Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almost a South African cat

C'mon mum! I'm ready for our walk in the garden

Ain't I brave? Two dogs in the doorway and I'm on my way through it

Oh goody-goody, here we go on a great walk into the garden again

Lovely grass under my paws

Now for a good roll in the soil

Ah cool, I'm a grubby cat now! And ready for more garden adventures

Uh-oh here's Chip a real ole grump
Just making sure my human is still close by while I try to socialise with Chip

Eek, that's a big lion growl!
Maybe if I approach her carefully, she'll accept me. Nah...

Ah, now for a catnap in my favourite chair. I need it after all that excersise and excitement!

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A walk past the ponds (which scares me)
 and then back indoors

Equine serenity

This week while on a motorbike ride, we passed a friend's farm where their horses were grazing in a paddock near to the road. We spotted the mare and a very small foal amongst the other horses so we stopped to take photos

The horses begin to walk away from the fence where I was standing taking photos

The foal tucks into his meal  again

Mama horse says: "Now beat it lady! Can't you see my little one is having his dinner?"

The horses relax and continue with their grazing.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Operation tree cutting

This week Simon came to me and said we were going to have a problem with our vegetable garden. The Syringa tree (an alien invader) in my neighbour's yard hangs over the boundary wall and casts a large shadow on the beds for most of the day. Vegetables need a significant amount of sun to grow so we needed to make a plan.  I phoned Janneman (the young neighbour) and asked him if we could cut the branches overhanging our garden. It's a law in South Africa - you may cut any growth from a shrub or tree which intrudes into your garden even if the roots are in the neighbour's plot. However, I have wonderful neighbours on all three sides (with a fourth, our bank manager over the boundary wall in the large garden - where my ponds are - and I want to remain friends with him!) and wanted to do it properly, so I phoned him for permission. Janneman said we could cut any branches we wanted to and that my gardeners could enter his garden to do it. Which is what we did. When (and I hope it is when and not if) my vegetables are ready for harvesting, I will send Janneman a basketful as a thank you gift

John was the first person up the tree .He scaled it before I arrived with my camera!  Grant gave John nylon rope with which to tie the branches so that they could be lowered carefully to the ground. We didn't want the boundary wall to be damaged in the process

 John waits while David fetches a ladder

David borrowed a long ladder from Janneman's gardener who was involved in this operation as well, albeit only from the firm position of the ground below the tree!
David reaches the branch where John is waiting with the saw around his neck

John stands on a large branch and saws the extended branches. David stands on another branch and watches. This process was repeated several times, with both the gardeners taking turns in sawing and watching (as their turn came along) until the job was done

I think John and David did a fine job of removing the offending branches without mutilating the tree

At 9.30am there was  a lot more sun on the vegetable garden than before. By midday the whole bed had full sun. I'm praying that my vegetables start growing now. I have pampered and molly coddled them enough; it's pay back time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fleecy skies

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Starting a Garden

Last week Amanda, our younger daughter-in-law asked if I'd help her start a garden for Louis and Wendy, friends of ours from church who have just moved into a new house.  No problem to me;  gardening is one of my passions. I've also been thinning out and cutting back in my garden, so we had lots and LOTS of shrubs, trees, perenials and succulants to plant in Wendy's garden.

Some of the plants we took from my garden: setaria (an indigenous grass which attracts the seed eating birds in the late summer/early autumn), plumbago, bulbines, cotelydon obicalator (which the sunbirds love) and tulbaghia. We also had four white stinkwood saplings. This indigenous tree grows to ten meters tall and makes a lovely shade tree. I always have saplings in my garden from the many mature trees already giving us pleasure in my garden,  so wherever I can, I dig them out and give them to other gardeners

On Tuesday (one of the days my gardeners don't work for me) John and David arrived and we loaded the plants and garden tools into the back of my little pickup and tootled off down the street. (Wendy and Louis live around the corner from us), met Amanda and our little grandson (who was very good all day) and set to work.

Not ten minutes into the digging and clearing, Amanda and I asked Louis if we could fetch Simon who sits on the corner at the bottom of town (with many other jobless men just waiting for a day job) to help us. Louis agreed, we fetched Simon who was thrilled to know he would receive pay that day, and with the three men working, Amanda and I were soon able to place the plants in strategic places for John to plant.

