💛 In summer I always enjoy an early-evening walk on our smallholding. No need to get in my car to find nature, I have 8.5ha right here to explore, hoping to see the Barn Owl or some Guinea fowl, but always enjoying the Bluegum trees and beautiful grasses and wild flowers along the way.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Memories of Tarlton - Kiep's first egg!

Kiep, my little pet hen, comes from Bantam stock, though clearly mixed with a variety of other chicken breeds, and she actually looks like a miniature Leghorn.

Here she is in her nest box in my studio (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa), laying her very first egg! Scratching around in her nest box, trying to settle in, all her feather’s erect and a glassy-eyed expression until the egg finally appeared! Kiep was reared in my studio, straight out of the egg, and to this day, 9 years later, she still wanders into my studio too spend some time with me.

Bantam chickens have been domesticated for centuries. In fact, they are one of the oldest known domestic animals. Marco Polo wrote about banties in his journal. While all bantams are chickens, not all chickens are banties.

All bantams are smaller than regular chickens and they share some unique personality traits. I personally think they have more personality than chickens do, are more able to care for themselves, and find more of their own food. They seem to keep the grasshopper population down better than other types of poultry! I haven’t seen a bug in my garden for ages since introducing chickens to my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa) again early this year.

Healthy bantams are curious. They will check out anything that seems unusual and loudly announce the arrival of visitors. I do not keep them locked in the pen, they roam as much as possible (a chicken’s raison de etre!) and have access to fresh, green grass, insects, and whatever else they find in addition to the feed I give them.

Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195
Taken in my previous garden, Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Memories of Tarlton - Chi-Chi in the Leopard lilies

We’ve been having extremely hot weather and even my chooks have been gasping in the heat. My chickens have no problem with winter, but every summer you can find them listless in the shade, trying to cool off. Unfortunately chickens don’t bath in water (they have sand baths) otherwise that would be a quick solution to cooling off! But they do find shady spots for a bath in the cool sand leaving my garden looking like a volcanic eruption has taken place!

Here Chi-Chi, the youngest of my pet hens, takes a break amongst the Leopard Lilies and ferns.

Camera : Canon EOS 550D
Taken in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Memories of Tarlton - My garden is turning into a jungle!

Dedicated to all garden-lovers!

A path in my garden slowly getting taken over by all the plants after the good rains we had this last summer (winter here now in South Africa) and if I don’t do something about it, I’ll soon be crawling around in a jungle!

Taken in my previous garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa
Camera : Canon EOS 550D

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Memories of Tarlton - Early-morning along the garden path

There is nothing more exhilarating than checking up on your garden plants just as the sun is rising. Everything is smiling in anticipation of another glorious day!
And two Aloe ferox eagerly await their turn in the sunshine!

Taken in my previous garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa
Camera : Canon EOS 550D

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Memories of Tarlton - Gettin' caught in the rain!

After months of drought, few experiences can match the sound and smell of falling rain – unless it is the exhilaration of being caught in it while working in the garden!

Camera : Canon EOS 550D
Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Saying goodbye

Well, we've sold our smallholding, so this blog was a very brief sojourn! We're moving down to the North Coast, Kwa Zulu Natal (South Africa) and hopefully our new life there will be as exciting, ordinary, meaningful and wonderful as our 42 years in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) has been.

It's hard, difficult and heart-breaking to say goodbye to a life-time of gardening, chooks, running our business, sketching and painting the area and joys and sorrows, but life has a way of taking one in different directions and enjoying the journey is what it is all about, right?

I will be documenting the move and happenings here till the last moment and maybe throw in a few Tarlton articles in between. It will be adieu, but not forgotten...

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Guineas are winged wonders

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - unframed 12" x 8"- original for sale here.

After years of not seeing any guinea fowl around our property (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa), I was lucky enough to have a visit from them a couple of days ago and I was totally thrilled! Taking some photographs also gave me a chance to do some quick sketches.

a guinea fowl
molting polka dot feathers—
I see
handmade earrings

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Introducing the Cradle of Humankind

Situated in the heart of Tarlton, The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site region in South Africa is approximately 90 minutes' drive from the Johannesburg city centre and offers visitors the opportunity to learn about stones and bones, wine and dine in tranquil surroundings, try out a range of adrenalin-pumping activities, have a beautiful wedding, discover a range of wonderful wildlife and experience culture and craft. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is one of eight in the country. It's the world's richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils. The area is also home to a diversity of birds, animals and plants, some of which are rare or endangered.

