So where are you?

If you visit Mozambique once or twice, distance isn’t an issue, but once you start living here, you realize exactly how taxing these distances are.

Once we moved here, I tried to change my hometown on Facebook…. Then you realize how isolated you are and that in most cases google maps haven’t been here yet!

To answer people’s question on where the farm is, used to be a complicated navigation, but now I just say Vilankulo, though it is 2-hour drive from Vilanculos and half the people in Vilanculos think we are from Inhassoro and the other half think we must be close to Muabsa, because very little have wondered further inland than Muabsa. People then usually reply: “Oh, in the north?” and no, it is very, very far from the North of Mozambique. The Mozambican coastline is about 3000 km long and we are still in the southern part of that coastline. View the coastline hereMozambique coastline

To answer fellow farmers is easier, you just say in the bush on the Mabote road and they understand. We don’t use sign posts, we use unique or big trees to give directions. We don’t measure traveling time in distance but in hours.

 Where do you start?

Giving young Wessel a bath in Mozambique style in Koos’s camp

While starting up our farm, we used our neighbor, Koos Joubert’s camp as a base. It’s an hour’s drive from us so we knew we had to organize living arrangements on the far as soon as possible.  After we drilled a hole for water and erected a makeshift tank stand, we decided that tents where out of the question with two babies and the locals ensured us that they can build economical Rondawels (Round houses with thatch roofs).

Because logistics can become a bit of a nightmare we decided to use natural resources on the farm as much as possible. We have what the locals call Zambiri forests on the farm, so in order to build the huts, they first planted poles in a circle. Read more about Lebombo leadwood http://iscantree.co.za/androstachys-johnsonii-lebomboysterhout-lebombo-ironwood/

I am not going to romanticize it…. I hated it. I couldn’t wait for the house to be build, but in the Maslow hierarchy triangle of a farms wants and needs, a house isn’t a need, we needed our cattle to be fed and safe, so they got priority.

Because I grew up on a farm, I understood this Maslow-thing better that I wish. The logic and farmer in me understood this, but the emotional woman side of me rebelled all the way! My wants and needs weren’t completely in line with the wants and needs of the livestock. I give my husband all the credit for development of Toro Ranch. I had a colic baby and a bad attitude. He did is absolute best to meet my wants. I had a very comfortable stay up till now. I had a big kitchen Rondawel, a bathroom with a lovely bath (My absolute need) My friends back in South Africa said it looked like a holiday destination… but i wanted a good old fashion farm house with a garden! but for the first two years in Mozambique this camp was called home.  Commonly referred to as “Die Boshuis”

One of our biggest obstacles was water and unskilled workers.

The only source of protein was rats

When doing research on Mozambique, we decided that it is an absolute must to support local. We try as far as possible to make use of local suppliers and local laborers and especially people from our community. The problem here is, that most of them are unskilled and when you are running against time, this can get very frustrating.
As frustrating as this got at times because we were facing one of the worst draughts in the history of Southern Africa at the time, calmness always hit us at lunch time when we saw the workers roasting rats for lunch, because that is all they could afford…. It was all they had access to.

We would breath, be very thankful for what we’ve got and tried again after lunch. I peek at their lunches today and I must say, they are eating much better these days!

If you ate today, thank a farmer

We soon settled into the rhythm of Mozambique and we saw again that Africa got its own time.