:: I sit and drink tea in the mornings, and come out at dusk to listen as the world tucks itself in for the night :: Please won't you join me? ::

In nature there is a large place for sentiment. Nature is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.

:: Living simply ::

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A whole new enterprise?


Eggs have been called “the cement that holds the castle of cuisine together.” 


Eggs, eggs, eggs…..I get six to eight eggs a day from my hens and after months of having had them for breakfast three times a week, prepared them in salads, I even BAKED something! I’ve painted them, pricked holes in them, used the shells in various ways, feed them to my girls, given them away and now I’m running out of ideas now. Also, frankly, I virtually cannot face another egg at the moment!





Egg-stuffed Potato

Scrambled eggs

Omelette

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Breakfast being served!

Kiep 

Hettie

Micky

So the only solution is to start a farm stall and sell them – maybe I should plant some strawberries to sell as well….? And maybe some arts and crafts or a couple of paintings…. or a coffee shop specialising in breakfasts.... this could actually turn into a whole new enterprise! lol!

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The end of an era

Torti, the Leopard Tortoise (also known as the Mountain Tortoise)

I took Torti to be released in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve today. She arrived in 2008, no bigger than my hand and probably 2 or 3 years old, Now she's almost 10 and will be reaching sexual maturity soon and I feel it is time for her to meet some of her own kind. I wish you well and hope you're happy in your new home Torti!

Some stats : length 48cm, width across her shell 48cm, height 28cm, weght approx. 15kg. 

Destined for the pot or possibly muti (a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa), I confiscated her from the aggressor and brought her home. My intention was to release here into a safe environment, but these are becoming less and less due to the area becoming heavily built-up over the last decade.

Torti enjoying her breakfast, a mix of lettuce, celery, carrots, apple, baby marrows, brocolli and some Echeveria leaves

The Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) or Mountain Tortoise face many dangers like illegal trade in wildlife, body parts being used in traditional medicines, veld fires, road kills and many more. So, right or wrong, she has stayed with me over the past seven years in the hope that some day I will find a perfect area in which to release her. In the meantime, she comes when I call her every morning for breakfast, taking her time and making me wait while she unhurriedly approaches and then digging in with gusto!

Torti relaxing in her enclosure
  
 Torti's enclosure


They are large tortoises (largest species in South Africa) that can weigh over 30kg and measure up to 60cm in length. Males have longer tails and a deep plastron (Bottom of shell) concavity as opposed to the females which have short tails and a flat plastron. Colouration is varied and the African Leopard Tortoise typically lives 80 to 100 years.

 Lydia feeding Torti

Torti basking in the sun

Read more here on how to CARE FOR YOUR LEOPARD TORTOISE

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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Snoodles, a chick with attitude!

Camera : Canon EOS 550D 
Taken in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

This is Snoodles, the little chick I saved from the dustbin, took her out of the egg in November 2013 and she’s been living with me in my studio. She’s getting to be a big girl now and has already joined all the other girls in the chicken coop.


As soon as Snoodles was big enough, we’d go on field trips through the garden and my wildlife pond area, where she would investigate every nook and cranny, delighting in catching the odd insect. Here she hopped on a rock, chasing after a Dragonfly.

Good luck with that Snoodles!




 Snoodles standing on my computer speaker, taking a peek at what's going on outside

Snoodles taking some time out on the edge of Jacko's chair, much to his disgust!

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pet wrangler


You care for all creatures, great and small. 
Whether they bark, tweet or even snarl.
Your house is a zoo and your bed a haven, 

because refusing puppy dog eyes is an impossible feat.
You’re most at ease when surrounded by fur, 

because birds of a feather flock together.

You're a pet wrangler! xx


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Friday, 22 August 2014

White-faced whistling ducks

Watercolour on Visual 200gsm 

Nonnetjie-eend [Afrikaans] 

White faced ducks (Dendrocygna viduata - also called White-faced Whistling duck) painted from a photograph I took at Sun City in North-West Province (South Africa) some years ago. They vocalize frequently with distinctive high-pitched, multi-syllabic whistles which sound very un-duck-like and their sweet "tweeeeet" belies their belligerent and boisterous nature as they constantly bicker and fight among one another, they're never still for a moment! Just getting a couple of photos was quite a job as they constantly swim and fly to and fro over the pond.

The lovely pond is situated right against the dining room windows of the Cascades Hotel, which offers gorgeous views over the gardens.


Most foraging activity takes place at night, so there is much nocturnal flying; during the day the birds roost near the water, often in flocks of several hundred, and preen themselves and others. They are found in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Northern Namibia, Eastern Botswana and South Africa.



The adult males have the front half of their head and throat white and the rest of their head and neck are black with white patches on the underside of the neck the lower neck and wing shoulders are chestnut; their flanks are barred black on white the rest of the underparts, underside of wings, the rump and tail are black.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

There's a whisper in the garden...


There's a whisper in the garden that spring might be on her way...

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Soar like an Eagle

I'm not in the best of moods today. I've been hurt and betrayed by somebody I deeply care about and my heart is heavy. So while I try and overcome this blow I've been dealt, like this Eagle, I will try and soar above the storm until it has cleared. If anybody else out there is hurting, may you also somehow find comfort in your time of trouble.


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Saturday, 2 August 2014

I put a seed into the ground and said, "I'll watch it grow."

