Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Op die plaas

I've given this an Afrikaans title because farming is, to a large extent, associated with "boers", the pastoral descendants of the early Dutch settlers in South Africa. Also, I'm busy reading Karel Schoeman's haunting "Na die geliefde land", from the 1970s, in Afrikaans, and am finding it incredibly evocative of the farming lifestyle.

Back on Spring Valley, the farm near Steynsburg in the Karoo where my wife Robyn spent many happy childhood holidays with her grandparents, I did a few drawings in oil pastels.

These orange flowers caught my eye.

Done a few years ago while her uncle, Bill Elliott, was still on the farm, this shows how easy it is to distort moving objects. Even a tired old dog doesn't keep still much.

The view over a gate towards another - made from an old ox wagon wheel - set into a stone wall. Behind, typical farming paraphernalia, and in the distance, a few koppies.

My wife, Robyn, won't be much impressed with this somewhat distorted view of her reading out in the sun on the sprawling lawn at the front of the farmhouse, where the dogs ruled the roost.

On one of many walks and mountain climbs, I did this view of the famous Teebus and Koffiebus mountains. It is fascinating to consider the infinite variety of views it is possible to get of this pair of impressive flat-topped koppies.

As noted on a previous blog, many Karoo farms which had been almost exclusively used for sheep and goats for a hundred years, are now being turned over to cattle - often of the Nguni variety. This to prevent further damage to the veld.

On a climb up what is called Red Mountain on the farm - because of how it glows as the sun sets in winter -I did this drawing of the view south. The alarming news concerning the Karoo is that oil giant Shell is seeking permission to frack it. Yes, that's not a misspelt expletive, though many would consider the process of fracking - hydraulic fracturing to release methane trapped in subterranean shale - to be a bloody disgrace. Here's hoping they are not permitted to destroy the timeless beauty of the Karoo by turning it into a dusty, polluted gas field.

Part of our group, and two dogs, admire the view from the top of Red Mountain.

Totally unflattering images, I concede, of close family atop Red Mountain. Only the dogs come off relatively unscathed!

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