The Weather November 2017
  Looks like Mister Drought is rearing his ugly head again. Although October 2017 rainfall was the highest over the past three years for October, all the rainfall came in only two downpour sessions. We had a really good week of rain in the beginning of the month, and the second was over two days two thirds through the month - two hot summer weeks with no rain is just not good for farming, especially when we're trying to make an early start on getting our crops going to avoid the late growing season insect and fungus pests.

That lovely lush green new veld grass growth is starting to wilt and die off now and we're now spending a lot of time watering our vegetables (almost twice daily just keeps them surviving) and managing our meagre water resources.

And unfortunately the rainfall forecasts never look promising. We sometimes get enthusiastic with the long term forecasts, but as they become short term they always seem to change to "sunny and fine"!

Early November daily rain forecast was "a thunderstorm in spots" - this one way off to the east of our spot!

  Veldfire Season Still With Us
  I would never have believed that the green grass would burn. Across the road the farmer that is hiring the land from Che for cattle grazing decided to burn a few areas that mainly had weeds growing on them. They started with the normal safety firebreaks and then went on to burn the "badland" areas. Ended up just about the entire field burned. It was like winter all over again as we all went on firefighting standby and actually had to mobilise later in the evening when the wind came up to make sure the pavement fire didn't jump the road and to dampen down some serious flareups on the edges of the field.

We hear they're now thinking of taking their cattle off the land and ploughing the entire field to plant crops for the season. I think they'll be waiting for some certain signs of rain first, though.

. . . and on the distant hills, veldfires still burn on the dry grasslands and in the thick forests

  November Full Moon
A bit of cirrus cloud in the eastern sky produced a lovely full moon    
With all the weird weather at the moment: most days sweltering hot, icy cold winds through the nights and almost constant gale force winds, from time to time nature's beauty still shines through.

The November full moon is all about water. It is called the "Full Beaver Moon", named after the period in North America when the bears and beavers become active as they get ready for their winter season. It misses being a "supermoon" (where the full moon occurs as the moon reaches perigee - its closest distance to Earth) by one day.

  Felling Those Big Trees
  Enough procrastination now. Once all the trusses were sealed and a bit more thinking done, we decided to get going on felling those trees. The plan was to cut them quite high on their main trunks as judging their height and how far they will fall was a bit difficult. Cutting them high on their trunks would mean they wouldn't fall too far and there would be very little risk of the treetops reaching the garage and workshop buildings. The bottom trunks could be felled later. But it was essential that all the trees fall into the open space in the driveway, otherwise the whole operation could end up a serious mess.

We first placed an old log on top of the forest shelter workshop low wall where the heaviest part of the trunks would fall. The wall was more than strong enough to support the trunks crashing down onto it, but if the trunk didn't drop square onto the top of the wall, it could break a brick or two. The log would take the main brunt of the initial trunk weight and spread the load across the top row of bricks.

Then we got out the very long ladder and Mandla climbed his way up to the fork of the first tree and when he was stable enough, hurled the half brick with the rope attached into the high branches. He was pretty accurate and we had the rope hooked around a branch in no time.

The ladder was then shortened a bit and Mandla began sawing away into the one side of the branch just above the fork. The wind was howling as usual, so I tried to hold the treetop as steady as possible and keep some tension on it with the rope while he listened carefully for any cracking while he was sawing. When he was happy that a good pull would fell it, he got down, moved the ladder out of the way and then helped me pull the tree down into the driveway. With a big crash the treetop came down perfectly into the assigned space in the driveway.

Felling number two (actually the second fork of tree number one) was done in exactly the same way as the first, also crashing down perfectly in the open space in the driveway but it didn't break off completely from the main trunk. No amount of manual pulling would break it loose so instead of getting back up there and trying to saw it loose we decided to bring the tractor in and just rip if off. Worked perfectly and the big branch fell neatly onto the log on top of the little wall.

Getting ready to throw the rope  
Cutting the first big branch
  A big pull and down it comes
Dust settling after the first branch comes down   
   Second branch still "hanging" up there
  Felling number three was the other tree. With no fork to split the job into two and a bit of a bigger trunk, the tree had to be felled one shot. And with the remaining trunk of the first tree in
  the way, it was possible that it would fall either side of the first tree trunk. So there was certainly some risk of damaging to the walls or pillars with this one.

We used the same system of getting Mandla up as high as safely possible so he could throw the half brick with the rope attached through some of the treetop branches and then sawing slowly into the big trunk. We decided to saw quite a bit lower on this one as the previous tree top branches didn't fall anywhere near our building structures.

