Sunday, September 25, 2011

what we have been up to...

Our dam in the late afternoon
We have had such a busy last couple of weeks that to sit down to write and download pics, have seemed like too much of a task to undertake.  I would rather spend the time chatting with Rae and family, with a glass of red wine in my hands, when having a spare minute!! I kid you not, we are busy from morning till 12 o'clock every night.
The most important thing I have learnt in the last few months, after going for a check up at the doc, is that I have a enlarged heart and then after going for ex-rays and then a cardiogram,  I also have to have an aortic valve replacement operation. My aortic chamber is stretched to the max of 6.5 cm in diameter and stands the chance of bursting or rupturing, and then it will be all over, they say. It is 90% certain that I will need the op but I will still have to go for a catheter procedure to finalize the whole thing. Until that time, I will have to take it easy but those of you living on a farm know that it is easier said than done, especially with no labour to help you! I feel very positive about the op and obviously I would rather not have to go through with it but at the end of the day, the doc said that I would be surprised at how much better I would feel and that I have been obviously living with this condition  for some time and do not know what its like to feel normal, so... role on op!
This winter so far, we have had so much rain which  has been a real blessing, as since we have lived here, we have only experienced a drought which in the last two years has seen our spring dry up and our dams go dry. Lucky, we have a really good borehole that delivers 4500litres an hour and to that I have a pump fitted, that only draws 2500litres an hour so we can never overdraw on it and it has never given up on us, even if we have had to irrigate for three days in a row. Anyway, we now have full dams with the spring running constantly, creating a permanent river through our land and down into the Kouga River that feeds the Port Elizabeth metropole.
Another thing we have been really busy with, is since we have been living here, we have noticed a real need for a project to be set up to help the township animals. This we have now set up on our own, the main aim being to educate, sterilize, feed and to combate mange. In the beginning, we funded this ourselves but have since started a non-profit organization called J.A.W.S ( Joubertina Animal Welfare Services) and the local people and businesses are starting to contribute in the way of cash donations, old blankets, etc.We also are providing a shelter/kennel for all the needy dogs we come across.. This is in the form of  barrels that are being donated by the local fruit farmers in the area.We cut off the front of the barrel, lay it on it's side and pop rivet carpets into them and then kit them out with a blanket as well. Voila... a lovely, practical shelter which the dogs love!
In the beginning when we mentioned the project to people, they were really negative and said that we would never get the support from the locals. This however, has proved to be quite the opposite and the support has been really great so far, with donations being recieved from the church, local petrol station, the welfare organision, local co-op, butchery, etc, and then of course the real blessing is that a vet from Karreedow has offered us a very good rate for sterilization, which is a vital element to this whole project. Since starting this project it has also become impossible not to get involved with the families that own these dogs because how can you help the animals without attending to the needs of the people. So, as a result, we now also work in a close relationship with our local welfare officer. It is amazing the change that we have already seen in the peoples attitude towards their animals and the pride they take in a healthy animal and all the wonderful kids we have met. We now are hoping to sell our farm to purchase another one in the area that would be better suited for kennels and also for perhaps taking taking in horses that might need to be rescued, etc. We have our eyes on a local farm nearby that has been on the market for some time and should we manage to sell ours, then we will put in an offer... wish us luck!
The other highlight this month was that our "Chamomile & Rooibos" soap was chosen to appear in an article on rooibos tea in the Fair Lady. We were very proud!

Another highlight for us was having our little foster child that we looked after for 6 months last year, come stay with us for the weekend. We were so thrilled to see him and enjoyed every minute! In the pic below, he is sitting on my scrambler motorbike, showing me what a triangle looks like. Luaan is absolutely nuts about motorbikes and spent most of the weekend happily climbing on.... and off.... on.... and off! He is growing up into such a beautiful little boy, totally adored by his now permanent foster parents.

