Conversations about Farming

When I returned from a long trip, as I have now from Australia for Marina’s wedding, my father would phone me to make sure we had arrived safely. As I got older I thought it wiser and more respectful to phone him first.

I miss that about him.

I also miss the drama about him when I was sick or going for surgery. He would always phone as soon as I could talk and just listen to make sure I was alive.

Thank goodness he lived in a world where he had not yet embraced the sms or email for personal use.

I remember when I stayed at the farm in the Magaliesburg.  It was late summer and I would wake up early to work in the yard or citrus grove. I dumped all the agricultural paraphernalia the previous owner had accumulated over decades. Each heavy load, and there were many, required the bakkie to be loaded, tied up, and driven 40 km to Rustenburg. I usually got the first load to Rustenburg by 7:30 a.m.  and then had breakfast and called my father on the “nommer asseblief” telephone. One long crank for the operator, give her the home number and wait to see how many farmers’ wives would listen on their end. They would be upset if we spoke Greek!

Once I had cleared the farm of old barrels, broken pumps, odd building materials, bits of fences, I fixed up the main shed. I redid the cladding and painted it.

My favourite place to potter around was the shaded exotic potted garden behind the main rondavel. But working in the citrus grove was so much better. I installed an individual sprinkler system which was operated manually by the farm assistant. The soil of the grove was rich below the screed of the cliffs of the Magaliesburg. It had a slight slope and the feint smell of cow manure, as they were herded by the neighbouring farms in the valley. As the lemon trees blossomed they covered any farm smell and left a perfume on you as you finished the day.

I would sit outside and watch the sunset with my collie, Kristen. On some afternoons, if I still had energy, I would climb to the cliff tops, along with the baboons and at the same height as the Cape Vulture Colony at Skeerport a few kilometres away. The sunset there would always be more impressive, and I would return in the dark with Kristen leading me down the path, through the thick bush between the cliff and farmhouse.

It was good for the soul to be able to collect oranges and lemons and grapefruit and deliver them in bags from the back of the bakkie to all the family.

Growing something that costs mainly hard work and giving it away is good for the soul.

Inside the Old Rondavel circa 1991

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