:: 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 ::

Monday, 20 October 2014

Moving on


You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could've been, would've happened... or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on. It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you've known forever don't see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories and dump the rest.

You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won't happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life." Then cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Make friends with the birds


People who have not made friends with the birds do not know how much they miss.
- John Burroughs - "Birds and Poets"

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Kentucky

Hope is a thing with feathers. 
That perches in the soul. 
And sings the tunes without the words. 
And never stops at all. 
- Verse from Emily Dickinson poem 

Watercolour on Bockingford

Besides my love for all animals, and for birds in particular, my love affair with chickens started in the late 70’s, when we bought our first smallholding (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) and, of course, the first thing anybody on a smallholding does, is get chickens, ducks and geese!

After a couple of months of settling in on our new smallholding, I was given some Bantam chickens by a neighbour, and there was a mad scramble to erect some chicken coups. They were prolific little breeders and soon the yard was full of mothers with little chicks , all running like mad for a tit-bit when they see me.

One newly-hatched little fellow, however, seemed not to be able to keep up with the rest, so I duly ‘rescued’ him, carrying him around in a basket and feeding him at every opportunity. The result was Kentucky, the most beautiful specimen of a rooster I had ever seen, with bright, coppery feathers adorning his neck and the most beautiful blue, black and burgundy tail feathers a rooster could wish for! Although he ruled his chosen hens with an iron claw, he always was a bit of a loner, spending hours following me around, hens in tow, or roosting on the back of the couch in the lounge (with lots of newspapers on the floor!)

He spent many years with me, preferring to roost in the tree outside my bedroom window, in stead of the chicken coup with the rest, and my heart was broken when I went out one morning and found part of him under the tree, half eaten, killed by a Genet during the night. But he lives in my heart forever and I’m sure he’s still watching over me from chicken heaven.

My apologies that I haven't got any photographs, but this was in the days before I had a computer, wasn't much into photography and, of course, wasn't blogging yet!

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Farm talk - A Special sanctuary


“The master bedroom is just the beginning of the problems. There is no master in the bedroom. She starts to give you things, “This is your closet.” You’ll act like a stranger and thank her!”
- Bill Cosby


I’ve had a couple of requests to ‘share’ a bit more about where I live way out in the country on my little piece of African soil, so I decided to do a short series of my home in Tarlton, South Africa, situated on an 8.5ha smallholding. This is purely for fun! I would just like to mention that, when building and decorating my home about 7 years ago, I have taken inspiration from Africa, and nature in particular, surrounding myself with natural (and sometimes living!) objects and colour. I am not ostentatious by nature and prefer the simple and natural things in life. Hope you enjoy and find this interesting! I know I just LOVE to see other people’s living spaces, be it small or large, simple or ornate, in suburbia or the country, in a basement or a sky-scraper, inland or at the coast.

There is a place where you can go to find some peace and quiet, a retreat from the rest of the world, where you can relax at the end of a long day. Here, you can reorganize and establish serenity. This place is your bedroom.

They say , “A man’s house is his Castle”, I say, “A woman’s bedroom is her Sanctuary”. This is the place where I unwind from the excitement of the day, reading a good book or watching some TV after a long soak by candle light in the bath-tub, and get revived and inspired for a new day lying ahead.


The King size bed is set between built-in concrete ‘bedside tables’, flanked by two woven grass wall lamps. An Nguni skin serves as a bedside rug. The floors are concrete finished off with Plascon EarthCote pigment and varnished. The EarthCote range of finishing pigments cost an arm and a leg, but I think I saved an arm and a leg in tiling … does that make sense…?


The opposite end of the bedroom with built-in spare bed and Plasma TV. An early 20th Century Teak chest of drawers serves as a bed-side table. A framed print of one of my paintings purchased from RB hangs above the bed. This bed was specially built for my youngest grand-daughter to sleep near us when she was still a toddler. Now it serves as a day-bed for reading a good book while sipping a hot mug of Cocoa!


The entrance to the bedroom from the passage – Wooden and metal masks from all over Africa adorn the walls and river pebbles are inlaid on the corners. An Oregon pine wooden trunk from the early 1900’s serves as storage space for extra blankets and throws and on the pillar is an African pot filled with grasses. A hanging candle chandelier in the corner adds interest and a crystal chandelier overhead provides lighting. The air conditioning unit is a must for our hot summers and faces the lounge.


A collection of river pebbles and crystals next to my bed in a carved wooden bowl with grass edging – this is where all my jewellery goes when I get ready for bed. I don’t wear any gold or silver jewellery, just crystals and other natural materials like stone, bone and wood. It is said that crystals get ‘cleansed’ by the presence of rocks.


The ceiling in the bedroom (and throughout the house) is wooden “latte” (de-barked Blue gum saplings and cut to lengths to fit between the rafters) and the light fitting is glass with pewter and Indian Silver strips dangling from the bottom, sort of acting like wind chimes – but I’ve never had a strong enough wind in my bedroom to hear them!

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Friday, 26 September 2014

It's Friday!


I crept out of bed early with the sound of the roosters crowing to one another - 4am - put on the kettle, made my coffee and came to the computer. By the time hubby surfaced around 6.30am, I had already updated a couple of blogs, up-loaded some artwork to RedBubble, let the chooks out, fed Solly's chickens and filled all the bird feeders in the garden. Time for another cup of coffee.

It's the end of the week and the weekend is lying ahead as an extra bonus, the hours are mine to do with as I please. No need to rush and open the doors for business, no staff coming in, just two lovely days of spending time with my chooks or whatever else takes my fancy.


But today ended up being busier than usual, with a constant stream of customers and eventually, when I did manage to join Chrissie in the garden, she informed me that Missy had been sitting in one place all morning. Very worried, I approached her to see what was the matter and was greeted by her screeching like a banshee! She fluffed herself in a threatening manner and I immediately knew what the 'problem' was - when I picked her up, I saw what all the melee was about - she was sitting on a couple of eggs. She had obviously been gathering them for some time and now she was broody and ready to stay with them till the little darlings hatched...


I remove all the eggs that my chooks lay - I've got nine roaming the garden, causing havoc, and I really can't afford to have any more. Missy obviously got sick and tired of me removing her eggs out of the nest boxes in the chicken coop and decided to do the sneaky thing and find a safe spot in the garden!

Missy looking on in disgust as I remove her eggs
And I have no idea how 6 eggs escaped our attention what with Chrissie regularly cleaning up and me watering the garden every couple of days. But the girls can be very innovative when it comes to hiding their eggs!


We spent another couple of minutes searching to see if there were any more stray eggs we might have missed and that sparked a major clean-up of areas trampled flat by the girls - it is just beyond and above me as to why they would like to sit ON TOP of the plants in stead of next to or under them... .

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Just living is not enough


Just living is not enough…

One must have
Sunshine
Freedom
and Flowers!

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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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