The trauma of living through the droughts in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) left its scars on us. Before we really had the money, we put in two ponds. There was already one on the farm but its wall was compromised so that it didn’t hold its water for very long. One of the new ponds also has a leak (or several!) and we have, we hope come upon a solution. A company in Australia sells a (hideously expensive) compound that you toss into the water and it plugs the leaks. Here’s hoping!

One of the new ponds holds koi (no surprise there!) and bluegills, and the other has wide-mouthed bass. These ponds are really attractive to birds and beautiful to sit beside, especially if the evening is calm and you have a glass of wine with you.

When we moved in to the shack, the water supply consisted of four three-thousand-litre cement tanks. One of these was on a metal tower at the back door and, because there was no electricity, when this header tank ran dry, you had to pump it full manually. Needless to say our water use was frugal.

Over time, with the building of the workshop and carports, we have steadily put in plastic 5000 litre tanks. There are now 33 of these tanks scattered about the farm. Most of them are arranged in a cascade system, so that they overflow downhill to fill those closest to the house. Last year we put in a borehole which, although we seldom use it, gives enormous peace of mind and it provides the option of irrigating the vines when it is dangerously dry. Last season we had a dry summer but the long-range forecast said that we were in for a big rain. Great news! But not really. When a heavy rain does come, the berries sometimes swell so quickly that they split and then you have fruit-flies and bunch-rot and bad wine. This problem is a special threat to Pinot noir because the grapes are thin-skinned. Now the borehole gives us the option to give the vines a strategic drink if it has been dry and the berries are not looking tight.