Farm Life

Now that The Time has drawn close there is, wedged between the not-so-routine-routine of farm life, those special-flavoured stretches, when I pull the old bush truck over the pit in the workshop to check for play on bushes and bearings, or something that had come lose, or tell-tale signs of oil or fuel or water seeps, or troubling sounds, and to carefully repair or replace, and to service. I allow myself a some indulgence, to fiddle unhurriedly; to make that special bush tool, just for the sake of its elegance, or to tinker with something that is  already working, so that it will be just that little bit more perfect – and more beautiful.

In mitigation, going on an expedition into the remote African wilderness requires careful planning and the right equipment and provisions for the circumstance that are likely to be encountered. There is a deadly necessity to being thorough and careful about it, like a climber with his ropes. Such places are now to be found only in the distant hinterlands, where roads peter out to feint tracks that eventually fade away completely. Then, there would be just me, and the immensity of the African bush.

So, more special wedges of time must be indulged in, of unpacking the steel trunks of equipment and emergency supplies and checking against lists, and cleaning and repairing and replenishing. And of wandering the aisles of adventure shops and 4×4 shops and motor spares shops with lists of shortages and eyes eager to discover that one new gadget that could make all the difference…

And there are the delicious late hours of intense study of maps obtained through old military contacts, and  Google Earth, zoomed into the finest-level detail, to try and form an idea of the nature of the area, and to annotate with notes and possible navigation points, especially for if something went wrong.

And finally, close to The Time, less delicious blundering around the unfamiliar world of grocery stores with lists of supplies to purchase…


  1. Hello Judy. So happy that you like the posts and enjoy them. Thank you for your generous remarks.
    I usually set out alone. I find that being completely alone focuses the mind, sharpens the senses. Along the way I might pick up some African bush companions, depending on where I want to go and for how long. These may include a guide, who is usually an older person that had lived in the bush for his life and can actually teach me things I don’t know. Then, if long distances on foot is to be involved, I recruit some bearers to help carry food and equipment. I travel light, with the bare minimum because I simply sleep under a tree and try to live (as far as possible) off the veldt, but it’s still quite a load.

  2. Somehow through the magic of the internet I found your blog.
    I was wondering if you are alone on this trip? If so, have you ever gone with someone for a trip like this?
    Also I want to comment on your writing. It takes me directly to the moment you are describing and I really enjoy your descriptions of even the smallest things.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Julie Cargill

  3. Hello Nathalie,
    I sleep in a hammock, yes. I find it more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. It does get a bit cold sometimes though, and then I sleep on the ground close to my fire. Of course it means, in either case, one has to keep the fire alive through the night if you are in an area where dangerous animals are active. However, on occasions lions have been so active around my camp that I have had to, in one or two cases, keep more than one fire going, and in in others, resign myself (accompanied by appropriate language) to sleeping in the Land Cruiser’s cab (uncomfortable and cold!)

  4. Good blog.
    You sleep in a hammock Hoffman? It must be very raw out there.
    You have courage.

  5. Genade liewe Hoffman – ek is skoon uitasem net van die lees en die hare staan penregop op my kop. Dis van bang en ongemak ek dink. Hoe gaan ek sonder my haardroër en lipstiffie regkom en…ek verstaan 90% van die gereedskap wat jy noem se name nie eers nie en netnou vra jy my om iets aan te gee. So sou jy my dalk saamnooi sal ek ‘ongelukkig’ nie kan saamgaan nie al klink en lyk jy soos die ‘toughy’ in die destydse Gunston sigaret advertensie. Ek droom nog steeds oor die man…

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