Its been at least two years now that I have been trying to buy the farm Goedmoedsfontien. Its a 10 Hectare property near Coleen Glen about 20km from Port Elizabeth. The land is on the base of a south facing hill. The remaining part of the original farm from which other parts have been subdivided over the years. Parts of the house are really old. The farm was first granted to a Mr Kok in 1816. He may have built this house shortly after that. I am still doing some research to find out with certainty.

The farm has some pasture  some forest and some wet land. There are two springs and a stream running though the property. The two streams I believe feed the Kragga Kamma river after which the area is named.

My intention is to restore the farm into a mixed farm with indigenous Nguni cattle, boerbok goats and local sheep breeds. I intend to manage the forest and perhaps run a small free range pork operation. I have some experience with pastured poultry. the farm will definitely be suited to this.

Right now the farm is overrun with invasive alien trees and I have started to work of clearing these. The farmhouse is not yet accessible by car and I am building a new route from the road about 200 m from to the house. Its is very sensitive work as the road has to cross the stream that runs from the spring. There are number of beautiful indigenous forest trees that the driveway must avoid. This too adds to the complexity.

The cottage has been abandoned for many years and needs a lot of hands on work restoring it the roof needs to be replaced along with windows doors and floor boards.

Some of th walls are of mud brick construction and need a careful and caring approach to restore them.

I have now secured an “option” to purchase the farm by September 2013.

I have had to pay for the option so I am risking quite a bit of cash.

The reason I cannot buy the farm without the option is because the banks will not offer finance on “vacant land”. The house is really in a bad state and I intend to spend the next months fixing up the house and the farm to the point where we are able to convince the banks to provide finance.

If they don’t, the sellers will proceed with their attempts to sub dived the farm into three portions and sell them off to “lifestyle” buyers. I am afraid with such small subdivisions no real farming is possible. (even 10 Ha is pushing it)

So this is my mission for the next six months.

I am going to need all the help I can get to save the farm and save me from loosing what I have put in.

I am now actively calling for volunteers to assist.

If you would like to get involved in some way, please contact me at tim@noharchitects.co.za

Walmer Tilapia Hatchery

The first batch of my tank bred  red strain Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)
have now reached about 5 cm each. They seem better adapted to the tank environment and take both commercial feed and duckweed quite well. I am still keeping the ordinary grey ones though and may play with the idea of crossing them to see what happens.

Walmer Tilapia Hatchery

Photo: Major disaster this morning in the Tilapia Hatchery. Water levels went lower than the bubbler leaving fish starved for oxygen. Sadly these fish are now contributing their nutrients to the compost heap.

Major disaster this morning in the Tilapia Hatchery. Water levels in the outside 1 kl went lower than the bubbler leaving fish starved for oxygen. Sadly these fish are now contributing their nutrients to the compost heap. Perhaps I lost half the fish, there are still many quite healthy. I also lost two gold fish that had become quite big in the tank.

I have now changed the bubbler set up in such a way that it can never be exposed above the water level. But the system is being tweaked and adjusted with every mistake I make. I have made a lot of mistakes!

Walmer Vinyard

I have been working for a few weeks now on cleaning up the vine on my east boundary.

The vine has been there for a long time. When we moved in 13 years ago it was already very established and giving small purple blackish fruit. The I count three vines, with a least one on the neigbours side of the fence.

I intend to make wine from these grapes come Feb or March next year.

The best gues so far is that the cultivar is a Catawaba. This cultivar comes from America. When I googl Catawaba, it does come up with a number of sites trying to popularise the wine.

Interestingly though, when I went to the Nursery a few weeks ago to buy 4 new vines, the only red cultivar that they had available was Catawaba. Perhaps the nursery man their knows a thing or two about suitability to the Port Elizbeth climate.

Which brings me to the Theescome wine estate that i visited last week. Sandra there is making wines from four cultivars – Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvingon and two whites. here vinyard is only two hectars in extent!

Climate therefor does not seem to be an impossible impediment in Port Elizabeth.

I can be worked around!

Walmer Tilapia Hatchery

Major disaster on Sunday. I heard a crashing noise. When I got to the hot house the glass aquarium had broken and the red tilapia breeding group were all over the ground flapping around. Managed to save them but I think we lost the fry the broody mother was carrying in her mouth.

I bough this tank second hand about a year ago for about R200.00. Just to replace the broken glass would cost me about R600.00. I t does not seem worth it. I have never built a fishtank before and the chances of me getting it wrong are quite big. Perhaps I will live without the glass aquarium. (for now)