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