By mid-August I find new material difficult to come by. Remember it is our February, when even the joys of winter have become tedious. True, as I took the staff’s children up to the tar road to catch the school bus this past week, it was perfectly light on the way there and the sun rose as I returned, burning red against the escarpment sky. Red because of the dust and smoke: not only is it drier than I can ever recall, but August, traditionally our windiest month, is true to form. Result in our high biomass and forested area…. worse fires than normal at this time of year.
Today, Sunday, is gustier than I can recall, although one does tend to forget such horrors, and the wind is chilly; during last week, according to one report, there was snow in all 9 provinces on one day for the first time ever. Result: a biting wind, although our night time lows remained above freezing. In our protected valley the much more insidious effect of slowly dropping still air brings more cold than a wind which stirs things up and evens out the temperature gradient between places.
This strange bit of land sculpture – a forest of bamboo stakes – is Lucas’ effective solution to protecting the young tree ferns from the porcupines who, just as in the drought of the 90s, have taken to eating out the hearts of the tree ferns.
It is a while since all four dogs featured in one photo and there is not a great deal else to share. So here they are, from front to back: Monty, x Jack Russell, alpha male of all species including human in the valley, showing he’s done a few more miles than in his youth, but still going strong; Taubie, x Bull Terrier/Border Collie, oldest and most beloved of all my dogs, the matriarch; Abigail, daughter to Monty and a Dr Seuss creation, tiniest and busiest of the dogs, who works hard all day with the staff and then turns into the sweetest of lapdogs at night; and Mateczka, Rhodesian Ridgeback and the puppy, even though she is nearly three and by far the largest. Watching her and Abigail play is one of lives great joys!
I’ve kept this shot of the Upper Rosemary Border for last, because it really doesn’t show anything new. However it is very satisfying to see how good this border can still look at the windy tail-end of winter!
Stop Press: after days of keeping my (rather unsatisfactory) long lens on the ready, I have just photographed a White Helmetshrike through the guest room window. I remember first seeing them on the farm in the late 90s, once only. Rather humorous looking with their large yellow serrated eye-wattle and grey ‘helmet’, they move in groups and are very noticeable as they flutter their way along in small bursts. They have been a regular presence the last few months. Roberts’ Book of Birds speaks of “irruptions westwards in times of drought”; having looked up irruptions, a new word to me, (Ecology - to increase rapidly and irregularly in number) I come to the conclusion that here we have yet another sign of drought. Is it that they do not like our mountain in the wet?