The Charm of a Karoo Farmstay

On a Karoo farmstay you will find things that remind you of your lost and happy childhood. This is because on farms, there is no point to throwing things away just because they’re not the fashion.

Here you might find chenille bedspreads when the world has long moved into Percale cotton covered white duvets. Or an avocado coloured bath with taps are straight out of the 1960s. Or bathroom tile patterns you last saw in your grandmother’s house.

You may even encounter a Barbie Doll with a big crocheted woollen skirt that covers a roll of toilet paper resting on the cistern. Or a crocheted poodle doing the same.

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Here are the potential downsides of a Karoo farmstay:

  • There is a reasonably good chance that you will be woken by a rooster or a dog barking at a rooster;
  • You may encounter decor items you last saw in your grandmother’s house;
  • Your host might be a good storyteller and red wine drinker. Your liver might suffer;
  • Sometimes the floorboards are creaky;
  • The insides of kettles and cisterns and the like can be thickly coated with calcium because there is so much of it in Karoo water. Can be startling, but your skeleton will love it.

On the plus side:

  • The Karoo abounds in life. You may see a ground squirrel, a dragonfly, a crazy ant nest, a butterfly, a hawk moth, a red-winged starling, a newly born colt, a lamb, a squadron of chickens, kestrels and hawks;
  • You will probably regain more natural sleeping patterns. In bed by 9pm, up at dawn;
  • You will regain your sense of wonder at the natural world. You will start caring anew for where your food comes from;
  • You will be able to eat the farm’s meat, and sometimes prepared by the farmer’s wife’s own hand;
  • Knowledge that you are contributing to farm security by being a presence on the farm and also by supporting sustainable agriculture financially and morally;
  • You also contribute to food security.

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On a Karoo sheep farm, this is your soundtrack:

When the sky is still midnight blue, you will hear a rooster repeating its refrain. Then as the sky lightens, the chirrup of birds and then the baa of a sheep, treble and bass, lambs bawling for their mothers, the ewes reassuring them.

The plaintive high sweet note of a clapper lark as it flies up to applaud the dawn.

A tractor starting up. When all that early morning activity ends, there is a golden light silence that offers time to drink coffee and quietly reflect. On why it feels so perfect right here, right now, on the stoep of your adopted Karoo farm.