Afternoon walks


My routine is not at all blogging friendly at the moment… all my energy is going into looking after Livia who is almost 5 months already! I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get her into a more predictable routine, which will free me up to do more things away from her, but it’s hard to let go especially when one lives and works in the same place. Even when I think things will get done during her nap time other distractions occur that take me away from my to-do-list. Sadly, blogging is currently at the very bottom of the list especially since I’m not doing much in the garden or kitchen or getting out and about on the farm to take interesting photos. In addition, little Hope broke her leg the other day when she jumped off the bakkie while it was moving fast. So now I have a little patient in the house for 6 weeks until her leg heals. She needs lots of attention to keep her out of mischief and regular trips outside on a lead – almost like having another baby in the house!

Part of my routine with Liva is to go for a late afternoon walk with the dogs (unfortunately Hopey will have to stay home for a while). We walk down into the valley and back, which is about 2 kilometres. I used to take her in the pram, but it keeps getting flat tires from all the rocks and thorns on the way. She’s big enough to face forward in her sling now so we do that instead. Some days we come across lots of cows, other days it’s sheep coming home to kraal. Some days there’s nothing but guinea fowl, herons and ducks. The late-autumn light is soft and casts a gentle glow over the brown veld. We lap up the stillness as I sing songs to her and gently admonish Paris for stepping on my heels. These photos were taken on Mother’s Day when Quentin joined us for our walk. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up in winter, wrapped up in our warm jackets of course!


Golden Poplars

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Autumn in the Eastern Free State is synonymous with poplar trees, which decorate the landscape with streaks of gold. Poplars, along with Blue Gums, Pine and Willows, are one of the few types of trees that thrive in the harsh Free State climate. Often planted in rows at farm entrances or in valleys along water courses, they put on the most magnificent display in the autumn with golden fingers reaching up to the blue sky. Most of the trees around Vastrap were planted by Quentin’s father, Bill and his grandfather, Tok. Bill is passionate about trees and has made it his life’s work to plant and nurture them through summer droughts and winter frost. At Vastrap we have the traditional line of poplars next to the house, a long line of blue gum trees alongside the road which passes the farm and a good number of willow trees in the valley. Thanks to Bill’s dedication and nurturing there are also some oak trees scattered around the farm, a rare sight on the Free State landscape, but equally beautiful in the autumn.

The days are still clear and warm but one can feel the chill of winter in the night air. The pace of work on the farm is slowing somewhat with the seasons, but there’s still lots to do with the harvesting of the sunflower and maize crops and preparing the lands to plant wheat. The veld is in good condition for winter grazing, but in the worst winter months the cattle will also eat the oats that has been planted for them (green feed) and the maize left over on the lands after the harvest (“maize rests”). In addition, hay has been baled to ensure there’s enough food for the animals until the first summer rains, which could come as late as November. That really does seem like a long time away, but no doubt we’ll be there in a flash.  Just a small thing called winter to get through first! Let’s wrap up warmly and enjoy it.