Farm­ing mag story a load of bull

Dur­ban POI­SON

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Trovato

FARM­ERS... I don’t know much about them be­cause I don’t move in crop cir­cles or have any truck with live­stock, but I think it’s im­por­tant to get an in­sight into their lives.

It can’t be easy. The wak­ing up be­fore midday alone would kill me. And there’s al­ways some­one or some­thing about to give birth. On the plus side, you can play your mu­sic as loud as you like and have as many dogs and guns as you want.

Want­ing to learn more about what makes farm­ers tick with­out ac­tu­ally hav­ing to talk to one, I did the next best thing and bought a copy of Farmer’s Weekly.

There were two cows on the cover, each with a yel­low tag in their ears. Some­thing’s writ­ten on the tags. Prob­a­bly their names. If I was a farmer I’d give all my an­i­mals names. How else would they know when to come for sup­per? And when they try to get up on the fur­ni­ture, you’d need a name to shout at them.

The head­line on the cover screams: “BEEF PRO­DUC­TION”. I don’t know. It doesn’t speak to me. The sub-head reads: “Get to know your profit driv­ers!” I don’t know what this means, but it left me feel­ing thor­oughly dis­in­clined to be­come a farmer or even pay for the mag­a­zine, so I put it down my broeks and walked out.

“Get to know your cows!” would have been bet­ter. Of course, the story would then have to be about get­ting to know them on a per­sonal level. Their likes and dis­likes.

What turns them on (prob­a­bly not the milk­ing ma­chine). Their hopes and dreams. Where they see them­selves in the next five min­utes.

An­other teaser on the cover reads: “Ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion”. A hot-but­ton is­sue if ever there was one.

It’s just a pity there wasn’t a sub-head say­ing: “I’ll give you my land when you take it from my cold, dead hooves.” Which wouldn’t re­ally make sense be­cause those cover cows, as glam­orous as they might be, are quite likely by now less than the sum of their shrinkwrapped parts.

I don’t eat a lot of red meat, so I can look them in the eye and say: “It wasn’t me, girls.”

In­side, there’s a handy di­ary of up­com­ing work­shops, in­clud­ing one on how to start a poul­try busi­ness.

Be­yond get­ting some chick­ens, I don’t know what else you’d need. I’d be in­ter­ested in the Grow­ing Mush­rooms at Home course.

Where I live, there’s a small but very vo­cal mar­ket for lib­erty cap mush­rooms. Well, they’re vo­cal un­til the psilo­cy­bin kicks in. Then they’re just a pain the arse.

In the last week of May, the World Potato Congress is be­ing held in Peru. It’s an ideal op­por­tu­nity to bring home some South Amer­i­can “pota­toes”. If you get searched at the bor­der, tell them it’s Smash.

There’s a From Our Archives page where they in­dulge in a nostal­gic jour­ney into the past – to March 2, 1990 – with a story that starts: “The com­mon house­fly re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in South Africa.” It wasn’t long be­fore flies were ousted from their po­si­tion by the com­mon house­breaker.

For just R28270, Farmer’s

Weekly is of­fer­ing a pack­age to the Agritech Show in Tel Aviv. The tour in­cludes air fare, ac­com­mo­da­tion, a gala din­ner and a visit to the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries where the Is­raeli army will demon­strate, with the use of live am­mu­ni­tion, how to keep Pales­tini­ans away from the se­cu­rity fence. I made that last bit up. Ob­vi­ously an ex­cur­sion of that na­ture would cost ex­tra.

There’s a piece on South Africa be­ing slow to ex­pand av­o­cado or­chards de­spite global de­mand out­strip­ping sup­ply. Ap­par­ently it’s due to a lack of breed­ing stock.

Maybe they’ve turned celi­bate. Or gay. A warn­ing is is­sued that “con­sumer re­sis­tance would be en­coun­tered” if prices be­came too high. They al­ready have. It’s time to join the Av­o­cado Re­sis­tance Move­ment. We march at the next full moon.

A game farmer rec­om­mends pay­ing up to R5mil­lion for a 48-inch buf­falo bull “to ser­vice the hunt­ing mar­ket which read­ily pays R100 000 for a good tro­phy”.

If I had R5mil­lion I’d rather buy a house on the beach than a buf­falo, no mat­ter how many hunters he ser­vices with that four-foot willy.

On the so­cial page there’s a pic­ture of four white men from Mon­santo South Africa, hold­ing long-ser­vice awards. One of them is the Roundup prod­uct man­ager.

