Manager’s Report July 2013
With the longest night and the shortest day that passed in June already, we now ever so slowly lean towards springtime. With it comes the “four seasons in one day” with some mornings being misty and rainy, followed by strong winds. The moment the sun comes out from behind the clouds it is pleasantly warm, until late in the afternoons when the cold sets in yet again. But as each day moves into the next, the smile on my face broadens as we are clearly nearing spring and following that, summertime. Spring just makes the earth seem brand new; with new grass, leaves and newborn animals all around. In my opinion spring should be our New Year, as it symbolises a fresh, new start and the beginning of new life. The one benefit of winter is that the vegetation is flat and brittle, making life easier for the rangers and trackers, having to spot animals far off into the bush. Sightings wise, this month was off the records, as guests got to see lions on a few different kills, mating lions and mating leopards. They even saw leopards making kills while in the process of mating. But Morné can share more about this in his report. We had a lot of return guests this month, joining us for a second, third or even fourth time. We would like to thank you for supporting the lodge time and again. We hope that we will still see a lot more of you in the near future!
With the rainy season approaching, we brought in Patrick the TLB driver. He is fantastic at operating his machine. I am sure that if you were to ask him to do back flips with it, he would surely oblige! With most of the roads still in a good condition and only a few needed some TLC from the TLB. We cleaned out some of the mitre drains alongside the roads, repaired some of the humps and also filled some sections of road that had washed away. For six days we pushed as hard as we could to get everything done and then it started to rain, a whole 11 mm of soft winter rain. The next day I had a big smile on my face as I could take out the tractor and thumper to compact the sections of road that we had filled. Usually we need to take the water bowser to spray the roads first, but because Mother Nature had sorted that part out the previous day, so it wasn’t necessary. All the roads are now looking great. Bring on the rainy season, our roads are ready! We also got the TLB to also do a small amount of work on the waterhole in front of the Africam. We did not make the waterhole bigger, but just removed some of the soil that washed into it after the floods we had last year. We worked on the southern and eastern sides. Because the flood water moved over the entire waterhole, all the soil settled inside, leaving little space for actual water and causing it to dry up quickly. During this time of the year we have a lot of thirsty elephants that can quickly drain the entire waterhole in one go. The work that was done should ensure that more animals can utilize this precious source of water.
To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy and joyful days! We actually had a double barrel birthday on the 24th, being Linda and Dawie’s combined birthday. Linda, who I am sure you will recognise from all her monthly recipes, is our Head Chef. She is responsible for overseeing all the lovely meals at lodge. Dawie started at Elephant Plains as a junior ranger for two years. For the past eight months he has been thriving as a fulltime ranger. He is doing a fantastic job as ranger and one can clearly see the passion he has for the African bush. I hope you all had great birthdays, filled with lots of laughter and fun.
Marlet Swart wrote: “As it is a bit awkward for Wayne to congratulate himself on his birthday this month, I would like to add a big congratulations from all of us at EP! Wayne joined us in 2005. He worked himself up through the ranks from Ranger to Head Ranger and in 2011 we appointed him as General Manager. Wayne is one of the most hardworking guys I know. You will always find him walking through the lodge, checking up on this or that, or otherwise, fiddling with maintenance himself. No job is below him and through his work ethic and commitment to the lodge he has won a deep-earned respect and love from all his work colleagues. I daresay that he loves the lodge as much as Etienne and I do. We wish him a wonderful year. May he celebrate many more birthdays with us!”.
We have some more good news to share this month. Louis and Janine got engaged! As you know, Louis is one of our rangers and Janine is the friendly face you will see at reception. We would like to congratulate them on this great news and wish them the best for a very bright and happy future together.
Over the past few months we have been getting some great pictures of animals on the trap cam. As mentioned in last month’s report, the animals are now using the larger waterholes more often as most of the smaller pans have dried up. This leaves the larger waterholes with more traffic around them during the early mornings and late afternoons, allowing us to capture some great pictures of animals coming to quench their thirst. We get photos of a large selection of general game and this month I chose a photo of a herd of elephants, with their reflection in the water.
I now hand you over to our Head Chef Linda van Heerden, for the delicious recipe of the month. This month’s recipe is a traditional, sweet old favourite for South Africans.
(Makes 12 portions)
Cream the butter and the sugar together until the sugar is incorporated. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter mix and beat until the dough comes together. Press into a well greased baking dish. Bake for approximately 2 minutes before resting it.
Heat the 750ml milk together with the butter and vanilla essence. Mix the corn flour and cake flour with the remaining milk. Mix the egg yolk and the sugar together. Once the milk is heated, mix the flour mixture into it. Then slowly add the warm mixture into the egg yolks, making sure not to curdle the eggs. Put the milk mixture back onto the stove, and bring to the boil, whisking continuously. The mixture will become thick. Remove from the heat and whisk the egg white to soft peaks. Gently fold this into the warm custard. Pour into the crust and bake at 160C for 30minutes. It will brown slightly on top and be a little wobbly in the middle. Remove to the fridge to set for 4 hours. Decorate with strawberries and sugar work.
Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!