Sunday morning rounds

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We’ve been flat out hectic here at Vastrap for the past month. In the two weeks leading up to our auction last Friday, we all got very bad flu so it was really just a case of digging deep and pushing through assisted by lots of medication! Fortunately the kids are all better now, but Quentin and I still have lingering coughs and stuffy noses, which was probably not helped by the cold wet weather on auction day! We literally collapsed on the couch this weekend after our last visitors left with every ounce of physical and emotional energy drained from us. We felt a little bit better by Sunday so all of us went with Quentin to check whether any new calves had been born overnight. One of the little ones also needed to be treated for a bad eye so we watched while Quentin patiently coaxed the mother into letting him get near the calf so that it could be injected. She was not very happy, but he eventually got it done. On the way home we noticed that all the willow trees have turned green, a sure sign that spring is near! The forecast is for a big cold snap this week, but after that it should start to warm up nicely. With all the lovely rain we’ve had this month the grass will hopefully start to grow as soon, which we really need for grazing. Next week we are off on holiday so by the time we get home it will be well into spring and only a few weeks until Myles’s first birthday. What a lovely prospect!

Anyone interested in reading more about the Vastrap Auction and seeing all the photos can click HERE for the post on our website.

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Winter Blessing

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Last week we had a huge blessing of over 100mm of rain in 24 hours. After the massive drought we had in summer, it was simply incredible to see and hear so much water flowing!! Quentin can’t ever remember us getting this much rain in winter. It’s such a relief to see our dams full and to know that the ground water has been replenished. We’ll be able to graze cattle on areas of the farm that haven’t had a source of water for more than a year and we won’t have to worry about carting water to thirsty animals in the usually dry spring. In a month’s time when things start to warm up, the veld will erupt in a riot of colour and gratitude. Not to mention our wheat crop, which will hopefully do well after the rain! We are one of the very few farms in the area that still bother to plant wheat and our persistence will hopefully pay off this year. It has been freezing cold with lots of snow on the Maluti mountains, but we are definitely not complaining – only 17 days to go until the Vastrap Boran Auction and we are rearing to go!

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Winter Walk

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We had a very chilled Father’s Day celebrated with a delicious breakfast at Living Life with Quentin’s parents and a lovely afternoon walk on the farm. It’s been a very mild winter so far aside from one really cold snap last week that even brought some welcome rain. The night time temperatures have been particularly warm compared to previous years. It’s still drops below zero degrees, but that’s mild for us. I remember the first week I ever spent on the farm in June 2010 when Quentin and I were still dating, the minimum temperature dropped to -17 C one night – and that still didn’t put me off marrying him and moving here!!

We are getting very busy organising our annual Vastrap Boran Auction, which will be held on 19 August. It takes a lot of work to select all the animals and to make sure they are tested and ready for sale. Then there is all the marketing material that has be designed and circulated, which I mainly take care of. A lot of people also visit us before the auction to view the animals so that takes up a lot of time and obviously closer to the auction there are other logistics to manage. It’s an exciting, albeit nerve-wracking time of year for us. You never know how things are going to turn out, but we can only try our best and hope for a good turnout on the day. It seems like the cattle take up all of Quentin’s time at the moment, but on the farm they are also busy reaping the sunflowers and getting ready to plant wheat. The recent rain will help a lot to get the wheat crop off to a good start, but we can only hope that there will be some early spring rain too. You can see from the photos below that grass and water are very scarce so there is still a long and gruelling winter ahead for the animals.

Anyone interested in seeing what we get up to with the cattle can visit our website www.vastrapboran.com. I have been focusing a lot more of my attention on our website blog to keep the information flow fresh and relevant. Sadly, with two small kids vying for my attention in the house this blog has become neglected. One day I will get back to cooking and gardening and taking photos of things other than children and cattle!

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The generations: Quentin, Myles & Bill de Bruyn

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Last days of Autumn

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We marked the end of Autumn with a breakfast picnic on top of the mountain this morning. I can’t believe we haven’t done this before! It was such a lovely way to spend our last morning with our friends from Cape Town, Saul and San-Marie, who visited for the weekend. They haven’t been to Vastrap for over a decade and things have changed quite a bit in that time, including the building of the road up the mountain. It was a beautiful  blue-sky day, but sadly too hazy to see the view of the Maluti mountains that we love so much. A lot of fires must be burning in Maseru and surrounds because there’s a big cloud of smog hanging over the mountains. I lit the Aga last week before our visitors arrived, but it was more to create atmosphere than a dire need for warmth. The days have actually been beautifully still and mild, but that will change soon when winter descends.

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Precious moments

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After the incredibly hot and harsh summer, the mellow autumn days are a real treat. We had a very cold snap a few weeks ago, but the days have been beautifully warm and golden of late. Last week I spent some time with the kids in the garden taking photos. Myles will be seven months next week and he is just too delicious for words! An early crawler with two little teeth already, it just seems like time is flying by too quickly. Sometimes I have to force myself to just stop all the busy-ness and savour the moment. Livia’s little friend Matseliso was also here for the day. She is 11 months older than Livia, but they are playing so nicely together and Livia gets so excited when she comes to visit. It’s lovely to see their little friendship develop. Such precious moments!

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Daddy’s farm girl!

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Livia absolutely loves going farming with her daddy. She might feel differently when she’s older, but for now it’s their thing. Their special bonding time. There’s going to be a big fight ahead when Myles decides he wants to go too! Last Sunday we all went as a family to check up on some cows that were close to calving and to kraal the sheep for the night. Livvi helped to chase the sheep into their enclosure and then spent some time watching cattle with Quent. They could do this for hours together! It’s like a meditation, especially on a mild and golden autumn afternoon. Myles and I hung back and tried to capture the moment. Too sweet how our babies are growing up!

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Easter bunnies!

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I find myself with less and less time for blogging. It used to be so easy to document all the wonderful things I saw and did on the farm. My head was brimming with ideas and inspiration and my camera was constantly at hand. Not so these days with two little children in the house! That doesn’t mean things are happening here at Vastrap. We seem to be busier than ever, but it’s hard to steal moments at the computer between taking care of the kids and trying to get some real work/admin done. The drought has also been a drain on our spirits and it’s been hard to see beauty around us with our gaze permanently turned to the sky.

We are well and truly into autumn now. The evening temperatures have dropped sharply and the afternoon light is soft and golden. We face the coming winter with a sense of trepidation as there’s so little food for the cattle and our dams are still horribly low. We just have to take it one day at a time and hope for a few more hot days so that the grass can keep growing and a few more good showers to replenish our water levels. Everyone is hoping that the frost comes late so that the late blooming sunflowers can yield a crop.

We’ve had some wonderful visits from family and friends this year and those are really the times to cherish and remember. Easter was a quiet, but colourful affair with my sister and her family with us for a few days. The first thing my sister did when she arrived was go out in the garden and pick as many flowers as she could to fill the house. It wasn’t the usual bountiful haul, but she managed far more than I have this whole summer! We cooked delicious comforting meals, drank G&Ts, played with the kids and stole some afternoon naps. And chocolate. Oh there was lots of chocolate! And a huge decadent chocolate brownie ice cream cake that I made specially for my niece, Sophia. My parents-in-law celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary on Easter Sunday, which added even more significance to the day.

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After everyone departed, Quentin and I took the kids for a walk down into the valley. As we walked we ended up surrounded by a mixed group of very old and very young cows, all curious to say hello, or maybe hoping we had some extra food for them. Livia absolutely loves cattle so this little moment of interaction was the perfect end to the perfect relaxing weekend.

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