They escaped again! Who you ask? Houdini and the crew. And I am mighty sure it was she who came up with the plan. I remember a few weeks back, my farm manager caught Nala (Houdini) in the cattle kraal, pretending to be taking a leisurely walk and admiring the cattle and the plants. She was creating the escape route, and she did a good job of it. She then proceeded to spend the following weeks managing my farm manager and convincing him there was no intention of escaping. My farm manager got comfortable and fell for the ruse. Then, boom! Saturday night, she talked the other two partners in crime into escaping. They are not back yet. If they stick to their MO (modus operandi), then they will be back tomorrow morning. Haggard, hungry, dirty and looking sheepish! Let’s wait for tomorrow and see what happens. Tomorrow came and it’s today. They came back looking exactly as I expected. Haggard, tired, dirty and sheepish.
The harvest came in. All of it, except for the maize, which is in its last stages of drying. In the meantime, preparation for the next planting season is underway. We are using a mix of ox ploughing and tractor ploughing this time. The reason is easy really. We sold our ploughing oxen, and the new ones have not gained enough weight and muscle to pull a plough through the tougher parts of the land. So, we hire a tractor and get on with it. I must say I like the look of the dust swirling up in the air, behind the tractor as it makes the neat lines in the land. The oxen never throw up much dust. They are slow and gentle on the land.
Did I tell you I hatched a plan to dig up a new water storage hole? I went through all the motions. I got a guy who checked out and we agreed on a day for the work to start. He showed up as planned with the earthmover in tow. Guess what? First scoop of the earth and hid digger “bursts a vein” so to speak. Why is it that things don’t work the first time round on this farm? Is this really the universe teaching me how to “toughen up”, or is it just bad luck? Anyway, because I am indefatigable, I looked for another guy, found him, and he’s promised to show up with a fresh digger. Let’s see how that goes. As I suspected, he did not show up with the digger, and he asked for a fortune in payment prior to showing up. I declined his offer.
I’m in a rush to get the hole completed because the rains are fast approaching. The land smells different and the wind whispers the promise of rain. I have learnt the smell and feel of my soil when it’s dry, when it’s hungry for rain and when it has received the rain. I know this land intimately and right now it’s telling me the rains are coming. The acacia trees have also flowered and turned a deep green that’s a sure sign of impending rain. I have learnt that if you own land, and learn to listen to it, then it whispers to you, and deep down, you’ll just know what it says. You can also just look at the sky and see the dark gathering clouds – no abstract wisdom required!
The chili harvesting has picked up speed, and due to the heat, they are drying in all of two days. That’s 66% of their harvest weight lost in a measly 48 hours. Here’s the flip side of this story though. We got a thrip infestation in the chilis. We could not spray them as we were in the middle of the harvest season, and the buyers are adamant about their chili quality and the mandatory absence of pesticides at harvest. So, what to do? After much head scratching and deep breathing, my farm manager and I hatched a plan. Spray with diluted dish washing soap. It won’t kill the thrips, but it will greatly reduce their numbers, and dish washing soap is not a pesticide so it won’t show up in quality tests. What brilliance! The harvest continues!
Lately, I have found myself reading the works of Rumi quite a lot. One of his quotes spoke to me loud and clear, like the tinkling bells at the Catholic school where I spent my formative learning years; “Start a huge, foolish project like Noah. It makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.” Here I am with my huge foolish project, without a care in the world and my soul singing for joy.