👣 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.

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!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

I come out at dusk

Camera : Canon EOS 550D
Taken in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)
I sit and drink tea in the mornings, and come out at dusk to listen as the world tucks itself in for the night…

Winding down for the day, birds in the peach tree in my garden. Dusk is when Nature is most at rest with herself.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Farm talk - Surrounded by Karee's

The front entrance of my home, densely framed by two species of Karee’s – Karee viminalis (White Karee) and Karee lancea (black Karee) and various indigenous grasses and aloes.

I’ve had a couple of requests to ‘share’ a bit more about where I live on my little piece of African soil, so I decided to do a short series of my home in Tarlton, South Africa, situated on an 8.5ha smallholding. This is purely for fun! I would just like to mention that, when landscaping my garden about 12 years ago, I took inspiration from Africa, and nature in particular, choosing to plant only indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, with the result that I have a rather wild garden with not much colour, as indigenous flowers and shrubs tend to be less spectacular than most exotic plants, which just don’t do well in our climate at all, with very hot and sometimes dry summers and winters that can dish out the coldest of frosts.

I am not ostentatious by nature and prefer the simple and natural things in life. Hope you enjoy and find this series interesting! I know I just LOVE to see other people’s living spaces, be it small or large, simple or ornate, in suburbia or the country, in a basement or a sky-scraper, inland or at the coast.

A garden ornament hanging from a Karee Viminalis (White Karee), and Jacko sitting at the front door 

An old (and now rusty!) paraffin lamp provides some light at night. On the corner of the pathway is a clump of Restio (Cape Reed grass) and right at the back is planted some Zebra Grass (Miscanthus). Grown in India, Australia and Madagascar, South Africa and other warmer countries in Europe. 

The Zebra Grass gets these beautiful white plumes at the onset of winter before dying down. 

One of the many bird baths in my garden. An old log is being cleaned up by some termites (I’ve been chasing them all over the garden by pouring Diesel down their holes and this is the latest spot they’ve surfaced!) 

My vantage point on the patio from where I survey the birds and my garden. A concrete-relief gecko adorns the patio wall. 

Rhamnus prinoides (Dogwood or Shiny Leaf) front right of the pic – (Afrikaans) : blinkblaar, hondepishout) – a tall, conspicuous evergreen shrub, or small tree – a root decoction has been used to treat pneumonia, and the leaves used as a liniment for sprains. Parts of the plant are also reputed to have protective powers against lightning and evil spirits. It’s a rather scrambly plant and seems to be taking over this section of the garden. Planted it in the wrong spot ...

My Acacia karroo (Soetdoring) in the foreground – I just LOVE this Acacia’s beautiful thorns and little yellow pom-pom flowers. It also provides shelter and safe nesting spots for the Red Bishop and Masked Weaver (but not for the Lone Ranger! lol!)

 A large metal Gecko adorns the wall of the garages

The chicken coop next to the garages where Artemis and the girls spend their nights. During the day they terrorise my garden!

The lawned driveway leading to the garages

The fenced area of my wildlife pond where Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, lives

 A vintage metal plant stand on my patio housing some of my succulents

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