When travelling through the countryside one can’t help but notice the plethora of farm names at entrance gates along the way. They range from Dutch and Afrikaner extraction to German, French and British, depending on which province and early settler location you’re driving through. Mostly they’re descriptive of the location and many seem to end in the suffix “fontein”. The lions at Leeufontein have long gone. So have the buffalo at Buffelsfontein and the hippo at Seekoeifontein. But the names remain as a stark reminder of how things used to be. “I’m changing the name of my farm,” I announced to neighbour Jan over morning coffee on my stoep. “Whatever for?” he asked. “Well, ‘Pietkuil’ has little appeal. He doesn’t live here any more, and it has connotations of some thug hiding from the law.” “So, what’s the new name going to be?” asked Jan. “How about ‘Townie’s Folly’,” he quickly suggested. I ignored the sarcasm. “It’s going to be ‘Millstone Manor’, named after the grinding stone we found at the ruin of the old mill.” “Most appropriate. You’ve had a millstone hanging around your neck ever since you arrived here,” said Jan. “As for ‘Manor’, a bit over the top don’t you think old chap?” “Well, it rolls off the tongue easily and has historical connections with the old mill,” I offered. A farm needs an imposing entrance. It should make a statement about who lives beyond its gate. A rusted ploughshare with a crude hand-lettered name was not for me. My entrance would have dressed stone pillars with the millstone decoratively encased and wrought iron gates three metres high, with “Millstone Manor” in large Ye Olde Gothic lettering across the top. A monument in itself to history and good taste. It took a month to build.
The opening ceremony was equally auspicious. Driving through the imposing entrance in Jan’s vintage Bentley convertible, sipping champagne from fluted glasses, Jan remarked, “Townie, now you’re to the manor born. Pity the house doesn’t live up to the expectations of the gate. Like all advertising men, you pay too much attention to the packaging and too little to what’s inside! By the way, Townie, how’s a cattle truck going to drive in under your new farm name sign?” – Derek Christopher |fw