Our amazing first holiday season!

We’ve done it! We have our first holiday season behind us. And what an amazing season! We were fully booked, and had the most wonderful guests staying in our cottages and The Homestead, and enjoying our farm! Can it be only four months since we opened our doors?! The Homestead, although only partially renovated when we started letting it in December, has proven a big hit for larger groups and families. And on request we are now busy renovating the last two rooms and bathroom, and would soon be able to accommodate 4 more people in The Homestead! We are so happy that our guests are taking full advantage of everything we have to offer and for the short time that they are here become a part of our daily farming activities. But read for yourself what our guests have to say and enjoy these photos of the views and children having fun!

And this is what some of our guests had to say:

If you are seeking peace and solitude, these delightful, tastefully decorated cottages deliver in every respect. Private and offering a true sense of remoteness on a beautiful farm, the owners could not have done more to make us feel truly welcome! Thank you for a perfect stay. (Amanda Francis-Pope, visited December 2013)

What a beautiful place and what fantastic lodging! We couldn’t have chosen a lovelier place for our big family holiday. We spread ourselves between the homestead and one of the enchanting cottages (both gorgeous, immaculately clean, charming and comfortable way above average). The set-up catered for all the varying ages, the kids loved the farm vibe, milking the goats, feeding the lambs and collecting the chicken eggs in the morning (with the delicious bonus of eating them), the teenagers enjoyed the wonderful dam swimming and paddle on the rowing boat. In the evening we all had fun playing board games around the outside porch braai area. The lovely owners were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge too. Highly recommend this place for big families in the homestead or romantic getaways in the cottages. (A Treppo, visited December 2013)

I do not give this little gem in the Overberg a 5-star rating without any thought. Everything on this beautiful farm, from the warm and inviting hostess (and her lovely husband), to the well-cared for sheep, the cheeky goats to the charming cottages, shouts, “5 stars!”. Everything has been thought of; hot water bottles, lavender bath salts, fresh flowers in the bathrooms and kitchen. It is so clear that Valerie has put her heart and soul into making sure that her guests have a wonderful stay. And we did! Valerie was generous with her time, and her enthusiasm for their farm is contagious. I had a chance to meet their Alpaca (who thinks he’s a sheep – get the full story from Valerie herself), check out the new born sheep, meet the ducks (not just any ducks… chocolate brown ducks, caramel ducks, and they are bringing in even more interesting breeds too), and of course milk the goats. (Well I didn’t milk her per say, but I drank fresh goat’s milk the whole weekend!). We went in winter, and when we weren’t lazily exploring the green expanse that is their farm, we cuddled with blankets by the crackling fireplace. I cannot wait to go in summer, and swim in one of their fabulous (and clean) dams. I could continue to rave on and on, especially about how tastefully the cottages are decorated, or how relaxed we were when we got home. Bottom line, book now. I’m already organizing our next visit. (Talya Kahan, visited September 2013)

I almost don’t want to tell anyone how amazing this cottage is, because we want to be able to return again and again, and when word gets out, I think there will be a long waiting list! Such a beautiful farm with exquisite attention to detail in the cottages. Waking up to the bleating of little lambs as they cavort and play all around the cottage. Coffee and rusks in the sun strewn dining room. A cozy and romantic fireplace to cuddle up to at night. A challenging run up the mountain on Sunday morning. Brilliant sunset and outdoor braai. Very comfy double bed (my personal grading criteria!). A short weekend away that felt like a two week holiday – such awesome restoring of the soul! (Linda Els, visited October 2013)

What a lovely few days we had. Our family really needed a break and we were so pleased with our choice. If you are looking for the beauty of nature and a very clean and well equipped cottage with very friendly and helpful hosts then this is the one. It was a wonderful farm experience. We can not wait for our next visit. (Jackie Richardson, visited September 2013)

The stay was amazing and then I got physically ill! Even then, Valerie (our host) literally nursed me whilst I was in bed trying to recover and kept an eye on the kids too. The view outside our cottage was idyllic and exactly what we needed to recoup. I will definitely recommend and visit Landmeterskop again and again. (Faatin Bux, visited October 2013)

