Timothy Hewitt-Coleman

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since Sep 30, 2013
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Port Elizabeth, South Africa (34 degrees south)
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Recent posts by Timothy Hewitt-Coleman

Night Patrol 27 October 2018

I hate it when my night Patrol duty falls on a Saturday night. That means I must leave Poppina in the cottage alone with Tank. And another thing – this was the third Saturday Patrol I’ve had been allocated this year. It doesn’t sound fair. In fact I had almost forgotten about the patrol and just remembered 30 minutes before I was due to report at 19:00.

The way it works here, it that the patrol vehicle is parked at the Service Station just up the road from me at Cow’s Corner. So I drove up, bought some snacks for the road and signed for the keys with the lady in the shop. My co-driver didn’t pitch. I contacted him, but his was pissed off because he didn’t receive the email roster that sets out the dates for all the night patrollers. I am perhaps more forgiving. I admire the volunteer energy that the people heading up “Farmcomm” put in, including the people that assemble and send out the night patrol roster.

Normally, not much happens on my night patrol shift, but last night was different. About an hour in to the three hour shift there was a call in the two way radio. Mr and Mrs Thomas, from just over the road from us had been attacked. 4 men in balaclavas beat the two pensioners and took a shot gun, a 9 mm hand gun and cell phones. Very quickly the radio control guys stepped into place and coordinated the activities of the many “responders” who arrived at very short notice in their private vehicles. You see, each Farmcomm member has a two way radio. Many keep it on their person at all times. So if there is an emergency the response can be quite rapid. Some responders were directed to form cordons along certain roads, others were directed to launch the drone which is now fitted with a Fleur night vision camera of sorts. I was tasked to park at the corner of Kragga Kamma and Louisa roads, to direct police and other emergency personnel who were beginning to arrive on the scene. While this was going on the attackers were being pursued. The place where they cut the fence into Flanagans farm was found and as the police dog unit arrived they tried to find a spoor. The pursuit of these attackers went on until early hours of the morning. We come very close to apprehending the suspects as they took refuge in thick bush between Doorly and Destades road.

For much of the time from when the attack happened at 8ish until we received the order to stand down at 2:30, I was part of a vehicle cordon. Basically a row of cars parked along a road with lights shining so as to back it impossible for the attackers to pass. So I had a bit of time to think. At first my mind moved to how sad it is that we have this crime situation that requires all of us in this neighbourhood to lock ourselves in hour houses as soon as the sun goes down and to live behind high fences protected by viscous dogs, alarm systems and armed response companies. No it’s not nice. But I think what is good is that the community has organised itself and is taking responsibly for its own security. (Collaborating with the police of course.)
My mind also wandered to how futile it is to feel sad about this situation (or any other I suppose). The situation “just is” and I am faced with the option to deal with it or to move somewhere else where I may not have to deal with it. I have chosen to be here at Pebblespring farm. For better or worse, this is the decision I have taken. And with that mind-set, my only choice is to find joy in making every effort I can to protect my family and prepare myself as best I can to be able to deter and resist intruders. It feels better to have this mindset. It in fact feels better actively pursuing attackers at 2 in the morning. Just knowing that I am doing something perhaps. Not waiting for them to take the initiative and spoil my day.
I have a lot of work to do to be fully prepared. But that’s what I have decided to do.

By the way we never caught the guys, but we learned a lot. We are getting better with each of these “operations”

8 months ago
Thanks for the reply TJ - the honest truth though is that living in two worlds is really tough. I try to put a brave face on it, But I really, really, really would like to be able to committ more, time effort and money to my farm projects. I run a busy little office in town though and in the past when I have neglected that life and not put 100% in there it has come back to bite me. Within a short time I begin to loose money and see things going back wards. I push on though and continue to find ways in which I can make my life work for me.
8 months ago
I learn from contrast. I only know warmth by contrasting it to cold. I only know wetness by contrasting it to dryness. Perhaps in the same way I love the city because of the farm and I love the farm because of the city. Make sense ??

8 months ago
(This piece by Tim Hewitt-Coleman first appeared in The Herald on 24 October 2018  . I am not sure if this post will make sense to people reading from outside of South Africa - or even outside of Port Elizabeth - but I'm a firm believer in the idea "Think Global - Act local"...)

Sardinia Bay on a Sunday morning is perhaps my favourite place in the world. Sometimes we walk “Tank”, our enormous Great Dane. Sometimes we go for a swim in the choppy surf. Other times we simply sit on the dunes taking in the panoramic view of Indian Ocean. There is something rugged and untamed about Sardinia Bay. Its massive sand dunes refuse to bow to the our feeble plans to build a road to the beach, perhaps rejecting the vulgar and boorish club house structures, maybe like a body would reject and vomit out that which is foreign and that does not belong. But, while the dunes may move steadily in their path and the ocean may look different every Sunday, what is unchanging in this landscape has been “Gunter’s Wurst Wagen”. Yes, that’s right, for as long as I can remember, this little german sausage “Food Truck” could be found in this remote little piece of Africa regardless of the weather or the time of year. A winter morning run would not be complete without huddling in the car park against fake tudor trailer from the blustery cold wind with a warm cup of Gunter’s hot chocolate (with those little marshmallows floating on the top.)

