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

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Time away to touch the stars


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yet now gently taking an internet break . time away to touch the stars . if only just a moment . be well friends . blessings always

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Thursday, 16 August 2012

False alarm!

May all seasons be sweet to thee... 


A few weeks ago, we had what I call a "false" spring - green buds on the Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) and my peach tree sporting tiny little blossoms. It happens most years, and yet I never learn. Absolutely keen for spring, I start cutting, watering and clearing, only to be caught out by a late frost or a sudden cold spell, ending up with now-exposed plants being damaged or killed off by the frost.


My Tree Fuchsia (Halleria lucida - to the right of the terracotta pot) managed to stay green all through winter and then, suddenly, Mr. Frosty entered the garden and whipped everybody for daring to be so brash on his watch! Luckily the Aloes (aloe ferox) had a good start with mild weather as it started flowering and was strong enough to withstand the onslaught. 


The fact is, plants have to get ready for the cold. They have to make all sorts of interior preparations — battening down the hatches, so to speak — before winter comes. They essentially create an antifreeze, converting easily frozen carbohydrates in their stems to freeze-resistant sugars, and they quit producing the kind of young, tender growth that will be most vulnerable to spring. But as this warm spell of 'early' spring arrives, plants aren’t battening down the hatches anymore, they’re throwing them wide open, and putting on flowers and new growth like summer was just around the corner.

The plants are now so delirious and careless with this warm weather, that it won’t take much to do damage. Just a few hours of serious cold could do serious damage to plants that have, like me, fallen for this early "false" spring.


The birds are still extremely grateful for the feeders I fill every morning - here the female Weavers are dominating this feeder and I noticed most of the males at another feeder - girls sharing some secrets over a snack? "Do you see him girls? He's the one I told you about! The nests he builds are absolute master-pieces!"


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So, here's to spring -

begin . bloom . fresh . subtle . bright . begin . simple . new . soft . cool . burst 

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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Listen to the Guinea Fowl

Be grateful for nature. 
Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the Guinea fowl. 
And don’t hate anybody. 

W&N watercolour on DalerRowney 220gsm heavy-duty sketching paper. 

The Helmeted Guinea Fowl is an African family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resembling partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage. They are the ultimate low-cost, chemical-free pest control and if your garden is already established and can withstand the scratching, you’ll have a healthy and pest-free garden. And be rewarded with some wonderful antics from these lovely birds! 

It is interesting to note that they are monogamous, mating for life. The hens have a habit of hiding their nests, and sharing it with other hens until large numbers of eggs have accumulated. Females lay 25-30 tough-skinned, smallish, creamy eggs in a deep, tapering nest and undergo an incubation period of 26-28 days. The chicks are called “keets” and are highly susceptible to damp. In fact, they can die from following the mother through dewy grass. After their first two to six weeks of growth, they can be some of the hardiest domestic land fowl. 

 They are highly social birds, and hate to be alone. When you see a lone guinea fowl, it usually means trouble, like that the family has been scattered by a predator. Guineas spend most of their days foraging. They work as a team, marching chest to chest and devouring anything they startle as they move through the grass. When they discover a special treat — a rodent, for example, or a small snake — they close ranks, circle their prey, and move in for the feast. All the while, they keep up a steady stream of whistles, chirps, and clicks, a sort of running commentary on the day’s hunt. 

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Friday, 10 August 2012

August gifts

Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment. 
 - Ellis Peters 


Don't ask me where I was on the first of August (in mind and body!) when I was supposed to do this post, but life has been a bit hectic on this Southern side of the globe. I got a new Tablet, the Samsung Galaxy P5100 and you know how it goes once you start playing with a new toy - everything else goes out the window. I've been learning it's ins and outs, playing on the internet and with all the apps and time just slipped by!

I was wondering if it's not a bit early to celebrate Spring because we suddenly had a retreat into Winter, with SNOW and freezing temperatures! It snowed all over South Africa and here in Tarlton we suffered -2℃ in the middle of the day! Now I know that sounds like a joke to some of you living in the Northern Hemisphere, but for us, used to winter temps of around 18℃, it really was something major!

Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to have a thick blanket of white here in Tarlton as some other places in the country, but the pic below gives you a fair idea.

 A scene in Nottingham road, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

But my Celtises (White Stinkwoods in the pic right at the top) and peach trees refused to believe this and are full of buds, positive that Spring is just around the corner. So I'll take my cue from them and quote an old Chinese proverb, "Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men!"

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