Full house

These past few days have been tough.  The Bean went to her boyfriends family’s game farm which I think was a good thing. Some young company to keep her occupied would help her pass this sad time without having to look at her tearful mother.

I dreaded the quiet moments that would come – alone without Fred, but somehow the universe conspired to force me to keep company which I did, although I would have preferred staying curled up in my bed feeling sorry for myself.

Our farm which is usually really quiet, had so many people popping past and coming to see me.  We had our conservancy meeting on Saturday where I met a few of the other owners and another couple stayed here in my guest cottage while they fix their home on the farm.  They wined and dined me and would not allow me a moment to go and mope. Some of the owners came back today to view a site where they will potentially build a cottage that I will also run for them.  I was signed up as the secretary of the conservancy and because I am the only owner resident on the farm, they decided to forgo my levy in return for me reading that water meters every month and just keeping an eye on the farm.  Suits me down to the ground.

Tomorrow two of the Beans friends from Belgium arrive to visit for 10 days. We will also be “baby-sitting” two of her girl friends from school whose parents were called out of town suddenly.  From time to time the Bean’s Boyfriend ( I must find him a name) will probably be staying over.  Do the math. That’s me and 6 teenagers/young adults.  I guess I am going to be really busy.  I am planning to split them into pairs to do the cooking and dishes.  Now I just have to find enough food 🙂

I am also trying to get my business established and will have to play tour guide for some of the time. Busy, busy, busy, – and that’s a really good thing for me now.

I am going on an interesting day trip on Wednesday to see an old African lady who is one of the old fashioned herbalists who forages her food and herbs from the wild. I hope to be able to learn from her over time.  Our plants are so different here to many found in Europe and the USA and are not really well documented with regards to using them medicinally and especially for food.  We will also be visiting a tribal village so I should have some wonderful pictures for you to see soon.

Other good news – our farm has purchased more kudus for our one lonely female.  They should be arriving on Tuesday.  They are such beautiful creatures – I can’t wait to have them walking around here.

Still wondering?

Thanks to everyone who took a shot at answering Fridays question.  As you can see in the comments of that post we had quite a few rather inventive folk.

This hole gives away many secrets if you know what to look for.  Often you can see scratchings at holes like these and a little fan of sand which are not clear in this photo.  Besides that, the first biggest clue is the little white and black rings lying around the mouth of the hole (visible in the right hand picture).  These are rings from devoured millipedes.  The creature that lives in the hole just LOVES eating millipedes.

The final and easiest clue is the shape of the hole itself.  An oval hole with a rounded bottom and a wavy top.

This is the home of a ………  scorpion.

Well done to  Tara and OneStonedCrow.

Both of you drop me a line at hills(dot)jackie(at)gmail(dot)com with your postal addresses and I’ll send you a little something from our area.

Scorpions

We have  over 160 species of scorpion in South Africa.

Out of all our scorpions, only 3 have even caused human fatalities. On average 8 to 12 people die from scorpion stings annually. Their strong neurotoxic venom affects the nervous system and causes heart palpitations, respiratory problems and slurred speech, intense pain and hyper sensitivity. We also have the world least venomous scorpion and coincidently the world longest. These giants attain lengths of over 21cm but their venom causes no more than a pin prick.

These amazing creatures can be found sheltering under rocks, logs, they make burrows and even live in trees. Their secretive nature and behaviours means that you probably do not know that there are scorpions around you, but they are there.  Some species can live without food or water for more than a year. During harsh times they simply wait it out. When the good times return, they emerge and carry on.

 

 

Hippo fight

Last Friday night we sat and listened to some horrendous noises coming from the river about 800 meters from the cottages.  It sounded like a battle between a herd of cows, a few elephants and a lion or two.  It was, I assume, a hippo fight.  It went on for about 30 minutes and sounded really frightening.

By Arkadyevna (flickr)

I subsequently found this blog post by Susie Prangley who watched a hippo fight recently.  She also took some excellent photos.  You can see how vicious these fights are.  Take a look at them here on the Getaway blog.

Friday facts

I have had many comments and questions about my voyeur viper mentioned this week.  He is a boomslang.  Although they have a deadly venom, they are timid snakes and bites generally occur only when people attempt to handle, catch or kill them.  This one was a juvenile.  The shower I took was behind the snake and grass roof edging you see here, and he was about 2, 5 meters above the ground level on a rafter.  I was not at risk of being bitten or attacked – if so, I really would not have showered.  Thank you all though for your concern 🙂

Identity of vv confirmed by Donald Strydom  at the Khamai Reptile center here in Hoedspruit.  He says:

It’s a juvenile colouration Boomslang.  Baby Boomslang under a meter long are typically this colour after which the male turns green and the female brown or grey.

