Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Winter in the Karoo

Winter has officially arrived – well as far as we here in the Karoo are concerned. 
Definitely soup, comfort food and fires weather. 

And although it is very difficult getting up early in the morning, once up, it is nice to be dressed warmly with a freezing cold nose and pink cheeks for a change.  In a month or two we will be sick and tired of the weather, but for now we are enjoying the change in seasons.  Of course, knowing that the next season is Spring makes it worthwhile having to endure the cold.

I enjoy the late afternoon scenes and sunsets, but once the sun has dipped behind the mountains, the cold descends very quickly. Nights are so clear and crisp in winter and Kate has enjoyed being able to take stunning photos.  She finds the centre pivots especially interesting as seen below.

Well, we can all be pleased that we don’t have to do the job which our current guests are doing.  They are professional divers.........in the Karoo???  Yes, they are working on the refurbishment of Grassridge Dam which is not far from us.  And although they have spent many weeks on and off with us, we hadn’t been to see them on the job until Friday.  We certainly have a new and profound respect for them!  It is quite an operation and a lot of equipment is necessary.  But I am in awe of them diving into freezing water, staying under for up to an hour at a time and doing work that most of us would consider dangerous on dry land.... drilling, breaking up huge rocks etc etc.........and all by feeling their way as the water is muddy brown and visibility nil. The weather has been particularly cold – Friday brought sun, wind, rain and sleet and Saturday was icy cold with wind coming off the distant snowy mountains!  Monday was minus 3 degrees and bakkies battled to get going in the early morning - before sunrise when their day starts! So, imagine going off to work knowing what awaits.  Brave and tough men each and every one of them and so nice as well. 

We really enjoy having them here with us and providing all their meals which are much appreciated.  On Sunday they had a melt-in-the-mouth tender Karoo lamb roast and veggies with Chocolate Cake for pudding / afternoon tea.  And supper was beef and vegetable soup, homemade bread and Macaroni Cheese. I have decided to share my recipe which I always use for the Macaroni Cheese which our family enjoys and any leftovers freeze well for a quick and easy light meal.

Quick and Easy Macaroni Cheese

1 cup    Macaroni (dry)
2 cups  Milk
2           Eggs
1 cup    Cheese - grated
1 Tbs    Butter
1           Tomato - sliced thinly
2 tsp     Maizena
2 tsp     Dry mustard
Salt and pepper
A dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Boil macaroni in salt water until tender and drain
Put cheese in a bowl and reserve some to sprinkle on top
Add mustard, maizena, salt, pepper and cayenne to cheese
Add eggs one at a time and mix well
Boil milk, butter and macaroni together
Add to the mixture in the bowl
Pour into a buttered dish, sprinkle cheese over the top
Decorate with tomato slices
Bake at 180 deg for 30 +- minutes until browned and set
Serves six

Until next time, stay warm and cosy!


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Back to our Blog at last!

It has been weeks (actually months) since my last posting.  And I can hardly believe how this year is flying by already.  Since December we seem to have been on the go constantly.
Our darling granddaughter, Emily, spent part of January with us before she and her Dad and Mom and little brother left for Montreal, Canada. She had such fun ‘on the farm’.  She particularly enjoyed the chickens plus going with Grandpa in the bakkie, swimming, playing with the kids next door, playing at the river, baking with Granny, swinging and so much more. She and young Hayden Bitcon from Bahrain had a ball swinging on a tyre swing as can be seen below. It made me realize how much there is for young people to do on farms – I wish more children had the chance to experience getting out and about with no need for the constantly attached cell phone and couch potato TV  time most common during holidays.  Once they get involved with helping with the chickens, going into the veldt in the bakkie and breathing the fresh air while looking at fascinating rocks and stones I often hear “this is so cool!”

During February we were involved in preparing for Kate and Ruaan’s wedding in March.  There was a pool to be installed plus other garden improvements which were long overdue and are a welcome addition.  A garden is never finished, thank goodness, and work goes on as and when time allows. My Granny was an avid gardener on the farm next door and I have this clear picture of her with her old straw hat on going about her job of continually increasing and improving her garden.  If I have just a small bit of her in me, I am lucky.  Mind you, my mother wasn’t known as ‘Stella Blom’ for nothing – always snaffling slips wherever she went and still does to this day, much to my father’s irritation!  And why not?! – it is a joy to have bits and pieces in one’s garden which remind you of where they came from and the people who so generously gave them to you.  Makes a garden so much more special.
The wedding was a very special day – farmy and down to earth.  It rained for two days solidly before the big day much to my horror.  But thankfully, the sun shone on the bride and groom for the afternoon and everyone had a good time.  The speeches were the best and funniest I had heard at a wedding in a very long time.  And the help we had from our family and friends was quite something to behold.  It is just fantastic being part of this close community – something which not many townies may ever experience!
cradock farm wedding

And now more chicken news as always. Young  guests, Cameron and Luke from Johannesburg, had the full benefit of our darling new baby chicks and were a great help putting them to bed and giving them big dollops of love.  We have two lots of babies – one of twelve and another of seven.  All surviving and thriving – but enough now!  We started with six laying hens and six bantams eighteen months ago and have had a few losses to creatures that prowl in the night but our gains have been enormous – currently we are up to thirty two of all ages, sizes and colours!  So now, we need to find homes for the cockerels as there are currently six which compete before sunrise and I imagine our guests could start demanding chicken pie on a regular basis!

 Our 'little' lamb which is now called Lambie was introduced in a previous blog.  He has grown into a lovable, mielie munching teenager who loves Kate as his own mother.  Mind you, when he sees me he comes running - always hoping for a tasty morsel or two.  He has taken to headbutting our gardener Michael and I watched with great mirth one evening as we were putting the chicks to bed.  He had one stick to herd the chickens and one to fight off Lambie.

Next blog, I will give you a recipe for Macaroni Cheese which is a favourite in our family.