Friday, March 24, 2017

Waning crescent

The moon on Thursday  morning when the dogs and I returned from our early morning walk.
 Waning crescent visibility 24 %; age 25 days. 23 March 2017 at 6.09 am

And at the same time, I couldn't resist snapping the beautiful clouds above our rondavel.

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday here


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Family visit

I haven't posted a Parkrun event this week. Not that we didn't do it last Saturday; we did. But this week I've been busy planning to have family over for tea and lunch on Wednesday. Grant's 82 year young aunt, Gill and her delightful husband, Neville are visiting at Caley Lodge which is directly across the valley from our house. 

Our dear friend, Ant Muirhead knew Grant's paternal grandfather and family many years ago so we invited him to come and meet up with Gill again. 
Neville, Grant, Ant and Gill catching up under the shade of a thorn tree 
A photo bomb of Gill and Grant while I show Namusa how to use my camera!

Skabenga just has to be in on all the action! 
Neville, Gill, Jo and Grant against the backdrop of the majestic Drakensberg mountains

What a privilege to have these precious people to visit us yesterday. We caught up on all the news and of course, Ant and Gill reminisced about Arthur Buttemer, a most successful farmer in an area not far from here. 

Neville and Gill were also racehorse breeders earlier this century; Ant,  who had stables of his own the farm, recounted several horse stories as well. Gill has been a keen horsewoman since a teenager and I wanted her to "meet" Missy and Thunder. Unfortunately, the two horses got into the juicy grass which is growing after the mowing and I couldn't cajole them to come into the middle paddock. We've arranged with Gill and Neville that they come up and visit us for a week or more so there will be time for Gill to help with the horses.

Now... not only did we have our "oldies" over for a visit, but we are going to visit John, Debbie and children who are living in the Western Cape while he does a tanker course. 

And, we're doing the trip on a new, 20 year-old Harley Davidson. Mmm. 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spotted Eagle-owl

Being early (read:very early) risers who work physically most of the day, Grant and I never go out at night. 


Every Monday night when he is part of a three-man team (one of many taking part) playing a game called Bricket. It's a cross between bowls and cricket. Men, women and children play. It's informal and it's a whole lot of fun.  I don't play as I prefer to sit on the banks with several local ladies who point out people to me or introduce me when they come over to greet my companions. 

Play starts at 6pm and normally finishes at 8pm. There's a light meal (hamburger and chips/prego rolls and salad) on sale afterwards but we never stay. This is a real late night for us already! 

This week as we turned off the main farm road leading to our entrance, our pick-up truck's headlights picked up a bird on the bank. Not just any bird; an owl and owls are our favorite birds. 

Grant stopped the car and while his headlights shone on the owl, I managed three not-so-good photos. But we wanted a record of the owl we hear at night in the garden and also that we'd seen it now while driving home! 

Spotted Eagle-owl

The Spotted Eagle-owl is a common resident and most common "large eared" owl in the region. The call is a mellow two and three syllable hoot: hu-whooooo or who-are-you.

I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday here


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kitties and horses

Hi Bozo and Mum's blog readers;  this is Ambrose and I want to show you how we kitties love the horses' stables. 
I, Ambrose; Unca Shadow and Dad Ginger enjoying the afternoon sun in the stables 

Mum has added lots and lots of hay in the stables. The horses have soft beds like we kitties enjoy
See how comfortable the horses are with their thick bedding which they can eat too! 
We kitties aren't that brave yet that we sleep in the stables WITH the horses

For more cute pet posts, please click here

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Critters in my care

Some of you may remember that apart from having two horses on the farm, I also take care of our granddaughter, Eryn's Guinea Pigs. 

Every day Namusa cleans the cages, washes off their stone feeding plates, turns their houses and replaces the old bedding with fresh hay.  When it's her day off, yours truly does this job! 

Every morning at 5.15 the dogs and I are out on the servitude - nowadays I wear a headlamp. We do our 1.6km return trip and at home I feed Eddie and Skabenga their breakfast. The cats, who have been out and about from 3am (Grant opens the windows for them at that time) are waiting in line near their dishes. I feed them each a taste of "wet" food: chunky beef/chicken/fish in gravy. The sachets are small and should be given to one cat as a portion. However, since returning from Tanzania, I've shared this sachet between the four cats and it's sufficient. 

