Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Blommetjie in the Field

Some people call Twee Riviere the land flowing with milk and honey. I'm not sure about the honey - lots of hives but not much honey (stories of bee disease and drought abound - maybe they just don't want to share...) but milk, now, that's another story.

Milk truly does flow here. We are often blessed with gifts of it. Bottles arrive, sometimes with a thick layer of cream settled on the top. 'Just say if you need milk" friends generously offer,'I am throwing milk away!"

We hesitated about acquiring our own cow. We have admiringly watched our friends herding their cows and calves from field to field. We have been party to wars over pasture, heard tales of grazing theft - not to mention seeing posses of men out and about searching for a bull that has been 'borrowed' without asking to make merry with someones cows. The dairy feuds abound in the Kloof.

We watched all with interest, choosing instead to shoot footage of pretty milkmaids bringing the cows home, long skirts with muddy hems, bare feet running, long switches in hand to tickle wandering rumps into walking and not wandering off.

Our children often assist, and have told me they know how to milk. Indeed the milkmaids around here boast of a superior strength in their fingers. Boys, it is said, balk when challenged to arm wrestle a pretty maid - they are known to mercilessly beat them all! Such are the benefits of milking!

So, we didn't think we had much need of our own cow, except that one needs abundance if you are to master all the other dairy skills - butter making, cheese making and yogurt. As much as I want to master all these skills, at the moment I wrestling with pumpkins (my husband calls them triffids) that are threatening to completely overrun my garden...

So the dairy skills must wait until I have defeated some of the gardening challenges. We felt content without a cow - that is, until Blommetjie.

Blommetjie belongs to a friend and became a victim of both a grazing feud and a grass shortage. We stay on land that has no feud (except for Louis sheep that pass through willy nilly and chomp our baby olive trees!) But otherwise - we have GRASS!

So Blommetjie came to stay. We also have shelter and our friend secured it all a little more and Blommetjie was ours! Well sort of. We think she is a particularly pretty cow, and we were smitten. Actually Lex was. Her soft brown eyes got to him, her gentle swishing tail. She became the udder woman.

And we got milk, fresh from our shed. It was wonderful. She was tied up on a long rope because we have no fence and at first she didn't mind. But after a few days we noticed her pulling on her rope and felt that she might be getting to the end of her tether.

Out of concern Lex put her into our front garden enclosure, where, due to no lawn mower, the grass is long and green. We struggled to get her through the gate - later she couldn't get out fast enough. We think our garden furniture startled her.

It wasn't long before we really started to realize that all was not well in our field. Our friend came with weed eater and lawn mower, saying the grass had got too long and fluffy and Blom didn't like it. Soon we had a neatly mowed meadow - but all was not well in the garden with Blom.

The end came one morning when, from his office window, Lex sent an urgent text to our friend. Blom was bellowing loud and long. Something was up. Lex came outside and looked at her intently . Blom looked back at him and mooed like no cow I have heard before or since. Lex turned to me, perplexed ' Maybe she's just feeling moody,'he said.

But that was the beginning of the end. Blom was moved that same day. Whisked off to greener pastures. The grass really was greener on the other side. We have been told she will return - when our grass grows out and they organize a 'zapper 'to keep her in.

We miss her. Her stall is empty, the field is bare. For a moment there we felt we should get a cow of our own. But now, knowing what we know, and remembering that look in her eye as she looked at my husband....I'm not sure if I'm ready for that much competition.


  1. Get some goats, good for eating and milking, you could make your own cream cheese or feta.

  2. Hi Michelle, I had a good laugh! I really enjoy your writing - it could make a wonderful book. "Life in the Kloof" or something. BLessings to you all! Love from the Krohns