Manager’s Report

November 2017
Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born during this month, there was never a dull moment. We also ended the month with a few very welcome cool days and rain. The forecast going into December shows some very hot days. If you are visiting us during the next few weeks, please be sure to pack your hat and sunscreen. Each year November, we have a “birding day” at the lodge where our staff members form a team to compete against our next-door neighbours, Arathusa Private Lodge. This has become a yearly tradition, with the winning team being awarded a birding trophy. This is always great fun! The competition does not have a lot of rules and the main goal is to identify as many different bird species as possible, between 05:00am and 07:00pm. So, between these hours, if you see or hear it, you can claim it! Last year, Elephant Plains won the competition. This year, we were unfortunately defeated by 4 species, but we accepted our second place with great pride. With the birding trophy displayed in our reception area, we are already looking forward to next year, when we can hopefully once again engrave our own name on the plaque, as the 2018 winners.
Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

This month we started a big maintenance project at the lodge, behind the scenes and a few feet above the ground… We are giving our thatched roofs a little makeover. What does this all include, one would ask. Well, think of it as going to the hair salon for a cut, colour and blow-dry. As thatch roofs age over the years, the top layers of grass start to rot and they take on a pale, black appearance. Sometimes a roof can also develop a small leak, due to our resident vervet monkeys sometimes pulling out blades of grass, while playing on their self-discovered jungle gyms. Firstly, a special brush is used to remove all the rotten pieces and straighten the grass back into place. Just like brushing your hair. On some of the places, bundles of grass are also replaced where needed, to cover the thinning spots. Lastly, the edges are neatly pushed back into place, leaving the roof looking brand new. It is quite amazing to see the contractors in action. What a big difference a good brush can make! We are done with the main lodge area and the majority of the rooms. Just a few more strokes and all the roofs will be good as new again.
Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

With the active hyena den on our property, it is hard to resist the temptation to spy on them. The trapcam was placed at the den and in a very short period of just 4 days, the memory card was completely filled up with 2700 pictures. We now have a very good idea of what their daily activities are: eat, play, sleep, repeat. This month we had only one birthday at the lodge. Helen celebrated her special day on the 29th. Helen is part of our lovely team of housekeepers, keeping our lodge in tip top condition. Happy birthday Helen, I am sure there will be many more to come! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during November, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter! This month, sous chef Yolandi, shares a mouth-watering recipe. Red Velvet Cupcakes are perfect for that special afternoon tea with family and friends.
Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

160 ml Cake flour 100 ml Castor sugar 1.25 ml Salt 5 ml Cocoa 1.25 ml Bicarbonate of Soda 100 ml Sunflower oil 60 ml Buttermilk 1 Egg 15 ml Red food colouring 1.25 ml White vinegar 1.25 ml Vanilla 

Icing

50 g Soft butter 60 g Cream cheese 250 ml Icing sugar 2.25 ml Lemon juice/ a little squeeze of a lemon to taste and/or 2.5ml vanilla

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Prepare your muffin tin by lining each hollow with a paper case. In a bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients (flour, castor sugar, salt, cocoa and bicarb) and set aside. In another larger bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (oil, buttermilk, eggs, food colouring, vinegar and vanilla). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. Spoon into your cupcake cases, filling each to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. In the meantime, prepare your icing by beating the butter and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon until well combined (about 3 minutes).   Gradually add the icing sugar, beating all the while, until it forms a smooth icing.  Adjust the consistency by adding a little more icing sugar if required. Then add the lemon juice and/or the vanilla to taste. Makes 6 Large Cupcakes. Serve and enjoy! As our next report will only be sent out in early January, I would like to wish each and every one of our readers a joyful Christmas and only the best for 2018. Whether you have a holiday planned, or are just relaxing at home with the family, do make the best of every second and travel safe! All the best till next month Tersia Fouché

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