They immediately go off to their day beds (Ambrose posted about this last week) and sleep for the next three hours. The dogs have finished their food by this time and I lock them  in their third section of the rondawel next door. 

Then it's time to let the Guinea Pigs out. The girls race out onto the lawn to graze. 
Two of the eight Guinea Pigs on the grass in front of their cage. These are two of the new generation babies born just before and after Christmas 2016
I have to confirm with Eryn, but I think this is Mary Beth. One of the mama's who gave birth in December
Apple Blossom and one of her three babies
Apple Blossom close up. She is a special type of Guinea Pig whose hair grows backwards (as Grant calls it!)

Apple Blossom had a very bad pregnancy especially in the last week. Her hair began to fall out in clumps and she was so round and huge she could hardly move. She gave birth during the night. When I got there the next morning, I found her suckling three newborn babies. The forth one was almost as long as her and had obviously been stillborn. It was lying dead beside her. 

I took Apple Blossom and her babies from the cage she'd been sharing with Hurricane; one of the only two males at the time. In she went with the other females. Misty had already given birth to one baby and Mary Beth was by now very pregnant. 

I removed the other male who'd been sharing with the other three females and Misty's baby. In he went with Hurricane. Namusa and I built a small wall to separate him and Hurricane because they were fighting. 

Meanwhile Apple Blossom's babies were thriving (Guinea Pigs are born quite big with their eyes open!) but dear little AB was suffering. She'd lost all her fur and was scratching the back of her neck until it bled. I treated her with Tea Tree oil and also tried to "dry" the skin irritation by dabbing her skin with Mercurochrome-soaked cotton wool. All to no avail. She was in such pain and cried piteously every time I administered treatment. 

Finally I went to the vet who sold me a shampoo and an ointment to rub on afterwards. Every morning and afternoon, I bring Apple Blossom into the bathroom and bath her in the wash hand basin. Initially she squealed loudly and then she'd relax. It was gratifying to see that the shampooing treatment was helping this poor little girl. Afterwards I generously smear the ointment onto her skin and take her back to her cage. 

As you can see from the photos, from a bald Guinea Pig to the thick pelt she's displaying now, Apple Blossom is one of my successful projects here on the farm! 

At 8am Namusa arrives and immediately cleans the girls cages. I bring in their food (a veritable smorgasbord!) and they come running into the cage on their own - all eight female Guinea Pigs. They've had three hours out on the lawn.

I shut the females in their cage and open the males. They have their grazing time on the lawn. When I go inside their cage and tap on the tin plate carrying their food, they come running. I arrange this beautifully on their stone feeding plate and shut them in.

The dogs and cats are let out.

At around midday, the cats are somnolent on my bed and the dogs are lying in the shade of the rondawel. I shut the cats in, the dogs go into their part of the rondawel and I close them in.

The Guinea Pigs have another two hours grazing on the lawn.

It took a little planning and keeping to the arrangement but I proved you can have cats, dogs and Guinea Pigs (who are actually rodents) all on the same yard!

I'm linking to Saturday Critters with Eileen here


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Full moon - March 2017

Full moon; visibility 99%; age 13 days. 11 March 2017 

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday here


Champagne Valley Walking Club - Moor Park

Tuesday morning 12 of the walking club members met at a central point. We filled three cars and set off in the direction of Estcourt. We were on our way to Moor Park/ Wagendrift Nature Reserve  for our hike outing.

At the park, we stopped for a snack and coffee
The park official arrived to note our names and take our entrance money! 
Then we set off

The hiker in the foreground is Denise Carter who's 80-something. I posted a photo of her and her two beautiful Labradors on our first hike in the Drakensberg
The paths were rather unkempt and very overgrown. Above and many times ahead on the hike, we had to climb under tree branches or slither over them
We walked along a path above the Bushman's River

This area is one of great historical significance. It is listed in the Guinness Book of records as the first known iron-age settlement in Southern Africa, occupied during the 11th century.
The area was also the scene of numerous famous battles between the Boers and the British. 
It was very lush and green after the plentiful summer rains so we didn't see any wildlife. It would be a better to do this hike in winter.

