Thursday, January 31, 2013

Growth spurts

Although we see them every day, we have started to notice how fast Midas & Mellie grow. When we first brought them home, they could both snuggle in their little bed (which was purchased with only one puppy in mind). They used to squeeze into it for a nap, but now they prefer the couch. It took a lot of cheese to convince them to get into the small bed for the 18-wk photo.

Also, they look like real dogs now, as opposed to pudgy wriggly puppies.

At last weigh in, Mella was 37 pounds and Midas was 35. That was at 16 weeks. They are no longer dwarfed by their ostrich bones.


For the first half of this week, we visited Tyler and Cornel Faith and their lovely parents Jan and Liz in Klerksdorp, Northwest Province. 
It's the kind of town where Biltong ain't hard to find.

As you should be able to tell from the Wiki link, Klerksdorp is also a solid Afrikaans town, very different from Johannesburg in its demographic makeup. It wasn't long until Tyler and I were in full local regalia...

Jan was kind enough to instruct us in how to hold a gun  and a panga, or machete.

As you may have also surmised, braaing is a way of life in Klerksdorp. We're talking basic US-style braai (on left, a cabbage head being cooked with bacon and cream), done in a grill with charcoal briquettes, but we're also talking FULL-ON, ALL WOOD, MANTASTIC, TESTICLE-ENLARGING Afrikaaner braai, done as seen below: 

Of course, you shouldn't even think about cooking this way unless you're going to serve some serious chunks of meat...
And some legitimately old libations:

...all of which put Kelsey off to a clearly *blissful* early bedtime:

This isn't often mentioned, but Klerksdorp has a fantastic little game reserve called "Faan Meintjies," which we rode our bicycles to:
...and then hopped into the back of Jan and Liz's pickup truck (bakkie) for a game drive with refreshments.

We were joined by the Jaku and Sanet, Cornel's dear friends who recently were engaged (Sanet on right).

Being an Afrikaaner is tough, and you'd better get the right equipment. We therefore went shopping in the local farm store.

First item to grab: two tone shirt. You may have noticed how nicely they show off my beergut in the first few pictures. This little beauty has the big five on board.

Next item: sausage stuffer.

Next, the biltong slicer. Cornel is modeling this modern gem, but she also inherited the chrome masterpiece on right from her grandfather. We are green with jealousy.


Finally, the "potjie"! The potjie, pronounced 'poy-kee' is an absolute must if you want to ever be considered cool in Klerksdorp. The one I'm triumphantly holding is a #3, the perfect size for a small family. 

Now you can't just go out and buy a potjie and expect to be cooking that afternoon. You've got to season that cauldron, and doing so takes a coon's age. And you don't have to take our word for it. Not only did Jan give us the full course in potjie seasoning, but a guy stopped us in the parking lot of the farm supply store to caution us (in Afrikaans) that the potjie would rust unless properly cared for.

We figured we'd season ours' while making a family meal in the Van Zyl (Cornel's maiden name) pot. Here's how we did it.

Step 1: Make a fire

Step 2: Sand that new potjie, then grease it all over with pork fat

Step 3: Fire the potjie up until the legs begin to glow

Step 4: Have a cocktail (or 5), it's going to be a while:

Step 6: Nope, not done

Step 7: in the meantime, begin cutting up vegetables and meat for your other potjie. Be glad of the Van Zyl lapa, as it's raining like hell.

Step 8: okay, the new potjie looks ready. Start cooking in the other potjie

Step 9: finish with cream!

Dessert: Passion fruit. A Choiniere-Glennon first. It tastes better than it looks.

Not to be confused with a "passion gap"

Late night rat patrol: apparently CC (Cruel Cat) is terrible at catching rats, so Tyler took it upon himself.

Luckily, we've had a few rounds of target practice to hone rat-hunting skills. I abstained from rat-hunting.

A common sight on the South African roadways is the "abnormal load". This may refer to a truck with house on it, a truck full of dudes going to work, or innumerable other things that will be the subject of another post someday.

Home sweet home!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fieldwork in Clarens

Hi everyone, it's Jonah here. I'm just back from a trip doing fieldwork in Clarens, a quaint little artist's town near the Lesotho border. I was excavating fossils with my graduate student Blair. You may remember from my Facebook posts that Clarens is where Father Time lives...
But it's also the home of one of the best German restaurants in South Africa, a place called Roter Hahn.

Blair and I stayed in town, at a charmer called the Wynott Country House. Like most South African "self-caterings" it had a thatched porch out back with a grill and relatively spacious rooms.

Blair and I were excavating the remains of a large sauropod dinosaur nicknamed the "Highland Giant".

The field site is one of the more irritating places I've worked, as it's on the side of a cliff of crumbly, slippery mudstone.

When we first got to the fossil, it was mostly covered in rubble (below). About an inch below the rubble was incredibly hard rock, which required a rocksaw to remove. Rocksawing all day gives you sexy muscles, but it also gives you raccoon eyes and sandcastle boogers.

Of course it wasn't all bad. You may remember I posted the view into Lesotho from the quarry in September:

Now that view looks like this:

We were joined in the field by two local tour guides (a college guy and his Mom), who were indispensable. Look for his mother's umbrella below: