Tag Archives: Suurbraak

No one can tame a fence like Japie Presence

If you live in Suurbraak or its environs and need a fence constructed or repaired, a chicken hok rooikat or otter-proofed, bollards constructed or your lawn mowed, then Japie Presence is your man.

Jakob Present repairing a chicken hok
A rooikat (caracel or African lynx) took out my two ducks one night after the other. Jakob knew what I was up against, fortified the gate using a bent dropper I had on hand and ensured the base around the cage was impregnable and end of problem
Jacob goat-proofing a fence
Freyja the goat was a real pest as she insisted on jumping the perimeter fence in order to feast inside. Jakob improvised and end of problem
Otter that killed ducks and chickens on a neighbouring farm
This otter terrorized neighbours Mark and Dori wiping out almost their entire poultry operation. I recommended Jakob who then ensured that the chicken coop was otter-proof

Japie, whose real name is Jacob (or Jakob in Afrikaans) is a man of many talents. Consequently he has been a boon to me. For instance it was he who noticed that the metal chimney to my Dover stove was rusted and needing replacing. He did a MacGyver and it not only no longer leaks but pulls far better than it did.

On request Jakob also arrives with his weed eater and will do an excellent job mowing your lawn.

He’ll also tends to the garden, rakes leaves and will prune your fruit trees.

For big jobs he’ll quote, but also has a daily rate. If his quotation isn’t to your liking please engage with him as he is open to discussing his and your needs to ensure that neither is short-changed.

If you need to contact him leave a note below and I’ll get back to you with his mobile number.

LinkedIn Learning is a life-changer – or was, for me

This unsolicited post will argue that you should take out a trial subscription to LinkedIn Learning to rivet those joints: yours and/or your employees

Photography has featured strongly in much of my working career in education (photographic clubs, school magazines, newspapers, newsletters, websites, press releases and social media), so I reckon I knew something about how to shoot a reasonable image.

However, mine was always just-in-time learning based on a lifetime of hands-on, manuals, physical courses, YouTube and Adobe Support videos.

In short: Heath Robinson.

So my scaffolding has taken some strain over the years and, then, a short while ago, it collapsed (well kinda – I know I’m dramatizing, but it certainly felt that way) on a photoshoot suggested by long-time friend, Ken Barris, of the Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert where, throughout, I had enormous difficulty coaxing the kind of images I wanted from my Nikon D800E and two prime lenses, whereas Ken was in his element (refer the photo above and the credit below).

Since then, defeated and depressed, my camera mostly remained in its bag.

In the meantime, however, I had an upcoming commission by Peter Baker – who, with Darryl David, put together the annual Booktown Richmond in the Northern Cape, South Africa – to shoot and report on another chapter of Bookbedonnerd. That, and encouragement by conversations with Ken, convinced me to take the financial plunge, and I purchased a 24-85mm medium zoom.

Additionally I signed up for a monthly LinkedIn Learning subscription (which enticingly comes with a free one-month introduction and the option to cancel anytime). After providing my payment details I logged in, listed my training needs (Photography, Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, WordPress, and Premier Elements) and was presented with abundance: hundreds, if not thousands of full-length courses to choose from.

I followed their recommendation which was tutoring by Ben Long, and selected his Photography Foundations: Exposure, Photography Foundations: Lenses and Nikon D800 Essential Training. Additionally I worked my way through Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s WordPress Essential Training and WordPress Themes: Twenty Fourteen.

I was blown away at how professional, comprehensive, accessible and helpful all the courses were.

My modus operandi was to work through each course – not skipping a single lesson – even though I thought I knew something about the topic in question, and I’m glad I did it that way because I was then able to rebuild from the ground up thus trading Heath Robinson for solidity and elegance.

I don’t in this post wish to run myself down completely because I do suspect I’m not the only one depending on rickety scaffolding. My sense is successful people mostly play to their strengths. In fact a colleague, Alixe Lowenherz, once suggested that most everybody in IT in those early days was flying by the seat of their pants.

And it’s because I suspect I’m not unique, and that we’re all a little rusty or rickety that I’m recommending you, too, sign up to LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning is a professional, polished and comprehensive LMS (learning management system) with courses on every topic under the sun – it seems, so if you own a business or are responsible for training in your company I would like to make one further suggestion: their staff option. It’ll return dividends.

Bookbedonnerd? Didn’t make it. My car broke down. But I do have some nice goat pics.

Goats ‘oor die rivier’ (across the river) from Suurbraak

Photo credit: feature image at the head of this post of me not getting it together on the Swartberg Pass was shot by Ken Barris who was in top form

The Buffeljags is running dry

“This is the first time in 30 years the river has been this low,” reports Bertrim Oliver, who lives in Suurbraak, a small village that straddles the Buffelags Rivers on the way to or from Barrydale in the Western Cape.

