Tea, Toast, and Nature, From Our “Stoep”

When we were offered a chance to live in a cottage on a farm, we were delighted to leave the city and couldn’t wait to pack our bags to make the move. The farm was located in the heart of the wheat-lands of the Western Cape, South Africa. It was like an earthly paradise. 4km of gravel road lead off the National Highway to our new home. Driving along it we were welcomed with the most majestic panoramic expanse of wheat fields, rolling hills, sheep, and cows.

The cottage turned out to be the size of a small townhouse, complete with three bedrooms, open-plan kitchen and living room. A sliding- door leading to a well-proportioned stoep, (veranda with a roof). This proved ideal for casual dining and leisurely sitting, relaxing and just taking in the scenic natural surrounds. Most mornings, summer and winter we had our breakfast out there. In the winter months wrapped up in warm clothing against the frosty cold air, we sat drinking either hot chocolate or tea and marvelling at the sight of the snow- capped mountain tops nearby.

A favourite pastime was watching the antics of the sheep. Their pasture was on an incline where they spent the day scattered around nibbling the grassy slope. Suddenly a leader sheep would decide to trot up the hill. Being sheep they followed it in a straight line clamouring over each other to try and keep up a steady pace. This “sheep train” would eventually reach the top of the hill, then turn around, and hurriedly run back to the bottom again as though they were being chased! Observing these sheepish episodes never ceased to amuse us.

There were also deer on the farm whose habitat was a thicket close by. When they produced offspring we often saw the little “bambi’s” having fun. They would sprint along on their spindly legs and play a game of catch-catch, chasing each other over the fields at a fantastic speed. When tired, they would saunter back to the thicket and collapse down next to mother doe.

Among the other creatures often seen were porcupines, hares, guinea fowl and of course on occasion the odd snake as well as a variety of spiders. Some of these occupants were welcome harmless beings, some of them venomous, but still, all part of nature.

The many years spent on the farm were very happy times, but, like many things in life all good things come to an end. My other half contracted cancer of the pancreas. When he departed life, my days there came to an end as it was not considered safe for me to remain living there on my own.