Parents' Thoughts

June 30, 2016

Mom's Thoughts:    "It is 30 June 2016 and what an exceptional 6 month journey lies behind us - we have seen the whole rest of South Africa in 5months including the Western Cape, the WestCoast, the Swartland area, the Cederberg, the Northern Cape, Orange river, Kgalagadi and even Limpopo and Mpumalanga to finish our 'right-around-the-country-trip' as planned!   Then we packed and moved to Oudtshoorn to settle in a beautiful old house we rent for now. I think the 'jetlag' may hit us soon as we need to get accustomed to 'settling in' versus 'being on the move' all the time.   But we have taken the time now to stop long enough to reflect back on our 20 month Journey (including the travels as well as the year on the farm), and Elna has shared the highlights in the last post of this blog.  But here is my personal version:

Reflection on our 20 month journey 
(8months TRAVEL and 12months FARM)

Highlights on the traveltime around the country

  • The 3 farms where we volunteered – the people, the work we did and to experience farm life
  • Every hike (whether short or long) in forests,  on mountains, seasides, ‘veld’ or ‘vlaktes’.
  • Every new place we discovered
  • Being together and getting to know each other as a family in every new adventure or exploration of the unknown
  • The spiritual growth we experienced on our journey
  • Some specifics can include – having coffee in a jail cell at the Provost in Grahamstown, camping on the sea at Stormsriver, walking on the Strand’s beach late afternoons in summer, reading to colored children in Piketberg, hiking to Wolfberg Arch and Cracks in Cederberg and seeing all the animals in the Kruger National Park.

Lowlights on the traveltime around the country

  • Sometimes we did not have enough space to pack out and find things
  • Sometimes we worked on each others’ nerves in confined spaces and being with each other 24hours per day
  • The Cape is cold most of the time
  • Wind and rain when living in a tent is not so nice (you survive but cannot do a lot)
  • The overcommercialization of some tourist spots
  • Some of our Nationals Parks’ service and pricing
  • Our boys complaining when we went for a hike or a walk (even though it did them good every time...)

Highlights on the year on a farm in the Kammanassie

  • The view from our stoep on the place where we stayed
  • The space – to be able to walk around for kilometers without needing to worry about trespassing
  • Experiencing four seasons on our doorstep!
  • All the animals we had – the ponies, the pigs, the chickens and little Nassie the kitten who grew into a cat
  • The safe environment for kids to explore and play – my boys were NEVER bored and Elna could take her daily walk on her own any time of day
  • To have met wonderful people of different cultures and building relationships with them

Lowlights on the year on a farm in the Kammanassie

  • To deal with the disappointment of not seeing positive change in people one has build relationships with over a period of time
  • Stopping projects that are not working out according to plan
  • It is mostly cold when you live in the mountains

What did you miss the most?

Actually NOTHING quite surprisingly – it shows that the time was right for change.
If I really have to think hard, I missed some of my warm clothes as we packed expecting warmer weather everywhere.

What did you enjoy the most?

  • Each other as a family!  I really enjoyed my children, and were SO PROUD of them!
  • Our beautiful country – we have so many nice places in South Africa – it is really worthwhile touring around our own country.
  • The dear dependable southern hemisphere sun – it always helped to warm us.
  • Meeting new people – especially the farmers (hosts) where we worked as volunteers
  • Not having to commit to things most of the time – because you knew you were just passing through

What lessons did you learn?

There are many, some include:

  • One’s attitude will determine your experience!
  • One needs very little stuff to experience things
  • People are very adaptable – whether to adapt to living conditions (we stayed in  a variety of places ranging from shacks, tents, flat, houses and even in an industrial area) or food or clothes or routine.
  • Routine or structure to a day really helps to bring about purpose
  • You design your own lifestyle by how you spend your time and your money
  • Space helps to organise things
  • Sometimes you can be really lucky (as in the Kruger National park when we saw all the animals in one day)
  • You have to reach out to people, they seldom do
  • Boys only need enough outdoor space and enough time, then they are never bored
  • Men don’t pack logically

What did you learn about yourself?