And even if we tried, we would never have been able to bring it down so perfectly that when the top
   Tractor ready for the big pull . . .

   . . . rope goes slack as the trunk snaps . . .

   . . . down it comes to rest in the fork of the first tree
  branches fell into the designated clearing, the large trunk was left laying perfectly in the fork of the first tree. This gave us the opportunity to prepare the surface below it for the impact when we finally pulled it out of the fork by it's treetop branches with the tractor.
The next morning - view from the upstairs workshop - all the branches sorted and ready to be taken away

  Scoring More Net
  Mandla is now in constant communication with the municipal dump people and as soon as some net fencing arrives, they let him know.

One morning the call came through that they had net so he and Martie headed off to the dump to collect it. Wow - a whole bakkie full. We had to pay a bit for the "service" but nowhere near the price of the net if we had to go out and buy it from the shops.

  Road Kill Rescue
  And on the way back from the dump Martie had to again stop traffic on our little Rensburg road to save another chameleon from being certain road kill.

This one didn't seem too happy about being rescued and tried to scare Martie off with a bit of open mouth hissing. Mandla doesn't do chameleons at all so there was no way he was going to hold the angry little monster in the bakkie for the rest of the way back. So she somehow managed to bundle it into the cubbyhole, which of course didn't do much for the poor thing's attitude. When they got back to the farm and I finally got it out it was so angry it turned black and was hissing furiously and anyone that came near it.

But after a while it calmed down and I let it loose into the peach tree up at the pumphouse. I watched over it for a few minutes and when I went back to check it about an hour later the little master of diguise had disappeared.

Martie and the chameleon in a "mouth off"   

   New chameleon in the peach tree

  Late Afternoon Waterbuck Laze-about
  We now see the five waterbuck bulls just about every day. We're not sure where they hang out during the heat of the days, but they can always be seen grazing peacefully in the early mornings and late afternoons on the flat grassland around our log fence or at the foot of the hill. They seem to becoming more familiar with us and our animals and have lately been coming quite close.
    Coming inside!!
Casually laying around enjoying the last rays of the late afternoon sun on the hillside

  And the Wind Just Keeps Howling
25km/h winds from the north west early in the morning    
We had good August winds (supposed to bring good summer rains) which continued on into September and then right on into October. It's now November and we've still got continual howling winds - day and night. Is our windy season ever going to end this year?

And the cold fronts are still getting through - some evenings the wind is icy cold but fortunately our summer sun brings very quick heat relief during the days.

Strong winds producing lovely wind row clouds to the west over the Suikerbosrand hills

  Outside Shower At Last
  Although our inside showers haven't been finished yet (still a lot of finishing work to be done in the pumphouse bathroom) as I needed to do some work on reconfiguring the plumbing for the solar geyser system and borehole pump water routing, we decided that while we were doing plumbing stuff we would set up our outside shower.

It's a bit primitive with all the copper pipes surface mounted on the wall, two rather industrial looking taps and a simple shower head. After a few hours of soldering and fitting all the pipes together on the dining room table one evening, the whole contraption was ready to screw onto the wall.

A quick check that the hot and cold water mixing was working (worked perfectly) and it was ready for showering. Unfortunately it was a few days before we could get to use it - bad weather - and we'll probably going to need a slightly bigger shower head for a more comfortable shower.

  Cleaning Up
  With Mandla having now cut off all the smaller branches from the main trunks and a few bakkie loads of branches moved off to our "big composting area" we invited Johan and Marcelle over for coffee one morning. And he brought along his trusty chainsaw.

Johan and the chainsaw made really quick work of taking the remaining trunks down onto the ground where he cut them up into manageable sized logs for us. Thanks Johan.

So now we've got a big pile of logs for splitting (even more firewood once it's dried out a bit) and lots of fresh sawdust for our toilet systems.

  Growing Tunnel #1
  So far our most productive tunnel this season with a bit of everything in it.

Spinach that Martie planted from seed in the far right top corner, black beauty brinjal (eggplant) from bought seedlings down the middle and a few tomato plants given to us by Piet and Annetjie in between everything else.

Then on the left, those squash seedlings given to us by "greenfingers" Richard are now strong bushes with abundant flowers and lots of small squashes developing.

