Sheila and I loved the years we spent on the Amos-Brown’s farm, Lower Craik Cross, in the Modderlaagte, but while I was working for the construction company, Imprefed, in Cathcart, the expense of travelling twenty kilometres to work every day was heavy on the pocket. Reluctantly, we hired a farmhouse, with the outbuildings and a camp just off the new road we were building, called Mile End, which turned out to be a bad move.
We moved our menagerie of animals along with us. That included four cows, two bullocks and some calves, four sows and the boar, Ferreira (with his bandy legs, as in the song), two turkeys, two ducks, eight chickens and four dogs.
Easy to see that neither of us like animals very much.
A neighbour, a farmer named Knott, hired the rest of the farm. One night, two of our dogs got into his sheep and mauled two of them. One died and we paid him for it, but he tried to get the carcass off us for his labour’s rations, which started a feud. We nursed the other back to health for him, but he was still not happy. He insisted we put down the dogs, but we agreed to only take out the ring-leader, a bull terrier. Knott was a rabid born-again, but if he had any Christianly traits, we missed them.
He demanded from our landlord that we surrender the only camp we had for our cows, and the landlord agreed, so we decided to move off, hiring a little railway staff house in Cathcart village near the station. Sheila kept her cows on the commonage, riding her bicycle out to there to milk them, dangling the buckets from her handle-bars!We had to get rid of the rest of our livestock, including the pigs. There was a stock sale once a month just outside Stutterheim, behind the Tip-Top Hotel, near the Dohne Agricultural Research Station. I borrowed a one-tonner from friend, Beppe Coen, to carry the bigger pigs while Sheila drove our smaller bakkie along behind me with the piglets and poultry, weeping as she went.
The Dohne Sale, by Elliot Bros Auctioneers, was unusual in that it catered for all types of livestock, not just cattle as was normally the case with South African rural stock sales.
We got reasonable prices for everything, but it was, for both of us, a sad day to say goodbye to our pigs, especially Ferreira, who had been brought up as a piglet on a bottle and come all the way from Pietersburg with us.
Tearfully, forgetting that the boar had tried to gore her after he knocked her over one day, Sheila collared a buyer to make sure that he used Ferreira as a stud pig and that the man did not intend slaughtering him. She extolled his virtues as a father of beautiful, fat piglets.
The man battled to get a word in edgeways, but at last he managed to tell her that in fact, he was, in fact, not the man who had bought this wonderful boar. (It was somebody else, but she couldn’t find the lucky new owner.)