Oh to be one foot taller!

As reported in an earlier Witkrans tale, Boldrick has taken to long cross-country jaunts, leaving his beloved pig sty on Witkrans to visit the other love of his life “Mamma Piggy” at Doo Little farm, way across the valley.

Now Boldrick is known far and wide as the ”He-stud” of the Uilkraals Valley, having fathered upward of two hundred piglets during his glorious four years of adult life. Unfortunately for Baldrick, who has both bad breath and short leg syndrome, his beloved Mamma Pig has grown significantly since their first romantic and fertile escapades and he seems to be really struggling to re-ignite the romantic flames of old.

Despite his best efforts, his previous visit to Piggy beast back in the spring of 2012 produced no offspring. Undaunted, despite a somewhat tarnished reputation, Boldrick is back on the job determined to get it right in the new year……how do you rate his chances?

Boldrick and Mamma pig on Doo Little Farm, the place of passion and love


The Weitzman and the Privett kids enjoying a game of rally cars together.

The Weitzman and the Privett kids enjoying a game of rally cars together.

We were blessed to have our first FULL season at Witkrans.  We had a two day break over Christmas otherwise the cottages have been booked with back to back bookings in both cottages.  We have met all kinds of wonderful people and Matthew and Emma have had the best holiday ever.  They have had a permanent flow of children to play with.  It has been wonderful to watch all the children playing together from 3 to 18 years old swimming in the dam together, having boat races, playing on-on, potato races, creating hide outs, playing on the jungle gym, jumping on the trampoline etc.  They have gone on late into the evenings ensuring a good sleep for all the children.

Some guests only managed to come for a short time, however made sure to quickly book another weekend before they left.  We have had wonderful feedback and made some special friends as well.

The sheep (Cutlet and Rebecca) also enjoyed being free-range this holiday and a few guests were woken up by Baaa’ing at their window.  They have just discovered Sean’s new pinotage plants so have been sent back to the paddock.  Boldrick continues to visit his girlfriend across the valley so has not been present this season, however the chickens benefiting from all the leftover food and plenty of farm fresh eggs have been enjoyed this season.  Brutus continues to be the favorite animal as he heads over each morning to visit each guest.

Thank you to all our visitors this season – we wish you a wonderful 2013 and look forward to many of you returning again!

Wine making can be scary stuff ;-)

Wine making can be scary stuff 😉

It’s been a while since we lasted posted on our wine making antics.  A quick recap on where we were at last November. According to our well read ‘Guide to Wine making’, malolactic fermentation (which is the second fermentation which takes place in the closed tank) should take about seven weeks.

Basically what happens is that stuff in the wine called malic acid has to be converted to other stuff called lactic acid. This is a pretty simple process done by very clever bacteria. Unfortunately our very clever bacteria weren’t doing their job. So following our experts’ advice, we had heated them up, fed them with some yummy (and expensive) food, swirled and stirred, but after nine months in their sealed tank they just weren’t cooperating. Wine Times were dire indeed and we even considered pouring our precious grape residue down Eddies drain! A final consultation with our wine expert suggested that our clever bacteria might have passed on. In that case no amount of stirring, feeding, heating or wine dancing would have any effect.

A final trip to Vinlab was planned to test whether there were in fact any bacteria left alive. Sure enough our precious lactic acid converters had all perished. Apparently something not uncommon with Merlot, especially in a poorly controlled environment like Eddies garage. Pity no one had thought to suggest this earlier as we would have saved on many trips to Stellenbosch and significantly decreased the carbon footprint of our wine making escapades. What followed was an operation of military precision; Eddy shot off to Protea Chemicals in Cape Town and returned with a small sealed cooler box filled with dry ice enclosing our new, fresh, and very much alive bacteria. We stirred them into the tank and a week later, and some eleven months after pressing, our 2011 Merlot was finally 100% fermented and ready for drinking.

Now while most modern wine makers use fancy fining agents to remove tannins from their wine, we took twenty of Matthews best free range chicken eggs, separated the whites, mixed in a pinch of salt and beat them until slightly foamy (but not stiff).Having mixed this with ten parts wine we stirred the mixture into the rest of the wine. Over a two-week period the Matt’s egg whites sink down through the wine grabbing hold of the tannins, making it softer, rounder and clearer.

wine filtering

From egg collection to wine filtering

Our 2011 Merlot was bottled in February 2012, just in time to prepare the tanks for this year’s harvest and pressing – and oh what a story that was……………..

Free range organic eggs

Witkrans Free range eggs

As we enter Spring and the days start warming up, Witkrans chickens are back in full production.  Matthew is struggling with the work load of homework, projects, tests, sport commitments, social playdates and the daily stress of running his chicken business.  He has recently given his sister a small share in his business and she has taken on the box painting role as well as helping with feeding and egg collecting.  His new partners dancing and singing in the chicken hock seems to have improved production to the extent that I am looking for more clients!

Anyone need eggs?  R10/box – free delivery to Gansbaai on Fridays and daily to Stanford.

witkrans nurseryThe Witkrans indigenous plant nursery stocks a wide variety of indigenous trees and fynbos plants at the very best prices in the Cape.   We specialise in growing beautiful, hardy Cape plants, grown outside in full sun and under natural conditions.  Our plants are perfect for using in low maintenance, water-wise gardens.  We have a full range of fast growing trees, windbreaks, hedging trees and shrubs, plants to attract birds, proteas, reeds, bulbs, groundcovers, shade loving plants and much more.