  November Cold Front
  Halfway through November, almost mid-summer and predictions came through to brace for a severe cold front over the Highveld - with snow falling over four of our southern provinces! If this is the effects of global warming, then weather pattern changes are happening awfully quickly.
Big thunderstorm building to the north west and south west - just a few weak cumulus clouds above us
  While waiting for the cold air to get through to us we had the most amazing thunderstorms building all around us. On one day we had storms out on all the four corners from the farm. But unfortunately lovely clear skies with only a few small underdeveloped cumulus clouds drifting around above us.

When the cold front eventually did reach us and the cold air from the Atlantic Ocean cut in under the warm air over the land mass, we got a meagre 4mm of rain from the resulting convection system. Taking a look at the satellite image on the left (a few hours after the front had just passed over us), it looks like many places got a whole lot more than 4mm.

But this was also no ordinary cold front. It came in more from direct west and extended way up into Central Africa. Our cold fronts normally sweep in from the south west and extend upwards seldom reaching in higher than Botswana where they weaken over the land mass. We're really having very weird weather patterns right now.

  Chicken News
  Seems like it's broody season for the chickens. We have two little white silkies just gone broody inside the chicken house and our "Miss Brown" chicken has set up a really cosy little nest in the forest next to a big tree stump.
"Miss Brown" out to quickly eat and drink - "brood patch" on her chest (bare patch to get her body warmth directly to the eggs) clearly visible

As soon as the white silkies settled down in the chicken house we stole their eggs and replaced them with some more Potch Koekoek eggs we got from the farm across the road. Dr Frankenstein experiment #2 - this time we only put two eggs under each chicken. Four Potch Koekoek chicks to start with will be fine.

Our "Miss Brown" hen just disappeared and it took us a day or two to find where she had set up her nest in the forest. When we found it there were nine eggs in it. Either she
    Nine eggs in Miss Brown's nest well hidden in the forest

    Some of our roosters. Mr King fluffing up in the centre, Mr Scruff
    always hanging around for an opportunity at anything on the right
    and one of the pair in growing tunnel #4 in the background
  was quietly stashing them away there for a few days before she went broody or some of the other hens were contributing (bantams do that). She seemed to have her nest well hidden so we decided to take our chances with the predators and leave her nesting there. She's not in great condition so she takes a break from sitting quite often and comes out to the workshop area looking for food and water. One day she will hopefully emerge permanently from the depths of the forest with her nine chicks.

Then there's our gang of roosters. We have too many roosters and they're all very competitive and persistent, which results in a lot of crowing all day long. The alpha rooster, Mr King has his harem of six hens (of which three are broody at the moment) and they are allowed to total freedom of the farm. A second younger rooster has been allowed to tag along with them and takes his chances with the hens wherever possible. The hens aren't too keen on this and when they scream Mr King zooms in like a superhero to sort out the problem and save the day.

We have another two roosters in growing tunnel #4 and they "fend their territory" when the freerangers come by, crowing like crazy to show their authority. Having no TV, the whole chicken soapie can be quite entertaining while we enjoy our sundowners outside the workshop in the evenings.

  Kitchen Garden Progress
  Martie and Mandla continue work on the kitchen garden whenever they get a gap from their normal vegetable garden, fruit orchard and animal maintenance work. Regular watering to keep all the new plants surviving is taking up much of our time.

They're using old logs to segment the different plant areas and walkways. They've also been out collecting rocks and packed them neatly on the ground to develop the succulent garden section. But those rocks they collected from the hillside are perfect for building so I'm probably going to be stealing them when I get going on the lapa again. I'll have to replace them though but I've already got my eye on a "grey rock" granite rockpile down the road at the old mining camp.

"It'll all look much better when the plants are a bit bigger"

  Forest Shelter Workshop Pillars
  After taking down the big laminated beams at the forest shelter workshop so that we were able to safely fell those big trees that were too close to the structure, I realised that those pillars that the beams were resting on were just a bit too weak for comfort. To risk having the entire roof section "fall over" on the weak pillars one day was just not worth it.

So there was only one thing for it - break down all the pillars and rebuild them a bit bigger. They will need to be at least two bricks square where they were originally only two bricks wide by one brick deep - and even though they had two steel rebars built into them, they "wobbled" when pushed even gently.

Breaking down the pillars was a tedious task as we needed to take each brick off one at a time so we could reuse them again for the new pillars. The bricks were carefully removed around the steel rebars and each one cleaned off in preparation for the rebuild on the three pillars. The fourth support for the beams was the feature wall and we decided that with the bigger pillars,
Mandla working very neatly taking down the second of the three pillars    
that would be strong enough to support the roof structure.

