Those that’ve read our farm brochures over the years will know the reverence with which “The Giant” (otherwise known as Giant’s Castle) is held. For the uninitiated, The Giant is the second highest peak in one of the world’s most famous Heritage sites, the Drakensberg, standing close to 12 000 feet at its zenith, and towering over some of the most fertile valleys in the world.
It’s our privilege to live in one of these valleys, Summerhill lying at approximately 4 700 feet above sea level, and comprising some of the most productive agricultural land anywhere.
We owe our lives to The Giant, because “he’s” the pivot around which our climate and our weather revolves. Topographically, Giant’s Castle sits on a right-angled apex formed by the diversion the Drakensberg takes at that point after it ridges for several hundred kilometers from the Northern Berg to this central point, and running away towards Sani Pass, through Qacha’s Nek, across the top of the renowned trout fishing territories of Underberg, Maclear, Elliot, etc to the little village of Lady Grey, which spawned the country’s president, Thabo Mbeki.
Several million years ago, in our vicinity, the Drakensberg was located above Hilton, which as most of us know, perches several hundred feet above the capital of our province, Pietermaritzburg. Being largely constructed of brittle sandstone, the ravages of the weather and the impact of the earth’s movements, wore this great mountain range back to its current position where it rests on a basalt underlay. The result has been the endowment of our valleys in the wake of this weathering, with a mineral richness paralleled in very few parts of the world.
No wonder our region is the envy of stock farmers across the length and the breadth of creation. It was only three or four years ago that one of Argentina’s most successful cattlemen (we all know the Argentineans are renowned for their beef), remarked that this area was as good as anything he’d seen as stock-rearing country, and he said this was borne out by the quality of the beef in our vicinity, which he thought was as good as the best in the world.
Now that’s saying something, considering that the Argentineans have always been regarded as the “Menere” of cattle breeding, but it says even more for the little herd of Angus cattle that live right here on our property.
Drawn from the late Humphrey James’ closed herd, which for decades had been regarded as the best of its kind in the midlands, the Summerhill Anguses have taken home numerous accolades and championships over the years, and just this past year, they posted the highest sales average of all herds through the Mooi River Stockyards.
That’s not their only purpose though, as they’re here to balance the stocking needs of the farm, providing a valuable parasite control mechanism for the horses, a complimentary grazing pattern, and a source for the consumption of the bedding from our stables in the winter months. They need no more than this and a “lick” to sustain their condition through the harshest of winters, and then you should see them flourish when the early rains come in spring. They’re as much of a joy to us as our horses are, and whether you’re into horses or cattle, we have the Drakensberg in general, and The Giant in particular, to thank for the abundance which life provides in this neck of the woods.