We reached Elandskloof well after dark, which was just as well, as the 24km journey from the main road is not for the fainthearted, nor those not in possession of a sports utility vehicle.
A corporate group from Johannesburg, which has spent the past week herding cattle and working the farm on horseback and on foot under Truter’s watchful eye, are having a raucous last supper in the “new” house built by her grandfather, Haig McNaughton. They have clearly had a wonderful time, and will hopefully be spreading the word. We are billeted in the original farmhouse, which is large, with good bones, but few frills. This was a house built to do its job and a reminder of a time when farming was not a “lifestyle” choice.
In the morning, Elandskloof reveals itself. We feel miles from anywhere, surrounded by hills that recede into infinity. It is winter, but the sky is blue, softening the khaki colours of the landscape. A single railway line runs through the farm. Trains, we are told, hardly pass this way, and haven’t for years, but in the old days, during the wool boom, the railway was a vital artery. Perhaps, if Truter has her way, it will be again.
We meet Truter’s parents, and immediately understand that farming was perhaps less of a choice and more of an inevitability for her. Jimmy and Diana Truter farm several hours’ drive away, but they are here to help their daughter. We share breakfast with them. Jimmy is tall and solidly built, his hands and workwear revealing that he has been out checking fences and livestock, ensuring the cattle are properly watered.
The drought has meant that water resources are scarce. The Truters have farmed all their lives — Diana, one of four daughters, inherited Elandskloof because she was the only one who married a farmer and wanted to farm the property. They have worked hard — still do — and it’s clear that wool booms are very much part of the past. At the same time, their love of the land is unambiguous and it’s impossible to imagine them anywhere else.
After we leave, we discuss Truter’s ambition to make farming “sexy” again, and we can’t help wondering if any of the corporate team that have just spent the week being cowboys would have the wherewithal to leave corporate life for a farm. Probably not, but if even a few of them leave with a better understanding and a new respect for the Jimmy Truters of this world, then she would have done her job. karooranching.co.za