LIFE ON THE FARM

2010/02/09 at 3:11 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Our life – our passion

Being in Nature everyday.    Experiencing a sunrise or a sunset,  the birth of a lamb, finding a beautiful stone, stopping to watch a tortoise nibble on some plant, seeing a pair of Hawks with their fledgling,

Young falcon in his brown colouring

 watching a pair of Black Eagles circle then spotting their brown year old youngster they have raised and realise a full circle has been compeleted as a future generation has been raised, enjoying  the blue crane pairs on the farm,walking in a protective format  with the young chicks, The secretary bird pairs stalking the veld for a snake/lizard,  watching the young lambs grow up, seeing the sheep come to full bloom with their 12 months growth of wool, handling the next crop of young rams who will be the sires of tomorrow, going for a horseback ride, smelling the bush aroma in the early morning, listening to the different birds calling and identifying them, finding a nest of Bokmakierie eggs and passing the nest everyday and seeing how the young grow, 

Bokmakierie eggs of which three hatched

Bokmakierie hatchlings a few days old

Just before leaving the nest

 the earth smell after rain, being out with the dogs early morning to check on the ewes at lambing time and watching the first rays of sun come up and the warmth it brings,  even finding pleasure in the wind as it turns the windmills for water for the reservoirs for the stock to drink.

Sutherlandia flowering in July.  Food for the bees.

  In winter standing in wonder of how plants have the ability to be frozen solid and then bloom when the sun warms them again.   The beautiful branches of the bare trees.    Watching the lizards around the house grow fat and then the tiny babies growing.

A nest that fell out of a tree made with horse tail hair, twine and brush.

Sunset picture taken by Gerry Staegemann while visiting for a sheepdog trial

Breipaal Sunset

Late afternoon sky

We are priveledge to be visited by these precious little guys on the lawn.  The picture is of an adult Hedgehog most probably a female by the size of her belly and the other one a youngster.  They go about their business of finding insects and don’t worry to much about us.    Since I have not used poison in my garden for 29 years it seems to be the haven for many different ladybirds, spiders, small snakes, frogs, lizards, birds and now even the hedgehogs.

One of the small snakes observed in the garden.  From my book it looks like a slug eater.

A frequent night visitor is an ant bear (aardvark).    We have not been able to see him but his visiting cards (huge Holes) are visible all over the yard, the lands and around the shed in the morning.   Everywhere you go on the farm are many, many holes.   They are extremely busy guys.  Pity we could not harness their digging ability for planting fence poles.

A big Male tortoise is a frequent visitor to our lands.  I have named him scar because his one scale has been damaged.  Here is a photo of him, eating in the land where rye has been planted for the sheep to be used during lambing time in august.   2011 April the 1st and I spotted scar coming to eat green feed again, must be much sweeter than the green grass.  Spoatted  Sacre in the newly planted land in from of the House March 2013.   So happy he is still around. 

Seen close to the house this small red legged lizard.  Very different from the ones that live on my stoep and in all the outbuildings.   The ones that grow so fat and then have babies.

This figure of eight was something that could be seen during the winter in a land planted with oats and rye for the sheep.

On closer inspection the oats had come up and was just shrivelled dry and so was the weed (which is one very tough weed) that grew there.  Completely as if you had sprayed it with something to kill it.   When everything had been eaten away the figure of eight was still discernable.

One feels very privileged to be able to find one of these little guys in the veld and watch them feed.   Someone identitifed this as a “Stigmochelys”.(Leopard Tortoise).  I call him my Ndebele tortoise because of his beautiful markings.

Belle & Big Daddy

Belle and Big Daddy the orphington Cock – Sizing each other up. Big Daddy is one of four Cocks, the other have the names Junior, Upstart and Bloem.

Bokkie coming in with the sheep

 Kelly bringing in ewes with lambs and the bottle reared springbuck doe “bokkie” who always walks with the sheep.

A Mate for Bokkie called Kalahari. Quite a handsome chap.

Bokkie did not really take to Kalahari she preferred to walk with the sheep.

Kalahari just tags along.  

Water scorpion?!

Found this insect in the dam today.  Have no idea what it is so till I can find someone to identify it I will call it the “water scorpion”.   Its tail is long like a Manta Ray.   It was not very fast in the water so I could scoop it up in a bucket to take a photograph.   Have put it back in the dam.  Wonder if it has a mate?

3rd November 2010 had 24 mm of rain the first spring rain of significance.

