Saturday, January 21, 2017

Shi-awela Marketing 2017 Ball Family News

Congratulations to all of you in the United States of America, on your new president. We surely stand in awe to see how your democracy works in the USA.  We certainly could do with our South African politicians taking note! We have had 12 years with the same government and up north in Zimbabwe they have had 37 years of the same president.  Surely ya’ll can celebrate in the way your system actually WORKS!!!  Change is always good, and somewhere between the two extremes is the balance that gives you the wonderful country that you have! GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Ken and I will be travelling to Grand Rapids this year, and we are so excited that we will both be able to attend the Grand Rapids SCI Chapter event in Holland MI. It has been YEARS since we were able to attend this event together. J We do hope that we will get to see you again?  We will also be heading to Charleston for SEWE like usual, and we are excited to catch up with everyone there too.  Please come and find us at our usual spot, inside the main large Sporting Village Tent at Brittle Bank Park.
Such wonderful news for us with our Micaela (now 19) graduating from high school with distinctions in all of her subjects. She worked incredibly hard, and finished on a very high note at Merensky!  She is enrolled at the University of Pretoria (four hours from here) for her next step in her education. She is planning to study to become a vet, and she will be doing the parallel BSc course this year at TUKS Hatfield Campus. She will be staying in residence to begin with, and we are excited for her next big step. She is busy packing and will be ‘leaving home’ next week!

JohnD is now 6’2” tall, our gentle giant. ;)  He towers over all of us, and it’s quite something to see him hug his Grandma!  He is now in Grade 11 at Merensky, and continues to love any time spent hunting or fishing, and would rather attend hunting and fishing classes than math (pity they are not available!!)  He has a busy year ahead of him, and we are so proud of him too. What a blessing he is to us all.
We had a wonderfully quiet Christmas, and were able to give most of our staff leave, as we took no Christmas bookings this year.  The lack of electricity and internet, it was quite interesting.  Our power supply is always challenging this time of the year when we get lots of rain. Yes, we have been blessed with amazing rains, and we are so grateful for the beautiful transformation of our bushveld. All of our summer Nguni calves have come and they are just as beautiful as always!  We also have the delight of baby blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, impala, blesbuck, and all of the other plains game!  We wait patiently for the first signs of when the buffalo will calve, although we suspect it will be closer to March before we see their young.
We had the incredible privilege of hiking in the northern Drakensburg mountain tip here in the Tzaneen area with a friend for four days over new year. What a blessing!
We had a very busy 2016, with lots of wonderful memories being made with new and repeat guests. Thank you to each and every one of you for your support. We certainly could never do what we do, without you!
Ken’s parents Dennis and Carol, are both very well, and continue to keep themselves active and involved. They are such a blessing to us, and like us, live for having the children home! Carol has been teaching us how to play Bridge. My what fun we have had!  My parents got the incredible news that they are allowed to remain in Australia! What a long story that was, and what a miracle. We are over the moon that they are able to finally leave the country, and come out to visit us in April, so we are all looking forward to seeing them again!
This comes with much love to you, and we are so grateful to have you as part of our lives. Thank you for your friendship, and God bless you and your family.    Ken, Jo, Micaela and JohnD xxx

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Merensky High School Metric Farewell 2016

Micaela Ball, Just ALL BEAUTIFUL MY ANGEL! :) So proud of her. She is writing her Matric exams now for the next few weeks, and will be done by the end of November.
 These photos were taken for the Matric Farewell Dinner. Here she is with JohnD.
 Below she is with her date for the evening, Marco Strydom.
 And Ken... :) Love this one!

We also had some fun taking photos here on the farm beforehand...  It's still pretty dry. Rain would be most welcome!

 Micaela and Alicia had some fun in their gowns, taking all sorts of photos ... both such beautiful young ladies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


…..I completely understand if you don’t even check anymore! Forgive me? I hope that all of these little notes make up for it. I struggle to get around to everything that I need to do.
I’ve completely given up on the idea of trying to resurrect our website. I’ve been blocked out of wordpress, and it’s not possible for me to go through all of the work of setting it all up again, just to possibly lose it again next year.   It would appear that the websites that are based on the use of programs that are free and “user-friendly”, are also abuser-friendly too, and easy to hack.  So, it’s my plan that we use this blog site until I am able to find someone who can build us a website, without using any of the free and “easy to hack programs”. 
Stop press!!! I have finally opened a Shi-awela Facebook page, and an Instagram page. I am learning…. So if you have posted something there, and I have not responded, forgive me!  I still have to cook breakfast, lunch and supper for our guests every day, I still have to run the school TAXI Monday and Friday, do all of the shopping and I still have to keep an eye on things at the lodge…  so the admin / office work happens in between as and when I can.
I am in the process of sorting photos, and getting my thoughts together to try and bring ya’ll up to date from March, so will add some more posts as soon as I get them ready.

Thanks for checking in and watch this space ;)

Saturday, February 20, 2016 website hacked!

Hello! :) The extreme of heat here, and the dry conditions that we have now are such a huge contrast to the cold wet and winter conditions of Charleston!  We truly had a remarkable time in Charleston, thank you so much to all of our very special people and particularly to the Ford and Foster families. You are all just amazing and such a gift to us.  We love you dearly!  Micaela and I were blessed by you all.  She certainly wasn't ready to come home at all.

