🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Technology and country living

A sketch of a track leading up to a friend's farm - dodging the rocks and ditches in the road is quite a feat. The Roads Dept. has long since stopped grading most of our farm roads and it's up to the individuals living along that stretch to maintain the road. And the telephone poles don't actually have any wires, that's artistic license - those have been stolen long ago and not been replaced by Telkom, our tele-communications provider. So, the general mode of transportation around here is 4 × 4 and the general method of communication is the iPhone as technology meets up with Country Living.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Childhood memories

"Since it doesn't cost a dime to dream, you'll never short-change yourself when you stretch your imagination." 
~ Robert Schuller

This sketch (done from memory) is remembering my childhood days in the 1950's, I was about 10 years old, when I lived in the Limpopo Province (then it was known as the Northern Tansvaal) in Pietersburg (Now Polokwane), when I used to go fishing with my dad at the Albasini Dam, surrounded by the Soutpansberg Mountains, at Louis Trichardt. Once we'd arrived and set up the fishing rods, we'd sit for hours waiting for a bite, chatting about everything and nothing in particular, sipping cold coffee from the flask my mother had packed.

A bite, however, would result in scrambling for the fishing rod, excitedly reeling the fish in, me not being able to wait to see what we'd caught. Most of the time it was only a Barbel, a carp-like freshwater catfish that cooked beautifully over our camp fire. My dad would gut and clean it, slicing it into big, round, fat steaks, and then fry it together with slices of cold potatoes, and we would devour it with fresh home-made bread and thick butter. My mother always packed far too much food for our trips - the fresh, home-made bread she'd baked the night before, hard-boiled eggs, baked potatoes still in their foil, beef sausages and gherkins and pickles. And, of course, the coffee flask.

Barbel catfish

The Albasini Dam was built in 1952 and is named after Joao Albasini, who was born 1 May 1813, in Lisbon, Portugal. He came to Lourenço Marques in 1831 and became a slave trader and Elephant hunter. The remains of his trading post can be found at the new Phabeni Gate, 10 km from Hazyview.

This dam was built primarily to supply the Levubu Irrigation Scheme. The dam has a capacity of 28,200 cubic meters (1,000,000 cu. ft), and a surface area of 3.498 square kilometers (1.351 sq mi) and the wall is 34meters (110ft) high.

Above is a small tributary off the Albasini Dam - The upper Luvuvhu, Sterkstroom, Latonyanda, Dzindi, Mukhase, Mbwedi and Mutshindudi are steep, narrow rivers dominated by cobble riffles and occasional pools with a few bedrock rapids. These were our favourite fishing spots.

What I would give to spend a few days fishing with my father again...


Friday, 8 May 2015

A bath and a clean nest

After Kiep's broodiness finished a couple of days ago, I decided she needed a bath after sitting on her golf ball for almost a month. She looked decidedly drab and worse for the wear and needed a bit of special TLC.

I prepared some luke warm water in a tub and put her in. At first she struggled a bit (it was her first bath ever), but the minute she felt the warmth of the water, she actually lay down! I gently shampooed her back, chest and vent area, careful not to ruffle her feathers too much.

I remembered using vinegar as a youngster to rinse my hair after a wash when we'd run out of conditioner and it always left my hair soft and shiny. So, after a first rinse, I transferred Kiep to another tub with a bit of vinegar in the water, gave her a good rinsing, dried her gently with a towel and then used the hair dryer to get her nice and dry. I was a bit worried about the noise of the hair dryer, but she seemed to enjoy it, fluffing up her feathers to let in the hot air.

Kiep sunning herself in the bathroom court-yard

After she was all nice and dry, and oh so extremely soft and fluffy! we went out into the bathroom court-yard, where she spent a while preening and getting her feathers in the correct order again and when she was ready, I led her out to the main garden where she immediately rushed up to Artemis, greeting him with some wing-flapping and a lot of prancing around.

Kiep meeting up with Artemis after her bath

Spending some time with Artemis in the garden after a nice warm bath

Now it was time to also clean out her nest-box, which is on top of one of my art tables in my studio. I cleaned out the box thoroughly, put in fresh grass and then placed it back, all nice and clean.

Later in the morning she strutted into my studio to deliver her breakfast, but it turned into a big to-do. She took one look at the nest and, horrified, she proceeded to unpack all the grass and then putting it back to her liking before settling down to the serious job of laying the egg!

Her eggs are different after this last broody incident, much bigger and not so white, more brown.

My little girl is growing up now…


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The consciousness of trees

Researchers at the University of British Columbia are concluding that trees are interacting with one another in a symbiotic relationship that helps the trees to survive. Connected by fungi, the underground root systems of plants and trees are transferring carbon and nitrogen back and forth between each other in a network of subtle communication. Similar to the network of neurons and axons in the human brain, the network of fungi, roots, soil and micro-organisms beneath the larger ‘mother trees’ gives the forest its own consciousness.

Read more here and watch the video

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A splash of White

Not much gardening has been happening over the past couple of weeks - raking up leaves, tending to the compost heap, neatening edges, nothing exciting.

I've got no Shasta daisies in my garden this year, but I've always had a patch somewhere. What happened? (Note to self: get some more Shasta’s). As a child I always admired the Shasta Daisies in my father’s garden. What I remember most was the dazzling brightness of the white blooms that always offset the bright colours of the dahlias, larkspur, gazanias, arctotis and zinnias that grew so prolifically under the African sun.

The simple white flowers with yellow button centres are a symbol of purity and are perfect for cutting. Easy to grow, they are a favourite for beginner flower gardeners and are effective when planted in small groups.

Crab Spiders seem to favour Shasta's as their favourite while ambush-hunting their prey in flowers. These tiny spiders take on the colour of the flower they're sitting on and it's wonderful to come across a pure white or bright yellow little specimen on your flowers.

A white crab spider catching a butterfly on some Shasta daisies

Yellow crab spider

Until recently, Shasta Daisies were considered members of the Chrysanthemum family. But the daisies’ lack of fragrance and hairless stems caused them to be recently reclassified to Leucanthemum, the Sunflower family.

These Daisies like rich, fast draining soil, ample water and lots of sunshine. However, they are hardy and will tolerate poor soil conditions and partial shade. Work some old animal manure or compost into the soil to help promote abundant blooms. Picking often and cutting off dead flowers will extend their bloom period.

So do yourself a favour and get some of these easy-growing, sun-loving daisies for your garden and you'll always have an abundance of butterflies and ready-to-pick flowers for the vase.


Shasta Daisies at my pond a couple of seasons ago. Every summer I SO looked forward to when my Shasta's would appear again. With their splashes of white they brighten up any corner of the garden and the more you pick them (they look lovely in a simple glass vase!), the more prolific they get.


"If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive."



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