logo

Newsletter #88

August 2016

 

Editorial

Our members/readers found all the articles in our July newsletter very interesting and commented that the articles were informative and relevant. We are heartened by this – thank you!
Erratum: Unfortunately, we provided the incorrect contact number for the cottages to rent on Weleda Farm. The correct number is 083 226 7835.

News from our valley

Magalies Rocks The Cradle: An invitation to celebrate life! Save the date: 2-4 September 2016. Experience an unforgettable fun-filled 72hour weekend in Magalies! Visitors are invited to relax, explore and experience the diversity of our beautiful area. Come for the day or spend the weekend. Stay over in a self-catering unit, five-star accommodation or camp under the stars. The programme offers a variety of recreational and adventure activities, and lots of opportunity to enjoy cultural activities such as recycled art, pottery, poetry and photography. Enjoy beer, ice cream, chilli and chocolate tasting, visit the many markets or participate in a variety of activities like potjiekos competitions, casual day (with a donation for kids with disabilities), sightseeing tours, cycle races, 4x4, hiking trails, and many more. Entrance to the markets and exhibitions is free, but entrance fees and bookings are required for some of the activities. Visit www.magaliesrocksthecradle.co.za/mrtc/ or the Facebook page @MagaliesRocksTheCradle or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the full weekend programme.
A call centre will be operational for the weekend at the Pep centre in Magaliesburg, where you can get a free map, or call 076 171 1196 for more information.

Esther’s Country Lodge: This brand new restaurant on the R560 in Hartebeestfontein (BH24) officially opened for business on 21 July 2016. According to some of our members and readers who have been to the restaurant, both the service and the food are excellent. Call 014 576 4000 or 081 502 2998 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book for lunch or dinner, parties, accommodation with breakfast, etc. One can also order pizzas and takeaways and fetch your order later. The restaurant is open from 09:00 every morning, except Monday morning. Credit cards are welcome. It really is convenient to have such a quality restaurant in our valley. We wish Esther Müller everything of the best with this initiative. Visit the website www.esthers.co.za and please support them!

Mooiloop-programme: This programme, currently broadcast on Wednesday nights at 20:30 on SABC2 (DSTV Channel 192), takes one to small towns in our country. It differs from other travel programmes in the sense that groups of residents are interviewed, which tells one more about the specific area and local historical sites via the stories people tell. In July, the programme focused on Magaliesburg. Amongst others, the Book Club ladies were interviewed at the Staudes’ Alpacca farm, Ruth Mylroie of New Harmony Farm shared her chicken recipe, and some of the members of the Hekpoort Valley Girls and Hekpoort Heksie (who makes chilli products) were interviewed at the Colonial Restaurant. All the ladies outdid themselves! The Bonkers Pop Up market, the Maze drummers at Corriloch, Melon Rouge restaurant and Black Horse brewery were also visited. Two 30 minute programmes on Magaliesburg were broadcast on 3 and 10 August. What an experience it was to see at least some of the people and sights in our beautiful valley through others’ eyes!

Equine dentist: We have the services of an equine dentist in our valley. Call Hantus Eksteen on 078 856 9386.

Interesting reading: In our newsletter, we regularly report about the effect of current economic circumstances on especially farming and conservation activities in our area. Are you interested in reading more about how economic growth, living standards and welfare economics are related or about branding, and how brands become iconic? Read a study by Julian Slabbert and Nicholas Tech (March 2016): “Comparing the Netherlands and Brazil, using indicators such as income per capita, unemployment, poverty line and human development index”, and a literature review on iconic brands by Julian Slabbert (February 2016): “An exploration of the economic factors of branding and how brands become iconic”. Contact Julian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

 

Winter time is aloe time!

In our valley, winter is a beautiful time of the year! This year, it is much greener later than usual, as we had wonderful late rain. That is why we are blessed with fields of aloes everywhere. The pale pink little aloes, Aloe greatheadii v. Davyana, have been flowering prolifically.

2016aloes

This aloe species are endemic to the Northern Province and Gauteng and are an important succulent component of the Witwatersrand area. According to one of our beekeepers, Sue Oxborrow, bees love it, because the concentration of nectar is very high in their flowers: “This is nature’s way of ensuring that bees and other nectar gathering species like sunbirds get a high level of energy, providing food during winter. Isn’t nature amazing? Flowering just when needed!”

