Rise ‘n Shine


Rise ‘n Shine

Mom had often mused that she would love to have a farm and now she had one.  In a country where ranches were sometimes 30,000 acres, she was ranching on 288.

Rise ‘n Shine

Dad was far too busy to participate in ranching.  It was enough that he had made Mom’s dream come true.  He had a busy medical practice, our new house he was designing and supervising the building as it went along, and was heavily involved in politics: he would stand for Parliament before the year was out.

Mom was anxious to get started.  She had a mentor in Mr. Philipson who had long owned the best butchery in town and a prize-winning ranch, Forestvale, to support it.  He helped her with the initial cattle purchase.   But within a week, she had lost her herd because the farm wasn’t fenced.

We invested in a fence.  We got a second good-looking herd.  Mr. Phillipson chose after looking at their rumps while mom admired their fine broad heads and sloe eyes.

All went well for a while.  “It’s time to dip the cattle,” advised Mr. Phillipson, in his thick German accent.  We had a small herd and Mom did not want to create a whole big lake of poison that might affect the birds.   She took the advice of old Doctor Davey, who had served the medical community at the Globe and Phoenix Mine so well from 1907 to 1937.  We would spray them.

We constructed a kraal (corral).  The whole household, servants included, went out to help with the spraying.   It was quite a performance corralling the animals.  Their eyes were big and frightened. David and I slapped their rumps to move them along as they bucked being channeled into the race. Their hides quivered all over as Brian sprayed them one by one with the hand pump before release. Dust swirled. The heat bore down.  It was thirsty work.

Despite our best efforts we were fined for tick infested cattle.

The novelty of ranching soon wore off.

Dad was left with the chore of going out weekly with the rations and pay for Felan.  It was a bind indeed with the busy practice and public affairs commitments.

We kept the farm for four long years.


  • Betty Goolsby

    Reply Reply January 14, 2011

    It all sounds hot, depressing, desolate, and unrewardable….can’t believe you worked the farm for four years….obviously your mom was not an easy quitter! It sounds like the movie “Australia” starring Nicole Kidman, without Hugh Jackman, of course!
    Did you finally sell or just walk away from it? Was the house nice, or just barely livable?
    Thank goodness your dad had his practice, or else you would have starved!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 15, 2011

      The movie Australia did echo many of the challenges facing ranching in Africa…poor grazing and water shortages making vast acreages necessary along with the isolation that comes with that, as well as dealing with the taboos of the Aborigines.
      The Australians have a reputation for not treating their “Sheila’s” with respect which all adds to the heady brew of Nichole Kidman’s unlikely victory over all these adversities.

      In contrast Southern African White women enjoyed a privileged life, none more than my Mom. The luxury of not having serious financial worries (Dad had established a flourishing private practice by this time outside the mine contract, even introducing several medical partners into it). Commanding a prominent position in the community allowed her the opportunity to experience all sorts of ventures like the farm rather than indulge in social frivolities. Realistically, Dad didn’t count on Mom making a paying proposition out of it, but it did cost him more than he anticipated…! The timing was off with the coincidental loss of the mine house to add insult to injury.

      Dad never ever considered giving up medicine. Behind the surgery door he was privy to peoples needs, wants, desires and fears stripped of pretense. It gave him insight into community needs, initially public health issues and later more broadly national issues.

      No the house was in ruin. We never lived there.

      I’ll tell you about the new house we built in next week’s blog.


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