Big,Big Step!

We went down to Tsitsikama on Saturday. We went to check on the progress with the fence around Thamie’s plot. There is almost no progress since last time. They have added on or two extra poles, but that’s it. They have begun to secure one of the corners. The weather has been bad. they say there was snow on the ground, and the wind has been strong.

But here’s the exciting part about the weekend.
I called Gerrie. I told him I was looking for 4 or 5 hefers – older than three months – preferably about 100kg. He said he did not have – but that I could meet him at his farm at three, so that we could talk. He called back 15 minutes later – and explained that a friend of his had calves – and that we should meet at his farm, off the old Cape road back toward Humansdorp.
Hlubi and I met him there, The farmer’s name is Gerhard, early thirties – red head – kind of shy. He buys young calves in at abouth R200.00 – bottle fees them, weans them and gets them eating grass.
He had 8 calves – 7 heifers, one bull calf – a mix of Nguni, Boran cross with a bit of Friesan in there as well. About three months old – feeding on grass and pellets. We bought them all. R9300.00. Gerrit agreed – deliver them by Wednesday! Its a big step a lot can go wrong – we are very excited.
We have agreed with Rasi – that we can use the “bull camp” until the calves are ready to roam in the larger camps. We will drive down on Friday – check if everything has gone according to plan.

Auction at Fischer’s Corner

There is a livestock auction on the last Saturday of every month at Fischers Corner. We were hoping to get and idea of prices for calves. After the auction I think we know that we are looking for calves older than three months – around the 100 kg mark.

We met Gerrie at the auction – He is the guy whose farm Nguni Matroos  took us to when he was not there last week. Gerrie gave me his number – I will call him when I am Tsitikama next.

edit 15 May 2014 – Gerrie Rademeyer grows bottle fed calves – he weans them at about 3 months and sells them at between R1000.00 and R1500.00 each. Bottle raised calves are much more likely to contract diseases that calves raised by their mother. But this is where we had to start.

Nguni Matroos

Nguni is 73 years old. He has lived in an around Tsitsikama his whole life. He has only one arm, but rides a bicycle, pushes a wheelbarrow and digs with a spade. He is an inspiration. I struggle to communicate with him, my Xhosa is bad, his English is bad. We settle on Afrikaans, which is second language to both of us. Nguni, has taught us a lot about the land and how things work, We are indebted to him.

(Edit 11 May 2014 – Nguni has since died. He was husband to Nomathemba who is a cousin to my wife’s mother. It was Nomathemba and Matross, who we would go visit when we first began to take my mother-in-law down to Tsitsikama. Its a long story actually. My mother-in-law grew up in Tsitsikama on the Mfengu land there. Land that had been granted to the Amamfengu about 150 years ago in return for loyalty to the British through the 100 year frontier wars. The AmaMfengu were then removed from their land in the 1970’s by the apartheid system. In the 1990’s they were allowed to return and Hlubi and I have been spending some time assisting Hlubi’s mother to stake her claim to her portion the returned land. Our campaign has been successful and Hlubi’s mother now has her own house on the form “Wittekleibos” and has access to communal lands.

From the stories I have been told, however, it seems the land before the removal in the 1970’s was very productively farmed. Now people have returned, but it seems the whole fabric and “memory” that held them together and cased them to be a functioning economy has not survived the disruption and dislocation.

Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique Tilapia)

We netted this one and about a 100 others on the Touw river at Wildernis. I have added them to the 12 or so that I already have in the pond in the backyard.

(Edit 11 May 2014 – Some of the Tilapia I still have in my tanks carry these blood lines. The Touw River is even cooler than Port Elizabeth’s river’s so I suspect the fish we netted there are naturally selected for cold water tolerance)