July weather

July has been a very mild winter this year. Our average temperatures have been higher than all previous years I have recorded.

We even had a warmish 35C during the month and only on 6 days did we drop under 30C. The minimums for the last 3 years read 3C, 2C, 3.8C this year we only dropped to a freezing 6C.

To see the details and the updated weather page go to:  https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

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This weekend in pictures

The most difficult thing about being a goat farmer is getting to your chair first:



The next is that they want everything.

Just in case you don’t know what a Castle is – it is a popular lemonade found here.



This weekend we built them a shelter and something they can climb on.

A few more pics at https://ourbots.wordpress.com/archive-photo/two-weeks-of-being-a-goat-farmer/

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10 days of being goat farmers

When people now ask what line of work I am in, I now answer that I am a farmer. Then asked what I farm – I say a goat. Well that’s now 2 goats.

We went to collect our Toggenburg Goat the day after the auction. To our surprise we couldn’t believe how easy it was getting her in the car.

We decided that she would live at our house in Letlhakane and be part of the family. I wasn’t too concerned about introducing her to our dogs as I have already got them to like cats.

Our one cat sprinted away when he saw the goat, but not so far so that he could watch this new addition carefully.

But it was not to be and mainly because of the goat. She was petrified of the dogs and every noise around, such as cars driving passed. So we decided to take her to The Plot where we have fenced an area for our house.

She settled in well and followed us around, feeding as she went. The only problem with this was that she was going to be alone.

The “old man” that works for me has got goats so I went and negotiated with him that we could borrow a goat from him until we got a mate for our goat. She is now called Togo, after her breed name.

He agreed and it was time to reunite with Pudi. A baby, baby goat we had rescued and had got him to rear, that was about a year ago. See https://ourbots.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/another-rescued-animal/

The two goats are getting on very well and are always together, which makes us feel much better. Pudi is a naughty kid (excuse the pun), he jumps on everything and eats whatever.

Below is a video of Pudi climbing on a cover I was trying to put up to give them protection against the sun.

I go up every morning to check on them and then Sue and I go up every afternoon as well. As you can see below – goat farming is not that difficult.

Sue watching over our flock

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Weather update

I have updated our Letlhakane weather page to include June. So far this winter our minimums have not been to awful and dropping to a low of 7 C.

Our days have been warm with only 3 days in June dropping below 30 C. We even had a maximum of 35 C during the month.

For more details see: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

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Do you know what a Toggenburg is? Well we own one

Last Saturday Sue and I did all our running around and then decided to pop in at our annual farmers day. It was not being held at the normal place and if there wasn’t somebody stopped at the old place we would never had known it had moved and would have gone home.

Toggenburg GoatThere were a number of stalls and animals in pens waiting to be auctioned. A few animals caught our eye, but in particular one goat. It was not the normal looking goat we find around here.

The auction hadn’t started and we had looked around all the stalls – bored we decided to head on home. I had just settled down to watch rugby when Sue said she would like to go back to the farmers day and see what was happening.

The auction had started and hearing some of the prices I just thought that this was out of our league. However we did register and got our bidding number.

Lot 56 was brought into the arena, it was the goat that had caught our eye. Sue told me our limit, my price was a bit higher and I had the bidding number. Well we flew past Sue’s figure and approached and past my figure. However to Sue’s dismay I bidded one more time.

Somebody went higher. I gave in. The auctioneer then offered me a much smaller increase. I sat and thought about it and thought what the hell. I lifted my number. It was never beaten and we became the owners of a Toggenburg Goat.

A Toggenburg goat is a dairy goat that originates from the Toggenburg valley in Switzerland. They are credited as being the oldest known dairy goat breed.

We didn’t know it was a dairy goat, all we knew it was cute and different. The weekend was about to get a whole lot more hectic. We didn’t have anything for it to eat, we didn’t know were it was going to live and didn’t have a clue how to look after a goat. What had we just done.

Our Sunday was very interesting. I will tell you about it and the week so far next time.

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Interesting trees on The Plot

Mopane Tree – Colophospermum mopaneMopane tree leaf

The most common tree on The Plot is the Mopane. These beautiful trees have a distinctive butterfly-shaped leaves which gives it its name as Mopane means butterfly in Shona.

Mopane wormsThe Mopane is best known for the Mopane Worm, which is the caterpillar of the Emperor Moth, Gonimbrasia belina. These caterpillars are rich in protein and are a much sought-after delicacy by people and they are eaten either roasted or dried.

In Botswana we see temporary camps set up along roads where people harvest them. It is a major income for many and I have been approached on many occasions by people seeking Mopane worms after a previous posts on this. So much so that I have removed my post.

It is not only the host tree to the Mopane worm, but to the juvenile stage of a sap-sucking insect (related to leaf-hoppers) known as the mopane psyllid, Arytaina mopani. This sweet-tasting, wax covered insect, known as Mopane manna, is picked off the leaves by humans, monkeys and baboons.

A small, stingless bee, known as ‘mopane flies’, are also linked to the Mopane Tree. They are best known for their attraction to the ones eye and nose moisture. They live in hollows in the trunks of the trees where they do produce some honey.

In autumn the green leaves turn into a kaleidoscope of red, orange and yellow colours making the bush look like it’s on fire.

In the hot summer months the leave folds together during the heat of the day and exposes the smallest possible surface area to the sun to reduce water loss through evaporation.

Game animals, particularly elephants, enjoy the protein-rich leaves and pods; however the tree releases tannins, making it unpalatable, if an animal feeds on it for too long.

The wood of the Mopane tree is one of the hardest in southern Africa. This does make it difficult to work, but makes it termite resistant and hence used as fencing poles and structural poles for structures.

The tree is found as single or multiple stemmed trees; however, it is also found as a bush and is locally referred to here in Botswana as “gumane”.

The seed pods which are kidney in shape do not split open and germination occurs within the pod.


Other uses of the Mopane Tree are:

  • Mopane twigs have been chewed as tooth brushes,
  • Bark to make ropes and for tanning leathers
  • The leaves can be used to stop the bleeding and to accelerate healing of wounds.
  • The hard wood was used to make railway sleepers and as props for mines.
  • Ash from the wood has high phosphate, calcium and lime contents and is used as fertilizer and to make whitewash.


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Interesting Trees on The Plot

Buffalo Thorn – Ziziphus mucronata

This must be one of my favourite trees owing to the spiritual beliefs around it.

In Afrikaans it is called the Blink-blaar-wag-‘n-bietjie , which translated means shiny-leaf-wait-a-bit.

The thorns occur in pairs – one pointing straight forward and below the branch one hooked backwards. So if you get caught in it it will take you awhile to get out.

The Zulus see this as you must look to your future (straight thorn) but never forget your past (hooked thorn). The zigzag nature of the branches indicates that life is never straightforward.

When somebody dies and is buried away from their home a branch from the tree is placed on top of the grave. It is believed that the spirit enters branch. The branch is then transported to the person’s home. The branch gets it’s own seat on a bus or taxi.

In Botswana it is believed that you will be safe from lightning if you stand under the buffalo thorn during a storm.

The seeds, if roasted, can be used as a substitute for coffee. The roots have peptide alkaloids and antifungal properties and hence used as painkillers, for dysentery, respiratory ailments and sepsis on the skin.

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