Monday, February 28, 2011

This is sooooo not what it looks like.

We have fleas.

The whole country has fleas, I think. I mean it: if you have a conversation right now, on any topic, with anyone who lives in my general vicinity, and that person has a dog, the conversation will at some point turn to fleas. Because of the hot, muggy, and unusually wet (blame those rain-dances of mine) summer this year, we are having a wave, a veritable Pharaoh-grade plague of fleas. They are on our cats, on us, but mostly on my poor little dog. And they're immune to all the normal remedies, it seems. In any case, none of the tablets, powders and spot-ons I've been encasing her in all summer have prevented her from becoming progressively more moth-eaten-looking from scratching them.

So, in desperation, and convinced that if I were to add one more chemical to the cocktail currently covering Kaori (phew!) she might actually keel over and die, I decided to research an old boereraat (folk remedy). Don't worry, I'm not under the fond delusion that "natural" necessarily means "safe, good and harmless". I did my homework on this remedy, and that's what inspired me to post about it. I was shocked, utterly appalled, at my previous level of ignorance about the marvellous plant known as khakibos (translatable as either khaki weed or frickin'-British-soldiers-weed).

update: a police van just drove past my window. I'm getting nervous.

Things I have always known about khakibos:

*It is named khakibos either because of its colour or because it was
brought over from South America in British soldiers' horse feed during the second Anglo-Boer war.
*It stinks.
*It's a weed.
*Everyone hates it.
*It is reputed to repel fleas.

That was enough for me to determine to rethink my relationship with the stinky stuff, and I turned to Google to help me ensure that it was safe.

Things I know about khakibos since googling it:

*It's actually a type of marigold, Tagetes minuta.
*People voluntarily eat it.
*People voluntarily farm it.
*You can use it to deworm horses.
*According to the Wikipedia page on the genus Tagetes, khakibos
is the source of an essential oil used in perfume, called tagette, and is also
used as a flavourant in the food and tobacco industries.

By this point my mind was reeling. I was having a khakibos epiphany, and I immediately put on my hiking boots and went out, armed with a large pair of secateurs, to find some. There was none at all in the first place I tried, a plot where a house is currently being built, but after a lot of searching I found two fat, healthy plants in an open veld near my house. It was as I was bearing them home in triumph that I had another epiphany.

Things I know about khakibos since going out to find some:

*It is much less common around here than it used to be.
*It looks a heckuvalot like dagga (marijuana).

So, my triumph rapidly turning into acute fear that someone would call the cops to say they had seen someone carrying large bundles of illegal drugs around the neighbourhood, I slunk back into my house. I chopped it up. It looked even more like dagga. I felt guilty. I put it in a large pot. I thought "pot" and giggled, pathetically, to myself. Then I boiled it up, cooled it down, and rinsed Kaori with it.

It turned her fur a bright greenish-yellow. This is not too obvious on her usually orangey coat, but I'd really, really love to see it on a white dog...

Things I still don't know about khakibos:
*Will it truly defeat The Fleas That Were The Real Reason For Hosni Mubarak's Resignation?

Watch this space.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An expedition

So, for the past week I've been at the most wonderful place called Verlorenkloof. It's an annual thing where a few BAASA members from the Pretoria region get together and rent one of the crofts. I'm not really sure why they call them crofts. I think maybe it's because the people who go there tend to be into either hill walking or trout fishing, and that people who go to Scotland to stay in crofts tend to be into the same things...

Anyway, we go there to paint the plants, and there are always gorgeous things to be found. Look at these photos of the beautiful riverine forest:

The last one is the most beautiful little orchid, Stenoglottis fimbriata, that I'm working on right now. You need to rotate it to the right to see how it actually grows, but I liked the composition of the photo this way.