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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Haute cuisine.

The Italian leprechaun and I picked ourselves some fresh maize cobs, from the hundreds of acres of maize that surround us here on the farm. 

Corn on the cob. Note, this is not sweet corn, but real maize. Something I absolutely detest is sweet corn. Lots of butter, a light sprinkle of salt, and the glass of dry red wine just elevates the meal to another level :).

Friday, 29 March 2013

God's promise.

True to form, as with the whole of the past summer, storm clouds started to build up all around us yesterday afternoon.

God's promise. This vivid partial rainbow appeared in the sky to the east. The specs on the photo are small raindrops on the camera lens.

The storm clouds gathering.

A perfect cloud, boiling with energy.

Away to the north east the rain was already falling. The rain only started here on the farm after 7 pm, but then it made up for it's delay by coming down in buckets.

A blessed Good Friday and Easter to you all.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The cartoons below I pinched off Vic the Vicars blog. A church man with a sense of humor.

Cast the nets.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Old ox waggon.

Nothing on this farm is ever thrown away, or disposed of. There is a plethora of old farm implements that go back for more than a century. One of the old pieces of farm equipment is an old ox waggon, still fully functional, all you need is a span of oxen. Here in SA a team of oxen is called a span. 

A span consisted of about sixteen oxen, yoked (spanned) two by two, the strongest pair right at the back, (the wheel oxen), the two most intelligent right in front. A well trained, matched span, (all black, all brown or the same basic hide pattern), of oxen was a mans pride and joy. Each ox had a name, like "Goliat", (Goliath), "Swartman", (Blackman), that rolled off the tongue, each ox new it's name and responded to it. 

At "inspan" time each ox new it's place in the span and went to stand next to it's yoke. After eight hours of work time oxen needed eight hours to graze,+-, and eight hours to rest and chew the cud.

Click to enlarge.

This metal plate reads, " 1940 Natal wheel tax" and in Afrikaans "wielbelasting".

I choose to do these photos in HDR (High Dynamic Resolution) to bring out the texture and one could say "grittiness" of the old waggon.

Waggons were built with indigenous hardwoods, stinkwood, yellowwood, and others. Each part of the waggon was made out of a different wood. Axles out of the hardest wood, wheel spokes out of something more flexible.

For more than 200 years most waggons in SA were built in the town of Paarl, (Pearl) in the Western Cape, a sort of waggon Detroit. Each part was handcrafted, blacksmiths pounded out steel parts at their forges, wheelwrights assembled the wheels, and each spoke, cut planed and shaved to the correct size by hand.

This particular waggon might have been built here right in Estcourt, at the Estcourt Waggon Works, still in existence, though they don't build waggons any more. This business, now selling and servicing, ride on mowers, golf carts, brush cutter, etc., has been in the same family for about a 150 years. The type of business they do has changed, but the name hasn't.

Back wheel.

Hub, the closer you get the more fascinated you become with the intricacies of waggon building.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


Thursday was a public holiday here in SA, human rights day, or some such nonsense. One thing public holidays are good for is to go fishing, and that is what I did. It was still dark when the Italian leprechaun and I left to go fish the Little Mooi river, on the farm Stagstones in the Kamberg valley.

Click to enlarge.

Literally the crack of dawn. This photo was taken looking back the way we came just as the sun peeped over the horizon.

The Little Mooi at Stagstones. "Mooi", is Afrikaans for pretty, the old pioneers named quite a few rivers Mooi in SA. In a dry country like ours all rivers look pretty. (This stream is pretty)

Brown trout were planted in this stream in the  early1890's, since then they have bred and flourished here under extremely harsh conditions. In the summer the water can get very warm. In the winter the stream is reduced to a trickle, and in drought years it almost dries up, yet the trout survive.

 This is a tough stream to fish, the banks are steep and trees grow over it making it impossible to cast in most places. Except for a few pools most of the stream is not more than knee deep, the water is clear so unless you are very careful the fish see you a long way off.

I would think that the best time to fish here is very late in the afternoon, or after sunset, and to look for rising fish. Although I spent about three hours wading I saw no fish, the water was warm and I suspect that they were all in the shadiest, deepest holes they could find.

Photos of me fishing by Enrico Bucceri, aka the Italian Leprechaun.

Concentration, watch that drift.

One of the few places where you can actually do a normal cast on this stream.

Preparing to roll cast. for most of the stream this is the only cast practicable, and then only a rod length or two.

Maybe, just maybe, in the shade against  the undercut bank.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Too wet for amphibians?