This was quite a big setback on this project, with the laminated beams and trusses all ready to go up. And with the rains coming soon (yes, we still live in hope) we could certainly do with some additional shelter under which to put some of our stuff which is now adding to the clutter in the garages.

  Outside Shower Screen
  Although the outside shower is working, there's still a lot of work to be done before that job is completed. The larger shower head has been fitted and that makes a world of difference. But when the wind blows on a wet body it's just not comfortable, so we've decided to put up a bit of
  a screen. Enclosing the shower completely defeats the object so the screen will only be on the one side of the shower.

The basic frame for the screen was made from some left over round logs that we used for our log fence (still got a pile of them out at the front gate area). After going out to select four good ones, Mandla was given the task of cleaning them up. He got carried away when he found some old broken sanding belts and sanded them all perfectly smooth!

I then spent a few hours slotting and bolting the logs together and then gave them a coat of carbolineum while Mandla dug the holes next to the concrete surround area up at the pumphouse.

A few days later we mixed two wheelbarrows of concrete and set the screen frame in place.

I had ideas on cladding the screen with "little log" sticks but we discovered a log cutting business in town that welcomes anyone to come in and take away their sawdust and wood offcuts. What a find!

On our first visit there we loaded up six big bags of sawdust (we'll use that for our toilet systems and Martie requested it for her garden mulch and compost). We then rummaged around the yard where we came across a pile of outer strips cut off some big logs where we selected and loaded a few about the same thickness. This filled our bakkie to capacity and we headed off back to the farm to see what we could do with them.

Mandla sanding one of the logs    

Slotting and bolting the logs together    

Outside shower screen erected    
Woodcutters yard scrap - outer logs all about the same thickness

That "raw" wood is going to need some work. But once the screen project has been completed, that won't be the end of this project. The slope of the concrete under the shower is not right for good water runoff so we're going to have to get going on paving that section with the cement blocks we bought for that purpose a while ago. And I'll also put down a nice ceramic tile shower floor to match the shower floors inside. I was thinking of a little controlled drainage system but that would mean chopping up quite a bit of the concrete under the shower. I think we'll just have the water run off into the garden. The little pride of india tree will certainly appreciate it.

  Asparagus Fern "Plant Cage"
  We've had a struggling little asparagus fern under the black wattle trees up at the pumphouse since we've been on the farm. We didn't plant it there - maybe it's from a seed dropped by the dog trainers that used to use the field - but having survived it must be in it's perfect semi-shade position. We don't even water it regularly so when it does get some water, it does very well. So
well that Mandla even put my dad's little log bench next to it to try and protect it.

We've now decided to start looking after it properly and one quiet day I collected together four old branches and screwed them together with some shorter sticks to make a little "plant cage" for it. I dug them into the ground and fed the long fronds of the fern up through the middle. If we start including it in our watering routine, it should give us a nice green patch under that drab black wattle undergrowth.

  Young Bee Eater
  One afternoon Che's kids arrived carrying a little box with a towel wrapped around it. They said they found this little bee eater hopping around near their pool that was unable to fly. They managed to get hold of it before their dogs and cats did and brought it along to us.

It was a very young bird (such beautiful colouring) but there was something wrong with it's one wing. We kept it safe in a little bird cage for a few days and fed it lots of flies. Unfortunately it just died one morning.

It's so difficult to care for wild animals and birds. Our success rate is not good so far but when we come across them we can't just turf them out into the wild when we know for sure they're not strong enough to survive out there.

  Waterbuck Bulls Coming in to Drink
  We've put out a big plastic bin in the middle of our grass field and fill it with water for the sheep when they come back from grazing and are thirsty. The waterbuck have now discovered it and are coming in regularly to drink the water. And these guys get thirsty! They slurp up about 50 litres of water in a few minutes between them.

They're really getting in close now and as they are wild animals, we'd prefer them to keep some distance. We've already had a suspected altercation when Tess went dashing out into the darkness one night and came back yelping with a big scratch mark on her chest. So we've put out another water bin just outside our log fence for them. We have to fill it almost every day. I really wonder where these poor animals got their water before we started providing for them.

View out of the top workshop window one afternoon after the waterbuck had just been in to drink water

  Fruit Orchard News
Apricots ripening - birds already got the one on the right    

Martie putting protective netting over the fruit    
Despite the dry weather conditions, two of our five Palsteyn apricot trees have fruit on them. It's a really big job watering all our struggling fruit trees continually, but hopefully our rains will come soon to give us a bit of a watering break. The apricots look really good, despite the tree being only in it's second season with us.

