I HAD A FARM IN AFRICA !!          - 18/3/2009      <--Prev : Next-->

Once upon a time HeeHoo was a Gentleman Farmer. We bought our "plot" in 1984 from Gordon and Jean Smith. They were the parents of Mike Smith who was in prison for so long with Kevin Woods. Sadly we heard recently that Mike had been released from prison after 19 years incarceration, only to be involved in a fatal car crash in the first year of his release.

HeeHoo loved to drive to the farm every week in our rattletrap old truck, brand and dip the cattle, watch the maize grow, build and improve things and then off we would go to the Good Hope Country Club to play tennis and cricket and then while away the evening yarning with good friends from the Turk Mine/ Inyathi District.

We had dozens of district friends in those days but sadly with the farm invasions, our friends in that area have dwindled to but a handful. So many loyal, committed farmers, community minded, wonderful people have now been driven off to far off climes.

There are few folk left to talk cattle with now, no club to while away the pleasant evenings, just miles and miles of untended empty lands and ruined roads.

We took a day off to visit our small herd of moos which we graze, on land ostensibly owned by folk in Scotland, but we pay grazing fees to a senior policeman who "appropriated" the farm and yet does not own a spade let alone a single farm implement...

The road to Turk Mine has been under construction since we bought the farm over twenty years ago. The road progressed slowly but surely for many years, and now there is still a deviation of a fair number of kilometers which makes interesting traveling !!

HeeHoo thought for one glorious day that he was Stirling Moss re-incarnated, and we sped to the "Farm" on the muddiest day of the whole year, driving through incredible rain and churning our way in the best 4 by 4 by far, to liaise with our motley herd.

The roads were awash, the potholes were glorious, the corrugations were bone jarring, but HeeHoo insisted one has to drive fast to "keep up the revs" in this sort of soil, and we thundered through what would have been impassable to most cars, eventually arriving with severe spinal injuries, at our destination.

The countryside was just plain magic. We have had tumultuous rains for several weeks and the grass was as "high as an elephants eye" as they say ....

We saw few crops apart from some motley fields around the homes of the people who had settled happily on the roadsides. Not many people were about due to the torrential rains, but there was evidence of "people living there" just like the Athol Fugard screen play.

The cattle looked glum, I am sure they were bordering on foot rot there was so much mud !! But as the rain lifted and sun wavered through the dense clouds, suddenly it was like the Matabeleland that we know and love so much. Drifts of feathery grasses, wide expanses of acacia scrub or gagu swathed either side of the excuse for a road. In the distance I could see some large trees and I prayed that the giant knob thorn, under which we buried our precious Great Dane so many years ago, was still providing him with some shade.

Was the Curlybean tree still there ? Under which our horse Rocky was buried, that awful scrub we have grown to love so much was crowding in across the road so the car was being dreadfully scratched. The Curlybean trees were laden with late bloom like giant bundles of cream worms waving in the breeze.

The sweet grass of the highveld is so nutritious and the cattle were glossy and fat. A mixture of Nkoni, Brahman, Afrikander with some peculiar unknown breeds slowly creeping in.

No fine pedigree herd here like we had in the olden days, just a hotch potch of whatever has been able to survive the last eight years of violence and mayhem in Zimbabwe.

Our faithful herdsmen Luka and Marco welcomed us with beaming smiles, knowing that our car contained various simple delights to see them through the days until "month end" which is a big occasion in Zimbabwe. We pushed on to lunch with some dear friends who welcomed us with open arms and happy hearts and we spoke politics, weather and what not, over a delicious lunch of venison, home grown everything else, washed down with some fine South African white wine.

Then we splashed our merry way home, on much dryer terrain, knowing why Farm Folk are much happier beings than "Townies" and praying that one day, things will come right again for so many special scatterings now living all over the world but with their hearts still clenched firmly in Africa.