Flintbeck- Our African dream
Living the African dream is not always easy. To manage and run a farm in South Africa creates various challenges. With the cost of land and overheads escalating, farmers are forced to expand their horizon and take on new projects that will enable them to use the existing land more productively.
Flintbeck is a family owned farm that has been operating since 1952. During this time the farm and the country has gone through various changes. After a meeting on a Sunday afternoon in 2013 the Schlotfeldt family came to the conclusion that the farm had become a very expensive asset that was not being productive enough. The farm had reached its maximum cattle carrying capacity, and since our area is sour veldt and has a fairly low carrying capacity for cattle, it was clear that alternatives had to be found.
Looking at the current situation of the family and the farm, it was clear that the family did not only want the farm to survive, but to strive. The family consists of Callie and Heide (father and mother), Thomas and Heidi (Son and wife), Martin and Christian the two younger brothers. The farm that has been home of the Schlotfeldt’s for three generations needs to be opened and shared with the world. Although the farm is not prime agricultural area, it is an excellent game farming area. Prior to the interference of man this area nestled in the valley of the Magalies Mountains used to be filled with an abundance of wildlife roaming the plains.
It was decided that without sacrificing the cattle farming, new ventures would be implemented to ensure the future of the farm in an uncertain country. In the past years Flintbeck has gone from cattle farm to game farm, lodge, tourist destination, hunting and game breeding farm. We, together with our staff: Petrus, Isaac, Shadrack, Artwell, Lillian and Lena are proud of our efforts, and are excited to say that this is just the beginning.
Cattle farming on Flintbeck for the Schlotfeldt’s began in the 1950’s. The first cattle bought were transported from Omaruru Deutsch Sud West, now Namibia. Friedel and Lydia Schlotfeldt bought 10 Pinzgauer cattle from a cousin in Namibia. They farmed with cattle, peaches and chickens on the farm. Friedel was at that time still a blacksmith in Johannesburg, so Lydia was living on the farm doing the farming. With her soft but strong hands she worked every day to build up the farm.
In 1984 Callie and Heidi got married, that was when they took over the farming from Friedel and Lydia. They bought the farm and immediately concentrated on breeding cattle. Callie’s passion is cattle and genetics. Heide being a qualified nurse had to give up the city life and become part of Flintbeck farming. Callie and Heidi soon realised that one of them had to be on the farm permanently to manage the daily activities. Callie was a full time insurance broker and the bread winner, thus Heide gave up her career to manage the farm. Heide used her medical experience and applied it to cattle farming. Till today she is still the heart and soul of Flintbeck farm.
Callie and Heide bought “South Devon (Cattle race)” from Ecki Pape a well known local farmer in the area. Later on they decided to add Bonsmara cattle to the herd until finally the Pinzgauer and South Devon cattle cross formed the base of a registered Bonsmara cattle stud. Bonsmara is a South African cattle breed; it balances productivity with reliability in the veldt. This means the animal is tough enough to survive in the harsh African conditions whilst still being in high demand for its meat quality.
During the eighties there were severe droughts that nearly cost the Schlotfeldt’s the farm. Callie has always made a point of it to ensure that the farm is never overstocked. Since 1984 we have been breeding and selecting to ensure that only the best and most productive animals remain on the farm. We mainly sell our cattle to other breeders.
In 2014 we reduced the number of cattle to accommodate more game on the farm, this means that extreme selection needed to be implemented to select the best of the best; currently, Flintbeck carries anything from 200-280 head of cattle on the farm. In order to keep the farm as productive as possible, we now plant more supplementary grazing on the farm.
Game farming/ Breeding/ Hunting
In 2005 Callie and sons began to game fence the farm. This was a very expensive operation that took years to complete. Once the game fencing was completed, Flintbeck was moving to new levels.
The fence meant that new species that occurred naturally in our area could now be reintroduced. Species like Sable, hartebeest, zebra, blesbuck, impala, eland, wildebeest etc were walking on Flintbeck again for the first time in over a hundred years. Kudu, Steenbok, Klipspringer, Duiker, and warthog, amazingly enough, have always survived in the area, and now that the fence was completed they were multiplying faster than ever.
Thomas Schlotfeldt and Monte Kendall have begun various projects to reintroduce game on Flintbeck. Thanks to Monte the rate of re-introduction has commenced faster than originally planned.
Fencing the farm also brought new challenges for managing the habitat. To avoid overgrazing, new procedures had to be implemented to control the numbers.
With the help of Pieter Erasmus and John Weavind from Paw Print Safaris ethical hunting practices were implemented on Flintbeck. Hunting a certain amount of certain species per year is now used to manage the quantity of game, as well as create an income that enables Flintbeck to be sustainable for generations to come; this also ensures the future of game on the farm.
Lodge Accommodation and Tourism
We at Flintbeck really try to make our guests part of our family living in South Africa. This enables our guests to not only see the country but to experience our way of living.
In 2014 the Schlotfeldt family had to decide whether the old rondawels would be destroyed or rebuilt. It was decided to convert the rondawels into a lodge.
Heide and Thomas run the day to day operations regarding the lodge, with the help of Louise Kroese that assists from an administration point of view.
There is something unique about the rondawels, they have African soul. They have accommodated many generations since the 1900’s. They are not part of Flintbeck, they are Flintbeck.
Martin Schlotfeldt is a qualified Millwright. We are very proud of him as he has recently purchased an engineering shop that he has installed on the farm. In the late 1890’s the first two Schlotfeldt brothers had a beer house and blblacksmithn the same street in Johannesburg, now more than 100 years later we have the workshop and the lodge on the same farm. History does repeat itself.
Martin is our own technical expert on the farm, he can fix anything.
Where possible we offer our guests as much of our Flintbeck meat products as possible. This may range from beef steaks, boerewors(Sausage), kudu schnitzel, warthog roast to any game meat available at that stage. We really want our guest to experience South African food, farm style
I will go anywhere provided it is forward – David Livingston