! 
 I  loved the colorful reflection in the water
 The resort restaurant did a roaring trade in meals, drinks and snacks 

 Grant looking wild and woolly as he moves across to the opposite side of the dam
 These swimmers wait for the start of the 100m swim

 Two boats were in the water to assist or load any swimmer in trouble 
 The first swimmer in is Papa Bear who swims the 100m after which swimmers are set off one-by-one to do the challenge 
 This lady did the 100m and then swam up to the bank below the 25m participants
 A swimmer experiencing cramps was loaded onto the boat and taken to the end
Craig (my hiking friend) and Grant wait their turn 
When we arrived at the spot where the 25 m swimmers set off from, the other two adults said they were pleased to see they weren't the only grown-ups taking part in the kiddies challenge! 
 Note the warm dress of the spectators! 
 Craig was first off the mark with Grant hot (er, cold!) on his heels

Two grey-headed and brave men reach the end! 

Back on the other side of the dam, Grant dried and got dressed and rejoined me, Steve, Estelle and Muthi on the restaurant veranda.
Steve, Estelle and Muthi - this canine was the oldest spectator at Saturday's event! 

When questioned about his experience in the water afterwards, Grant said he has never been in such cold water. He says that he intended to swim free-style which is his strong point; however when he came up after diving into the water, he was so cold he couldn't lift his arms out of the water. So he swam breast stroke all the way. He says he'll do it again next year; the 100m meter challenge! 


I'm linking my post to Our World Tuesday here

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Enjoying life on the farm

Hi Bozo and Mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose with photos of Skabenga and Eddie and Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow. Mum says I was hiding in the forest most of the week and Aunty Chappie was on the bed during the cold weather. 
 Mum took these photos in the night while Skabenga rolled on the grass 
 Mum says Labradors don't feel the cold that's why Skabenga was out on the frosty grass in the middle of the night ! Brrr. 
 Unca Shadow was doing an inspection of the horses' stables 
 Eddie also checks out the hay bales alongside the stables 
 Dad Ginger made a nest in the hay pile in the stables 
 Unca Shadow also enjoyed the warm sunshine while nesting the the hay

For more cute pet posts, please click here

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A mix of critters

While the lands next door were being harvested we were thrilled to see a flock of about 50 Southern Bald Ibis. These ibis are quite rare and were almost wiped out by pesticides a few years back. They are very skittish and I struggled to get decent photos of any one of the birds. 

Southern Bald Ibis 

Visiting a friend at his home, I stopped to photograph this old chap 
I like all manner of critters; even metal ones flying above us! 
 Meet Archie, the new pony
 The miniature horse, Angus who missed his Uncle Romeo terribly, has fallen in love with Uncle Archie 
Both horses sport beautiful new blankets 
Walking with the dogs last week, I rested the camera on a bale and snapped the fields

The weather forecast for today in the mountains is -1 °C overnight with it warming up to 18 ° C during the day. We had had reports of snow and the skies have been heavy and gray but we wait to see what actually happens. 

I'm linking to Saturday Critters with Eileen here


Friday, June 23, 2017

Back home!

Hello everybody; I'm back home in the mountains and back on Blogger. Grant and I have been on a motorcycle trip to the Free State. It was our motorcycle association's AGM which was held in Bloemfontein. More about our trip later. I'll also get back to blog visiting soon.

For now I'm posting the waning gibbous moon taken two Sundays ago.

Waning Gibbous; visibility 97%; age 16.5 days; 11 May 2017 at 6.47am

For more sky photos, please click here


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kitties best place

Hi Bozo and Mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose. We kitties are enjoying the cooler weather and spend most of the time on Mum's bed. 

 For more cute pet posts, please click here

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sad news...

On Tuesday, the older of the two miniature horses started to breath heavily. Debbie called the vet out who immediately diagnosed horse sickness. African Horse Sickness is a highly infectious and deadly disease. Read more about this killer disease here

The vet administered antibiotics and painkillers. Romeo rallied quite a bit by the afternoon. Debbie had more injections to administer that night. She and the children put the horses in the house near them so that she could monitor Romeo's progress. 

On Wednesday morning when I got into the big house, both horses were standing up and Romeo, especially was munching on the hay spread out on the floor as their bedding. The horses were taken outside and although Romeo didn't run about the garden, he stood quietly eating a little grass and drinking water that the children offered him. 

On Wednesday night the children brought the horses indoors but by Thursday morning, Romeo wasn't looking at all well. Outside in the garden he lay on his side while the children propped his head up on a bag stuffed with hay. The vet had told us to keep him on his chest or with his head propped up to avoid contracting pneumonia. 

Thursday lunchtime, Debbie had to run an errand and both Joshua and Eryn were exhausted from caring for the little horse. Grant sent them to sleep and I took over the horse sitting. Although his breath was terribly ragged, we all thought he didn't look like he was at death's door. I held his head on my lap and stroked him telling him he could get better. 

At 1.30pm Eryn and Joshua came outdoors. Grant and I had to take luggage to our next door neighbor as we're off on a motorbike tour to the Free State. We duly set off to the next door farm (which entails opening and closing four gates - yes, this is my privilege) and as we drove back into the yard 15 minutes later, Elijah ran up to the car and told us Romeo is dead. 

We were shattered.

Namusa and Thandiwe immediately set about digging a big and deep enough grave in the garden which could take a 150 kilogram horse. When the grave was right, Namusa, Eryn, Bethany. Elijah, Joshua, Debbie and I hammocked the dear little horse from where he'd died on the lawn to the dug hole. 

Much sadness for the little children. And as Grant said later that night: 

"That brave little horse fought so hard for his life, I thought he would live..."
Romeo shortly after the horses arrived here three weeks ago 

Rest in Peace, dear sweet Romeo 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dog training

(at this late stage, LOL!)

Several weeks ago, while unpacking boxes from our old home in Marquard, I came across a referee's whistle. I put it one side knowing what I would use it for training the dogs. Then I mislaid it but fortunately found it again earlier this week.

When the dogs and I walk in the paddock next door, I've noticed that Skabenga will bound down the hill and disappear out of sight. He always reacts to my calls and returns to run ahead of me on the servitude. When we get near the first boundary gate into the property, I always have look for Eddie. I KNOW she's snuffling in the dense shrubs but try as I might, I have a challenging time trying to get her to obey me and come into the garden. 

Two days ago, I put the whistle in my pocket (Grant still has to attach a lanyard for me) and once we'd left the garden, I gave a shrill blast on it. I almost jumped out of my skin it was that loud!  Skabenga stopped dead in his tracks and Eddie - well, Eddie just carried on running along the road.  
During the walk I used the whistle several times and especially when we got near the house and Eddie disappeared into the shrubs. Not that she listened...
The referee's whistle in the palm of my gloved hand 

Note how my Labrador, Skabenga comes running when I whistle and Eddie ignores me totally! 

Yesterday I used the whistle again. This time Skabenga was ready for it and stopped, looked back at me and only moved off when I told him to. Eddie didn't visibly react but I persevered. 
Dear Skabenga, always obedient to his Mum but even more so now she makes that sharp sound ! 

As we reached the garden gate, I noticed Eddie was out of sight. In the shrubs, no doubt. I took a deep breath and blew hard on the whistle.  Skabenga stopped and looked at me and Eddie erupted from the bushes into the road in front of me. 

Yippee! I think the whistle works.