Sticking to it

When you experience first-hand the kind of setbacks farmers face, you can only wonder how they do it, and be thankful that they do.

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I’m sure everybody is already looking forward to starting another year. Before we do so, I’d like to make a last-minute confession. This confession is brought out by an incident on my little farming plot on communal land back home, where I’m trying my hand at farming. Thanks to this incident, I now have a better idea of what many emerging farmers out there face – the people who make their living solely from farming.

Their list of challenges is endless. But the jealousy of other people and the trial and tribulations caused by Mother Nature are worse. Not long ago I wrote about how some black people don’t seem to want to see others making good progress in their lives. These are the guys who would do anything to see you fail, and maybe even get a kick out of it. Back to my plot. I spent most of the year fixing it up – preparing the land, clearing bush, repairing the broken fences, the works. Last month I planted my first seedlings. I felt so proud of my hard work. But that was short lived.

A selfish invasion
When I got a phone call from my assistant telling me someone broke the gate and let cattle into the plot to feast on my young cabbage and spinach crop, I almost fainted. The bastard didn’t just break open the gates – he took them off and threw the heavy pieces of metal as far as he could. According to my assistant, little was left unharmed by the cattle.

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As if this wasn’t bad enough, Mother Nature also decided to take a swipe at me. About two days after the incident, a hail storm finished what the cattle had missed. Imagine the financial loss, not to mention the time and effort wasted, bearing in mind that I do the work on weekends. All of that gone in less than four days. It’s certainly increased my appreciation of farmers, who continue to feed us, despite these and other difficulties. Especially emerging farmers. For many, this type of disaster could mean the end of their business, or long months of zero income while they repair the damage done.

Certainly, I’ve considered quitting. But I’m not the only one involved. There’s my assistant Piet, who I persuaded to leave another farm to help me. That’s why I’ve decided to take another shot at it. So if anyone wonders what I’m going to be doing during the holidays, there’s your answer.