Thursday, November 2, 2023


It is time for a change. Speekhout Farm is switching from a website to a BlogSpot

        This I can manage, update and publish myself. Where I live, if you don't do it yourself, sorry ne. So ja, welcome to our farming life. By now we have realised we are not farmers in the true sense of the old way, but since we live on agricultural land (and are white, go figure), we are called boere. Not by choice but by default of where we live. No matter that we say we are not, we are. 


        Mark is a tree planter and loves to get into the dirt to plant especially seeds. He has pockets full of seeds, his eyes always catching those little beauties wherever we go. He loves seeds and is always ready to reach when the trees and plants are ripe to present their gifts to him. Seeds give Mark such joy. He is one of those collectors, and what a happy day when he happens to meet another collector! The most precious gift to Mark: seeds. There is always more no matter where we go.

        And then the day those tiny little green spruces bumps the soil up.... he notices it hey. And then the finger pictures - I take snapshots with his finger pointing to that minute little teeny bit of life in the soil. He calls me to proudly show me the tiniest first new leaves. It is what we do here too. There is time to watch things grow.... okay only joking, on our farm the work turns out to be the activator of growth, and omyhat, how I have grown.


        In the city I had the luxury of paying somebody to attend to our gardens while I attended to many other things. Here I am a make-shift garden boy of sorts. After the rains I pull weeds, the energy mass is super for compost. I water the collection of flower pots of joyful colors that fringes our karoo garden. Man, they are really so beautiful. Mark is also a lawn-guy. We have a multi-purpose lawn, mostly on the western side of the farm house. It keeps the ground cool and holds the sprinkler's moisture around the trees and bushes. This helps to cool the house down during those hell hot months. As the sprinkler rotates, it gracefully slows down the heat-up rate of the house. Each little water droplet from the wobbler has a microscopic change on each microbe of heat. I love the lawn here more than ever, and so do the dogs.

        The trees together with the grasses create their own micro atmosphere. There came a day my sister sent us a photo of what it looked like here when she came to visit the first time. We cried because it is not what we saw when we came to view the farm. Honestly, it was horribly backwards but that’s not what we saw. In hind sight it was most probably the catch to think we can do it. The bait to fix and renew, the prospect of a promise not fulfilled. The chance to re-create something of meaningfulness and purpose. The chance to start something new and different while we still had time.

        So, the next thing is watering the new beginnings. Mark planted a myriad of trees around the farm house and 6 years later we have our own cool shade. We brought saplings from our own variety of thorns trees Mark planted in Orange Grove, and came to the farm and re-planted the offspring. Yes, we transported as many of our plants with us as we could practically manage. We also brought the outdoor orchids which is a family heirloom from Mark’s parents’ days.

        Mark was so inspired, he propagated indigenous cedar trees that once grew here in this very kloof. 1890 the last giant cedar tree was chopped down and hauled out of this kloof we read in the recorded writings.... We cried. We tell the story to guests who are all ears about the kloof. Mark harvested the seeds of the local cedars and embarked on a simulated process to germinate it. He then re-planted them everywhere where water can reach. They die as a still burnt-orange crackle, from a fungus we suspected. If they live, the sheep love to eat them kaal, and every now and again they grow green and tall. A real krismis tree of sorts. They are future giants we will never see tower above the humble landscape they once reigned.

        Yes, the Living Water. Water works is another full time aspect of our farming life. When we weed-eat the bossies down, it looks like lawn too! MondayWednesdayFriday, our watering motto, every day could be Tuesday, there is no telling what day it is. Thus the drought gave us a new rhythm. In the beginning, GNT in the one hand and the hose in the other, I watered the groupings of bags and pots, sometime I watered just weeds in the black bags, but not the smoking stuff. (I smoked my last cigar 22 years ago on someone else's wedding right before our own.)  I don't pull weeds out of the bags anymore, I flippen land up pulling those finger picture spruces as well. During the drought, even the quarts just couldn't keep up with the watering. Nor could I. There is simply not enough booze in the world to douse a drought.