As appears to be an annual occurrence after the Wildlife show, our website has been hacked once again!  I have rebuilt it so many times, and think that we now have to come up with a new and original plan to stay ahead of 'them'.  I might land up using this platform in the interim until such time as we have a new system in place.

We both have LOADS of work ahead of us, and apologize to those of you who are waiting for a reply from me. I hope to get all of the emails replied to today.  On getting home 11.30pm Wednesday night, I was on the road Thursday morning to collect the kids from School, and we then all spent the whole of yesterday at the School Inter-high athletics meeting in Phalaborwa.

Big hugs, love Jo

Thursday, February 4, 2016

South Eastern Wildlife Expo 2016, Valentine weekend... here we come!

2016 is going to be a GIRL'S trip. We leave Saturday, and fly direct to Charleston. Micaela is so excited to be coming with me, and I am just as excited to have her company. Ken and I decided it was an awesome opportunity for the two of us, as we don't know when we might have this opportunity again. She hopes to study Veterinary next year, and that is going to be a big time commitment for a number of years.
January 2nd I celebrated my 43rd birthday.  We were delighted to have our special friends Abraham and Ilse de Villiers join us for the weekend.  It's become an annual tradition for us to spend new year together, and we just LOVE IT!
We are short of rain, and do hope that February and March will be nice and wet months!  JohnD was able to do a LOT of hunting over the holidays, and he certainly helped keep our freezer stocked.  This "Jackpot" day was one I don't think he will forget soon!
January flew by, and with the children now back into the school routine, our home is empty again. Micaela is in Grade 12 this year, her final year of High School. JohnD is in Grade 10, and is already feeling the increased pace of being a senior.
Our schedule this year in the USA is a very short one, as we have to keep Micaela's time away from school to a minimum.  We are very excited to catch up with all of you again. We hope to see you at our booth in the Brittle Bank Park Sporting Village Tent.  The South Eastern Wildlife Expo in Charleston, South Carolina is over the Valentine's Weekend.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Darting Buffalo and Nyala

With Micaela’s sights on vetinary school, she spent a week with Wighardt and their vet Rita.  They were quite busy with darting Nyala, both for medical treatment as well as relocation.  They also worked on one of our buffalo here.  

We have yet another USA Visa application successful with us being granted 10 year multiple entry visas.  I do wish that this was an online process too, as the trip to the embassy in Pretoria is never convenient!

The very old farm isuzu pickup truck that Ken and I used to go on honeymoon in, was finally sold and we were blessed to get a new Mahindra pickup for Ken.  It’s a bit of a workhorse, and nothing glammerous, but hopefully the vehicle repairs and maintenance bill will be reduced!  Camo has decided that it is HIS truck, and is on constant alert for it’s departure.  He severely dislikes the fact that it does not have an open window to the back, as he does love to jump between the back and the front of the pickup.  At least he has finally stopped hitting his head on the glass! :D

With more time at home, Micaela has been having some creative fun in our garden, and currently the nesting of the masked weavers in our fig trees, it makes our garden quite an entertaining place to sit.
Finally, we have been blessed with some really lovely rains, and the green lush wonder of the bushveld has returned.  Along with the birth of all of the young impala, wildebeest, hartebeest, blesbuck, and the many other game animals, we have been enjoying the births of all of the Nguni Cattle!  These little additions to our herd are a constant source of joy, and spending time in the kraal watching them play, is always a wonderful pastime!
As always, this time of the year everyone is looking for meat for their families, both for our staff as well others.  JohnD and Micaela have been able to do a fair bit of hunting, which they always enjoy! 
We want to take the time to wish each and every one of you a very blessed Christmas, and a 2016 that is filled with God’s provision, God’s protection, God’s peace, as well as His Joy!  For the Joy of the Lord is our Strength!

Micaela's 18th Birthday, Johnathan's last Oncology Appointment

Our beloved darling daughter celebrated her 18th birthday in our usual farm style, by having some of her close friends to visit for two nights.  We were blessed with lovely weather, and the annual bonfires were fun like usual!

Both she and JohnD continue to make us so proud with their really wonderful school reports, and all of Micaela’s hard work paid off with her final average being her highest yet!
Micaela, Mom and I went to the Merensky Mother Daughter Day this year.   
Johnathan Ball (in the middle)Tennis award 
On another note.....  Ken’s appointment with a local audiologist has confirmed what we have been struggling with for some time.  He needs hearing aids.  So he has been fitted with very small and incredibly smart little devices, that have given back to him sounds that he completely forgot existed!  It took about two weeks for him to get used to having these things inside his ears, but we are all so proud of him for persevering.  The bird songs, the crickets, the sound of tires on the dirt road…. And yes even the sound of bubbles (from diving into the reservoir on a hot day, having forgotten to take them out!!!) are all “new” to him. Best of all, he can hear us when we speak!
In November, I got a call from JohnD’s Oncology department Sister, to let us know that our beloved Dr de Jager is going to be retiring in January.  Our next scheduled appointment to see him would only have been in April of next year, but we decided that we wanted to head back to Pretoria again to go and bid him farewell and to thank him again for his incredible gift to us.  He gave JohnD a very thorough medical examination.  We are so very blessed to let the world know that our JohnD does not require any further follow-up appointments, and Dr de Jager was happy to say that we can classify JohnD as cured.  His files will remain in the Oncology department archives, should any future enquiry need to be made, but we can close this chapter in our lives!  God is merciful, faithful, and He is GOOD!  All honour and praise to HIM.