Being spring, we have tulips that spring( ha ha) out in the veldt  in a mass profusion of purples and yellows. They only open in the afternoon and are poisonous if injested by animals. Luckily, our horses seem to know that but we have a farmer nearby that wasn't so lucky with some calfs that he had brought in from a different region. Utterly beautiful though and one of our favourite times of the year.
The pic below is of Lulu's hooves. The picture was intended to be of her whole body with me taking it lying on the ground, but she's was so curious by the fact of me lying on the ground that she would keep coming up to me to investigate. So I told her that she would then have to appear on the blog "feet first" .
I had to refrain from cutting the grass which I dislike doing anyway, so that we could enjoy the spring flowers for longer. In fact, we have decided to leave the grass until they stop flowering.
It was also my youngest daughter, Rain's, 15th Birthday... she is on the left. She had a stunning birthday with her sister (on the right) and a bunch of friends down at the river and then upon returning, they all went for an outride.
Below, a gorgeous pic of the tulips with our neighbours house in the background.
We now have Pablo, our new horse as you know, so we have been going on a lot of outrides.
The other major mission we have been busy with, is collecting wattle droppers, or as is commonly known in South Africa, latte. This we will use to make our wire fencing more dog proof by placing them at fifteen centimeter intervals.This will firm up the fencing and will be narrow enough to prevent the dogs getting out. The only reason we are doing this is because when I'm in hospital for a few days, this will make Rae's life on the farm a lot easier with just one less thing to worry about. Below is our first little pile we have collected and Rae is busy stripping the bark off, then it is left to dry until we use them. By the way, we still have loads that we need to cut, bring home and peel, before we can even start and time is running out, especially since we still have a soap business to run which is incredibly busy at the moment!
In between all of this, I have also had three wild bee swarms arrive, for which I have had to quickly assemble hives. Below, is a pic of a swarm arriving and in the background is a catch box that is smaller than our hive box and is generally placed to catch the wild swarms, either in trees or anywhere in fact, or as in my case, the garage.
Below is a  picture of a full frame of honey and in it you can see that all the honey cells are covered with a layer of wax. This is called the wax cap. It is what you look for when investigating your "supers" to see if your honey is ready to be taken out. If the cells have little wax caps on them, it means that the bees are happy with the honey in there and it's good for storage which means that it is ready for us to harvest. There is more to this business of the bees capping the honey but I will maybe explain it another time.
Pablo in the field of tulips, deftly manipulating his lips around the poisons tulips to eat the grasses in between. It is actually amazing to watch up close as they do it so accurately, you would swear they had eyeballs in their lips!
This is my daughters horse Gwho-Gwho, doing the same thing.
Below our spring water running into our little dam and as you can see, it is quite a little stream. Well, that's that, it 8 o'clock on a Friday evening and time for supper and a nice glass of red wine!


Dani said...

Tino - Somehow I missed this posting - were we on the farm...?

So sorry to hear about your valve replacement. I have a dicky heart valve too (my mitral valve) - a result of having rheumatic fever when I was 11. When are you due to go for the op?

Also, very sad to hear that you are looking at buying again in Joubertina - was really looking forward to having y'all as neighbours :(

Your daughters are absolutely stunning - probably best that you're not moving near to us - we have a 27 year old (single) son LOL

What you are doing for the local animals is incredible - and I seriously don't know where you find the time / energy! And just love the JAWS acronym - very appropriate.

Take care - you're all in my thoughts and prayers. Please let me know the outcome of the op :)

African Bliss said...

Thank you Dani for your kind thoughts. I always say if your heart is good you can over come any thing, but I guess a person with cancer would not agree. The name JAWS, Rae came up with, I agree it is brilliant. With regards to buying another farm, 1stly we have not sold ours yet and 2ndly we have now taken up a huge responsibility almost beyond our control and quite we dont have the time but we are dealing with one family at a time. As much as we would have like to have been your neighbours in your beautiful area it just seems like we are destined to be here for a while. My daughter has just chirped in the back ground, "how about a picture of their son"? hehehehee

Jan, Nina, Rene and Andreas said...

What an amazing post, thanks for sharing all the news Dino. :) Sorry about your heart problems, I am sure they will get sorted though. And I hope you have a speedy recovery afterwards.

Its truly amazing what we are capable of doing/accomplishing even though we may not have enough time in the day. You guys are truly an example of what hard work and dedication can result in.. <3