        So, I prayed. And watered the pots. When water is at a premium, you close the nozzle between the pots and the bags to save water. While the hose is open, I count. Close and open. Pray, twist and turn. The bags and pots and I survived the drought but just that. There was nothing left for me to do but pray. I have been praying for rain for more than 5 years now. I have also been praying for revival here for the same time. Revival-rain. The rain did come but not yet revival. It rained somewhere on the Kouga mountains again, funneling the gift down the slopes into the Baviaanskloof river, giving us a continues flow not seen here by us in 7 years. What a joy to drive through the water every single time. Endless pictures, stop before the river click. Once in the water windows down, click click both ways. Kill the engine so we can listen to the water flow.... The amazing veld flowers and the abundance of water, ‘n ware skouspel

        The psalmist wrote, the life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Peter penned it like this, for you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Falling water

We are giving it our all. Mark and I have lived 10 years in the last 2, never a day without something out of the ordinary happening, it’s like living an Adventure on steroids. Not that we were ever your typical adventure bunnies, more like venturous souls at times when and how it suited us. I was mostly planning our calendar ahead, knowing what’s coming with little interference in our time, unless it was mostly appointed. We were totally private and carefree in our anonymity once our little castle’s gates were closed and the high walls shielded us from our neighborhood’s busyness. We had a small, neat, organized and mostly easy life in the city, carefully going about our lives and taking care of ourselves, doing just about everything together, especially cooking together at night

Here Mark has become the farmer he is. Everywhere I look I see his green heart and hands. Broken skin, bruises, dirty calluses, dirtier ripped nails, rough hands, we have both aged quickly here. Our bodies are used heavily and the injuries are just stupid and way out. Of course, Mark has only 2 hands and his hands are also my hands, which often brings a conflict of work-interest about, when I want sparre erected to visually create a fence, he wants to in-bed meticulous small seeds one by one before the season changes yet again. By the time he comes into the house and wants to know what’s there to eat, I am normally in the middle of something and have lost my appetite as I’v just finished cooking and feeding our 3 dog-children. Then he gets dog food, that is Woester sauce chicken, carrots and pumpkin, rice mixed in. Gone are the nights cooking, drinking wine and canoodling together, what can I say? Many nights biltong, cheese and crackers kept us going

First there was mist for 3 days, 32mm of falling mist…. Followed by 68mm of thundering hard night-rain, blinding lightening and sheer flooding destruction. For 2 hours we were ecstatically scared, we could hear the stumps and rocks coming down the mountain with the water, blasting and breaking as gravity pulls it to earth. The rain-scape lights up in silver white and greys, the smell of drenched earth and crushed foliage pushes up in our nostrils, deep drafts of rain-night air filling our dry lungs, again and again we breathe heavily, our senses still starved for life giving water after such a long time without. Even our strong torch is not sharp enough to show the rushing waterfalls that gets louder and louder. Tons of gallons of water pouring over the familiar mountain face, unseen by human eyes but clearly heard by our humbled ears

The next morning, we woke up like kids on Christmas morning. Fly out of bed, grabbed some clothes to get out of the house half decent, running to see the waterfalls which is
audible from just about anywhere. How could we have ever imagined to live in a place that sings glory to its Creator by just letting the water flow? How would we have ever known that coming here, we will behold the spectacular sight and sound of 3 waterfalls? That crushing water on stone and more water, draws us as we make our way through wet-wet bush to get to that point of loud awe. Crystal clear water scattering down, dowsing out our talking as we got closer. Our eyes gingerly picking out the water course from right up there, traversing down, tracing the age-old paths funneling their precious gift between the mountain’s rock face, accelerating until it hits the water bak below, declaring it’s Victory for all to hear. Then we see the point of collision…. we stare and gape and look again, our eyes and minds not nearly big enough to take in the terrible beauty of falling crushing water….. It is paradise, unequivocal awesome natural beauty, fantastical waves our senses stagger under…. Unbelievable natural mercy and grace from His Nature….. overwhelming Living Water, holy ground, our souls exuberantly alive with a gift we cannot contain

