I’m a farmer. I know I’m a farmer because I have the keys to the bakkie and instructions on how to run a dairy.
The instructions were flung at me outside the door to the Platberg Bottle Store in Warden Street along with the bakkie keys as the car taking Des and Tabs to Jan Smuts airport roared off. They were late and could miss the departure of their flight to Harare and on to Mana Pools on the Zambesi.
Were they written instructions? No, shouted instructions. The three-second short course on the finer aspects of dairy herd management: “You’ll be fine! The bakkie’s parked in Retief Street.”
O-kay! Let’s see: What did I get wrong? I ran out of feed for the cows, then bought the wrong feed at the mill and it was made clear to me I’d have to go back and change it; I had the farmhands look at me in amusement once they realised just how little I knew; I had Des’ horse King realise he had a novice on his back when I took him for a daily morning ride; And I had a cow get stuck in labour with a breech calf. I had to phone Kai to come up from Bergville to sort that out.
What did I get right? Well, I ate breakfast every morning. Quite well. Gilbert presented me with a plate with one egg, one rasher of bacon and one slice of toast, arranged identically on the plate each morning at 6am sharp. That I was good at.
Decades later my nephew Robbie told me dairy farming was all about managing your pastures. Hell, don’t tell Des, but I didn’t given his grass one glance all week.
The picture is Kenroy but there were no ladies on the gate when I was farming.