We’ve had a good couple of weeks generally but everything was overshadowed by the fact that one of the rhinos at Botlierskop was poached last Wednesday. Everyone in the area was shocked and appalled at the news that this beautiful animal was butchered for it’s horn. We used to go and watch the rhinos in the late afternoon grazing on the hillside – one of my farming friends said she felt as though they’d lost a pet and I could identify 100% with that statement. Man’s greed is a dreadful thing. All the local game farmers had a meeting on Monday to decide what steps to take to stop the slaughter of rhinos – can you believe that 21 were killed in January of this year alone- it’s unbelievable.
The animals that visit us here seemed to be going out of their way to cheer us up after that sad news. A large flock, roughly 30, of guinea fowl spend the greater part of their day wandering around the property. They are made up of some adults, some teens and a lot of babies so are always a pleasure to watch. One very windy afternoon they were in the upper camp feeding with the grysbok. I’m not sure if it was the wind making the grysbok dippy but it was tearing around the field, leaping into the air and doing half turns and kicking its heels up. The guinea fowl looked most bemused. I just wish I had a camera with a decent lens so I could have taken some photos.
There are now two barn owls hunting on the property – I’m thrilled about that as they are fantastic for keeping mice and rats down. They have the strangest and sometimes quite eerie calls – mostly a low screech but occasionally a sound like an animal in pain. They are active till 5.30 in the morning and hunt from my washing line down into the fynbos. One morning I was out early and managed to walk to within about 10m of one of them before it opened its wings and swept silently away. They are very funny when they hunt on the ground – they march around like little Nazis with their wings folded behind their backs.
Then there is the pin tailed Whydah who tries to attack the car every time we go out – all three inches of him, and the striking red eyed Cape Batis who sings so beautifully as he hunts in the bushes. Yesterday we walked the dogs up near the Reserve in a heavy fog. As we made our way through the muffled whiteness a huge kudu loomed up before us. We stopped to admire him but he was so still that the dogs didn’t even realize he was there.
Cape Nature and the Great Brak Municipality decided that after the good rains we’ve had that it was time to let some water out of the Wolwedans dam to flush the river out to the sea. The mouth has been closed for 16 months and this has a detrimental effect on the breeding grounds for fish and the many wild birds in the area. Last week a bulldozer was brought in and for two or three days it dug a trench from the sea towards the river. Excitement rose among the locals who all brought their deck chairs and beers down to the beach to watch proceedings. Eventually, when the end of the trench was fairly close to the river the dam’s flood gates were opened and 600 000 cubic litres of water were let out. The river rose enough to flood the lowest lying areas in town and then it broke through to the sea. Since then the natural ebb and flow of the sea and river have been taking place and the whole landscape of the beach has changed. The wild birds have been feasting on all the muck that washed down – we saw a large flock of spoonbills sifting their way along the mud flats. The colour of the river has changed too – from a golden medium sherry along the edges to a deep port colour in the middle.
Mossel Bay celebrated the Dias Festival last weekend, it’s 523 years since old Bartolomeu landed here. I often wonder what he thought as he sailed into the bay – it is really one of the most beautiful spots with the golden beaches framed by the Outeniqua mountains. I went in to town to buy some fish down at the harbour and ended up watching the navy band from the SS Protea practicing. They were in town for the celebrations and even came through to the Great Brak market on Saturday morning. I must be getting old because I was wondering who all the school boys in uniform were – deary me, they were the Navy!
Our hens have finished hatching out their chicks so we had to build yet another enclosure to keep all the little perishers apart. I've put a picture of little Ali under Our family and other animals - making great progress. Tawny is teaching her chicks to catch flies so they all tear around with eyes firmly fixed on the prize - they are quite funny to watch. The last enclosure I made bears a very strong resemblance to a space frame for a Birkin 7 so we’ve called it Colin after the late great Colin Chapman – designer extraodinaire.
My butter making is improving and we don’t have to buy margarine anymore which is nice. We have such a glut of tomatoes that I’m freezing them for cooking. I went to my first quilt meeting of the year with Piecemakers in Mossel Bay – was so good to be back with a bunch of quilters again, sharing ideas and having a good laugh. On Saturday it’s the Outeniqua Guild meeting in the morning then, weather permitting, Andre and I want to take a ride out to some or other bike jol at Stilbaai. So – till next time, sayonara.