The striking Tumulus building, which houses the Maropeng visitor centre, greets you as you arrive for your journey to discover Maropeng.

In one of the passages inside Maropeng

In one of the passages inside Maropeng

Outside in the gardens

The impressive entrance to Maropeng

One of the passages inside Maropeng

The largest collection of human hominid fossils are on show right now, but not for long - go meet Naledi and learn about the awesome cavers Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker who discovered the fossils, the incredible all female anthropologist/archaeologist team who retrieved them, and (my favourite) Professor Lee Berger who led the team 😍 also, their latest addition of an Experience Lab is awesome. Kids got things lucky these days.

Maropeng is not just a showcase for old bones and history. You can also take an awesome boat ride through the "depths of the earth", traversing ice tunnels and erupting volcanic chambers. Be sure to hang onto your hat for this exciting trip!

The drive to Maropeng offers beautiful vistas. Discover the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves all in one day.

Spend the night at the Maropeng Hotel and wake up to breathtaking views of the Witwaterberg and Magaliesberg ranges.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The appeal of Tarlton lies in its serenity

Gauteng might be the smallest province in the country, but it is home to an enormous variety of attractions, activities and towns that are well worth the visit. These include the epicentre, Johannesburg, as well as the historically and politically relevant Pretoria. One of the much smaller towns of this province is Tarlton. While little and secluded, Tarlton is the perfect base from which to see a host of exciting South African sights, thanks to its convenient locale.

The incredible Sterkfontein Caves are situated in Tarlton, and are famous around the world for the fossils to which they have been home for millions of years. In fact, this entire area has been dubbed the Cradle of Humankind by many scientists, and is believed to have a history that dates back to between 20 and 30 million years.

Springbok at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve 

Giraffe at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve

The appeal of Tarlton lies in its serenity and the sense of calm that infuses every part of the visitors’ experiences here. Popular activities in the region include rock climbing, hiking and walking, visiting flower farms, the Tarlton International Raceway where hot rods and muscle cars are a huge attraction, taking a microlite flight and visiting the Krugersdorp Game Reserve. There are also several top class Guest Houses in Tarlton, offering first-class accommodation close to all amenities. Some of the nearby towns are Muldersdrift, Hartebeeshoek, Skeerpoort, Krugersdorp, Magaliesburg, Randfontein and Roodepoort.

The Tarlton summers are usually rather warm, but afternoons are cooled down with frequent, welcome thunder showers. Winter days are cool and the evenings quite cold.The area is also known for it's good water as it is situated on Dolomitic Aquifiers, a very strong source of high quality underground water and plots and smallholdings are highly sought after in this area.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Autumn on the farm

The baler standing at the ready to collect all the cut grass

Autumn is the time when we start preparing our smallholding for winter – cut the fire breaks, bale the grass and a general clean-up before the veld fires (wild fires) strike (without fail every year, no matter what precautions we take!), but it at least minimises the impact when the grass is short.

Cutting and baling the grass is no mean feat. First of all, all the equipment is very expensive. We do have our own tractor and grass cutter, but none of the necessary equipment like rakes and balers to complete the job after cutting. We are tractor repair people, not farmers, so we long ago decided to leave the job to the professionals.

I've stood and watched many a time as various people have taken on the job of cutting and baling our 8.5ha smallholding and I can tell you, by now I can see the difference between a "professional" and somebody (like us!) that just takes a tractor, cuts the grass and attempts to bale it. Over the years we have been extremely lucky in finding a neighbour that is utterly "professional" and eloquent at the job of cutting and baling, leaving our smallholding looking smart and neat and ready for the winter.

 The process of collecting the grass in the baler..

baling it up, dropping it ...
and moving on to the next lot of grass

 Bales ready for collection by the tractor and trailer

Since the cutting and baling was finished, we've had quite a bit of rain again and the yellow fields are now bright and green again. Looks like the same procedure is going to take place again before mid-winter!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Early morning mist

Camera : Canon EOS 550D -- 6.15am

It is purported that thick, early morning mist heralds a beautiful day ahead. Yesterday it certainly turned out to be true, beautiful blue skies and not a cloud in sight.

Wikipedia says mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air. Physically, it is an example of a dispersion. It is most commonly seen where warm, moist air meets sudden cooling. It can also occur as part of natural weather, when humid air cools rapidly, for example when the air comes into contact with surfaces that are much cooler than the air.

The only difference between mist and fog is visibility. The phenomenon is called fog if the visibility is one kilometre (1,100 yards) or less. Yesterday morning the visibility was about 50m, so technically I suppose this is fog!

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