Farm News

2011/06/10 at 5:08 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

February 2012

Started selling rams in the last week of February.  Had buyers everyday somedays two and up to three buyers  and by the end of the week there were very few rams left.   The customers statisfaction with the results they are seeing at home made most of them take more rams than they had in the past.    Every customer is experiencing very positive improvement in their flocks.  For some of the farmers the  improvements in the flock are very dramatic.

Wally’s way of presenting the first to the last  buyer with the best chance of getting good rams is to only bring in a group of rams and then re-mixing the left over ones with the big group, before the next buyer comes.   The last buyer, left with Special Rams.    It gives everyone a very fair chance. 

June 16th 2011

Scanned ewes to-day.   It was with trepidation that we started scanning today as the results   from scanners was that percentages were low this year and with very low twin percentages. 

Stud ewes scanned 96,86% with  25%twins.

 The flock ewes scanned 94 % with the largest percentage of these ewes being young and maiden ewes.  Here only 8 % twins.    One group of older ewes only four ewes were scanned empty.

June 7th  : It started raining on Monday Night at about 10.00pm and continued all day Tuesday and Tues – Night  up to about 1.00pm on Wednesday.  We recorded 132mm of Rain.   

 The young rams were in the low lying veld and were standing Belly Deep in the Water.  It was quite a mission to get them out.   The water came in over the top of your Gumboots.

The River over its banks

The Water had receded by quite a few feet from its high by the morning.    

 This is a stream passing through the farm, it was turned into a river.We get  cut off when it flows this strongly.  We do have a back road which you need a 4 x 4 vehicle  to get out.   So much water just flowing away.  In a drought you would love just one inch of all this rain. 

                  Tammy driving away some ewes after scanning over the same bridge that was in flood the previous week.   You can see the damage caused to the bridge.


History of Breypaal

2010/11/14 at 4:28 pm | Posted in History | 2 Comments

Situated in the Southern Free State, South Africa.  Our Farm is called Breipaal or Breypaal or Breijpaal .  On Maps you will see the spelling Breipaal.   It was developing as a town but the railroad was not built between Springfontein and Smithfield so with time the town died out.   The shop on the Farm was well known far and wide.  Farmers close to The town of Smithfield came to buy at the Breipaal shop.   There was a police station, a post office with a telephone exchange, School, Farrier shop, for the sports minded there were tennis courts and  a shooting range.  They even had there own badge for the sports teams.  There were many Rondawels on the farm which were the single quarters for the police to stay. 

The bellows from the Blacksmith

I have two sets of Journals from the Shop at Breipaal from 1908/1909 and 1916.    They make fascinating reading.

In 1909 a Mr GF Henning farm Badsfontein (Trompsburg) bought a saddle for 5 Pounds.

Boots could cost 17 shillings or two pairs for 8 shillings, an overcoat for One pound  five shillings.  The price of shoes or boots could differ this must be the quality you bought.

Five woolbags in 1909 12 shillings and six pennies.  A tin of paraffin two shillings and six pence. 

Tin of Zambuck one shilling and 9 pence.  Look since when you could get Zambuck and it is still a brilliant medication today.

A ledger entry  for Willem A Bouwer van Krugerskraal.   Balance brought forward in May 1908 he owed 195 pounds 15 shillings & 5p.   Had to his credit 143 pounds 7 shilling & 11p.    Sold 2 bales wool in Oct  for 13 Pounds 3 shilling & 9p then more wool in  Nov. to the shopkeeper for 53 pounds 18 shillings and six.    Sounds like he was doing well.  The ledger entry at end Nov. reads he owes R227 pounds 7/11 and has a Credit of 211 Pounds 3/8    This is pretty much the story throughout the ledger.  People that were big buyers would come and pay off but the outstanding amount was always there.

A lot of the accounts were for 9 pound, 6 pounds 19 pounds etc.  Then there were the big accounts.   This was most probably a reflection of the size of the farmers income from his farm.

Bought from John H Hattingh of Weltevrede 20 Merino Ewes for 20 pounds entry Oct 1908.

One bicycle tyre 18 shillings & six

3 flooring boards 6 shillings 9

One wash stand 10 shillings

In Dec 1908 a Mrs Botha from Oudam bought 48lbs sugar.  (must have had a lot of fruit?)  This farm is part of Breipaal today.

One pane of glass 9 pence.

1 Disselboom 16 shillings

Jan de Beer Ruspunt bought 28 Wagon  Spokes & 14  more on 19 Feb 1908 for 3 pounds 5 shillings and then on June 19 – one wagon Nail  for 2 pounds 5 shillings.