I had an incredible time. The accommodation was exceptional and the farm itself is beautiful and peaceful. Furthermore, the hosts were extremely welcoming and I will most certainly return for another vacation. (Branden de Jager, visited August 2013)

A wonderful place to forget all you’re problems in the real world. The scenery is stunning and the hosts cater to your every need. Look forward to visiting many times in the future. (George Oberholzer, visited August 2013)

I wish we could give more than 5 stars for this gorgeous farm! Valerie has thought of absolutely everything, the amenities of a 5 star guest house with 2 star prices. I cannot praise this farmstay highly enough. The ‘Homestead” is beautifully furnished down to a cupboard full of brand new board-games (unlike the tatty collection you normally find). The dam with its tractor tyres, diving jetty and all the animals, what more could we want. (Micki Evans, visited January 2014)

We stayed at the Landmeterskop homestead with friends for four days over Christmas. We had a wonderful time. The homestead is beautifully decorated in a traditional farm style, and it is immaculately clean. The setting is absolute tranquility on a working sheep farm. I had forgotten how delicious a fresh free range egg and fresh goat’s milk can be. The owners were away whilst we were there, but the lady who had been left to take care of us, Tsala, was brilliant, her hospitality was 5-star, she is a beautiful lady and a credit to Landmeterskop, in fact all of the staff we met were great, they all made us feel at home. The farm is easily accessible from Cape Town, not far from Stanford, it is ideal for a weekend getaway. (Martin Connolly, visited December 2013)

Absolutely loved it! Our kids milked goats and drank the milk, hand-fed lambs and collected free-range eggs for breakfast. We had such a relaxed experience. The house is big and the perfect farmhouse, even a Miele fridge in the kichen so luxurious! It was quite hot but there are fans in all the bedrooms so we slept well. The staff were incredible, very friendly and went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. We will definitely be back. (Linda Kemp, visited January 2014)

This place is fantastic! We took two families and 4 children from 2-7 yrs old and they all loved it. There are lots to do on the farm, feeding the animals and collecting the eggs was a daily highlight. The homestead is beautifully decorated and has everything you need, it’s so spacious and there is plenty of room for the kids to run around. The hosts are so friendly and you won’t want for anything. This is going to fast become a favourite and we can’t wait to go back. (Justine Huizinga, visited December 2013)

Quack, quack, quack… there is new sound on Landmeterskop!

Pond

Yes, there are now also ducks roaming around the pond nearest to the Homestead – Khaki Campbells, Buff Orpingtons and Dutch Quakers! And more will shortly join their ranks.

Ducks

The Khaki Campbell (or just Campbell) breed of domesticated duck was developed by Adele Campbell of England and introduced to the public in 1898. Adele Campbell purchased a Fawn and White Indian Runner Duck which was an exceptional layer (195 eggs in 197 days) and crossed it with a Rouen Duck in an attempt to create a strain that would lay well and have bigger bodies. The offspring were crossed with Mallards to increase their hardiness. The resulting birds were prolific layers. But, Mrs Campbell was still not satisfied with the colour and in an attempt to create a more attractive buff-coloured duck she crossed her original Campbells with Pencilled Runner Ducks. And voilà! A duck which colour reminded Mrs. Campbell of the Khaki-coloured British Army Uniforms!

KCPairPair of Khaki Campbell ducks

The Buff Orpington duck is a dual-purpose breed of domestic ducks used for meat and egg production. It is capable of laying up to 220 eggs a year. They were originally created by William Cook, a famous poultry breeder from Orpington in Kent, England, and was introduced to the public in 1897. Cook was also the developer of the Orpington Chicken. Cook blended Cayuga, Runner, Aylesbury, and Rouen ducks to create a buff coloured duck that would allow him to cash in on the early 20th century English fad for buff-colored plumage. This first duck was called a Buff Orpington and Cook went on to develop Blue, Black and Chocolate Orpington versions that had white bibs on their chests.

