Second Cold Front July 2019
  Short but intense. The approach of our second cold front of the season produced howling winds that had me up on the tea garden roof putting in a few more roofing screws as the roof is still only "tacked" on. Our daytime temperature dropped to 13 degrees for a day before going straight back up to our normal 19 degrees the following day. It's as if nature's just showing that it can still give us the chill if it really wants to, but as we've started this global warming thing, let's just get on with it!
   Menacing looking cloud formation on the front edge of the cold front
  Cold front morning 0 degrees, morning after that 3 degrees and then back up to a more "comfortable" 5 to 7 degrees for the rest of the first week of the month.

But that cold for a day or two had us wrapped in blankets and waiting for the sun to come up every morning. That's one thing about farm living, getting up really early is part of the deal. The roosters start crowing at first light (or when you switch the floodlights on in the middle of the night!) and none of the animals "sleep in". And it's actually great to be up and about and outside early - not that our bed isn't nice and warm, the sun's warmth is just so much better.

     Frost "powder" on the fence poles
But it's the birds and ducks that have it tough. Even though they have nice down feathers underneath their flying feathers, they have to sit on frozen branches and walk on the frozen grass. And an early morning drink is just out of the question - all water is frozen on those cold early mornings.
   Birdbath frozen solid again

   Thick white frost blanket on the ground just as the sun rises up over the hill

  With our big winter cleanup operation in full swing the burn pit is now working whenever there is no wind. This includes some early mornings. So as well as working through the pile of branches,
Fire still burning in the centre of the pit and a few hot coals    
scraped under the braai grid to cook breakfast    
sticks, and leaves quite quickly, we can keep nice and warm feeding the fire until the sun gets up higher and we almost always have hot coals available to cook on.

Just so happens Martie was working on her tea garden breakfast menu and needed a "sample" breakfast photograph. So one morning she got all her breakfast ingredients together and I cooked it all for her.

The dish was toast, scrambled and fried eggs, tomato, beef sausage and one of the new cuts from our local Eskort butchery - "Bacon Braai Stukkies", which is an interesting variation on bacon where instead of the bacon
  cut being sliced thinly, it is cut into thick chunks. Very tasty. On the left, meat and toast just off the braai.

But looks like we may have to redo the photoshoot after brushing up on our food photography. Our normal "wood finish" kitchen table was still up at the tea garden from Martie's birthday party, so we had to use the rather dark and dull grey

Formica kitchen counter background for this photo session.

Martie may also have to speed up her preparation and plate contents change as you don't have much time before the coffee loses it's lovely foam topping.

On the left, two pictures of her breakfast variations. Needless to say we ended up having a great breakfast that morning.

  Tea Garden Structure - Lapa Corner Progress
  Having the builders take another few days off early in the month gave me a chance to catch up on some projects I needed to get on with. First one was to get that lapa corner finished so when
  the final bit of concrete for the veranda was mixed, we could cast the little corner slab there at the same time.

I chose a nice warm afternoon, mixed up a wheelbarrow of mortar, collected a pile of cement bricks and built the base of the retainer wall onto the foundation concrete up to ground level.

Next afternoon, same lovely weather, another little mortar mix, I was able to get the retainer wall built to just under ground level. And that was it for that stage of the project as the wall was really just a guide line for the rock wall that will actually clad it and will be built higher to above ground level later.

    Mortar mixing on a really small scale for me
Brickwork built on foundation to ground level   

   Little retainer wall as high as it needs to go for now

  Tea Garden Structure - Braai Progress
  And with the bit of mortar left over each day from the lapa corner retainer wall, a few more bricks were layed on the braai project.

This is really slow going and I'm determined not to get the job done without having to set up profiles. It's a relatively small job and I'm working with a level and using a long profile just to get the bricks straight across the long back wall.

This project wasn't planned too well but if we do it right, should work out just fine.