To read the entries of what farmers bought and the police stationed at Breypaal is interesting.  The farmers lived off the land.  The police  bought everything. There are entries for cheese, sausages, curry powder, matches, nugget, egg powder, paraffin, Baking powder, candles, matches, pickles, oatmeal, side of bacon, Soda, Sugar, tobacco, chutney, Cocoa, catsup, Mustard, Ham eggs, Sad Soap(wonder what sort of soap that was), coffee and so the list goes on.  From Jan to April their account stood at 13 pounds 19 and 5. 

The Post Office at Breipaal was advanced 3 pounds cash for stamps in Jan 1909. !!?? and then in Feb same – 3 shillings a 9 pence for stamps.

The price for sheep shears varied you could buy one pair for 11 shillings or 2 pairs for 8 shillings.

One halter for 5 shillings  A later entry a halter  for one  shilling 1p  This must have to do with size.

One horse brush 2 shillings 6 p

1 Saddle 4 pounds 10 shillings

One riding bit 3 shillings & six

Bridle 12 shilling 6

3 Iron sheets for one pound 2 shillings 6.

100lbs Mielie meal for 19 shillings & 6

There was also different quality mealie meal  available.  No2 was cheaper.

One peach peeler for 7 shillings 6

One tailored suit and trousers for 11 pounds 1 shilling.

One tin bucket for 1 shilling 6

Milk bucket 12 shilling 6

One thing this shop carried stock.   Quite a lot of capital to keep so much stock and carry everyone on the books.

Someone needed a tyre and tube (bicycle) which was 16 shillings & six and 7 shillings & 6 and 2 shillings postage.

In Feb 1911 a Miss Hoffman bought a sewing machine for 4 pounds 15 shillings and then in Oct another machine for the same and paid cash.  Wonder if she did needlework for other people?

The oldest picture of Breipaals Shop that I have

Family Van Aswegens who shopped at the Breipaal Shop

This photo was supplied to me By Piet van Aswegen from the neighbouring farm De Bad.   It was his Grandmother sitting in the chair right hand side and two of her sons and the others we don’t know and the shopkeepers.

George Brookes buried on Breipaal

Brookes was the owner of Breipaal and also ran the shop in 1908 to 1916.  Brookes was a relative of the Ward family.    Wally’s Grandfather Walter William Ward bought the farm from the Widow Brookes.

Breypaal's Mailbag

The canvas Mailbag with copper plate with the farm name on.    This bag was delivered with the Bus that went from Smithfield to Edenburg every Friday. It was a service of the South African Railway Service.    You could send your Livestock with bus to Edenburg Station, they would just hitch the trailer.   You could also have your wool delivered to Edenburg or taken to East London Harbour  to the wool stores.  

Dogs at Stud

2010/03/08 at 8:37 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

The Sheepmaster Stud, have several bitches at Stud all with Certificates of Merit.  All our breeding Stock have had a blood DNA Genetic test done for CEA – Collie Eye Anomally and found to be clear.   So we will also not accept outside bitches for a mating that have not had a DNA  test done for CEA.

The pups from the Stud Dog Taddymoor Troy (Optigen Test No 08-10708. A Blood DNA test for CEA/CH is normal) imported from Wales are a already being trained by their new owners.   The pups from the second litter will start training in a few months time.

Kelly has a litter from Taddymoor Troy of 5 Bitches and one Male. 

Debbie a Grand daughter of Kelly has been mated to Troy.  Six pups were born. Four bitches and two males.  All beautifully marked.

Pups from SM Tammy and Joss are exceptionally good dogs.   Highly intelligent easily trained and are doing work beyond their age.

Nonnie a young tri-coloured bitch Wally has just started training is showing all the qualities of the paternal Great, Great,  Great, Grand Mother “Nonnie” and  her Great Grandmother “Steffi”.  She has a quiet way of working her sheep and a way of floating and balancing behind her sheep that is magical to watch.  She has had two weeks training and knows her flank commands and is working like a dog that has had years of experience.

Steffi used on the Advertising Posters and Programme for the Soldier Hollow Trial, Utah America.   


The Soldier Hollow trial in Utah, USA in which Wally and Steffi took part in 2006 and which has been described in the International Sheepdog News Magazine as the Premier trial at this time.

The organizer of the trial Mark Petersen chose Steffi to grace the front cover of his Programme and the Posters and in Major adverts advertising the trial in 2007.

There were many other well known and Top Handlers with their dogs at this trial that could have been chosen.

Mr Bobby Henderson – Scottish Chamion and who has won the Supreme in England as as well as a previous winner of  Soldier Hollow.  Michael Longton who went back to England after the trial and place third at the Supreme.

****(The Supreme (also known as the International) is the highest honour a dog can gain in England.   It is when teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ierland compete against each other.   Team selections are made when 150 dogs who have gained enough points at trials during the year take part at their English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish National trials.  The top 15 dogs are then the representatives of their countries.

