It’s officially Spring, and not just because the calendar says so. All the other signs are also there – blossoms on the fruit trees and the first sleepy puff adder emerging from its winter hibernation to bask in the sun. A stern warning to the Jack Russells to keep away has done about as much good as trying to stop my granddaughter from putting her hands in the cookie jar. My snake phobia dreams have returned with a vengeance and having watched a TV show about milking venomous snakes hasn’t helped. Nor did reading Abré Steyn’s account in this publication of his near-death experience with a mamba! Thank heavens we don’t have those around here, but cobras are the next worst thing.
For the first time in years, the dams are still full from last season’s rains so we can start irrigating the lucerne for a bumper crop, but the baboons and guinea fowl have been at it already. “Would scarecrows frighten them away?” I asked neighbour Jan. “No, but a shotgun would,” he suggested. “But aren’t baboons a protected species?” I asked. “Yes, but so is our lucerne!” J an then reminded me that it was time to brand and inoculate the cattle. “You can operate the immobiliser and do the injecting and I’ll do the branding,” he said.
Not my favourite thing. If the greenies could see how this contraption works and the effect it has on the poor animals we’d be cited for cruelty. But trying to do it any other way, you’d have a limb broken by a flailing hoof. S o with one electrically charged clip on the lip of the first heifer in the queue and the other under its tail, I turned on the power switch and increased the voltage. In micro-seconds the poor creature twitched and shuddered then froze into submission as Jan applied the red-hot branding irons. I gagged as clouds of acrid smoke filled my lungs and blinded me.
My turn to inject. Twice for the heifers – the second shot to prevent aborting. But blinded by the smoke, my aim was impaired and I plunged the needle into my hand. I dropped the syringe and sank to my knees, immobilised with pain. Sympathy was not in Jan’s genes. “Well, at least you won’t abort after falling pregnant this season,” he said dryly after calling me an idiot. “You can get your vet son Pieter to finish the job,” I retorted. “I’m out of here.” With blood pouring from my punctured hand, I stumbled off to die at home from anthrax. – Derek Christopher |fw