  • That I enjoy beauty around me and function better in wide open spaces/areas – small spaces makes me moody.
  • I don’t enjoy working on a pc in a tent
  • I really enjoy helping people, but I am also very comfortable without needing people around me all the time
  • I really love the dynamic workings on a farm
  • Clean water and air are very special
  • I don’t enjoy cold weather
  • Things can work out ok even without a longterm plan for everything
  • Sometimes unplanned experiences are the most exciting
  • I am not allergic to cats anymore as I was as a child

What cool things happened on the journey?

  • Watching the children work together to fetch the cows in the pastures as a storm approaches
  • Having to warm and feed a newborn calf and helping it to bond to the mother cow
  • Sleeping in a real treehouse on the Shipwreck hiking trail
  • The Camera Obscura at Grahamstown
  • Feeding elephants near Port Elizabeth
  • The kids swimming in Red Tide in Port Elizabeth
  • Pitching a tent in a storm in PE after having dinner in a real pub with the children
  • Discovering what and where is ‘The Hell’ in SA
  • Our eco-farm education at Kruistementvlei
  • Sleeping under the stars on Christmas eve of 2014 and climbing the mountain the next day
  • Driving over the hill on summer late afternoons seeing the Kammanassie mountains for the first time
  • Learning more about ‘klippies’ in Springbok from a local miner
  • Having real Nama people as guides on our Orange river trip and seeing a ‘halfmens’ plant in its natural habitat
  • Discovering a quaint restaurant in Twee Riviere with lovely food
On the farm this can include :
  • Swimming across a very deep natural dam on the farm
  • Taming ponies when we don’t even know anything about horses
  • Enjoying animals of all sorts
  • Not being able to leave the farm because the drifts were flooded!

What has happened specifically as a result of the journey?

  • Meeting the host farmers where we worked as volunteers in Byrne valley, Kammanassie and Piketberg, and building new friendships as a result
  • We got to know each other better as individuals in our family – having experienced so much together and having so much fun was really really good for us
  • We had an informal ‘study in lifestyle design’ as we met a variety of people choosing different lifestyles for different reasons all over the country
  • Meeting the real Italian descendants in the Knysna forest where we got the piglets from
  • We could really build relationships with people from other cultures
  • We have an impressive map of our journey marked out in pink in an atlas as a memory for us!
  • We have an absolute wonderful blog to read whenever we want to
  • We have thousands of photos to share and remember our memories by
  • We have featured in a newspaper as well as the Sarie
  • Theunis being able to get new perspective on the family business (he wouldn’t have been able to do this if we did not leave) and starting a new career

What could you not have done without?

The portable washing line and a kettle.  A cup of tea or sometimes a glass of wine. My really warm jacket and buff (for the cold) and always having a book to read!

Looking back....
So in looking back at whether we have achieved our goals in doing this thing....
Yes we have seen mostly nearly all parts of South Africa, definitely all 9 provinces
Yes we have reached out to other people from all sorts of lifestyles and cultures
Yes we have exposed our children to a ‘bigger world out there’ in meeting new people and having new experiences
Yes we have lived, experienced and developed a new type of lifestyle where we are not afraid to discover and explore and meet new people

So are we glad we did it in retrospect 20 months later – absolutely YES, and I would not change any of it!  Even all the unplanned experiences.  It was the greatest journey of our lives so far. I really believe that we have all grew in character and perspective and will never be the same again."

Dad's Thoughts:     "When we decided to leave Potchefstroom I knew that a lot of things would happen and we would learn a lot, but I never suspected how intense the changes and happenings would be.
Our 20 month restructuring season, as I now call it, was basically in two parts : There was the travel part where we worked or stayed on farms, camped and stayed in short term rental places. The other part was our year on the farm when we rented a house on the Kammanassie farm of the Burger family.  For both parts in general my highlight was our family and how we grew in our relationships with each other and also with the Lord.  There were tense times also between us, but most of the time was good!