  I just don't get it with these Highveld veldfires. I know there's always been winter veldfires on the Highveld for as long as anyone can remember, but how do they really start? For a fire to start naturally, there has to be a very specific set of circumstances, for example dry grass stalks rubbing against each other continually on a windy day. But the chances of that starting a fire are slim, though admittedly possible. So it can only really be people that start these fires, either out of negligence or deliberately. And this must have been going on for centuries.

And then why some days we have fires all over the place, other days not? An example was the first Saturday of the month. It seemed the whole south of Gauteng was burning. Reports were coming in that there was big fires in the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, in parks in the town suburbs and on farms to the west and south of us. They were all sorted out (except
  Suikerbosrand that burned for three days) and then the next day, with almost exactly the same weather conditions, not one fire was reported!? That really gets me thinking.

Anyway, below a picture from our front gate of a fire on some of the farms on the hills to the south west of us. The farmers from the area did manage to get it sorted out in a few hours.

    Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve burning in the distance

But as much as we dislike the horrible destructive veldfires, the resulting smoke particles that get suspended in layers in the late afternoon air is what gives us those amazing winter sunsets:

  Introducing . . . "Zorro"!
  Not quite an orphan, this one, but will now need to be hand raised. It all came about when we had a call from Leno in the township. His two ewes had given birth to lambs the day before. The one was fine but the second ewe wasn't recovering from the birth experience too well. He rushed the ewe and it's lamb out to Heidelberg in his new bakkie and we arranged to meet him at a farm down the road where the farmer there was more experienced at these things. Turned out the ewe had a vaginal prolapse but the farmer and his workers were quite capable of fixing it up. They managed to get everything "back inside" and with a stitch and some antibiotics, the ewe and it's lamb were sent off to our farm.

We tried to get the ewe and her lamb to bond and the lamb to latch, but I think all that stuff was too painful for the ewe and it kept rejecting the lamb. After much effort we gave up and Martie got her bottle feeding kit together. We've learned a bit more about raising little animals and this time we decided not to go the expensive milk powder supplement route. The dairy down the road could provide us with fresh "biesmelk" (colostrum milk) daily which we would use for it's first week or so and then change over to their normal, unpasteurized milk (and that's what we're now drinking as well). That should be fine for the lamb until we can get his little rumen digestive system up and running properly.

The ewe was left with us for a few days to recover before being taken back to the township and Martie did a sheep deal with Leno to swap our youngest ram that was born on our farm last year for the new little lamb. So the ram was loaded as well and went off to join Leno's township flock.

But our new lamb is not pure Dorper like (we think) the rest of our flock are. It is a cross breed Dorper/Merino. I don't think it's going to make too much difference to the future of our little farm flock, and it maybe even contribute better genes for wool and meat (but we don't really discuss that sort of thing here yet). We named him Zorro (those face markings) and he is doing just fine
Two days old - out for a wee-wee in the tortoise enclosure    
so far. He drinks well and follows anything that moves around the kitchen and surrounds, and even on long walks around the farm. He sleeps through the night (mostly) and has already settled in to a daily routine - drink, sleep, wee, play, repeat.

Mid-morning snoozies in the dog basket

Zorro seems to have taken a particular liking to Charlie and Charlie doesn't seem to mind too much.

  Tea Garden Structure - Final Concrete Mix
  Due to Leno and his family going down with the flu, other than the little bits I was doing, there wasn't any serious building done during the first week of the month. But on the second week we had them out for two days. On the first day we decided to finish the concrete work.

I made sure all the required building materials were on site and the team made an early start to the day mixing concrete. It didn't take them too long to finish off that last little section of the tea garden veranda. After a big cleanup of the area, and with a few more hours to spare, they mixed a bit more concrete for the little lapa corner and the base of the new braai.

That also didn't take them long and with some daylight hours still left, they did a major cleanup of the entire area and started preparations for the next day's work - the kitchen floor screed.

All Martie's kitchen stuff and my woodwork materials had to be moved out of the kitchen area and the floor swept clean. We then gave the floor a good "wetting" so the water could soak into the dry concrete overnight to give us a good bond with the screen when we layed it next day.

