Wayfarer Trout Farm is a stunning spot in Dargle, Midlands of KZN. They raise trout and cold smoke them on the farm. Andre and Sue are the ex-Joburger farmers who have "down-sized" to the country.
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Story by Deni Archer
City slickers “downsize” to a farm in the Midlands
We arrive at Wayfarer Trout Farm to find Andre and Tom armed with tweezers, brows furrowed in concentration, at the kitchen table. They’re “plucking the pins” - carefully removing tiny bones out of the smoked trout they’re about to pack, Sue tells us.
Andre and Sue are both city slickers reinvented as trout farmers in the Midlands, KZN. Originally from Johannesburg, they’d spent most of their lives living in the fast paced city life, until one day in 2005 when they decided to escape to the country. So they packed up their things and found a farm in the lush Dargle area. All that was left to do was decide how to spend their time.
A river runs through it
Their land happened to have a dam with a small river running through it. Andre had always been an avid fly fisherman, and a lover of a good challenge - so it made sense to try out trout farming, and complete it with a cold smoking process. After one year of intense experimentation in the farm’s quaint smokehouse, Andre had fine tuned the process.
Wayfarer Trout is top quality, and Andre and Sue live by their “fresh fish focus”; they promise to deliver the fish within three days of being caught. This means their supply area is limited to the Midlands and Durban, where their fish is in high demand. “We’re always amazed by the innovative ways the chefs prepare our trout,” says Sue, “chefs like Evan at Granny Mouse, Jackie at Hartford House, and Warren at Cargo Hold are so innovative with our humble trout.”
A little trout for the otters too
Trout farming is not without its challenges. Andre and Sue lightheartedly nickname their breeding stock “otter food”. “They were here before us so we don’t mind if they take some,” laughs Andre, “but once they decimated the entire brood stock while we were away for the weekend. When we got home we saw a happy little family of otters peering down at us from the hillside, as if to say “thanks!””
Trout take eight to 12 months to mature, while broodstock are a minimum of two years old and two kilograms in weight. The farm’s trout runs are constructed from earth rather than concrete, which keeps the fish healthier. Each run can manage 1 500 fish, and they grow to a maximum of one kilogram. In one year, the farm currently produces about 5 000 fish.
The romance blossoms
Andre and Sue aren’t stopping at trout. Being connoisseurs of romantic pastimes, they’re experimenting with pheasant farming. The challenge will be protecting the birds from the local raptors, but we’ve no doubt the couple will rise to the occasion. Watch this space.
Tom shows us how he plucks the "pins" - trout jargon for removing the fine bones in the trout flesh. This happens in Andre and Sue's kitchen, where everyone gets their hands 'fishy'
Andre shows us the oven which creats the smoke for the cmoke house behind. The smoke is channelled through a cooling earth tunnel into the house.
Not content with trout farming alone, the couple are experimenting with pheasant farming too. To add to the country romance.
Ex-Joburgers Sue and Andre in front of their trout dam where the breeding stock are kept.
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