The Buff, as it is commonly known, is a long, broad bird with an oval head, medium length bill, and long, gracefully curved neck. It’s body carriage is twenty degrees above horizontal, its wings are short and it has a small, well-curled tail. Both the duck and drake have buff plumage, orange-yellow shanks and feet, and brown eyes. The drake’s bill is yellow while the duck’s bill is brown-orange.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: We have received valuable correspondence regarding the validity of the general information available on the internet on the Campbell & Orpington ducks (from which we have gleaned the above information) from Jonathan M. Thompson in the UK (jonathanmichael_thompson@yahoo.co.uk), who along with Prof. Wolfgang Rudolph of Rostock, have researched the origin & history of domestic waterfowl since 1984. Instead of us updating our information, we include their findings here for your perusal and then you could  see for yourself where the general misconceptions are:

The Doctor’s Wife (pdf)

The Orpington Ducks 2013 (pdf)

buff_orpBuff Orpington ducks

The small white Dutch Quacker Duck or Call Duck is a bantam breed raised primarily for decoration or as pets. They look similar to Mallards, but are smaller in size. The first recorded mentions of the breed are from the Netherlands where it was used as a decoy and known as a Coy or Decoy Duck. The high-pitched distinctive call was used to lure other ducks into funnel traps. Later, hunters would tether Call Ducks to draw other species within range of the guns. It is believed to have originally come from the Far East, although no records of its introduction to the Netherlands exist.

pair-of-white-call-ducks

Just like us humans, ducks have personalities and each duck has its own little habits. They talk to each other by quacking – the female duck (hen) has a loud “quack”, while the male (drake) has a raspy quack. The peaceful coexistence of the flock is regulated by the law of “Pecking order” – the number 1 bird in the flock can peck and dominate all the others, the number 2 bird can dominate all but the number 1 bird, the number 3 bird can dominate all but 1 and 2, right on down the line until we reach the last bird who dominates no one.

All ducks forage for food. They dabble and tip up in shallow water, drilling in mud to get the goodies. which mainly consists of seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, bulbs, roots and grasses. Ten percent of their diet consists of insects, mosquito larvae, snails, slugs, leeches, worms an occasional fish or tadpole. Sand and gravel are picked up to serve as grinding stones in the gizzard. Ducks thrive under harsh conditions with limited shelter, resist diseases and parasites, and produce food efficiently.

Not only are ducks beautiful to look at, but they can also make one laugh with their little “mannerisms”, especially during mating season! Ducks prefer to mate on water, but most do well on land. During “courtship” the drake’s head may be bobbing up and down, as if to say, “Hey, your cute, how about a date?” Then he would bite and/or pull the back of the hens neck feathers, and stand on the hen’s back dunking her head in the water, as if he’s trying to drown her!

Although drakes may have a favourite hen, they normally will mate with any hen in the flock.

They lay eggs at random on the ground, and sometimes even while swimming. When a nest is made, it is a shallow depression in the ground, lined with twigs, grass and leaves. If eggs are left for natural incubation, the hen will pluck down from her breast for additional insulation. If the ducks have a house with straw, hay or some type of bedding in it they may make their nest there.

Several times a day, ducks preen and oil their feathers using a feather conditioner from a hidden oil gland located on the top of the tail base. As they preen, they squeeze the oil gland with their bills and spread it onto the feathers. Contrary to popular belief, this oil does not “waterproof” a duck nor it’s ducklings. What does then? The way their feathers are structured!

Each feather has a main shaft, or rachis, that supports the whole structure. While the feather is growing, the rachis has blood vessels within it that carry nutrients to the growing parts of the feather. When mature, these blood vessels die and the rachis is sealed at the base, leaving the feather shaft hollow. This helps to make the feather very light.

Branching off the rachis are barbs. These barbs each have branches called barbules, and the barbules have branches called barbicels. These three parts make up the vane of the feather, which gives the feather its “feather-like” shape. The barbicels are very tiny, and you’ll need a good magnifying glass or microscope to see them. They are generally hook-shaped, and interweaved with each other. They hold the vane of the feather together, sort of like Velcro or a zipper. If you’ve rubbed a feather the “wrong way” and then smoothed it back to its original shape, what you’ve done is unhook and re-hook the barbicels, like “zipping it back together”. The barbicels can hold the feather vane together so tightly that water cannot go through. And this is what actually keeps water off a duck’s back, not the oil they apply to their feathers. In fact, the oil is only used to keep the feathers clean and in good condition, not to coat them for “waterproofing”.

duckquack