The year is slowly drawing to an end and as I am writing this I can almost not believe it myself! Three more months and we’re in 2012. We have already had one or two storms that came roaring over the Drakensberg, thinking that we were going to have a massive rainstorm. But with all the wind we only got a few drops out of the whole show! It still made me happy to see the massive black clouds that could potentially have dropped its first load of rainwater on us! We are eagerly awaiting the first big summer rains. On the one hand this excites me, but on the other hand these lighting storms involve huge bolts of electricity hitting the ground. Once this happens, bush fires can start and spread within seconds. Fires in dry areas with huge amounts of combustible materials are very dangerous. I guess this is Mother Nature’s way of telling us that she is far more powerful than we will ever be and that we should always respect her. That being said, our fire fighting equipment is on standby and we can be on our way to assist at a bush fire in a couple of minutes.
We have been seeing good game during the past month. A few of the waterholes are now dry as a bone and those still holding water have been well utilized by all the animals in the immediate area. We even had a herd of a thousand buffalos drinking at the waterhole in front of the lodge! There are plenty of breeding herds of elephants that also come to drink in front of the lodge. I am sure that our Africam viewers find this very entertaining. On an average day we have about five herds of elephants feeding around the lodge at any given time, which makes bush walks a bit of a challenge some days. We finally had the two Tsalala female lions bring their new cubs into the area, but this later turned into a drama. I am sure that Morné will tell you more about this in his report.
The lodge is starting to look all clean and green, with a few paint jobs that are done and the bigger trees having lost all their leaves. I cannot tell you how happy I am that the leaf shedding episode is over! I just could not keep up with the August winds and the amount of leaves that can fall in a few seconds. One minute the wooden decks would be spotless and when I inspect the area again, it would be covered in fallen leaves – usually just before the game drive vehicles return from morning drive!
We did a bit of maintenance on all the sprinklers surrounding the lodge. As the grass is now once again starting to grow, it needs more water, especially during the warm summer months. We can already see the difference in the greener, lusher lawns. It is amazing how nature responds to the warmer weather and we can see it in the growth of the plants and flowerbeds all around the lodge.
Pieter Dannhauser, one of our junior rangers, is writing his F.G.A.S.A 1 exams this month. F.G.A.S.A. stands for Field Guides Association of South Africa. This is a theoretical exam to test your all over knowledge of the bush. We wish him all the best! A lot of people are of the opinion that field guiding (rangers) is a holiday job. That might have been the case twenty odd years ago, but today it is like any other profession. It takes a few years, a lot of exams and dedication, as well as practical experience to be able to say that you are a qualified field guide.
Those of you who regularly read our Sightings Updates on the Elephant Plains Big 5 Blog would have noticed that we do not give rhino updates any longer. This will now also be the case with Morné’s monthly Rangers Report. If there are rhinos on the webcam, we will also move the camera away, until they are gone. Rest assured that all our rhinos are still doing well and is in tip top shape. These are just precautionary steps we are taking to ensure that they stay that way. I think you would agree that we should all do our bit to keep our rhinos safe.
This month we had four of our staff members celebrating their birthdays.
Linky, who is one of our cleaning ladies, celebrated her birthday on the 5th of this month. Merriam, a small yet cheerful lady, who helps to keep the lodge area clean, celebrated her day on the 11th.Saphia, one of our cooks who work her heart out in the kitchen, in order to provide all the delicious food, celebrated her birthday on the 11th as well. Onnie, who helps us in the dining areas as a waiter, celebrated her birthday on the 16th. We hope that they all had great birthdays and that the year ahead would be filled with good health, happiness and all the best there is!
Chef Linda will share this delicious Oatmeal Crunchies recipe with us. These treats are kept at the Coffee station so that guests can nibble on them throughout the day!
Melt the butter and syrup together. Mix the oats, coconut, sugar and flour together with the bicarbonate and salt. Add the butter mixture to this and combine well. Roll into balls, compressing them a bit to hold their shape, and place on a greased tray. Press down slightly with a fork and bake @ 180 °C until nicely browned, about 10- 12 minutes per batch. Place on a cooling rack, they will still be soft, but will set as they cool down.
Make a cup of your favourite coffee or tea, serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!