Friday, January 25, 2013

Service Project at the Thomas Farm

Hello there:

The pace has picked up and we are busy going back and forth from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth attending to our responsibilities at both ends.  We are beginning to experience a few days beginning at dawn and ending at 9 pm. Yesterday, we went with our Grahamstown missionaries to a large farm about a 45 minute drive from Grahamstown.  The farm belonged to a member of the branch.  We travelled along a dirt road to the middle of no where, complete isolation, observing baboons along the way.  At the farm we engaged in service -farm work - loading a trailer behind a tractor with old currugated iron sheets and then loading and unloading it with bales of hay.  The bales we stacked, loose hay was swept into piles and stuffed in bags. It was a good workout with all sweating in the heat of the African day.  Lunch was provided: rice, peas, tossed salad, chicken/mushroom stew, and dessert.  We enjoyed the farm observing the shearing of sheep, seeing chickens and collecting eggs.  

The farm owners have interesting experiences:  During the night they have monkeys running back and forth across the roof of their house.  They even incapacitated an outside flood light attached to the roof.  The wife showed us one of ther sheds where the monkeys smashed bottles and scattered assorted items around leaving a mess.  They also raid the chicken coops and smash and eat the eggs.  Apparently, this kind of activity is a regular occurence and the monkeys are a nuisance. So in one of their sheds, enclosed with corrugated iron, the husband has made a couple of holes for gun barrels. Like a duck hunter in his hide-away, he waits in the shed and when monkeys appear he shoots one and they all scatter. The monkeys only appear at night so it has to be a moonlit night so he can see. But this does not deter them. They still run back and forth across the roof while the family is in bed, and likewise across the porch. At 2 am or 3 am large wild animals roam by their house even up to their porch (not lions but what lions would feed on).  

The elders wanted to go down to the river to bounce some stones across the water.  The husband said, "Watch out for the hippos. If you get between a hippo and the river, the hippo will charge you.  If the hippos are at the side of the river with their young one, you stay clear of them. They will go for you and they can run faster than you."  The wife told us more people get killed by hippos than crocodiles.  So the elders went off to skip their pebbles across the river.  Fortunately, it was a hot African day and the hippos were in the river staying cool with just their nostrils and eyes showing.

Getting back to loading old sheets of corrugated iron on to the trailer.  They were laying in grass next to a shed and nearby bushes and apparently had been lying there for a few years.  Before we started the job, the wife gave us a lecture on what might be underneath the pile - snakes.  She mentioned four kinds of snakes.  She said, "If you uncover a snake don't move.  Stay still.  The snake will move away from you.  Watch out for the puff adder.  If it rears up ready to strike move away quickly."  So we commenced the job.  No snakes  just a couple of rats, job completed, we moved on with the tractor and trailer. 

 It was an enjoyable day working and sweating in the hot African sun: We all wore hats, put on sun screen, stacked bales of hay, had a nice lunch, collected eggs, saw baboons, avoided hippos, overall a nice breather for the young elders from proselyting.  

Elder Stokoe 

Note from Sister S.

Last year the Rich and Audrey Thomas farm was composed of two farms of 630 hectares each.  A hectacres is equal to 10 acres.  So they were farming12,600 acres until half was   sold to a corporation interested in breeding buffalo and sable antelope.  (Sable antelopes sell for 100,000 rand each.)  The Thomas will sell the other half in March but will stay on as farm managers.     They have four children.  None wanted to farm.  Ross, their youngest, is preparing to serve a mission soon.  The others are all married and settled into careers.            
South African's call the prime sheep hair "white gold."
Audrey Thomas with mohair 

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