Seems cosy and perfect doesn’t it? Except, since 13 October, Gunter’s Wurst Wagen is nowhere to be seen. ”Did Gunter die?”, I asked,  “No!” said the ubiquitous, lumo-vested car guard. “Did his trailer break down?” “No!” He said again……“His Permit Expried!”

As it turns out the “Wurst Wagen” was not at its usual Sunday spot,  because there has been some delay at the Municipality in issuing the permit required to trade from this remote and dusty car park. The chatter among the Sardinia Bay car park regulars descends very quickly to baseless rumours of corruption, general winging about administrative inefficiency and about how we should see to it that more rules are put in place to stop municipal officials being slow to administer the rules that have already been put in place and still more rules should be put in place to ensure that people like Cheryl Zondi cannot be raped by people as evil as Pastor Timothy Omotose’s accusers say he is.

As I pretend to listen to all this, my thinking  drifts, as it especially tends to do on a Sunday, to the Constitutional Court and the recent ruling of judge Zondo, legalizing the smoking of Dagga. My humble attempt to paraphrase that part of the ruling that interests me is that “…there is no science that has been presented that can show that dagga causes harm to the extent that South African individual’s privacy and freedom, as envisaged in the constitution, should be curtailed and limited.” So, though parliamentarians may have believed differently, they are in fact not free to dream up random legislation without having considered the science of the matter. What judge Zondo’s ruling says is even if 100% of parliamentarians believe that you and I should not smoke dagga, they are not permitted to pass legislation to prohibit us from doing so in the absence of scientific proof that harm will be caused by the activity that the legislation is attempting to outlaw.

But back to our friend Gunter. What worries me about this story is that so many of us are completely happy that a “permit” should indeed be issued, and that Gunter should just be patient. I, on the other hand, rather think we should be asking the question?: “ What harm would be caused if all the sellers of German Sausages, Ice cream cones and hot chocolate were free to decide for themselves whether they should try sell their stuff at Sardinia Bay. What if we allowed beach goers and tourists to decide for themselves who they would rather buy their Hot-dogs from???  My guess, it that there would be chaos for a few weekends with a dozen “Wurst Waggen” clones trying their best to offer their wares to a half a dozen windswept beach goers. But then, with time, the natural order of things would sort things out. The truth is we do not know how it would work out. We cannot see the future, but luckily in this case we are under no real pressure to be able to see the future. There is nothing of any real consequence at stake. There is no science anywhere than any person can quote that predicts that anyone while die at the Sardina Bay car park or that anyone will even be harmed if the municipality just backs off and lets people be as free as the constitution of the republic tells them they are.

So while the constitution is clear to me and to our esteemed friend, Judge Zondo, the sorry reality is that it is completely unlikely that our friend Gunter has saved up enough over the years from the sale of Sunday sausages from to be able to afford the fancy lawyers that will be able to take this case to the Constitutional Court. But while it is sad, it does not mean that those of us who value freedom are defeated. No. I take courage from something I heard an old farmer quote the other day: “Tend the garden that you can reach,” he said.  Right now, through this piece of writing, I can reach you. Who knows, maybe tomorrow you can reach your mates around the braai. Who knows, maybe the next day Gunter and others like him will be arguing for their Freedom at the Constitutional Court.

One step at a time!
8 months ago
Thanks for Reading TJ - To be honest, I have a lot more "musings" going on in my head than I have the time (or the courage) to write down!!!
8 months ago
My sister, Lindi has a "Cottage Industry' with Angora Goats on her beautiful farmlet in the forest near Wildersniss in South Africa.

She has five goats that she grows alongside her three horses, a little flock of chickens and a surprisingly productive vegetable garden. Lindi is a proponent on the Permaculture way of doing things.

She cares deeply about her animals and about her land.

I thought you may like this little video we made when I visited.

[b]Aquaponics in a Suitcase anybody?[b]

9 months ago
Its Springtime here at Pebblespring Farm. We are planting trees. One of our favorites is the Coral Tree (Erythrina lysistemon)

9 months ago
When I set out contour swales at Pebblespring Farm (or when I help my sister Lindi to do the same at Shimmering Farm), I like to use a simple "A - Fram"  DIY leveling device.

These two short videos will help explain how to build one and use it on your own project

1 year ago
Comparing the Husqvarna 440e with the Stihl Ms 250

Husqvarna 440e

40.9 cc 1.8 kW 4.4 kg

Paid R3400.00 incl vat in March 2014

Stihl MS 250

45.4 cc 2.3 kw 4.6 kg

Paid R3900.00 incl vat in March 2015

I am already enjoying the MS 250 quite a bit more than the 440e. Make no mistake, I really enjoyed the Husqvarna. It gave me many hours of pleasure clearing bush, felling small trees, cutting fire wood and fence poles. The MS 250 is more powerful though and the additional weight is not really  noticeable. I suppose it is an unfair comparison, I should be comparing the  45 cc Husqvarna with the MS 250. The truth though, in my part of the world, is that the Husqvarna is a more expensive machine. Right now the new 440e sells for R600.00 more than the MS250. So the expectation is that the ....(read more)
1 year ago