Twenty one years on

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I can’t believe it’s Thursday already and I haven’t yet posted photos of our weekend with my girlfriends from school – don’t know where this week has gone! On Tuesday and Wednesday Quentin and I were on a tour of farms in the district visiting other Boran cattle farmers and then we attended a course on Boran cattle farming. It was great to see other farms  and we spent a night at the Oranje Guest Farm near Fouriesburg, which is owned by a fellow Boran farmer. We drove past fields and fields of very beautiful looking summer crops (maize, sunflower, soya beans), with only the odd bit of hail damage in some areas. I’m slowly learning more about the business and how to evaluate a good animal, but I’m not quite as passionate about it yet as Quentin!

Free State farmers (and me)..

On tour with a group of Free State Boran club members.

Anyway, back to the weekend. We had a great time chatting and eating and just generally relaxing together. A weekend goes by so quickly, but it’s so much better bonding time than just sitting down for one meal as one normally would in the city. My friend Lucinda recently moved to a farm in KwaZulu-Natal so we had a lot to talk about. Twenty one years ago when we were still at school I don’t think either of us could have dreamt we would end up being farm girls, but such is the mystery of life! Briggie and Yoza both have beautiful baby daughters (Briggie is pregnant with her second child), but they are both still very much city girls.

Sinéad is a professional photographer so I thought I would use her photos for this blog post. She was the most energetic of all of us over the weekend managing to fit in 25 kilometers of running! She is training for a big trail running race later this year and could not resist the opportunity to get out on our farm tracks. In between all of that she was running after her three gorgeous kids, taking photos and giving Quentin some photography lessons. She is a real star and I admire her so much for leaving behind her corporate job a few years ago and pursuing her dream of photography, make-up, and art. Check out her website and blog to see more of her work (www.sineadbrook.co.za).

I think her photos of Vastrap are stunning and capture the mood of that afternoon perfectly, particularly since they were taken under challenging conditions. We set off for sundowners on Saturday afternoon just as bad weather was setting in with strong wind and splatters of rain. That scuppered our idea of having sundowners overlooking the sunflower fields and we had to find a more sheltered spot behind the koppie instead. While the rest of us were carrying children and cooler bags, Sinéad was lugging her camera and tripod through the veld. Enjoy!

Kids on the back of the bakkie.

Kids on the back of the bakkie with sunflowers in the distance.

My babies.

My babies.

Madame Coco.

Madame Coco.

With my fellow farm-girl friend, Lucinda.

With my fellow farm-girl friend, Lucinda.

Walking through the long grass to sundowners.

Traipsing through the long grass to sundowners.

Sunflower vista.

Sunflower vista.

Dramatic sky and grass.

Dramatic sky and grass.

View from the koppie.

View from the koppie.

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Braving the wind and splattering rain!

“Sundowners” without the sun!

The Mountain Road Challenge

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We are still waiting for it to pour down with rain. It is dry and dusty and generally unpleasant and Quentin is starting to worry about food for the cattle. There was a dramatic storm this afternoon, but it only yielded a few millimetres, not enough to break the winter drought. The best way to see how dry the farm is, is to show you the view from the top of the mountain behind our house. We went up there this weekend while our friends were visiting. There is a very steep and rocky road that climbs straight up a ridge to the top. Past visitors to Vastrap know exactly which one I mean. We have taken many white-knuckled passengers up the mountain for sundowners. It doesn’t look so bad from a distance, but believe me when I say it is steep!

The mountain road from a distance.

Quentin and his father built the road a few years ago with a bulldozer. It must have been incredibly precarious work, especially the top part which is very steep and rocky. They needed the road in order to access all the grazing that is on top of the mountain. An added benefit is that we don’t have to hike up the mountain every time we want to enjoy the view!

Engaging low-range for the ascent.

We have an open challenge to our mountain biking friends to attempt the climb. A few people have tried, but no one has ever made it. I doubt anyone has run up without stopping either, so there is a challenge to our trail running friends! This weekend we had the proud owner of 4×4 SUV visiting. He wanted to see if the Kia would make it up the mountain and we happily agreed to the challenge, knowing that his chances were pretty slim without a low-range gear.

Quentin giving some advice on the approach.

The peanut gallery.

The lookout.

I think I can, I think, I can….

Ooops, no I can’t!

Alas, he didn’t make it so we had to load all the passengers onto the bakkie instead. The reward for making it to the top is to enjoy the stunning views looking back towards the Maluti mountains. It was a beautiful clear day, a rarity at this time of year given all the dust storms. The veld is full of bright orange cactus flowers. After enjoying our snacks we made our way down, with the Kia in reverse. Anyone else up for the challenge?

On of my favourite views towards Modderpoort and the Maluti’s. 

Looking down over Vastrap with green wheat just visible in the field across the valley on the right. 

Looking west with the green shoots coming up in the distance where the veld was ravaged by fire.

Wheat fields in the foreground and fire damage far right.

On the way down.

Retreating in defeat.