|The government decided that all able bodied children of school going age should attend school. The farmers said; "fine, but if you want the kids at school, then you must give us buses or an alternative." That was the start of boarding schools, where those children who lived too far away from a school to be bussed, could stay over.
In time, other children were sent to the boarding school that were not farm children.These were from homes where the parents both worked and supervision was a problem, or the child was a problem, or a new word then – divorced parent’s kids, the mother had to work to keep the household together and the children were sent to boarding school.These children were mostly ' town’s ' children.
A highlight was to be invited for a weekend on a farm. My school friend invited me for a farm visit.
This was my fifth year at school and I was a ' town’s ' child. I was very eager to visit the farm, farm life always appealed to me. For no other reason that I am a ‘ farm boy ‘ at heart. I love the outdoors as well as the animals.
When we arrived at the farm, I was taken on an extended tour of the farm. The corn was as high as our heads and we looked in-between the rows for guinea fowl eggs.
A guinea fowl is a chicken sized game bird with a helmeted crown on its blue coloured head. When you part the feathers of a guinea fowl, the skin is a dark blue colour. The bird appears to be black till you take a feather and examine it, it is black with the most intricate markings of white spots. It is more pheasant-like in its bearing and in the ecology system, it has a major role as food source to many other feline species and birds of prey and an exterminator of insect pests as well. It also makes for good eating as a game bird. They move about in flocks, scratching everywhere for morsels to eat. As a pre-empt to the breeding season the hens lay eggs all over the area. Must be test eggs, for there seems to be no reason for this behavior.
Now people do not realize this, especially the mother of these poor farm children. The children have not seen food since they left home the previous time. Be that a week or a month ago, these kids were starved and the mother was going to correct this before sending her poor offspring back to school again.
Before the story carries on, I must get a fact or two on the table, so to speak. I was a ' town’s ' boy at that time. As far as I was concerned, all fare on a table came from a shop. The vegetables came from a vegetable shop, groceries from the grocery shop and meat from the butcher shop .That was before this farm visit. Here pumpkins grew in-between the rows of corn; sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots were from underground and pulled out from there; samp was corn broken up in with a machine with a crank handle that you turned.
That evening at supper time, as guest of honor I assume, I was seated at the left hand top seat, next to the Father, who was at the head of the table. My friend sat next to me, his Mother opposite me and a sister next to her Mother. On the table in front of me, a feast was covering the table top in various dishes, there was:
The finest pumpkin, chopped up – prepared with cinnamon ; sweet potatoes in a sugary sauce ; samp – soft to the kernel – boiled since the day before ; potatoes - in their brown suits crunchy on the outside, soft as fluff on the inside . A carrot-potato mash-like dish.
Right in front of me; a white enameled dish, from which the palatable aroma of the main offering poured into the nostrils – Curried sheep’s offal. On top of the offal there rested a well browned sheep’s head, looking me squarely in the eye.
I know there are the connoisseurs who will tell me about tripe, haggis, offal and other delicacies such as curried goat’s eyes. The various dishes prepared from all these ‘other parts ‘ of a carcass - not for me - I am a steak and chop person, no other spare parts for me.
Anyway, I managed well on a healthy helping supplied by my generous hostess. She must have taken pity on my lean frame and had decided that by the end of the weekend she would have me in a much sturdier shape. I had a healthy appetite and a well stocked plate to feed that appetite. She really did dish up a good helping of all the offerings. I settled for some sheep’s trotters and stomach squares.
Next to me, the sheep’s head was systematically dissected with the aid of a pocket knife. Only the Father partook of this delicacy, which was fine with me. I managed my plate of food without too many glances at the disappearing sheep’s head-saga next to me, it was a truly major undertaking. Slicing here, scratching out there.
I polished the plate of food with a feeling of a job well done, placed my knife and fork next to each other and moved my plate ever so slightly away from me, indicating that I have had enough.
The Mother enquired whether I had enough to which I replied ‘Yes, thank you, very much.’
The Mother asked if I was sure that I do not want some more. ‘Yes, Thank you ‘ I confirmed.
The Mother said she could see that I had enjoyed my meal and I must not be shy and in one motion with the “Don’t be shy” she dished a fair helping of everything – AGAIN.
I did eat all of that plate of food, now knowing what it means when it is said - that you can eat yourself to death. I nearly died. As unobtrusively as possible, my belt was loosened, as well as the top button of my pants, It is clear now know why Bushmen, after a major feast, do not wear pants.
This is a true story, today, I live about 6 miles from that farm where this this all happened those many years ago. My friend in the story is still my friend. I once told him the story and now and again when there is an occasion, I will tell this story. I once asked him if he would mind, he said to me, ‘It is your story, you tell it. ‘
Now, when we eat at someone else’s house, making sure to dish up less than I want, thereby taking a second helping, without killing myself and comment to the hostess what a marvelous meal I had.
If there is a moral to this story it would be this ;
When you say "NO", make very sure the other person understands it clearly, or else you may have to take what's coming your way.
A reviewer has pointed out to me:
Repetitive use of 'farm' and 'The Mother'. I agree.
I am not going to change the story, as this may serve as a learning/teaching item.
Any other comments will be appreciated.