First 5000 Face Bricks Delivered Febuary 2013
  Horror of horrors. I didn't really want trucks this size driving around on the farm but if we were going to build what we planned to build, we would need building materials to be delivered. And lots of it. Anyway, the big truck came, delivered and went and really didn't leave too much imprint on the environment.

  We had chosen a face brick called Rhodium. We had selected it from a few options that Jada had in their building yard and had already bought enough from Jada to build the pumphouse and garage blocks to floor level. I had done some calculations and estimated we would need almost 10000 face bricks to complete the garage and pumphouse projects to roof height.

The Rhodium brick was from Brikor in Nigel. I contacted them and they could sell me the bricks at 75% the price I could get them from Jada but wanted a premium amount to deliver them to the farm in Heidelberg. I weighed up what 5000 bricks would cost to be delivered 1500 at a time from Jada and although the delivery charges would be far less, that 25% saving on 5000 bricks made Brikor's total price much lower.

We took a ride out to Brikor on Wednesday with a few sample bricks to make sure we were getting the right ones. There seemed to be very little variation in their batches so we paid them and arranged for 5000 to be delivered.

  We needed to have them delivered before Saturday as the builders were ready to start building the walls. Brikor assured us it was possible but the crane on one of their trucks broke and another developed starter problems. But they managed to get everything sorted out and delivered early Saturday morning for us.

  Building - First Bricks Laid and First Wall
  Leno and James couldn't wait to get going with the new bricks. He had his guys mixing mortar while the Brikor guys were still offloading and I had to hold them back while we discussed the waterproofing requirements for the walls on the corner that had been cut in under ground level.

As well as the normal damp proof course under the bricks we built with 250 micron plastic sheet from floor level to well above ground level between the inner and outer brick courses.

It meant slowing down the bricklaying a little as they build a facebrick course with the plastic folded back over the stock brick course and then folding it back over the face brick course while they built the stock brick course.

I was satisfied that together with the harder face brick we used below the ground the plastic would prevent any damp getting through to the inside of the building.

In the picture on the right, after laying down all the plastic and under Martie's close supervision, James lays the first course of face bricks for our garage and workshop block.


They started with the long wall with Leno and James working from opposite ends. It was a bit slow going with having to flip the dampproofing plastic over on every course.

Before long we could see our first wall going up. and by the end of the day it was waist high on the bottom of the split level and looking great.

On the left our happy bricklayer team Leno and James coming together on a face brick course. They really take pride in their work and at the end of every day after tool cleanup time they always stand back with us and admire the job.

  The Audience

  The eland herd passing by again. We are happy they are the other side of our log fence and stay there when we're working on the farm. But they obviously hop the fence and check out what's been happening (and eat anything unprotected) on our side of the fence when we're not there.

  Beekeeping Course
Peter demonstrating wiring of super frame
Some supers in bad condition
  The February lecture was on dealing with and recycling wax, methods of cleaning wax from old frames and wax moth problems. It was held at Peter's home in Springs and in the practical session we wired our super frames and treated our super boxes with heated waxoil.

Peter then took us out to a complementary finger lunch at a restaurant down the road from his house where he showed us how he was removing two swarms from old railway coaches and transferring them into hives.

  Building - Long Wall, First Door Frame and Second Wall
  The long wall was looking very impressive - and long! Although it was just the back wall of the garages we decided we were going to put high windows into it the same width as each garage door opening to make the garages lighter.

We would also be using IBR sheeting for the roofing and either white IBR form polyehtylene or polycarbonate sheets every three or four panels to allow natural light into the garage and workshops.

Building progressed until it was getting difficult to work from ground level and since we didn't have any scaffolding, it was time to move on to the next wall.

The second wall was a solid wall to eventually be linked to the house, so included a doorway.

The door frame was lined up and levelled and work started on the second wall. We included the corner to the first garage door in this wall so as to finish the corner off completely. We also needed to be careful to leave good tie-ins on both corners for the house walls to tie into.

View of inside with ties for internal walls

View from top

View from bottom

  Another Observer
  While we were working we noticed some movement up in the black wattle forest halfway up the hill.

It was our pair of waterbuck bulls watching us. I think they were just waiting for us to go so they could get back to their home in our forest.

  The Historians
  We had heard from Che and Wouter (used to own the farm across the tarred road from us, now moved to manage a farm out towards Belfour) about this group of historians that came out every second month or so to look at the remains of the railway line that passed through Che's farm just on our border and other Boer War locations of interest. We had just never been around to meet them when they were in the area. We were very interested in the obvious rich history of the area and the farms around us in particular and what luck they came to visit us.

Introductions were made and the team leader's face was so familiar to me. Turns out he is a retired bursar of a private school I did work for and also neighbour to one of my very old (now deceased, I learned) clients in Blairgowrie. Such a small world we live in.

  They normally meet in town, have breakfast and then head out into the farmlands to explore. One day we hope to be able to host them at our lapa for breakfast and pry some of their knowledge from them.

In the picture on the right: beautiful rock work on this old railway bridge on Che's farm about 200 meters from our east side log fence border where the forest starts. During heavy rainstorms the water run-off from the hill runs through under the bridge, then through our forest and out under the tarred road into the valley.

  Building - Third Wall
  And then onto wall number three. This was the bottom wall for the workshop and storeroom and allowed us to finish off the bottom corner of the long wall.

On this wall there would be a large opening into the workshop where we could drive a vehicle into if necessary and a window into the workshop.

We had a small building team for the day: Leno, his nephew, his son little Leno and a helper.

While they were busy on the building I planned the garage/workshop corner brickwork.

I also layed out the connecting doorways and set up the door frames.

Very exciting - soon we would have enough walls to complete a room!


  Building - Fourth and Inside Walls
  Next day it didn't take long to get wall number 4 up. This was a short wall for the forest side of the storeroom and would also have a window.

Then we moved on to setting up the door frames (with all my 2.5 meter logs for the lapa relegated for supports) and building up the inside walls to separate the garages, workshop and storeroom.

  Garage Block Model
  I had a good idea of how the garage block would look but it was becoming obvious that the builders didn't. So one evening I took to my workshop at home, worked out a scale, cut up some balsa wood and made a little model of the building. It turned out rather neat and also cleared my mind on some problems with the levels and the double storey height and roof intersection. It also clarified how the house would eventually tie in. I'll add the house to the model at a later stage as well.

  Our Rain Gauge

  We had been meaning to get a rain gauge for the farm for a while - finally got one.

I mounted it at the gate on the log fence near the lapa. During the first week we had 30mm of rain, but generally it had been a very dry summer so far, which was great for our building project but not so good for the poor plants and grass.

I didn't have time at that point to keep proper records - it was just interesting to know how much rain the farm got during the week. Often there was nothing there while at home in Johannesburg we had regular afternoon thudershowers through the week.

  Building - Tying it all Together
  The last weekend of February the builders got all the inside walls up to waist height and the whole building linked together.

Although February was short month and we only managed to build on three of the four weekends, we made good progress. We lost one weekend as Leno had a bad tooth pulled and had to take it easy for a few days.

We finished up the month with all the walls to window sill height and three door frames positioned and tied in.

Unfortunately I was losing the battle with keeping the building site neat and tidy. But I'm not giving up entirely on that one yet.