    Last concrete section of the veranda done and area cleaned up nicely

    Lapa corner now complete - now ready for rock wall building

  Tea Garden Structure - More Braai Progress
  Although I was intending to have a braai area up at the tea garden, this braai structure came about as one day there was a lot of mortar left over from the day's work and the bit of planning
Cleaning up the lintels    

Preparig to lay the lintels on the brickwork     
that was done was done rather quickly. I mean, how complicated can a braai get?

The main structure was now up and after measuring the width of the braai brickwork and calculating that we would need four standard lintels and one maxi lintel to cover the area from front to back, I went out and got the lintels.

But after offloading, I sat back to do some thinking and decided that little work areas both sides of the structure would be nice. So we loaded the lintels back on the bakkie, took them back to Jada's and got longer ones.

During cleaning up the site the builders also found time to do a bit of work on the braai for me. Once the new lintels were offloaded they were cleaned up nicely and fitted onto the braai brickwork. I was then able to continue building three courses of bricks on top of them while the builders continued with their cleaning up of the site.

The brickwork was a bit tricky as I wanted "air holes" along the back wall to let in air for the fire. It was then that I realised that the lintels would be the fire base and not the braai height. A bit late now as I wasn't going to knock the structure down to lower the fire base two bricks to where I thought it should have been, so we'll just have to live with the braai height being a little higher than normal.

Lintels fitted and three courses of bricks built on top of them already, and the braai structure so far

  Tea Garden Structure - Kitchen Floor Screed
  Day two of the builder's availability for the first week of the month and it was full steam ahead on laying down that tea garden kitchen floor screed.
Kitchen floor area swept clean

The floor had already been cleared of all Martie's kitchen stuff that had a little prematurely been moved in, swept clean and dampened down the day before. All the necessary building materials had been delivered and so we were ready to go.

Leno and his new helper (don't have his name yet) started measuring out the estimated number of wheelbarrows of river sand and bags of cement and started mixing a "moist" screed mixture. Then neat cement was sprinkled onto the floor and with a bit of water a slurry was made and spread over the floor area. This is when things started to get messy. With slurry under everybody's shoes, we had to continually restrict workers from walking around too far from the screed site or every surface in the tea garden and even the grass surrounding it would have had a coat of cement slurry on it.

Then wheelbarrows of screed mix were brought in, stamped down firmly and then "cut" level with the straight edge. Once that was done we were able to walk and kneel on the surface to rough float it with the wood float and then finish float it with a bit more cement added to the surface with the steel float.

During the final float operation we added the iron oxide colouring. We wanted a terracotta brown finish and we started by mixing some red, yellow and black iron oxide to try and get the light brownish colour. It's very difficult mixing iron oxide as the colour is completely different in it's dry powder form to when it has been layed on the moist cement surface. We wasted a lot of time on the colour experimentation when I remembered I had bought other iron oxide as well. Checking in the garage I found I had two big bags of premixed brown, which was close enough to what we wanted. So we overlayed our experimental colouring with the premixed brown and were able to make quicker progress on the job.

It was messy process and I think Leno added far too much colouring. But he said he'd done all this before so I just let him get on with the job.

Halfway down the length of the kitchen I noticed Leno was
    Preparing the screed mix - big river sand, big cement usage

    Making the cement slurry to bond the screed to the concrete floor

    First wheelbarrows of screen going in

    Compacted, levelled and colour experiments in the float process

    Working their way to the entrance

    Very messy floating the colour and cement mix
  starting to work the screed a little thin so I decided to stop the screeding temporarily to put in the cement blocks I was planning to use to "break up" the big screed areas. This gave them a level at the kitchen entrance to work to. The blocks were quickly layed across the kitchen entrance and we were able to get the job done by the end of the day.

