So, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The absolute joy when one of our glossy new koekoek hens laid an egg!
We had arrived to Laughing Waters Farm in the Western Cape Overberg, on the 13th October 2012, a day I remember very clearly. The feeling of being lost in a place that seemed to be in the middle of Nowhere. Six years have passed and we now proudly pronounce that we are in the middle of Everywhere. But, those first weeks! Discovering that tractors, the irrigation infrastructure and the electronic system for the hydroponic tunnels did not work and that our protea farm’s protea fields had been so neglected that it would take us years of care to begin harvesting some flowers. And we were cold! Having left a Dutch summer and with only the clothes that would fit in a back pack, the rest of our luggage consisted of a couple of bicycles and the requisite car seat and pram for our 1½ year old. It was the wettest winter we’ve had, the river flooding and the road to Stanford unpassable (see video). Again, we wondered about our decision to be here.
Not long after, Gerd’s Mom came for a visit – her first trip to “Africa!” She was not the only new occupant of the car on our way home from the airport. There were nearly a thousand other living creatures. A pavement very special puppy, Siya, 8 koekoek hens and a magnificent rooster, and countless earthworms. I remember being absolutely overwhelmed at first with so many wormy mouths to feed.
With a longing to create a home I set our team to work in creating a garden. This to the mirth of the neighbouring farmers… seriously, how many farmers do you know with beautiful gardens? Our resources have since wisely shifted to creating new fields of proteas, growing vegetables and pastures for our small herds of horses, goats and cattle. I do love that we are growing originally indigenous proteas – flowers that have me and our clients happy. The hydroponic tunnels that when we arrived had tomato, cucumber and pepper plants grown in stark bags of sawdust, now have their roots in rich living soil. Soil is the key. And in the meantime, the chickens and kids hold sway over the garden.
And then there were the buildings. The rubbish surrounding these was piled up to a meter high. The staff cottages were fire-baked inside, there was no hot water, actually no running water at all and the long-drop toilet was awful. A new staff cottage later, and we have since converted the old cottages and a greasy garage, chemical store and pump room into attractive guest accommodation and a workshop venue. Our envisioned lovely and ecologically vibrant farm is revealing itself.
How lucky we are to live on a farm that is so peaceful (less than 10 cars passing a day), where we see brilliant stars, hear the river and frogs, and if we’re lucky, see a couple of porcupines or buck, a fox, an owl or a hare. We are surrounded by the natural beauty of the area and when we need a little buzz, we can head for town (Hermanus) or even the big city (Cape Town), until our longing for tranquillity has us heading back home. Our wishes are to continue growing healthy soil, delicious vegies, beautiful proteas, happy animals and people. To be free of loans. To set off in our very old land cruiser to catch up on some wonderful camping holiday time.