Photo: Rupert, one of our rescue donkeys, reckons there is plenty to be thankful for.
Along with the rest of the world, our lives changed unexpectedly and abruptly when hard lockdown was announced. In a state of disbelief and shock we had to handle cancellations of weddings and events, make arrangements with guests who were booked at our farm cottages, and find ways to negotiate the regulations around wine sales and transportation.
From one day to the next, the farm fell eerily quiet. No guests, no visiting conservationists or wine tourists, no casual workers or even friends or family were allowed to visit. Days suddenly seemed empty and filled with uncertainty.
Slowly but surely the land itself called us back to live in the present.
We had to get on with what the season demanded; tending and harvesting and making of products that could not wait. On an organic farm this is especially labour intensive and time consuming and it filled our days with hard work. We had to care for the animals, the farm and above all else, one another. The farm workers and their families that live on the farm needed our guidance and support, and we all became even closer as a community.
The olive harvest turned out to be exceptional and we were delighted with the quality of the olives and resulting oil. Made in the European tradition for taste and longevity, Dragonridge Extra Virgin Olive Oil is distinctive, with a particularly potent and quite peppery profile.
Soon after the olives, a bumper crop of organic lemons had to be harvested and processed. Johan and his team made delicious lemon marmalade, citrus cordials and started the lengthy, but rewarding process of making his renowned Limoncello. (All these products are available from the farm.)
To support our Fynbos community, the vegetable garden was resuscitated and we have all been enjoying farm-fresh, organic winter vegetables – including the wild guinea fowl that have been a bit destructive in their enthusiastic gardening.
Johan used idle hours to teach staff members some cooking skills and to bake bread. Glorious aromas and much laughter have been wafting from De Perdestal’s kitchen where the lessons take place.
The cold of winter is the time that weeding and pruning of the vineyards have to be done. With our organic philosophy, weeding at the feet of the vines is done by hand and spade, as we do not use any herbicides or pesticides. Pruning is also done by hand to ready the vines for the appearance of buds with the onset of warmer weather.
With the relaxation of some of the travel regulations, we could welcome guests again. People were desperate to get out of the city and come to the farm with its wide open spaces and fresh air. This reminded us again how incredibly fortunate we are to live where we do.
Our self-catering farm cottages and houses are spaced quite far apart, so it is relatively easy to observe social distancing precautions. For the safety and reassurance of staff and guests, strict COVID-19 measures have been put in place on the farm at all of our guest accommodation and shared areas.
It is a pleasure to once again receive visitors and share the freedom and tranquility of Fynbos Estate. The farm is heaven for kids and some of the houses are pet friendly. It is a beautiful time of year in the Swartland and the hiking and mountain bike trails into the nature reserve are spectacularly rewarding. Come visit!