Colour experiments - our mixture left too red, right standard brown

   Laying the cement blocks around
   the kitchen entrance

   Next morning, just the   
cleaning up left for us to do   

  Growing Woodpiles
  The chain saw has been working overtime down in the forest. Whenever I get a few hours to spare I head down to the "spooky forest" area and cut up some trees that had fallen due to damage from last year's fire into more manageable logs. There are now big log piles springing up everywhere!

The really big job though, is gathering all the smaller branches from around the forest and getting them up to the burning pit. We want to burn them as we bring them up instead of creating a massive "branch dump" like we did last year. We're still battling to get that cleared,
Cutting up all the bigger branches from our "branch dump" produced    
this log pile - we're working our way through this old dump site slowly    

At the fire pit, bigger branches are cut up into logs as they're    
brought out of the forest, producing another healthy log pile there.    
All the smaller offcut branches and sticks are burned.    
but cleaning up the forest is taking priority right now as fire season is upon us and we don't want a repeat of last year's fire getting into the forest.

"Dongas" filled with leaves killed these black wattles when the fire came through last year

  All this from fire damaged fallen trees - none of the dead trees still standing have been felled yet!

  Animal and Poultry News
And the star of the show, at one week old . . .

Early morning feed, ready for a nap in the dog basket

Hanging around the kitchen

What's this!? I thought the deal was the lamb
could stay in the bed until he falls asleep?
  Staying with the babies, when one of our Bantam hens went broody about three weeks ago, Martie got a few Potch Koekoek eggs from the farmer across the road and we put them under her, removing most of the Bantam eggs. She hatched two chicks and as soon as she left her nest in the chicken coop we moved the little family out to the rabbit hutches where she could teach them to scratch around in the dirt and eat goggas.

Our older Koekoeks are now producing eggs reguarly. It's still a bit cold for normal egg production, so we're hoping for a really good egg supply when it warms up again.

The sheep don't seem to have noticed that there's a young ram missing and when we don't feel like chasing sheep about the growing tunnels when they return from their grazing, are very happy spending some days in their enclosure where we feed them from our bales of dry grass. Looks like our stored feed should easily last us until summer is back and the grass starts it's new growing season.

The freerange Bantams are doing well and never too far from the kitchen door where they get their food scraps. They are great entertainment, especially with the young roosters now starting to learn to crow.

Otherwise, everything is fine and peaceful with all the animals on the farm. We're even learning to live with Biscuit, the goat. She has her good and her bad mood days - could be a goat thing, or a female thing, not sure.

Very peaceful early morning outside the kitchen door - Biscuit just loves nibbling on the mealie pits
thrown out for the chickens and ducks

  2019 Lambing Season - First One Out
  We heard some odd moaning sounds from the sheep enclosure one morning and found our smaller ewe busy lambing. Martie likes to separate the pregnant ewes from the rest of the sheep just before they lamb but this one caught us a little by surprise in that we were actually expecting our bigger ewe to lamb first. This year we just got it all wrong. Once the ewe had layed down and started moaning, it was too late to move her so we let her lamb in the sheep enclosure with all the other sheep around. There were no problems other than a bit of curiosity from the big ram.

A few pictures of our new little lamb only a few minutes old standing up for the first time and Martie
putting it and it's mother into the sheep shed for them to bond and for it to have it's first suckle

  A Good Friend . . . and Hot Water
  A few weeks ago Piet was visiting us and we got to discussing Martie's methods of washing dishes without a proper kitchen. She boils a big kettle of water on the gas stove and then mixes the hot water with some cold water to make up enough volume to half fill a big plastic bowl, and then washes the dishes in that. She's been doing dishes like that since we moved out to the farm and though we've often thought about setting up a temporary washbasin in the "workshop kitchen" and setting up a small tank to feed a roll or two of black plastic pipe on the roof to let
  the sun make us some hot water, we've just never got down to doing it.

This obviously got Piet thinking and one weekday he phoned to tell us he was on his way to visit. What a surprise when he had a 100 litre solar geyser kit on his bakkie that he said was for us. Piet, what a wonderful gesture. Thank you so much and for now we've put it with our other big project materials. We'll probably use it up at the tea garden though, where as soon as the kitchen is finished, most of the dish washing will need to be done.