But the birds have discovered the fruit and at the first signs of ripening, they started pecking at it. We suspect the bulbuls but we noticed the problem in time and have so far only lost one apricot. But one is enough when the entire crop is only a few. Martie was out with some old light shade net and in no time had all the branches with fruit wrapped up safely.

A few of our plum/prune trees also have fruit but their ripeing times seem to be much later in the season.

The good news is our little guava tree has started shooting new branches from it's base - it's probably going to be a guava bush now. We really thought we had lost it but keeping on with the watering and feeding has paid off.

  Tomato Plant Seedlings
  On another visit to my client and good friend Richard "greenfingers", he donated a big pot full of tomato seedlings that he had grown from just "throwing a few seeds into the pot" to the farm.

Martie's thinking hard as to where to plant all of them now. As she's already got all the available growing tunnels planned, I think they're going to have to go out into the large crop area. But we're going to wait for some rain before transplanting them.

  CPF Radio "Control Room" Duties
  There are only three radio operator volunteers scattered around Heidelberg town that man the CPF "control room". It's essential we have a 24/7 radio control room for the CPF system to work effectively so when the volunteers are unable to man it, the control room is manned by the staff on duty from the town's three security companies.

The "control room" doesn't need a fixed place. Anyone can take control from anywhere as it's just a matter of directing queries and mobilising the necessary public and emergency services to a crime, accident or incident scene reported in by any of the volunteer patrollers on duty. Every patroller also has to book in on duty and book in off duty and everything has to be logged for
CPF 400MHz base station connected and ready for duty      
statistical purposes. The stats are used for SAP liason and to measure the performance of the CPF system.

So Martie has decided to help out over the festive season when the security companies get busier having to patrol their paying clients' houses while the owners are away on holiday and tending to all the false alarms caused by our seasonal lightning storms.

The CPF provided the base station and have put her on their duty roster. The radio tests were ok and she starts putting in a few hours every few days from 1 December.

  First Apricot
  Normally the apricot season starts from the first week of December, but a week or so early we picked our first one.

It was perfectly ripe and despite a month of almost drought conditions, was lovely and juicy inside when we opened it. And it tasted really good as well.

The rest of the little bunch is still well protected from the birds and in a few days we'll be able to feast on them. Yummy.

  Garden Furniture
  On our trip to the woodcutters yard we also selected a few really big pieces of tree trunk offcuts. One in particular looked like it would make a nice work table for the braai area. I found two others that looked like they would make nice seating benches.

Here's Mandla stripping off bark from the table piece. He's working on the bottom of the table - still lots of work to sand the surfaces smooth and round off all the edges. No matter what, it'll be used for something - could work out as a great table or end up as rather big piece of firewood.

  Rain At Last
  During the middle of the last week of November, after only 5mm for the entire earlier part of the month, we finally got some good rains. Just a small thundershower on the first day, and then two days of solid rain giving us a total of 73mm over the three days. And when the sun eventually came out again, all the veld grass was suddenly green.
Martie and the dogs taking our sheep out to graze on some of the lovely juicy green grass after the rains

Dark shadows from the forest trees on the ground and dark clouds moving off northwards in the sky
as the sun comes through in the late afternoon to light up the hill brightly after a day of rain

  Losing a Hen
  Our three days of rain was accompanied by some rather violent thunderstorms and we suspect all the lightning and thunder made all the animals on the farm a little nervous. They weren't their normal selves and having dark days and being locked up in their pens and coops during the daytime definitely messed with their normal daily routines.

On one particular afternoon the chickens just didn't want to go back into their coop. So Martie left the coop door open a little and went on with some other work around the farm. The chickens normally head back to the coop just before it gets dark and she then just goes across and locks the door. But she forgot to check on them later and the next morning we found a fluffy feather trail running down into the forest.

It looks like one hen stayed out for the night and a predator dragged her off. Chickens are very docile at night. They don't have much night vision and realise how vulnerable they are, so they just sit quietly when it's dark. Thank goodness the wind had blown the coop door shut during the night so those chickens that did make their way into the coop were safe.

  Highveld Thermal League Year End Function
Lovely cloud formations and perfect gliding weather for the day       

Colourful Maxa 4 meter wingspan glider being launched      
The weather gods must have had a favourable meeting with the aeromodelling gods for a change as they pulled off the most amazing feat for us for our annual Highveld Thermal League end of year event.

