Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last days on the farm

On Saturday morning there was great excitement as little J, next door to my sister, was celebrating her 5th birthday. All week this sweet little girl had been looking forward to her big day. Her granny had made her a princess dress and there was princess cake, princess party packs and a fantastic spread of sweet and savoury food for the adults to enjoy. The kids and some of the adults had great fun on a water slide too!

The little princess with the girls.

Later in the afternoon the kids took to the pool. The heat in this part of our beautiful country is sometimes almost unbearable.

In the evening we enjoyed a braai (barbecue) Free State style (lots of good meat!) with my sisters neighbour and some of her friends. My sister and I went into her prolific vegetable garden to pick the salads for the braai. Her garden is just amazing. She started it about 2 months ago and we have enjoyed eating from it every day! Just look at the size of the marrow!
Sunday was a quiet day as I had been up during the night with Z who was not well. We all enjoyed the tranquility around the cottage. It was a day spent enjoying books and catching up on some rest.

My sisters husband was also busy with honey and the sweet aroma filled the cottage.

Late afternoon my sister took us for a drive to the old stone church on the farm. The Caledon River lies just below and the views across to Lesotho are amazing. The setting is tranquil and the church beautiful even though it has had the floors etc removed.

A view from the church.....

A stop on the way back to the cottage....
Monday was our last day and hubby and I made a last dash into town with the girls for some last minute shopping at the Chinese stores. In the afternoon much of the packing was done and K got in a ride on one of the ponies.

Late afternoon we joined up with the Vdl family and all went fruit and veg picking. It was amazing how much was picked in such a short space of time. The kids had fun riding around the farm on the back of the bakkie . We picked peaches, apricots, nectarines, marrows and patti pans.

Back at the cottage we sorted the huge haul of fruit and veg for the 3 families, and we were blessed to be able to bring home as much as we wanted to. (It has been shared with many grateful friends and family members since we have been home, and today I plan to cook up the last marrows!)

The Vdl family joined us at the cottage for our last evening and fun was had as all 10 kids and 6 adults enjoyed a meal of baby marrow quiche, tuna quiche, salads from the garden and a delicious apricot dessert.

Z who was still not feeling 100%, snuggled down with one of my sisters dogs for the night. As I lay my head on my pillow and drifted off to sleep, the tears just rolled down my cheeks spontaneously........
It was the end of an amazing holiday with my sister and her family and we would be waking at 4
a.m to make the long journey home....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An early Christmas celebration

On Friday morning hubby and I decided to go into town and left the children playing on the farm in the care of my sister. J came along for the ride. We browsed the funny little Chinese shops and did a little shopping for the cottage. It was incredibly hot and a milkshake stop was needed!

Back at the farm my sister helped me to make apricot chutney. It was a fairly long process but I know it will be worth it when we enjoy it once we are home again. The kids took out all the board games and had an afternoon of gaming.It was good to hear the sound of laughter coming from the room!

In the early evening I took the kids back down to the water pump to cool off. As we were about to leave, my sister and our husbands arrived with sun downers.The children were happy they could enjoy the water pump for a while longer.

Back at the cottage, we put the table out in the garden and the boys were in charge of setting the table for our early Christmas meal together. They could not resist peaking into the Christmas crackers to see what was inside!

The kids had great fun with the streamers, party hats, masks and blowers that came with the crackers. We opened gifts and enjoyed a candle lit dinner under the stars. It was a special evening and was rounded off with left over birthday cake and G's famous coffee. I flopped into bed early with the children after a pleasant day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My very special birthday

WARNING LOTS OF PHOTOS......Thursday was my birthday and what a special day it was. My sister and the rest of the family really went out of their way to make it a memorable day. After opening gifts in the morning, she and her husband prepared a fantastic cooked breakfast for all of us.

My sister and I took the children down to the dam where the water is pumped into the dam from the Caledon River....the result was lots of fun had by all!

The water comes out with amazing force and it was the perfect day for this!

The boys had fun looking for "diamonds" and agates.

P hitched a ride on her cousins back.

My sister and I even braved the water fall.It was amazingly refreshing!

The boys tried to dam up the water.

Giggling girls enjoying the bubbles!

Time out after the swim...

In the evening we went up one of the hills on the farm for an amazing sunset picnic....

The views over the farm and across to Lesotho were magnificent.

The happy cousins...

My big boy relaxing...

Hubby and me enjoying the views

We came back down to the cottage for coffee and a delicious black forest birthday cake. What a splendid birthday! Not one I will forget in a long time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another great day in paradise...

Our time here has just been filled with so many special moments every day. We have missed our extended family extensively over the last few months and each day here is precious. The boys have inseparable and there has not been a single squabble. They are making the most of every moment together (as are the girls). It is so precious to watch them enjoy one anther's company. Above they are heading off to feed the bunnys and chickens.

Z cuddling one of the tiniest bunnys.

I am allergic to bunnys of all things and my sister and I had been up to feed them the other day and we sat watching them for some time. I was very careful not to touch them but very soon my nose began to itch and I began to I am still allergic. Soon my throat became scratchy and and anti histamine was needed...

