|some boergoats on the farm|
Anybody who has lived on a farm will tell you that at some stage looking after and feeding orphaned or ‘hansies’ stock will be part of what one does on the farm. Over the years, I have had numerous hansies, which have included lambs, calves and boergoats. As usual with experience, one gets better at rearing these orphaned animals. Most of these hansies grow up and become part of a bigger herd, but boergoats tend to have a far better memory as to whom their surrogate mother is, and therefore become a problem once they have grown up, as they would prefer to be with you than be part of the herd.
This year due to the very dry conditions, after initially giving away some orphaned goat kids, I ended up with two and then four. The initial two were actually not really orphaned, but needed help as their mother had broken her leg while trying to access the top branches of the sweet Acacia Karoo to eat the leaves. She clearly had got her foot caught and then managed to free herself, but in doing so broke her leg. These two kids are little ewes and quickly got used to being substituted with bottles of milk. The second two were orphaned from a ewe that died, unable to free herself after also being caught up in an Acacia Karoo tree.
|my first two hans goat kids|
Anyway, due to the fact that goats have a very good retentive memory as to where ‘home’ is, one of my conditions on rearing these goats were that they stay down in the goat shed, which is over the hill and not visible to the homestead. So this means armed with my bucket filled with bottles of substitute milk, I have to walk to them in the morning and in the evenings to feed them. Naturally, I am always accompanied by some or all of the Border Collies of the farm.
|the blue gums flowers feeding the bees|
My walk takes me down past the blue gum trees that are full in bloom, thanks to a leaking pipe near the old fowl run. The bees are busy making use of this luck to gather as much nectar as possible during this dry period.
|the dogs waiting for me to open the gate|
The dogs wait at the small gate that goes into the dip camp and push and shove their way through as soon as I open the gate. We then turn right and descend into the donga that flows when it rains.
|climbing up from the donga led by the dogs|
As we climb out of the donga, we are entertained by the sounds of the Chestnut-vented Titbabbler that skulks in the thorn trees to our left.
|the dogs waiting to crest the hill|
Prior to last week’s sudden hailstorm, I would crunch across the dry grass to the crest of the hill before descending to the goat shed.
The view from above is good and I am so grateful we had unusually good rains in July that allowed the trees to get their leaves, which soften the reality of the very dry
conditions around us.
|one of the Wild Olive trees on the hill|
As we bolder hop down the hill, the Southern Tchagra hops around in the trees to my left while the Fairy Flycatcher hawks in the trees and bush around us.
Scamp beats us all to the bottom of the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, we walk a mere 50 metres and turn right into the goat shed where my hansies are eagerly waiting for their rations.
|the goat kids waiting for their rations|
|Oz keeping an eye on the goat kids|
The dogs wait outside the gate while I feed them their bottles. First the two real orphans and then the two ones I substitute. The mom stands and stamps her feet at the dogs protecting her two kids. Her leg is healing and she seems to be getting stronger daily.
While tending to the goats the Mocking Cliff-chat sits on the roof and mimics other birds. At one stage, they were attempting to build a nest in an old swallow nest, but did not succeed, as the base was not broad enough.
|tucking into the thorn tree branch|
Once fed, I then make sure they have sufficient water for the day and then saw off a branch or two from a thorn tree close by to supplement the cubes they are given to eat. Sometimes during the day, the baboons come by and then will eat the cubes and play ‘toss the bales,’ which we store in the shed!
|view from within the goat shed - Oz keeping an eye on the kids outside!|
|view of the river|
Once the goats were fed, we then take a different route home. We follow the road next to the river, which is now running intermittently.
The dogs love this and Scamp normally runs way out in front to one of the bigger pools of water. We collect a couple of sticks on our way to be able to throw them into the pool for Oz or Scott to collect.
|the road along the river - Scamp well ahead|
|Scott at the pool|
On a hot day, the dogs must look forward to this dip in the water, which certainly must cool them down. Depending on the time of the day, I hear the call of the Black Cuckoo that sounds like he is saying ‘I’m so sick’ or more optimistically ‘time to plough’!
|Jack wet from swimming in the water|
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the little Malachite Kingfisher just before the pool as he flies off after being disturbed at his fishing waterhole.
|back up the hill|
After playing in the water, we then turn left and head back up the road that will take us back home. This is when Oz decides he needs to pick up sticks and places them in front of me to throw for him. Scott is equally excited and try to play with Oz while Scamp herds Oz all the way. It is uphill all the way, but the dogs are still full of energy when we reach home.
I enjoy these walks in the veldt and the dogs certainly look forward to the outing of feeding the hans goats.