Category: Nature

Spider woman

Okay – so this was not the spider – I missed getting a shot of her! Ginny took this.

The other day I heard a terrible yelling coming from Mum’s bedroom. Dropped what I was doing and ran to see what on earth was going on.

She was a quivering, jabbering screeching wreck! I looked at her with big eyes – whatever was the matter?  She pointed at a little splodge on the duvet.

It was a spider. Not a particularly big spider, but not exactly small and sweet looking either. One of those hairy dudes that look like it might want to pounce on a person.

Of course I know that’s complete nonsense – they are a lot more afraid of us than we are of them. Mum was heading off to the kitchen to get the Doom. I stopped her and told her to rather make a cup of tea, sit in the lounge and drink it. I would deal with the spider.

Okay – I am not a big fan of spiders either but I really don’t like killing stuff, so I yanked up my big girl broekies and grovelled out a spider busting kit.

Very simple really – a thin piece of cardboard and a clear plastic bakkie.

First I snuck up and slapped that bowl over the spider. It needs to be clear preferably because then you can see where the spider is (on the bowl or on the surface) when you slide the piece of cardboard carefully under the bowl. There is no point in saving the spider and knocking off a couple of her legs in the process.

Once you have the spider trapped between the cardboard and the bowl, you lift the whole thing up and take the little intruder outside. I like using a plastic bowl because sometimes the spider tends to get a bit friendly and wants to run up your arm when you open up the bowl.  Then you can toss it into the garden and run away shrieking!

Mum thought I was very brave.

Did you know that the 11th of October is International Day of the Girl Child! We get to have our own day – how cool. This is a pretty good time in history to be a girl too. We are encouraged to do anything as far as careers go – the sky is the limit.

Although this is not the case for everybody, in some countries girls and women are severely oppressed. Let’s spare a thought for them please.

Sibo

Growing succulents

A friend of mine recently moved into a house and they have a section of water wise plants in their front garden. To begin with I thought they were sort of ugly. But then I looked at them a bit longer and thought that maybe they were not so bad. In fact – some of them were quite pretty.

The thing about succulents is that they really do not need much water. Of course, if they get more water than they bargained for, then it’s not like they wither up and die either.

Did you know if you want to grow your own succulents it is really easy?

You simply lay a leaf or three down on a bed of soil in a little pot, with the pointy bit facing outwards, and give it a few drops of water every now and then.  They are not even too fussy about the water believe it or not.

Aloe

After a while teensy tiny little leaves start growing (in the middle of the pot). And it does not take too long either. Perfect little teensy weensy succulents. In fact, it is incredibly rewarding

The crazy thing about succulents is that some of them are good for various things – like Bulbinlella – a common garden plant.

Bulbinella is the ideal plant to have in the garden if you have children because it is a first aid remedy for most knocks and scrapes.

This hardy plant grows easily in many places. It has a nice bright yellow flower. The Bulbinella leaf can be crushed softly between fingers and the clear sap can be squeezed out from the leaf and used to smear on the following problems: wounds, rashes, burns, itches, ringworm, cracked lips, cuts, boils, eczema, insect bites, cold sores or acne.

The same goes for Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), it is also pretty fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a litre of water a year.

Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn. It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.

Great idea for Christmas presents – but you’d need to start growing them in little pots now!

Have fun.

Sibo

Saving the Environment

Because the 5th of June was World Environment Day thought it might be a good idea to share some tips on saving money and the environment.

These days many people use toothpaste, facial or body scrubs with those teensy plastic micro beads in them.  Well… those little plastic toxic bombs go down the drain from your basin, shower or bath and eventually land up in rivers, lakes and seas. Very simply, the fish cannot avoid them and we eat the fish. These things are causing untold havoc in the environment.

By now we all probably know how useful bicarbonate of soda is for cleaning stuff around the house – but you can also use it instead of various beauty products. Here’s an alternative for your various scrubs. A much cheaper and more environmentally sound one.

Use an old spice jar – one of the ones with little sprinkle holes in the top and fill it up with bicarbonate of soda. Make sure the lid still seals well – you don’t want the bicarb to get wet. Keep it in your bathroom or shower where you can easily access it.

This alkaline substance has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. But before you start using this – try a test patch on your skin to check that you don’t have any bad reactions to it.

In addition to being antiseptic and anti-inflammatory it helps balance the skin’s pH – so if you have acne or spots you can mix a spoon of bicarb with a bit of water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area for a few minutes and then wash it off with cold water. Do this until your skin clears up.

