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go! Platteland - - CONTENTS - Schalk van der Merwe, SOM­ER­SET WEST

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I cross the Sand and Leeu rivers to reach the farm­yard at Los­berg, my fa­ther’s land at the foot of the moun­tains north of Beau­fort West. Our two sheep dogs, Jackie and Chip, charge to­wards the gate, al­ways ea­ger to of­fer a wel­come. The green­ery around the house is bloom­ing beau­ti­fully, but it’s a con­stant strug­gle to keep out the goats. (A friend ad­vises that one should throw a bucket of wa­ter at the fence around the goats’ en­clo­sure. If the wa­ter lands on the other side of the fence, this means it still isn’t se­cure enough to keep them inside.) (Read our ar­ti­cle on goats on page 120. – Eds.)

The kitchen floors creak when you step on them – as it should be. It’s a sound that con­firms you are now on the farm. The heat of the old wood stove that burns through the night is like a grand­mother who em­braces you. And it isn’t long be­fore I sit down to a bowl of hot bean soup, the sort that re­quires me eat­ing the beans out from be­tween the bones. Seated around the kitchen ta­ble, we feel happy and thank­ful, to­gether and safe.

A few days in the Ka­roo set the tempo of life back to nor­mal. One morn­ing I drive the farm bakkie to Beau­fort. In the first river course, a rab­bit cuts in front of the bakkie, turns sharply, shoots over the sand bank and dis­ap­pears into the yel­low grass. Blue moun­tains north of me, and the golden plains of the Ka­roo, bro­ken here and there by a red-yel­low rocky ridge or green river course. I turn on the ra­dio. It crack­les… a traf­fic re­port… peak-hour chaos in Cape Town. Thou­sands of peo­ple are trapped in their cars in the city, and I am driv­ing here, where a brush with a rab­bit is the clos­est I will get to deal­ing with traf­fic.

The Ka­roo ap­pears flat and bare, but she is brim­ming with sur­prises and se­crets. The neatly packed stone kraals, the wind­mills and con­crete dams, and the old farm­steads are like me­men­toes left here over time. The Lord has lent us a piece of it. He mea­sured out and set aside the most beau­ti­ful area for us. This is Los­berg, our farm in the Ka­roo.

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