We arrived home late yesterday afternoon from our busy weekend of auctioning and visiting family and friends in Johannesburg. After unpacking the car we immediately put on our walking shoes and hurried down to the fields below our house to see if any new calves were born while we were away. It was a beautiful crisp evening with the bright almost-full moon already high in the sky. We could see smoke from a far-away veld fire, probably somewhere beyond Ladybrand, billowing in the distance. First stop was to check on the builders’ progress with our new cattle facility. We only have one month to get everything finished before our auction so it’s crunch time! Things seem to be on track though, which is exciting. Alongside our new cattle crush is a new loading platform and a shed with toilet facilities, a store room and a laboratory/kitchen which will be used for our embryo programme and for the lunch preparation for our auction. We have recycled a lot of material that was left over from our house renovation, in particular the large steel windows that we replaced with wooden double glazed windows.
Next we moved on to the field of green feed where there is a group of receiver (surrogate) cows pregnant with pure Boran embryo calves and three Boran cows that have given birth to their own natural calves out of season. One of the receivers has also given birth to her own natural calf (the white-faced one in the photo) so there is a real mixture of genetics in the group! Over the next few weeks this group will be visited every day to see if any new calves have been born. It is much warmer this year than last so we will hopefully not run into as much trouble with little calves freezing in the snow and being attacked by jackals! On the way, we bumped into our two horses, Sonny and Beauty. They were slightly wary of us as we were carrying a leash for Paris and they probably thought we were trying to catch them. In our rush to leave the house I also forgot to take along some treats for them! The sun was setting quickly as we made our way home and the moon shone brighter and brighter. I tried to take some photos without a tripod, which is not the best thing, but the next best option was to lean on a skew gate! Coco came home carrying a stolen egg in her mouth. We estimate that she is seven weeks pregnant, so the puppies are imminent. Her appetite is ferocious and I have been unsure whether to feed her constantly or worry about her weight. Today I read that I should feed her as much as she demands to build up her strength so I’m off to town to buy some treats and puppy food. I will also start preparing her nesting box soon. A big adventure lies ahead for her and us!