Have you ever looked at farmers and wondered why they tolerate so many things like drought, flies, farm attacks, weak prices etc, etc? Have you any idea why? Like a doctor, a parish priest, a mechanic, farming is a profession. It’s what they know and it’s what they do well, and it’s why their children who live in cities, continue to ask forever have you had any rain? It’s why their children know that behind the city lights and all the money, theirs is a life in which very little doesn’t owe its origins to a farm.

Farm children grow up with the soil under their feet, they know about their dependency on nature. They know about clean air, swimming in the farm dam, walking in the veld. They’ve witnessed the birth of animals, and they’ve seen the death of animals. They know where the meat, the milk and the vegetables on the table come from. They know that holidays are cancelled on account of drought, fires and weak prices. They learn to drive with their father’s bakkie on a dirt road, often enough shortly after they’ve learnt to walk, and the girls know how to fix a punctured tyre. They jump in and slave away when there’s a crisis, they go to boarding school at 6, do their own homework and form the backbone of their colleges.

So don’t sell our farming folk short in times of turmoil. As a community farmers will always help others in times of need, and together they will always braai their lamb “ribbetjies”. Because, as unlikely as doctors are to give up their work out of a fear for HIV needles, so are farmers unlikely to surrender their farming. It’s as much a way of life as it is a way of making a living. Albeit a modest one.

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