From the lookout on the fynbos-covered Landmeterskop, one has a stunning view not only over our farm, but almost the whole of Papiesvlei. ‘Fynbos’ is Dutch/Afrikaans for ‘fine bush’. Fynbos is a unique and strikingly beautiful group of flora endemic to a small section of the Western Cape of South Africa. It forms part of the greater Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK), a global biodiversity asset, the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one to be found entirely within one country. The CFK is home to more types of indigenous plants than any similar-sized area on Earth. What makes it even more special is that approximately 70% of its 9000 plant species are found nowhere else on Earth.Stanford and Elim are two of the starting points to the Overberg Fynbos Route, and Landmeterskop is situated halfway between Stanford and Elim. From August through to October many species of fynbos are in flower, so visitors can be assured of some spectacular floral displays along the roads and on the mountains! If you stay over in August you can still grab our Midweek Winter Special.
Six hundred lambs, all ± 3 months old, from the last lambing season, were weighed this past week to determine whether they were heavy enough to be weaned and sold. Their average weight was 30,5kg. The minimum weaning-weight is 25kg. The lambs were colour-coded and sorted into different groups according to their weight:
GREEN – under 28kg
BLACK – 29 to 32kg
BLUE – 33 to 37kg
RED – above 38kg.
The blue and red group are ready to be sold.
The green and black group will be moved onto forage and grain-based diets until they are ready to be sold.
And then we have to get ready for the next lambing season in September!
Meet Ollie and Chloe, our dobermans; Jesse, our Scottish terrier; and Mia, our Burmese cat.
Jesse loves to zingela, which in Zulu means to roam free, sniffing here and there amongst the bushes, hunting for insects and chasing whatever takes her fancy! And she has found her way out of the security of the enclosure. As you can see in the video, being an almost accomplished fence climber, she has a ready way of escape… She is also quick to make friends with our guests and even sometimes accompanies them on their walks, drives and rides across the farm. Even into the boat or the water… Lately she has also, in the sly, mastered the trick of fetching a fresh egg from the hen’s nest and carrying it in her mouth without crushing it! Naughty, clever girl.
Ollie and Chloe, as well as Jesse, love long walks or runs alongside the bakkie. Not even deep puddles after heavy rain deter them; oh no, it’s a cause of more fun and excitement! Interaction with the farm animals is another favourite, although only allowed under supervision, because some of the animals feel threatened and might try to protect themselves or their young against what they perceive as “predators”. It took more than a year to teach Ollie and Chloe, who were raised in a city, to not chase or catch the sheep while being supervised! It must sometimes be hard though to stay within the boundaries when you see all the animals ambling past.
Mia is a real lady of the manor. She and the dogs are great friends and often snuggle together. Then again, Mia loves to snuggle and has many places to cuddle up – a blanket on the sofa, on a human’s lap, inside the tumble dryer, or with the dogs.
As you can see, we absolutely love animals and really understand that people do not want to leave their pets at home. But for their own safety’s sake and our farm animals’ protection, and for the peace of mind of our guests as well as our own, we had to make the tough decision to not allow guests to bring their pets along to the farm.
Landmeterskop Farm now also boasts two Kolbroek pigs, a bore and a sow. Kolbroek is South Africa’s best known indigenous pig. The name Kolbroek originated from the name of the ship called Coalbrook which was wrecked on the Eastern Cape coast in 1778. Another theory is that this breed was introduced to South Africa by the earliest traders from the far east. It is smaller than most other ‘modern’ breeds. It has sturdy legs, strong feet, is extremely hardy and survives under harsh conditions. It is also a good forager and efficient converter of high-roughage rations. All of these features make the Kolbroek ideally suited for free-range or smallholder systems.
Don Carlos, our resident herd guard Alpaca, was imported by SACOYO ALPACAS of South Africa from Chile (South America) for breeding purposes. His somewhat smaller than usual proportions unfortunately denied him that pleasure as taller males are prefered, but all was not lost. Theuns and Valerie, owners of Landmeterskop Farm, fell in love with this handsome guy, and today he guards their herd of Dormer sheep from small predators on this beautiful farm in the Cape Overberg!
Although there are not many alpacas in the Overberg, they have been part of the farming community in South Africa since 2000. Today there are more than 50 registered breeders, and ± 5000 of these beautiful animals grazing on farms and small holdings all over the country. The worldwide population is estimated ± 4 million, with the highest concentration in Peru.