The current Canadian Champion, Amanda Milliken and her  dogs Ethel and Bart.  Beverly Lambert winner of the Soldier Hollow for two years in succession.   Bill Berhow three times winner of the American National Final and runner up four times.   Bruce Fogt two times American National Final winner.  KathyKnox previous winner of the American Final.  Tom Wilson twice winner of the Nursery National Final and Semi-finalist at the World Trial in Tullamore Ierland.  As well as 30 other Handlers who have won various prestigious trials in America.

Mr David Rees, Authour, Journalist and respected Sheepdog Handler who reports for the “The Working Sheepdog News” in England and the “The Working Border Collie” magazine in America.  Had this to say about Steffi in his report for both magazines.  “It was a pleasure to watch Wally Ward from South Africa and the pushy Steffi work sheep at Soldier Hollow.”


2010/02/09 at 3:11 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Our life – our passion

Being in Nature everyday.    Experiencing a sunrise or a sunset,  the birth of a lamb, finding a beautiful stone, stopping to watch a tortoise nibble on some plant, seeing a pair of Hawks with their fledgling,

Young falcon in his brown colouring

 watching a pair of Black Eagles circle then spotting their brown year old youngster they have raised and realise a full circle has been compeleted as a future generation has been raised, enjoying  the blue crane pairs on the farm,walking in a protective format  with the young chicks, The secretary bird pairs stalking the veld for a snake/lizard,  watching the young lambs grow up, seeing the sheep come to full bloom with their 12 months growth of wool, handling the next crop of young rams who will be the sires of tomorrow, going for a horseback ride, smelling the bush aroma in the early morning, listening to the different birds calling and identifying them, finding a nest of Bokmakierie eggs and passing the nest everyday and seeing how the young grow, 

Bokmakierie eggs of which three hatched

Bokmakierie hatchlings a few days old

Just before leaving the nest

 the earth smell after rain, being out with the dogs early morning to check on the ewes at lambing time and watching the first rays of sun come up and the warmth it brings,  even finding pleasure in the wind as it turns the windmills for water for the reservoirs for the stock to drink.

Sutherlandia flowering in July.  Food for the bees.

  In winter standing in wonder of how plants have the ability to be frozen solid and then bloom when the sun warms them again.   The beautiful branches of the bare trees.    Watching the lizards around the house grow fat and then the tiny babies growing.

A nest that fell out of a tree made with horse tail hair, twine and brush.

Sunset picture taken by Gerry Staegemann while visiting for a sheepdog trial

Breipaal Sunset

Late afternoon sky

We are priveledge to be visited by these precious little guys on the lawn.  The picture is of an adult Hedgehog most probably a female by the size of her belly and the other one a youngster.  They go about their business of finding insects and don’t worry to much about us.    Since I have not used poison in my garden for 29 years it seems to be the haven for many different ladybirds, spiders, small snakes, frogs, lizards, birds and now even the hedgehogs.

One of the small snakes observed in the garden.  From my book it looks like a slug eater.

A frequent night visitor is an ant bear (aardvark).    We have not been able to see him but his visiting cards (huge Holes) are visible all over the yard, the lands and around the shed in the morning.   Everywhere you go on the farm are many, many holes.   They are extremely busy guys.  Pity we could not harness their digging ability for planting fence poles.

A big Male tortoise is a frequent visitor to our lands.  I have named him scar because his one scale has been damaged.  Here is a photo of him, eating in the land where rye has been planted for the sheep to be used during lambing time in august.   2011 April the 1st and I spotted scar coming to eat green feed again, must be much sweeter than the green grass.  Spoatted  Sacre in the newly planted land in from of the House March 2013.   So happy he is still around. 

Seen close to the house this small red legged lizard.  Very different from the ones that live on my stoep and in all the outbuildings.   The ones that grow so fat and then have babies.

This figure of eight was something that could be seen during the winter in a land planted with oats and rye for the sheep.

On closer inspection the oats had come up and was just shrivelled dry and so was the weed (which is one very tough weed) that grew there.  Completely as if you had sprayed it with something to kill it.   When everything had been eaten away the figure of eight was still discernable.

One feels very privileged to be able to find one of these little guys in the veld and watch them feed.   Someone identitifed this as a “Stigmochelys”.(Leopard Tortoise).  I call him my Ndebele tortoise because of his beautiful markings.

Belle & Big Daddy

Belle and Big Daddy the orphington Cock – Sizing each other up. Big Daddy is one of four Cocks, the other have the names Junior, Upstart and Bloem.

Bokkie coming in with the sheep

 Kelly bringing in ewes with lambs and the bottle reared springbuck doe “bokkie” who always walks with the sheep.

A Mate for Bokkie called Kalahari. Quite a handsome chap.

Bokkie did not really take to Kalahari she preferred to walk with the sheep.

Kalahari just tags along.  

