Most days, you can count on the weather, and the spectacular time is upon us when the emeralds of February and the golds and burgundies of March, tell us its Autumn. That's the signal for the stashing of the larder with the Summer residues, nature's hoard that sustains the souls of next year's champions when the midnight mercury finds its negatives in June and July.
For the past six weeks, day and night, Mark Jonsson's agric crew and their “green machines” have been flat out; first prepping, then planting their smorgasbord of oats, rye, vetch and clover, the guarantee that when the chips are finally down, the old Summerhill tradition of providing the best for the best, is preserved to the “enth”. You don't find our horses hanging around gates waiting for the van to arrive at feeding times; their heads are deep in the grass.
Like most things in life, there's good reason for the generosity of our environment. We're located in the lee of Africa's greatest mountain range, which is the pivot around which our climate gathers its moisture. Our valleys are richly endowed with minerals, a product of millions of years of “weathering” of the sandstone and the compounds underlying the ‘Berg'. A glance at John Reader's fertility map (Africa: A Biography of the Continent) reminds us that we live in the middle of the most fertile region in South Africa.
Last night, and well into the night, a team of pros were scything their way through one of the best stands of maize in the Midlands: they might've been sent home early from the Cricket World Cup, but these Poms were as clinical in their execution as any we've known. Before you could say “Jack Robinson”, they did what they didn't do to Australia, New Zealand, India et al, masticating their way through a 30 acre forest of “seven footers”. It came off at the ankles and in less than a jiffy, it was bedded down in the pit, ready for winter. Come June, the aromas of this hot bed of carbos and proteins will waft their way to the nostrils of the lustiest herd of Anguses in creation. With silage like this, bet on them crowding the gates.