The Inca, high up in the Andes of South America, started domesticating the alpaca ± 6000 years ago. With its long neck and slender legs the alpaca (Vicugna pacos) resembles a small llama, and is a species of South American camelid. [Camelids are members of the biological family Camelidae, the only living family in the suborder Tylopoda (Latin for “padded foot”). Camelids do not have hooves, rather they have two-toed feet with toenails and soft foot pads. Extended family members are: dromedaries, Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order Artiodactyla, along with pigs, hippopotami, deer, giraffes, cattle, goats, antelope, and many others.] Alpacas and llamas can successfully cross-breed and the resulting offspring are called huarizo, which are valued for their unique fleece and gentle dispositions.
While the llama was mainly used to carry goods in the mountains, the alpaca was bred for its fibre. They were hailed by the Incas as a “gift from the gods” because of their exquisite fleece – so fine and silky that only royalty was afforded the luxury of wearing clothes made from it. Clothes from alpaca fibre were therefore a sign of great wealth. The ruling king had garments made from Vicunja, the finest and most valuable fleece of all.
There are two types of alpacas – the Huacaya (pronounced wa-ky-ya), like our Don Carlos, and the Suri. 90% of alpacas are huacaya; they have a full, woolly fleece with its fibre growing vertically out of its skin in small bundles with a tight crimped wave which makes the fleece sit vertically off the skin giving it a ‘Teddy Bear’ look. Suri alpacas have a lustrous, silky fibre growing out of the skin in bundles/locks, much like dread locks, without any crimped wave.
A grown alpaca produces enough fleece each year to create several soft, warm scarves; the yield is between 2 to 4kg. They are shorn once a year, without causing injury to the animal. The fleece comes in about 22 basic colours with many hues / variations, i.e black, grey / rose grey, light / dark brown, a variety of fawn and white.
As alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups consisting of a territorial alpha male, females and their young, they make excellent herd guards for sheep. Like all camelids alpacas are strictly herbivorous, eating hay or grasses, so they feed with the sheep and have similar requirements for supplementation, vaccination and de-worming. The alpaca is a modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach and converts grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals of their size. The herd guard alpacas learn to adopt the sheep as their family and protect them instinctively. They warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray and may attack smaller predators like jackal and rooikat with their front feet. They can also spit and kick. Sheep, on the other hand, normally would turn around and run away from predators thus making themselves even more vulnerable!
Alpacas are gentle, inquisitive, intelligent and observant. They like having their own space and may not like an unfamiliar alpaca or human getting close, especially from behind. They do not like being grabbed. Some alpacas tolerate being stroked or petted anywhere on their bodies, although many do not like their feet, lower legs, and especially their abdomen touched or handled.
Alpacas make a variety of sounds. When they are in danger, they make a high-pitched, shrieking whine. Some breeds are known to make a “wark” noise when excited. Strange dogs – and even cats – can trigger this reaction. To signal friendly or submissive behavior, alpacas “cluck,” or “click” a sound possibly generated by suction on the soft palate, or possibly in the nasal cavity.
Individuals vary, but most alpacas generally make a humming sound. Hums are often comfort noises, letting the other alpacas know they are present and content. When males fight, they scream a warbling, bird-like cry, presumably intended to terrify the opponent.
Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. “Spit” is somewhat euphemistic; occasionally the projectile contains only air and a little saliva, although alpacas commonly bring up acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and project it onto their chosen targets. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will occasionally spit at a human.
For alpacas, spitting results in what is called “sour mouth”. Sour mouth is characterized by a loose-hanging lower lip and a gaping mouth. This is caused by the stomach acids and unpleasant taste of the contents as they pass out of the mouth.
An adult alpaca generally is between 81 and 99 cm in height at the withers. They usually weigh between 48 and 84 kg (106 and 185 lbs). Gestation is 11.5 months – one cria is born; twins are extremely rare. Their life-span is between 15 to 20+ years.
Alpacas have only a few dung piles in their pasture, thereby making it easy to clean the paddocks and controlling the spread of parasites. Their dung can be used for fertilisation; the South American Indians use the dung for fuel.
Alpaca meat was once considered a delicacy by Andean inhabitants. Because of the high price commanded by alpaca on the growing North American alpaca market, illegal alpaca smuggling has become a growing problem.