We have more than twenty years of experience in advising on indigenous gardens, landscaping and fynbos rehabilitation and are happy to provide expert advice on which plants will work best for you.

Click here to view our availability list.

We also deliver to your doorstep.

Witkrans Farm has recently added another cottage on the farm which will be open from beginning of October for bookings.  Personally I would prefer to move into this cottage myself!  The two front bedrooms look up the beautiful Flower Valley.  There are three rooms each with twin beds.  An open plan lounge and kitchen with a lounge suite much more comfortable than mine.  We are busy in the garden each day and it is starting to look stunning.  The cottage is surrounded by Cone Bushes, and so the cottage has been named Cone Bush Cottage.

The dams are overflowing and we are starting to enjoy the occasional sunny day on Witkrans with the boats on the dam.  The children’s favorite activity is paddling around the dam chasing the ducks with our Golden Retriever.  The vegetable garden is getting replanted after being closed towards the end of summer due to a lack of water.  The leaves of the Mulberry tree are sprouting and the jam jars are awaiting!  Witkrans wine is almost ready for bottling and the honey is almost ready for bottling.  Here’s to Spring arriving!!!!

Witkrans Cottages

Did you know that when staying at Witkrans Self Catering Cottages, we give you the opportunity to experience our amazing marine life with the best operators in Gansbaai at a discounted price?

Slashfin Marine Dynamics

The 46 feet (14m) long catamaran vessel was specifically built for the Kleinbaai slipway and is aimed at providing passengers with that veritable lap of safety and luxurious comfort while enjoying the wild, windswept open seas and its amazing wildlife.

You can go shark cage diving with Marine Dynamics.  They provide you with a combination of goosebump thrills, education and relaxation on a luxury boat in the company of experienced experts and researchers! They show you how to distinguish between a male and female shark and how to identify a specific shark by its unique dorsal fin and scars. The 20 – 25 minute boat trip to where the activity is to take place, is by itself an exhilarating adventure.


Join Dyer Island Cruises on the whale watching boat.  Dyer Island Cruises live by the ‘Discover and Protect’ slogan, and strive to provide you with the utmost conservation oriented and respect ethos offered on the market.  Both are BEE Level 1 companies and certified by Fair Trade in Tourism.  They take you into the channel of water between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock known as the world famous ‘Shark Alley’.  You are then taken to the whale hot-spots in the bay.  In addition, you can also spot Bryde’s whales and dolphins and plenty of sea-birds.

Witkrans has been privileged to work with the amazing people from both of these companies through the developement of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s website over the last couple of years.  The entire team on board the boats as well as working on the land are some of the friendliest, most passionate and entertaining people you will meet.   Wilfred Chivell, owner of these two companies and founder of the Trust was recently rewarded for his conservation efforts when receiving the Overstrand Mayor’s Annual Environmental Conservation Award and is one of the most passionate and dynamic people you could meet.

Below is a video taken last week of Orca’s in the Gansbaai bay chasing common dolphins –  Never before has this predatory behaviour been documented in Gansbaai!

bodhi khaya lemons

Look at these lemon trees at Bodhi Khaya!

One of the most peaceful places with the loveliest of people is Bodhi Khaya, our next door neighbor.  Witkrans supplies Matthew’s organic eggs to them and on delivery we often get to enjoy a delicious hot chocolate and chat with David.  On our recent visit David let the children pick lemons off their tree’s and we headed home to make some Lemon Meringue Pie, lemon curd and my favorite latest recipe……Lemon and Orange Cordial from my recently purchased book, ‘Fruits of the Earth’ by Gloria Nicol.  Delicious and you only had to use a small amount of cordial so it lasted for ages.

Lemon and Orange Cordial

8 – 10 lemons; 6 – 8 oranges; 650g sugar; 1 1/2 tsp citric acid

Pare the rind finely from 1 lemon and 1 orange.  Put the sugar, ring and 600ml water into a pan.  Heat gently to make a syrup, then boil for 5 minutes.  Strain through a sieve into a measuring jug; discard the rind.  Squeeze sufficient lemons and oranges to produce the same amount of juice as syrup, keeping the proportions half lemon, half orange.  Mix the syrup and fruit juices together in the pan and add the citric acid, stirring until the powder has dissolved.  Bottle.


witkrans orange and lemon cordial

Witkrans Orange and Lemon cordial


The hills around Witkrans are currently filled with the beautiful Erica Irregularis.   Watch this video by Sean to learn more about this special Erica, that in nature only grows in this very small area…….

Sean talks on this video last year about how it has come back more abundant than ever and again this year it seems even more abundant and beautiful.  The children and I are pressing a couple of flowers to include in our Culture Exchange boxes.

Visit Witkrans Self Catering cottage and come enjoy the spectacular show of Erica’s all around us……you may even get a beautiful winter day where you can hop in the lovely full dams, like my crazy two children did yesterday.

witkrans dam

Matthew and Emma swimming in the dam in the middle of winter!

Here on Witkrans that idea has always been that as Matthew’s chicken got old they would get eaten.  However this has never worked that well and after a lesson in plucking etc both Matthew and father could not get near to eating the chicken no matter how I disguised the meat.

We are now left with some really old grannies in amongst the chickens and they are looking a bit worse for wear.  Especially with the wet weather and mud on the farm, some are struggling with their long toe nails and the mud getting stuck in between their feet.

Granny Roberta is up first

Foot spa time for Granny Roberta

Granny Roberta not very happy with life and now ready for a ‘toe nail’ cut