Saturday, August 29, 2015

Brotherly Birthdays

With both Theuns and Maarten's birthdays past (Theuns in late June and Maarten early August), here's what we did.

Theuns' birthday was celebrated by camping fun, with their 'best friends' (for now) Brendon and Breyton from the farm. His birthday was on the Saturday I was dropped off at 'Seejol', a Voortrekker camp in Hartenbos. We had cupcakes, drinks and fun on the beach.

After the beach they left for a night's camping in a forest next to a stream on a family's plot near Great Brak River. There they had some fun on a swing, ropes, setting up camp, making a fire and (of course) having a 'braai' (barbecue).

Despite wet wood from earlier rains (and lots of smoke as a result), they eventually got a campfire going. Hamburgers and hot chocolate for dinner and the 'campers' were off to bed (but not sleep..."did you hear that??").

Maarten shared a real kid's sweet (sugary) birthday party with Breyton..... Invited guests were mostly boys and they had some rough games while on the infamous sugar high.


After his generosity, we remembered him saying a few weeks earlier that he would actually have liked to go to Spur for his birthday, and arrangements were made without him suspecting anything (which was actually very easy as Maarten is so scatterbrained; we love you anyway Maarten!!). Thus the following week we had a big surprise in store for him, and us and the Burgers had some amazing burgers at Spur in George.

Of course no one goes to Spur on their birthday just for the food - how can you forget the sparkles!

Later that night, we drove back home with the Burgers as my dad stayed in George for the week. It was a really big surprise for Maarten and he had an awesome day (as seen on his face).

Some of you might wonder about the washing machine on the had broken the week before, and we could conveniently pick it up after repairs on the same day we went to George for his birthday so the boys had to sit tight in the back of the bakkie on the way home.

Happy birthday to these two fun-filled, blue-eyed, interesting siblings of mine..... Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ponies in the 'Kraal'

There has been a lot going on centering around the horses, and we've had some major breakthroughs. Arend has made huge progress and he's a really sweet pony; Brendon and Breyton are confident enough to ride him alone (bareback - it's quite a mission staying on his back, but both Arend and rider seems to enjoy it immensely). Leading him around with someone on his back is also happening regularly (even I had a ride - once).

Arend snacks often.

Maarten on his own horse - a dream come true!

Valk is another story though.... In the beginning of August, my mom got the bright idea of putting Valk in the 'kraal', and with Arend going first, to try and get both of them into the cattle crush so that we could finally touch her. It worked very well - she was trapped between steels bars and Arend in front of her (he also served as a means of keeping her calm).

At first she shook violently at any contact, and our biggest fear was that she would panic and start kicking, possibly getting her legs through the bars (which would lead to broken legs). Thankfully she didn't, and after a few minutes of stroking and gently talking to her, she stopped shaking. Her eyes stayed wide and scared for the first few times though.

Once we calmed her down, we started grooming her and even put a halter on!

With the halter on, Brendon tried leading her around in the 'kraal'. She dragged him around quite a bit, but he clung for dear life. The next day she wasn't nearly as hard to lead around, and for the first time we went on a walk with both horses on lead ropes!

Leading them around in the 'kraal'.  

To the team, it was a miracle. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kammanassie Winter

 As mentioned in the SARIE (August edition) magazine article about our lifestyle, we have so far experienced 3 seasons here in the Kammanassie - from December's breathstealing heat (summer), to the fantasy autumn colors amongst the orchards, and now the freezing temperatures of winter. As with each season, it arrived on its own time and had us wearing 7 layers of clothing, pretending to be dragons in the kitchen (that should tell you something about the temperatures...), and yelling excitedly at brief glimpses of snow on the mountains, between the drifts of clouds.

Because winter is rain season in the Cape, we've had some long, wet days too, during which the mountains are invisible behind clouds and mist. The water is good for the soil and plant life though, so we didn't complain. Rain is always welcome on this farm.

Our oak tree kept a few yellow leaves despite vicious winds.
Crystal leaves.

One early morning on our way to George, we passed 2 horses in a camp - the frost was so thick, it looked like snow! 

Interesting to observe was the pruning of the orchards; apricot-, plum- and peach-trees were all pruned on the farm, and every day groups of chatting workers could be heard amongst the trees, their pruning scissors clicking away. An orchard's lower branches are pruned first, and then they go through it again with ladders, pruning the high branches.

Bare and pruned.

 The ladders are light and easy to carry, as they are constantly being lifted up and carried to the next tree.

 All twigs that do not have enough buds on are pruned, as well as any dead branches. 

Workers judge which twigs stay and which go by eye. 

They get really good at balancing... 

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Our Version of Homeschooling

So you know we homeschool, but did I mention we farmschool as well? Living on a farm, there are so many things to see and life experiences abound. Here follows what we've been doing 'school' wise lately...

My mom loves planning, and accordingly has formed a rough (changeable) plan for all our academical work until Grade 12 - quite an accomplishment considering we were still preschool then. But because we are now Grades 3, 6 and 9, the plan has adapted a bit and things are getting more individual-focused. At present we do an eclectic curriculum, and we know what we have to do every week to finish our term's work on time. We all have Afrikaans and English languages, Maths, Science, Biology, History and Geography, Economics and we can develop our personal interest area as well. We still follow our routine of having 2 months school, and then 1 month holiday to have time for all the fun learning!

Besides academical work, a lot of things happen which would not normally be classified as 'school', but definitely qualifies as learning (which is school's real purpose after all). With two very creative, dynamic brothers in the house, it doesn't take long for bottles of suspicious looking liquid to appear, lengths and lengths of baling twine end up under beds and in the corridor, and a miniature candy floss machine becoming the coolest thing ever.

A conspiracy. 

Because everyone has a certain day of the week on which all food/cooking is their responsibility (that's Life Skills), we've had some interesting things happen in (and around) the kitchen...

 Funny as this picture is, Maarten had an ingenious idea actually - he was cutting onions, had enough of burning eyes, and so decided to wear sunglasses to stop the chemicals from reaching his eyes.

A while ago Maarten was obsessed with how to 'survive in the wild' - he read books about it (even wrote his own little booklet all about Practical Survival Tips), and then of course had to try out some of the recipes.... Lunch was roots, leaves, and Cat's Tail.  He collected them himself, washed and cut it all himself and prepared it for us - all based on information he found in a book on Survival.  It didn't all work out the way he thought is should have, as wild roots of Cat's Tail do not cook soft in an hour only (warning: do not try at home unless you can identify the plants specifically, if you do don't blame me if someone is poisoned).

 They pulled the soft seeds out and added it to dough - the resulting (hairy) flapjacks was not too bad.

 The 'sun oven' we borrowed from the local farm school - the boys baked a miniature bread as well as boiling some carrots. It took the whole day though.

The infamous 'dead fly' experiment... Put the fly in the fridge for a few days, then remove and watch it 'come back to life'! Unfortunately this fly was forgotten, and so stayed in the fridge for a whole week or two... It died I think.  

 On the topic of insects....

They also made a gnat catcher as well as an ant attractor. I don't how how, I only discovered this picture later on (I do know they get a lot of ideas from this guy).

After the local pomegranate harvest, we picked a few to show the boys what it is. Maarten found out why a pomegranate is called a 'granaat' in Afrikaans. Literally translated back to English, it's a 'grenade'. Needless to say, it exploded.