Stoep Stories No 10
Saturday, 10th May 2014
Stoep Stories - Tales from the Karoo.
Published by the Graaff-Reinet Heritage Society
Just Do It! By Nancy Kingwill
When my great great grandfather Rubidge, an unemployed sea – captain,emigrated from Wales nearly 180 years ago, he trekked eventually to the Graaff – Reinet district and bought a vast tract of semi –desert, three plateaus up and North of the emerging town where it was cooler, drier, remoter and higher than the comparative “civilisation”of the dorpie and a far, far cry from the green valleys of Wales. There with the help of unskilled labour, he built a cottage which still stands, in its stout simplicity, to the present day.
The site selected for the establishment of the homestead was waterless, and until a better plan could be made, water was fetched daily, on foot from a fountain two miles away. After experiencing a frosty winter or two he decided to plant an orange orchard, daring the frost to destroy his crop when the burgeoning fruit was at its most vulnerable.
Now years on the trees still stand and still bear, prey not so much to frost, but to drought and to the plundering onslaughts of monkeys and kudu. The dearth of water remains the chief scourge for the maintenance of the trees and orchards and stock.
I have designed, with pride a new coat of arms for the doughty retrenched seaman. The centrepiece is a trout, swimming(however inappropriately for the karoo) upstream and with a smile on its face, getting to where it wants to be!