Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Farm Skills - a post written last year and then never published

We never set out to live as we do. It just happened. Each day presents its own opportunities for discovery and experience, exploration and adventure. Some we grasp eagerly and others slip by unnoticed.

Today my family is immersed in the music and lyrics of Sweeney Todd, a musical we saw when on holiday in Cape Town. The songs are playing, full volume, while dinner preparation is underway.

Yesterday I hand spun dog hair on the spindle that Decadent Dad turned on the lathe a while back. I spun it on a whim, just to see if I could. The Siberian Husky hair makes a delightfully soft yarn.

Since living on this farm in the Free State I have learned to:

make yoghurt, butter, cheese, and to milk a cow

ride a horse

raise heirloom vegetables from seed

grow enough vegetables to feed my family for a year

crochet well enough to make blankets for my children

raise orphan lambs

spin my hand-raised sheep, Lucy's wool

spin alpaca fibre into luxurious yarn

quilt with the help of a delightful quilt group

raise chickens, calves, pigs and sheep

help a cow with a difficult calf delivery

administer injections to our animals

make apple cider and apple cider vinegar

render lard

make delicious guinea fowl pie

make do without clean water in our taps for extended periods

gather beeswax for soap making

preserve almost every kind of local fruit and vegetable

grow and grind our own maize for porridge, bread and tortillas

sing worship songs in seSotho

brew herbal teas

dry fruit from the summer harvest

Each new skill presented itself as a natural response to a need, opportunity or responsibility. My teachers have been books, wonderful people, my animals and the internet. Some lessons grew out of my dislike of waste and the satisfaction I feel from using my resources to their capacity. I am eager to learn so much more.

I would love to:

begin exploring the art of using natural dyes for fleece

 try a little more felting

learn to embroider beautifully

weave some of my handspan yarn

learn to weave the thatching grasses into broom, baskets and hats

learn to speak seSotho so that I can engage with the farm women and children

teach the little ones some arts and crafts

ride better than I do

grow disease-free tomatoes successfully

plant a prettier garden



make fruit wine

and so much more....


  1. ah Cath, how I have missed your writing. Your interpretation of life is beautiful.Please continue to write from time to time as I have now moved to another country and lap up your writing and love seeing your beautiful pics of home.

    1. Thanks so much Cindy. Hopefully I will be able to get back to writing this year.