Grandpa bought the farm in 1957 when Lynnwood road was but a single dirt
track which was often overgrown. There were two houses on the property, the
dilapidated one on the right before the gate and another one deeper into the farm
that is estimated to be over 120 years old. He claims that he bought the place
because he wanted to sit by the river and read a book. As luck would have it with a
busy entrepreneur we believe it never happened. However he did manage to hire a
bulldozer for a month to level the lands and move tons of rocks and plant mielies.
Ray grew up in grandpa’s block of flats in Benoni surrounded by aunts, cousins and
grandparents. Weekends were a great relief when he could escape to the farm with
his beloved grandpa. It was only in the seventies that the farm was supplied with
electricity from Mozambique – the main house had copper pipes for a gas supply to
gas lamps in each room. Apparently grandma was not very fond of the rough farm
life and was not always friendly when being forced to accompany grandpa. She was
very strict and if you were late for a meal, having a rolling pin or anything at hand
thrown at you was not unusual! Helen their trusty maid for more than fifty years
was an essential part of the entourage. Subsequently there were many weekends
when it was just Ray and Grandpa and the ‘Vaal Japies’.
When Ray was about three years old grandpa decided to build the existing main
house and the swimming pool. Grandpa was very busy during the week with his
Melody’s music stores, other farms in Benoni and Rustenburg, the blocks of flats and
a factory which built the first steel window and door frames in South Africa. He
demolished many buildings on his properties and having grown up during the
depression, he didn’t waste a thing. Consequently a lot of ‘used’ material found its
way to Stoneybrooke and was repurposed for building the new home. Recycling may
be considered a modern trend but grandpa employed it long before you were born!!
Ray first learned to drive a tractor at the tender age of eight and has never looked
back. After matriculating he went to Sedara agricultural college where he obtained
a diploma in farming. The early years were not easy; many nights were spent
ploughing, disking and planting however, the two metre high forests of mealies he
created were worth the effort. Later on he successfully farmed with chickens which
he raised and slaughtered.
During grandpa’s last days on earth there were long discussions with Ray about the
future of Stoneybrooke farm. There were family members who wanted a slice but
did not have the required passion for farming. Before a legal agreement could be
reached grandpa moved on to new Heavenly pastures. Ray was devastated by
losing his beloved grandpa but his crotchety granny was still around. After lengthy
legal discussions granny became his strongest ally and supported grandpa and Ray’s
verbal agreements whereby Ray would buy the farm from grandpa’s trust.

Being a working farm the owners thought of mind was to build additional houses and invite guests to the Farm to enjoy the beautiful nature and experience true farming at it’s best.  Best of both worlds! 

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