Retiring Adventurously – A Day on the Ranch

11 January 2015 – Watching the Cowboys at Work.

Today we go ranching. The day starts with cool temperatures but it soon heats up to the high thirties. Abrie needs to ear tag, dehorn and brand the calves. He also has to scan all the cattle. This is how he keeps a tally. It takes the whole morning and it is interesting to watch the men expertly handling the stock and equipment but at the same time we keep an eye out for birdlife. The cattle are free roaming so have to be gathered together at one spot in order to work with them. To achieve this they close the gate to the waterhole. The cattle gather there to wait for it to be opened and that’s when they are trapped for the business to be done.  At first I felt so sorry for the little calves but once it’s over they run off like puppies and are no worse for the undignified experience.

On the way we met this beautiful bloubokkie

On the way we met this beautiful Damara Dik Dik

The Cattle are beautiful and healthy

The Cattle are beautiful and healthy

The calves are so cute

The calves are so cute

The cowboys get to work

The cowboys get to work

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In the ‘holding cell’

I just want to lie down and sleep

I just want to lie down and sleep

Hold still - this won't take long.

Hold still – this won’t take long – just like a visit to the dentist!

Ouman and Oupa watching the goings on

Ouman and Oupa watching the goings on

Me in a hat!

Me in a farm girl hat!

Two yellow-billed kites entertain us while they dip and swoop as they hunt catching mainly insects. A groundscraper thrush comes round too.

Ground-scraper Thrush

Groundscraper Thrush

At one of the handling spots I took a brief walk among the trees and spotted what looked like a puffback, and a few other birds but they were impossible to photograph.

We are done by 1o’clock by which time the temperature had soared.  Back at the house we feast on Abrie’s home canned fish and home canned tomatoes doused in olive oil. The only thing to do in the midday heat  is take a cold shower and nap till 4.  We then wake up, have tea and Christmas cake and
go for another bone shaking ride to seek and scan some cattle that were missed earlier.
Abrie is pleased that he has lost very few cattle over the dry season.
We spot birds too, of course and it is special to find a dusky lark on the air strip.
Supper is a grand affair. We gather around the braai and Abrie makes a mushroom sauce from fresh brown mushrooms and a speciality dried one soaked in wine. With the added cream it is delicious. This is served over the most delicious beef I have ever eaten – it is taken from the forequarter of a jersey cow and is amazingly tender and tasty.

This girl just loves Africa

This girl just loves Africa specially with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in her hand.

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What a way to spend an evening

Tending the fire

Tending the fire

Preparing the food

Preparing the food – note the mielies (corn on the cob) being grilled over the hot coals – beef is on the griddle and mushroom sauce is done and keeping warm in the covered pan.

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It’s then off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.

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