1. Beginnings

The farm saga began one Saturday afternoon in our small Observatory house. It was a warm lazy day and Johan and I were sitting in bed surrounded by newspapers. The phone rang. It was the excited voice of our friend Jinx. “Guess what?” she exclaimed, ”Shilo has gotten a scholarship to the architectural school in…

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2. Arrival

The morning of the 27th June dawned bright and early. It was a glorious day with glistening sunshine and cerulean blue skies. The pantechnicon arrived in park Villa Street, Observatory, at nine am, and by midday had loaded the possessions we had spent two weeks packing. This included amongst other things the giant elephant Johan…

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3. The First Year

Our first few months on the farm saw us excited and overwhelmed. It took quite a while for us to gather ourselves. Rubbish Our initial activity was to attend to the rubbish on the farm, and to this end we bought a bakkie – a Toyota diesel – and began carting rubbish to the Malmesbury…

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4. The First Harvest

We were pretty clueless that first harvest. We had close to thirty hectares of grapes – Chenin, Pinotage, Columbard, and Chardonnay – which we somehow had to get from our vines to the Swartland Co-op. Following the advice of our neighbours, we organized to pick up a group of harvesters from the `coloured’ township of…

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5. The Early Years

It took us at least two years to become fully accustomed to living on the farm. And we were very busy. Johan was still doing some teaching at UWC, and I spent two days a week in Cape Town seeing clients and teaching. The rest of the time, we attended to the myriad of things…

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6. 2004 – 2012 Winemaking, Hospitality and the Nature reserve

Winemaking We made our first wine in two thousand and four with friends and much hilarity. We stamped the grapes in plastic buckets on the farmhouse stoep, and then transferred the buckets to a barrel, which after standing a year, produced surprisingly nice wine. The following year we insulated and kitted out a single garage…

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7. The Wild Land

The Wild Land Paardeberg South Africa

The Paardeberg, some four thousand hectares in size, is a granite mountain range which is host to a unique biodiversity of flora and fauna. Botanically the Paardeberg is part of the smallest and richest plant kingdom on the planet, known as the Cape Floristic Region. Sadly, it is increasingly threatened, with close on two hundred…

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8. Snakes

A boomslang

Like many other city dwellers we arrived at the farm with what can only be described as a pathological fear of snakes. They were for us the archetypal embodiment of terror and evil, and we lived in heightened apprehension that we would encounter one in the garden, or worse, in the house. And quite soon…

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9. The Fire of 2011

Wild fire Paardeberg 2011

The big fire of two thousand and eleven ravaged the Paardeberg for five days and five nights. It was reputed to have started on the north side of the mountain, but with twenty-five years of growth just waiting for fire, it quickly spread and consumed 75 percent of mountain vegetation before it was done. Everyone…

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10. A Long History

In 2013, I received a call from a Mrs. de Waal with an unusual request. She told me that she was the daughter–in-law of old man de Waal who had grown up on our farm. He was turning eighty, and the family thought it would be a treat for him to visit the farm. We…

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11. The Farmyard

In keeping with my dream of having animals on the farm, I started the farmyard with assorted ducks, geese, and chickens. These lived in the big hoenderhok, which eventually became our Pavilion. I must say we enjoyed this noisy unruly brood, and were especially happy to have fresh, daily eggs with bright yellow yolks. Next…

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12. Food, Wine & Dragonridge Products

Luckily for me, Johan is not only a very good cook, but he also loves to cook. This is also lucky for everyone else, as I am truly lousy at it. For many years, where our bookings have included meals, Johan has made the food, while I have done service preparation and front of house.…

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13. Staff and Volunteers

Staff at Fynbos have always played an important role in the running of the farm. We employ six or seven permanent farm workers (three or four men and three women), as well as an office manager. The women take care of laundry and cleaning, setting up the guest houses, and providing staff at our events.…

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14. Dogs and Cats

Our dogs No tale of the farm would be complete without mention of the various dogs and cats with whom we have shared our lives, and more sadly, the dogs and cats that live around us in the neighbourhood. We arrived on the farm with our beloved Staffy called Jessie and our Burmese cat, Jiminy.…

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