 Sunday night we had one of our torrential downpours which have been the norm all summer. In a dry country such as ours we don't normally complain if it rains, but this summer   it has almost been too much of a good thing, even the amphibians are taking shelter from the rain.

This Cape claw less toad, which is almost 100% water dwelling, actually came into the lounge to get out of the rain it seemed. I put it out and two minutes later it was back. Not the prettiest of creatures, it's harmless enough and serves a useful purpose in nature. 

Years ago these hapless creature were kept by the hundreds at hospitals around the world as a reliable pregnancy test, the so called "frog test". Pop one of these in the urine of a woman and if the toad started spawning, accurate proof that the woman was pregnant. 

A great favourite as bait among bait fishermen, as they don't drown and their struggles to get off the hook attracts game fish, such as bass, sharp toothed catfish, (barbel) and large mouth yellow fish. (They are usually hooked through the skin on the back). 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Storm over the Drakensberg.

Rain storm over the Drakensberg.

Click to enlarge.

In the middle distance, on the right, the buttress of 'Nthabamhlope, (White Mountain). The rain can be seen just behind it.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Cosmos and crab spiders.

Summer is on the downhill slope here in the Southern Hemisphere, and autumn is fast approaching. One of the signs of autumn here is the cosmos flowers which start to bloom. Yesterday afternoon late, I went out to photograph some of them. I noticed that many of the blooms have a resident crab spider, Thomisus spectabilis. These spiders ambush bees and other insects which come to collect nectar.

Click to enlarge.

The spider on this flower had just dipped the carcass of a bee over the edge of the flower. All evidence of murder most foul disposed of.

Here the spider has taken on the colour of the pollen in the center of the flower. On some of the white flowers the spiders were such an exact match that they were virtually invisible.

Close up of the spider above, enlarge the photo to see the detail.

A general photo of some of the flowers.

Perfect beauty.

Standing tall.

Silouhete of grass stems against  the sunset.

Irena Sendler.

Remember this lady? I didn't either.

Irena Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland
During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi's broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.

Please share this to honor the sacrifice and courage of this fine human being who gave so much and saved so many. more
Bottom of Form 1

Unfortunately I could not load her photo. (see link)

Friday, 15 March 2013


Click to enlarge.

Now we know.

Practice makes perfect.

No comment.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Confused ? Not confused?

Judging from the photos below some people were born confused.

Click to enlarge.

Road makings, the person who painted these was definitely confused. In South Africa we drive on the correct side of the road, (ie. the left side). This is obviously a one-way and the signs should have either had left turn only, or left and right allowed. (Well he almost got it right, he just does not know his left from his right. As our drill sergeants used to scream at us, "Army left, not civi left, you moron". (They never were were "that" polite though). 

Way back in the 60's there was talk of changing to driving on the right, it was thought to be the modern and progressive way to go. Can you imagine the confusion then!

Would you say this guy is confused about his "gender affiliation"? To use some P C speak.

I'd say the person who built this was not confused. (then again maybe he was).

9 - 6, 24 hrs?

Not confused yet?

Well I never!! Duh! We all new that.

Slow death.

Ready to go "braai pack, (BBQ pack). Something every red blooded South African male understands, irrespective of race, colour, or status, beer and meat. Although if you turned up at any self respecting "bring and braai", you would never live down the disgrace bringing so little meat and only one beer.

If you're not confused yet you are better than I am.

Only in Africa, as we say here at the bottom of the dark continent. 

Not a bad place really in spite of all the negative press, I for one doubt I could live any where else. My heart is shaped like Africa and that's the only place it will fit.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Schrader balloon tire pressure gauge & 1922 Hupmobile.

Ninety years old and still working perfectly.

In 1923 my paternal grandfather purchased a brand new 1922 Hupmobile, (took a while to get here by ship) at the same time he got this Schrader, Balloon Tire, Pressure Gauge. I suppose it came as part of the cars accessories.

This item has now been in the families possession for 90 years.

Click to enlarge.

Made of nickle plated brass. 

The chamois pouch is also in perfect order

The name of the manufacturer. A. Schrader Son, Inc.

Made in Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A.

Rated to measure from 10 to 42 lbs. This gauge still works perfectly. Vintage Schrader pressure gauges are going on eBay for $8.50.

The pres stud on the chamois pouch also in perfect working condition.

A 1922 Hupmobile. Price about $750.

Driving home in their new car, top down, my grandparents put my father, not quite three years old yet, on the back seat. No baby seats back then. Along the way my grandfather hit a bump in the road and my father went sailing over the back of the car. It was several miles further before my grandparents discovered he was missing. They found him sitting on his bum in the middle of the road, shaken, but otherwise unhurt.