What we enjoy the most is that we farm all of this in the middle of nature – wild nature. We have noticed a significant increase in both insect and wildlife since we have farmed organically.
Ladybirds and worms are aplenty. Each orchard has a resident buck, be it a steenbok, grysbok or rheebok. We have bushbuck and klipspringer up in the mountains and guinea fowl and franklins trawling the orchards for bugs. Families of Jackal Buzzards and Black Eagles live in the mountains. Hare, tortoise, mongoose and dassie are our constant companions – though not always welcome in the vegetables!
At night we are visited by porcupines and owls and if we are lucky leopard or rooikat (caracal), who infrequently raid the sheep pen! While we don't like to lose our sheep it is amazing to have the leopards so near. We often hear them calling in the mountains – their presence helping keep away our least enjoyed companions – the baboons. We have worked closely with the Landmark Foundation who are monitoring the movement of leopard between the Laangeberg range and the Riviersonderend and Hermanus. This has resulted in several photographs and video evidence of leopard in our valley and the knowledge that the Cape Mountain Leopard is thriving in our area.
Though they are wild and keep away from the houses baboons can do a lot of damage to the trees and fruit and we have an interesting relationship with them. Some orchards are protected by electric fences, especially the mangoes where the baboons will pull of un-ripe fruit and ruin a whole seasons fruit. In the case of the peaches and apricots we accept that we are in their space and some fruit is sacrificed to their tastebuds. If we have throw out fruit we will place it up in the kloofs and that usually keeps them away for a day or two. We also use a baboon guard in the summer months, who patrols the farm in a fluorescent vest and blowing a vuvuzela, which is a great way of keeping them away! Despite our frustrations with them they are amazing animals, their family groups close and organized, and their early warning systems very efficient!