Blessings from Above

1 Comment

It’s been a nail-biting November waiting for rain. Massive dust storms have been a regular occurrence in the district and it feels like there hasn’t been a day without a howling wind. By last week the veld at Vastrap was looking very desert-like with no roughage or green shoots for the animals. Things were so bad that we started grazing animals in the road and calling in favours to get extra feed bales from the Cape. Worse than that, most of our earth dams had run dry. In his 16 years on the farm, Quentin cannot remember it ever looking worse. Don’t even mention the poor wheat crop!

I am very happy to report that things are looking considerably brighter since this weekend. There was a huge storm on Friday that brought hail and lovely drenching rain, enough to refill most of our dams, some even to overflowing! It will take a week or two for the veld to rejuvenate, but at least there is water for the animals to drink. The rain also heralds the start of the summer crop planting season, which in our district includes maize, sunflower and soya. Work kicked off early this morning with the tractors heading out first thing to get the planting started. It will be a mad rush now to get everything done by 10 December, the very latest that maize should be planted given the risk of early frost.

It was wonderful driving around the farm after the rain knowing that things will look different very soon with green shoots colouring the drab brown landscape. The cattle also looked very happy and clean. Livia just loves driving around the farm with her daddy and he took this video of her and a cute little Boran calf. She is totally fearless, a real cowgirl in the making!

Storm2 Day1(DeHart) Day1 (Skaapdip)

El Niño

Leave a comment

El Niño is well and truly with us. After the hottest October on record, a cold front rolled in on Sunday that took temperatures back down to zero for a night. Worst of all, there has been no rain in sight and virtually nothing is forecast for the next two weeks. Needless to say, the farm is looking bleak. Planting of maize and sunflower is on hold until it rains, and not just a little shower, we need proper rain to make up for last year’s dry summer and the current drought. The wheat crop is looking dire and is heading for complete failure. Livestock grazing is running out quickly and we are already well into our emergency stock of grass bales. It’s a major challenge to provide a sufficient supply of water to areas where there is still grazing. Our Boran cattle do relatively well under these conditions, but it’s certainly not an ideal start to the breeding season.

The photos below tell the whole story. The first two were taken in mid-October when it was already looking dry. The last two were taken this week in the lands that are waiting to be planted. Not a blade of grass in sight!! It’s hard to see how my farmer love can keep his spirits up in these conditions.

DSC_3449 DSC_3453 IMG_8397 IMG_8398



We’ve had a serious heatwave over the past week and a half. Terrible wind has added to the discomfort blowing dust into the house from all corners of the farm. Yesterday was the absolute worst with gusts up to 50km/hr the whole day long!

We had a little bit of rain before Myles was born, but there’s been nothing since and everything has totally dried up. I managed to take some photos of the garden early one morning just before things got really parched and windswept. The garden has come into bloom about a month earlier than usual, probably because we had some rain in September and because the temperatures have been so hot for spring. We also had a relatively mild winter so things didn’t frost down as much as usual. I just love the riot of colour and the fragrance of honeysuckle, lavender and rose drifting through the air. A real treat when the wind isn’t blowing and it’s pleasant enough to venture outside!

2015-10-11_0001 2015-10-11_00022015-10-11_0003 2015-10-11_0004 2015-10-11_0007 2015-10-11_0009 2015-10-11_0010 2015-10-11_0011 2015-10-11_0012 2015-10-11_0013 2015-10-11_0014 2015-10-11_0015 2015-10-11_0017 2015-10-11_0018 2015-10-11_0020 2015-10-11_0021

Baby Myles Thabang


Our precious bundle of joy, Myles Thabang, was born two weeks ago today. We are completely overjoyed and thankful that he is healthy, happy and perfect in every way. His little sister, Livia Lerato, is fascinated by her brother and has shown him nothing but love and affection so far (long may that last!) She is extremely concerned whenever he cries and tries to help mommy wherever she can. It is just too precious for words!

A lot of people have asked us why we have chosen to give our children seSotho second names. The tradition started with Quentin’s first daughter Ashley who is called Naledi, meaning “star”. Livia’s second name is Lerato, which means “love”, and Thabang means “to be happy” or “to bring happiness”. They have been given these names to honour the fact that we live amongst seSotho people on the farm and we want our children to respect their culture and grow up learning the language. Quentin is fluent in seSotho, but I am not, which puts me at a serious disadvantage in our day to day living in South Africa. Quentin and his father have always been proud of the seSotho names they were given by the community, but these names have never been formally recorded anywhere. Quentin is Bereng, which means “king” and his father is Masupa, which was a name of one of the chiefs. On the farm, these names are used far more often than the names on their birth certificates so we felt it would be a mark of respect to make the seSotho names official.

