Welcome to winter

O glorious day! Winter has finally come. This is my favourite time of the year. I adore a cold winter.

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Not like the wishy washy winter we had last year. No, it must be really cold, a time for cosiness, rich, full-bodied dishes and snug evenings in front of the fireplace.

I have very fond memories of the cold, crisp Free State winters of my yesteryears. My dad coming in from the cold during harvest time, his breath making small white clouds as he hurried from the packing shed to the house. My mom behind the old Ellis de Luxe coal stove, cooking huge pots of stews and soup for the labour force working on the lands.

Ag Boet, jy weet, we’re all sentimental about our childhood days and we’re all guilty of looking back to those days through rose-tinted glasses, but I do not believe I’ve ever felt more secure than during those winter days in our farm kitchen.

I also fondly recall our old dairyman, Ntate Joseph, patiently herding the few milking cows to the milking shed. You could barely see through the mist, but you could the hear old guy singing and whistling.

The farm cats and I usually waited for Ntate Joseph in the shed. It was my job to run as fast as I could over the frost covered path to the shed to get the milk for the household every morning. For some inexplicable reason I firmly refused to wear shoes and tackled the winter race to the shed with bare feet!

Ouboet, do you still remember our exhilaration the day Pa and Oupa decided to slaughter the carefully fattened steer for winter? Pa and his team skinned the carcass the previous evening and hoisted it up the rafters of the wool shed where it was left to cool down during the night. Ouma was in charge the next day, shouting out orders to all and sundry, and by late afternoon the boerewors was made and the biltong cut and spiced to be hung the next day.

And you know, eating fat was not as sinful those days as it is now. The biltong was always bordered by a generous strip of yummy yellow fat. There was no such thing as lean biltong. (I think I’ve just caused a few of our fat fearing readers to pass out!) But anyway, I’ve got such fond memories of my Oupa with his big old pocket knife carving up the delectably fat biltong for us to be eaten with mieliepap and home made butter.

My hope is that today’s farm children will also be able to one day look back on their childhood days with such fondness. I hope that their parents will shield and protect them, that they will teach them to love the land and that they will do everything in their power to ensure a safe and happy childhood for the young ‘uns.

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