About Fine Bush People 2006 - 2012
- See our earlier about us page from 2001 to mid 2002.
- See our not so early about us page from 2003 to 2005.
The Oertel 2005-2006 Year
- We had a successful Buchu harvest during April/May 2005. An exciting event which happened during the harvest was that one of the Buchu cutters spotted a leopard on our property. Later in the year, our Sun Mountain neighbours spotted further evidence of leopards. We feel very privileged to have a piece of land with a leopard living on it.
- We investigated putting a pump onto our existing borehole. Unfortunately, on testing, it was discovered that the borehole was dry. Our next step is to get a water diviner up to the farm to find a better spot and then to drill and hold thumbs. We hope to achieve this before the year is over.
- A major objective we have had ever since buying the farm, was to remove the row of 100 pine treesplanted on our boundary by the previous owner. It turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than we predicted. The gentleman who cut the trees only wanted the trunks and not the branches. As they had never been grown with the view to selling, the branches were never pruned. The trees were about 20 years old and the mountain of debris left after the trunks had been removed was daunting.
- We had to then find some way of removing it all. This proved an impossible task - no one wanted to undertake the job - it was either too much to handle, too dangerous to burn or not enough to make it worth someone's while. We were about to finalize an arrangement with our Sun Mountain neighbour, to collect it all using her tractor and taking it to her burning pit and burning it up, when nature came to our rescue. A fire started near the bottom of the mountain mid-December 2005 and on and off over the next 2-3 weeks burnt most of the mountain, including our pine debris problem.
Our first fire on the farm:
We were away in Johannesburg over Christmas, so were not on the farm experiencing the fire first hand. Receiving a call from one of the homeowners who was in the midst of the fire when calling, was our first inkling of what was happening. From reports in the newspaper and frequent phone calls between us and neighbours, we kept up to date with its progress.
We have no dwelling on our farm, so there was no threat to anything of value other than our camping equipment and of course our Buchu. Needless to say, there will be no harvest this year.
The fire was not so kind to our Sun Mountain neighbours, who lost one of their most popular thatch cottages.
Although we were not on the farm at the time, reports from people that were there and evidence we have seen since, show what an amazing job the firefighters did in minimizing damage to properties that were under threat.
We first got to the farm about 10 days after the fire, first week of Jan 2006, and initally felt quite awed by the black, charred landscape. But as we walked further into the farm and realized the complete devastation, although still awed by the power of the fire, we felt saddened about what was no more. We have been up a couple of times over the last few weeks and are amazed at how much regrowth has already taken place - and we hadn't had our first proper rains yet. We had not had a fire on the farm since we bought it in 1996, so the fynbos vegetation was well overdue for a fire. The abundance of bulbs and pioneer plants that have come up, as well as all the resprouters, is impressive and inspiring. We are planning to take many photos over the next year to document the revival of the Fijnbosch Farme fynbos vegetation after a fire, so check in every now and again.
- Matthew, our 18 year old son has had an eventful 16 months. At the start of the school term in 2005, he moved schools, from Wynberg Boys High to Westerford High School. This was quite a tough move as the academic standard is higher at Westerford and also there are girls, but he settled in well. He also underwent shoulder surgery in June 2005, to repair an old rugby injury. It seems to have been successful and he is back into his sport. He represented Westerford 1st Waterpolo team in the first term and is now well into the rugby season also playing for the Westerford first team. They've played 4 matches so far and won all of them and hope to remain unbeaten. Another recent achievement was turning 18 in March 2006 and passing his Driver's License. This is his final year of school, so he has his nose to the grindstone with his first exams coming up in 2 weeks.
Matthew & Philip, Christmas 2005
- Philip, our 15 year old, has also had an eventful time. In March 2005, he was selected as a Western Province Nipper. The team went on to win the SA interprovincial championships. He had a very good waterpolo and rugby season too. In 2006, he represented Westerford in the 1st Waterpolo team and has recently been selected for the 1st team Rugby squad - having just turned 15 in April this year - this is an impressive achievement. Academically he is also doing very well and preparing for his first Grade 10 exams.
- Julie, Matthew and Philip were extremly lucky to go to the UK and France for the first time last year. It was a whistle-stop tour, doing Paris, London and Dublin in 10 days. We saw all the major sights, but will definitely be back for more - especially to Paris.
- Charles was thrilled to buy an old 1998 BMW F650 from a friend of ours. Besides the thrill of driving it, he has had great fun tinkering around on it when it needs some work done. Much teasing from friends has arisen with references to 'mid-life crisis'.
- We spent our Christmas up in Gauteng with Charles' parents. While there we visited 'The Lost City' - the boys had never been there before and also visited 'The Cradle of Mankind', which was quite an experience.
- Early April, the first school holiday of the year, we spent a week up in Port Alfred with Julies' parents and Charles and the boys surfed every single day and had a wonderful time.
- Julie has introduced a few new aspects to her seed business. She had the idea of promotional packs, which are miniature packs of the single packs, and they have proved very popular as free gifts in promotions, gifts to wedding guests and complimentary gifts. She also offers personalized/corporate branding on these products.
- As a result of the increase in business generated by the starter packs and promotional packs, we have realised our ambition to provide permanent employment to people - we now have two permanent staff members. Isobel, who has been with me for 3 years now, and Candice, who joined us early last year. Our ultimate goal is to train them up to a level where they will be able to run the business here in Cape Town with minimal input from us. They are both growing rapidly towards this goal. Candice also works for half the week with Charles developing her skills to administer websites - which frees him up to do more complex work.
- Early in 2005, we built an office between our house and garage. Our work area is now separate from the house, with its own entrance. It is a lovely working space and is much more professional. The boys were delighted when we moved out the house and they were given the previous office as their games room.
- Julie discovered some wonderful twig products and has introduced the 'With Love from Africa' range to our website. The range consists of twig pencils, pens, crayons (made from alien pine trees) and notepads - these have also been very popular as gifts. If you're looking for a unique gift, take a look at these.
Where to for 2006
Charles is embarking on an enormous project from June 2006. This will have him working in an office away from home for the rest of 2006 and early 2007. Julie plans to do more promotion on her promotional packs and also to expand her range of products available on the website, so check in every now and again. Hopefully we will achieve our goal of putting in a borehole at the farm and also start planning a house on the farm. Matthew will be writing his final school exams in October this year. After both the boys have completed their exams in early December, we hope to go on a wonderful family holiday, before Matt takes off into his adult life.