    Big projects materials corner - new solar geyser added

  Tea Garden Structure - Kitchen Floor Sealing
  That kitchen floor colour screen didn't quite turn out as well as I thought it would. Basically the inexperience of Leno and his helper working with iron oxide showed through, as well as the experimental colouring that they "covered up" with the correct colour once we had that sorted out. They also didn't mix the colour in with the cement enough for the smooth coating in some places and the iron oxide colour would come off onto your finger if you rubbed it.

With a function booked for the next Sunday and the kitchen floor having to be sealed some time anyway, I dashed out and bought some cement sealer. I mixed a bit with the irone oxide to patch up and then gave the entire floor a coat of sealer. Much better.

But I always seem to sucker myself with painting jobs. Even though I had bought a cheapie roller and tray, I started patching the sealer and colouring mixture with a smallish brush. Then I decided to do a section of sealer with the brush as well. And then just carried on with the little brush, stretching the job way beyond the time it would have taken me if I had used the roller. But it was very quiet and peaceful up there at the tea garden, so time spent there was rather enjoyable.

  Tea Garden Structure - Moving Sand
  The Saturday before the Sunday function was big cleanup time up at the tea garden. The entire floor was swept, all the building tools and materials moved out and everything dusted off. Then all the kitchen stuff was moved back into the kitchen onto the newly screeded and sealed floor.

Mandla and I then decided to clean up the building surrounds. The back was done and already had plants growing along the wall, but there were still heaps of sand all over the place along the bathroom and front sides after the builders had finished levelling out the veranda for the concrete slab. We started at the bathroom end and worked our way across the front to the kitchen side. We thought of bringing the bakkie across and loading the sand onto it to move it but the job of then having to offload it again determined we just use the wheelbarrows to move it all down to the sand storage area - and it was downhill all the way there anyway.

That took us the rest of the day and we only managed to get two thirds of the sand across the front moved. We'll just have to do the rest some other time but the bathroom corner now looked so much neater without all those sand piles laying around.


  More Veldfires
  And while we were working away at the tea garden, we were able to keep an eye on a veldfire on the hill to the west of us, not too far away. The wind wasn't blowing in our direction from the fire and the farmers closer to the hill were all out stopping the fire crossing the roads and backburning areas upwind of it to contain the damage to the hill only.

But am I sensing a pattern here? It was Saturday again - and there were no fires reported anywhere in the area on the Sunday after. I just keep on thinking . . .


  Biker's Breakfast
  Oh, that weather again. Our third (but rather mild) cold front came through overnight just before our Biker's Breakfast function, so the morning was a little cold and windy. But by mid-morning it had warmed up considerably and the wind had subsided.

We were up really early and I got all the fires going. A nice big one in the fireplace to keep the guests warm and the essential braai fire so that I could cook the sausages, bacon and make the toast. Our little braai was very busy - will have to get the big one going soon. The ladies worked in the kitchen making the scrambled eggs and warming up the baked beans and garlic potatoes, and generally preparing the "food line".

We had about 20 guests arriving on their bikes and in four cars for the breakfast - it was a smallish biker club of really nice people. Once they settled in we served a super breakfast (far too much food) and then the club had it's committee meeting and the rest of the members and kids took walks around the farm. We gave the kids turns to bottle feed Zorro the lamb, which they all enjoyed and by 13h00 it was all over and everyone was off on their way home.

Big thanks to Maria for helping out in the kitchen for the morning. After catching up on the admin and checking the figures later, our first breakfast function was a financial success and with a bit of optimisation, our business model will work well. Just got to get that tea garden finished off properly now.


  Cold Front Number 4
  Our fourth cold front came through on the Wednesday after the third one that came through on the previous weekend. It arrived with just a few wispy clouds drifting quickly by ahead of the front and then within an hour we saw a drop of a few degrees in air temperature. Wednesday night was very cold and all our water was again frozen on Thursday morning. That's two cold fronts very close together and both with very quick temperature recoveries. On Thursday the temperatures rose very quickly back up to our "normal" daily temperatures of around 20 degrees with Thursday night minimum temperature back to a more comfortable 5 degrees.

