We had a farm in Africa…

This past Saturday, after completely mastering the hilly streets and winding roads of Pretoria, Jenny, Indie and I decided to take our sunset beach-colored Kia Rio for a trip to the country. Our friend, Nikki, has a small farm plot outside of town and she invited us out for a visit. We were excited to check it out.

Is this the way to Donkerhoek?

Heading out on the N4 from Pretoria, we took the old Boschkop/Donkerhoek exit (you know the one) and drove on until we reached a little shop called Ou Kraalmuur. Nikki advised us not to stop, and we immediately understood why. Turning right from the shop, we eventually found ourselves on the road to Renosterfontein, a road that quickly became a poorly graded washboard. At 30 km/h, the 4 kilometers between turn-off and farm seemed like 50. It probably wasn’t the best thing we could have done for our little Kia, but old Sunset Beach handled it like a champ.

Once we found the farm plot, Nikki directed us into a fenced pasture just out of the reach of her horse, Bianca, who apparently has a thing for cars…in that she likes to eat them. In fact, Nikki has a guy at a service station in Pretoria who keeps side mirrors in stock in case Bianca chews off yet another one. Not an apple, not a pear. I want to eat that rearview there.

Bianca is the only horse that wants to eat cars, but they all LOVE bread. We brought a loaf for the horses to share and some sandwiches for the humans to share. Oh, and we discovered a new snack to compete with our favorite popcorn chips: Flanagan’s Irish Blarney Black Pepper & Sea Salt potato (or, as we Micks say, pa-TAY-to) chips. Too good.

The farm plot itself is perfectly simple. Just a few small buildings, a couple of pole barns for stables, a chicken coop for Rob, Nicholas, John and Alet, and a lean-to shelter to keep the hay and feed dry. Several old-growth trees provide ample shade in the pastures for Nikki’s five horses: Rivage, Seven Stars (or Sevens), Memphis, Flash and the car chomper herself, Bianca.

Indie was in her element, man. Wide open spaces, crazy new smells and all the horse poop a dog could eat. She had her fill that day. There was nothing we could do.

As you can see from the photos, the ground is a very dry, dusty red. It’s similar to what we see along the streets in Pretoria, but there’s just so much more of it in the country, obviously. When the wind gusts, the dirt blows across the land like a Martian snow drift. It covers everything. Especially dogs.

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It’s fun to imagine what the ground, trees and landscape will look like in summer, when the rains finally come. It’s only rained once in the 40 days we’ve been in South Africa. However, Pretoria’s 70,000 Jacaranda trees will go proudly purple in October, and we are expecting a lush green for several months after that.

So, while we obviously don’t really have a farm in Africa, we are lucky to know someone who does. It’s going to be a nice retreat from city life. We’ll just need to be vigilant about where we park that delicious orange car of ours.