Everything has to start somewhere.

This is a story, it’s not quite factually correct nor will it feature in any history books either but its about, family, friends both new and old and one girls idea, (want to say dream, but no-one dream’s this well) to have a farm, The Family Farm.
As for the friends, both old and so many new that have added to this most interesting journey that none of us would have ever expected to get the privilege to experience.

Some visit … some stay

So where does one start when it comes to those brave or dumb enough to venture so far south, all to pop in for a braai, coffee, lunch or just a good old catch-up and in some cases, even put down new roots.

As for these friends, both old and so many new ones who have added to this most interesting journey that none of the permanent residents would have ever expected to get the privilege to experience.

House or stand numbers are simply painted onto a building and have no relationship to the house number next door

So when Keiden and Samantha took ownership of Lot 71010 Mngungundlovu in the good old Transkei I am sure they might well have thought that this location could well be just far enough away from the mainstream that they might not well see the family and friends for some time to come … if ever.

Visitors #1

Not quite sure who conned who but with the registration done and dusted, it was time for some real hard work. Keiden had a chat with Rowan Forbes and the two made plans based on the common interest and skill base that there are still places where challenges prevail. Hard work at every turn is all that was on offer especially when you are starting from scratch. This is where a new life awaits just far enough away from all the burdens that city life present. So, with a new level of excitement and a glint in his eye, Rowan made plans to leave the security of his mother’s love and a string of broken-hearted girls all for the opportunity to get callous’ on his hands and just for fun, sleep on a cold floor cuddled up to power tools all while they start to build what would become “The Homestead” on the family farm.

L2R Morris (the Duxie), Michael, David, Rowan & Jess (the Staffie)

And so it was that on a bright sunny day in April 2018, under the steam of Michael and his brother David together with a loaned trailer and a pile of tools, Rowan set out to take on a new life. One that he would embrace to the point that he too would find some land and build a home [insert Forbes folley], but that is yet another story.

Michael, being the good Dad that he is, got the chance to catch up with Max while he and David were down on their hit n run visit. They left, leaving Rowan, the trailer and much-needed tools and a ton of camping kit that was kindly donated by Neil Dragt to the cause.

Visitors #2

So back in Randburg, Royden and Sonja wondered what their kids had done, tribal land, end of the bloody world, in the Transkei nogal. Rowan had left to join them in April and now the only way to see what this was all about was to jump into the bakkie and go see for themselves. And so on a cold June morning in 2018, they headed south to the end of KwaZulu-Natal and the beginning of the Eastern Cape

follow Ruby, down the hill, across the river and up the path onto the beginnings of The Family Farm

Directions were interesting, “Dad, pass Port Edward and before the BP service station, turn left go down for about 2 clicks and look for Ruby (the faithful Disco) and follow me.” And so they did.

The first night they spent around an open fire talking until late, drinking beer by the quart (it’s a local thing). Chatted about the big dreams, ideas, plans and the local folk hardships and, of course, the completely different way of life that is enjoyed outside of a city. Besides going to bed smelling of fire, the highlight of the evening was sleeping on the cold floor on an air mattress that was flat by the morning, leaving the folks on the floor.

The following day was even more interesting with a fire in the making, an open-air shower and hot water from the fire at the same time breakfast was being prepared, as was a much-appreciated mug of java.

The day got off to a guided tour of the hillside that would become the farm. Ideas around water and the promise of what the land could offer. How the locals do it and have done it for decades and then this burning of the grassland that has becomes an annual nightmare, but this too is another story [fire fighting]. How land is not a place to just stay but a place to live, bury your family that have passed and live off what you can grow.

And so it came to pass that on that beautiful winter’s morning that both Sonja and Royden turned around and said ‘we going to build a house RIGHT here” Little did they know just how true those words would turn out to be and that is yet another story. [the Rock Cottage]

You have to admit, who wouldn’t want to build a home right here

Visitor #3

So hot out of the land of “hello mate” arrived Andre Schutte a.k.a. Andy. He took to the farm like a dung beetle to shit. Traded in his flops for a pair of gum boots and somewhere around July 2019 put down some form of roots on the farm.

Being a true digital nomad (pre Covid) allowed for an interesting life for Andy. He worked strange long hours, mostly when the rest of the farm slept and then by day, become a goat herder.

Early mornings, accompanied by Rowan and their thermos flasks of hot java, they would wander off for some of the nicest walks in the Mngungundlovu Vally, with the goats.