We make our way back through the drop-hugging bushes, to the second waterfall, which is best seen from the road going to Klipspringer. We come up to the fountain-dam and the 2 water pipes are both pushing out a thick stream of slightly orange-brownish mineral water, forcing the abundant gift into an already brimming dam, just sooooo much goodness. Now we can clearly hear the second waterfall and hurry to get as close as we can, more difficult as it flows down into a dense and deep kloofie, before it furrows out in a ravine of dongas and down to the river at the front of the farm. Through the binocs it cascades in a spray from one rock to the next outcrop, disappearing into the thicket. But just as we make our way up the path, we can hear another rushing and our ears draw us higher up and further on to the 3rd waterfall. We have never seen it overflowing and only scrambled the dry bed from the bottom up with the dogs, up to the Old Cattle Trail, and could not go further as the boulders we just huge and the rock faces too high

Our pants and shoes are sopping wet and so are the dogs, their coats drenched in all the different types of water we are exploring through. We make our way up and on the first saddle and can clearly hear the falling water. It’s unbelievable, so much water, so loud, so fast, so strong…. And then we see a smaller waterfall through a gap in the bush, and slip-slide down the koppie to just touch it. Beautiful clear, fresh, rain water streaming and gushing over the most beautiful colored stones…. We look through the mountain’s water into the rock pools, those pools that were once bone dry and sacred, made for a sole purpose - to furrow life-giving water down the mountainous landscape, to a river that runs to the sea and nourishes everything along its course

The dogs are exuberant in their joy. The are loving every single bush and tree and grass tuft and can’t contain their excitement more that us. Wagging tails, hastily sniffing and climbing all around us, up and down the mountain, also drawn by the gushing water. I have never seen them so alive, I feel so young. We make our way back up towards the loudest epicenter, climbing hastily, navigating the Trail behind the dogs. The air we breathe in is green-fresh and the rising sun casts misty, steaming mountain shadows as we climb in and out of the bright sun. I simply can’t take enough photos. Up and up we climb, the falling water now very close and there we are – a huge bak to the left receiving the cascading water and pushing it over the edge to the 3 bakke on the right, stepping down the cliff in sequence, and then out of sight. It is so loud we can’t hear each other

The dogs are everywhere at the same time, also not getting enough. How utterly beautiful. We stare and sit down. We are quiet and take in as much as we can, allowing the water to wash over our souls and receiving the gift of being here now. I shout out His names and bless the farm for His goodness and Mercy. The unbelief of all of this abundance takes me back in a moment to the bitter fist fights I had with Him when the drought suffocated us and nature was dying in front of our eyes. I feel an immediate and immense need to deeply ask forgiveness for not being able to believe that this could be true, never imagining how it would be when the water is falling down the mountains. I am stunned at seeing Him in all of His splendor, bewondered that He is always magnificent here, even when we are not present. I have never felt so special to be part of a God-moment as now

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

City shoes

 Unpacking boxes. After the initial necessities made life functional, it didn’t much continue until we started looking for specifics. Things that we needed and we knew we had somewhere. Out comes the numbered box list, contents abbreviated in my great handwriting, accurate up to a point because we didn’t pack all the boxes ourselves, we also had helping hands. Thank goodness we had help to pack all of our stuff, stuff we have been cavorting, keeping safe, storing, hedging, hording in a sort of a way. We were hanging on to our good, valuable, practical, irreplaceable, good, and ordentelike inheritance plus our own accumulated stuff for as long as we can remember. Why, because one day we were going to need it on the farm, and here we are, one day has arrived.

It actually arrived in a myriad of days, one hectic day blending into an unbelievable reality conundrum. In the meantime the boxes were moved as the furniture got unwrapped and space became more functional. Finally all the unopened boxed were re-moved to one spot and became a wall of beige on the left as you walk through our front door. Simply put there were nowhere to put the stuff once a box was opened, it wasn’t like we were building off-spec or had the time to renovate a precious pondokie into a bespoke home. But the boxes had to be unsealed, re-folded, contents moved around to adapt to the new priorities here, and so the stuff started to move from box to box which didn’t help when I was relying on my 3rd G&T recollecting of where I last had it in hand.  A couple of hunting episodes later and square becomes organic and the wall became a shanty town, and still nowhere to put the stuff once it was out of its controlled parameter.  It seems that average previously disadvantaged farm houses were not fitted with built-in kitchen or bedroom cupboards, linen cupboards or storage solutions for all of life’s wonderful man-made stuff. 

