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

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Walk on the wild side


As I went on a mission to rid my wildlife pond area of the beautifully green and thirsty Kikuyu lawn over the past few months, I seemed to be fighting a losing battle. As fast as I was removing it, leaving only the indigenous grasses, the lawn seemed to organise its own offensive to get rid of me. The left-overs flourished in all the rain we’ve been having, all the while displaying taunting evidence of a new generation destined to pick up the fight next year!

But this time it appeared my mid-summer decision to let nature take its course has finally been rewarded. The native grasses have loved all the water and attention spent on it and is now offering plenty of food and shelter in this area for birds, insects and small wildlife.

Yellow Thatching Grass usually grows in sandy soil in bushveld with a rainfall in excess of 600 mm per annum. It is also found in open grassland and sometimes in other soil types. Often abundant along roadsides it is found throughout tropical Africa and I am lucky that some of it took hold in my garden.

During summer, mowing this Kikuyu is a 3x a week job and this piece of lawn is defying all efforts to get rid of it!

At last, mid-summer last year, and the indigenous grasses won the battle against the Kikuyu  (right at the back of this pic), offering food and shelter for lots of wildlife. A few Hens & Chicks (Chlorophytum comosum) that I planted around this Acacia tree absolutely thrived as the wildlife pond is fenced and no chickens can get in here to do their dirty deeds!


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Don't go away and please be patient!

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I know I've been awfully quiet over the past few weeks, but there's a very good reason for that. As you may (or may not!) know, our smallholding has been up for sale for the past year and twice we've had a buyer, and twice the sale has fallen through. We now have an offer in place and it seems that THIS IS IT! I'll be moving to the coast in a few weeks! Although I'm looking forward to the change, there's a lot of sadness ... saying goodbye to a garden that has been part of my life for the past thirteen years is not easy, and even more devastating is saying goodbye to my girls. I've had to find a new home for my chooks as it is impossible for me to take them with me. I'll also be missing "MY" garden birds, we have become very, very close over the past years, especially Robbie (the Cape Robin-chat who visits me inside my house), and I hope the new owners will be tolerant of his antics inside and outside the house.

Lots has happened since our last summer rains, like a tornado and a mega-storm with hail as big as tennis balls hitting the area. My garden is pretty much annihilated, but nature is wonderful - already the trees and plants are bouncing back and will probably look much better for the wear!

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This picture was taken the next morning, the day after the storm, and none of the hail in the garden had melted yet.
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So please don't go away, as soon as I have more news, I'll be back. See you later!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

In memoriam of Peeps


In memoriam of Peeps, husband of my four girls, who died in my arms yesterday. RIP Peeps.

Peeps as a baby in my studio, where he grew up with Snoodles.

I have no idea what was wrong with Peeps, no injuries, no runny tummy, just difficulty breathing. Could possibly have been a respiritory disease...?

I have not  been around blogging for some time now. At the end of May I went down with Pneumonia and just as I thought I was getting better 3 or 4 weeks later, I developed Chronic Bronchitis and ended up in bed, deadly ill, for three weeks and after surviving that, it took me another two weeks before I could get out of bed and function properly. Not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

But now I'm better, finally able to get round to my favourite past-times, gardening and blogging. At one stage I thought I was going to die and it has given me a new appreciation for life and being able to breathe in particular. I hope you have all been well and looking forward to connecting with you again.

Maree



 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Amazing winter

A Grey Loerie (Corythaixoides concolor) enjoying some Winter sun.

Winter. I just LOVE winter.

There are just some things that are just better in winter. Like scarves, cuddles, fireplaces, and movie nights in front of the TV. I love the sunny winter days. Gauteng has summer rainfall, so the days are crisp and clear and the Coast has the warmest winter weather in the country with lots of sunshine all year round and warm ocean temperatures even in the middle of winter! And there is no better time to enjoy game viewing (or hiking) than in winter when temperatures are cooler. The bush thins out and loses its colour, improving visibility considerably. There’s no tall grass for the animals to hide in, making for good photographic opportunities.
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And warm beverages are perfect for winter. Who can resist cuddling up in a cosy coffee shop, nursing a steaming mug of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate after an exhausting shopping bout?

Summer gives me a headache. Most days are too hot for me - if the temperatures go over 25℃, I've had it. The daily average winter temperature is between 16-24 degrees C (61-70 degrees F), just perfect! South Africa does not do blizzards and snow banks. You will never (except on very rare occasions) find your car grounded and covered in snow. Our winters are just cold enough that you need only add a warm jacket. How much clothing can you shed in summer? And at least in winter you can switch on your electric blanket if the cold gets too much - is somebody EVER going to invent a COLD electric blanket, please?!

So what’s not to love about winter?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Country patio


One benefit of living out in the country is the space one has. Living on an 8,5ha smallholding, one has lots and lots of space!