For me personally the biggest challenge was figuring out a new career after our family business closed down. It was a blessing to be on the farm during that time as I could just walk into the veld to calm down and get perspective and pray for guidance. It was a very intense and stressful time. We now refer to it as my ‘midlife crisis’...haha.

Lots and lots of special things happened during our travels - I will only share a few:

  • On all the farms that we worked on we had interesting experiences and learned valuable lessons but there is a big difference between talking and working about farm work is mostly really HARD physical work ... period! 
  • On the Kammanassie farm with the Burgers our experience on the paradox of simultaneous complexities and simplicities of farm life was very special. Simple farming experiments where the plan is easy and everything makes sense, and then the reality turns out otherwise and usually more complex than planned!  Our own farming experiments included Willemien's vegetable garden, Elna's chickens, Theuns and Maarten's pigs, the wild ponies and my wheat planting and harvesting ... amazing and very treasured experiences that we shared and lived through together.
  • Another highlight was the fact that settling on the farm for a year afforded me enough time to really spend hundreds of hours focusing on developing better trading skills.
  • During our travels my highlights include all the interesting people that we met and got to know better. My whole understanding of what ‘normal’ means changed radically and I discovered that people are unique and choose their specific lifestyles for a reason they consider ‘normal’.
  • A very special experience happended when we were camping at Stormsriver Mouth. While doing a treetop tour in the area I happen to see chameleons in the wild for the first time - a few small and large ones in the treetops very close to us – that taught me to always be on the lookout for the little interesting things you may discover unexpectedly on a journey! 
All in all we had an awesome adventure and can now look forward to a bright new season in Oudtshoorn."

December 25, 2015

Mom's Thoughts: "In just a few days we will be leaving the Kammanassie - a valley we got to know better this year, with people we came to love and memories we will cherish always. We rested well and had lots of experiences we will never forget. A specific thanks to Jan and Anel Burger and little JanDiesel, who allowed us to share their farm with them, and not only welcomed us for lunch/dinner or drinks any time of the day, but also became dear friends - we will always remember you! It is sad to say goodbye, but we also know there is a shift in season, so we have to move on again for the next phase of our family sabbatical in order to grow. In looking back, this year was not planned, but what a year it was! We could never have imagined it!
  • It wasn't an easy year for Theunis but he really put in many hours of work despite the not-so-good wifi on the farm.
  • I rested well in looking at a mountain every day and walking daily in nature. Helping with the ponies was a source of much joy and little things one could do for others as you got involved in the community and with the neighbors. 
  • Elna had a lot of schoolwork but also loved the fact that she could just go walking in nature whenever she wanted to. 
  • Theuns loved the fact that he was free to do what he wanted (after school work's done of course) and he really enjoyed making new friends. 
  • Maarten loved to work with the animals, exploring, helping oom Jan repair stuff and making new friends. 
So we look forward to the next season knowing that the Lord's plans are always good (Jer 29:11) and most probably more exciting than we can imagine ourselves."

"Sugar and Spice" ~ Anel Burger

Dad's Thoughts: "What an interesting, challenging and adventurous year this has been.

Some of the highest highs as well as the lowest lows that I have ever experienced in my life happened in this year.

The lows included getting lost while travelling (despite GPS), sometimes not knowing what to do when faced with challenges, our finances that was sometimes stretched to new limits, our third generation family business that had to be closed down and elements sold and handed over to new owners, handling the (at times almost) overwhelming sense of failure that accompanied the closing down of our family business, the very complicated handover process with regards to the rental book of the business, the very intense sense of disappointment and despair when I realized that although my trading is progressing well, it will not support us yet and I have to find something else to supplement our cash flow, the inconveniences of travelling and not having a place to call your own, the stress that travelling and temporary housing put on family relationships, etc, etc.

