Happy Birthday Blog!

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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started this blog! At the time it seemed like a crazy thing to do, but now it feels like an integral part of my routine. I had no idea how much I would enjoy sharing our experiences at Vastrap with you and how valuable it would be to join the community of bloggers on WordPress from all over the world. It is crazy how much one can learn from others and how one can develop friendships with people you will probably never meet. The whole experience has really been so much more rewarding than I ever anticipated and I am so grateful for that.

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In memory of the past year, I thought I would share some facts and figures about this blog and a few of my favourite posts.

  • Vastrap Farm has 107 full-time followers, but many people view the blog via Facebook and stumble across it through online searches. By far the most popular search terms are related to information about Boran cattle. Quite a few searches have also involved information about Aga stoves.
  • Including this one, I have written 74 posts and 5 pages.
  • There have been 10,917 views of pages on the blog over the past year, with the most views (301) on the first day when people read my first post Welcome to my World! and the pages I had set up About Me, History of Vastrap and About Ladybrand.
  • The most viewed page has been The Boran: God’s Gift to Cattlemen, which provides information on the benefits of Boran cattle and shows some photos of the Boran in their original habitat in Kenya. Because of the huge interest in our cattle, I designed a dedicated site for Vastrap Boran in December with detailed information about our stud (www.vastrapboran.com).
  • Vastrap Farm has been viewed by people in 101 countries! About half of total views have been from South Africa (5,302), followed by the UK (989) and the US (750).

It is hard to choose favourites, but posts that stand out for me about the farm include R.I.P Little Calf (about a newborn Boran calf that didn’t make it through a very cold snap in winter) and Mellow Yellow (photos of the sunflower crop in full bloom). Many people were amused  by my experience at Stockman school, which showed just how much life had changed for me since moving to the farm (see The stockman and his love)!

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Stockman 010I had great responses to my posts about our Aga stove (see The Magic of Aga), and I hope that some of the information has been useful to people with anthracite stoves.

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There have been quite a few cooking posts, although I really am not an expert in the kitchen. I write about things I actually make regularly rather than designing recipes specifically for the blog. My favourite has to be Let’s make jam! simply because it’s one of the most typical things farm wives are associated with and because it was one of the very first things I did when I moved to the farm. There are also some great stories about our cooking club, (see Happy Cooking Pasta! and Cooking in a Castle)

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We have done a lot in the garden over the past year, but our dry summer made it difficult to sustain things for very long. In retrospect the garden was definitely at its best in December (see An Explosion of Colour!) I was very proud of the changes we made in the vegetable garden, although the free-ranging chickens dug up more heirloom seeds than I care to think about. Such a shame! I will definitely not let that happen again (see What a coop!).

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There were a few stories very close to my heart celebrating the achievements of family members – see My extraordinary mother, Purple rain and A lifetime of love.

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Finally, our dogs are ever-present in most of my stories. They are such an integral part of our lives as any visitor to Vastrap will attest! My favourite dog post is without a doubt How Paris ‘Sees’ the World, about our beautiful brave blind dog Paris and her unfailing zest for life.

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Well, all I can hope is that the coming year provides lots of material for some great stories to share with you. Life is never static on a farm and you never know what lies around the corner. Keep reading to find out! I really appreciate all your feedback and support. Please let me know what you have enjoyed most and what you would like to see more (or less) of on the blog. Your opinions are highly valued!

Welcome to my world!

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Hi everyone,

The past 18 months has been a period of immense change and adjustment for me. I have moved from my comfort zone in the city to an entirely new life living on a farm with my amazing husband Quentin. I can happily say that I’ve enjoyed every minute so far and look forward to growing into and becoming more accomplished in my new role as farm wife.

Of course, I’m not a typical farm wife… I don’t get anywhere near cow dung (except if it is dry and being added to my garden)… I’m hopeless at opening farm gates… I don’t dig or hoe or fix machines… I can’t speak the local vernacular SeSotho and I don’t have a brood of children of my own yet. Mostly I just observe and learn and busy myself with the job of making a home for us. And when I’ve had enough of the quiet I simply get in my car and drive to the city where I still have a job as an economist and enjoy all the lovely luxuries that cities have to offer.

But what is luxury? Living on a farm has allowed me to appreciate very simple things in life. Time. Home made rusks. Making jam. Fresh flowers from the garden. Walking with the dogs. Sundowners in the veld with my husband. The quiet before sunset. Changing seasons.  Weekend visits with family and friends. The community of a small town. Every time I go away I appreciate coming home more. And I very much do see Vastrap as my home now.

Over the past year I have shared some of my experiences on the farm with friends on Facebook. Many people have followed my progress with interest and I am constantly amazed at the positive responses I receive. This is one of the great things of our age. The fact that you can be far away from anywhere but still feel connected, and loved and included. So I have been encouraged to start this blog as a more official record of my progress.

I have been following two other farm blogs over the past year. The most well-known is Pioneer Woman with Ree Drummond and the other is a more low-key blog of a farm wife in Western Australia called My Life in the Country. I haven’t seen anything like this for South Africa so hopefully I will have something to add even though I’m not an expert at much! It is surprising and comforting how similar our experiences across three continents have been and I can’t explain why I read these updates from complete strangers, but I do and I enjoy it.

So, welcome to my world and I hope you enjoy the journey with me!

M xx