A tank full of Diesel and a little bit of rain*

Winter is on the way

Winter is on its way. The sun shines straight into my office in the mornings. I can not do anything on the computer. And, the olives are picked and pressed. Not the best of crops. But more than enough for our existing clients. And a bit more. And the Coratina is particularly peppery this year. We may just do a Coratina only, for our Portuguese friends. Look out for the word ‘Intense’ on the bottle.

And it is time to say goodbye to the plukspan. Every year they come back to pick our olives and our grapes. Mostly women – mostly mothers, some oumas. You hear them talk in the vineyards and orchards, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. Deviline and Heidi and Sonja and Thandiwe and Noluthanda. It is work and it is for money. Hard work and little money. But they pitch. Take home a few pieces of wood that they pick up for heat and light.  

I wanted to start this letter with a bit of a moan. That my glass keeps slipping below the half full mark. It is not much fun when our olive press breaks down up to six times a day because of the irregular power flow. When there is power.

And then I think of those brave women who help us make our oil and cheese and wine.  A full gas bottle and food in the house makes them sleep a lot easier.

 So, with diesel in the tank and the dams that are already almost half full, I should have another look at that glass.

We have a salt problem with some of our soils. You can fix it but it’s costly.  The best fixer of brackish soil is rain. And we’ve had some. The olives are pushing new shoots; a good sign for next year’s crop. The temperatures are dropping so the vines will have a good rest. The goats are on maternity leave and resting up for the new season.

We have taken out some olive trees and will replace some of them with more Favolosa. A variety that can take it; some grass and lucern for the goats and the cattle; and just to make the local co-op happy we’re building an afdak for our antiquated wine press.

And come to think of it; as long as it’s good wine the glass can maar be below half full. Just keep topping it up.

 Written by Johan Heyns

 *From the song Mannetjies Roux by Laurika Rauch. An ode to all farmers.