ONCE A RHODESIAN ALWAYS A RHODESIAN

Published in Chambers circa 1930s.

Perhaps the witchery lies in Rhodesia‘s sunshine, tempered as it is with cool winds from a myriad of hills. It may be the call of the Wild or the lure of pioneering; perhaps it is largely due to the easiness of life in a most hospitable land. Whatever the causes, few ever come to Southern Rhodesia and leave without regret or intentions of returning.

There are many thousands of Britons either in the homeland or in the Empire’s Possessions who are seeking a kindly land in which to find homes for themselves and their children. To those who have lived in the East, Rhodesia presents unequalled advantages for her climate is superb, native labour is cheap and plentiful, and there is an abundance of social life such as appeals to those accustomed to the Straits, Burma and India.

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But to those who have never been out of Britain before, Rhodesia can also offer whatever they crave for in a life of the open. Mines to discover, big game to hunt, farms, plantations, ranches and industries to develop. The Colony is twice the size of Great Britain yet her white population is hardly that of a small English town. She has millions of acres of rich unsettled soil and only 3000 farmers and ranchers.

These few thousand men possess almost a million cattle, 85 000 sheep, 24 000 pigs and a quarter of a million head of poultry. They are developing half a million acres of agricultural and several million acres of ranching land.

It has been stated that Rhodesia will stand or fall on the success of her tobacco. Such has been said at various times of her mining, cattle and maize industries. Experience has proved that Rhodesia will never be dependant on one support. Her diversity of climate, altitude and soils, her mineral resources and the surrounding markets in which live 50 million potential cash customers, place the colony in a unique position.

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Breaking up the stubborn but remarkably fertile soil of Rhodesia.

Almost every known agricultural product can be grown on a commercial scale. This is amply borne out by the crops produced by 3000 scattered farmers. For 1929 the year of the Rhodesian tobacco slump the Government returns show 1 826 345 bags of 200 lbs of maize; 361 173 lbs of cotton delivered to ginneries, 18 830 bags of potatoes, 4 986 tons of onions, 12 901 bags of wheat, 7 143 tons of edible beans, 567 tons of oats sold by farmers. Many other crops also feature in the list wattle bark, coffee, tea, lucerne hay, fruit and almost 30 000 tons of ensilage amongst them.

The previous year 1928, Virginian tobacco had boomed and no less than 45 711 acres were planted to the crop. In consequence of the slump resulting from overproduction, the acreage was immediately reduced by 29 000 and the yield consequently fell from
24 491 464 lbs to 6 704 986 lbs. Increased plantings of Turkish tobacco were made but owing to a poor season the crop yielded only 337 479 lbs in 1929 as against 451 580 lbs in 1928.

turkish

The last two years have not seen much development in agricultural activity owing to the prevailing depression in Rhodesia’s chief markets. Farmers have been more or less marking time as regards production, endeavouring to improve their farms and to hold their own until the clouds of financial stringency pass.

Rhodesia is fortunately in a remarkably good position. Her 1931 Budget showed only a £25 000 deficit on the previous year’s working. Government and people have co-operated loyally to solve the problems forced on various industries. None of the problems has proved insoluble and the result is that today Rhodesians are facing the future waiting eagerly to launch Rhodesian products on the world’s markets.

50%of the United kingdom’s tobacco requirements can be supplied by Rhodesia. Tea is proving a satisfactory and payable crop, large acreages can grow excellent coffee, wattle bark is an easily grown and very saleable commodity, rice growing offers many opportunities and the possibilities of fruit growing are undoubted, especially in view of the increasing markets opening in the mineralized belts of Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo.

tea

The Settler can choose his home among the wild Inyanga and Umtali mountains and grow apples, cherries, plums and pears in the terraces made by forgotten race who left Rhodesia one of the most wonderful irrigation schemes in the world. Whilst irrigating his orchards from aqueducts thousands of years old the Rhodesian may watch the flocks of merino sheep dotting the hillside, see his dairy cows dripping milk as they walk byrewards, rejoice over the rapid growth of wattle plantations and gloat on the fatness of his beef herds.

cattle

He has Chipinga to pick a farm in and there grow tea or coffee, produce the best of citrus fruits, devote himself to pineapple or banana growing, or combine any one or all with wool and mutton, beef and cream production on as large a scale as his finances allow.

