Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Windpompe and Karoo Koppies

Today's post basically follows up on yesterday's post about Karoo roads.
The Karoo is generally a flat and dry area with a couple of hills and mountains. This means that driving through the Karoo there are very few features that are distictly "Karoo". The land in the Karoo is farming country with farmers farming mostly with Angora goats (for mohair), sheep (for the most divine Karoo lamb chops... I mean wool) and cattle (how about toasting that juicy t-bone with a glass of milk?). But two things, other than the dusty dorpies (little towns) stand out for me personally. The good ol' Windpomp and the Karoo koppie.

Water is the life blood of the Karoo and the majority of farms in the Karoo don't have a river running through them. One of the most important implements on these farms over the years has been the windpomp. Windpomp is Afrikaans for wind pump. Water is pumped from the bowls of the earth to the surface through wind power. Each and every farm has a couple. Some of them haven't worked for decades while others still bring life to the surface around it. What would the Karoo be without the windpomp? Yes I realise it is a rhetorical question, but I'm going to answer it myself. Drier.
The Karoo Koppie is as part of the Karoo landscape as the... well, windpomp. The word koppie means "head" or "hill" in this case mostly "little flat mountain". I'm not going to go into the whole geology of the area, but for most of the last 250 million years the Karoo was a huge inland basin covered in seas, lakes, swamps and deltas. For this reason the Karoo is one of the riches fossil areas in the world. Also because of this, don't ask me which part, these little flat hills were formed. The ones in the above photo is just outside the town of Steynsburg and are called Teebus (Teapot) on the left and Koffiebus (Coffee pot) on the right.


  1. Hi Firefly, good to see that you are back in action. I must say that I have grown to love the karoo. It has a special appeal and beauty all of its own.
    Rather belatedly have a great New Year

  2. Interesting !! Love the 'windmills' too - hubby said I had taken too many photos last time - so we flashed passed all of them!! Some are on my Facebook album (Olive Tree Farm and Kuilfontein Stable Cottages - Jan 2008). You have to scroll down loads of albums to get there though - once you are 'my friend' of course !!!

  3. Oh my word I have forgotten about those windmills, have gotten so used to the *new generation * ones here in Europe..
    Forgot they were still there in Africa...

    Awesome photo's and interesting entry...

  4. Glad to see you are back and brought with you many history and other lessons. Looking at the hills (tea pot and coffee pot photo) reminds me of eastern Oregon. Mostly flat with some flat topped mountains like this and cows! :-) We also have great fossil beds to go hunting in. So far away yet to similar. Good job!

  5. It is amazing how the pictures look just like the desert here in Idaho. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures.

  6. Ah... exquisite .. I love waterpumps in the middle of nowhere - haven't managed to capture a decent one yet - normally way out of Jhb and if I'm on my own don't want to stop and if with hubby, he doesn't want to stop ... hehe!! one day ....
    Gena @ thinking aloud
    South Africa