Jakkalsfontein a 192 Years Ago

On November1805, three members of the government’s Commission for Animal Husbandry and Agriculture visited Jakkalsfontein. They were Mrs. W.S. van Ryneveldt (chairman), Mr. P. Truter and Mr. L. Huizer. The government’s aim was to boost the sluggish local economy, and to create a textile industry that would, it was hoped, eventually make the Cape independent of European imports. The commissioners’ task was to make a survey of farms that were suitable for the breeding of wool-bearing sheep and to encourage graziers to turn to the production of wool, instead of the traditional meat and hides.

They set out from Cape Town in September 1805, travelling in a horse drawn wagon through sparsely populated districts, known to them as Roodeznd, Bookeveld, Roggeveld, Hantam, Olifantsrivier. Bergrivier, Swartland and Groene Kloof. Their encounters with wild animals, aboriginal Bushmen, rivers in flood and pioneer stock farmers were recorded in the diary, in which they also wrote down the raw material of their eventual report.

Groene Kloof was the name of the region between Saldanha Bay and Melkboschstrand. The commissioners arrived in Groene Kloof on 6 November. They by-passed the Slagtersveld (Butcher’s Field), a parcel of 19 government farms, where only doomed sheep grazed. It was the exclusive grazing of the civilian butchers who were contracted to provide the government with meat.Between Slagtersveld and the sea was a block of six government farms, that was reserved for the governments own efforts in breeding of wool-bearing sheep. These farms were from north to south Groote Post, Jakkalsfontein, Rondeberg and Kransduinen. East of Kransduinen lay Smalle Pad and Driepapenfontein. The Modder River, which is today crossed by a fine bridge on the West Coast Road, was the Southern boundary of this experimental area. The commissioners arrived at the Groote Post, where their overseer Rogier van Blerk resided, at 3pm on 6 November.

They first had a look at the government’s own stock, that had been brought together for their visit. There were 334 prime wool-bearing sheep, from which they selected 50 of the best young ewes and punched the letter C (for Commissie), on their ears. Ear-marked, in other words, for breeding purposes.
The next day they inspected the adjacent government properties. The grasses and small plants had already gone to seed, so that the farms would have had a very different appearance in winter. The vegetation, they reported, consisted largely of shrubs and grass, with good grazing for winter and summer. It was extremely healthy but short of drinking water. Of the six, Rondeberg and Kransduinen had the best water. They were pleased to see that a new grove of young poplars recently planted in the big valley on Rondeberg farm was doing well and would in time yield timber for houses and stalls.

They also came across 120 of the government’s worn-out transport oxen from Cape Town, that had been sent here a fortnight earlier to rest and recover, and they were already gaining in condition. A portion of Jakkalsfontein was called Tygerfontein (the Leopard Spring). Jakkalsfontein itself is described as “eene zomersche plaats; heeft hei en duinen-veld, doch is zwak van water” (a place for summer grazing, with shrubs and dune vegetation, but poorly provided with drinking water).

The next day the party left for Ganze Craal, with oxen now drawing their wagon, because of the heavy sand. The owner was Jacob van Reenen, a farmer both prosperous and enterprising in the rearing of pure- bred merinos. On the ninth, the commissioners were back in Cape Town,
What do we gather from this brief glimpse, through the eyes of sheep farmers two centuries ago? How familiar the scene appears - the leopards and the weary oxen have gone, but the rest, thank heaven is still here.

On November1805, three members of the government’s Commission for Animal Husbandry and Agriculture visited Jakkalsfontein. They were Mrs. W.S. van Ryneveldt (chairman), Mr. P. Truter and Mr. L. Huizer. The government’s aim was to boost the sluggish local economy, and to create a textile industry that would, it was hoped, eventually make the Cape independent of European imports. The commissioners’ task was to make a survey of farms that were suitable for the breeding of wool-bearing sheep and to encourage graziers to turn to the production of wool, instead of the traditional meat and hides.

They set out from Cape Town in September 1805, travelling in a horse drawn wagon through sparsely populated districts, known to them as Roodeznd, Bookeveld, Roggeveld, Hantam, Olifantsrivier. Bergrivier, Swartland and Groene Kloof. Their encounters with wild animals, aboriginal Bushmen, rivers in flood and pioneer stock farmers were recorded in the diary, in which they also wrote down the raw material of their eventual report.

Groene Kloof was the name of the region between Saldanha Bay and Melkboschstrand. The commissioners arrived in Groene Kloof on 6 November. They by-passed the Slagtersveld (Butcher’s Field), a parcel of 19 government farms, where only doomed sheep grazed. It was the exclusive grazing of the civilian butchers who were contracted to provide the government with meat.Between Slagtersveld and the sea was a block of six government farms, that was reserved for the governments own efforts in breeding of wool-bearing sheep. These farms were from north to south Groote Post, Jakkalsfontein, Rondeberg and Kransduinen. East of Kransduinen lay Smalle Pad and Driepapenfontein. The Modder River, which is today crossed by a fine bridge on the West Coast Road, was the Southern boundary of this experimental area. The commissioners arrived at the Groote Post, where their overseer Rogier van Blerk resided, at 3pm on 6 November.

They first had a look at the government’s own stock, that had been brought together for their visit. There were 334 prime wool-bearing sheep, from which they selected 50 of the best young ewes and punched the letter C (for Commissie), on their ears. Ear-marked, in other words, for breeding purposes.
The next day they inspected the adjacent government properties. The grasses and small plants had already gone to seed, so that the farms would have had a very different appearance in winter. The vegetation, they reported, consisted largely of shrubs and grass, with good grazing for winter and summer. It was extremely healthy but short of drinking water. Of the six, Rondeberg and Kransduinen had the best water. They were pleased to see that a new grove of young poplars recently planted in the big valley on Rondeberg farm was doing well and would in time yield timber for houses and stalls.

They also came across 120 of the government’s worn-out transport oxen from Cape Town, that had been sent here a fortnight earlier to rest and recover, and they were already gaining in condition. A portion of Jakkalsfontein was called Tygerfontein (the Leopard Spring). Jakkalsfontein itself is described as “eene zomersche plaats; heeft hei en duinen-veld, doch is zwak van water” (a place for summer grazing, with shrubs and dune vegetation, but poorly provided with drinking water).

The next day the party left for Ganze Craal, with oxen now drawing their wagon, because of the heavy sand. The owner was Jacob van Reenen, a farmer both prosperous and enterprising in the rearing of pure- bred merinos. On the ninth, the commissioners were back in Cape Town,

What do we gather from this brief glimpse, through the eyes of sheep farmers two centuries ago? How familiar the scene appears - the leopards and the weary oxen have gone, but the rest, thank heaven is still here.

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ARTICLES By Dr. Dan Sleigh

PREHISTORIC JAKKALSFONTEIN
THE NAME - JAKKALSFONTEIN
192 YEARS AGO
EARLY VICTORIAN
A JAKKALSFONTEIN MAN
LOOKING EAST

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