One of my favourite relaxing pastimes is game viewing and birdwatching and since I am blessed to live in Africa I get to visit a Game Reserve at least once or twice a year. Nothing can compare with that quiet anticipation as one waits silently inside one of the many game viewing hides usually positioned on a dam or watering hole. With binoculars in one hand, camera in the other – and possibly a chilled glass of wine too, there is always a sense of excitement that at any moment something will be spotted! Of course there is an art to this kind of viewing from inside a Hide – it’s called scanning. One’s eyes need to constantly flick from left to right and from high to low and then far to near because it is so so easy to miss the magical moment! Here are a few of my fave pics from Mankwe hide in the beautiful Pilansberg Game Reserve:
The wide open spaces as the sun is setting:
The important thing about visiting game reserves is to learn to appreciate ALL creatures and not just the classic BIG 5! Time spent observing habits and antics gives true insights to the character and personality and habits of the wild animals.
Whilst most of the chicks in Mamma Dabchicks little brood were clearly quite independent and ‘cool’ with her going off in search of her own grubs and weeds, this little fella was most unhappy and gave us more than a few giggles as he frantically tried to keep up with her and frequently ducked under water in his efforts to find her!
A cormorant catching some last rays. I love this next pic of a Grey Heron focussed on his fishing:
I have to pinch myself some days – Was I really there sitting on a shore staring out at the endless magnificent deep deep blue ocean off Vilankulous? A few scenes that took my breath away are fortunately captured through the lens of my camera else I would think I had wandered there only in my dreams!
I was dismayed to discover that I had a rogue visitor in my bantam enclosure during the night. The poor beheaded body of my little black hen lay at the gate – the classic trade mark of either the meerkat or the black tipped mongoose who bites birds’ heads off and leaves the rest of the carcass untouched. I wish I could understand why they do this!?
I have had this visitor before too! Some years ago he got into my pigeon loft and beheaded every last bird grrr – NOT like!!! I will have to do some detective work to see where the thief/murderer got in.
This rooster was definitely agitated this morning and strutting up and down on high alert – What a pity his little crow is so small I would never have heard any raucousness from my home!
My poultry family has grown since I was lucky enough to buy in 3 breeding pairs of Golden Sebrights – I am thrilled with them. Apart from the fact they are already settled in and eating out of my hand, I spotted two little eggs in one of the new nests I made for them! Apparently the hens are not enthusiastic brooders so I will give them a chance but may have to resort to using my next door neighbour’s incubator later since there are already a number of folk who have expressed interest in buying chicks from me – maybe my hobby will one day become a business yet!?!
I am also raising two groups of indigenous fowl which we call “bosveld’ and ‘kaalnek’ chickens. They are really not the prettiest of birds but they are known to be excellent scavengers. My plan is to put them in the cattle ‘kraals’ where we have a summer problem with the fly population zooming in to lay their eggs in the enticing wet dung of the cows we keep there from time to time when we bring them in from the distant fields to check them over, pregnancy test them and secure their ear tags. On the whole our animals live out on the grass pastures rather than close to the farm yard.
My pair of Carolinas and the teeny ring necked Teal are very happy with their new pond. They are both still quite young but I hope to see them laying in the near future.
Needless to say I am on high alert for the prowling murderous mongoose and my fences are all being checked and tightened – Unfortunately these scavengers tend to learn bad habits rather too quickly and become unpopular around the farm yard. I am not inclined to shoot at all since I prefer the principle of ‘live and let live’ – but if they keep on killing my innocent pretty hens… they had better watch out for “Annie, get your gun!”
“It’s got nothing to do with the colour of your skin, and everything to do with the colour of your heart!”
“It’s got nothing to do with the colour of your skin, and everything to do with the colour of your heart!”
I never imagined how hard this would be – I never imagined this day at all. I am here in your spot doing your work, talking to the customers you have always been here for, writing on the pages that are filled with your handwriting, sitting in your chair behind the desk…but today they find me standing here in your place! As I see the shock and sadness register on the faces of our clients who are hearing the sad news for the first time, I ache all over again, my throat constricts and I fight the tears… it’s so hard!
I was your teacher, I showed you the way, I taught you the ropes, I learned to trust you and you learned to trust me, and I saw a light of deep intelligence burning brightly behind your glittering eyes and in no time at all I could leave you with the big responsibility of looking after our family business and never worrying at all because you were so capable and you loved your work so much – and you were so damn good at it too!
You cut the apron strings so confidently and grew more sure of yourself every day … You told me not to worry and because I had other things to do – you gave me wings to fly. That was exactly four years ago and we have never, even for one second, had to doubt your ability – or your loyalty – and I also know deep in my soul how much you loved me, my friend.