After three days of howling winds and rain before the last Sunday of the month, we had one day of the most perfect gliding weather for our contest day. And not only did it not rain, but the wind dropped off to a light breeze for just the one day. On Monday it was back to howling winds and thunderstorms for the rest of the week!

We had participants from as far away as Hartbeespoort and Pretoria, and we even managed to drum up some local spectator interest this year. This event is getting better every year and we really need to get some aeromodelling activities going locally to support it. So far we have only located one local aeromodeller and one other very interested person. But we'll keep working on that.

Martie and Maria worked very hard together to provide all the pilots with a potjie and potato salad for lunch and kept the tuckshop going all day to quench the pilots' thirsts.

The contestants were again very generous with their donations and brought along loads of groceries for Che's Cedar Childrens Village. All the contest entry fees were also donated.

Martie and Maria doing the food

  Dam Conditions
  After some reasonable rain in October (but with some quite long dry spells) and very little rain during the first three weeks of November, it seems our real summer rains arrived at last. During
  the last week of November we got just over 100mm of really good rain.

We took a drive across to the dam (walking is no fun in this kind of weather) and were surprised to see so much water had already run off down the hills.

But the dam was a mess. Che's cows were now relegated to that area and they poop and trample the banks into a muddy sludge. Doesn't look like the dogs are going to be able to swim there for a while.

  Chicken Losses and Gains
  It was always a risk leaving our "Miss Brown" hen out in her little nest in the forest but if we moved them into the coop there was a strong chance she would just abandon her moved nest and eggs. So we left her and set up old building boards to shelter and protect her in the forest as best we could without closing her in completely so that she couldn't get out to eat and drink.

After losing one of our white hens to a predator - we suspect a genet - we kept an extra eye on her but about two days before the chicks were due to hatch the same predator came back in the dark of night and found her. One morning she was just missing, a few feathers laying about and the nest was wrecked with most of the eggs eaten as well. It's been a while since we've had lots of chicks about so it was very disappointing.

But two days later we had some good news with newly hatched chick cheep cheeps in the coop where the two bantam hens were each sitting on two of those experimental Potch Koekoek eggs. Success at last. Both eggs from both hens hatched and we now have four little Potch
"Miss Brown" gone and the remains of her forest nest      

Our two bantam hens and their four new Potch Koekoek chicks      
Koeloek chicks to start our "real" chicken farming. Well, three look like they could end up looking like Koekoeks but the fourth has quite a bit of yellow on it's head tail. We'll have to wait a few months to see how they turn out.

Martie checking the new chicks

We also took a chance and moved the two bantam hens and their chicks out of the coop and into the chicken growing tunnel almost immediately (after a complete chicken reshuffle was carried out in there) and kept an eye on them to see if everything would work out ok. Bantams are such good mothers. There were a few squabbles to begin with but the two hens seemed to quickly settle on a pecking order and now share the job of looking after and teaching the chicks. I'm not sure if any of the chicks know which hen is their "real mother" any more but I don't think it really matters.

Shortly after the hatchings, another of our bantam hens went broody so we quickly added another three Koekoek eggs to her bantam egg collection. Results are due out around mid-December.

  Veggie News
  Those squash seedlings we got from Richard are now fairly large bushes. He gave us so many seedlings that we planted four plants per "hole" in our growing tunnel number 1. There are big
  yellow flowers aplenty and there's a continual stream of bees emerging from the flowers covered in yellow pollen. And the results on the right, our first harvest with many many more to come.

Maybe it's because we pick them early, but fresh squash is very different to the bought squash we were used to. The outer skin is much softer when they are fresh and picked early and the flesh texture not as "stringy". We just cut them open, remove the centre pips, boil them and add a bit of butter when serving. Yummy.

In the large crop area we have separated and planted all of the tomato seedlings that Richard also gave us earlier in the month. On the right, here they are all planted in their rows. Four rows here and another two on the other side of the large crop area. We'll put up small log supports between the rows once the plants get a bit bigger. And if this crop works out, we're going to be drowning in tomatoes. In the forefront are our potato plants and way in the background one of our pumpkin plants.

  Eland Herd Returns
  Looks like the same herd of Eland that drifted through mid last month is back in the area. They were spotted coming over the hill from Che's farm side. We've put in a few half hearted attempts to herd them off back to their side of the farm but they just keep coming back.


  The last few days of November nature gave us fantastic displays of it's power in the form of really big thunderstorms. The cloud formations as they rolled in from the south west were amazing. Below, one of the more spectacular thunderstorm fronts moving in. Cold high speed winds, a bit of light hail and lots of rain accompanying this one.