Monday, January 26, 2015

The Start of Everything

For the past week, it’s been very busy here on the farm; a lot of things began (including the public schools) which kick-started everything. We’re planning to have chickens, piglets, and maybe even a horse or two; the projects have made good progress so far and I’ll post about it next week.

Last Sunday we also had a first short church service in the tiny church building on the farm (next to the sick sheep). The farmer family and some of the workers also attended. We listened to a tape for 30min, discussed it and prayed; we hope to keep on doing it for the rest of the year as well.

Our school has been ongoing from the first week of January, but the public schools only started this Wednesday. As a result, Voortrekkers also started in George, and we had our weekly George outing on Thursday; it was good fun as the first day of Voortrekkers is always a Fruit Feast; more accurately a Watermelon War where everyone ends up very sticky and very wet. All of us look forward to the camps this year.

The boys and me also began some ‘paid jobs’ this week for which we volunteered; they babysit JanDiesel (our hosts’ 3-year old and very cute lively boy) two times a week, and I clean their house once a week. It’s a good way of earning some pocket money.

JanDiesel with our chickens' first egg which he found.
We had quite a lot of fun on Tuesday when our school morning was interrupted by a neighbours’ son who came for a visit on his horse; pretty soon other children had gathered and everyone went for an unexpected ‘swim party’ at the dam; something we usually did daily in the afternoons because of the extreme heat the Cape experiences during January and February (it’s above 30 degrees Celsius daily; in the middle of the day it’s 40 degrees Celsius).

  Very refreshing...
When we got back and tried to put the horse’s bridle on, she decided she’d had enough and galloped off! We jumped in the car and sped after her, only to catch her 2km later; it was very funny to see how she had her own personality and definitely got annoyed with her owner.

 Fun riding!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A (Big) Change of Plans

Two weeks into January, we are still at St. Ancothesa; this is because we’ve made a very big decision concerning our future for the whole of 2015.... A week before we would have departed from the farm, my parents got a most crazy idea. As we are getting into the habit of having crazy ideas (ex. this whole travel year thing), they didn’t write it off as unrealistic, and shared it with us. 

What if we stayed here at St. Ancothesa, renting the house, not for a few weeks, or even a month or two, but instead for a whole year?! The more we thought about it, the more we felt that it’s what we should do. So our adventure will now include ‘living on a real South African farm’ as part of our journey! When we planned the trip we did anticipate staying longer at places if there was exceptional circumstances, but we did not expect it to happen so soon. In this case however, there are a number of goals that we have had in mind for a few years now, and almost all of them can become a reality in this setup. This is definitely more than a coincidence... 

When we spoke to our hosts, they were positive and excited about it as well. They shared with us how it was their dad’s vision to have people who wish to experience farm life, renting on the farm and making their contribution in whatever field they are able to. On their business card there is the saying “You don’t have to own it, to live it.” We see ourselves now as the first people who will be doing just that – living actively on a farm, gaining experience with some farm animals to care for and maybe enjoy a planting and harvesting season as well.  We will still be contributing to the farm work in some ways, but we are not here as volunteers anymore, so our time is our own.

A signed contract later, we are going to rent the house we stayed in December (as well as the field next to the house) for 2015. Our plans for the original trip are simply put off till 2016, and we are ready for a year of living on a farm, something new to all of us. We are already busy planning all sorts of ventures, including little piglets, chickens, maybe a miniature horse or two and a vegetable garden that might provide fresh produce to the shop.

- Written by me, mom and dad. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Being Volunteers on St. Ancothesa

Our December was packed with happenings, hard work, hard play, and an amazing farm experience. We did everything from meat processing and garden designing to cleaning and welding (my dad did, at least). This is going to be a long post about the farm activities, and what kept us busy most of the month. I hope you enjoy it!

The daily farm routine for 'oom' Jan, the workers, and my dad were mostly separate from what me, mom and the boys did, simply because we can’t physically help with the work they do. We were kept busy with a list of other projects and chores (which me and mom loved because we could “tick off” the items and feel very satisfied.)

Every morning at 6am, the men’s team have a prep talk and discuss the day’s work. The sheep and cattle are moved to whatever camps they have to go to, they are fed, alfalfa bales are loaded (this was a regular job which “ate” clothing, as my dad’s jeans have massive holes, despite him trying to fix it), and everyone is busy till lunch break. The boys only went with 2 or 3 times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Checking onions. 


Watch how 700 sheep are moved from camp to camp:

Charles, the head supervisor ('voorman'), and the boys. Notice Maarten has his pajamas T-shirt on; he forgot to put proper clothes on.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Celebrations and Festivities

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!! We did something really cool for Christmas this year, and had some unexpected adventures as well. Here’s what happened...

For Christmas Eve, we had a very idyllic evening in mind. Our hosts on St. Ancothesa had told us about a stone cottage up in the mountains where they sometimes went for an exciting sleepover; we had no idea how exciting they meant until late that afternoon when we followed the instructions (and map) and arrived at about 6pm. It was not a cottage. It was a ruin; no windows, no doors, floor covered in cow dung. Oops. We hadn’t packed in our 2 hiking tents, so it was either driving back, or sleeping outside (dad suggested making a broom and sweeping but was quickly overruled). The adventurous side in my parents won and we decided to sleep outside in the open.

What a place to sleep.

We had an absolutely beautiful view; the clouds were ‘flowing’ over the Outeniqua mountains like a giant tsunami; the pure size and majesty couldn’t be captured on camera (I tried).