15 September 2007

A load of bull and and a load of innocence

Back in the days when it was not done to talk about “the birds and the bees’, in polite company or heaven forbid tell you children about these deep dark secrets, grandpa and uncle Stanley strolled down to the cattle kraal (pen, corral). They were accompanied by Aunt Molly, who at that time was a naïve teenager.

It was dip day. Once a month all the cattle were rounded up and brought in to be dipped and examined for injuries or diseases.

Dip day was always one of the highlights on the farm, with all the hustle, bustle and activity. There is always a lot of dust and noise from the cattle milling about and bellowing. The herdsmen add to the general cacophony with their whistling and shouting and cracking of whips. Then there is the smell of fresh cow dung, mingled with the smell of the dip and the hordes of flies that feel obliged to grace you with their company.

You have to be a farmer to enjoy this. Grandpa generally carried his fly whisk. It was the end of a cows tail attached to a handle – gross but effective – which he used to fend off the flies, as they buzzed around his head.

The two gentlemen (actually they were rough, tough farmers born in the 19th century) and the young lady stood silently at the fence watching the activities. They were not the type of men to waste breath on unnecessary conversation.

After a while Uncle Stanley turned to his brother and said, “Nice bull Harry”.

Grandpa nodded and grunted his acknowledgement.

“How can you tell it is a bull?” asked Aunt Molly, sweetly.

“By the horns my dear, by the horns”, Uncle Stanley responded without hesitation.

“Oh”, said Aunt Molly, now none the wiser, “I never knew that”.

Some of grandpa's cattle in the bush. They eventaully became so wild and unruly that he stopped dipping them.
After many complaints from the authorities he invited the Animal Health Inspector to come and dip them one day. He took up the challenge, but his efforts were less than succesful and after nearly being gored to death, he stopped visiting grandpa's farm.
Grandpa's cattle were treated as game thereafter.


Anonymous said...

hee hee, so I am assuming milk was scarce on your farm?

Max-e said...

Getting milk was touch and go. Our milk cow Naartjie did not like humans and made it a past time chasing anyone who gave in to her viscious streak. But then as she was bigger than any of us walking a wide circle around her was always the best course of action.