I agreed to buy our half of my parents’ farm, as there were two title-deeds, paying it off monthly with the interest that my folks would have received if they had invested the money. This helped them to scale down their own farming operations – mostly eggs, at the time.
Sheila bought a prefabricated rondawel as her own work-space, which the labourer of the time helped her erect. She was inside and he out when she dropped her screwdriver. She felt around under the board panel she was holding and grabbed the handle and pulled. It seemed to be stuck, so she put some effort into the tug.
“Madam, that is my toe!”
My old friend Charles Howard (Jed) now lived in Johannesburg and worked in the grout factory laboratory of the construction firm, Murray & Roberts. The process included a lot of cement which had to be freshly made. Obviously, when it was past its use-by date, it was condemned, thus Jed would pass a few bags on to me for the house. I would pick it up from him on my way home from Carletonville.
Not afraid of manual labour, herself, Sheila started to dig the house foundations with pick and shovel. The house was going to be built on a slope. She started on the down slope and as she worked her way uphill, keeping the trench floor level, so that it got deeper as the ground rose. Soon she was barking her knuckles on the stony sides. Here, it was nearly a metre deep.
Far from being grateful for her heroic efforts, I viewed the deep trench with dismay when I arrived for the weekend and asked her if she had never heard of stepped foundations. The amount of concrete now needed to fill it was going to be substantial!