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In other districts, there are great belts of a level country along the railways where maize fields are reckoned by 1000 acre standards – there are wide and fruitful valleys running for a hundred miles and more where maize and cotton yield the heaviest of crops.

Much of Rhodesia is sandsoil and here tobacco can be grown equal to any produced by Virginia and the Carolinas. Immense yields of groundnuts also given by the sand and to those direct from European latitudes but the scenery and climatic conditions always make an irresistible appeal for these are more densely settled areas. there is no malaria and the amenities of civilized life are always at hand.

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Ranching country and its conditions must be known to be appreciated. In rearing beef cattle Rhodesians usually allowed 20 acres per beast, so ranches run from 20 000 to
2 500 000 acres in area. One white rancher with native assistance is supposed to be able to manage 5000 head of cattle so naturally cattlemen lead Robinson Crusoe existences.  To rear beef cheaply, land must be cheap and such is not found close to settled areas. Cattlemen go further afield and their lives are such that only the young and adventurous you are not encumbered with dependants are usually fitted for the loneliness and strain of ranching.

Mining and trading or other activities which one wonders so few newcomers ever attempt to engage in. Rhodesian Government Departments are filled with men who know the country, who absolutely trustworthy advisors and who are always anxious to assist whoever comes to them.

There are wonderful opportunities in the mining industry for level-headed men possessed of small capital and the Government offers not only advice practical and financial assistance. There are literally hundreds of abandoned gold mines scattered about Southern Rhodesia which are worth doing further prospecting work on. Many were abandoned in days when working costs and machinery were far higher than they are today.

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Most whilst not offering any attractions to companies yet afford possibilities for small syndicates or single owners. In many cases, former owners tried to make the mines pay their own development work and gave up immediately serious obstacles presented themselves.

Mine owning is naturally no occupation for those who know nothing about mining but its science and art can be learnt equally as easily as those of farming and ranching. There is no more reason to fear losing money in developing a promising gold reef than there is in farming. True a reef might pinch, values go out, ore become refractory or one of a dozen other mights occur but with farming bad seasons, flooded markets, disease and many other enemies may rob a farmer of all he has worked for. But as the tobacco farmer turns to cotton or maize when his tobacco fails so the disappointed miner goes looking for chrome, asbestos, mica or a new gold reef. A knowledge of prospecting and mining is a most useful asset to anyone settling in a country like Southern Rhodesia.

Most of the maize belt lies in a gold-bearing country and many a farm has a little two to five stamp battery pounding away on a small mine which is often the property of the farmer. In the granite, there is a good deal of corundum and in some districts, the country is full of chrome. The romance of Rhodesia’s mineral deposits has yet to be written but few imaginations could yield the material which the Umvukwes, Hartley, Gwelo and other districts offer the writer.

corundum

Native trading offers perhaps a greatest of all opportunities to energetic business men. The native responds readily to any real interest shown in his welfare and though thousands of native stores are established throughout Rhodesia few traders really trouble to study the natives growing wants. As a general rule, the trader is simply out to make as much money as he possibly can in the shortest possible time. His stock is limited to what he considers will yield him immediate profits and his trading principles are usually those of pioneer days.

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But African natives today travel throughout the Continent, education is causing them to develop new wants and to appreciate good value for their money; quite a number are beginning to use C.O.D. system and import goods from Britain or the South African Union. So there is little doubt but that well-stocked shops offering attractive goods would soon take away the customers of the old-fashioned trading stores with their uninteresting shelves.

Business opportunities are unlimited in Rhodesia. One is apt to consider the country solely from the viewpoint of a settler who wishes to take up farming, to think of mining and trading as being prerogatives of people born in mining camps or trading stores, to overlook the possibilities of exploiting knowledge gained in one’s past.

Homilies are seldom appreciated but when a man’s life is spent rushing about a country settling men of all trades, professions and occupations into a life they have chosen without any experience of it; it may be permissible to express a candid opinion. A hairdresser well on in years arrived in a district which was rapidly filling. With the savings of many years, he bought a small farm and through a slump lost all he possessed. Had he started a hairdressing establishment when you arrived, the probabilities were that within twelve months he would have doubled his little capital and gained sufficient knowledge of the district to pick up a choice little farming investment.

