Before we get stuck into this piece and you silently mouth off at me about needing a break from a place that literally means “the rest”, it helps to consider that sometimes even the idylls of village living can close in around one… especially when you live, work, create, eat, sleep and exercise (and eat some more) in the same place, 24/7.
That being said, a couple of weekends ago, my Plus One and I packed a bag, bundled the children into the bakkie and drove the long and treacherous 8km down the road – turning off at the delightfully named Middelplaas and weaving our way past the sheep farms and along the canals to arrive at our heaven-away-from-heaven: Numbi Valley Permaculture farm, De Rust.
Walking through the dense proliferation of squash vines, veggie patches and fruit trees that comprise the organic edible garden of Numbi Valley, we inadvertently snuck up on Kath who was busy in the kitchen, chopping garden-fresh veggies to go into the pot. It was only 2:30 PM and I was already looking forward to dinner!
Kath and Ross’s home is a hand-built cob cottage with a large living room window that lets the mountains inside and makes you instantly want to get your own farm and build your own cob house. To visit Numbi Valley is to be instantly schooled on what it means to live off the land completely and to love it in the absolute.
Letting the dogs out, we settled into the self-catering cottage and I was secretly enthralled by the little fireplace next to the shower. Mr Rautenbach and I have a huge 15sqm bathroom in desperate need of a makeover, so I’ve been trawling magazines and looking at other people’s bathrooms (not in a, like, weird way or anything…) to get ideas of what to do with all that space. After this stay at Numbi Valley, I’m 90% sold on having a fireplace to heat bath and shower water…
Little Karoo summers are scorching, but on the weekend we visited the farm it was overcast with on-and-off drizzle – the kind of precipitation where you don’t mind being in it because it’s such a relief from the heat. So that’s what we did: we be’d in it.
While the boys went off to play tennis in town, Kath and I took the dogs for some Little Karoo bosveld exploration on the wild side of the 70 hectares that make up the Numbi Valley property. Aside from the crunching of the dried vegetation and quartz stones under our flip flops (some hardcore ladies over here…), the only sounds in the air were the slight breeze that pushed the indecisive drizzle around and… nothing.
The noise that nothing makes is something that not everyone gets to appreciate – you really have to listen out for it. It sounds like time passing – not that of one second to the next, but it’s the sound of millennia unfolding as you contemplate the slow shifting of the mountains and the wrenching of the tall aloes as they hurl themselves ‘away’ from the sun in the hot, dry summer.
Nothing is also the sound the dogs make when they’re up to mischief. Texas – my yellow dog – got lost first, but we located him with the help of Russia, my border-whippet, who subsequently decided to go wandering off herself. No sooner had we got both of them back in our sights than Texas decided to fall into the (fortunately dry) canal. He didn’t get hurt, but the more he tried to get out of the canal, with its sheer walls and concave bottom, the more he increased his chances of injury. And the more attention we paid to trying to get him out, the more Russia seemed like she would jump in too, considering this looked like an awesome game to play – one that engaged the humans fully!
Fortunately Kath’s years of bush guiding and general outdoors smarts came in handy when she effortlessly slid down into the canal and devised a trick with a single rock, which meant we were able to hoist my 25-kilo dummy of a dog out of his self-imposed predicament. I also learnt that pulling a 25-kilo deadweight up by the scruff of the neck with one hand (while lying chest-down on gravel) was not entirely impossible… And of course Kath needed no help in getting herself out of the canal unscathed.
Texas was fine, if not just a little shell-shocked, and he stayed well away from the edge of the canal for the rest of our walk.
For as long as the sun stayed up, the four of us chilled by the plunge pool.
The natural pool – which features regularly in guests’ photos of Numbi Valley – is filled with spring water, which is emptied into the olive grove every few days, scrubbed down and refilled with fresh water. Olive grove?! you exclaim. Yes – Numbi Valley’s much prized organic-grown, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is a one-of-a-kind product that is as perfect for cooking eggs in as it is for use in a massage – also one of the delightful treats you can experience (…and I have…) during a stay here.
As the day ended, the clouds lifted a little and the sun treated us to a grandiose flourish of a golden goodbye. It was time to light the fire and sit down to Kath’s mouth-wateringly good, duvet-cooked (Ï’m not joking) vegetable stew. Don’t take my word for it; when you visit 😉 ask her how it works.
As the fire burned low, so did our chatter and by 10PM it was time for bed. We’d tucked the pooches in earlier, but by the time we got back to the cottage we’d caught our second wind and decided to enjoy some freshly-ground coffee next to the fire.
The Mister and I sat and listened to that time-bending silence – sipping coffee – and discussed our long-term dreams and plans.
We continuously acknowledge and express our gratitude for how blessed we are to be where we are and still have the opportunity to earn a proper living while enjoying the richness of country life. We’d encourage anyone who has even a whisper of a desire to ditch the city to do so.
Not sure if it’s the life for you? Come stay at Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm, just outside the village of De Rust on the N12/Route 62, and see how fast your feet want to plunge roots into these mountains…
The Next Day
After a comfortable night’s sleep, it was the first cool morning I’ve experienced in a long time and was actually craving a hot shower. Having experienced a cloudy day the day before, the solar-heated water was only lukewarm, which meant… dun-dun-duuuuun… I got to play with the donkey. Now I know this is the Little Karoo, but I’m not talking about a donkey donkey, but rather the shower-side fireplace.
Striking a single match, igniting the kindling, and closing the little iron door, it took 4 minutes flat to generate piping-hot water. What a way to start the day!
We would have loved to sleep in and enjoy a mid-morning coffee and a stroll around the garden, but prior arrangements called for an early departure. Not to worry… Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm is the kind of place that you definitely come back to for second helpings.