It was early evening when the fire started to come down the mountain towards us with a wind sweeping it along with great speed and force.….
On Monday 28th January, we got word that a fire, which started in the Franschhoek area and was bolstered by strong winds, was rapidly heading our way. In the afternoon I took a drive around the mountain to see if I could get a look at what was coming our way. On the road, I passed a very large troop of baboons that seemed to be fleeing the area well ahead of the fire. It all felt so reminiscent of our early beginnings on Avondale, when in 2000, a ferocious fire had swept down the mountain from exactly the same direction and destroyed Avondale’s vineyards and orchards. I returned to the farm for a fire fight.
So some of you may ask how this is possibly an extraordinary experience, well, let me explain. We had all gathered around the foot of the mountain waiting to defend the 2013 harvest. Staring at the fire with morbid fascination and huge amount of worry I looked to my right and left and saw all our staff standing by my side ready to risk all to stop the fire! This was not prompted or even asked, everybody was just willing to help. Interspersed between us were a large amount of friends who arrived to help with their “Bakkie sakkies” and eagerness to defeat the fire! AMAZING!
We fought the fire throughout the night, the next day and night, and on Wednesday we still had teams taking fire-fighting shifts, while others were busy harvesting plums. Friends came to the farm to help and many others sent us best wishes and stayed in touch to find out how we were coping. You could not help but to be so moved by the incredible team spirit and amazing support.
Best of all, all that positive energy and goodwill worked: Apart from a top area of veld that burned, Avondale was untouched by this great inferno. Our teams of fire-fighters had uncanny experiences on the borders of the farm when the wind that was driving the fire on to us, would suddenly drop or change direction literally as it reached our boundaries. A lot of our energy was spent on our neighbour’s property where the intensity of the fire caused old forest trees to explode.
Apart from being well-prepared and well-trained to deal with fires; another way that Avondale actively averts natural disasters is to make use of a biodynamic preparation called The Three Kings. This is made of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We put it into our field broadcaster, and I will tell you more about The Three Kings in an upcoming blog.
On parting, I would like to express my deepest thanks to all that helped with the fire- you are all part of the Avondale family!