Of all the vocations I could have chosen in my youth, becoming a vet was never one of them. Science and biology weren’t my strong points at school. Come to think of it, neither were maths, geography or history. I went through the fireman stage, like lots of boys do, but quickly discarded that idea for something more glamourous, like pro tennis player. My mentors at the time said playing games was hardly a paying profession and that I should enter the lucrative world of commerce. So I did, as a lackey in an advertising agency. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Sitting on my stoep, in rural obscurity, would I have had it any other way? In hindsight, becoming a farmer in my dotage is a far cry from my city life, but under neighbour Jan’s tutelage, I’ve at last become accepted by my peers as a member of our community.
Jan and his vet son Pieter arrived one morning for a cup of coffee. Forsaking yapping poodles and flea-ridden alley cats, Pieter had always wanted to be a stock-farming vet. He was never happier than with his arm up a cow’s backside doing a PD and I admired his dedication to his chosen profession. But rather him than me – there are limits.
“Pieter’s come to PD our cows,” Jan announced and reluctantly I was roped in to help. Or observe, to be more accurate, because from previous experience, I knew how messy the procedure could be.
“Pregnant!” Pieter diagnosed, and cow after cow went through the crush at an impressive speed. Pieter certainly knew his thing. Jan was taking notes, delighted at the high percentage of pregnancies.
“How do you really know which cow is pregnant and which isn’t?” I asked Pieter. “I can feel the embryo,” he said. “And take this one, for example. I can tell its sire was my dad’s Brahman bull.” Amazed, I asked how. “By its long ears,” Pieter said and Jan looked the other way.
Extolling Pieter’s expertise at a farmers’ meeting that afternoon, I told the gathering that not only could Pieter tell which cows were pregnant, but which bull was the sire. The hybrid vigour of Jan’s Brahman bull was most evident, I declared authoritatively. There was an incredulous hush, followed by raucous laughter, led by Jan.
Some time later, Pieter found me sulking in a corner. “Sorry, Townie, for poking fun at you,” he said apologetically. Perhaps I should have stuck to advertising or become a tennis pro. Or maybe my lot is to be the butt-end of jokes in our community. As always, Jan had the last laugh. “It’ll take a while for you to live this one down, Townie!” – Derek Christopher |fw