about us

helen and barend

Some years ago Professor Wallace Stegner of Stanford University wrote "Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed...and so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves...part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil... part of the natural world and competent to belong to it. We simply need that wild country available to us... for it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, as part of the geography of hope."

Crab Apple’s philosophy is to stay close to nature and be of service to the community - an extension of Christ’s work. Determined to preserve the natural beauty of the area, Barend and Helen are active members of the Dargle Conservancy. The property is a Nature Reserve under the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. For more about the Dargle Conservancy visit www.dargleconservancy.org.za

In the summer it is misty and green, while in winter the hills turn golden. The first European settlers, the Fannin family from Ireland, arrived in 1847.  The area reminded them of the Dargle River in County Wicklow and so they named their new home Dargle.

Our Forest AND wildlife

It was at this very spot that Austin Roberts spent school holidays and which inspired his fascination with birds. The Roberts Book of Birds is a South African classic. Visitors can explore the same paths and enjoy the same bird life that he did all those years ago. Taste the soft spring water and allow the peace and serenity to refresh you. Listen to the Jackal calling from the hills and the hum of the bees deep in the forest

In the forest, life moves at a gentler pace. Generations of visitors have experienced the soul restoring reassurance that comes with being surrounded by the beauty of creation. It is filled with ancient trees and abundant birds and animals including: porcupine, caracal, bushbuck, bush pigs, blue duiker and genets. Caution is required during breeding season and watch out for Elliot the "uni-horn"

Over 200 bird species are recorded in the Dargle and it teems with insect life, with 30 butterflies recorded in our valley. At night many insects are attracted to light. When leaving your cottage after dark, we recommend you either close all the doors and windows or switch off the inside lights.

Samango Monkeys are rare and gentle creatures and a delight to watch in the trees. They are herbivores, so cannot resist helping themselves to the contents of your fruit bowl. While we are sure you’d be happy to share, this is not ideal for a balanced eco-system. If you leave your cottage during the day, please ensure the doors are closed and windows are only open on one notch. We have named the matriarch of the resident troop Rafiki.

You may be alarmed to hear a strange knocking and screeching sound from the forest at night. These are the nocturnal and seldom seen dassies (Tree Hyrax) calling – a rare treat.

Each cottage is home to a solitary Egyptian Freetail Bat. We are also a summer stop over spot for a pair of Yellow Billed Kites who migrate annually from Central Africa.

Our gardens

For rose lovers, Helen’s hundreds of roses are a treat of colour and fragrance in springtime. 

Our Cats

Bramble and Rose have taken over the The Owl House (which was intended for actual owls) and created a charming midlands version of the poem “The Owl and The Pussycat” - without the pea green boat, of course.


Our Chickens

Marmaduke is our splendid Venda rooster, one of South Africa’s hardy indigenous breeds.  He is confident and very protective of his girls, so best not to try to stroke him.

The two Duchesses arrived with Marmaduke when their original family emigrated and simply adore their leading man! Little Red Hen is Marmaduke’s daughter. The family has hatched and nurtured many chicks and provided many eggs for breakfast. Their feed is sourced from the farmer next door and the mielies are ground on site.


Our Dogs

We have a pair of black Labrador siblings Daisy-Mae and Harley who were born mid 2014 and are learning the ropes! Lily-Jenna Cuddlepot Fainting Goat is our chocolate Labrador. She has a tendency to fall over arbitrarily and a cuddling fetish, which accounts for her long winded name. A fabulous swimmer,she is often found gliding around in the pool (even if the net’s on) and occasionally arrives home dripping after swimming in the river.

The Squimonks, Dixie, Dobby and Jessie Buttons, are the three Jack Russell x Dachshunds and are key to farm life. They love playing with the monkeys as they move through the property. They will also let you know when porcupines, bush pigs and dassies are about. Jessie Buttons has a lifelong mission of digging to Australia and is impressive to watch at work. While you are welcome to play with the pets, please resist sharing your food with them and giving them treats.


Our Horses

Lady Asher loves the company of children, particularly those with special needs. Lady Eva, Lord Guildenstern and Lord Rosencrantz are young Boerperd x Friesians who are generous and curious in nature. Robin Hood is a Connemara, bold, feisty and sensible. Hullabaloo, dappled grey Friesian cross, is the gorgeous ‘hunk’ of the line and knows just how handsome he is. The horses are competitive and each has a very carefully balanced diet and a specifically designed training programme. Please don’t feed them. They do, however, love being stroked. Chat to one of us if you would like to interact with them. They aren’t, however, available for riding.