However, as we started walking several birds could be heard calling: Klaas Cuckoo; Tambourine Dove; African Fish-Eagle and Swainsons Spurfowl.
Denise striding along with the best !
Ant and Grant - not sure who looks the wooliest!
A skull on a rock
Stopping for a tea break

Everyone found a spot in the shade to relax
A bushy view of Wagendrift Dam
With the lush growth, it was quite a challenge to get the dam in view

Around our tea spot, there were several pieces of fossilized wood
I stopped to photograph these wildflowers

This park is the only place in South Africa for a threatened flowering shrub Calpurnia woodii. Unfortunately we didn't see it. 
Alan, our intrepid hiker at 86, takes a rest

Back at the cars, people collected their picnic lunches and walked a few meters to the river 
Grant said he'd walked enough and drove down. Ant and I sat on the tailgate
Unpackint the picnic
Beside the Bushmans River

Jenny wasn't on the hike (we missed her) but Lynette gave me the specs:
Distance - 7.8km; 11,303 steps

A great time was had by all - ONCE AGAIN! ๐“„š๐“…—๐“…•๐“„†

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Parkrun # 10

It was Saturday again and we were at the Parkrun again! We're approaching autumn  and there was a definite nip in the air.

I'm not sure who the men on the left and in the middle are (they're not registered) but the man in blue with red socks is Perfect Dlamini, a regular contester and a regular winner. 
This weekend he came in first again and in 16 min 50 sec
Mother and son 

The lady above was on my tail almost   all the way. She'd jog and overtake me; I'd catch my breath walking fast and then I'd jog a few hundred meters and pass her. Here she enters the finish a minute after I'd come in. The lad behind her is her younger son, Donavan. He's an excellent rugby player and is going over to Australia to play wing for the Brumbies. 

This past Parkrun, I started off quite strongly. Possibly it's all the hill training I'd done last week, walking up and down to the river to check on some ladies we have clearing the banks. No sooner had I turned onto the stretch marking the first kilometer, than a young lad in front of me and said: Hello Joey! 

It was Kaylin! As we passed the first distance marker, he said we'd taken eight minutes. This week I could talk a lot more and answered most of his questions. He told me that he'd helped Sepho mow the verge and the farm track which we were using on the run.

As we neared the 2km mark, I said: Come on, let's run; which we did. When I walked again, he said: please can't you go slower? I said: No, we are here to test ourselves and you're still young, so lets go. 

Then he fell back and on my next two hundred meter run, I had left him completely. As I entered the last grassy stretch with about 500m to go, I looked back; Ant had picked up both his sticks in one hand and was running! 

At the finish I handed my card in and asked Pieter what my time was:

45 minutes 30 seconds!

OK; so I only improved by six seconds from last week, but I must say, I felt a lot stronger and more energetic on this run than any time before. And it was my 11th Parkrun. (the first one Grant and I did we weren't registered)
Ant being clocked in - one minute and 20 seconds after me
Someone tapped me on the back; it was Kaylin. 
He'd made it in 52 minutes

 Clive arrived with his niece, Kaylin's sister. Here Kaylin shows him his finishing time

Then it was time for me and Ant to go back and meet Grant and Alan. (Grant's normal walking partner, Ant's brother, John was away this weekend) 

Grant and Alan finished about 11 minutes quicker than last week. After we four (Alan, Ant, Grant and I) had enjoyed a Parkrun breakfast in the Waffle Hut, we walked out together to the parked vehicles. Ant called Grant and Alan to look what he'd brought on the back of his pick-up truck.
  A 40 year-old exercise machine called Gymtrim. Ant wanted Grant and Alan  - with their engineering expertise - to help him assemble it
Here Ant tests his newly assembled old gym machine! I posted this photo on the Parkrun Facebook page saying doing 5km in 47 minutes wasn't enough for this spritely  old gent!