Amohela ho Spitskop- The Re-Wilding of a mountain - A Conservancy is born.
The daughter of a third generation Free State farmer, I grew up in this wild beautiful place, where we wandered, my brother and I, across fields, swam in dams, rode a small pony called Brown up the mountain and then left him to graze peacefully, while we ascended to the top together with any number of springer spaniels in tow then raced down, gathered up Brown, and headed back to the farmhouse.
The fields were filled with wild flowers which we picked and presented to a mother who graciously put the sometimes wilted offerings in vases where they stood as a testament to our love of these wonderful wild plants.
In 2002 Allen & I took a Leap of Faith, and decided to move to the Eastern Free State, to a small farm left to me by my father.
The farm, let for some time & previously neglected, soil poisoned by years of commercial farming with toxic sprays and chemical fertilizers, and thus we found and overgrazed, sad, silent place.
The mountain ravaged by over foraging for medicinal plants, indigenous trees and shrubs nigh destroyed by wood hunters, the small mammals and antelope that naturally populate these farmland areas, unprotected, had been nearly wiped out, and we removed in those first months over 300 snares from the mountain.
The small slice to the back of the mountain had been sold off, and negotiations started with a difficult and somewhat arrogant neighbour to buy this back, for the only way we could protect the mountain…was to own all of it, and we finally, having paid a much over inflated price, were the proud owners of the whole mountain.
And so the healing began.
The grasslands, left to heal, slowly recovered, native plants, shrubs and wild flowers and magical medicinal herbs started slowly to grow back.
Helichchrysums, left to wild seed, grow in great grey proliferation on the Conservancy, and we can forage and wild harvest for medicinal teas and tissanes, smudging, making of beautiful healing infused oils, tinctures, wonderful soaps, bath salts filled with infused and essential oils, magnesium, wild harvested desert raw salts - a soak of epic proportion for tired and aching muscles- or just to relax before bed.
The mountain OUR MOUNTAIN is now filled with great burrows where porcupine slumber in daylight hours, only to go foraging at night on plants and herbs rich in nutrients and now growing strongly all over the Conservancy.
We are excited to have aardvark returned to the Conservancy in the last months as well as spring hare, not seen for some years, and small mammals proliferate, ground squirrels keep us in laughter with their antics, wild pollinators are seen on all the magnificent wild and native plants, the deep silence has as its background frogs, toads, crickets, birds and much more that quietly fill up the healed and re-wilded space that is Spitskop.
In 2003 we were overjoyed to find growing just one coral aloe ( Aloe Maculata) on the warm west side of the mountain, where later Josephs Steps were discovered.
This year in aloe season, Allen spent some time in the mountain taking photos of hundreds of magnificent Aloe Maculata, in all their splendour and colour and vibrancy, on the slopes of Spitskop Mountain below the ancient Josephs Steps, growing amongst the beautiful parlsey tree, ( heteromorpha arborescens) cross berry/kruisbessie ( grewia occidentalis) many rhus species, wild white stinkwood and many other awesome native plants that grow safe and strong in the re-wilded Amohela-ho-Spitskop Registered Conservancy.