Another benefit is the freedom to do virtually as one likes. So when we built our house, I added big rocks to the patio, bringing the outdoors closer — as close as possible! If it wasn’t for hubby reigning me in every now and the, there would have been big rocks all over the inside of the house. I could just imagine taking a seat on a big rock in the lounge, next to my favourite bookshelf, reading for hours on end.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Those little brown jobbies


This little chap is one of the tamest birds in my garden, sitting right at my feet when I put seeds on the ground for the more timid birds like the Laughing Doves. And when I walk to the feeding tables, he will follow me, sitting right on the edge of one, waiting for me to fill it up.
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We so often over-look these Sparrows (Passer domesticus), one of the most widespread birds in the world, who originated from Eurasia and was introduced to Australasia, the Americas and Africa. It is often considered an invasive species, ironically, however, its population is experiencing serious decline in many of its native regions. Despite its abundance here in South Africa, it seems to have a minor impact on indigenous birds, although it may have displaced Cape wagtails from urban areas, as they are both adept at scavenging in these environments.

It generally prefers urban, rural and suburban areas and are very rarely absent from human habitation. Being so used to humans has made house sparrows resourceful in finding unique food supplies. They have been seen inspecting car grills for insects, and will feed on farms searching for spilled seed and grain.

House sparrows are monogamous with a life-long pair bond and will build bulky nests in roof crevices, nesting boxes and natural tree cavities, or they may chase other birds out of nests. The female will incubate a brood of 4-6 eggs for 14-18 days, then both parents will regurgitate food for the nestlings for 14-18 days until they leave the nest. Depending on the climate, pairs may raise 2-3 broods per year.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The sky


Beautiful stormy clouds over my garden yesterday. How blessed are we with all this rain!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Oh, how I'm smiling now!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A regular visitor - her name is Sethlong (Tswana for Hedgehog)

Taken at night in my garden - Fuji FinePix 2800Zoom

Sethlong (Tswana for Hedgehog) has become a regular visit to my garden. Since her first visit a couple of years ago, she came regularly for meal worms and any other snacks I put down, sometimes staying for weeks on end. Until eventually I noticed one winter that she was hibernating near my wildlife pond, upon which I fenced the area (very large, approx. 20m long and 8m wide) and she has been with me ever since.
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The Southern African Hedgehog (Atelerix frontalis) is a species of mammal in the family Erinaceidae. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The average mass of a fully grown male is 350g, but Sethlong weighed in at over 400g. The females are larger than the males and all African Hedgehogs have white faces as compared to the European Hedgehog, which has a black face.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Standing out in the crowd


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

Sometimes I think we may feel that we have to do the big things in life to stand out from the crowd, but I think all you have to do is be yourself…. like this little nasturtium. All her brothers and sisters are either bright orange or yellow and yet, here she is – white with bright red flames, standing out in the crowd like a beacon of light.

Mother said stand up straight,
Don’t let your classmates make you feel like you don’t belong.
So you’re not like the rest of them,
someday the best of them, will realize they were wrong.
But in my world, different meant lonely,
the last place I wanted to be.


And here are the rest of her brothers and sisters

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Starting over

How have you all been? Had a good Christmas and New Year? 2016 has been a year full of joys, blessings, surprises, heartaches, love, some successes and a few failures, but mostly it has been a year full of gratitude. Gratitude for the good rains we've had, gratitude for the birds in my garden and gratitude that I've managed another year of good health.
And now I welcome the New Year. May your 2017 be full of new things that have never been, a year full of colours, flowers, laughter and fresh new ideas!


Aloe ferox youngsters in my garden having survived another winter

Have you ever jumped the gun and then regretted it afterwards? Well, that's what happened to me! A couple of months ago we were in the process of selling our smallholding, something we've been thinking of for a couple of years now, planning retirement and all that, and apart from having to have a massive clean-up of all the stuff one accumulates over 38 years of living in one place, one of my biggest worries was all my succulents - those in the garden were OK, but I had dozens of succulents and cacti in pots and it was impossible for me to take all of them with me. After a short search I was lucky and blessed enough to find another succulent-lover who was thrilled to take all of them off my hands.

Now, here's the thing - the sale fell through! (Much to my relief, I must say, as in the process of selling we suddenly realised what we are leaving behind and we fell in love with our life and our smallholding all over again! One doesn't realise what you have until you lose it, or almost lose it, right?)

This new planting was just coming along nicely and the Aeoniums on the left were some of my favourites.

This Echeveria elegans was also just starting to flower for the first time in in about the 4 years I had it

Another first, this Haworthia cooperii var Transiensis was also pushing up it's first tiny little flowers

My only consolation is that I still have a few succulents and cacti left in the garden and it would be easy to take cuttings and start a new collection. But here's the question : do I want to start another potted collection again? At first, after they were all gone, I felt empty and lost, no daily routine of checking up on all of them, spotting new growth and new flowers and softly chatting to each and every one. All their small watering cans are standing empty, calling out for something to water.

But on the other hand, it's also very liberating to not constantly be worried about them and rushing outside to bring them under cover every time it starts hailing. So, for now, I'll be chatting to all my succulents and cacti in the ground in the garden, checking on them daily and giving them some special attention!



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