Another an auctioneer by profession had this same experience and the same opportunities. Others again would have saved the loss of time and money by availing themselves of the many openings awaiting at every turn, yet as men are obsessed in a gold rush so settlers coming to Rhodesia seem obsessed with the idea of farming and farming only.

Any gold or diamond digger will vouch for the fact that there is more money in running a business on the diggings than there is in digging. A few diggers are lucky just as a few farmers are lucky, but generally speaking, it is more profitable to be a lawyer, a dentist, a butcher or hotelkeeper when in a community which is spending cash freely. In Rhodesia, a man can pursue any occupation without loss of social status. As long as he is making good and pulling his weight with his neighbours his business is purely a matter for his own concern.

On the surface, there is much of the Gertrude Page atmosphere about Rhodesian life. Underneath there is always steady progress being made. Year after year more country is being settled, new industries are established and old ones are developed. The great concessions being granted mining countries will certainly lead to increased spending powers amongst the native population, and to more marketing available to farmers and business people.

Rhodesia surrounded by countries which will buy largely from her as they develop.  Bechuanaland, Angola, Portuguese East Africa and the vast Northern territories will look likely to Rhodesia for many products which it is hardly likely they themselves will produce commercially for a long time to come.

The late D.M. Stanley one of the Rhodesia’s pioneers describes most eloquently the Eastern districts to which he and a score of other gallant frontiersmen devoted their lives.

“North and Mid Melsetter are the Highlands of the district and Highlands of a perfect kind. To the east, the towering Chimanimani marks the boundary. These run to the Lucetti River, there cutting into Portuguese East Africa, to reappear as the Sitatunga Mountains. These Highlands are watered by what is almost as a superfluity of perennial streams. Riding over the mountains, one off-saddles for a rest. Listen and you can hear the muted roar of some distant cascade;  as the wind rises or falls the sound reaches you in varying cadence. Then comes the realisation of the meaning of Tennyson‘s words: ‘The beauty born of murmuring sound.’ “

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The ever-changing panorama of the hills, the changing colour of the mountains, the vivid green of hilltops and valleys are bound to hold in a lasting thrall the minds of all who know it. The numerous cascades have not only a beauty for the lover of nature and the artist but also for the agriculturist, who dreams of the wastewater turned into irrigation channels and fertilising hundreds of acres of the richest soil in Rhodesia.

Again it has its beauty for the industrialist. He sees the many thousands of horsepower running to waste and dreams of the time when such, harnessed by modern methods shall be able to work, at a minimum cost, half the manufactures of South Africa.

There is another vision that may strike him who rides down our larger valleys. He sees kloof after kloof, valley after valley, unfolding as the turned leaves of some vast book. One out of three of such hold permanent water, and the imagination runs riot as to the possibilities for the establishment of smallholders – men who would own their little farms and be the forefathers of a race of small yeoman farmers. That would be the most valuable asset Melsetter could give to the Colony of Southern Rhodesia.

 

By
B. M. Leffler
Formerly: Tobacco Adviser Southern Rhodesia (Govt)
Contributor to S.A. Farmer’s Weekly, Farmers Advocate, Argus Newspapers, Feedstuffs U.S.A., Textile Weekly etc.etc.

JOHANNESBURG’S LINK WITH THE JACOBITE RISING OF 1745

Published in The Star Newspaper South Africa January 1932.

“From the lone shieling of the Misty Isles
Mountains divide us and a waste of seas
But the blood is strong and the heart is Highland
As we in dreams behold the Hebrides”

from the Canadian Boat Song

Saturday’s ceremony of “Trooping the Colour” brings to mind that four months ago the trooping of the Appin banner and its dedication to Scotland’s National Naval and Military Museum links the traditions of the Transvaal Scottish with the romantic incidents of the Jacobite Rising 1745.

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It is the Atholl tartan which the Transvaal regiment wears by the favour of the Duke of Atholl and by virtue of descent through the Scottish Horse from the hereditary regiment His Grace is privileged to maintain. The Duke through his ancestor James Lord High Steward of Scotland is also the head of the once powerful Stewart clan of Perthshire and from the common origin is a cousin to the famous Scottish West Coast clan of the Stewarts of Appin.

When the hopes of the exiled Royal House of Stewart was smashed forever by the soldiers of the Hanover monarch and the great Clan Campbell both the clans of the Highland Stewarts were conspicuous for the ferocity of their charges against the English regiments.

