Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dear Diary: June 2008 - January 2009

June 6 - 10, 2008

Roy got a lift with a friend to the plot. During his few days there, he watered trees, took down the shade-cloth structures surrounding the trees, where wind had destroyed them (because the wet soil had rotted away the wooden sticks holding up the shade-cloth). He and Willem dug holes for two gate posts and then filled with concrete (ready mix cement and stones mixed by hand) and allowed the poles to set in the drying concrete. He had to prop the posts very carefully to make sure that they were straight.

On the second day, Ed (who waters our trees)  and Roy walked down to say Hi to some new people in the area, Dani and RMan. They were talking about building a cob house. Their neighbour in Cape Town had bought the neighbouring smallholding. 

Next day, Roy and Ed drove through to Barrydale where Roy had organised a replacement gander for the one that we had given them earlier in the year.  It had been swimming in the dam, when, giving out a shriek of outrage, it had walked up to the house and promptly collapsed and died. Ed had no idea what the cause could be. A similar scenario played out with one of his ducks. We guessed it might be a snake down at the dam.

Apodytes Dimidiata

Roy arrived 11 July to house and dog-sit for the agent, who had departed a day earlier. He drove up in the new, second-hand BMW which he had sourced for the agent. He walked up to our plot each day, completing chores such as watering trees, getting Willem to dig more holes for trees on the NW and N boundaries and then extending the watering system only along the NW boundary. We would plant Wild Camphor and Aloes along the N boundary and planned to hand-water them whenever we were there. He fitted gates to the newly installed gate posts. He bought 1000 pieces of firewood from the locals for the amazing price of R200. (He saw the owner of the Buffelsjag garage shop driving past our plot with a bakkie and trailer loaded up with wood to resell at huge profit!) Roy drove through to Swellendam to visit an ex-building inspector who now draws and submits  house plans for a living. This was our first tentative exploration of whether to build a more permanent structure on our land.  

On 19 July, I drove up to join Roy, accompanied by our two dogs, plus a dog that I was dog-sitting for friends, plus a friend and her dog! Over the next few days, we undertook walks with all five dogs to  various spots and  houses in the area (we have nicknames for these houses: Ghost house, Plastic house, Sandbag house) as well as the Gomo Guti Gate.

Em joins the Gomo Guti clan

Em and I visited our friend, the owner of the Desert Fish shop in Barrydale, leaving behind all the dogs with Roy except for Em's Teddy and the foster-dog, Bonnie. 
Tradow Pass

We left Roy, in order to return to Cape Town, on the 23rd while Roy stayed on to complete the house-sit and more chores.

Roy and Willem filled the new holes with compost and then started the huge project of creating some rockeries. Nearby, somebody had bulldozed out a huge dam and there was a pile of soil and rocks pushed to one side that we determined to make use of before it became overgrown again with vegetation. Roy fetched soil with our Khaki pick-up. He was able to repay Ed's help to us by feeding and watering his birds while he was away for a few days. He also took the agent's new BMW for its roadworthy test. He met Dani's neighbour and his Alsation, which promptly argued with KD, despite her being a female.

Roy started to add a wooden framework onto the pick-up shelter to create a store area for wood and compost and other oddments.

He extended the watering system to our rockeries and bought and planted shrubs to start filling them. On 3 August he drove down to CT International to hand the BMW over to the agent on their arrival and I picked Roy up from the airport. 

We decided that this house-sitting was a great trade-off: Roy had done so much work there at our plot and yet had had the comforts of hot shower, washing machine and amenities while he was there. What a pleasure. We encouraged the agent to take more holidays!

August/September 2008

Roy arrived on 31 August and helped Ed with a sickly new lamb, but to no avail. Unusual for the time of year, there had been a snowfall on the Langeberg and the new born lambs were suffering. 

Roy fitted a huge shade-cloth cover to the new storeroom structure. I had valiantly sewed this huge cover with my trusty over-locker! He continued to cart more sand and  rocks to our rockeries and watered trees both on and off the system ...back to Cape Town on 5 September.

Late September 2008

Another house and dog-sitting session at the agent's house saw Roy arrive there on 19 September. On our plot, he planted some more trees and shrubs in the new holes and then installed a 5000 litre water tank behind our bungalow, placing it on some old vibracrete slabs, donated by our Cape Town neighbour.

KD inspects new tank

He continued nailing Black Wattle sticks around storeroom and car shelters to prevent the shade-cloth from blowing and ripping in the wind and to prevent visibility into the structures. 

The Ghost house owner was in residence and called him urgently to help with a burst water supply pipe. We thought it was incredibly brave that she was there on her own (husband could not get away to join her). After some more work on extending the rockeries and gloating over the growth of the new plants in the existing rockeries,  Roy returned home on 30 September.

November 2008

We both arrived on the 22 November and were delighted to  present Willem with a second-hand mountain bike which we had promised him a while back. He had landed a job on a farm just outside Swellendam and it was a problem for him to get to his house in our area and then back to town at the end of every weekend. 
 Have bike, will travel

During this time we planted some fever trees, courtesy of my sister and Stodels' annual "tree for newspapers" trade. Another friend drove up to view plots that were for sale, with a view to his retirement location (sadly for us, he eventually bought in Pringle Bay). Again, we visited our Barrydale friends.

Keurbooms grow relatively quickly

Jan 2009

We arrived in the middle of January. We had supper in Barrydale and looked up some other friends who had recently moved there too from our Cape Town village. On the way there, we stopped in the Tradow Pass and Roy walked up the mountain to look at some bushmen paintings that he had read about and which are not well publicized (thank heavens!) During our stay, he mowed around bungalow as a veld fire precaution. 
We  met some new landowners from Pretoria at Ed's for tea. They had just finished building a rather large house about 200 metres away from us.

We drove through to Swellendam to give our draughtsman the sketch of the plan we wanted him to draw and then bought linseed oil and subsequently oiled the front of the bungalow. The elements were really drying it out in a big way. In gale force winds, Dani and RMan joined us for a braai!! We used our second caravan in which to shelter and eat. What a blessing it was that evening. We returned to Cape Town on 20 January, in time for me to start the first term of school for 2009.


  1. LOL - This certainly takes me back - all the details - you're amazing ;)

    Yeah, we, too, have a h-u-g-e problem with the Alsatian (there are now 2 of them).

  2. Ah...memory is not good. Roy tries to jot down the daily happenings when he is there...otherwise we would not have a clue of what and when.

    We have a Rhodesian Ridgeback and another dog just moved in behind us....we had to make all sorts of extensions on our boundary fence to prevent them climbing over into our poor kitty doesn't want to go outside any more.