This garden was dead - no-one had lived here for two years and before that I don't think the garden was tended either
Digging, clearing and removing grass roots and stones

Amanda moved our little boy from the push chair into a camp cot and placed him outside under the tree
The three men make short work of the unkempt grass and weeds in this garden

Grandson and I share a funny moment! (BTW, he loves a camera and strikes a pose when he sees me with mine)

John starts to plant the plants we'd brought from my garden. I always tell a person who is trying to establish a garden to plant as much as possible (always trying to stick to indigenous and water-wise) just to establish the garden. Later on they can eradicate whatevery they don't like, or move plants around in their garden - I won't mind at all!
By midday we had the first bed planted up with hardy shrubs, perenials and succulants

Shrubs and perennials planted along the fence

When the gardeners were finished with the first section of the garden, they worked their way around one edge to the front garden. The driver of the grader stopped to talk to my gardeners and I jokingly asked him to bring his machine into the garden and help us!
Our little boy was still cheerful and sweet-tempered by the end of the day

Not only is Wendy's garden showing some form and order, (John and  I will take more plants to her tomorrow) but Wendy has agreed to have Simon to work for her on a Friday. I 'm thrilled that he has another day (he works for me on Wednesday) that he can earn a little money and I'm sure Simon is pleased as well!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Help from Above

Photo credit: John Hedges

I will lift my eyes up to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121: 1-2

John captured the beautiful Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg, while taking people up to the summit last week. If you are in South Africa and on your way through Kwa-Zulu Natal, do contact John for the most awesome hikes in the Drakensberg. If you are from overseas and planning a trip to South Africa, don't miss the opportunity to see God's amazing creation in this, the Natal Drakensberg. You can read more about John and Debbie's vision and mission on their blog here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My shrunken world

Angie and Eddy have a drink in one of my ponds

An early morning scene in my garden

Many frogs live in this particular pond. It's lovely to lie in bed at night and hear the frog chorus. I used to know which species of these amphibians I have in the pond, but have forgotten. I need to look it up again!

Chip, my 11 year-old Siamese was sitting against the garage door sunning herself. I grabbed my camera intending to photograph her, when the three dogs came running along to investigate! I love the shadow of Angie, the Labrador's lip on the wall. Megan and Eddy are looking at Grant who had just emerged from the other garage door

Grant and I love fresh coriander and it's not always available. So along with my fave vegetable, brinjals, and the basil and sweet peppers seeds, Simon and I planted coriander seeds. This is a first attempt for me so I hope they germinate and we have fresh coriander during the summer

Eric's little son came with his mum yesterday and soon found our other grandchildrens' toys!

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Monday, October 25, 2010

What I did this weekend

Can you remember what you did on the weekend of 22-24 October? You never know when you may need an alibi (lol!) so why not join this interesting meme hosted by Gattina from Writers Cramps

It's amazing how dry everthing is in the Free State at this time of the year. Since I've returned from the Sudan, I have also felt dried out, dried up, listless and without direction. However, when  we woke up on Saturday morning, the clouds were heavy and grey and by the middle of the afternoon, the heavens opened up and rain poured down. Not only can I literally HEAR the shrubs and grass perking up and growing, but my spirit has been rejuvinated and refreshed. The Lord in all His goodness, has showered me with His blessings and I feel ready to meet the challenge of being back in South Africa again. Amen!

Saturday dawned with an overcast sky. By mid - afternoon it begun to rain and then... rained...
...and rained...

...and rained! We measured 20mm by the evening and the clouds were building up for more rain
Since Tuesday I've started to take Shadow out into the garden. Here he sits in the window and longinly watches everything going on outside. I know he'd love to get into the garden but it's too soon to let him out on his own. For now we go out on the leash

The first time I took Shadow out into the garden, he lay down  and rolled around on the ground. I'm not sure whether this is one way of marking his territory or if he just enjoys the feel of the soil
Shadow spends most of the time in the garden sniffing at the flowers and shrubs. Many interesting smells - mostly of other cats - to be investigated

Shadow contemplates his next move up the garden path
Shadow, who has been a flat cat for the past five months, now enjoys having a scratch in the compost in my flower beds

Shadow meets and touches noses with Clarice, my gentlest cat

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