 

Arbor month

Spring is around the corner, and soon there will be lots of colour all around us. Then we can garden once again, and maybe also plant a tree or two, preferably one of the trees of the year. Arbor week takes place annually, from 1 to 7 September. This year’s common tree species is the Common wild fig (Ficus thonningii). The more uncommon or rare tree species are the Common bush-cherry (Maerua cafra) and the Bead-bean tree (Maerua angolensis). None of these tree species are endemic to our area but the Common wild fig and Bead-bean tree should do reasonably well here. Both these tree species grow reasonably fast and are hardy (drought and frost reistant).

Garden tasks for August/beginning of September:
Water spring bulbs and remove the dead flowers. Fertilize your day lilies, other perennials and shrubs with granular fertilizer, and enrich the soil with compost. Add compost to flower beds, working it in to the top 30cm of topsoil. Keep on watering and feeding your winter veggies. Don’t fertilize your lawn until it starts to grow. (Joburgwest Get it, August 2016).
Important notice: The 2016 NEMBA Invasive Alien Species (IAS) lists have been amended. The latest NEMBA IAS lists were released by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, on 29 July 2016. Contact Dr Seb Rahlao (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Tendamudzimu Munyai (021 799 8702 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information.

Environmental Snippets

Winter time is red louse time: Red lice (also known as Red-headed lice, or Bovicola ovis, or biting lice), a permanent parasite on sheep, is active during the winter months. These lice are host specific and target sheep when their condition and general reistance are under pressure. Older, sick and underfed sheep, high stock density and animals with thick wool are more susceptible to the lice. The lice do not suck blood but feeds on epidermal tissue, scales on the skin or dandruff, hair, wool and dry blood clots from old wounds on the skin surface. Red lice cause severe irritation, itchiness, biting and scratching. When one discovers red lice for the first time, the sheep had already been infected six to seven months before. Most infections result from direct transmission. The lice can only survive three to four days if not on a sheep. The parasite also comes into a flock of sheep when infected animals are purchased or can be spread by shearers from farm to farm.(ProAgri, no 197, July 2016).

Heavenly honey: SA’s apiculture industry is threatened by too many beekeepers and too few suitable plant sources. As reported in previous newsletters, the SA Beekeeping industry has now been forced to turn to foreign plant sources to meet the ever-increasing demand for bee forage, hence the various eucalypt species found across the country. However, the continued existence of eucalypt species in South Africa has been under threat since 1996, mainly because invader plants such as some eucalypt species need to be controlled in eco-sensitive areas. Kidney beans, sunflower and lucerne crops are also important forage crop for honey production in South Africa.
Honeybees need access to a variety of flowering plants to provide food for their coloniesat different times of the year. Eucalyptus trees, certain crop species such as sunflowers, canola, citrus and lucerne, as well as indigenous trees and shrubs, flowering plants and wild flowers are critically important for honeybees to build strong solonies. As current natural habitat and forage resources dwindle, there is an urgent need to protect and maintain existing bee-friendly vegetation by planting more bee-friendly plants (as long as they are appropriate to the specific localities to prevent hybridisation or invasions). Gardeners should consider planting complementary crops (such as lavender and basil) or rotate land with legume crops that are important bee-forage resources. Kidney beans, sunflower and lucerne crops are also important forage crop for honey production in South Africa. One can also find out which weeds are attractive to bees (e.g. wild raddish, cosmos, etc.), so that some can be left for the bees (Gauteng Smallholder, September 2015).
Did you know?
A hive of bees will fly the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1kg of honey, but it’s well worth the trip! According to Ferdie du Preez (Farmer’s Weekly, 5 September & 3 October 2014).All natural honey will granulate (go sugary) over time due to the formation of dextrose crystals. This natural process does not imply spoilage in any way. Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil. The granulate process can be reversed by heating or by standing honey in the sun or in hot water. Large bottling plants filter liquid honey to retard granulation. Fynbos honey is known for its variety of flavours and wonderful aroma. It has also won awards on the global stage.
Scientists across the world are attempting to find the “Super bee” that can resist pests and diseases, habitat loss and poisonous chemical substances. According to prof Keith Delaplane, director of the American University of Georgia’s honey bee programme, some scientists are of the opinion that the answer could be genetic modification, while others maintain that bees should be allowed to develop the necessary resistance naturally. “Unfortunately, a productive bee species that is mite resistant has not been found yet” (Marleen Smith, Landbouweekblad, 10 July 2015).
Note: American Foulbrood disease (AFB), which causes destruction in bee populations, has now also spread to South Africa. An American Foulbrood guide has been launced for the SA bee industry. To read or print the Western Cape Bee Industry Association’s (WCBIA) A guide for Beekeepers: How to manage AFB, visit www.farmersweekly.co.za, click on the News tab and then on the Useful documents tab).