The butterflies are out today enjoying the flowers.   Amazing the rain fell yesterday and here they are today.

Resident Frog

This Frog is insistent it will live in my house.   I put “it” out on the side of the house where there are no doors it takes a day or so and “I AM”  back.   My chosen spot is inbetween the electric extension cord for the Fax machine on a low table.

I have had other frogs who insist on living the house.   The one was always found in the dogs water bowl in the mornings.  I would put him out and while I was still making coffee would find him climbing back up the stairs coming in.   He was recognisable by his missing back toe which I had scrunched in the door.

Another one lived in the hall stand.   He was just as determined.    You could put him out at 9.00 in the fish pond and by eleven he would be climbing the stairs coming back.

There was a small egg eater snake that enjoyed the small frogs at the Koi dam.   I caught him and released him about a kilometer from the house.    Two weeks later he was back.   I can only presume it was the same snake as he was fat from all the frogs and lay on the same plant as before.  This time I took him about 6 kilometers from the house.   That seemed to confuse him enough not to come back. (we hope)

I set up one beehive two years ago and attracted a swarm of bees.   They have delivered honey this year.   This was so exciting to be able to harvest my own honey.  The taste cannot be described only your tastebuds can deliver comment.

I have since progressed and the bees produced a lot of honey this year 2012.   In 2013 I have again been able to harvest honey.

 I can now spin out my honey.    So Good to eat your own honey with no dilution or additives.  

 

The gecko that lives in the outbuilding has had babies middle March so close to the winter.

Baby Gecko so tiny and the markings

This little calf was born to a young heifer.   You can pick it up and carry it “dog size”  It walks under its mother tummy without touching her.

Tiny calf that you can carry without effort

With all the rain the past season the grass is extremely thick and high.

The down side of all the rain is that the sheep are having a hard time coping with the grass.  The seed shaft stick into the skin and then the pest are plentiful and so are all the diseases.

A dog bringing in sheep

The sheep often hop up onto the Anthills to get a better vantage point.  You can see they definitely like to see where they are.   

Sheep standing on an antheap

In  the above photo, at the sheeps feet standing on the anthill  are a flock of sheep which you must look for very carefully.    Collecting sheep is extremely difficult with the long grass.   They are meters from you and you cannot see them.  You sometimes just hear a bleat.   Other times you miss them.

There are many mushrooms the size of a small plate to be seen.

A large veld mushroom

Fungus is growing on trees stumps that you would not think existed in our region.

side view of log with its growth

Every year a Sunbird comes in the early Spring to greet me.   One year it is on knock on the Bathroom window, the other year the Kitchen window, then I was bringing down ewes with lambs in the camp at the back of the homestead and heard a urgent tjirrp, and he flew past me and came and sat on a bush in front of me.  Last year, I was in the garden and again this urgent tjirrp and here  he was.  Always staying somewhere near me in the garden.  In 2011 I have not had a visit.  You wonder has his lifespan ended?    It was no coincidence the way I was greeted each year.

Jan Groentjie/Malachite Sunbird

Seeing an Eagle Owl is special.   but when you spot one in the middle of the Afternoon.  Wow.  The camera was out and hopefully you got something before he flew off.

Huff you! I am special

The are so many Diederick Cuckoos around that you see four or more chasing each other through the tree tops. This season I have found four dead youngsters and rescued one from the Starlings.  They found out is was a foreigner at some stage.   In the past I have rescued many from the mossies (sparrows).  All the relatives from far and wide come and help attach the young bird.  They put up such a squabble that you think there is a snake.  Usually these diedericks  you only see briefly flitting between trees, but the last two seasans you find many out in the open sitting on fences.

Diederick Cuckoo

A Hammerkop family sunning themselves.

Note : the false hole under the proper hole.  This is when a snake tries to enter it actually closes the hole at the top and cannot enter the nest.  These birds are extremely deft at opening the entrance with a foot and going in. June 2011 – Have had 132mm of Rain this week.   Much flooding and very cold.   The roads are washed down to the gravel bottom.  Power was off for 24hours.  

Eggs from The Americana Fowls.   All shades of Blue, Blue/ Green.  The one that appears brown is green but with undertone of brown.    I have had these fowls for close to 40 years.    Have had many comments about the blue eggs.  From are they rotten?  Due you feed the fowls copper sulphate?    They are just a lot of fun to have around with all the different colourings, shapes, fluffy cheek feathers.

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