With the smoke from the veldfires hanging really low in the air to the west, I braved the Wednesday cold late afternoon to head out into the open field to capture a very cold sunset. Sometimes you can actually see the cold in the sky!


  Woodcutting - Special Orders
  When a townsfriend saw the pictures of our forest woodcutting project, she placed a special order for two 10cm thick slices of tree trunk about 30cm in diameter. So I headed out into the forest, found a big fallen tree and selected a section where a secondary branch was just starting to form a fork from the main trunk. The fork makes a nicer grossgrain with double annual rings. But the trunk still had to be fairly round. It took a while but I managed to cut two fairly
  consistently thick slices. I think this trunk thickness was also very near the limits that my little chainsaw would be able to handle.

I then took the rough "slices" down to the forest shelter and gave the best sides a good cleanup with the electric plane and then sanded the surfaces smooth. Wow, is that black wattle heartwood hard! I'll leave the final finishing to the customer, but oiled or varnished, that grain is going to come out beautifully.

  A Few Backyard Birds . . .
  It's not really spring yet but we're noticing the birds are all getting ready for the change of season. They seem to be more active, flying around with small sticks and grass in their beaks and all just starting to change into their breeding season colours.

An hour of free time and the camera and we have a few regular visitors to our feeding tree and around the growing tunnels.

Dark-capped Bulbul
Southern Masked Weaver
Fiscal Flycatcher
Black-chested Prinia

There seem to now be quite a few Bulbul colonies in and around the forest now and one of the "locals" still comes into our kitchen often to feed on table crumbs. And when there's fruit around, he always takes a dig into whatever's available.


The Southern Masked Weaver population has grown tenfold since we've been on the farm and feeding the chickens. They find gaps in the netting over the growing tunnel that we now keep the Koekoek chickens in and fearlessly fight for scrap ground mealies.


We have at least one breeding pair around. Their favourite early morning breakfast spot is around the bee hive. I chase them away whenever possible but I'm sure they've eaten many of our bees. But that's nature and the bees just have to work harder to keep up.


Our normally shy little Prinias are getting rather brave lately and often come way out of the forest undergrowth to hunt insects between the growing tunnels. They're very quick little birds, lifting and holding their tails high continually as they hop around.

  . . . and a Lamb Update
  We're also presently very busy managing our little flock of sheep. Our first newborn was a little ewe lamb, one week old now and doing very well - already out in the sheep enclosure with all the rest of the flock during the day. At night it and it's mother are shuffled up into the chicken coop as Martie's worried that it may get trampled or layed on in the confined space of the sheep shed. That, of course, means that the chickens have to be moved out to the rabbit hutches for the nights. There's only really four of them out freeranging and sleeping in the chicken coop right now, so we let them in and then grab and carry them down to the rabbit hutches. Trying to chase them to where you want them to go is just out of the question!

Zorro, the little orphan ram, is now two and a half weeks old and has settled in well. He now has his little "ram confidence" around the kitchen and surrounds and is smelling and tasting everything. He's also giving the dogs a bit of a hard time - they just can't handle this little peculiar animal tagging them wherever they go - and then when they try and move off, it seems to run ahead of them and suddenly stop in front of them continually. But fortunately there are four dogs so as one manages to shake the lamb off when it gets too much, it just latches on to one of the other dogs.

Below left, just a nice photograph of our forest driveway with us out on a short walk around the farm with the dogs and Biscuit. The goat enjoys going out on walks where she can taste all the plants along the way and at this point, really needs the walks - she's getting far too many biscuit and raisin treats. Below right, the new lamb out in the sheep enclosure for the first time with the rest of our sheep. Sheep count now = 7.

