Spring is here! Our Bushwillows and White Stinkwood trees are budding, our Barberton Daisies are starting to flower, and our swallows came to greet us for the first time on 21 August. And it feels as though summer is here already.

We are experiencing high day temperatures, and some of our members have informed us that the snakes have started to come out, and the owls have started nesting. (See the article on owl boxes). It is believed that rain is on its way when the snakes start to come out. We sincerely hope this will be the case.
So far, we haven’t had much of a fire season to talk about, but some of our members are experiencing low water levels. News reports state that level 2 water restrictions have already been introduced in Johannesburg, with other metros to follow suit. Dam water levels across the country are the lowest in many years – the Vaal Dam only has 33% water at the moment. If 15% of the available water cannot be saved by Johannesburgers, strict water restrictions will be introduced. Among other things this means that no garden may be watered between 06:00 and 18:00 (and only with buckets, water cans and hose pipes – no irrigation), and that swimming pools may only be filled with borehole water – no municipal water). People who violate these water saving measures will be fined R1 500, and will have to pay 30% more for water, according to the new water tariffs.
In July, a tornado touched down at Koesterfontein near Magaliesburg, and a severe hail storm occurred near Bekker schools. We need to become more ‘weather-smart’, as we will face more severe weather conditions each season. (See the article on troubled times ahead for cattle and grain farmers).
Our readers found the articles on bees and the high salt intake of South Africans in our previous newsletter interesting (see erratum below), and they were touched by the sad vulture story. Any comments (good or bad) on our newsletter will always be welcome.
Erratum: One of our committee members, Frik Mülder, who had insight into Government Notice no R214 of 20 March 2013 of the Department of Health, brought it to our attention that since 30 June 2016, when this Notice became effective, bread may not contain more than 400mg salt per 100g. We mistakenly reported it as 100mg. Other popular food stuffs with salt restrictions are pap (not more than 500mg per 100g); margarine (550mg per 100g); potato crisps (650mg per 100g); processed meat products (850mg per 100g); and soup powder (5 500mg per 100g).

With regret: Our deapest sympathy with oom Bokkie and Wilmie Meyer with the tragic loss of their son Eric after a car accident on the R560 on 6 September 2016. Our hearts go out to their children, grandchildren, next of kin and friends.