Eventually I parked it - the old farm people simply didn’t have as much stuff here in the kloof, besides it being so flippen far from good shops, they had no time to do what we learned to do so well:
(read this very fast or skip it altogether)
work very hard so we could carefully choose, craft, control, functionally select to satisfyingly accumulate precious, decorative, matching memorabilia, gifts, refined and pleasing objects, abundantly available in an insane amount of mesmerizing shops and spaces over filled with multiple bling-ching, delicious, must-have, bright lights in all colors, sizes and amounts, whatever pleases and suits and fits that very specific thing we want right now. And do it all over again next week.

In one of the last boxes I found my city shoes and wow was that a surprise, I had totally forgotten they existed! Mostly pretty sandals with different heels depending on the city venue and activity. So my city shoes got unpacked next to my real shoes, and they are still there. In hind sight I am so incredibly glad at the time I was packing them that I had no idea my lovelies would become dust collectors. In fact, I had no inkling that my farm shoes would help me make the very, very hard and unbelievable difficult exchange from our previous life in the upper world, as oom Boetie calls every town past Colesberg, to the realities of the farm. Mark and I did not have the foggiest blimmin notion what was to come and what we had to face to get through it all. Dainty sexy sandals are not quite what prepared me that day when I needed to fetch the sheep, driven higher and higher on the mountain slope by our lovely untrained border collie. I try to get above and ahead by striding up over loose rocks, grabbing on grasses and boulders, getting branch wipped, calling to Nina and High Heavens and anybody else that can deliver me from this unpredictable and uncontrollable madness. Ag within 5 meters you lose your halo and your shit. That’s when you need reality shoes, to save you from breaking your whatever on your way down of course, cause by now the flock is running down and in the wrong direction, splintering off and dividing the chase, the madness extending, helplessness burning in my lungs and legs and feet and cuts. Then utter relief when the madness evens out, our sheepies find direction and everything calms down with the dust settling on me and my farm shoes. At the end of the day I finally undo the knotted laces and shake the gravel out of my socks, washing the dirt off my feet and sokkie tan, an everyday thing now.

Mark's sketchers

My city shoes became my symbol for the unknown exchanges we were not able to calculate, or were prepared for, or ever comprehended we were making once we decided to believe God and follow Him to the kloof. Honestly, Mark and I would have never ever willingly submit ourselves to the extremities this faith step would maneuver us in, if we knew what we were in for ….. but God.

Sunday was one of the bestest of days we have had since our arrival 2 years ago. We have never seen the farm so beautiful, carefree enjoying the quiet peace, the soft skies, our happy dogs, offering a most thankful prayer to our steady Cornerstone on the Crocodile’s second tail. The farm is my new-reality and my farm shoes enable me to be prepared for whatever is going to happen today. Not many non-eventful days I must say, in fact we are starting to enjoy the challenges, and the unthinkable things are somehow overcomeable as God makes a stand for us. For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? Mark 8:37

Friday, March 1, 2019

last rains

Nature is also forgiving. An ongoing drought and a most thankful sprouting response after the last rains, nearly a month ago. I have learned to live in a drought, unimaginable and hard to accept at first, but then I realised as long as Living Water flows out of our ravine fountain, we stay and farm according to what we receive daily

We are so fragile and our survival is dependent on so many different factors. A lot of balls to keep in the air, way more than what we bargained for or would have chosen for ourselves. But then we are here and there is no plan B

 I have learnt not to look at the clouds and listen to what people say nature portrays about the coming rains. It rains when it does. I have washed our car, put the carpets out, packed books outside, all those things that you should not do in case it rains so that it can rain. I have prayed, cried, fasted, drank a lot, cried and prayed all over again, on my knees in the dust. Frantic, desperate, smothered in dryness. I don't know how to live in a drought. It is a force that takes me to shameful fist fights withe Creator God.... 

And then every now and again the unthinkable happens, it actually rains.....
The first time I laughed and cried deurmekaar, we ran after the sound of rushing water, overjoyed and bewildered. The last time I just sat down and savored the smell, the cool relief, tears mingling with big fat drops of Mercy and Grace. I have been reduced to a simpleton when it comes to rain. Everything stops and no price is too high for rain. Living Mercy and Grace.... my souls sings. I wish it would rain every day