Roundup is the brand name for a yummy chem­i­cal called glyphosate. Po­lice he­li­copters in the Eastern Cape reg­u­larly spray it on mar­i­juana crops and any­one who might be near a mar­i­juana plant. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has la­belled it a “prob­a­ble car­cino­gen”.

An ar­ti­cle spon­sored by the red meat in­dus­try says: “The in­crease in the value of live­stock due to the drought means that it is now more prof­itable than ever to be a stock thief.” My first thought was, “Get in now!” It’s a mis­take to tell South Africans about things that have never been more prof­itable. It just makes us want to fin­ish up our beer and go out and do it.

And there’s a fea­ture ti­tled: “When al­co­hol dis­rupts the work­ing day.” Farm­ers work hard and drink hard. It goes with the turf. And I imag­ine it must be­come a prob­lem when you can’t get out of bed and there are sev­eral hun­dred preg­nant sheep out­side your door wait­ing for you to get up and de­clare the lamb­ing sea­son open. Oh, wait. There’s a sub-head­ing that says: “How to act when an em­ployee is un­der the in­flu­ence.” Per­son­ally, I’d per­form a Monty Python sketch. If your work­ers are drunk, it’s bet­ter to en­ter­tain than an­tag­o­nise them. Maybe even keep them drunk.

It’s hard to do a farm mur­der if you’re leg­less and laugh­ing.

I came across a snip­pet called: “Points to con­sider when se­lect­ing a bull.” They are al­most iden­ti­cal to the points a woman should con­sider when se­lect­ing a man.

For in­stance “fer­til­ity is al­ways the num­ber one trait”.

The bulls should also be tested for per­for­mance. And you want to breed cat­tle that are the most prof­itable for you.

Oh dear. I’ve taken so long to write this that a new edi­tion has just come out. The cover of this one is far more dra­matic.

It’s like the ed­i­tor was ab­ducted by aliens and re­placed by some­one who un­der­stands the vis­ual im­pact of two male wilde­beest in a clinch. They’re fight­ing, not hug­ging. If that’s the kind of filth you’re after, start your own mag­a­zine.

I wanted to end it here. I re­ally did. The col­umn, not my life. But then I made the mis­take of flip­ping through the lat­est is­sue and my shat­tered eye­balls came to rest upon an opinion piece writ­ten by Dr Jan Ven­ter, a well-fed man nur­tur­ing a wildly satir­i­cal chin-beard.

The head­line – “The true ma­jor­ity must speak up to com­bat rad­i­cal­ism” – was so over­laden with sub­text that if it were a taxi it would be pulled over and im­pounded.

The first para­graph was a quote at­trib­uted to EFF leader Julius Malema. “Un­like Je­sus, I don’t need a silly cross to save my peo­ple. I be­lieve I’m the messiah of our time. I’m gonna save this na­tion like Je­sus saved Chris­tians. Ex­cept I’ll be able to save you with­out some silly cross.”

Dr Ven­ter, a “po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst at Aginfo”, fol­lowed this up with: “No one came for­ward to crit­i­cise (Malema) when he made this state­ment; as far as I know, no au­thor­i­ta­tive Chris­tian pas­tor said a thing.”

My sus­pi­cions rose like a reg­i­ment of Zulu war­riors at

Blood River. No one, on the re­ac­tionary right or ra­bid left, had said any­thing about Juju claim­ing to be the new messiah? It seemed un­likely.

So I turned to the in­ter­ga­lac­tic or­a­cle and punched in the quote. And there it was. Dr Ven­ter got it from a re­porter called “Pa­trick”.

The story ap­peared on a web­site called hin­ on March 12. The rea­son no one crit­i­cised Malema for these out­ra­geous ut­ter­ances was be­cause he never made them. I know this be­cause any­one with ba­sic mo­tor skills and min­i­mal in­tel­li­gence knows that hin­news is a fake news site. Proper fake news. Not fake in the Trumpian sense.

Don’t be­lieve me? Here’s the head­line for a story by hin­news re­porter “Prince” on March 5: “Julius Malema al­legedly di­ag­nosed with se­vere lis­te­rio­sis ail­ment and he is loos­ing more weight.”

Also, the hin part of hin­news stands for Hap­pen­ings in Nige­ria. Dr Ven­ter took the click­bait like a hun­gry mul­let.

I have con­se­quently lost all in­ter­est in Farmer’s Bleakly, no longer wish to be a farmer and, list­ing sharply to star­board, I am pro­ceed­ing in a crab-like fash­ion to bed.

Ben dis­cov­ers the joys of farm­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.