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.

4 comments:

  1. One has to really enjoy work to be a farmer. I had an uncle that loved farming, but to make it he had a full time job in a steel mill.

    I read a book on a real life farm. Thousand acres in the American mid west. Husband worked 16 hours a day 7 days a week. The wife worked 12 hours a day on the farm 7 days a week. They had 2 children that helped but only around school.

    They handled several million dollars a year in and out. Profit was $19,000.

    The same year I read this book I made over $40,000, by myself working 40 hours a week with a lot of over time but not certainly not anything that even remotely approached the hours this couple put in. I probably didn't work as much in a month as those two did in a day. They kept quads and dirt bikes handy so they could get from one place to the next faster than walking.

    Nothing like farm life!

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    1. Yep. Not for cissies! Can be very hard if you don't love it. My brother-in-law says the Karoo is God's own country, he loves it and can rarely be persuaded to leave - even for a week-end. Bit hard on his wife though. She would love to travel.

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  2. Yes, every lifestyle has some inconveniences. We live three hours from specialists and surgeons, and traveling tires us physically, emotionally and financially. Yet, we love where we are, and will put up this as long as we can.

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    1. I think you have the right idea, Rosaria. Keep fit!

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