The white ball of foam is put there by a female foam nesting frog. They even climb my huge marula tree and make foamy nests over my swimming pool.
This photo was taken at what I fondly call frog pond. This is the noisiest place on the farm on warm summer nights when hundreds of frogs get together for a musical evening.
In fact it always reminds me of this song
(image by Ian. N. White)The grey tree frog – more commonly referred to as the foam nest frog – is the largest of our ‘tree frogs’, with females growing to a length of around 100 mm. The foam nest frog – chiromantis xerampelina – is confined to the northern bushveld, eastern lowveld and south through Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal to the coast.
These frogs are well adapted to a dry, arboreal life although they may frequently visit water to rehydrate. They will rarely be found swimming or sitting in water like many other frogs and toads but are commonly found in and around buildings where lights attract a source of insect food. With a variety of mottled patterns, they can change colour within a range of white to dark grey to match their background and are well camouflaged against tree bark. Females grow much larger and can be double the weight of males.
The common name comes from the whitish clumps of foam that they construct as ‘nests’ in which to lay their eggs. These nests are always constructed on some branch or object over, and often many metres above, water. The females exude a sticky liquid which they kick into a froth with their back legs. Into this foam they lay up to 1000 eggs which are fertilised by, often many, attendant males. The foam prevents desiccation of the eggs and keeping eggs and small tadpoles out of water eliminates much predation.
About five days after hatching the small tadpoles wriggle out of the foam to drop into the water below, where they continue to grow and complete their normal metamorphosis.
So far this summer we have had quite a few cloudy days and lots of lovely rain. Not our normal blistering heat – but warm balmy humid days. The result is really thick green lush bush.
When you look at the picture above you really don’t see many colours, so it is quite surprising when you walk around and look closely at how many stunning spring flowers are blooming. I snapped a few on my daily walk.
Early this morning I got a call from Moholoholo to let me know that Porky was ready to come home. They had one final request though – that the whole team come across to my farm with Porky and watch the release. I was thrilled to be able to share this precious moment with the volunteers, trainee vets and vet nurses, and other Moholoholo staff who all took such careful care of this badly injured porcupine.
Here is the team on the farm (with Porky in the red box)
I do not have words that can explain the following pictures. I do not have words that explain what it feels like to see this and to be there when a creature that was so badly hurt is returned to the wild where he belongs. I will let the pictures speak.
Today, after collecting his new meds in town, I drove out to Moholoholo to visit our porcupine. He is now wearing a shiny yellow bandage around his middle and was not to happy with me for waking him up. Because he is nocturnal, he was having a really good sleep. Staff at the rehabilitation center say that he really seems to be feeling better as he is getting a little crosser with them now when they have to give him his injections and shows the will to fight. He apparently also has a wonderful appetite and is eating them out of house and home. I will be back with him on Friday when they will be removing his bandages.
A special thank you to all our kind donors who have contributed towards his medicine and care.
Pick n Pay has kindly donated money and are running a “name the porcupine”competition on their facebook page. Why don’t you pop on over and try naming our porcupine.
Over the 2 years that I have been living here on my farm I have been wishing to see a porcupine. I know they are here because I pick up their quills and I see their spoor, yet I had never seen one on my land. It had become quite a challenge for me and I told anyone who would listen about my plight to see one.
This morning as I was going to work I spotted one trying to squeeze under the fence. I was so thrilled.
This afternoon when I got home, he was still there, so my alarm bells began to ring. I snuck up really close to him only to see a gash on his back.
I managed to find some help from a nearby friend and we went in after the porcupine. At the same time I called the Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Center who advised me to get the porky to them as soon as I could.
Once we got in really close he kept on putting up his quills so it was quite dangerous, and it was then that we saw that he was caught in a snare. My friend untied the snare off the bush it was tied to and we used the snare to get the porky onto my bakkie (pick-up).
and we drove him through to the rehabilitation center where they were waiting for us. Here you can see his terrible wounds caused by the snare
The poor boy was so stressed. Brian Jones from Moholoholo met us and sedated the porcupine while it was still on the back of my vehicle.
and when he was fast asleep
he was moved into the operating room where Brian removed the snare
All the students at the center (volunteers) were called in to look and learn and assist.
