Monday 26 October 2015

Road-tripping: Farm stalls of the Karoo and their resident pets

One of the great joys of road-tripping, for me at least, is stopping off at farm stalls to see what's on offer. Generally, there'll be the usual jams, beskuit, roosterkoek and pies, and also the resident pets, like Soetlief (below), a ridgeback with quite a story to tell.

Soetlief with her owner Appie Viviers
It was a sweltering Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Boeteka, about 20km outside Beaufort West on the Oudtshoorn road, looking for some Karoo lamb for the braai fire that night. We were met at the door by a very friendly Appie Viviers who introduced himself to us and persuaded us to buy far more than we originally had intended - curried beans, sausage, chops (all delicious). 

As we were about to leave, Soetlief (meaning Sweet Love), the ridgeback, turned up. She was wanting to go home and had hopped into the front seat of the bakkie to wait for Appie. It then transpired that she was a famous dog, having featured in Die Burger in July 2015

She and her litter of puppies were living under the threat of euthanasia after contracting Brucellosis from Appie's wife Marietjie who was hospitalised. The couple had already had to slaughter some of their goat herd.

Fortunately, Soetlief's follow-up test came back clean and she and her pups (sired by a sheepdog that slipped through the lounge window one evening) were spared. Marietjie made a full recovery too, I'm happy to report!

This was our second farm stall stop of the day. Our first stop was for coffee and roosterkoek at the Smitswinkel farm stall between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo. I loved how these handsome kitties had found a comfortable spot for a snooze among the tableware.
Live kitty display at Smitswinkel

Smitswinkel also has a resident rooster of formidable proportions. His name is Kassie and he makes a colourful addition to the stoep where you can sit out and enjoy your meal while looking out onto the lawn at the back.

There is another farm stall with the same name outside Oudtshoorn (both establishments were originally started by the same owner). There I previously met a similarly tame rooster named Seun. 

Kassie and Seun are quite likely from the same line, as was confirmed by the staff at Smitswinkel. The two farm stalls are now separately owned and do not have any direct connection. 

Nevertheless, I can highly recommend the roosterkoek at the Calitzdorp outlet. They also have a handicraft job creation project. A worthwhile stop indeed.

Sam at Ko-ka Tsara
That night we slept at Ko-ka Tsara about 7km outside Beaufort West. It's not a farm stall but a a very comfortable bush camp with only seven chalets tucked away in a kloof bordering on the Karoo National Park off the Loxton road. 

Here we met the handsome and very polite labrador Sam, who spent the evening with us snoozing on the floor while a thunderstorm raged around (all that heat was building up to something). Sam loves walking with guests and, of course, is quite attuned to braai fires.

We stopped twice at Kambro (near Britstown) where there was a Sam equivalent named Max (no pictures). Just to say that Kambro is also a good pit stop. They make delicious pies served with their own peach chutney but they have rules about visiting dogs not using the grass (that is, except for Max of course) which seems a bit churlish given that this is the only green for miles around.

Koeks at The Mall
Our final pet of the trip was Koeks, who lives at The Mall in Williston. She had an eye on the cheese and scones we ordered there. The ironically named Mall is known for its extraordinary collection of memorabilia and great breakfasts. It also stocks delicious award-winning cheese from a farm called Langbaken which has a herd of only 12 jersey cows. We bought the Karoo Crumble (a bit like a mature cheddar) and their Karoo Swiss which is a bit like an Emmenthaler. Wish I'd bought more!

The Mall in Williston

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