Wind and Fire


The August winds have hit us with a vengeance this year. I am not a fan of wind, but if it means we will have good or even “normal” rain this summer then I will tolerate it. I have yet to experience a normal summer on the farm. In my first year we had double our usual rainfall which caused a lot of problems with the crops and animals. In my second year, we had half our usual quota, which was also a disaster. Hopefully it will be third time lucky!

At this time of year, when the veld is parched and brittle, a howling gale usually brings fire. There have been some devastating fires across the Free State in the past week, with an estimated 150 000ha worth of grazing destroyed and many animals harmed. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected.

Fire came to our valley yesterday. We are surrounded by mountains and crop lands so we tend to be a bit more protected than the Free State flat-lands where there is no chance of containing a fire in strong winds. There was still a lot of damage though and at least three farms near us burned down completely, except for the houses. All the grazing is gone. Such a terrible loss.

Billowing smoke as the fire is fuelled by the wind.

A huge thank you to all the farmers in our district fire association who helped to fight the fire. I attempted to take some refreshments to the fire teams, but I did not get very far because the fire reached the road and I got scared. The dogs were with me on the bakkie and I didn’t want to drive them into the thick smoke.

More smoke…

The fire reaches the road…

Thick smoke…

Vastrap fire fighters.

There was nothing much for me to do, but go home and watch from a distance and pray that the wind would die down.

View from our house.

I also had to pack to leave for Joburg that afternoon. I will be in the city for a few weeks until mid-September. I left with a very heavy heart, not only because of the fire, but also because I’ll miss the best of spring on the farm. The blossoms are just starting to bloom and in a week’s time the peach trees lining the farm roads will be resplendent with pink flowers.

Peach tree blossoms.

Blossoms at the bottom of our garden… not sure what kind of tree this is!

Green leaf willow branches blowing in the wind.

A peach tree I planted last summer.

In the meantime Tsidiso is going to have to carry on with the vegetable garden construction without me. He is very creative and seems motivated by the project so I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops while I’m away!

Making good progress on the veggie garden.

Tumi and Patch looking on as the fire rages in the distance.

Goodbye Vastrap – see you in a few weeks!

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