As with all plans on the farm, things will change. By July 2021 with the re-introduction of loadshedding, mobile internet dropping like cheap tarts underwear on payday and the odd rolling power blackouts not helping at all, constraints on Andy’s workload, Andy opted to relocate to digs with more stable Internet and power and back to the city he went.

Well, the farm went back to busy and one project to removed from their busy days.

Visitors #4

Royden was always making offers to all his mates to pop down and come poke around for themselves. Many said they would, but very few did (maybe Royden needs better friends). However, in February 2019, Neil and Andre (his Dad) were the first to venture down. Neil would turn in become a repeat offender. On this, his first visit, he brought Andre Dragt (his Dad) and his trusty new toy, his drone. He was also smart enough to book into a local BnB for the few nights they were down here. Of course, as at that stage, ablutions were still “interesting” and outdoor showers, albeit with a gas geyser now, were not for the fainthearted.

L2R Neil and Andre on the Mzamba beach

The visit made for some crazy conversations as discussions went from the tractor tools, water conservation and what should be built into the Rock Cottage.

Neil and his drone would become an annual regular.

Visitors #5

By now a pattern was forming. No visitors came without some baggage of sorts and the next visitors were no different, theirs was what they brought to add to the already expanding flock of livestock the busy farm had already garnered.

So it was in March 2019 that Dee and Daniel (Samatha’s folks) popped down to see the farm. More importantly, they had travelled all the way from Edenvale to Mngungundlovu with ducks and not just any ducks, but Muscovy Ducks in the back of their BMW.

So like everything on the farm, there is a story behind the story and true to form, so do the ducks have their story.

L2R Daniel, Sonja, Sam, Max, Dee, Rowan and Gabriel and some ducks

As for Dee, she lives out her passion by running a sanctuary called Brainy Birds. There a bunch of volunteers do a stunning job of caring for various abandoned Parrots. While Dee just can’t say no to any abandoned bird or an out-of-place flock of Muscovy Ducks, she and her bunch of happy helpers can only care for so many breeds. So it came to be that the farm got its first ducks and they too have their own very own strange story.

Visitors #6

By June 2019 things were really cooking. Royden and Sonja were living in the Caravan, the hanger was built and served as a storeroom and workshop and the Cray Brothers were keeping Jess young at heart.. All sorts of changes were taking place on the Homestead. So with all this news the family being what family are needed to see for themselves and we couldn’t wait to show them too.

L2R Jess (the Staffy), Tucker (the staffy), Sonja, Rosemary and Alf Montepara at the edge of the Mzumba Gorge

So while Rosemary and Alfredo were on their annual migration to Scottburgh, they decided to brave the township’s bad roads and the farms’ even worse roads and wander up the Mngungundlovu hillside to kick the tyres from themselves.

Visitors #7

So late September 2019 the Kahn nomads decided to pop past for a cuppa joe. Gerald is quite the 4×4 enthusiast so once the clan in the Tuna had an eye-opening experience going through the Seaview Township we opted to bring them in on the 4×4 route with its little blind drop to the river, to be honest not for the faith hearted.

L2R Hector (the staffy) Keiden, Gerald, Shelia and Samantha while walking around the Homestead

 

 

Friends from the “old world” were much appreciated and a show and tell with Shelia and Gerald Kahn was carried out with much enthusiasm.

Visitors #8

What could be said about number 8?  Suppose let’s start with, the kids were coming, it was planned and a sleepover too. Much excitement! Reality check, OMG how would the Rock Cottage cope? Well, it was all hands on deck first to finish some basics in the Rock Cottage, with open lights hanging from the ceiling, no verandas, not much of a kitchen or furniture to speak of but make space in the caravan they did and with the furniture still in storage, caravan camping gear would have to do in the Cottage.

And so it came to pass that The Family Farm got their first whole family visit from the grandkids and their parents, Robyn and Ian Labram. The best New Year gathering the farm could have asked for.

L2R Tucker, Samatha, Hector, Robyn, Ian, Aarin, Avah, Sonja, Jess, Rooster, Max, some of the goats & Keiden

And so it was that Royden and Sonja would get to have one of the most amazing year-end gatherings.

And so it came to pass that Royden and Sonja got a visit from the grandkids and their parents from Robyn and Ian Labram. The best New Year gathering the farm could have asked for.

Visitor #9

L2R (background) Rowan & Sonja, Front Brad and Keiden

If anything can get the first month of the New Year off to a kick start, it is a visit from the salty dog himself, Brad Krotnebout. He came for a hello, slept over and fell in love with the place. He and Keiden got busy in the Hanger making something that I cant remember what or wherefore, doubt they can either but managed to catch them busy at the table saw.