But oh my heart is so heavy since our world changed in that moment last Saturday evening. Stunned, shocked and disbelieving our family was plunged into mourning when that phone rang to tell us the news that you had been in an accident… we were hearing words we didn’t want to hear – No! No! NO! It can’t be true… Make another call please will someone tell us it’s all been a big mistake and you are fine, you are watching a soccer match with your fiancé… but it is true my dear, dear friend, and you are gone forever…
I want to rage at the world for allowing drunk drivers on the roads, I want to rage at the driver for being reckless – and a drunk, but he died too – I even want to rage at you for staying in a taxi when you realised the driver was drinking still – Why? The witnesses say he was speeding, there were beer bottles everywhere, he could not take the bend, lost control and at high speed went somersaulting through the air…they say the passengers never had a chance… When, when, when will there be an end to drunken drivers?
I am older than you – you called me “Ma”; I am your employer – but you never called me “Boss”! I shared your highs and lows, sadnesses and joys even as we so excitedly looked forward to your wedding day – You knew my heart too and would know from just looking into my eyes if it was well with me or not ; Some weeks when I was busy and travelling you would call saying, “ Ma, I just wanted to hear your voice, to know you are well!”
In this wounded country of ours where there is still too much focus on black and white hatred, we need to stop once in a while to simply appreciate the small corners of our homeland where there is love, respect and joy in friendships and partnerships which quietly build bridges across man-made divides… You are black and I am white but together we were forever true to our own motto: “It’s got nothing to do with the colour of your skin, and everything to do with the colour of your heart!”
I will never forget you Sannie Mokwena!
When I first saw the topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge was fleeting moments, I immediately thought of this photo which I took with my cellphone one evening when we were out checking our maize fields in the middle of this summer’s drought – it was really hard to capture the flash of lightening so I was pleased with this – unfortuately it represents an altogether fleeting moment as the stormy weather was mostly a thunder and lightening spectacle and no rain 😦
Another image which is very special to me is a photo taken my Dad in his youth, of the train crossing the bridge as it approached my home town. I recently shared this on a Reunion page on Facebook and have ben amazed and delighted by the many fond memories this fleeting moment captured in time so long ago has evoked for those of us who had a wonderful childhood playing along the river bank and in the shadows of the bridge!
And then I read the instructions properly!!! Share a picture that captures a fleeting moment on the street! Oh dear, I don’t live near a street unless I can call my farm road a street where I was standing when I snapped at the lightening… unless the dusty road on the edge of town where my Dad was clicking his antique camera aimed at the old steam engine on the railway bridge counts as a street Nope? Hmm… thinking again! Whew after a while trawling through my farm and wildlife and cross country pics, I suddenly thought to scan my album from my visit to my children who were teaching near the town of Samut Sakhon in Thailand last year surely I’d find a fleeting moment captured in a street scene 🙂 and I did!
Busy city sidewalks trapped with human beings buzzing past on their overloaded scooters, sometimes entire families off to their corners of their world, a street market for a meal, a temple to pray, a tiny cramped apartment in a never ending flow – an inexorable tide of humanity!
I am so enjoying this new world of blogging – I am meeting wonderful likeminded folk from all corners of the world and I’m loving every encounter. Please be patient with me as I find my way around – I am somewhat hopeless at building my blogging page, having failed miserably in my attempt to draw up a blogroll and find a widget for the weekly photo challenge (which I delight in!) – My writing tends to be long winded and my photos “land” wherever they want to splat on the page like bird poo – exactly not where I was wanting the to be… My virgo tendencies are very strong – I love precision and orderliness but I am afraid for now I am clutching at straws but… I am hanging in there and I will get better! 😉
This BigMomma Cow is to my mind the epitome of patience. Quietly she stands, for hours each day, ruminating the deli grasses she selects from the smorgasbord of Kalahari grassland where we ranch cattle. Her calf as you can see from the pics is already strong and determined and boisterous… and very, very hungry! In fact it’s almost time to wean this Guzzle-Guts so that Big Momma does not get too thin during the dry winter months.
Its winter time and my body clock is telling me the harvest is in so we should be packing our trusty Toyota Prado 4 x 4 with its rooftop tent and all our camping equipment in readiness for an adventure. We have had the most amazing journeys over landing through various African countries over the past years but since we are not travelling anywhere this year I will indulge myself in the treasure chest of photographs and delight in the memories once again! Of all the places I’d love to visit again one of the most frightening and eerie would be…
… the vast emptiness of the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana. The Makgadikgadi Pans are the remains of an ancient super lake, and their surface glistens with salt creating a vast empty moonscape which extends as far as the eye can see. Lying southeast of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan but many pans with sandy desert in between, the largest being the Sowa, Ntwetwe and Nxai Pans. The largest individual pan is about 4,921.0 km2.
We set out from the village of Gweta in search of the single track which would lead us across the pan – easier said than done! There is an intricate web of dusty roads threading to and fro around the edge of the pan leading to the many African huts scattered on the
We eventually spotted it – the tenuous lifeline beckoning to us to venture on to the parched salty surface. So many dire warnings rang in our ears – It’s easy to become disorientated: The surface is deceptive as the crust could suddenly give way to mud and suck our vehicle into a quagmire: Traffic is scarce and any breakdown on that barren moonscape would likely leave us stranded in a world of silent emptiness for who knows how long!
