Apart from notable rooibos tea farming and spring flower tourism, the northern Cederberg valleys, including the Biedouw Valley, are home to a variety of other farming activities. Small and mixed product ventures are sheltered below the rocky slopes and cliffs.
The art of the possible in undertakings for financing lifestyles in every era is truncated by environmental features of landscape and resources. Winter rain, hot summers and deep soil in smallish patches point to the options, as do needs and markets. The life-sustaining activities of the residents continually reshape the landscape, also the minds of the people.
Much has changed over the few centuries since the days of San hunting and Khoi animal husbandry. The signs of their contributions are today reduced to rock paintings, place names and plant usage habits. Sheep farming may be one of the oldest components of the human endeavour in the local mix here, as well as finding food and medicines from the indigenous vegetation.
Water sources such as the Doring River and its tributary, the Biedouw River dictate the scale of operations, as do the topography of spectacular rock formations and valleys, characterised by sedimentary rock, sandstone and shale.
Bie is said to have been the Khoi name of the melkbos, Euphorbia mauritanica, known here and in many parts of the country. Douw may have been a Khoi word for a mountain pass, in their days a faint trail, a foot and stock path. These two words were (possibly) combined to name the Biedouw River and Valley to this day. There are other explanations.
Are we living in an era of waxing or waning interest in historical heritage including the old names? Are we maintaining the essence (whatever we decide that to be), of cultural heritage in our time? Or are we allowing such things to disappear gradually from neglect?
If no history is recorded and passed on, the people may eventually only have their names and looking in the mirror as main sources of identifying their meaning in the world.
Time will tell, or not. Time also buries generations, stories and all, whenever they don’t leave legacies. Insignificant generations, even nations leave little, lessening the significance of their children in the world (Dean, 2005).