There were two vet nurses who were then tasked with cleaning up the wound and removing all the dead tissue.
Tonight he will sleep in this cage
and tomorrow they will have to decide if he is going to be ok or will need to be euthanized.
Unfortunately, due to limited resources, and the fact that these animals are not endangered, my beautiful porcupine might be put down.
At least tonight he will have a pain-free sleep and is free of that horrible wire.
Thank you to all at the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Center.
UPDATE: Thank you to some incredible donors as well as Pick n Pay for coming forward with funding. Porky will not be euthanized now and there are enough funds to pay for his care.
Anne Watt, who runs our art group, had the opening of her first solo art exhibition last night. Her work is currently being exhibited at the Chalkhamhill Gallery in the Kamogelo Center in Hoedspruit. Anne, we are so proud of you.
The work of this show is a reflection of Africa.
We had a superb evening, with most of her art students attending as well as a large crowd of local residents and even some Easter tourists. One of Anne’s paintings in the gallery was painted directly onto the wall, and I believe the entire wall has been sold to a very willing buyer. I took the following photos at the event however, my night time photography needs some serious work. It really does not do Anne’s pictures justice.
In December last year I hired a man and his team to re-thatch the Bean’s cottage. If you have been following my blog you may recall I have mentioned that this project did not go so well, and after a nasty run-in with the man, I was left with a badly thatched roof that leaked.
This is what it looked like
You could even see daylight from inside…..
In fact, the new thatch job leaked even more than the roof did before they started.
So now I have had to have it fixed. Farmer Alf to the rescue again – he arranged for two men to come in, remove much of the grass, rebundle it and re-thatch and put a new cement cap on. Quite a costly exercise but still a lot less than hiring another company to do it. Now it looks like this
Life here is slowly returning to normal. Social conversations are still all about what happened and who was badly affected. Most of us – but not all, have our electricity back on and we can get where we need to go, although there are roadworks everywhere and a few detours still. The vegetation next to the rivers looks ravaged and huge trees are lying sadly on their sides with withered leaves. There will definitely not be a shortage of firewood here for a while.
Our water on the other hand is still quite disgusting
I put this water into the bottles 10 days ago hoping to be able to sediment out the sand and get clean water. To date there is very, very, little sedimentation and it still looks just as orange as when I bottled it. I have tried filtering it through cloth and coffee filters but nothing comes out. Ceramic jug filters just get blocked so they are no good either.
A city 100km’s away from us sends a huge truck filled with water to our town every day and we can collect water. For a day or two all bottled water in the stores was sold out but they are all fully stocked now. I looked at some prices for those who purchase their water – Pick ‘n Pay R18.95 for 5L, – Labamba R12.95 for 5L and Oasis, R13.95.
I use our purchased bottled water for cooking and drinking. Even Cleo and Savannah get bottled water to drink. We shower in the orange water but I just can’t bring myself to wash our clothes in it. Our laundry pile is quite huge. I met a lady yesterday who is taking her washing to Nelspruit (2 hours away) to get it done in a laundromat there. I will have to make a plan to get some washing done somehow as it does not look like this problem will be resolved in the very near future.
The small roads on and around our farm are in a state of disrepair.
These gullies will have to be filled with rock and sand to avoid further erosion when it rains.
Some good news though, is that our new baby giraffe is fit, fat and flourishing and survived the rains well.
I awoke to the sound of torrential rain. Another wet day. We had already had rain continuously for a day and a half and everything was getting muddy and damp. I had recently started a small mornings-only job to assist a friends business so I had to get up and cracking and into town by 7am.
I am not a great morning person so when I had to get to my car I only half noticed that I was up to my ankles in water. Hurry hurry – let’s go.
As I got to the main road, I realised that there was quite a bit of water laying everywhere and it was still coming down hard. I was following another driver who kept on putting their hazard lights on when they rode through water puddles – I looked around again and could not believe how wet my world looked. I took a few photos.
