Spud, hungry after a hard day’s rolling about in the dirt.
Filling in the pivot wheel ruts with gravel.
Groundnut harvest time.
A few weeks back I read this post written by Anna at The Wandering Introvert and it got me thinking; this would not only be a good writing exercise but also an excellent prompt for a Throwback Thursday post.
Anna’s method goes like this:
“Set a timer for some amount of time, and, without stopping, compose a series of sentences that begin with the phrase “I remember.” If you get stuck, just write the prompt over and over again until something else comes out.”
I set my clock for 10 minutes, then added a few more for touching up and uploading pictures.
I remember one time when I burned my hand on hot coals while playing outside by the wood boiler – I tried to hide the blister from Mum because she’d told me not to go there, but somehow she found out. I remember being relieved (and surprised) because she didn’t get cross and instead gave me a hug and placed a soft kiss on my hand.
I also remember Mum being very cross with me for cutting my doll’s hair.
I remember going with Dad to look for tadpoles in the stream at the end of our garden. Dad kept a thermometer there in the water, I can’t remember why he wanted to record the temperature but I do remember the water was always very cold! I remember that he had to make a cage for the thermometer out of bamboo sticks to keep the otters from destroying it. I remember that we often saw otters there. I remember years later watching a film called Ring of Bright Water, which was about an otter. Thinking about that story still brings tears to my eyes.
I remember my first day at school. I wasn’t really afraid until I saw that Mum was crying and trying not to let me see and then I became scared. I remember one day doing something really bad in class – I think I deliberately coloured outside the lines and made a mess of my drawing – and had to sit in the corner with my back to the other children. I remember the shame I felt and I remember worrying that the teacher would tell my parents. She didn’t tell them, but I did. I think they pretended to be cross.
I remember watching films every Friday night at the open-air cinema (we called it the bi-scope). There were short breaks each time the reel had to be changed and a longer one at half-time, when we would buy a coke and a packet of crisps for 10 cents. Before they paved the area, us kids used to sit on the sand at the front while our parents sat in plastic ribbed seats behind us. I remember some nights, if it was an age-restricted film, I would sleep in that little hole at the very back of my parents’ VW Beetle with Owen, our Welsh Border Collie, to keep me company. I remember one night he stole a cheese and onion crisp out of my hand – it was the biggest crisp I had ever seen.
I remember the first dog I ever owned. Sometimes, after bathing her, I would dye her white coat with food dye. Her name was Fifi. I remember the sound of screeching tyres on the road in front of our house and how devastated I was when I learned that she had been knocked down by a passing car and that I would never see her again.
We recently spent a (very short) week in Cape Town. Tucked away in a side street in Muizenberg we found Oroboros Tapas Bar and after one visit it became our ‘local’.
Most evenings we would sit at a table on the pavement, testing every brand of craft beer on the menu and watching the World go by.
I love that Muizenberg is a dog-friendly place and at most places you go to you will see people walking around with their four-legged friends, some even stopping by in a restaurant or cafe for a bite to eat and a drink.
To see more pictures of wooden benches visit Travel Worlds.
Piet usually takes the big dogs with him when he goes around the lands every morning. They run in front of the bakkie, occasionally darting off after smells into the long grass on the edge of the fields. Sometimes they come back with an unfortunate field mouse hanging from their smiling, panting jaws.
Yesterday we had to be in town early to collect a parcel at the bus stop, so the dogs missed out. By evening they were stir crazy, agitating for something to do, for some excitement and fun. So I grabbed my camera and took them for a walk.
Although they have very different personalities the black sisters tend to do things together – here it looked like they were marching, their legs moving in perfect unison as they trotted towards the two tanks (and the water!) up ahead.
The dogs suddenly caught the scent of a field mouse, right in the middle of the groundnut field and then the fun began! Pouncing like foxes they snorted and yapped and dug, their tails waging above the plants like flags. Tikkie was in there too but he is short and I lost sight of him – although I could hear his excited barks and growls.
When we got back home and I showed my photos to Piet we got into (a little bit of) trouble – Piet doesn’t allow the dogs to dig for mice in the fields because they cause too much damage and he said they should have known better.