You can whiten your teeth by sprinkling a bit of bicarb on your regular toothpaste and brushing your teeth once a day. Only do it for a few days though – not all the time – otherwise you can hurt the enamel on your teeth.

Get rid of residue of hair products on your hair – put a blob of shampoo in your hand and sprinkle some bicarb into it. Wash your hair as normal. It removes all the yukky stuff very effectively.

Sprinkle some bicarb onto a face cloth and use it as a body scrub to get rid of all the dead skin and flaky bits. Rinse well when you are finished.

Or simply sprinkle some bicarb into your hand add warm water and gently use it as a face wash/scrub. This works especially well if you don’t wear a lot of make-up.

Take care,

Sibo

To sea or not to see

The 8th of June is World Oceans Day.

Thought to celebrate this day I’d share some cool facts.

Did you know that around 70% of the world’s surface is covered by oceans?

There are 5 different oceans – namely the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean , the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean.

The largest is the Pacific ocean and it covers around 30% of the Earth. The name “Pacific” come from the Latin word ‘pacificus’ – meaning peaceful.

Incredibly, around 70% of the oxygen that we breathe is produced by the oceans.

Only 5% of the oceans have been explored. Not surprising really when the deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is in the Pacific, near Guam in the Philippine Sea at the end of the Mariana Trench, and its deepest point measures nearly 11km.

The Great Barrier Reef (the largest coral reef near Australia) measures about 2,600km and it can be seen from the moon!

We all know that oil spills in the sea are terrible and kill lots of sea life, but waste matter from sewerage and agriculture gets dumped into the sea too. This sometimes had all sorts of toxins in it that can cause dangerous types of algae (sea plants) to bloom in water near the coast. When these blooms die and rot they use up all the oxygen in the water and then there’s none left for the fish. These are called “creeping dead zones”

Some people just think of the sea as a huge dumping ground. Lots of other stuff (like chemicals) are chucked into the sea – and get eaten by the fish that you and I eat, which causes illness in humans (never mind what it does to the sea life).  It’s very scary how polluted the seas have become.

312 million kilograms of sea food is consumed each year! Our ocean resources are being depleted daily. People often imagine that the sea is full of a never-ending supply of fish but this is simply not so.

Please remember you can consult the SASSI website   and find out which fish are endangered or not.

To celebrate World Ocean Day we are going to make Sibo and the Sea available on the website  for you to freely read if you want to read more about the oceans.

Please only eat from the “green list” people!

Sibo

Celebrating Life

The 22nd of May is International Day for Biological Diversity.

Huh? I hear you say. Those are long words and what do they have to do with me?

Well… they have a lot to do with us all. If we break up the words – starting with diversity – it means is that there are different types of things. Like there are different… colours, opinions, shoes, people, dogs, cats, birds, buildings, houses, clothes… you get the meaning.

Biological diversity, simply put, means that there are different variations and types of all things living. Everything single thing – from humans, animals, vegetation, aquatic life, insects – anything that you can think of that is living, falls under this category.

Imagine if we only had one specific type of tree that grew everywhere. Or there were only grey cats. Or there was only one kind of flower.  Imagine if everybody looked the same. Life would be horrendously boring don’t you think?

So, in actual fact, the 22nd of May is really one of the most important days because we are celebrating LIFE!

We are inviting everybody to join our world-wide event and read “Sibo Likes Life” free of charge on the website.

It’s really easy – all you do is click here   or you can simply visit Sibo’s website on the 22nd or 23rd of May (the book will only be freely available for these two days) and click on the cover of the book on my bookshelf.  If you find it does not download, you might have to try using a different browser.

It might also give ideas of what you can do to help celebrate life, not only on the 22nd of May but every single day.  We’d love to hear from you.

You could plant some flowers or veggies or even a tree. Or get a group of people together and help clean up a messy area. Or if planting or cleaning is not your thing, you could volunteer at the local SPCA or animal shelter and play with the cats, or talk to the dogs that are homeless and would adore having some love and attention. You could make a bird feeder for your garden and enjoy watching all the different types of birds that start using it. Or just go for a walk and enjoy looking at all the different trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers, birds, and insects that you see along the way.

Life is precious – take time to stop and sniff the daisies!

Sibo

Beautiful beasties – big and small.

