Early August

veggie garden

Veggies have been a bit of a disappointment tbh. Chinese cabbage and tatsoi bolted before a leaf was eaten. Did I not give them enough water? Eish, growing veggies is hard work with a risky reward. The beans are growing, and the basil survived the cold nights so I suppose I should celebrate that at least. Sarah the porcupine visited us and trashed the aloe arborescens.

Winter is glorious though. Cold nights and sunny days. Loads of lovely fires inside keep us cosy. We had quite a bit of rain (over 50mls in July) so veld is gloriously green and fynbos is thriving. But also the rooikranz seedlings; I try to pull out about 100 seedlings a day. Lol! The fynbos garden in front is full of beauties. Have installed a bird-feeding station and put out a piece of fruit each day, which provides much entertainment with the bulbuls and white eyes most common. We regularly see the resident black harriers and fish eagles, as well as the small flock of comical corvis albicollis (white necked raven).

J back in stellies, and K making connections in Berlin. COVID lockdown radical – SA 5th infected nation in the world, but much lower on the death rate. Have had a bit of careful social interaction but long for a fairer world.

Duiwenhoks in winter

Veggie growing space

Whoop whoop! R has built me the sweetest little greenhouse for our vegetable growing. He used some scrap from the local scrapyard for the bones, and re-used shadecloth from another project, now demised, and the some of the timber was cheap, because it was offcuts that he cleverly screwed together.

14 April sunset with beds ready and porcupine wire in place

Yesterday we also (finally!) planted our little oaks, rescued last winter from a gutter in swellendam. Those guys have survived nearly a year in a plastic pot, with watering when we could. We’ve also made them a little metal skirt to prevent our ystervarkie from eating them up like a little delicious treat.

misty March morning

19 March, a cool still morning. We’re in our default ‘social distance’ isolation while COVID-19 rushes through the world. K is also not feeling well and I feel so sorry for her in Berlin. Not fun to be isolated so far from home. At least we have J after varsities closed on Monday. He’s helping with a bit of garden labour – whoop whoop!

And while we’re in isolation, it’s also quite noisy with chain saw and chipper busy; Patrick and Johannes have been clearing the rooikranz around the house on the ridge.

AND *finally* the surviving fynbos plants from the nursery are in the ground. They’ve had 5 months of pot life in the nursery to toughen up. And the lemon tree that’s been living in a little pot for the past 18 months is liberated into the ground. Grow well little darlings, stay healthy and thrive.

Long time, no post!

Wild harvesting is good for growing a strong back

We’ve distilled our first essential oil from wild harvested fynbos, picked in March 2020 on our farm. It was a great learning experience! We tried four different kinds of aromatic plants, and had some success and some disappointments.

This was our best result – about 85mls of fragrant buchu essential oil

Now we need to get it tested to see what it contains, and then decide what we can do with it. We produced mountains of hydrosol too – and would love to find a market for that too.

plans passed!

Today, 30 July 2018, we heard that the municipality had approved our building plans. Whoop whoop! What a pleasure it has been to work with Mark Thomas.  Not really surprised that the plans were passed so easily, he’s such a pro. House is sold too, all plans are ‘green for go’ now. So… yay!

Kicking projects into action: rocket stove, riet mulch, water provision, selling and moving. Eeeek!

Also…. at last!

April 2018, with a boat


Luka loves the boat. After too many moons, we were back for a few days in mid April. Loved having the dogs with us, and Luka is very comfortable on the boat, Fiver less so.20180418_164422.jpg

Our main mission on this trip was to meet our architect and his land surveyor to do digital landsurveying up on the ridge. Was amazing how well I could hear them talking from the Doornkraal bathroom! We chipped all the riet we had cut down previously and made 2 insignificant looking piles of mulch.  A fish eagle cried throughout the visit. No sign of his mate. Kinda sad sound.20180507_155024.jpg

But it wasn’t all work. One afternoon included a lovely swim/float. The actual river mouth was crazy wild with high swell and waves, so I jumped in and swam alongside the boat while we drifted up past Kleinefontein. (engine off obvs). Good idea! This was nearly 5p.m. but still very warm. Happy days!

July 2017 visit

Visited during July holidays to do river camp clearing. First week with Jaxin was great, he was useful in the war against the thorns. Used fuel from the huge pile of previously cleared biomass to fuel the donkey for hot showers. Warm and lovely time.

Second week in July holidays, this time without Jax was also good although a LOT colder. Mornings were very cold and the ground covered in frost. Minus 2 said the thermometer! Icy.

River camp site cleared and places for the bedroom and dressing room tents. Loo measured and pimping plans conceptualised. Path up to the crest cleared with lovely new bush cutter. We can work hard for about 4 hours before physical exhaustion causes us to collapse and stare into the lovely flames.

We’ve agreed to rent Michael’s room to allow us to leave some stuff there. Would like to get a new mattress for the bed but not sure how we would get it there. Rooken made me a set of shelves from the spaanse riet – wow! How useful is he?20170711_08355520170714_192808

June ’17 Youth day visit


During this short stay (only one night), our purpose was to decide where to site the house. We met with Matthew to see the site in situ. The answer was clear.

Earlier in the day, we had done a bundu bash up the white cliffs side of the property on our southern neighbours’ side, to see if there was a good spot. Our requirements are  a decent view, easy vehicular access and a northern aspect. Sjoe! ‘Bangbroek du Plessis’ here needed some positive encouragement to get through the thorns and up some nearly vertical ascents of stone and gravel. We also flew Suzy, our new Mavic Pro quadcopter, to see what we could see from up there. Quite anxious moments! And Suzy did an unplanned descent, luckily into some bushes with no damage done. Phew!


This is the view of the river towards the village taken during our scramble.

We’ve agreed to site the house at the end of the tractor path on our most prominent ridge close to the river and with a beautiful northern aspect. We’ll set the house on the southern side. allowing us northern garden and a bit of visual ‘space’ between us and any neighbours. Need to get Abie and his team to clear the site, and get the surveyor to detail the site.

Also very usefully, we agreed a budget for the build, and how we will fund ourselves our monthly expenses (including J’s university fees) next year.

Definitely some good work and lots of progress in our plans. And we are planning another trip during school holidays in July, and have set up a meeting with Abie to start clearing. Things getting real.


This is a taken from Suzy at a height of about 80m above Doornkraal at sunset, 17:45 16/6/2107.