Cheeky Young Rooster March 2018
  One morning while Eva was busy eating, one of our teenage roosters sneaked in quietly and started pecking away at some of Eva's spilt rice and dog chunks. Eva didn't seem to mind at all and although both were very weary of each other, they each finished their meals without too much fuss.

And we now just have too many roosters around. They begin competetively crowing at about 04h30 and don't stop until the sun is up proper. Got to make a plan there soon.


  Losing a Pekin
  Well, leaving the ducks out under the rabbit hutches in the sheep enclosure turned out to not be such a good idea after all. The ducks were comfortable enough snuggled under the hutches but
 
Big patch of duck feathers in the forest where our duck was eaten    
they just weren't safe enough without some sort of protective cage.

We're still not sure what it was, but one night some nasty predator scaled the little sheep enclosure wall and dragged one of our female ducks off into the forest. We noticed the other two ducks (and rabbits) were acting a little strange (kind of traumatised) the next morning and just couldn't find the third duck anywhere.

Mandla later did a "forest search" and found what had happened, but there were no signs to identify the predator.


  Antelope Relaxed Late Afternoon
  Eland again!! We didn't see the reasonably big herd go across the foot of the hill into the gorge, but one afternoon they suddenly emerged from the gorge and spent a lovely relaxed afternoon with the waterbuck in the newly mowed field just on the other side of our log fence.
 
  The five waterbuck bulls have been with us for a few months now - and we see them almost every day. Some days they spend some time in our forest, some days out front near our
  entrance gate but mostly they're around the back of the farm at the foot of the hill. And although they don't let us get too close to them, they sometimes get very close to us when they don't know we're there. Like the morning we were sitting in bed having our morning coffee and rusks and spotted one of them a few meters away from the garage block out of the window, slowly ambling down from the hillside down past the garage block, through our orchard and down into the forest.
 
 

Anyway, we let them all enjoy their late afternoon rest with a bit of eland bullfighting and then undertook the tedious but necessary eland chase to get them out of the area and back over to their side of the farm. Martie had just started replanting what she could to make the most of what's left of the growing season and we weren't going to take any chances with them and our new seedlings.


  Grazing Rotation
  Our number 5 tunnel with the gooseberry and tomatillo bushes is becoming overgrown with a particularly suculent and scented weed. The sheep go crazy for it when we pull out handfulls and feed it to them, so it must be good for them. But we just can't let the sheep loose in there, they'll wreck everything and we want to try and teach them that the growing tunnels are out of bounds (fat chance of teaching them anything, actually).

We gave some of the weed to the tortoises and they seemed to like it as well, so we moved all six little tortoises into the growing tunnel for a few days and they couldn't stop eating the stuff. And the sheep seem to enjoy grazing the short grass in the tortoise enclose without having to dodge the inquisitive little tortoises continually underfoot. So for a while, everyone seems very grazing happy.

 
Tortoises in the number 5 growing tunnel weeds
 and the sheep taking over the tortoise enclosure

  Odd Potch Koekoek
  Funny, this chicken was fine as a young chick and then as it grew bigger it just began deforming. We first noticed something odd about it when it stopped walking like a normal chicken and
 

started "short legged" walking, dragging it's tail on the ground and kind of "hobbling" about to get to it's food and water. At first we thought it was just sick so we isolated it from the rest of the flock and Martie dosed it with some chicken medicine. But then it also started to get a bit of a "hump" on it's neck.

It's now almost fully grown and we still keep it separate from the rest of the Koekoeks as it can't get to the food due to the fierce competition during flock feeding time. It's now formed quite a relationship with Martie. We don't think it's condition is life threatening but looks like this one just won't ever be a normal chicken.


  Cutting Grass and a Hungry Stork
  Our grass was just getting a bit too long around the farm and we needed some fresh cut grass for the animals, so one day between rainy spells I got onto the trusty old tractor and mowed the
  areas where we needed to walk to get around the farm. I decided this year I was going to cut different patterns and started with a wide pathway from the lapa to the pumphouse.

While I was cutting I noticed in the corner of my eye a lone stork hanging around. I couldn't keep too close an eye on it as I needed to concentrate on steering the tractor in straight lines, which was in itself not easy as it has about a half a turn steering wheel play in it's steering system! Martie told me afterwards that the stork had basically following the tractor wherever I was cutting and was catching all the insects in the freshly cut grass that were disturbed by the cutting. Later, when I went around to cut the driveway and "tea garden" area, it flew over and followed the tractor there as well.

Next morning early it was still foraging through the cut grass for insects and later in the day flew off - probably to find another farmer who was cutting grass.


    New path between lapa and the pumphouse. Piles of grass gathered.

    Our stork visitor up at the pumphouse
 
Next morning the stork was still around hunting insects in the cut grass

  A Wonderful Week of Rain . . .
   

From the middle of March we had good rain
just about every day for a week, a few days
with over 10mm and one particular day
giving us 46mm!

My rainfall stats show this March as the
highest March month rainfall we've had
by far since I started keeping farm
rainfall records.

Also had some great late afternoon storm
cloud formations.


  . . . Filling the Dams for the Second Time this Season
  Our last heavy rainfall was in December and since then the dams had dried up completely. So with a week of good rainfall we guessed the dams just had to have some water in them again.

Once the weather had cleared up a bit we took a walk with all the dogs out to the dam. Water was still running in from all the gorges and the dam was filling quickly. Great fun for the dogs to be able to go swimming again.

  Fetching the stick until we were tired of throwing it.
Here's champion fetcher Spot getting some help
from Eva and Charlie to bring it back to shore.
 
Dam filling fast after the week of rain - water still flowing in for days afterwards

  Cosmos Show
  This year we had a fantastic show of cosmos around the farm. The little road into Rensburg was lined with cosmos almost right up to the tar and Martie would always come home with a handful whenever she returned from town. Really brightened up the kitchen nicely (and as you can see, we're still picking tomatoes).
 

  Bathroom Tiling
  Better end off the month with a bit of news on some work going on around the farm. Although not much work stuff was posted here this month, we decided while waiting for the roof sheeting for the forest shelter workshop, we would get going on the pumphouse bathroom again, so we were working there whenever we could. The finishings just take so much time when building.
 
Some progress pictures: above left, getting the area
complete and
  level with a bit of wet screed, and above right, tiling
 ready for grouting
  I completed tiling all the wall areas that I had left open due to deciding at the time of the original tiling what I was going to do there (feartures?) or just because the tiles needed really tricky
 
cutting, also making sure all the wall grouting was done. The walls around the fireplace and the entire shower area still needed to be grouted as well.

Then while the shower area was cleared of clutter I buckled down and tiled the shower floor with the small square stone tiles we had bought for it. A bit tricky getting all those little tiles straight and level and even trickier getting some slope on the floor down to the shower drains. But it all worked out ok and on the left Martie is cleaning off the last of the "grout dust" from the floor the next day.