Remember at the beginning of the year we posted a calendar – one that had all sorts of interesting days on it?

Well  on Friday the 3rd of March we celebrate World Wildlife Day.

Living in South Africa we are rather lucky because we have a wide range of furry creatures that are available for us to see – if we can get to a game park that is. Otherwise there is always the zoo. Of course, it’s not the same to see animals in cages – even if our zoos have nice big cages. Not like some of those horrendous places I have read about overseas.

We are also fortunate in the way that there are lots of bushy areas that contain smaller beasties like snakes, mongoose, dassies and other little critters that you would not see if you lived in a concrete jungle of a city. Not sure I would really appreciate seeing a snake too much though.

My friend Ginny lives near the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve in Pretoria and they have things like Zebra and other types of large buck roaming freely around – right in the middle of suburbia.  She gets to go hiking around the reserve most Sundays and says it keeps her sane.

In the East Rand area there is the Marievale Bird Sanctuary. I know that birds are perhaps not as exciting as big animals but they are still very pretty to look at. Many kids are not so fond of bird watching because we’re supposed to be quiet otherwise the birds get scared and fly away. What’s nice about Marievale is that it does not cost anything to visit, and apart from the picnic area, there is also a nice walk around the wetlands to bird hides. They say there are 267 different types of birds there. Sjoe! That’s a lot! I have also heard that there are otters in the rivers – but sadly I’ve never seen one. In the summer it is open from 05h30 in the morning and only closes at 19h30.

Then there is the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg which is a bit further away. You can spot the following critters in there… zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest mountain reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, grey duiker, baboon, oribi, blesbok, springbok and kudu. It’s not that expensive either – R22 per person and R11 per car.

Have a fabulous week!

Sibo

Oceans apart!

Sibo and the seahorses

Hands up who has been to visit the sea? It’s a fabulous place to have a holiday – especially if the sun is shining and it’s a nice day. It’s also lovely to look at the ocean on a cold stormy day – watch the waves break and the water change colour.

I guess we all take the sea for granted in many ways. Yet humans have been treating the sea very casually and horribly for years and years.

Did you know… waste matter from sewerage and agriculture gets dumped in the sea? This sometimes has revolting things in it that can cause dangerous types of sea plants to bloom in the water near the coast. When these blooms die and rot they use up all the oxygen in the water and then there isn’t any left for the fish. They call these areas “creeping dead zones”.

Just the name sounds incredibly scary.

Worse – a lot of other stuff also gets dumped into the ocean without people realizing it – all sorts of chemicals. Some of those chemicals are called POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants). These ghastly POPs don’t break down and disappear like lots of other chemicals do. They end up staying in the tissues of living organisms – like fish – that we eat. Yuk! Never mind the fact that these make the fish sick, they can also sometimes cause nasty illnesses in humans or even affect the way that we grow.

The oceans are huge and one would think that there are loads of fish swimming around  just waiting to be caught and eaten. Well – this is not quite true anymore either. Sadly unsustainable fishing practices have, in some cases, left dangerously depleted fish stocks which have also jeopardized some marine ecosystems too.

Did you know… 312 million kilograms of seafood is consumed annually in South Africa? Sjoe!

This is why there are things like lists. We are all supposed to eat fish off the GREEN list only.  The fish on the orange and red lists are endangered and they should not be caught. In fact it’s not okay to eat them if you go to a restaurant either because this creates a demand for them. Don’t do it!

Visit http://wwfsassi.co.za/sassi-list/  and see what you are allowed to eat and what is endangered. You’ll be horrified!

Let’s all take better care of our oceans.

Sibo.

Butts are a bit of a problem

Sibo hands

Lately scientists have figured out that cigarette butts are one of the most abundant types of litter found around. Studies estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year.

Much worse, it’s one of nastiest, deadliest forms of waste.

People who would not dream of pitching a cool drink tin out of the car window will happily chuck a burning butt out. Not particularly caring that it can set fire to something. Burning butts are often the cause of serious veldt fires.

People also drop them on pavements or into gutters, where the wind blows them into storm waters and other places.

They also flick butts casually into water – dams, the sea and rivers.

You probably wouldn’t flick a cigarette butt into your swimming pool – but why not? Because you or your family might swallow it whilst swimming and that would be horrible.

So why not care if a fish, bird or animal chomps it instead?

