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TO PLOUGH OR NOT TO PLOUGH

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Our first attempt in 2007: In farming you win or you lose

The seed to become a farmer came was first planted in 2007 when we ploughed a small garden in Marokolwane.

We decided to plough two hectares and with the good rains, we reaped beyond our wildest expectations.

In the 2010 farming season we ploughed 10 hectares and were surprised to harvest over 70 bags of maize.

During the past season we ploughed 20 hectares of maize.

However, our joy was short lived as the rain became scarcer than scarce to a point where Patrick, my partner and myself were undecisive on whether to plant. None wanted to be the victim of ‘I told you so’.

In late January we planted, but waited for the rains, in vain.

There went our Hybrid maize seed under the soil, a loss of a few Pulas and more lessons to be learnt in farming.

We are luckier than most as over half of what we planted has produced big cobs of maize.

But no one warned us of the devastation we would suffer from Kudus and cattle.

To make matters worse, we were told that we could kill the kudus harassing our crop but we had to handover the meat to the Wildlife department.

And there is no compensation.

What a nerve? When I saw the stumps in the field of what could have been our harvest, my blood ran cold. Not to mention cattle owners who never came to assess the damage caused by their cattle.

I can imagine them saying, “She is okay… She is from the city “forgetting the complaints when my dogs hunt goats!

This makes me wonder which is the best ‘risk-free’ career one can venture into, in life.

When a colleague in the media, City Press Editor Ferial Haffaje went through a public outcry, that even called for a ban on her newspaper for publishing a photograph of South African President Jacob Zuma with his jewels in the open, I decided maybe the choice of farming was safer ground.

But the thought of the unpredictability of the weather, makes me appreciate the choice of a newspaper story, ‘to publish or not’ versus ‘to publish and be damned’.

However, the risk of a headline that lands in court, a public outcry over a story or a photo green healthy promising maize leaves that suddenly turns dry due to no rain is another matter.

How is one to know whether to plough or not? We depend on something we have no power over the rain and the weather. I guess I will stick with both— the thrill and excitement is the same…

Either way you win or you lose. Making farm statements has become a way of my life as much as deadlines and headlines.. Happy weekend!