Thanks Donald

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My car is still not fixed after the accident on the 7 of January.  The parts, apparently, are not even ordered yet according to the parts supplier who I have resorted to calling as I kept getting a standard answer of “next monday” from our local panel beaters.

The windscreen was finally installed yesterday after much confusion and an attempt to fit the wrong type of windscreen.  The installers then proceeded to crack the new windscreen – apparently a manufacturing fault in the screen. So …. my poor car still looks exactly the same as it did over a month ago and in the meantime I have had to borrow a vehicle.  I really appreciate the kindness of the friends who have lent it to me and I would like to give it back now – there is a line where long becomes just too long.  I am now trying to be the communication link between the parts supplier and the panel beaters – and I phone them both a few times a day. I currently await a call from the panel beaters to tell me when they made payment for the parts they have “not” ordered yet?  Argh!

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On a happier weekend note, art group last night was again fantastic fun – we learned how to paint with bleach.  Yes…. you heard right – bleach – the stuff you use on your white washing.  I was astounded with the results.


My painting progressed somewhat but a huge failure in anatomy study – I will be moving her bones around next week.  I was just trying to get the colours right this week which was really difficult.  I may even change them again.  I almost don’t want to show you all because the poor woman looks severely deformed, please be gentle with me. I will perform major surgery on her next week.

I still have loads of work to do on this one.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Giving up the hippo fight.

One of the farms along our sand-road route home has an ongoing battle with hippos.  The farm runs alongside the Blyde river – our road separates the farm from the river itself.

Hippos come out of the river at night to graze and they just love the grass on this farm.  They are constantly breaking through the farmers fence to get to the grass.  The Bean and I have even seen a hippo just walk right through the fence once when we stumbled upon it unexpectedly on our drive home.  The wires of the fence snapping and the rest of the fence waving wildly as poles bent.  I don’t think the hippo even noticed the fence . It was that easy.

The poor farmer keeps on repairing the fence and the hippos keep breaking through. This week we noticed that the farmer was again fixing his fences.

Hippos are creatures of habit and always follow the same pathways to their grazing ground.  Most mornings we can see exactly where they cross the sand road as they make quite a large pathway as you can imagine.

Yesterday on our way home we noticed a new development in the fence.  There is a saying here in South Africa ”  ‘n boer maak ‘n plan”  which means “a farmer makes a plan”.  This farmer surely did too.

The fence now has “hippo holes”  wherever the fence and a hippo pathway cross.  Bravo Mr Farmer 🙂

Painted dogs

A while back I wrote a post where I told you about african wild dogs being found on the premises of The Beans school.  The school is on a game reserve called Raptors View on the outskirts of our town.  This reserve is also a wildlife housing estate where home owners build their homes on 1ha plots in the game reserve.

The children were warned to walk in pairs just in case they encountered the dogs on the school premises and small children must always be accompanied by an adult.  There are no known cases of a human being attacked by a wild dog, however they are still wild animals that hunt for their prey so necessary caution must be taken.  There has been some heated debate about the dogs and a few residents of Raptors View wanted them moved back to the next door reserve where they originated from.

The dogs hunt in packs and were sometimes using the buildings on the reserve to assist in herding their prey into a corner to catch them.  I have heard a few stories of buck running into houses and jumping through plate-glass windows in order to get away from the dogs.

On Monday I was driving through the reserve to visit friends and was lucky enough to spot the dogs. My photos are a little fuzzy because I was so excited to get the shots and my battery was about to fail. I could not sit still 🙂

 

In my opinion, when you decide to live on a game reserve, you are moving into the animal’s territory.  The animal has the right to protection, habitat and food before you do.

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Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this continent’s most endangered species. It is estimated that a mere 3,000  – 5,000 remain.

Lycaon pictus is a large canid found living in savannas and other lightly wooded areas. It is commonly called the African Hunting Dog, African Wild Dog, Painted Wolf, Cape Hunting Dog, Painted Dog, Painted Hunting Dog, Spotted Dog or Ornate Wolf. The scientific name “Lycaon pictus” is derived from the Greek for “wolf” and the Latin for “painted”. It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs.

