Saturday, March 16, 2013

Summers End Is Near

 At the end of summer, we always seem to see a lot of activity in snake movement. I guess this is due to the fact that they are maybe fattening up before winter and looking for the best spot to hibernate. Today was one of those days when we had a snake encounter, the 2nd encounter this week but this one is worth mentioning! I was on my way down the road with my pack of  9 dogs, taking them for their evening walk, when my daughter, who was busy feeding the horses in the field adjacent to the house, suddenly screamed that she had almost stood on a cobra. I asked her if she could still see it, to which she replied, yes. I gave the dogs the command to "stay" while I ran over to her and told her to go fetch my snake catcher, while I kept an eye on the snake which was lying close to one of my bee hives. Any poisonous snakes that we catch on the farm, we generally release them about 2km away from the house. By the time she returned, my other daughter that was watching from the stoep of the house, warned me that one of our dogs was standing right behind me.
With my snake catcher in hand and waving at the dog behind me to stay away, I tried unsuccessfully to snare the snake.The snake avoided the noose and slithered towards the nearest beehive and into the entrance way. This really pissed the bees off and they all came swarming out the hive looking for some soft flesh to jab, as the snakes was obviously to hard, what with all those protective scales! So, daughter No.1 ran for the house while daughter No.2 ran in the house and I ran for the dogs who were loyally still waiting for me, unaware of the impending danger. I got to them with a couple of bees in tow and we all started running down the road, my wife watching  the drama safely, from inside the house. After about a 150m one of the dogs tripped me up and I went stumbling along trying to maintain my footing but to no avail.... I went sprawling in the dirt with the dog that tripped me up, landing on top of me!! I quickly jumped up expecting to resume the mad dash, or to fend off crazed bees, whichever came first but luckily they had given up the chase.
I  heard my wife shouting from the house, "Are you alright lovey?". I just waved an irritated arm at her and carried on my dog walk with scratches and grazes.
 This year we have had a bumper season of tomatoes. I planted a variety called "beefsteak" and they proved to be very rewarding with most of them weighing in at just under, or over 500gms each, so we have made literally litres of tomatoe sauce to see us through the winter. This will be used in pasta's (home made), soups, pizzas and stews.
who said that tomatoes dont have fun.

 The other day, again while walking the dogs, I was fortunate to witness a mommy tortoise (above) laying her eggs, I suppose this is also a sign that summer is coming to a an end. When she arranged her eggs in the hole that she had dug, they sounded like china cups clinking together. After a bit of "google" research, I found out that we'd have to wait anything between 4 - 18 months for them to hatch, it all depends on the temperature. I went back and marked the spot with a stone. Incidentally, she laid them in my mini olive grove, so it will be easy to keep an eye on them.

 Below is a picture of my kalamata olive tree with its first olives on. The trees are about three years old. Take note of their shape compared to the Manzanilla olives in the pic below.

 My first harvest of monzanella olives coming up these trees are only four years old you can see the tree in the background also covered in olives. I have chosen to go with mostly planting kalamata olives as I really love them and very few people seem to plant them.
 My long red peppers have also given me a good crop this years. I will post a pic of them soon, when they are all lovely and ripe and red.
 I interplanted them with basil, coriander and nasturtium. Above, you can see the coriander and purple basil in the background
 I also put down layers of straw around everything that I planted this year and I swear, this has definitely contributed to my successful crops.
I am sorry to see summer coming to an end, I'm going to miss all the fresh produce straight out the garden but I've already started seedlings of cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, coriander, carrots and beetroot.