Water scorpion?!

Found this insect in the dam today.  Have no idea what it is so till I can find someone to identify it I will call it the “water scorpion”.   Its tail is long like a Manta Ray.   It was not very fast in the water so I could scoop it up in a bucket to take a photograph.   Have put it back in the dam.  Wonder if it has a mate?

3rd November 2010 had 24 mm of rain the first spring rain of significance.

The butterflies are out today enjoying the flowers.   Amazing the rain fell yesterday and here they are today.

Resident Frog

This Frog is insistent it will live in my house.   I put “it” out on the side of the house where there are no doors it takes a day or so and “I AM”  back.   My chosen spot is inbetween the electric extension cord for the Fax machine on a low table.

I have had other frogs who insist on living the house.   The one was always found in the dogs water bowl in the mornings.  I would put him out and while I was still making coffee would find him climbing back up the stairs coming in.   He was recognisable by his missing back toe which I had scrunched in the door.

Another one lived in the hall stand.   He was just as determined.    You could put him out at 9.00 in the fish pond and by eleven he would be climbing the stairs coming back.

There was a small egg eater snake that enjoyed the small frogs at the Koi dam.   I caught him and released him about a kilometer from the house.    Two weeks later he was back.   I can only presume it was the same snake as he was fat from all the frogs and lay on the same plant as before.  This time I took him about 6 kilometers from the house.   That seemed to confuse him enough not to come back. (we hope)

I set up one beehive two years ago and attracted a swarm of bees.   They have delivered honey this year.   This was so exciting to be able to harvest my own honey.  The taste cannot be described only your tastebuds can deliver comment.

I have since progressed and the bees produced a lot of honey this year 2012.   In 2013 I have again been able to harvest honey.

 I can now spin out my honey.    So Good to eat your own honey with no dilution or additives.  


The gecko that lives in the outbuilding has had babies middle March so close to the winter.

Baby Gecko so tiny and the markings

This little calf was born to a young heifer.   You can pick it up and carry it “dog size”  It walks under its mother tummy without touching her.

Tiny calf that you can carry without effort

With all the rain the past season the grass is extremely thick and high.

The down side of all the rain is that the sheep are having a hard time coping with the grass.  The seed shaft stick into the skin and then the pest are plentiful and so are all the diseases.

A dog bringing in sheep

The sheep often hop up onto the Anthills to get a better vantage point.  You can see they definitely like to see where they are.   

Sheep standing on an antheap

In  the above photo, at the sheeps feet standing on the anthill  are a flock of sheep which you must look for very carefully.    Collecting sheep is extremely difficult with the long grass.   They are meters from you and you cannot see them.  You sometimes just hear a bleat.   Other times you miss them.

There are many mushrooms the size of a small plate to be seen.

A large veld mushroom

Fungus is growing on trees stumps that you would not think existed in our region.

side view of log with its growth

Every year a Sunbird comes in the early Spring to greet me.   One year it is on knock on the Bathroom window, the other year the Kitchen window, then I was bringing down ewes with lambs in the camp at the back of the homestead and heard a urgent tjirrp, and he flew past me and came and sat on a bush in front of me.  Last year, I was in the garden and again this urgent tjirrp and here  he was.  Always staying somewhere near me in the garden.  In 2011 I have not had a visit.  You wonder has his lifespan ended?    It was no coincidence the way I was greeted each year.

Jan Groentjie/Malachite Sunbird

Seeing an Eagle Owl is special.   but when you spot one in the middle of the Afternoon.  Wow.  The camera was out and hopefully you got something before he flew off.

Huff you! I am special

The are so many Diederick Cuckoos around that you see four or more chasing each other through the tree tops. This season I have found four dead youngsters and rescued one from the Starlings.  They found out is was a foreigner at some stage.   In the past I have rescued many from the mossies (sparrows).  All the relatives from far and wide come and help attach the young bird.  They put up such a squabble that you think there is a snake.  Usually these diedericks  you only see briefly flitting between trees, but the last two seasans you find many out in the open sitting on fences.

Diederick Cuckoo

A Hammerkop family sunning themselves.

Note : the false hole under the proper hole.  This is when a snake tries to enter it actually closes the hole at the top and cannot enter the nest.  These birds are extremely deft at opening the entrance with a foot and going in. June 2011 – Have had 132mm of Rain this week.   Much flooding and very cold.   The roads are washed down to the gravel bottom.  Power was off for 24hours.  

Eggs from The Americana Fowls.   All shades of Blue, Blue/ Green.  The one that appears brown is green but with undertone of brown.    I have had these fowls for close to 40 years.    Have had many comments about the blue eggs.  From are they rotten?  Due you feed the fowls copper sulphate?    They are just a lot of fun to have around with all the different colourings, shapes, fluffy cheek feathers.

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