I wouldn’t have survived that last two weeks without serious support and help from our wonderful family. Quentin’s parents and my mother and my sister all played a role in looking after Livia when I wasn’t able to and then looked after all of us when we came home and I couldn’t focus on anything but feeding a hungry newborn! It is truly wonderful when families come together to celebrate new life and support each other through new and daunting experiences. My mom left yesterday leaving a freezer full of delicious healthy meals for us to eat in the next while. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2015-10-07_0001 2015-10-07_0002 2015-10-07_00032015-10-07_0004

A quiet Sunday on the farm

Leave a comment

We’ve been enjoying some quiet time at home before the big day arrives. Things are going to be decidedly more hectic around here in 10 days’ time when Livia’s baby brother is born. The building is almost complete so I hope to spend most of next week doing some serious nesting in the baby’s new room. I don’t think Livia understands what’s about to hit her, but I’ve been encouraging her to play with her own baby to get used to the concept. If her love for everyone else, and especially our dogs, is anything to go by then she’s going to be an amazing older sister.

Calving season is in full swing on the farm and Quentin does his rounds every day looking for new babies to record and weigh. Livia and I joined him this morning and the dogs also came along for some exercise. We had a little bit of rain last night so the air was clear and dust-free. The veld is still very drab and dry, but things will hopefully come alive soon as the night temperatures get warmer. Livia absolutely loves being out on the farm with her dad. It’s so sweet to see. Quentin drove as slowly as possible over the bumps to keep me comfortable! We found a few new-born calves hidden in the grass and identified some cows that are very close to calving so that they can be watched over the next few days. Livia alternated from my lap to her dad’s and eventually passed out on the way home. There are few things more soporific than a bumpy dirt road, especially when mommy’s big tummy is such a comfortable pillow! What a special morning with our no-longer baby girl.

2015-09-13_0001 2015-09-13_0002 2015-09-13_0003 2015-09-13_0004 2015-09-13_0005 2015-09-13_0006 2015-09-13_0007 2015-09-13_0009 2015-09-13_0008

Peachy pink!

Leave a comment

The drab, dry winter landscape has been transformed by splashes of pink peach blossoms all along our farm roads, a sure sign that spring is here. These are some snaps I took driving into town on spring day. After a very mild August, there has been a little nip in the air for the past few days and some threat of rain, but nothing has actually materialised. September is usually very windy and hopelessly dry on the farm with high risk of fire, but at least we can see an end in sight. In three week’s time we meet our little spring baby and then it’s downhill to summer! By February these trees will be laden with deliciously sweet wild cling peaches.

2015-09-02_0001 2015-09-02_0002 2015-09-02_0003 2015-09-02_0004 2015-09-02_0005

The road less travelled

1 Comment

After all the activity around our auction, we took a few days off to recover and celebrate Quentin’s birthday. The timing was perfect as it was also the start of Ashley’s school holidays so we could really spend some quality time together as a family before the new baby arrives. We love road trips and driving through remote areas of the country. Our trip took us through the heart of the Karoo to Graaff Reinet and then on to a beautiful game farm run by friends of ours near the citrus valley of Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape.

On the way home we stayed at another beautiful game farm just outside Graaff Reinet called Mount Camdeboo, which was a real treat. Our wonderful guide, Les, took us on lovely kid-friendly game drives and we even managed to track one of their resident cheetah on foot. Livia absolutely loved being outdoors and seeing lots of different animals for the first time. On our first evening a big family of giraffe provided lots of entertainment as we sipped our sundowners and the mountains faded into pink silhouette. We were also lucky to see a pair of young rhino brothers who have become inseparable since their mother was poached last year. Ashley was fascinated by their remarkable story of courage and survival. Sadly, they have been de-horned for their own protection.

Our trip home took us through some amazing scenery on a long stretch of dirt road between Patterson and Craddock. We didn’t encounter anybody else on the road for over 100km! It was a bit bumpier than I would have liked, but so worth seeing the spectacular mountain landscape dotted with livestock and game. After a long day on the road we arrived home happy and relaxed and excited to tackle the next challenge of getting the house ready for the arrival of our baby boy at the end of September!

Birthday boy with his girls!

Birthday boy with his girls!

2015-08-31_0001 2015-08-31_0002 2015-08-31_0003 2015-08-31_0004 2015-08-31_0005 2015-08-31_0006 2015-08-31_0007 2015-08-31_0008 2015-08-31_0009 2015-08-31_0010 2015-08-31_0011 2015-08-31_0012 2015-08-31_0013 2015-08-31_0014 2015-08-31_0015