 

A sad vulture story

On 27 June 2016, VulPro published a press release with the heading: “From triumph to tragedy – “Sunset”, one of VulPro’s first captive bred chicks electrocuted”.


Last year, VulPro experienced the triumph of being the first vulture conservation organization on the African continent to release captive bred, parent raised Cape Vultures (Gyps coprotheres) into the wild in SA. With the IUCN Red List conservation status of Cape Vultures being “Endangered”, the survival of every single vulture counts in order to sabe the species as a whole.
Cape Vulture Tag 148, also known as “Sunset” (named in honour of Copper Sunset Sands (Pty) Ltd, who sponsored his GPS tracking device, was released in February 2015 from the VulPro rehabilitation facilities, outside of Hartebeepoort Dam. He was hatched at VulPro on 2 July 2012, and was released when he was almost three years old – a behaviourally and physically fit Cape Vulture. For over a year, Sunset roosted at VulPro and foraged only within 8km of the release site. On 8 June 2016, he ventured further afield. t hy verder weggevlieg. However, on 21 June, this trip ended tragically in the Randfontein area (72.35km direct line from VulPro). His body was found electrocuted under a T-structure which was missing a spark gap in the earth line. The force of the electrocution was so powerful that the GPS device he was wearing was found 10m from his charred body. In the blink of an eye, three years’ effort and research to facilitate his successful relase was extinguished in a single incident…
VulPro is currently working on a reaearch proposal to teach captive bred vulture chicks through classical conditioning to avoid perching on dangerous power line structures. For more information on VulPro’s work, contact Kerri Wolter (082 808 5113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or visit the website: www.vulpro.com
Important: On 17 September 2016, from 08:00 – 13:00, the Spinathon Fundraising for VulPro will take place. More information at www.vulpto.com/events.

 

More birds species in a farm garden

One of our members, Neels Nothnagel, who has not been living in the area for long, writes via email on 24 July: “We enjoy nature in the valley, especially the many bird species. We feed the birds and always see to it that there is clean water for them. Recently, we saw a Secretary bird in our veld”. We are placing two of Neels’s photos, namely of a group of Coqui Francolin (Francolinus coqui) and a Crimsonbreasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus). We would like to thank bird expert, Willie Froneman, for identifying the birds for us.

 

Call centre to boost water service delivery

Communities across the country are set to benefit from the services of the re-established Department of Water and Sanitation’s call centre.

The call centre will be a point of access to all information about the programmes and services of the department. The hotline will further enable the department to receive and resolve issues related to water-use registration and licensing; vandalism and theft of infrastructure; treatment plants and other problems; illegal water connections; revenue, billing, and debt management; water supply interruptions and other issues as well as basic sanitation supply, community sanitation problems and buckets which are not collected.
“Given the recent water challenges and constraints, South Africans are urged to use the hotline as this will assist the department to respond to and accelerate service delivery. Members of the general public, service providers, community structure leaders and businesses are some of the stakeholders encouraged to use the hotline,” said the department in a statement.
The hotline number 0800 200 200 is free of charge, easy to use and convenient for communities. It will operate in all 11 languages and is operational from 6am - 10pm during weekdays. (Pretoria, SAnews.gov.za)

 

 

Food for thought

“Advice from the ocean: Be shore of yourself. Come out of your shell. Take time to coast. Avoid pier pressure. Sea life’s beauty. Don’t get tide down. Make waves!” (Unknown).“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things” (Leonardo da Vinci).“Greatness is not measured by money or stature. It is measured by courage and heart” (Unknown).“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical” (Sophia Loren).“Respect your body. Eat well. Dance forever” (Eliza Gaynor Minden).“Life is too short to worry about small matters. Enjoy each day as if it were your last” (Tayla Skye Robinson).“Friends are connected heart to heart. Distance and time can’t break them apart” (Truthfollower.com).“Dance before the music is over. Live before your life is over” (American Hippie).“Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic” (Carl Sagan).

