Another Forest Road November 2012
Forest roads are so cool
to drive through

Continuing on our quest to eventually have a road around the entire perimeter of our property we tackled the little forest along the game fence border between us and our neighbour Kallie.

We were getting pretty good at clearing roads through forests and we managed to clear this one in an afternoon. It included felling two big black wattles. We still needed to take out the stumps, though. We were leaving that for a bit later.

  Beekeeping Course

Our lecture was on queen breeding techniques, stressing bees and working and controlling them. We also covered different lid and floor/entrance hole types.

    In the practical session we made up the brood frames for our hives and went out to Springs sewage works where Peter keeps some hives. We checked the hives for queen cells and transferred a swarm that had made a hive in a barbet nesting log to a proper hive. We also got our first look at royal jelly that the bees feed to their grubs to make them into queens.

  The Nursery
  On the left, what was left of our Wit Hout trees. Also some pompom trees still in bags donated by the dog tracking club people that used to use the farm.

On the right, one of the two acacias that were also donated. We planted these on each side of the gate nearest the lapa and they seem to be doing very well. We fenced them off from the start and Martie threw some Namaqualand daisy seeds (a little late in the season) around the base which gave some ground colour.

  Rock Stuff

Nearly a year later with the cows well under control we started work again on our lapa. We cleaned out the foundations, mixed a bit of concrete for three side sections and the steps with a bit of reinforced bar in case ground started moving with the weight of the rocks and floor and then started laying in rocks. A real slow process fitting those rocks together but so gratifying seeing the results.

Building with rocks - like building a jigsaw puzzle

Lapa front retaining wall halfway to full height
Steps up into lapa

Sorting rocks from the ditch
where all the rocks were dumped when cleared from the grasslands below the hill many years ago

  Second Compost Heap Completed

We bought the rest of the split poles for the second compost heap and completed it. Then we started filling it with garden refuse from home which was piling up in black bags.

I also removed the roof from the first compost heap - we found the decomposing material was drying out too much so we watered it and left it open so it could get some natural rain water.

  New Road and Garden Update


The new road was "wearing in" nicely with us using it every weekend and looking very good, although getting quite bumpy as the softer parts sink in under the weight of the cars and the harder parts stay high.

The new road garden was also doing well. Martie planted some afrikaner seeds and it was very difficult to tell the small plants apart from the khakibos. Obviously the khakibos grew a lot faster and we waited until the plants were a bit bigger before we weeded it out.

  New Gardens Wrecked



Well, those new gardens didn't last very long! We're not sure what got the wild banana - could have been a combination of duiker and ants. The stalks were chomped off at the stems and there were little ant heaps all around some of the stems.

And the porcupine seemed to like the roots of the crane flower. There wasn't much left there!

  The Builders

I spoke to the builders that were working on the primary school building on Che's farm and took them out to our farm to look at our proposed building site. I explained what we had in mind for the buildings and how we wanted to segment the projects and they went off to work out some figures.

During the week they were working for an owner builder who is building a mansion in the Meyersdal Eco Estate so they could only work for us on weekends and holidays. I would need to arrange delivery of all materials and basically manage the project. They would also quote for each stage of the project. This whole building system and working arrangement was just ideal for us and their workmanship looked fine.

The next weekend they presented their quotation for digging the foundation trenches, mixing and throwing concrete, brickwork to floor level and throwing the concrete floor slab for our pumphouse/ablution block. It was very reasonable and we decided to go with it. As they were just doing finishing touches to Che's school they wanted to start on our farm the next weekend.

This was a big step for us. It was the first time other than for drilling the boreholes that we would have labourers on the farm. Up until then we had managed to do everything ourselves but the building stuff was just too big. If they did well on the ablution block, we would have a long building stretch ahead of us. So forgive us for the maybe boring posts over the next few months - looks like it's going to be mostly about building.

I also worked out material quantities and costings of materials for the concrete and brickwork using formulas from the internet and estimated we would be able to get most of the building up for the price we were previously quoted for foundation to floor level by the contractor.

  Pump House Foundations

Our pump house and ablution block measurement is 8 meters x 4 meters. 2 meters on the borehole side will be walled off for pump and electrical equipment and 2 meters the other side will be partly walled off for the toilet. The remaining 4 meter square and a bit centre area will have showers, bath and wash basins.

  During the week I arranged with our local building supplier to deliver river sand and crusher stone for the foundation concrete and lots of cement which we stored over in one of Che's storerooms.

On the Saturday morning we spent some time laying out the building area, getting measurements correct and getting everything square. And then the digging began.

While they were digging I went out to the building yard and made a final decision on the face brick we were going to use for everything we build on the farm. I bought a bakkie load and took it out to the farm to check how it would "blend with the environment".

We had cleared the area of grass and dug one 8 meter length of trench so we know how much effort goes into digging foundations. The builders got going and it was hard to believe the amount of digging they are capable of doing. Our trench digging was half the size it needed to be and these guys had it widened and deepened and the whole trench completed before the day was over.