Left, Zorro investigating the potato bag. Below, now taking up a lot more space in the dog basket and splashed out on the bed taking his mid-morning nap. And Zorro's "identity crisis" signs are now showing - I don't think sheep sleep this way normally!

One and a half weeks after the first lamb, our second lamb arrived. This time Martie was able to get the mother into the sheep shed in time and with the size of the mother, we were really expecting twins. But only one healthy little ewe came out.

Martie had a tough time last year getting this mother's lamb to latch, so she kept a close eye on things after the birth and found she again had to step in and help a bit. With a little perseverance, the mommy and her lamb bonded nicely and the lamb was soon drinking.


Sleeping arrangements for the animals got a little more hectic with the new lamb. Both mommies and their lambs now had to be enticed up to the chicken coop - not too difficult with a small bucket of mealies as bait. But the rest of the flock do try their luck to get to the bucket. Sheep count now = 8. Two lambs raised by their mommies and one by Martie.

The last Saturday afternoon of the month we took all the animals for a nice long walk up to the base of the hill. The dogs dashed all over the place trying to get away from the lamb, the lamb dashed all over the place trying to latch on to a dog. And Biscuit . . . well, she just strolled along tasting all the plants along the way. We all survived it and were able to enjoy another lovely sunset. It would be nice to end the month's postings with a beautiful sunset, but we still have a bit more news . . .


  Heavy Mist
Saturday morning we had the thickest mist we've ever seen on the farm - driven in by a freezing cold breeze.

By 9 o'clock we could almost see the pumphouse. The background picture here is of the garage block from the pumphouse.

After clearing around mid-morning, the rest of the day was lovely and warm.


  Oversized Wendyhouse Removal
  Our farm seems to have a special energy about it - there's not many things that haven't worked out for us during the laying out and development of the infrastructure so far. But unfortunately there always has to be a few exceptions, and this was one of them. It was probably because it was all to do with people and their personality types that were involved.
Starting demolition - roof coming off sheet by sheet    

Roof off and starting to take down side panels    

Lee's promises of helping us on the farm and undertaking the promotion of our tea garden just came to nought. So after reviewing the situation after six months of her living on the farm with us, we decided things with her weren't going to work out and her and her family moved off the farm a few weeks ago, taking all their personal belongings with them. But they left their oversized wendyhouse that they were living in on our farm in place. And this was the weekend they had chosen to come and demolish and remove it.

The atmosphere was a little tense for all of us but we just let them get on with it and it seemed the operation went relatively smoothly. Now that the "leaning" wendhouse is gone we can continue development of our originally planned apiary and "honey house" there.

After day 1 the basic demolition complete and just the floor framework still to be taken apart.
All the roof sheeting and bits of timber frame in a pile on the right of the picture.

  Tea Garden Structure - Moving More Sand
  Another few hours of shovelling sand into wheelbarrows, running them down the hill and then tipping them onto our sand storage piles and Mandla and I had the front area of our tea garden nicely cleared and levelled.

It looked much neater there without the piles of sand. Next job will be to get rid of the big pile of old tree trunks.

  Cleaning Up Wild Dagga Plants
  Now this was a real prickly job! After they had seeded, Mandla cleaned out all the wild dagga plants from the kitchen garden and put them in a big heap for removal. I took on that task of
getting them loaded onto the bakkie and down to the burning pit for burning.

And I found out the hard way how tricky these plants were to deal with when the flower pods get a bit dry. The bits that hold those lovely long, soft petals get really hard and each one has a sharp point on the end of it. They were loaded very carefully and there was just no way of compressing them on the bakkie, so it took three loads!

  Evening Bonfire
  Finally, the end to a long and busy month. To end off on a lovely calm evening we burned up some of our excess bits of wood from our woodcutting project on a little bonfire at our small braai area. And later cooked a bit of meat and vegetables for our dinner.

Next month we're planning a big push on selling off our cut logs and getting our tea garden bathrooms finished. Inevitably there will be a whole lot of other stuff popping up in between those projects and with the lovely warm weather, we might even see some of our migratory birdlife back.