go! Platteland

More and more empty shells


“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Sometimes I feel like shouting: “Lord, have You forgotten about the tortoises? They don’t have wings to migrate and look for food. Where would they get water if the earth is bare and scorched? They aren’t able to drink from troughs and the succulents died years ago.”

Every day there are more empty shells on the farm. At first we assumed the crows were behind this, but they weren’t eaten, simply dead.

I often read the comments on social media posts about the drought. There’s always someone who would allege that this was God’s way of punishing us for our sins. Punish us sinners by all means, but why the innocent animals too? I cannot fathom that God would allow the entire Bushmanlan­d’s animals to die from thirst and hunger just to punish humans.

And so our sinful little family of four took it upon ourselves to give every tortoise we find alive a chance to survive. Sometimes we find one somewhere in the road, too tired and weak to climb over the ridges of the dirt track. We pick it up and bring it home. We carefully remove the ticks sucking the last drops of life out of them. Then we give them food and water. The children bring mulberries, green lucerne and lettuce leaves to their den under the mulberry tree. Yesterday we found one that had almost no toes left. It was so light and shrunken into its shell. We immediatel­y gave it water when we arrived home. Later in the afternoon I called Franchwa to come and see: The withered little tortoise seemed to be on the verge of bursting out of its shell from all the water it had drunk.

Sometimes I sit with them under the tree. Then I tell them about the day when we’d need to say our goodbyes. And together we dream of release from the drought and of new growth covering Bushmanlan­d like a green carpet after the rains.

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