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The Stewarts of Appin lost a hundred and fifty-seven men storming their way into what it is now the King’s Own Regiment then commanded by Colonel Barrel. Ten clansman in succession died carrying the banner of their chief until when the redcoats and dripping bayonets of Barrel’s men swept victoriously over the shattered Highlanders an Appin man Donald Livingston an ancestor of the African Explorer Missionary tore the bloodstained rag from its staff wrapped it around his body and hacked his way through to open country.

For a hundred and eighty-five years the family of the Appin chiefs have cherished the heirloom but economic pressure, at last, caused the present Stewart of Appin to appeal to those of his name to take over the valuable and historic relic of their race.

The Stewart Society headed by the Earl of Galloway responded immediately and after purchase unanimously decided to obtain the Culloden Colours of Barrel’s regiment and in conjunction with the King’s Own Regiment lay the flags in honour in Edinburgh Castle.

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Randolph Stewart, 12th Earl of Galloway 

It is seldom nowadays that so picturesque a ceremony is seen as that of the dedication. Thousands flocked to the same viewpoints which nearly two centuries ago other thousands saw with mixed feelings the standard of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, son of a long descended kings carried by a common hangman and a dozen ancient clan banners born ignominiously by the Citys’ chimney sweeps to their burning at the Market Cross.

Time has changed the memory of bitter feud to the honoured remembrance of the sacrifices made by ancient foes to idealism. In 1745 Edinburgh citizens scowled or slunk in terror from the sight of Highland tartan. From the grey castle, cannon roared angrily at clusters of kilted soldiers gathering below the naked rock.

There was a Duke of Atholl with the Stewart Prince and a Duke of Atholl with the Hanoverian Monarch. Murrays and Stewarts, McDonalds and Camerons panted with bloodlust to get at the throats of Campbells, Rosses and Munroes. Scarce a year later and the bonnie Hielan’ heather was filled with hunted outlaws, the glens reddened with the blood of their sons, filled with the wailing of women and little children, the star of the Stewart race sinking in a chaos of blood and fire and terror.

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Not two centuries have passed. There is yet Highland folk whose great grandfathers fought at Culloden yet what is more honoured in the wide-flung British Empire than the Highland tartan?

Highland regiments from Fontenoy and the taking of Quebec to even beyond the ending of the great 1914 to 18 drama have played a foremost part in the upholding of the Royal Standard of the reigning British House. It is only fitting therefore that the memory of the valour displayed on a thousand battlefields should be marked by the ceremony of the 1st of August 1931.

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Black Watch at Fontenoy, 1745

So in the presence of many thousand loyal citizens, the Atholl Regiment of Highland descendants of Prince Charlies’ soldiers paraded the historic square of Edinburgh Castle as a guard of honour to an ancient rebel banner and the colours of the English regiment which broke their ancestors.

To the salute of the Atholl pipers and the Present of the clan soldiers, men in the glittering dress of Highland chiefs entered the square to take positions of honour. Men whose names and titles a hundred and eighty five years ago were those of proclaimed traitors and outlaws whose very national dress was forbidden to their people, Stewart of Appin, Stewart of Achnacona, Stewart of Fasnacloich, Lord Elcho, with them the Duke of Atholl, descendant of Lord George Stewart Murray, Commander in Chief of the rebel army and of his brother who preferred loyalty to a ducal title honour rather than lands and riches.

Next to them gathered Lieutenant General Sir Percy Ratcliffe, General Officer commanding the Scottish Command. Major General Barrett, Colonel of the King’s Own Regiment, the Very Reverend the Dean of the Thistle Lieutenant Colonel Balfour Paul, Falkland pursuivant Major Alan MacGregor Whitten A.D.C.

To the stirring Jacobite tune of The White Cockade, the colours of the Atholl Highlanders were born onto parade by Lieutenant Neil Ramsay escorted by an armed guard. Rifles dropped to the Present – a halt – then as the guard came back to the slope the pipes wailed the saddest of laments Mo Dhachaidh and slowly the colours were carried to their position on the west side of the Castle Square.