African Wild Dogs are intensely social animals, living most of the time in close association with each other. While a minimum of six dogs are necessary to successfully hunt and breed, a pack can be as small as a pair, or as large as thirty. Pack allegiance, such as pups getting first feed at a kill or members caring for the sick and injured, is an integral part of pack survival.

The power structure resides in an alpha male and female pair, whose pups are nurtured by ‘baby sitters’, regardless of their mother.

Prey for the African Wild  Dog is mostly medium-sized antelope like Impala, Bushbuck, Duiker, Kudu and Reedbuck. They have been known to take Wildebeest and also chase Eland and Buffalo, although they rarely kill these larger animals.

The strength of the African Wild Dog pack is attributed to three unique aspects of behavior – socialization, vocalization, and hunting methods.

Socialization clearly translates into the unity that is formed between bonded peers and pack leaders. The dogs clearly mourn deceased pack members, which is a sign of emotional ties.

Adding to this is the trait of the African Wild Dog to vocalize – communication is a vital, unique, and important strength of pack unity.

Finally, the African Wild Dog hunting methods keep the pack strong. An average adult dog will consume approximately nine pounds of live carcass each day, which would equate to an Impala per day for a pack of 15 dogs.

Among the fastest and most efficient of Africa’s predators, African Wild Dogs hunt during the morning and before dusk, and also show a preference for utilizing the light of a full moon. Their goal is to draw minimum attention from stronger predators. But while they share the victory of tireless pursuits with the pack, often the longer chases end with more powerful competitors, such as the hyena, stealing their rewards. Goaded to hunt and devour quickly, the African Wild Dog has perfected the fast kill. The positive consequence may be that the its method of killing ultimately shortens the suffering of the prey.

Information from http://www.painteddog.org/

 

Taking a break – bush style

After the miserable end to last week, I spent the weekend in the bush with some of my old colleagues who were up in Hoedspruit for a meeting. The break was very welcome and the work we did helped keep my mind occupied. Here are a couple of my favorite photo’s from the weekend – they were taken on a game drive at Matumi Lodge.

 

 

My sneaky angel

who likes to wake me up at night and look at me like this….

Its really dark at night here ….

You see his poor nose – I think he has a mosquito bite allergy. I need to get antihistamines and/or cortisone for him. It gets terribly itchy at times and he scratches his nose open like this.

He is good company – my Fred.

Chicks in paradise

Do you remember our paradise fly catchers that I told you about a few weeks ago?  If not, you can click here to read the post.

They have been sitting on the eggs for just over two weeks and this weekend our new babies were born.  Because their nest is right next to our veranda I was able to sneak up and take a few pictures really close.  (Best I could do with my point and click.  One day when I’m big I am going to get a fancy-shmancy camera)

On Saturday night we had a horrific cloud burst and 120mm of rain fell in just under 45 minutes.  I was certain these babies would not survive as the branch their nest is on is very exposed and not sheltered by other branches and leaves.  On Sunday morning when I went to look at the nest no chicks were to be seen.  I was so sad and reported this news to the Bean when I collected her at lunch time. She was also upset but went to check anyway when we got home.  Lo and behold – our little babies were there – peeping over the rim of the nest again.

Five reasons to live in Southern Africa

Five reasons to live in Southern Africa

Author: Cara Moroney

Source: The Getaway online magazine

Today I got this article via email from my online subscription to a South African publication – The Getaway magazine.

I really enjoyed Cara’s descriptions and felt that she expressed so many things that I struggle to transmit through words.

She  starts her article like this:

I live in Africa, managing a safari camp in the bush. It’s a far away, exotic, unknown place to most people I know in Canada and the questions I most often get are ‘What is it like to live in Africa?’ or ‘What do you like about Africa so much?’. These questions are simple, apparent, but extremely difficult to answer. Love often defies explanation because the simplest but least helpful answers I have, are, ‘It’s wonderful’ and ‘I love it’.

But here I will attempt to convey why I like living in the Southern African bush, as I am no expert on living in North Africa, or in urban Africa. I will do this by employing the ever popular, but possibly lazy, method of a top ten list. But, this top ten list has a twist – it has a mirror image because as much as I love Africa, it ain’t easy. Almost everything that is glorious is harsh; almost everything that is heart warming can be heart wrenching; much of what is beautiful is cruel. But like any love, if it is true, you love both sides of the coin. You love not in spite or despite shortcomings, but because of them.

To read the entire article please click on the link below:

Five reasons to live in Southern Africa.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did.