Fat downy white geese eat grass-heads like spaghetti while young men on a bright red tractor use devil-pronged forks to pile hay into the barn. Floppy-eared goats with quizzical expressions are getting milked while their bovine neighbours take a leisurely stroll back to the fields. Weaving her way through the lush rows of super-sized vegetables and fragrant herbs, Sylvia Thompson harvests enough for their weekly orders.
Low bells clang comfortingly, geese honk their right of way, bees buzz, goats bleat.… A reality check reveals that we are not extras in a movie adaptation of Old Macdonald’s Farm. This is real life for Nipper and Sylvia Thompson and the staff at the Wegraakbosch farm near the small hamlet of Haenertsburg in Limpopo. It is all interconnected here – the pigs clear out the brambles for new fields which are transformed into a lush, organic veggie patch, winter pastures or flowering cherries kept wet by an old-fashioned water wheel.
The dairy still uses the 800-year-old processes and a copper cauldron warmed by a wood-burning fire. “The traditional process is simple so why change it?” Nipper asks. Sylvia and Nipper worked in the Swiss Alps for three months learning how to make cheese. Once the rennet sets the milk to a custard consistency, the whey is stirred out of the curds, just like the Little Miss Muffet rhyme. The cheeses bob around in a salt bath for the day and are left to mature on the shelves for up to three months.
The dairy is part of the Slow Food Movement and Wegraakbosch has a constant stream of city-dwellers visiting the countryside, stopping in to enjoy the rustic farm setting, the peaceful lifestyle and a cheese platter under the Wisteria.
Take a tour of the cheese farm or get a cheese and chorizo platter. You may also like picking blueberries at Blueberry Heights during the Berry Festival or the salt harvesting process at Baleni Cultural Camp.