 

Did you know?

South Africans consume too much salt: Legislation on restricting salt in some food products came into effect on 30 June 2016. Amongst others, stipulates that bread may not contain more than 400mg of salt per 100mg. Bread products of major food producers, as well as bakeries of retail outlets and on street corners are now being tested to determine whether regulations are followed. According to prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen, member of the task team who made recommendations regarding the legislation, bread seems to be one of the main culprits of bad health, because people don’t realise how much salt it contains. This is one of the main causes for South Africans consuming way more than the recommended 5g per day. According to the department of health, black people consume about 7,8g salt per day, coloured people about 8,5g and whites about 9,8g. Research has shown that South Africans get about 60% of their salt from processed food and the rest (40%) from salt used when preparing food and when eating. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between salt intake and hypertension. (Johan Eybers en Sange Bom, Rapport 17 July 2016).

A third of SA’s food is wasted: Nine million tons of food, worth R61 million, end up in SA’s waste bins annually, and experts such as Ali Conn of UpCycle, warn that more of this food, of which large quantities are still edible, will be wasted, as food’s shelf life decreases due to the current drought. According to the most recent available research, a study conducted by dr Suzan Oelofse, a CSIR expert on waste management, in 2013, 22% of the water used for irrigating these crops, are therefore also wasted. Most food products are wasted before being displayed on shop shelves. Fresh products are not always packed and transported as it should. It must be chilled as soon as possible after harvesting and kept cool while being transported, but the cooling mechanisms of refrigerator trucks are often switched off to save fuel. Consumers are choosy, and don;t want to buy vegetables and fruit with marks on. Shops are not allowed to sell food of which the shelf life has expired. Large chain stores have plans in place to waste as little food as possible and donate food that has not expired yet to welfare organisations – many of which are totally dependent on such food donations for survival (Elaine Swanepoel, Rapport, 24 July 2016).

Your body and oxidation stress: This means that too many free radicals are in action in your body. The more of them there are, the more your body suffers from oxidation stress. The secret is to decrease your oxidation stress. When taking in more antioxidants, free radicals will be eliminated, and the health damage they cause, will be stopped (Salomé Delport, Rooi Rose, August 2016).

Us and our mindfulness: Mindfulness is all about bringing yourself back to the moment and becoming aware of what happens here and now, without critisising the moment. It enables you to get to know someone step by step and creates a sound foundation for building a relationship, because you are getting to know the person the way he or she really is. This ability helps us to experience the quality of the moment. There is an App for your cell phone, called “Headspace”, which can help you to improve your mindfulness. (Mariska van Rooyen, Rooi Rose, August 2016).

Fight flu naturally: Steeped as a tea, ginger helps to ease headaches and sore throats, making it good for warding off or assisting recovery if you have a cold or flu. Honey can be a powerful immune booster – its antioxidant and antibacterial properties can also improve digestive wellbeing and help you stay healthy to fight off diseases. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, bursting with vitamins B, C andE, and is known to fight infection. Eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants, lowers blood pressure. (Clicks ClubCard magazine, Issue 4/2016).

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn’t you say?

Headings in newspapers:
Man kills self before shooting wife and daughter.(Ya?)
Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says. (Really? Ya think?)
Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers. (Now that’s taking things a bit far!)
If strike isn’t settled quickly, it may last a while. (Ya, well, no, maybe!)
Couple slain. Police suspect homicide. (They may be on to something!)
New study on obesity looks for larger test group. (Studying the cause or the effect?)
Hospitals are sued by seven foot doctors. (Boy, are they tall!)