Sunday, July 25, 2010

Flowing and Farming

So I got to George with no problems, stayed with a great guy out there that I found through couchsurfing. He was the local magistrate and was very interesting to talk to. Then less than a week before I was going to start on the farm near Ashton I get an email from them saying they have 'personal issues' that need to be dealt with before they can have any volunteers. At first I was a little annoyed, but then I remembered that my goal all along was to travel with as little of a plan as possible. That way you're always open for every opportunity that you come across. But that also means that you have to be ready to move on when that opportunity vanishes. Fortunately the magistrate was very flexible and accommodating. I spent a few days there hanging out with him and some of his friends and started figuring out what was next.

It wasn't long before all sorts of different opportunities popped up. In the end I decided to go with a small family farm just north of the town of Knysna. Knysna is just an hour east of George and the magistrate was nice enough to drive me out there one afternoon.

Now i'm out on a little farm tucked away right next to the Outeniqua forest, a huge forest/nature reserve. Its a small family with two young kids, a 3 year old boy and a 6 year old girl, and two dogs, Mushroom and Fettuccine. They've been out here about 2 years now and are slowly developing the land. They're got a nice little house and are completely off the grid. They run on rainwater and solar power. In terms of farm life there isn't much going on yet. They let their neighbors cows graze on their land for now so they don't have to mow and they have a couple small gardens. Its tough for them to do much else yet because you can't just start planting anything and anywhere because of the pests.

When I say pests I mean birds, but mostly baboons. Yes that's right, baboons. The forest is home to many creatures including leopards, elephants, and various primates including baboons (and lots of them). People always talk about wanting a pet monkey, but out here in Africa they are the ultimate pest. When baboons descend from the forest they cause complete mayhem. They rip up gardens (sometimes eating the food), break things, and, God forbid you left a door open, trash houses. Oh and did I mention that baboons can be quite dangerous? The males can get up to around 90 lbs and baboons often travel in troops. Out here its not unheard of to see troops of 40+ baboons traveling around together. They have long sharp canines (longer than a lions) and can be quite aggressive, especially towards women. For some reason they aren't scared of women at all, but they will tend to shy away from men. So that's why its hard to farm out here. Though I'm kind of hoping for a baboon raid while I'm here.

There's plenty of other work to be done. Lots of fencing to keep the dogs in as well as other improvements on the property. I'm in the middle of laying a patio for them, then we need to address some erosion issues with their drainage. There will be no shortage of work while I'm out here. I have my own little room in a refurbished storage container and I am getting fed very well too (Although they are vegetarians, so some people might disagree). The forest and mountains are gorgeous as well. I've had a chance to do a little hiking, running, and even mountain biking. Loving it out here, just taking it one day at a time.


  1. Did your friends go back to Americaland? You didn't mention the other guys you were with.

  2. Truth to the Baboons: