Cluny Farm nestles under a hill just outside Fouriesburg – that’s in the Eastern Free State, near Clarens, for those who don’t know. It’s owned and run by my friends Kate and Mal (otherwise known as Katherine and Malcolm) and they have a range of animals on the farm. Kate is the local vet and Mal looks after the farm, while their daughter Hannah gets to roam around and play with the animals (the best job, if you ask me!).
Free-ranging goats, chickens, pigs, horses, sheep, donkeys and cows appear unexpectedly out of the bushes as you’re meandering around.
The goats, particularly, are curious by nature and like to take part in whatever’s going on – which can be an issue when you’re having a picnic. The key is to find a spot which is fenced off if you want there to be any food left for you.
The goats (and cows, of course) are milked daily and Mal uses their milk to make a range of cheeses – cream cheese, cheddar and feta so far. He experiments with different variations and has recently come up with a smoked goats-milk feta, which is totally delicious.
When the conditions are right, you can sometimes find wild mushrooms growing under the trees around the farm – if the pigs haven’t eaten them by the time you get there. The trick is obviously to know your mushrooms so you don’t take any risks with poisonous ones. They are best dried and then used in risottos, stews, etc.
When I’ve been for a visit, I usually come back with a variety of produce which you will occasionally see in my recipes. Yum!
If you like the sound of their cheese and happen to be passing the area (or know someone who is), they’ll be happy to sell you some, depending on what is available at the time. You can contact Malcolm on 078 341 9495.