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Scratching Staffie


We live in the Southern Cape, a 230km strip of coastal plateau that stretches from Mossel bay in the west to Humansdorp in the east, flanked by the Outeniqua range of mountains in the north and the Indian Ocean to the south. This narrow strip of evergreen is commonly known at the Garden Route, not as many think because it is populated with uncountable manicured gardens. Rather, because prior to the establishment of pine plantations the natural flora bloomed for 10 months of the year and the region looked like a huge garden. Despite the plantations it still has it’s pockets of blooms – the vivid yellow Blue Tick Berry Bush in June and July, carpet geraniums in July and August, Leucodedrons flourishing in October, lilies in February, the list goes on. In excess of 10,000 species of plants all in bloom, a botanists delight any time of the year.

Of course amongst all this flora there has to be some fauna, critters that every tourist wants to see and every gardener wonders if it is worthwhile. Our regulars on the farm are Bushbuck, a nocturnal antelope, Porcupine, Bush pig, Vervet Monkeys, Baboon and Scarlett, our 7 month Staffie.

Last night, to complement some basil plants I had bought, I decided that setting some rosemary cuttings would be a good idea. There are two plants that whet my appetite – the humble tomato, the leaves of which have an evocative aroma that is stimulant both culinary and romantically. The second plant is rosemary, but just stimulating culinary. While picking some rosemary for cutting yesterday I was soon transported to thoughts of dinner, planning what to cook. First choice obviously was some succulent Karoo Lamb to go with the rosemary. Next was choosing the method of cooking. Amanda was going to be late for dinner after a girl’s celebration after work and training, so something slow cooking. Another favourite, the clay Romertopf. Sliced carrots, braised button mushrooms in red wine, wedge potatoes and seared lamb chops sprinkled with fresh rosemary and dried basil popped into the oven on the lowest setting would be ready anytime after an hour. Or two as it turned out.

Meanwhile there was the chance to get on with the gardening – water the tomatoes, dig a border south of the house to put some geranium cuttings in (specimens that I had been given from Graaf Reinet about 500km away) and of course putting in the rosemary cuttings. I chose a pot with a mixture of loam and river sand (something we have plenty of).

Then it was time to water the plants. With the drought we save all the kitchen water in plastic basins and then carry it out to the plants. Each time I feel like a relief worker in a refugee camp. First inspect the plants and test the soil to see which is most deserving of some meager rations.

With watering finished a quick inspection of the weeks efforts, the seedlings (the lavender has germinated already) and the few veggies. All looking good.

It was not the sun pouring through the window that woke me, but the bark of Bandit, our crossbreed Corgi looking Jack Russell. His concern – a Bushbuck ram 10m from the house leaving the few flowerbeds. My immediate concern was : did he eat the tomato plants or the ganzania’s? Instead what I found were deep diggings in the seed row of radish and beans and the border of gazania. But these were to broad to be the foraging efforts of a Porcupine. This is the problem with watering with your kitchen water; the water is tainted with the aroma of dinner and it seems that Scarlett the Staffie could not resist the succulent Karoo lamb. And there I was wondering where she had got her muddy mask before bed.

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Maybe if you'd given her some of your lamb she'd have been satisfied ;-)

19 Nov, 2009


Sounds like a beautiful and fascinating part of the world you live in.

Perhaps Scarlet was trying to give herself a face-pack!

19 Nov, 2009

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