After quite a severe winter here in South Africa and struggling with the many ‘veld’ fires we get every year (we’re very much similar to Australia in that regard, and where do they COME from?) – the first spring rains have arrived and it really amazes me that, no matter HOW much you water the garden and the vegetables, just 5mm of rain and everything is flowering, towering and spreading with zest and zeal!
The view towards our neighbour’s property after a fire swept through both our properties, leaving the landscape charred and blackened.
The fires are always a mystery to me – part of our smallholding is not situated near a road, so it cannot be from somebody carelessly throwing down a match or cigarette, yet the fires would always start ‘somewhere’ and then spread ferociously the length and breadth of properties in its path, resulting in every possible helping hand rushing in with wet sacks, branches and whatever is available to try and extinguish the demon and rushing to get animals out of harm’s way.
Life on a smallholding or small farm is always very much at the mercy of the rain – too little and you have to supplement from the borehole and in any drought situation, there’s always the worry that the borehole might dry up. This is every small farmer’s greatest fear, as it’s costly and time-consuming drilling a new borehole, or two or three, because no matter how strongly the ‘water diviner’ insists THIS is the place to drill, there is no guarantee that one will find any water. Too much rain and the potatoes might rot.
The old pump house with water tanks on top, and the borehole now dried up and defunct
During one such drought, the water level in our trusty 20-year old borehole dropped to beyond a depth that was viable to try and retrieve, so we opted for drilling a new hole. Now this takes major organisation, because you must remember that, from the minute that your water tanks run dry, you are in a position of having absolutely NO water – not even to wash your hands with!
So while the drilling contractor is busy setting up his equipment, we were busy organising with the next door farmer to get some water pumped into our tanks for daily use – pipes and fittings have to
be bought and trenches dug for hundreds of meters to get the water into the tanks 10m high – there are equations to be worked out between the Kilowatt strength of the neighbour’s pump, the distance to the tanks and the pressure needed to get the water 10m up …
Once the water from the neighbour has filled the tanks, utter caution is exercised in the usage of the water – every spare drop is used to full capacity for flushing toilets, watering plants and supplying the animals with enough to drink. And possibly weeks later, when the new borehole is finished, all the equipment is removed from the old borehole and fitted to the newly drilled hole, once again trenches are dug for new electrical connections and then, hopefully, beautiful, sweet cool water once again flows.
I wonder how many town folk ever give this precious commodity a second thought …