Among the highs were spending lots of time with and getting to know my heavenly Father and family better, experiencing farm life first hand, meeting and getting to know new people and making new friends that has enriched my life immensely, discovering how beautiful our beloved country is as we traveled from place to place, getting to know myself better, increasing my knowledge and insight into the world of technical trading (aka human behavioral patterns) with lots of time to study associated and complementary fields like wave and chaos theory, receiving lots of insight in the new season that lies ahead of us, learning valuable lessons while closing down our family business, etc.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned comes from a simple verse in a children’s Bible that loosely translates into the following: “We are students in our heavenly Fathers Kingdom and that is the most precious treasure that we have ever discovered. We are extremely wealthy. He teaches us and shares His treasures with us every single day and that fills our day with joy and delight”.

I have and are busy learning to be constantly aware of Him and all the treasures He shares with us daily. This can range from appreciating my lovely wife and precious children anew and enjoying their uniqueness, presence and interaction; a beautiful sunset or sunrise, the amazing wonders of nature all around us, opportunities to meet new people or to get to know people better, inspiration to overcome challenges and utilize opportunities that cross my path, insight into issues that needs to be addressed and sorted out, etc, etc. The list becomes endless as I realize how amazing and wonderful He is and how much He loves to share His abundance with us in multiple dimensions and aspects.

What lies ahead for 2016?

Let the adventure continue!

A final comment: It is amazing how much we can grow when we get out of our comfort zone. It is not easy but definitely worth it in the long run! A good investment, so to speak."

September 25, 2015

Mom's Thoughts: "We have been on this beautiful Kammanassie farm for 9 months now living this farm adventure. It has been wonderful experiencing all four natural seasons here, where we could visibly see the changes :

Summer – with fruit in abundance; luxury fruit we are not accustomed to eat such Evita figs, prunes and big yellow peaches.  In summer there was time for swimming, and the sun’s late afternoon light was always something to admire as it reflects on the mountains before sunset.  It was also during summer time that we learnt about harvesting lucern every few weeks.
Autumn – as the leaves started to color and fall, we enjoyed the cooler, shorter days, giving us extra time for reading in the evenings.  In fall, the sheep lamb, so there were white little bundles everywhere.  Fall time was also still fig harvesting time and our little pigs once had a whole bakkie full of figs as food.  During autumn we had to re adjust our schedule, the daily walk about with the ponies had to take place earlier in order to still occur in daylight.
Winter – in winter we grew accustomed to the short days and enjoyed the extra hours of sleeping well.  In winter we experienced rain flooding the drifts causing normal life to be disrupted as children could not go to school.  Coming from the north of the country, seeing the green everywhere in winter was also strange, and so different to the dry, yellow winter veld of the NorthWest.
Spring – spring was lovely with tiny new blossoms coming out in the orchards everywhere.  We have never seen anything like it – orchards full of blossoms, but in just a few short weeks the fruit trees were covered in new green leaves.  Another little amazing thing was to see wildflowers everywhere in the veld – varieties of yellow, white, pink, red, purple and blue.

In looking back we have done some amazing new things that we could not have done anywhere else :
  1. The boys raised seven piglets, and sold them all. (although the project did not make a profit as planned, it was a good lesson in constant animal care)
  2. Elna takes daily walks on which she discovers heart-shaped rocks and all sorts of beautiful findings or insights, and her personal relationship with God has taken on a new meaning.
  3. We tamed two ponies, starting off by not knowing anything about horses, growing in confidence and knowhow in the process, and getting to know some of the children better as they helped us with the animals.
  4. We befriended some children of a completely different culture, appreciating the differences and yet learning that we are all just human beings longing for love and acceptance.
  5. We could spend hours outdoors just being in nature, looking at the mountains, sitting quietly or taking a walk.

This year so far was good and fruitful and productive, as we got to know each other better as a family in different situations, as we grew in our relationships by spending a lot of time together and as we had to learn to trust God all the more every day in leading us to the next season, which we know is awaiting us."

May 30, 2015

Mom's Thoughts: "We have been here on the Kammanassie farm for 6 months now.  What a privilege to ‘not have to own it, to live it !’ We had the long hot summer days, beautiful fall and winter is on our doorstep. Experiencing farm life has been good – though not always easy, and it takes a lot of hard work, courage and faith to make a farm work.  We have only tried our hand at a few things - some chickens, pigs and trying to tame two ponies, and we also have some vegetables and a little well watered garden with wheat.  We respect, admire and salute every successful farmer !