I put a seed into the ground And said, "I'll watch it grow." I watered it and cared for it As well as I could know. One day I walked in my back yard, And oh, what did I see! My seed had popped itself right out, Without consulting me! - by Gwendolyn Brooks
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I've always been fascinated by sunflowers, partly because they're so huge and have such a sunny disposition and partly because I feed a lot of sunflower seeds to my various birds and chickens. A couple of months ago, last year beginning October 2013, to be exact, I decided to plant a few of my own and scattered some seeds in an empty spot. I watered the area and then waited.
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24th October 2013
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They popped through the ground within a week, two tiny little plants reaching for the sun. Within another 2 weeks, they were already 30cm (12") tall. But there were only two, of about two dozen seeds I planted and they chose the most inaccessible spot to launch their growth, right next to my Barrel Cactus, so I couldn't even transplant them to a better position. But who am I to decided where is the better position, obviously they think that, right where they are, is perfect!
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 12th November 2013
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Three weeks later the tallest sunflower was already standing over 5' tall and showing the first signs of budding. I could just manage to look at its crown by bending the plant over slightly to take a pic.
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3rd December 2013
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7th December 2013 
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Another three weeks later, 8th December, and the tallest one was just over 15' and the flower had opened. The second one's flower opened a week later.
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16th December 2013, approx. 8 weeks after planting
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A couple of weeks before, the flowers would face East in the morning and by late afternoon would be facing almost due West. It really is true that Sunflowers seem to follow the sun! But as the plant matured, the flower eventually stayed facing East, due to the stalk becoming more rigid and to prevent scorching of the flower in the midday and late afternoon sun. 
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Just before Christmas, the flowers and most of the leaves started drying up and soon I was able to harvest some seeds for my birds! And to plant more in the garden...
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This was taken on the 16th January 2014, and it seemed it was going to take just as long before I could harvest the seeds as it took for the plant to grow! 
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So all in all it seems the farmer has to wait 18 weeks before he can harvest his crop and get some money in. No wonder sunflower seeds are so expensive!

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Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Starling and the Weaver


Yesterday afternoon, while sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee, I saw a bright glint of blue through some plants. I had my camera with me as I had been taking photographs earlier on. I focused on the flash of blue through the plants and to my delight saw this Glossy Starling (Lamprotornis nitens) and a Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus) at one of my bird baths. The Starling seemed to be aware of me, but the Weaver was not perturbed by me or the Starling, hopping into the water and splashing water all over the Starling, who looked like he was also going to hop in, but never got around to it.

The Weaver spent a couple of minutes splashing around before taking off into the trees and settling down to preen himself. The Starling took a couple of drinks of water and also disappeared into the trees, sure that I was spying on him!



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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Remember the birds in winter


One of the joys of having a garden, is the amount of wildlife it draws. Birds, lizards, insects, hedgehogs, butterflies, bees, the list is endless.

n winter the wild birds can have a hard time finding enough food. As winter approaches, many birds change some of their eating habits. Birds that usually eat insects may start to eat berries or fruit to supplement their diets. Birds will start to look for reliable sources of food for wintertime survival. Turn your garden into a haven which they will frequently visit for something to eat and drink. Feeding the birds is a rewarding and enjoyable hobby in the midst of chilly winter weather

To attract the greatest number of species in the winter, it is important to have a number of different birdfeeders available, Ideally, winter birdfeeders should be placed in sheltered locations out of the most severe winds. Placing feeders closer to the house will be effective and will help keep the birds visible for indoor bird watching. At the same time, feeders should be placed near protective cover such as hedges or trees to offer birds safety from predators.

In winter, I put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather, I feed twice daily: in the morning and in the early afternoon. During summer I cut down to once daily, in the morning, with a good mix of Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, mixes for insectivorous birds and good seed mixtures. Soft apples and pears cut in half, bananas and grapes are also good. Some people use soaked dog or cat food and tinned pet foods, but these may attract rats, crows and cats. Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread in summer, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings


Fill a pine cone with peanut butter and then roll it in some bird seed. Tie your pine cone to a tree with a piece of string or wire and soon you will have dozens of new feathered friends flocking into your garden for this lovely snack


A quick, easy and inexpensive way to cater for the fruit eaters is to bend a wire coat hanger into a heart-shape. Add another piece of soft, pliable wire to the top of the hanger onto which to attach the apple, hang in a tree and voila! bob's your uncle! The Black-headed Orioles regularly visit to enjoy the fruit I put out.


This is the scene that greets me most mornings when I go out to fill the feeders and feeding tables. This crowd is a mix of Buntings, Larks, Canaries, Weavers, Laughing Doves and possibly a few Queleas as well.




Laughing Doves waiting on the power lines

Weavers in the peach tree


As soon as I turn my back after filling all the various feeders, everybody swarms down to see what is on offer!



A feeder that can do double duty for seeds or for fresh water

A seed cage keeps waste to the minimum


Birds require high energy (high fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. Use only good quality food and scraps. A suet feeder, like the one above, provides them with a good source of fat and protein.

My Cape Robin enjoying some of the fruit on offer.

Experts disagree about whether backyard bird feeding will significantly help bird populations. But feeding certainly can help individual birds in your neighbourhood.

And don't worry if you must stop feeding briefly—while going on holiday, for example. In all but the most severe weather conditions, wild birds will find other food in your absence, particularly in suburban areas where other bird feeders are just a short flight away. If you live in a rural or isolated area, however, try to arrange to have a neighbour maintain the feeders during winter absences.

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