On Wednesday morning my sister and I went to Ladybrand and the guys went to join her husband at his workshop. The girls were still having fun over at the main house.
We had a great time together and she managed to get some of her Christmas shopping done. We weren't planning on staying in town too long but she decided to treat me to an early birthday lunch at one of her favourite places. A quick call to the girls made it possible as they agreed to prepare lunch for all the guys. Living Life (pictured above) is truly worth visiting if you are ever in this area. We had a delicious lunch! Mine being a calzone filled with aubergines, feta, olives, mushrooms and tomato and she had a chicken pesto salad....actually we shared our food and both enjoyed both dishes!
We caught up on some phone calls and chatted to our mum and other sister as there is no reception on the farm. We spent time chatting and enjoying each others company.

On our way back onto the farm we found the guys. They were at one of the bee hives and her husband was busy collecting honey. My husband and the boys were in the car and were not going anywhere near the bees!

I got to eat the honey right out of the hive and off the comb! What a delicious treat! By this time the boys were in our car too and enjoying licking sticky fingers!

Needless to say, there has been a huge haul of honey!

On Wednesday evening we all piled into the cars and made the bumpy journey to a farm about 45 minutes away.We had been invited to a Christmas party. The setting was magnificent. The views from the farm house indescribable! We were welcomed with iced tea and multi coloured popcorn.
The farmhouse was built in 1970 according to Cape dutch style and it seemed a bit out of place in the Eastern Free State. It felt like we were in Constantia.
We were ushered inside to sing Christmas carols and the minister from the Anglican Church told the Christmas story. After the carols, we entered the courtyard for drinks and snacks and a while later a scrumptious dinner was served. It seemed surreal to be at this party in the Free State where we didn't know anyone! There must have been at least 100 guests and everything was laid on .Hospitality is incredible in this community.

A fun filled day

On Tuesday morning we set off to the pack house for a tour. We all had to put on caps and wash our hands before entering .We were taken around by the manager and shown the entire process from when the vegetables arrive in crates from the field to loading of the trucks for market. I had never thought about the process and it was fascinating to see it.

Hygiene is very important and the vegetables are handled with care throughout the process. They are picked, washed, sorted, weighed, packaged, labelled and crated before they leave the farm. I was amazed to hear that that they are picked a number of times a day and if they are not picked at the right time of day, they can grow to sizes that are too big very quickly. At the moment there are marrows, gems and yellow and green patti pans as well as artichokes being sent off to market. The vegetables all have a batch number so that any problems can be traced right back to the planting of the seeds. It was a privilege to be taken around and shown the entire process.

Next we visited the saw mill that my brother in law has set up on the farm. The scent of the pine and cedar wood is just amazing.

We left the farm and went on to Clocolon, another nearby town. We visited the Constantia farm stall and enjoyed browsing around.We bought some cherry juice concentrate to enjoy at home. Later my sisters husband joined us for lunch at The Cabin (pictured above), another lovely farm stall with all sorts of amazing items...We enjoyed a fantastic lunch of the best cheeseburgers in town out on the deck and finally made out way back to the farm.

In the late afternoon my sister and I took a walk up to the patti pan fields to see if we could find any that were too big for market. We found some really big ones. I have so enjoyed spending time chatting and walking on the farm with her. The views are amazing and it does my soul good!

The children have been having a great time catching up and enjoying each others company. In the afternoons, the boys are joined by the 3 boys from the main house and they just play and play and play.....they get muddy and dirty and fall into bed at night!
The girls have been swimming up at the main house and enjoying the company of the 2 girls there too. On Tuesday night they went for a sleep over there and the 4 girls spent the night in the guest cottage. They had great fun together!

Exploring Ladybrand

On Monday we took a drive into Ladybrand as J needed to have a tetanus shot as he had cut his finger with sickle while on camp. The wound was not bad, but we didn't want to take any chances. My sister and the girls piled into the car with us and the boys stayed on the farm to play.
First stop was "The Old Coffee House", a quaint coffee shop with all sorts of sandstone crafts and amazing art for sale. I loved the daisy pictured above, so hubby bought me two for our garden back home.(An early birthday presant for me!) I love to buy things when on holiday to remind me of the places we have explored and enjoyed. We also bought some cherry jam and a mixed berry sauce for pancakes or ice cream. We went on to the chocolate shop and enjoyed some tasty Belgium chocolate. K was happy to have some pocket money to spend and bought herself a few trinkets too.
We caught up with Eric and J and decided he needed a milkshake after his injection.We visited a few more shops to stock up on supplies and made our way back to the farm for lunch.

Later in the day my sister and I set off for a long walk on the farm. She gave me a tour of the house her husband is building here. Above is the view from one of the upstairs windows. The house is a work of art and the outside walls are clad with stone from the farm. I am sure the family whose home it will be will truly enjoy living there!

We came across some of the horses....magnificent creatures! We popped in to see her husband in his workshop and went to pick him some white peaches from the trees. The owner of the farm told us he had eaten marrow flowers the night before and said we should try them too...

We went on to the pack house and the manager gave us some marrow flowers. They were superb! We dipped them in a batter and deep fried them. We stuffed some with cheese and dipped them in sweet chilli sauce....even Z enjoyed them! What a treat!