Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Settling into farm life

Well, we have just celebrated our first month here at the farm, and it's been a busy one! Last week we moved across to our little hunting cabin on our property, and we have been focusing on making it as comfortable and cosy as possible ahead of our planned build. First on our list of priorities was adding an additional solar panel to our array.

Wayne designed and built a very nifty north facing base structure, which he can adjust in summer to a near horizontal plane, maximising exposure. We are SO chuffed how well the solar installation is running, the lowest battery charge was 80%, even with power tools and basic appliances drawing charge - simultaneously!

We have also tackled the project of enclosing our little cabin's porch (stoep), so that we could move the cooking and food storage area out of our combined bedroom. Wayne and I shot through to Cape Town to fetch timber cladding, which we brought back on our quad trailer, as well as our new top loader energy efficient washing machine WOOO HOOOOO!!!! (making me a very happy housewife hehe). All three of us have been hard at work removing the existing laticing which provided some wind protection, and replacing it with the shiplap pine cladding - along with a door and two windows.

I also now have a kitchen sink and running water INSIDE our cabin, whereas before we were schlepping in water from the outside tap. We have also dug out our grey water pit, and run the plumbing from the existing french drain out to the pit. We also have a bathroom basin (with HOT water nogal!) and a three plate gas cooker....lol....all conveniences that are very appreciated.

Wayne has called in some help from some local guys and has constructed the structure behind the cabin that will become the carport and storage room.

We are also busy with a ranch style Australian Wattle pole fence, which will 
circle the cabin (and future house), as well as a corner area of the property that we affectionately refer to as the "pretty garden". My Dad arrived with his trekker one morning last week and cleared out all the indigenous Renosterveld within the planned garden, and soon I will start throwing around some landscaping ideas.

We're still waiting on our building plan approval to come through, the municipality has requested that due to the nature of the house (raised/timber), we need a structural engineer to sign off the plans first.

More to follow soon x

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


It's been two and a half weeks since we arrived (this time for good) at our little farm near Swellendam, in the Western Cape, South Africa (Swellendam is on the N2, roughly halfway between George and Cape Town).

In the meantime, Wayne has been up and down to Johannesburg to meet the removals company and send off our furniture (stripped of all major appliances - fridge, washing machine, dishwasher *sob*, etc - running off a solar energy installation means not only that we're not reliant on the national grid, but also that we need to run an energy efficient household).

Our ten year old son Michael has also kicked off the term at his new farm school, located approximately 25km away, and while still out of his depth with regards to the language obstacle (Afrikaans as a first language, which will take some getting used to), he has already made some friends and started playing rugby. During break, he feeds the resident goats, which are milked by the children who go on to produce goat's cheese. This cheese is then sold by the kids as an additional source of income for the school. There are 121 other children, from all manner of backgrounds, and we firmly believe that this will be an enriching and invaluable experience for Michael, as he completes the last 2.5 years of primary school.

We are currently staying with my parents (thanks again, guys!), literally 'down the road', while we await the arrival of our things, which is when we plan to move across to our little cabin and effectively camp while we build our raised timber frame house. We are waiting on final approval of our building plans, at which point we can place the order for the timber and call in the assistance of my brother to help Wayne with the self-build.

On arrival, during one of our 'perimeter walks', we discovered that in our absence our olive trees had produced a second batch of olives - the first having been harvested by my parents a few weeks ago.

It was a nice welcome home surprise.