Not much to say other than winter is here, as it should be, so that’s reassuring. People tend to say “winter is late, winter is early, it’s going to be a cold one, or maybe mild this year” – who do you believe? Winter to me always seems to arrive when it should and it’s usually cold.
I love winter in the country; log fires and electric blankets, and work slacks off. What I don’t enjoy is the burning of firebreaks and all the dust and soot; it plays havoc with the sinuses, and the nerves. One is always anxious about the risk of fire in a thatched house.
One of the things that has bugged me since moving to the country has been our farm worker’s accommodation. In the past, although I paid half of Kho’s salary, in reality he worked primarily for Essa and her parents. So when they left and he became employed solely by me in November last year, I decided that a priority of ours should be to provide him with better living conditions. I approached Craig from Howick Cabins to design a house for Kho. He very generously put me in touch with a woman in Pietermaritzburg who was selling her wooden cabin, which I bought and Craig transported and installed it here. And then began the fun and games. I had to add on a bathroom, which entailed laying 300 meters of water pipes and installing a water tank, pressure pump and a septic tank. I also had to lay 300 meters of electric cable to connect the cabin to Eskom. This also involved hiring a digger, not only to dig the trenches for the electric cable and the water pipes, but also to come back and fill them in. Then came the solar geyser and finally, today we got a satellite dish installed. And hopefully, that’s the end of it.
When I began to add up the costs of providing this fairly humble dwelling to our farm worker, I have to confess that I started to hyperventilate at how much it was costing us just to put in the infrastructure. And then I decided to change my approach and concentrate more on how much we were contributing to his quality of life, rather than how much it was costing us. What I realised was how much pleasure it has given me to be able to give someone else just the basics of what we would expect as a home. How do you measure that?
This is winter in the Midlands.
I’m sitting at my computer posting this blog just before midnight and I can hear the jackal calling outside. It makes me think of my son-in-law, James, who used to go out in the evening here to sit on the koppie and watch the jackal. I miss you guys. So I think I should give you reason to miss us too! Here is a picture of your beautiful Layla, resting with all her thoughts in front of the fire.