On my way to town I cross about 5 rivers/ dry river beds – by the time I was 4 km’s outside of Hoedspruit the smaller rivers were starting to flow across the road. I reached the Zandspruit (Sand River) and many cars were backed up and people were getting out of their vehicles. I stopped and asked if there was an accident and a man told me that the river was flowing across the road and it was too deep and strong to cross.
I then realised that if I did not hot-tail it back home – I would be caught on the road between two rivers , unable to go anywhere, so I turned my car around and headed home as fast as I could. By the time I crossed the Blyde river near my turn-off it was about 1 meter below the bridge (normally about 5-6 meters below).
At this stage I should have given up and not tried to go any further because our 10km sand road runs alongside this river for about 4 km’s before it veers off towards the small farming area where I live, however, I carried on – I try to reason with myself and ask myself why I did not stop then and I can’t answer.
My trip from hell began. Water was rushing from the bush and farmlands across the road and into the river alongside the sand road, digging great big gashes in the road. I wanted to stop but I could not because I would never have got back to safety, so I clenched my teeth, loosened my safety belt and opened my window in case I needed to escape from my car in a hurry and just had to keep going. Those 4 km’s felt like 10 km’s. My car kept getting washed and pushed sideways by the strong currents crossing the road, and just when I thought I would wash off the road my wheels gripped again and I got out of the stream, only to have to cross another and slide again. How I got through I will never know but I believe I was the last vehicle on that road before the entire road washed away as the river rose to meet the water pouring from the farms.
Our small community at the end of the sand road was isolated from the main road and town for 4 days. Our electricity failed by 8 am and was only restored 4 days later and then only intermittently. Our tap water turned orange/red and became unpalatable and remains that way. Tonight (23 Jan) I got my internet connectivity back.
My only source of information came via my mobile phone where I could access Facebook and hear how everyone else was doing. Luckily one of the empty homes on our reserve had solar power and a gas freezer so I made use of their facilities to charge my phone and keep my food frozen as best I could. Many folk had no communication once their phone batteries emptied.
My friends and their families in town were also isolated from the surrounding areas because almost every bridge over a river or dry stream was washed away. Homes situated near rivers and dry river beds were washed away. A lady on the farm next door whose house was near the river had to be airlifted to safety as were 150 other people from the areas surrounding Hoedspruit. Her car was washed onto our farm. Many, many people have lost everything they own.
Here are a few pictures
Photo by Annelise Smit – This is the river that was 1 meter below the bridge when I crossed it.
Photo by Andre Weideman – Paddle-skiing down the R40 (normally a road)
This is the river that runs along the border of my farm (Blyde river) – crossing the road instead of going under the bridge.
Photo taken and the closest store to my home. That’s the end of that wall….
Roads have been devoured….
many homes damaged…..
Photo by Freek Stoop. My local petrol (gas) station
The community here has stood together amazingly. Instead of waiting for aide – our farmers and a few local companies got together and repaired roads and bridges. Farmers from Tzaneen have sent us truck loads of drinking water. Everyone has tried to do their bit to help those in need. Our local newspaper, Kruger2Canyon kept us all up to date via Facebook so we could follow what was happening although almost everyone in our entire area was stranded. They squashed rumours of the dam wall cracking and kept us all sane. I am so thankful to them.
While we were all isolated from town, one of my colleagues, Kleintjie Viljoen, took this video of what was happening in Hoedspruit itself. He apologises for the running commentary.
I have tried to credit people for their photographs but some were passed around Facebook so many times that I was unsure of who took them. My apologies if I have made any errors.
Our beautiful small town is now in an awful state of disrepair and many people have lost all they owned. Poorer communities were struck really badly and many of these people have no homes, food, drinking water, or clothes.
Here are details for those of you who wish to make a contribution to assist those who have nothing left.
Ref : Flood Disaster Relief
HOEDSPRUIT TRAINING TRUST
Acc No: 4055 05 1951
ABSA SWIFT Code ABSAZAJJ