It Rained!

The rains came. At last. The world is transformed.  From brittle yellow, dusty and dry to soft, squishy, green and luscious.  It was extraordinary to witness how quickly the landscape changed colour, how fast those green shoots pushed up through the soil.  They had been ready and waiting all along.  Just add water.

Our lives too are transformed: From pumping water for the cattle to drink at all times of the day and night to watching the cows slowly get fat.

From the ever present fear that the water will run out…

… to joyful abandon in muddy puddle heaven.

We had become used to the rain clouds building and then getting blown away by the cold south wind.  A few days of anticipation as the clouds piled on each other only to have a few drops fall which dried in a puff of thirsty dust.  We learned to stop waiting and start responding to the reality of the drought.  We needed all our energy to survive this.

But then one day the winds changed.  A steady gentle rain began to fall which allowed the earth a long deep drink.  Suddenly everything felt different.  I could feel the end of the drought on my skin even before the rain gauge filled up.    And since this is the Karoo (the weather drama queen) the drought broke dramatically!

Walking through the veld the next day I discovered this.

And so I took a shower to celebrate. I washed off the gritty stress of the last few months that tightened my neck and knitted my brow.  I cleaned out the crusty “what ifs” and the dusty fear with a powerful stream of pure rain water.  I could feel the relief in every cell and fiber of my being.  My gratitude was boundless.

The drought has taught us many lessons.  As the water dried up were forced to innovate and find clever solutions for getting water to the animals. I now understand where the phrase “n boer maak n plan” comes from: when it is a matter of life and death you find a solution!  I learned to appreciate my husband E as a true farmer.  It was his job to keep the tanks full so the cows always had access to water. During this time 2 of our 3 pumps packed up from age and over-use and he managed to keep the water flowing (sometimes getting up a couple of times in the night to turn pumps on and off).

This was the first real drought we have experienced since moving back to the farm and it revealed to us where the weaknesses in our farming practices are and how to remedy them.

We once again appreciated the wisdom and foresight of our ancestors who planted agave for erosion control and drought fodder.  Chopping and feeding this to the cattle saved us lots of money and kept the cattle in decent condition for longer.

There is also something about the way that veld has recovered which shows that the drought also had a rejuvenating effect on the veld in some way (scientists please explain this?)

The truth is that in the Karoo there is an equal chance of drought or flood in any given year.  So as soon as the rain stops falling we need to prepare for the next drought.

The fact that my life is so deeply tied into the cycles of nature forces me to acknowledge the importance of these cycles even in our own lives.  We cannot exist in an eternal spring.  Each season is critical to the birth and growth, death and regeneration of our being.  Times of sadness, hardship and difficulty are unavoidable and necessary.  We may not understand their value until they are over, but value they have.

And when the rain flowers bloom we know the rain is coming and the time for celebration has arrived.

P.S.  Come to Reconnect: Grounding 24 – 27 March to become more connected to your own natural cycles and draw wisdom from the natural environment.  Look on this website on the workshop page.

It Rained!

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We are half way between Cape Town and Johannesberg (about 8 hours in either direction) half an hour off the N9 highway. We are an hour from Graaff-Reinet and 25 minutes from Nieu Bethesda.

To Drive: Email us for directions and check on the current state of the road and how your car will fare on the dirt roads.

Carpool to workshops: Join the event on the Facebook page and see who is keen to carpool. Email us to put you in touch with other drivers coming from your area.

Bus: Both Intercape and Translux stop in Graaff-Reinet. We will arrange to pick you up from the bus station and bring you to the farm directly or via a guest house (buses usually arrive at awkward times in the late or early hours.)
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Fly: Catch a flight to Port Elizabeth and hire car to drive to the farm (this is a four hour drive).
Co-ordinate with other workshop participants who want to do the same. Email us for directions.


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