One night we were both dead asleep and awakened by the sound of cattle bellowing and a dog’s frantic barking. Sheila’s cows were in trouble. She dragged on a pair of gumboots grabbed a torch and blundered into the night in the direction of the furore. I pulled on a pair of shorts and followed with another torch.The bush was thick; the going not easy, as, dodging thorn branches we found the cows scattered through the bush.
Domino, the matriarch of Sheila’s Jersey herd, was meeting the attack by a big boerboel dog head on. Literally. Like the rest of the herd, she had been de-horned as a calf and had no real defence. The dog had bitten her poor ears to tatters.
We drove it off and guided the poor cow into the shed. We phoned the vet, Gordon Strick, and despite the fact that it was after midnight, that dedicated professional was there in twenty minutes. Sheila just managed to put on some clothes before he arrived.
Gordon treated Domino for shock, as well as attending to the stumps that remained of her ears. If he had not been so quick, the shock would have killed her. It took weeks of dedicated nursing by Sheila before Domino’s ears healed into weird-looking short clubs.
Hating debt, Sheila went to pay Gordon’s bill the next day. At the surgery, when they saw her, both Gordon and his partner, Pierre, could hardly keep straight faces. When Sheila demanded to know what was so funny, they burst out laughing and explained that it was Sheila’s admission that she had been stark naked, except for her wellies, as she charged around in the bush!
I tracked the dog to one of our neighbouring plots where a woman and her daughter lived. They were very upset when I told them that they must pay the vet’s bill and the dog would have to be put down, if they could not control it. They pleaded that it was there only protection. Reluctantly, we agreed to let it live if they kept it tied up or in a secure yard, but despite promises, they never paid the bill.We had a beautiful, goodnatured Rottweiler named Bilbo. He and another dog of ours chased a wild hare through the fence of another plot neighbour, scaring his horses. He shot Bilbo dead.
One of Sheila’s calves went missing. Frans, her stockman, reported that it had been seen on the plot of another neighbour. He went to search for it, but the man’s own labour admitted that he had loaded it and sent it to another farm. I confronted him about it and demanded its return. Eventually, he did so, saying it had been in error.
Good fences make good neighbours, they say. Especially if they contribute to the cost of the fencing.