by Rae Conterio
My husband and I have been really fortunate enough to have realised two dreams lately. The first one is that we have found a farm which we have moved to with our three girls, where we can live growing all our food organically and just basically live surrounded by beauty and nature.
My husband couldnt bear to walk into “Pick ‘n Pay” on a regular basis anymore! The second dream is making our own COMPLETELY NATURAL soap. This we decided to do after picking up the yet another bar of soap which claimed to be natural, which actually after looking at the ingredients, was NOT natural at all!
The search for a farm took us two long years. After putting our house in Plettenberg Bay on the market, we started the search, eventually looking from the Langkloof to as far afield as Ladysmith and Prince Albert. Somehow we kept coming back to the Langkloof. Over the two years we found a couple of farms we fell in love with and made all sorts of plans but we kept losing the property as we still hadn’t sold our house. It was very emotional, one minute on a high and then totally distraught when the farm got bought by somone else. We did discover though how much fun it was looking at property, especially on the internet and it became like a permanent hobby for my husband and I.
The location of our farm has become a family joke. One fine, very, very hot day, on our way to meeting estate agents in Kareeudow, my husband turned down a dirt road saying he had to explore it as he had looked at it on the map and it would come out close to where we had to be. The temperature was in the low 30s and the area was also experiencing a drought. The road was bad and it went on forever, we didnt have a tailgate on our bakkie and when we finally arrived back on the tar road again we discovered that everything we had on the back of the bakkie, from food to the childrens’ wellingtons, was gone! I was furious with my husband as by now we were late for our appointment and everyone was hot and sweaty and covered in dust.
My husband, of couse, was totally in love with the area but I vowed I would never live there! The area is called the Onder Kouga and is about 8 kms from Joubertina, in the Kouga Mountains. Well, guess where our beautifull little farm is? Yes, in the Onder Kouga!!! The drought is over and we are nestled in a litle valley in the mountains. It is just the most beautifull undiscovered area and every morning we wake up and just can’t believe the beauty of where we are living and how lucky we are.
A lot of people thought we were totally mad to leave Plettenberg Bay, with no definite income but just a lot of dreams and ideas, we just felt we had to take a chance as it was always something we wanted to do. We originally hoped to live on the farm with another family or a few like-minded people, as running the farm can get pretty hectic, especially now that spring has arrived. There are veggie-beds being prepared, seeds being sowed, animals to feed, at last count we realised we had a total of nineteen pets (horses included).
The making of natural soap has also been a labour of love which has taken us about a year, with a lot of research and a lot of disasters! Soapmakers are quite a secretive bunch. We have now finally come up with a soap using only natural oils and pure essential oils, which we are very proud of! We have eight different soaps in our range, for dry skin, oily skin, normal skin, fynbos soap, honey soap (using honey from our hives, still with all the bits and pieces in it), hemp oil soap, chamomile & rooibos soap and green tea soap. Quite a lot of variety but we like to experiment with different recipes and then we love it so much we have to include it as well!
Also, in view of the recent articles in Biophile, we have very recently made a solid Olive Oil & Lemon Shampoo Bar, which like our soap, is 100% natural. We will also be adding this to our range. Lastly, we also have a Fynbos Massage Bar, which melts with the heat of your skin. It can be used for massage or the bar can be rubbed over the body as a moisturiser, plus you smell glorious afterwards. We have just bought a REALLY small distiller, which distils about 3ml of oil in half an hour which is a start! Our future plans are to grow some the indigenous plants we use in our soaps and to distill the essential oils ourselves. We’d also like to experiment with some of the indigenous plants growing around us and hopefully create some unusual smelling soaps.
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