Some random thoughts on what we have learnt :
  • We learnt that a mountain’s mood can change as the weather change BUT it is always in the same place – steady and strong.
  • We learnt that the weather has a tremendous influence on the experience of a day. (it is difficult to work hard in the hot sun or if the wind is blowing very hard.) BUT we also learnt that on hot days it is absolutely lovely to go for a swim in the clear water of the fountain dam nearby ! and that you need windy days to see if the ‘kite’ the boys built for themselves, actually work !
  • We learnt that animals don’t always perform the way you expect them to...(the chickens did not lay the eggs they should have, the pigs have not grown as fast as they were supposed to, and the ponies are not getting as tame as quickly as we thought) BUT we learnt that animals are FUN !  There is something very entertaining in feeding piglets – no other animal enjoy food as much as they do ! The ponies give us a hard time, but every little breakthrough is a major achievement, and the relationship building with them is precious.
  • We learnt that when seasons change, the length of a day change dramatically so you have to adapt your working routines to that, BUT seasons are God’s design and seasons ensure you are not bored by the same routines for too long.
  • We learnt that working with people can be frustrating at times BUT good and reliable people are the most valuable asset on a farm, and the way you communicate and interact with them are very important to build trust over time.  Kindness and respect goes a long way.
  • We learnt that plants grow when in the right soil for them – there are different plants for different soil.
  • We learnt when you live on a farm, an outing to town takes a day not just a few hours.
  • We learnt that sometimes you just do without...
  • It doesn’t always rain at the right time, but everything is better after rain.
  • Patience is a necessary virtue when you farm.
  • We learnt that solitude feeds the soul and ...
  • silence is golden."

January 27, 2015 

Mom's Thoughts: "Reflecting back on our time here on a farm in the Kammanassie...I know that this is the right season for 'being still' Maria sitting still listening to Jesus.  It is a complete change in atmosphere from what we have experienced so far, where we are now nestled in between the mountains surrounding us with quiet and stillness and isolation.  We are literally cut off from others as we struggle with cellphone reception and internet access issues....and this is such a good thing!
We discover the sights and sounds of farm life : Sights like the view from our stoep as we look out upon the mountains, with its continual change in light and color throughout the day. Or the sunset pinks and purples over the horizon or even the thousands of stars visible at night. Sounds like the bleating calves looking for their moms the first night we spent here or the bale machine's steady rhythm as it works at night or even the workers team chatting away as they set up a fence.
I especially enjoy the dynamics of an active farm, to observe all the different processes needing is a huge business with many facets to manage! So again I respect all farmers for their contribution they make to society. I have also learnt to appreciate not only having the 'right tools for the job' (like a hoe or a pitchfork when one cleans a field of thorn trees or to have the tool to tighten the fence wires) but also the know-how and skill attained by years of experience doing the job! 
The various projects we did as volunteers was good and productive and necessary contributions.  And it was great to get to know some.of the workers children so far who helped when they could.  As we prepare to spend the year here the clean air and water and being more outdoors naturally are added bonuses. I really appreciate our host family's kindness and attitude towards our being here. They are a big reason we are enjoying this experience so it just shows how people do make a difference in your life and it helps to open up yourself to input from others at the right time.
I am so thankful for the opportunity we have to live the farm adventure hands-on and actively involved."

