Part of Life in the Arid Karoo

Cattle follow the vanishing water of a drying dam.

While the recent drought is hailed as the worst yet experienced in the Central area, such weather phenomena are part of Karoo life. Farmers remain philosophical. As David Shearing who farmed most of his lift in the Beaufort West area said: “Not to make light of the drought, but we all know what the Karoo takes away it always gives back. It remains a wonderful place to be.”

In 2008 the central area was also in the grips of a severe drought. According to an article in the Mail and guardian of May 29 large numbers of game and livestock died daily because of the drought, and lambs perished at birth because the ewes simply could not produce milk.  Farmers’ income in the central area dropped by up to a third yet farmers are a very cloosely knit community  those who had fodder were more than willing to share with those who did not. Heidelberg farmers donated 50 tonnes of emergency fodder worth almost R100 000 to farmers in Merweville, where the drought was said to be at its worst.  This was enough to keep them going for a fortnight.

Uniondale farmers also came to the assistance of their Merweville colleagues and railled enriched and raw fodder to drought stricken farmers.  The situation was so dire that Antonie Botes, chairperson of the Merweville Farmers Union, said only nine of the 90 springbok on his farm survived.  Sheep dropped dead daily .  The veld was strewn with carcasses and it was a heart breaking task collecting and destroying these.

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