Waiting for Rain

Its that time of year again when the need for rain begins to dominate conversations between farmers.  Spring has sprung and we need water to turn the mountains green, top up the ground water and fatten them cows.  If the cows don’t start picking up weight, they won’t get pregnant in time, they won’t calve in time and we won’t be able to pay our bills in time!

How do you make it rain?  Pray hard. Do a rain dance.  Shake a rain stick.  Shoot the clouds.  Pray hard. Beg the clouds to release their bounty above your head.  We have been devising rituals for millennia to make it rain and it remains beyond our control.

Nowadays talking about the weather is no longer idle chit chat to fill an awkward pause in the conversation.  It has become central and critical to our existence. Its the first thing we talk about with our neighbours and subject we return to most reguarily.

We scan the environment hopefully for signs of coming rain.  We exclaim with joy when we see a tortoise walking uphill, this must mean that she is heading away from the lowlands where she will be washed away in heavy rains.   Our hearts sink when she walks down the other side of the hill towards the river.   Leguaans, busy ants, flocks of birds sitting on the telephone wires keep us hopeful for another day.

When it does rain the farmers stand around comparing how many millimeters fell.  Those that got the most rain get to feel a bit smug (that same feeling you got as a kid when you were given the most pudding for being good).

On the other hand when we get less rain than everyone else it feels horribly unfair.  Like the other day, I drove back from town through our neighbours farm. We splashed through delicious puddles of rain, and as we slipped and swerved through the rich mud we took guesses about how much rain had fallen.  But then just as we reached our boundary gate the puddles disappeared and the road was suddenly dry.  They got 30 mms and we a mere 5!  (But maybe its because we got more rain than everyone else in January and now its payback time.)

But, of course, the truth is that the rain is impartial to our behaviour and actions. We cannot take credit or blame for the rain that fell on our veld.

Being a farmer has brought out both the religious and superstitious impulses in me.  However, there are those rare and beautiful moments when I experience a powerful and liberating surrender and acceptance of what actually is true: I have no control over the weather (or injuries and illness to our animals, or the multitude other potential problems the future may bring).  In these moments there is a freedom from trying to control the future and instead a deep recognition that the only thing that I do have any control over is my own self: I can choose how I prepare for and respond to whatever life throws at me.

They say a good farmer always expects and prepares for the worst.  If taken literally this becomes overwhelmingly difficult.  The number of things that can go wrong is limitless.  The resulting fear and anxiety becomes debilitating.  However, the truth of this statement it is that we need to farm for the existing state of affairs, knowing that we have no control of what will come next.  This means that when it rains we need to make the most of every single drop and make sure that we maximise the use of the water that falls because we don’t know when it will rain again.  This means farming in the most environmentally responsible way.

As a human beings these farming truths are powerfully useful.  We do only have control over our own behavior and the way we respond to what life throws at us.  That means we don’t have the power to change other people’s behaviour or what the future will bring. We cannot take the hardships life throws at us personally.  Nor should we waste our precious energy on trying to change what is beyond our control.  That energy is best used on responding to what is right here and now.

Living this is a life’s work.  However, those moments of living with what is actually really present in the here and now are so fabulously liberating that its worth practicing.

P.S.  Because we have grassfed beef we are more reliant on the rains to make good grass for our production.  If you want to sample our delicious meat send us an email on karoochoice@gmail.com.  If you live in Cape Town we are doing a delivery around the 18th of October.

P.P.S. On all the Reconnect on The Rest workshops we observe the natural environment so that we can benefit from the wisdom that is present in all things.  Nature is the perfect teacher for responding to what is real and present right now.  This presence allows the tortoise and the ants to anticipate the rain long before it arrives so that they survive and benefit from its arrival.  They also have knowledge of the drought and able to prepare in advance of this.  They do not spend energy worrying about what will happen rather they listen deeply and respond to what they hear.   See the workshops page to find a workshop you can join (Reconnect: Essence 1 -4 December has a focus on this practice.)

P.P.S.  Saw a tortoise walking uphill yesterday… holding thumbs ūüėČ

Waiting for Rain

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We are half way between Cape Town and Johannesberg (about 8 hours in either direction) half an hour off the N9 highway. We are an hour from Graaff-Reinet and 25 minutes from Nieu Bethesda.

To Drive: Email us for directions and check on the current state of the road and how your car will fare on the dirt roads.

Carpool to workshops: Join the event on the Facebook page and see who is keen to carpool. Email us to put you in touch with other drivers coming from your area.

Bus: Both Intercape and Translux stop in Graaff-Reinet. We will arrange to pick you up from the bus station and bring you to the farm directly or via a guest house (buses usually arrive at awkward times in the late or early hours.)
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Fly: Catch a flight to Port Elizabeth and hire car to drive to the farm (this is a four hour drive).
Co-ordinate with other workshop participants who want to do the same. Email us for directions.


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