Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Some Ups and Downs of Life on a Farm in the Karoo
I don't live on one myself, but all my sisters-in-law are married to Karoo sheep farmers. This area is classified as 'semi-desert' and as in Australia, farms are big - often as far as the eye can see is one farm. There is a wonderful sense of privilege attached to this. As guests, we can roam for hours over land which is 'ours'. The farms have been in the family for three generations and sons have a house, farm and lifelong career assured. There is a lot of domestic help as the wives of the farm workers need employment and houses are large and often host to many visitors. On the down side, they are very far from shops and doctors. Getting a complicated procedure done involves a lot of advance planning as a journey to Cape Town or Johannesburg (500 miles either way) has to be organised. Transport is a problem: the easiest way is to drive as the nearest train is a two-hour drive and timetables are sparse and inconvenient.The nearest airport is a 3-hour drive. I've had one sister-in-law visit me for a week. She'd had an infected molar for two months but just couldn't find an opportunity to get away from the farm. In the end, she caught an overnight bus - which only departed at midnight and when the dentist extracted the tooth, he found the infection had already destroyed some of the surrounding jawbone, and he had to cut some healthy bone from somewhere else in order to fashion sufficient cement to hold the peg for the implant - for which she must return in three months time. She still had pain when she left us, but had no choice but to go home. Weighing it up, I'm glad I'm a city girl: don't want to be far from doctors or dentists at my age.