Dad's Thoughts: "As you know, December and January did not turn out as we planned. Firstly the routine on this workaway farm was totally and I mean totally different than the first farm we worked on. It was much more intense and as Jan (our host) explained, they are a fully commercial farm with a  lot of different components (commercial and "stoet" cattle, sheep, lucern, fruit orchards, onions and other ad hoc crops) all being managed as an integrated whole. My first week was thus seen as an introduction to as many aspects of the farm activities as possible and to accomplish that I worked with the farm teams on their 12 hour shifts (6am to 6pm). Although I mainly tagged along and tried to lend a helping hand here and there, I was exhausted to say the least. But I quickly got fitter and grew used to the routine. Also, because our estate agency office closed for middle of  December and my trading exercises slowed down because the trading market volumes dips dramatically during the holidays, I decided to keep up the 12 hour shifts where possible and learn as much a possible about all the different farming activities. Besides the great physical exercise, I got some "rest" from my office duties and intense trading program and that proved quite a blessing. I had time to reflect on how things are going so far and the distance helped me to see a few very productive changes that I could make. I also had time to read a few business books that I brought and while reading Richardo Semler's Maverick, realized that it provided very needed answers to very important issues that we were in the process of handling at our estate agency office. This involves the whole issue of empowering people to think for themselves and making the mind shift from having "workers" to "people that are busy building a future" together with us in our business. This is critical paradigms for the phase we are in at the moment. Both for us and owners and the people working with us in the business.

Anyway, as you would have read in our blog, during our last week at the farm we had this crazy idea that perhaps we should stay on a while longer because the setup is so ideal and there are so many possibilities related to other plans we have had for a long time for the kids, and lo and behold, we are now staying for a much longer time. This is of course still subject to things working out with my trading goals and our business deadlines of May 2015. But since I am quite on schedule with my goals and have an almost idyllic little office with WIFI which really helps me to focus, I think we may very well stay here at least the rest of the year. One thing I must add is that the relative isolation (weak sell signal) as well as the fact that the farm is situated between the Kammanassie and Outeniqua mountain ranges, which makes for spectalur vistas, sunsets and sunrises, makes this place ideal for a very important goal what we want and need to accomplish during this year. And that is really strengthening our relationship with our Creator so we can get answers to what lies ahead in the next season of our lives and our walk with Him. As one's focus determines one's reality, we have, in my opinion at least, the right combination of a simple lifestyle, productive routine and open mindset to discover just that and work with Him to make it a reality."

December 25, 2014

Mom's Thoughts: "Lessons learnt on Christmas day 2014

As a family we climbed a mountain on Christmas day – the Kammanassie mountain in the Western Cape near Uniondale. This was a real blessing, and we were privileged to sleep out in the open the night before, plucking the stars on a mild open summer night.  There was no path, and no indicators where to go, so we just had to find and make our own way....this is what I have learnt :

  1. You climb a mountain step by step, going up and going down.
  2. In going up you need more strength but in going down you need patience.
  3. (Internet) connection was better on top than below.
  4. Everything looks smaller if viewed from above, even problems....
  5. Going up is easier.
  6. Sometimes you only appreciate the real size of the climb when you are going down...
  7. Perspectives on things below is different from above."

December 8, 2014

Mom's Thoughts: "What an amazing soul refreshing week we had at Stormsriver! The Tsitsikamma area provides a lot of opportunities to just enjoy the beauty in nature.  Waves crashing on the rocks with reckless abandon right on your camp doorstep, sunsets on the sea horizon and then a full moon rising on the other side, walking in silent rainforests every day and/or taking a quick swim in the lovely pools on the trails right next to the ocean. The weather was still cooler than expected....and we often sat with our full winter gear watching the sun go down in Dec...haha. But this didn't make a difference to the serenity of nature. It was a good week of just relaxing where the main goal of every day was to take a hike....and we did! I love really energizes me, so I am now recharged and ready for whatever work lies ahead on the farm we visit in Dec."

December 4, 2014

Mom's Thoughts: 
"Another month passed (November 2014) and this one we spent on our own as a family after a short pleasant visit to friends in Ugie. A week of regrouping spent in Cintsa did us good, where we could just get up to speed on school and other work.  We learnt the value of routine to help focus and get more work done more effectively.  The 5day Shipwreck hiking trail was an adventure in itself and as with all adventures, fantastic ! and time well spent on building relationships and enjoying the outdoors even with sometimes adverse weather conditions. Again we had one day of just regrouping and sorting out our clothes and bags and books etc. – a day well spent.  For a few days after that we put on our tourist hats and enjoyed sighseeing Eastern cape historic towns such as Grahamstown and Bathurst before we settled down again a bit in one place at Port Elizabeth, the windy city, and yes we understood why it is called that now. The camping was good because we could at least unpack and get a feel for what we use and not use....and even though I thought that we had already packed the bare basics and minimum to last a year...there are things we are going to send back home if we can as soon as we can. We still have too many things packed! This in itself is a lesson for me....we actually need so little to live practically and even less to enjoy life.  So we are still learning to live even more simply than now.

