It’s been another week of contrasts and a few “firsts” for me. I spent Monday and Tuesday in the office in Pretoria. The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom, but I didn’t get a chance to take photos. The Jacarandas in Johannesburg are always a week or two behind Pretoria so I will try to capture some of their beauty next weekend when I’m there again. I timed my trip well to coincide with Bosses Day (in fact I had no idea such a day even existed!) and the ladies at the office treated us to a lunch of lovingly prepared biltong and egg salad. A first for me, but delicious!
On Tuesday night I made a quick pit-stop back to the farm and on Wednesday I joined Quentin at the annual Aldam Stockmanschool. What is that you ask? Well, it is a seminar for commercial beef farmers held annually at the Aldam dam near Winburg in the Free State. I had no idea what to expect, but recently I’ve become keen to learn more about the technical aspects of farming so this is my first step. Yes, city friends, I can hear you laughing, but this is my life now and it is actually quite fun. It is the least I can do for my love, the sexy stockman!
The course was very interesting, even for someone clueless like me. Much to my relief, there were quite a few aspiring women farmers in attendance. There were experts from Australia, the United States and Canada speaking about the latest trends and technologies to assist with better cow and bull selection and how to run a herd more efficiently. I learnt how genetic analysis is being used to breed more efficient cows, especially in the dairy industry. I learnt how to identify faults in cattle. I learnt the difference between lean and fat beasts, optimal feeding plans, the economics of feedlots, and the latest in embryo and artificial insemination technology. I learnt many things, and as a bonus I also met some very nice fellow-farmers along the way.
I came home gagging for a cup of real coffee and ready to turn vegetarian for a few days after all the heavy meat meals and the butchery demonstration! Not to worry, I’ll be craving a lamb chop by the end of the weekend. But most of all, I came home excited to see how the garden was looking after a little bit of rain and a few more weeks into summer. I was away so long that I missed the best of the first flush of roses. I can sort of see how wonderful it must have been, but I spent a lot of today dead-heading them instead of picking arm loads as I had hoped. At least I know there is more to come and it is such a joy to see how far the garden has come in only a year. I was pretty clueless about gardening too back then, but it is amazing what one can learn when you put your mind to it.