Fascinating Facts – Gemsbok

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) has been referred to as the “Aristocrat of the Plains”, and are often rated as the most handsome of the antelope species.

Four Fascinating Facts:

1.  Gemsbok can subsist in waterless landscapes, utilizing habitats that other grazers can only use during rainy seasons.  They love grazing on short grasses, but will turn to browsing thick leaves with a high moisture content when necessary – their teeth structure allows them to graze and browse.
23aThey extract moisture from wild melons, juicy roots, tubers and bulbs, which they dig for with their horns.
When water is scarce, the Gemsbok can raise its body temp to 45deg before beginning to sweat (evaporative cooling) – this would be a deadly fever temp to humans.  They can also concentrate their urine and absorb all the moisture from their faeces to reuse it.
Waterless Landscapes!

2.  Male and Female Gemsbok are almost identical in appearance, ie. they have a very low sexual dimorphism.  The thought is that this facilitates longer acceptance of juvenile males by older territorial males, helping them to better survive in vast empty spaces where finding mates can be
a serious challenge.    Reproduction ensured!

263.  Gemsbok social structure is different from most other antelope species, in that they don’t use a harem system where one dominant breeding male controls a group of females and young.  Gemsbok form mixed herds of males and females;   rank within these groups is maintained with sparring contests/fights. Territorial males use an extreme crouch defecation position as a visual display of social status.    Unusual Social Structure!

4.  Gemsbok cows isolate themselves before calving, and after giving birth, hide their calves for 4-6 weeks, and only thereafter join the herd. 23 The Gemsbok mother remains within sight of her concealed offspring, visiting a few times a day to suckle. The black and white face markings only begin to appear when the calf is ready to join the herd They suckle up to about 9 months.
Hide their Young!

This is the Karoo area where Gemsbok thrive – the Plains of BloemhofKaroo!

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Karoo Cuisine – Apple Chutney

dsc_0169I’m never sure where the Heart of a Karoo Homestead is…

… the farmyard, the crucial windmill, the blazing fireplace in winter, or the Farmhouse Kitchen.

I guess more often than not its The Kitchen – don’t we all love the sight and warmth of an old farm AGA Stove?

The main attraction of the farm kitchen has to be the incredible women that embrace skills handed down to them over generations. I’ve never seen Martha use a cookbook, and can’t believe the delicacies she produces.

Of course the moment cartons of fruit arrive at BloemhofKaroo, there is an extra flurry of excitement and urgency – everything must take second place to the overly important task of making a Jam, Preserve or Chutney.

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Apple Chutney Recipe

Peel, core and cube apples.

For every 500g Apples, add the following into a large pot, cover with water, and boil/simmer:

  • 4 cups sugar, 1 tsp salt
  • 6 onions
  • 100g soaked dried apricots
  • handful chopped raisins
  • 2 red peppers
  • handful whole coriander
  • chilli flakes
  • few pinches nutmeg & ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar.

Boil until all ingredients are soft, and water has cooked away completely.dsc_0160

Use a soup “plunger”, partially liquidise the apple mixture, keeping some of the chunkiness.
Sterilise bottles, and bottle chutney while hot.
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Martha’s Apple Blatjang is truly a winner.

Love this quotation:
“A Little Kitchen makes a Large House”.

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BloemhofKarooKitchen is “ons hart se punt”.

Karoo Awakening

Waking up in the Karoo in winter is always an experience involving all the Senses!

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“We look again at the rise of the early sun.  The ravenlocks are now all golden and radiant…”
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First Thought…. is this going to be a freezing couple of days, or hopefully milder than expected?

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First Sound…the Tractor revving itself up, an unmistakeably deep throaty sound of rebellion in the early morning.

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First Sight….  the falling moon and the imminent sunrise.    How is it that the Sun rises, and the Moon drops at equivalent moments? – how gracious is our Creation?

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First Taste…that Filter Coffee!

First Sensation…the crispest Karoo morning, biting into one’s cheeks with a vengeance!

And so the day unfolds….  I never feel more alive than when waking on that first morning in the Karoo.

What is it about Windmills?

What is it about Windmills?

Have you ever met anyone that is not fascinated and soothed by a slowly turning gently clunking windmill?

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I never tire of seeing the windmill that stands so
tall and proud outside theBloemhofKaroo homestead – so elegant,  yet so vitally crucial on the farm.

The wind in the Karoo can be so tiresome but we always console ourselves with the fact that life-giving water is being collected at a rate of knots for our crops, animals and gardens!

WINDMILLS are an ingenious invention dating back to the 12th century, and we’re still using them all over the Karoo;    our lifesource in the veld.
Until 1750, windmills were turned by hand to face the wind;  thereafter the new fantail automatically kept the windmill in an optimal position.

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I never realised how much expertise there is amongst the Karoo people to understand, repair and even salvage windmills – almost any farm worker can scramble up to the top in a jiffy, set the brake (yes, a windmill has a brake), and do all sorts of tweaking to enable gathering (but not overflowing!) of water.

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‘LOVE IS THAT TO LIFE WHAT WIND IS TO A WINDMILL’

“The Windmill never strays in search of the Wind”.

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Lifesource at BloemhofKaroo.