So how about them farmers, eh?
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 (cows don’t understand the concept of years).
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 shrink-wrapped 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 happy, smiley 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 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 R28 270, Farmer’s Weekly is offering a package to the AgriTech Show in Tel Aviv. The tour includes airfares, 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 all turned celibate. Or gay. A warning was 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 on Woolworths at the next full moon.
A game farmer recommends paying up to R5-million for a 48-inch buffalo bull “to service the hunting market which readily pays R100-thousand for a good trophy”. If I had R5-million I’d rather buy a house on the beach than a buffalo, no matter how many hunters he services with that four-foot willy of his.
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 hinnews.com 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 written by hnnews 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 crablike fashion to bed.