:: 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 ::

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

He has blue eyes!

Over the weeks, since my last report on the Indian Ringneck that has moved into my garden, we have progressed in bounds and leaps in our friendship. He has become quite at home, coming when we call him for food and calmly staying put on his perch or the bird feeder when we approach. Here are just a few more photographs of this beautiful chap. (And to my utter amazement, he has the most beautiful blue eyes!)


Sunday, 12 April 2015

The bliss of birds

Nobody else knows your reason for being. You do. Your bliss guides you to it. When you follow your bliss, when you follow your path to joy, your conversation is of joy, your feelings are of joy — you're right on the path of that which you intended when you came forth into this physical body. 
 --- Abraham-Hicks 

Birds... those lovely little creatures that just brighten up any day, no matter how cold. Without any complaints they just go about their business, finding food for the family, basking in the sun on a bare branch, singing soft melodies that gladden the heart.

Having the birds in my garden visiting my various bird feeders makes me feel so special. Makes me feel alive with purpose. Brings a smile to my face and makes me feel grateful to be part of Mother Nature who surrounds us and takes care of all her siblings, me and you included.

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.
~ Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird”


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Birds of Africa Calendar

:: Another beautiful day in Africa! ::
The song of birds echoing across the endless savannah, 
the sound of crickets under a star studded sky – 
this is the Africa you will experience!
Front cover of the "Birds of Africa" calendar

There's still enough time if you haven't got any 2015 calendars yet! Each month contains a bird painting, big enough that they can be framed individually at year's end. My 2015 Calendars are available for purchase now and you can find them on RedBubble.

RedBubble calendars are printed using marvellous futuristic technologies, so complex I can’t go into them here, but I can tell you they are lovingly printed on a luscious 200gsm satin art paper at the striking size of A3 (that’s 297×420mm, or 11.69×16.54″).
They also have very handy wire binding so you can hang them from things like ‘hooks’ on exciting places like ‘walls’! I ordered two for myself, one for the kitchen and one for my Studio.
You can select your own start month, and order right into the future. Everything about them is brilliant, except you’ll have no excuse for missing the dates of your up-coming birding expeditions!


  • Tough wire binding and hanger
  • Stunningly sharp digital printing
  • Start the year with the month of your choice
  • 200gsm satin art paper with a tougher cover

The Back cover shows all 12 months' images, which could all be framed individually.

All paintings are done by myself in watercolour and each individual painting is also available from RedBubble as Greeting Cards, Postcards, Framed prints and posters.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Leopard Tortoises

This is Torti, my Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis), who shared my life with me for almost 10 years since she was no larger than my hand. 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 always to release her into a safe environment, but these are becoming less and less due to the area becoming heavily built-up over the last decade.

But at the beginning of last summer, I decided it was time for Torti to be free and find a mate, in the wild they reach sexual maturity at 12-15 years, so I took her to the Krugersdorp Game Reserve where she will have a vast area to her disposal and possibly hook up with some handsome fellow!

These tortoises face many dangers like illegal trade in wildlife, body parts being used in traditional medicines, veld fires, road kills and many more. They are also killed for their shell, which is then used as a bowl.

The leopard tortoise is a generally solitary animal that spends the majority of it's time grazing on plants, which it can do effectively using it's sharp beak-like mouth. 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.

Torti snacking on an aloe

Due to it's fairly large size, the leopard tortoise has few natural predators within it's African habitats as many simply cannot penetrate the leopard tortoise's high-domed shell. Humans are the primary predators of the leopard tortoise along with the occasional wild cats and dogs.

Leopard tortoises are not able to reproduce until they are at least 10 years old (known as reaching sexual maturity). As with other tortoise and even reptile species, the female leopard tortoise lays her clutch of up to 18 eggs into a burrow in the ground, which is quickly covered to protect her young from hungry passers-by.

 Torti having breakfast

Although there are thriving populations of leopard tortoises in more remote areas, when they are close to humans, the leopard tortoise populations are generally suffering, something which is primarily due to over-hunting by humans.

The enclosure where Torti spent 10 years with me

One of Torti's winter hide-aways

Whilst tortoises in our climate here in South Africa do not strictly "hibernate", they do go through a "slowdown" of all activity. They will sleep more and eat less and generally just "park off" each day. Some will dig themselves into a "burrow" and remain there for long periods. Besides cover that I offered, Torti had several places in her enclosure where she preferred to spend the colder days. Other than a general health check every now and again, I left her alone but did check daily to see if she might have come out and then offered her some food.