Very valuable during Nov was ‘little things’ I have so often assumed for granted such as the value of a tap with hot water, a hot bath, a washing machine and a tumble dryer (when it is raining for days) and a warm cup of tea ! Three very special happenings we experienced this month was seeing dolphins (lots and lots of them very near to shore), seeing a whale and her calf breeching many times as if they just enjoy the water and play, and the last was the beautiful sunsets we could look at nearly every evening.   I am also thankful for the fact that the children had finished school and that Theunis managed to put in many hours of trading and that I had even somehow managed to publish another curriculum program in between all.  I am learning about practical faith applied in real life, as the mother whose responsibility it stays to keep all the different strings together all the time."

Dad's Thoughts: "November was a lovely month. It was also the first month that I could focus more intensely on the new routine of family time, physical exercise and the very important trading studies and exercises. I have a lot of material to work through and I enjoyed having lots of time (normally from 7am to 4 pm) every weekday to focus on that.  When one has a passion for something motivation is not a problem, so I have done a lot of work this past few weeks. We camped at lovely places and that means that my "study" is of course spectacular and I enjoyed that a lot. Each camping site was special in it's own way and between the studies and on weekends we discover local sights and interesting places. December is going to be working on a farm again so I will have to adjust. Never a dull moment with the nomadic Krugers ... eish."

November 13, 2014

Dad's Thoughts:
"My overall opinion of the Shipwreck hiking trail is that is a wonderful family experience with a very interesting variety of hiking and accommodation settings. Each overnight hut is an amazing and unique experience that we enjoyed very much. The distances are not too long or short and are alternated so that even young children or older persons can easily cover it in the time available. While the main focus is most definitely the beach and most of the hiking on the beach, the large dunes/grassland/valley/woodland areas are spectacular and makes for good interchange. We expected to swim in the sea on the beach every day but conditions were windy and cold and we had to brave the wind while hiking. This did not however spoil the beach hike and we really enjoyed the wide open empty beaches, the amazing shells just lying around everywhere and massive dunes with their desert atmosphere.

I enjoyed the slack pack option as we have younger children and this was our first 5 day hike with them. They most definitely had a wonderful time with us on the hike."

November 2, 2014

Mom's Thoughts: 
"Not only has our first month of our year gone past, but also our first experience as volunteer workers on a farm. Would I do it again? Yes. It was an eye opener about lifestyle choices and how what you believe can affect how you live. We learnt a lot of skills and also about ourselves. We got to know an interesting family who opened their homes and hearts to so many volunteers over the years. We also learnt to really appreciate many little things we took for granted, such as turning open a tap for warm water, (nearly) always having electricity, easy access to varieties of food choices, being used to the availability of labour workers and the privilege of having a warm dry place to sleep each night. I learnt that attitude determines the memory of the experience! The weather was really cold and wet most of the time and this was something to adjust to as we expected hot weather, because in our local Highveld town October month is a hot month.  It was also much harder to do school work in the afternoons after farm work in the morning, and I learnt to relax about what gets done and what not.  So in reflection - would I recommend such a volunteer experience to anyone? Yes. Know it is not always comfortable, but definitely worthwhile."

Dad's Thoughts: 
"Our first month of volunteering at the first farm in KZN are almost finished and I must say, it has been a fantastic learning experience. We have had a lot more family time, not always deliberate but just hanging out and working together. And I must say I am learning more about my children and their interaction with each other and vice versa than "normal". Even homeschooling has its limits because as a dad I used to work normal working hours and saw them only a few hours a day. The learning experiences are varied and include not only the practical farm work but also interesting lessons learned in trading since I had to change my time frames to cope with the farm work in the mornings.  The fact that I can combine that with a family adventure is a definite bonus which I enjoy a lot !"