However, the look of delight on Spud’s face made it worth while.
There are a number of feral cats living around our workshop area and about two weeks ago we noticed cat footprints making their way up the road towards our house, up to the gate. We have also caught a few African Wild Cats in the spotlight while out at night, keeping elephants out of the crops. Kits (as she is now called) is about 6 months old, so approaching sexual maturity and probably attracting all the toms in the area. We certainly don’t want more cats (where would we re-home them?) so we took the decision to have her spayed.
I booked the appointment for Monday, and she couldn’t believe it when we put her back in the cupboard (where I had kept her when she first arrived, to keep the dogs away from her) on Sunday night. It’s the only room in the house where she cannot escape and we had to make sure she had nothing to eat or drink after 20.00hrs.
For the trip into town I put her into Tikkie’s travelling box – the one he arrived in on the plane from Johannesburg – but her cries of protest were too distracting so a couple of kilometers down the road I pulled over to let her out. Within minutes, after a quick inspection of the entire vehicle, she curled up on my lap, purring for the rest of the journey. I dropped her off at the vet’s, having waited until he had sedated her and she was quite dozy and then went to treat myself with a mocha coffee milkshake at our town’s only café while I waited for his call to come and collect her.
When I collected her she was still completely anaesthetised, her head lolling about and her tongue hanging out. I was a little apprehensive and asked if I shouldn’t wait a bit longer for her to return to consciousness. The vet assured me she would be fine, so off we went back home, where I laid her out on a few blankets on the floor in the cupboard. She seemed to take hours and hours to wake up and when she finally stood up and tried to walk around she appeared blind! She kept walking into the wall, my legs, anything that was in her way, and when I waved my fingers around in front of her eyes she did not blink or react at all.
I tried to call the vet to ask if this was normal but his phone was off so I turned to Google where I learned that blindness after anaesthetic is quite common in cats and that sometimes it can be permanent. Of course I was distraught and when Piet got home that evening after his day’s work on the farm he found me almost in tears. Being the calm, level-headed person that he is he managed to calm me down (a bit) and suggested we wait until the morning to see how she was then. In my Google research I had also read that cats are more sensitive to anaesthetic than dogs are and that they can take longer to recover, so I took his advice to heart and tried to settle down and wait for the morning.
We woke before dawn to the sound of plaintive mewing coming from the cupboard and when Piet opened the door Kits came bounding out, purring like a diesel engine and set about on her usual morning ritual of pouncing on Tikkie to wake him up, something he hates (he is not a morning dog). What a relief! Although she was still a little shaky and unsteady on her feet, her eyesight was back to normal and that was the end of that drama.
Kits is very hyperactive and it proved very difficult for me to check on the progress of her wound – a couple of furtive glances didn’t really show me much, so on Sunday I decided to hold her down and have a really good look, to try to see how close we were to removing the stitches. I was horrified by what I saw – a great, red, inflamed, gaping hole; all her gymnastic antics must have torn the stitches out some days ago. She had probably also pulled some out, with help from Tikkie who I had to reprimand a few times as he had shown a lot of interest in her tummy lately. I felt dreadful that I hadn’t noticed sooner.
So first thing Monday morning we were back at the vet. This time he only sedated her and I had to stay to help, his assistant having come down with a bug and unable to work that day.
After the removing uterus and ovaries during a spaying three layers of stitches are inserted: one layer to close up the abdominal wall, one to close the subcutaneous fat layer and one closing the skin layer. Luckily in Kits’ case the abdominal wall layer had held and healed, so there was no chance of peritonitis, which would have probably killed her. The last two layers of stitches had come out though, so these were re-done. I was impressed at the vet’s skill with the needle, inserting those tiny stitches in such a small space. Towards the end of the procedure the sedation medication had started to wear off so there was a bit of wriggling and crying as the needle went in. My poor little kitty! We bandaged her tummy and placed a cone over her head (which I had fashioned earlier out of a 2 litre Coke bottle – there being no such thing available here); the bandage to keep the wound clean and Tikkie away from it, and the cone to stop her chewing at the stitches again.