Cigarette butts are tiny little bundles of toxins. They are poisonous. They get into our marine ecosystems and cause havoc with the wildlife and the quality of the water.

We all know that water is extremely precious.

Due to the fact that cigarette filters are specifically designed to accumulate toxins, each butt can contain up to 60 known human carcinogens including… arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead. In fact, there are around 1,400 potential chemical additives.

Toxicological data has shown that these chemicals from discarded butts are capable of leaching into surrounding water where they can hurt aquatic life. Nicotine has been shown to be lethal to various fish, crustaceans, zooplankton, and other aquatic organisms, as well as being a known insecticide.

On top of leeching toxins, cigarette butts present an ingestion, choking and poisoning hazard to wildlife who mistake them for dinner!

Cigarette filters are also composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can hang around in the environment for long periods of time. Plastics of this sort have been found in the stomachs of sea turtles, fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures.

You know what is also really scary – even those people who put their cigarettes out in the designated places have no guarantee that their butts won’t also end up in the water. The bins get emptied. Butts are chucked onto rubbish dumps. Here they are blown around and it’s highly likely that they end up where they shouldn’t as well.

So what is the answer?  Stop smoking of course!

Loving Life

Sibo with ants 2

On the 22nd of May – that’s next Sunday – it’s International Day of Biological Diversity.

That sounds like a real mouthful but actually all biodiversity means is different sorts of living things. Life!

Often we take these things for granted – the in-your-face ones like different breeds of dogs and cats or trees, plants and flowers. Then you get varieties of birds and beautiful different types of butterflies – to name just a very few.

With global warming many species are being compromised. Because some areas are getting hotter – or colder – and several species of plants are dying out.  You might wonder what difference it would make if one little type of plant no longer existed, but actually it does make a huge difference.

Some insects might live on that particular plant and they are eaten up by some other animal. If you take the plant away – there is no food for the insects and no insects for the animals… you see what I mean. Suddenly a whole chain is wiped out.

The bees are also being compromised. Bees might seem like pesky little critters that do nothing other than sting us which hurts like crazy, but they pollenate all sorts of plants and flowers and are vital in the food chain. One of the ways this is happening is that the farmers are spraying with nasty stuff that keeps the crops alive (true – this is very important) but it kills off all sorts of insects – including the bees.

People always tend to think that if all the plant and animal life died out, that humans would be the last to survive. Well – I’ve got news for you – we are actually halfway down the list. Not last at all.

My storybook – Sibo Likes Life is all about the subject of biodiversity. We are having a worldwide on-line event on the 22nd May and you’re all invited to join in if you want to. If you go to my website – http://www.sibo.co.za   you can read this e-book absolutely free of charge.

There will be a competition too, where you could win the book – a real book – not an e-book.

You can also join the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/246259775763801/ .

We all need to do as much as we can to help save this precious earth of ours. After all, we only have one earth and one life.

Love your life!

Sibo

Antics

Sibo with ants 2

The other day our house was besieged by ants. Long columns of them marched around our kitchen. At first we thought somebody had left something sweet by the sink and that’s what they were attracted to, but then we realised that they were going for the water.

Mum wanted to spray them all with Doom. I thought that was a bit harsh and convinced her to leave them alone for a while to see if they disappeared as fast as they had arrived. Lucky for them, they did.

This got me wondering about ants. I googled to find out some more.

Turns out there are three kinds of ants in a colony: The queen, the female workers and males. The queen and the males have wings. The workers don’t have wings. (The workers are the ants that we usually see scurrying around the place.) The queen is the only ant that can lay eggs. The male ant’s job is to mate with future queen ants and they do not live very long afterwards. Once the queen grows to adulthood, she spends the rest of her life laying eggs!

Ant colonies also have soldier ants that protect the queen, defend the colony, gather or kill food, and attack enemy colonies in search for food and nesting space. If they defeat another ant colony, they take away eggs of the defeated ant colony. When the eggs hatch, the new ants become the “slave” ants for the colony. Some jobs of the colony include taking care of the eggs and babies, gathering food for the colony and building the anthills or mounds.

Did you know…

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants that can be found all over the world?
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.
  • Ants do not have ears. They “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • Ants also don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through those same holes.
  • When ants fight – they usually fight to the death.
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies. Queen ants shed their wings when they start a new nest.
  • When searching for food, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they have been.

Sjoe! Ants are actually quite amazing.

Let’s not step on ants.

Have a great week.

Sibo