October 16, 2014

Mom's Thoughts:

What a privilege to be volunteering on OverThere farm here in Byrne valley, KZN! The Graafs make you feel comfortable and at ease learning the variety of daily chores such as caring for animals, helping with milk bottling, cleaning and working in the vegetable garden. There are also so many 'projects' on a farm, and new ones keep turning up as part of daily work objectives. But I have been surprised how soon we have settled into this new routine, and we managed to even start school the past week ! Apart from learning many new skills, we have many interesting discussions on all sorts of topics, and it is encouraging to interact with other homeschoolers. The self-sufficient lifestyle chosen by this family gives me a lot to think about, and maybe one day we will incorporate what we are learning here into lifestyle choices in our future. What I enjoy most about a farm setup like this one is the fact that nearly everything is available and on hand - whether one needs compost or manure, seedlings or ready-to-harvest vegetables, milk, butter, eggs or cheese, and if you are in need of something, you make it yourself - such as jam (we made from frozen berries and apples from a previous season!) And this list does not even take into account the many tools and hardware available for fixing or repairing work, which my boys currently enjoy doing. I am proud of my children who are already helping out with so many things - even fetching the cows in the field and knowing all their names (which I cannot even do yet)."

September 30, 2014

Mom's Thoughts: 
"The last few weeks we have finished packing our whole house into storage...with some tears in our eyes, feelings of uncertainty in our minds but no doubt in our hearts.  We were privileged to join a family festival during our last weekend in the North-West before we started our journey with a 2 day sprint through the Free State province.  We visited with Martie du Plessis, well-known amongst homeschoolers country wide, and was treated not only to special meals, but also special input into our lives as she gave us advice, reminders and visionary direction. As I had to fill in a special book to celebrate my parents' 70th birthday and wedding anniversary for the family weekend, I thought of the question..."What defines a life ?"  So at this point in time, I think this trip will be (1) an observation on how different people 'define and live their lives', (2) a new definition for us in living a different lifestyle and (3) I believe this journey will help us figure out how we would like to 'define our life' from now on. I am so proud of my children who are doing this thing with us, with enthusiasm and just embracing every 'now' - thank you !  And to my husband who is also getting out of the boat as we are both stretched out of our comfort zones - thank you !"

Dad's Thoughts:
"Our journey has begun!!! The first few days will be a bit hectic with some emotional ups and downs, as expected. The new work and lifestyle routine will take time to take root. We have already started making memories though and had a lovely time with Martie Du Plessis. She gave us some very good input and advice that is much appreciated. I cannot wait to start focusing on my trading though, will see tomorrow how I will fit that into the first month's farm experience. The honeymoon phase of our trip is in full swing with a bucket list dream come true - on route to the farm we are staying at the pyramid style chalets (Pyramid Motel) between Harrismith and Ladysmith - we have driven past this interesting shaped chalets since I was a boy when we went down to the coast and I have always wanted to experience it for myself but never got the chance - well - tonight we are here and it is awesome :-)"

August 16, 2014

Mom's Thoughts:

"Can you believe it...the time of waiting for something to happen is finally over. The action is happening, and now we discover how ready we are for change. I mentioned to somebody awhile ago that I was at a point of being more afraid of no change, than anything else. And with every thing we sort out while preparing to store our whole house, we simplify and get rid of a lot of stuff - clutter I would call it now. With every responsibility handed over to somebody else, I feel lighter.
It is good to feel free and to let go in preparation of moving on." 

Dad's Thoughts: 

"Although it is difficult to think that so many things are going to change, I know it is right and a solution for all the issues that needs addressing. An added bonus is that the preparations are an adventure in itself and we are already feeling the impact of the huge change and the interesting new challenges that lies ahead. The reaction of some of our friends and business acquaintances also make me realize how special my wife and kids are. Not many families will be able to handle such a huge change but my wife and kids actually look forward to it and that makes me appreciate them even more than usual."

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