Where I live, in line with the confluence of the Caledon and Buffelags, neither river seems to flow anymore, and the Buffeljags is fast drying up.

Where the Caledon River meets the Buffeljags in Suurbraak

“Never seen it this bad,” comments Matthew Mentz, “but we have had worse droughts, which makes me think water tables are disappearing.”

The Municipality of Swellendam administers Suurbraak and supplies farmers and all of us who live ‘oor die rivier’ (across the river from the village) with irrigation water from the Buffeljags, which they pump to a storage dam up the hill.

When the level falls below the pump feed we on this side of the river will be in trouble as the irrigation dam water is our only source – unless we have rainwater tanks of sufficient capacity.

Buffeljags in line with the pump station in Suurbraak

Organic farmers, Mark and Dori September, are therefore at risk.

Dori and I spoke with the Suurbraak Municipal Manager, Desmond Marais, about the situation. Marais confirmed that bulk water is available from Swellendam (purchasable via the Municipal cash office).

Caledon River that runs close to the plot where I stay in Suurbraak

Update, Wednesday 2018-11-21

Two days later the heavens opened (see below), and it then poured throughout most of the night.

Rain collecting around the cob house

The next morning, what do we see:

The Buffeljags flowing strongly over the weir in Suurbraak

In view of the comment below by Carol Browne in response to Matt’s hypothesis about groundwater levels mentioned above, it will be interesting to monitor for how long the flow continues.

The featured image at the head of this post is of Dori and Mark’s and my goats surveying the new geography of the Buffeljags

This is a developing story.


A hidden geography

The longer I live alone here, off-grid in Suurbraak, managing my son (Matt) and daughter-in-law’s (Sasha) small Niche Unity farming operation, the more absorbed I become in what I call a hidden geography, captured also in a short film by Green Renaissance:

Ostensibly, the film is a creation of Justine du Toit (producer), Michael Raimondo (director), Warren Smart (cinematographer), and Jackie Viviers (editor) all of Green Renaissance. Continue reading A hidden geography

Suurbraak rolling mass action: a commentary

Commentary on the march held in Suurbraak Sunday 14 May, 2017.

This report provides:

  1. commentary on the march
  2. commentary on the period shortly after the march ended
  3. commentary on the handover of the list of demands
  4. update on the racial incident
  5. ruminations about  where this is all heading

Continue reading Suurbraak rolling mass action: a commentary

‘Ons soek huise’: Suurbraak march for housing

This report gives you a taste of the day as it happened and is divided into three sections:

  1. The march itself
  2. Shortly after the march ended
  3. Handover of the letter of demand

For commentary on the day please go to: Suurbraak rolling mass action: a commentary

1. The march itself

Continue reading ‘Ons soek huise’: Suurbraak march for housing

Reasons for, report on, and thoughts about the Suurbraak protest

I reported earlier how I came away troubled from a meeting I had attended two weeks back called by the Swellendam executive mayor, Councillor Nicholas Myburgh, to address a host of community-related issues.

Flowing from that meeting was a protest action this past Sunday 7 May 2017, which ended in the symbolic burning of a banner depicting Swellendam Municipality. Continue reading Reasons for, report on, and thoughts about the Suurbraak protest

Housing protest in Suurbraak

A demonstration is planned (at 14:00 on Sunday 7 May 2017) on the Suurbraak braak (village green) to which the press has been invited in order to protest the non-delivery of housing because (as I understand the talk) of alleged routing of sums of money meant to be utilised for Suurbraak (an ANC-controlled ward) for use in Swellendam (run by the DA), to the detriment of the people of Suurbraak, and of housing. Continue reading Housing protest in Suurbraak

Canaries in the Suurbraak coalmine

I came away troubled from a meeting I attended on Monday 24 April 2017 in the Suurbraak community hall called by the Swellendam executive mayor, councillor Nicholas Myburgh, to address a host of community-related issues.

After prayers the meeting immediately turned ugly when Myburgh laid down the rules: only three questions allowed for each point on the agenda, the meeting would end promptly by 21:00, if we didn’t abide by these rules he would pack up and drive off. Continue reading Canaries in the Suurbraak coalmine

Portent

I manage a small agroecology farming operation in Suurbraak on behalf of my son (Matt) and daughter-in-law (Sasha). On my return Japie Present reported that when he had tried to secure the ducks and chickens for the night he wasn’t able to find the fourth duck.

Continue reading Portent