Dennelaan Diary - Welcome to the farm

Dennelaan Diary – Welcome to the farm

There’s nothing more soul destroying for a couple of closet country cucumbers like ourselves than to be cooped up in the city. So where do we choose to spend the past five years of suburban suffocation? London… Of all places for two little straw chewers to find themselves! But it had to be done. It wasn’t really all doom and gloom either. We got to experience some incredible things, see some beautiful places and meet some extraordinary people. But we really are just better suited to the bush.

So here we are… On a big little sheep farm nestled in the remote Eastern Cape mountains of South Africa.

We’ve come home to roost. But the adventure is only just beginning, and boy is there a lot of things we still need to learn. Oh I donno, just the small, simple task of living on a farm on the side of a mountain and not actually knowing really how to, um… FARM!!! But we think we’re up for the challenge and really don’t mind getting our hands dirty.

Literally.

We’re very lucky in that we have a lot of help from family and friends. We’re gradually in the process of a very gentle handover from one generation to the next.

From father to son.

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From my father-in-law (who shall be known henceforth as F.I.L) to my Hubberoo.

We’re now heading up the fourth generation to work this beautiful land, and we’re shaking in our (steel toe-capped, snake-proof) boots with excitement as well as a bit of apprehension as to what a big responsibility it is…

“Eeeeeeek”!

“It’s OK Hubberoo, no need to scream…”

The farm was originally founded by my Hubby’s great great grand father way back in 1820.

He was an English settler who chugged along on a ship full of sheep all the way to Port Elizabeth harbour in search of new opportunities. With only a few starter herds of sheep and cattle, they made their way for what must have been months, negotiating some of the toughest African terrain there is, all from the (dis)comfort of an ox wagon.

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The land was completely wild, uninhabited, mountainous bushveld. What made them choose to push past plenty of other prospective locations and eventually settle on this little slice of heaven is a mystery…But thankfully they did, because now nearly 200 years later, it’s home to some of the best grazing lands in the country. Good water, coupled with lots of sunshine and a very high percentage of indigenous natural grassland, means the stock are fat and happy campers!

Today the bulk of the farm runs sheep, predominantly used for wool.

Merino sheep Eastern Cape

Cattle also do very well up here in what is known as the “sweetveld”.

Eastern Cape Cattle

Good morning girls, got milk?

dairy-cows

The cheeky chickens up to no good as always! OK, well maybe apart from laying lovely eggs… Thanks girls, now get back to work!

Here’s my first piggldy wiggldy porky poo! But he’s destined for the table, so I’m trying not to get too attached… Hang on, let me just kiss his squidgy little nose quickly! Oh dear, this is going to be hard… But we are farming for self-sufficiency…

There’s also a 21 year old ex racehorse that then went on to do dressage and showjumping. Rumour has it that once upon a time he even represented Western Province and has a whole cabinet of trophies and rosettes he’d love to show you. But don’t get him started, you know how the old folk can get…

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We are also responsible for the local game that are naturally found on the farm. We monitor breeding and herd health, and because there are no natural predators roaming wild these days, we also have to step in and cull out the sick and older animals from time to time. Otherwise during leaner months there is a shortage of water and grazing and the whole herd will suffer from being over populated.

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I’m trying my best to be as self-sufficient as possible. The nearest shop is a good hour away on a dirt road, so there’s no quick nip out if you run out of butter. And no one should ever run out of butter!

Here’s the start to my veggie garden –

So far there’s spinach…

African spinach

Lettuces…

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I think that might be beetroot, I’ll let you know…

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Lemons… Tequila!

Cape rough skin lemons

Limes… Mojito!

South African limes

AAAAAAHHHHHH! Watch out!!! A Boomslang!!!!!!

Haha! Only joking… But keep your eyes peeled… This is Africa after all!

Tomatoes…

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Kitten not included.

Pecan tree seedlings growing in eastern cape

One day when this little chap grows up he will be a pecan nut tree… But there’s really no pressure. If he decides he’d prefer to be a walnut tree that’s OK too. Or even an almond, I don’t mind. We don’t judge around here, as long as he’s happy!

So welcome to the farm. The place we call home, Dennelaan. Which means “Pine Avenue” in Afrikaans.

Here are the pines…

Dennelaan

And there’s the avenue.

Dennelaan

Feel free to pop in for a cyberspace cup of tea and see what we get up to…

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