I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to walk with the bandage around her middle. Tying anything around a cat’s torso upsets their balance and they usually fall over when they try to walk. Or they just lie there doing nothing until you take it off (I tried it. Once. When I was young and didn’t know better). However, once she had fully recovered from the sedation she was soon back on her feet, albeit a little clumsily. And she has hardly reacted to the cone at all.
I am keeping her in the cupboard most of the time now. Until she is fully healed I need to stop her tearing around like a mad thing, climbing trees, catching frogs and terrorising the dogs – but I let her out in the evenings when we are at home and can keep a close eye on her. I had a good look at her wound this morning, it looks like it is healing properly this time, so it shouldn’t be long before she can get back to being a real cat again.
OK, I know that this isn’t Facebook but it is the internet (and we all know that pictures of cats are compulsory on the internet) so while we’re biding our time waiting for the elephant onslaught I thought I would share some pictures and stories of my cat (and a few of my dog too).
A few kilometers from the farm is a quirky little bar/restaurant/motel/campsite owned by a couple who originate from East Germany. No visit to that place is compete without a greeting from their friendly bar cat and just before Christmas I noticed that she was pregnant. I commented on this to the owner and then remarked toPiet how a cat would complete our family. However, we own 5 dogs and we both agreed that a cat would probably not be welcomed by them, nor could we expect her to have a very long life-span – dogs being notorious for their hatred of cats. Besides, Piet is a self-declared ‘non cat person’ – the only cat he had ever owned being a rescued serval kitten many years ago, but that is a different story . As far as we were concerned that was the end of that little dream of mine and subsequent events can be attributed a language breakdown.
Fast forward to mid-March. I was out of the country for the week when Piet received a phone call from the camp: “Your kitten is ready. Come and collect her now!” was the terse instruction. He was horrified but had the presence of mind to request a few day’s grace in which to consult with me. I had a vague recollection of the discussion about pregnant cats but none of promises to give one of the kittens a home. To avoid upsetting our neighbours we decided we would take her and install her in the office where she would have limited contact with our dogs, rats having taken up permanent residence in my filing cabinet.
At daybreak on the day after I returned to the farm I drove to the camp to collect our new office cat. This in itself turned into quite an exercise. Any ideas I had of an adorable, cuddly bundle of fun soon evaporated when I first encountered this growling, hissing, spitting, fiendish witch. Despite being born in the bar and having had almost constant contact with people this little kitten was wild, she was terrified of humans and behaved like a feral cat. The camp owner placed a pile of bones on the floor in the bar to entice her from behind the fridge, where she had retreated, loudly voicing her displeasure at our presence, while we removed ourselves to the other side of the counter to wait. Two hours (and three beers for the camp owner – I guess it goes with the job) later I was on my way home, somewhat battered and bloody, the cat thrashing about in her box, obviously very upset.
Sneaking her into the house past the dogs was no easy task but I managed and soon had her safely hidden in the walk-in cupboard that adjoins our bedroom – the plan being to keep her there overnight and then move her down to the office block the next day once she had settled.
Settled? Hah! Had I known how vicious and vexatious this cute looking (how deceptive appearances can be!) little ball of fur was going to be I would have taken the easy (cowards?) way out and used the relative safety of a phone call from thousands of kilometers away to tell the camp owners we would not be taking her. It took more than a week before I could even touch her without suffering serious bodily harm.
After 10 days it was time to start introducing her to the rest of the family and I decided Tikkie, being the smallest, would be the least likely to cause her any harm. He was delighted. She was not. He was unaware such swear words existed.
However, being the charming fellow that he is it only took Tikkie a couple of days to win her over – he is far more diplomatic than I am – and they have now become firm friends. They are inseparable and love each other dearly.
We don’t have a TV but watching their antics in the evenings provides us with all the entertainment we need:
Contrary to our predictions, the other dogs have (grudgingly) accepted her into the family and after the initial swearing – on her part – and snapping – on theirs – a sort of truce has been declared, even when there is food about:
All plans to have an office cat have gone out of the window. She has firmly wormed her way into our lives and apart from the odd trip down to the office to keep Tikkie company while I work she is now, very definitely, our house cat.
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