I cannot begin to describe the adrenaline rush of speeding across the pans with the thrill of adventure coursing through our veins. The absence of familiar sights and sounds and no landmarks as far as the eye could see.
A cluster of distant black shimmering specks drifted eerily across the horizon –
… and suddenly the track ended in a series of wildly formed doughnuts where joyriders had spun circles on the salt surface turned around and headed back the way we had come – we had taken the wrong track and ahead of us lay a whitescape of nothingness – We decided to keep pushing onwards as we had a general idea of direction, we had our GPS navigators but what helped us most in the end, once the signals were no longer feeding into our techie gadgets, were the good old faithful topographical maps and rulers…
there was a worrying half hour or so when we really weren’t sure which direction to head and what we thought was ‘land ahoy’ turned out to be yet another small grassy island in the expanse of desert white!
We tracked then backtracked until quite fortuitously we spotted the right track and happily sailed onto the magic thread that would take us to our campsite at Kubu Island. This is an isolated granite outcrop, some 10m high and a kilometre long, known as Kubu Island. It forms the shape of a crescent, and its slopes are terraced with fossil beaches of wave-rounded pebbles, providing startling evidence of the prehistoric lake’s former water levels. Crowned with an array of ancient, gnarled baobabs and surrounded on three sides by a vast grey emptiness, Kubu has a unique atmospheric beauty. No words can describe this beauty – it is something felt just as much as it is seen!
My online dictionary says to create implies ‘to bring something into existence’ or ‘to cause something to happen as a result of one’s actions’…. hmm? So many images flash through my brain from the knitted ponchos I am creating for the school children in the nearby village to my flower garden and my productive vegetable garden, to the opportunities we create from time to time for others to thrive and grow… ah, but the creation I am most madly proud of is MY FAMILY! I mean our extended family which we have consciously raised and enveloped with chords of love and respect and nurture and safety… let me explain:
I come from an incredibly beautiful extended family and my world has always been filled by people who have loved me and made me feel loved and who earned my respect – just because of whom they are and the integrity with which they have lived out their lives. Furthermore, I have two amazing brothers who are both medical doctors. One is an orthopaedic specialist, the other a specialist family practitioner who during the course of his studies learned more and more of the importance of family life. Many experts believe that an extended whole and healthy family enhances the sense of well being and security of the individual within that family and so it was that when he shared this philosophy, we all ( my husband, my 2 brothers and their wonderful wives as well as my parents) consciously embarked on a parenting process which included the extended family in as many “together-time” activities as possible
– and I do not say this lightly as we have lived great distances apart but one way or another we have made sure the ‘family get-together’ happened. It meant flying twins from Scotland for a family holiday and fetching and carrying boisterous boys and girls to and fro on 7 hour journeys between my farm and the coast where the others live… (Sometimes there and back within 24 hours because of work commitments)- it meant brave grandparents hosting the large together-time group of cousins on their farm and tolerating raucousness and untidiness and water fights.
Once we had a heavy snowfall on their farm which was so very exciting for all the children and one crazy aunt (that would be moi!) – we hiked in that snow, had snowball fights in the snow and built our magnificent snowman… until we were soaking wet and there was no power to cook with, heat our water or wash and dry the grubby clothes, no television at first was a challenge until the card games became fiercely competitive and huge fun… we were burning fires and draping dripping garments on the fireguard, we were cooking indoors on gas and after 5 days our gallant granddad was finally able to chainsaw the last of the fallen trees blocking the road way and we made a happy escape to the warmer coast and descended en masse to the home of another aunt and uncle who we just knew would welcome us all…. 😉
Because we have a rather large farmhouse my easy going hubby and I were most often host to the gang and amongst our happiest memories are those together-times with all the children filling our world, raiding the fridge and cookie jars, ‘helping’ make the meals, and as the years went by working just as hard as they were playing at peak seasons of planting and harvesting. They swam, rode horses and drove the horse cart, rode motorbikes, built things, went on picnics, slept all night through on a huge haystack, learned to shoot the rats in the shed and built many campfires.
A decision made by ourselves saw many years of togetherness – yes, they scrapped, yes, they are all so very different and now they are almost all grown up and choosing very diverse career paths but even to this day should ever any one of them need encouragement, comfort or advice they will turn to one or another: brothers and cousins and sisters.. An incredibly strong invisible thread of love and respect wraps itself around them and although unseen, is strangely tangible and so many outsiders notice it and are awed by that which our children tend to take for granted, they think it’s ‘normal’… and just as I look upon each of those kids as my own, I know my brothers and their wives do too and I just know that together we have created something good because we have surely woven a warm and wonderful web called “family” through the lives of each of our youngsters! I sincerely hope and pray the young adults we now know will remember and continue the legacy CREATED for them and do so in the lives of their own families one day!