They are commonly kept as pets and adapt well to captivity in most areas barring coastal Natal where the humidity affects them adversely. However, there's no great benefit to owning a tortoise or having it as a pet. It can't cuddle, it can't chirp back when you talk to it and doesn't take kindly to being carried around - and be prepared for some hard work. Feeding a tortoise and keeping it's enclosure clean is a daily exercise and when you go on holiday, be assured you know someone who is prepared to take on these tasks.

It is of course against the law to keep reptiles in captivity without a permit and in happier instances the owner of a newly acquired tortoise will apply for one. An official from Nature Conservation will then make sure that the facilities in which the reptile is to be kept are adequate and that the captive will be fed a proper diet.

Read more here about the Leopard Tortoise's diet and how to CARE FOR YOUR LEOPARD TORTOISE


Sunday, 29 March 2015

My new chicken coop Episode 7 - Finally finished & the big move on 20th Dec 2012

Even though the actual work days on my new chicken coop was only 15 days, it took 2 months to finish - if it wasn't raining, the builder never pitched or there was a delay in the delivery of building materials. And, of course, Saturdays and Sundays in between when the builders didn't work.

But at last the coop was finished and Artemis and the girls could move in!

Early Thursday morning on the 20th December 2012, as soon as the girls were out in the garden, we moved in and broke down the old little coop - leaving a small, but obvious empty patch in the corner of the run. I wondered what the girls were gonna think of that when they returned to the coop late-afternoon!

I got Chrissie, my gardener, to select a few over-crowded Kniphofias (Red Hot Pokers) and Marigolds from the garden and we put in a few just to get the garden going.

First to go in was some straw bedding for the floor and nesting boxes, followed by the roosts. I put in two roosts at opposite ends of the room just in case there was some fighting, as everybody always wants to be right on the top rung.

As my day progressed, carrying in decorating items, a few of the girls popped in to see what was going on. Kiep, being the alpha-hen, was the first to inspect everything. She gave all the nest boxes a once-over and promptly settled into one of the top nest boxes which, to this day, is her favourite laying place, and beware anybody that dares to occupy it when she needs to do her business!

Hettie and Micky were next to come and have a peek, followed by Snooky and it wasn't long before they joined Kiep, also in the top next boxes.

Some Marigold and Nasturtium pot-pourri on the floor to keep insects at bay - stepping on this releases a lovely fragrance.

Evening time, with everybody getting ready for bed, was quite hilarious! First of all they milled around for a bit, but Artemis soon escorted them into the coop as dusk rolled in and with no old coop to return to. Everybody had a go at every rung of the ladder, waiting for Artemis to settle down and set the trend.

Positions kept on changing as everybody was josstling for the best roost.

Finally Artemis started ascending the ladder - he's such a gentleman, always giving the ladies first choice!

The front window from the outside - we used chicken wire for security, securing the wire with a wooden frame

The front window from the inside, looking out onto the garden. I placed a shelf in front of this window and if I'm a bit late in opening in the mornings, you will find two or three of the girls on the shelf, anxiously peering out to see when I'm coming.

A little duck and a 'peace' sign, ready to go up on the wall somewhere.

An old chandelier will supply lighting. We haven't laid on electricity to the coop yet, I'm having second thoughts, I've read so much about accidents in a coop with electricity that the chandelier might just stay as a decoration. I also put up one of my paintings of Mr. Chook, who no longer is with me, in poster form.

An old framed painting of some chickens adorns the wall above the roost.

Close-up of the chicken painting 

I still have lots more decorating to do - I want to put some curtains in front of all the next boxes for privacy - chooks just LOVE privacy when they're laying their eggs!

Image from "Fresh Eggs Daily"

A window flower box would also not be amiss!

The garden in the run is coming along nicely, the Kniphofias have taken well and so has the Zebra grass. 

The new coop is situated right next to my bathroom garden (that's the Wild Olive tree in my garden sticking out behind the coop's roof), so it's close enough for me to hear if anything should happen in the coop. The steel door closes snugly at night and enough air can circulate from the mesh-covered window openings. A safe haven against predators and the elements for my chooks!

Well, there you have it! But nothing is ever finished and this on-going project will keep me busy for a long time to come still

Like for instance this - how sweet is this?! 



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...