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Through the following stillness broke the piercing battle scream of the old Highland warpipes “Gabhaidh sinn an rathad mor” to which the clan was piped into the Culloden charge filled and rolled about the stone grey castle walls, echoed in the ancient towers as Sandy Stewart the veteran hereditary piper to the Dukes of Atholl played in the guarded faded banner of his race. Torn by English bullets, stained with Stewart the colour looked proudly from its chaplet of the Stewart emblem of oak leaves resting on a bridal bed of pure white satin.

Music for 'Gabhaidh siun [sinn] an rathad mor'
This sheet music for the Clan MacIntyre march ‘Gabhaidh siun [sinn] an rathad mor’
(We will take the high road) is part of the Grant collection.

As the pibroch stilled the drums and fifes of the King’s Own Regiment rung from without the gates. In their guard of red-sashed Colour Sergeants two lieutenants of the 2nd battalion of the King’s advanced the ancient colours of their regiment followed by the present regimental colour strongly guarded.

A combined salute with Colours advanced to the War Memorial with its many Afrikaner names amongst the Scottish heroes. A dedication service by the Dean of the Thistle then again the parade was called to attention.

Moving across the Square came the battle flags of “Barrells Blues” wheeling before the saluting parade the colours halted then one after the other were handed by General Barrett to his Grace the Duke of Atholl. Borne by Major Lord James Stewart Murray brother of the Duke the Colour-party of the Appin banner moved out from the Atholl regiment wheeled and halted before Stewart of Fasnacloich at the Museum door.

Taking the banner in his right hand from Lord Stewart Murray Fasnacloich handed it to Achnacone who in turn gave it to the Clan Chief Stewart of Appin who presented the banner to the Duke.

Then forming a column of a route the feudal regiment of Atholl Highlanders with the regular soldiers of Britain marched from the old Castle drums beating present day colours flying bands playing.

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And in Edinburgh Castle repose in peace the emblems of two ancient and fierce antagonisms which, as the Dean of the Thistle in his stirring address pointed out, though once they distracted the Scottish nation were reconciled in that honour which generous hearts recognised was justly due to loyalty, self-sacrifice and duty.

Rhodesians

“A good country and a cheery crowd” is almost invariably the opinion voiced by visitors to Rhodesia.

The expression is apt. Less than forty years ago it was a savage wilderness rotten with fever, a thousand miles from anywhere, inhabited by two races of natives, one a great ruthless military organisation, the other one of wretched cowardly tribes everlastingly being harried by their neighbours.

Today Rhodesia is a land of modern cattle ranches, citrus estates, tobacco plantations, maize and dairy farms and every branch of mining.

cattle ranching

Modern towns have been built, costly hotels erected and the life of the community is organised on businesslike lines.

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For ten out of forty years of its history, practically the whole of Rhodesia’s manhood has been engaged in the war against Black and White. Rinderpest swept the country clear of cattle, East Coast Fever has ravaged the herds again and again. Blackwater and malaria have taken a heavy toll of life and health. Gold mining, tobacco growing, and cotton planting have caused wonderful booms and disastrous slumps.

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“What I do like about the country,” one Englishman remarked to me on one of my visits to his farm ” is that there’s always a crowd arriving for a new boom so that the people have been ruined in the last month can always sell their farms and start again.”

One hears a great deal about chequebook farmers and young fools easily parted from their money. As a matter of fact, the average Rhodesian is of the type who formed Britain’s officer class in 1914, 15 and 16. Rhodesians take farming in the same spirit as they took the war. When possible the majority jump at any excuse for “a spot of leave” and whilst only they live. On their farms, however, no men could be more enthusiastic over their jobs.

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Unlike the majority of those born and bred to the land Rhodesians handle their labour and work on Army principles. It is an easy matter to be wise after an event and criticism come naturally to us all. The various booms in agriculture received the strongest possible support from not only the Rhodesian Government but all qualified to speak on the subjects.

Unfortunately, the world’s economies are not ruled by the laws of supply and demand but by great vested interests whilst in agriculture, the vagaries of weather and disease are factors impossible to foresee.

Rhodesia has proved itself to be capable of producing almost every product needed by the world. It is divided into so many different types of a country that scarcely a district can say that what suits its neighbour suits it.

Vast areas are magnificent cattle country where prime beef can and is being reared at a negligible cost. Tea and coffee have proved suitable in one or two districts, sheep in another, maize in belts, citrus in some areas, cotton in many. Tobacco equal to the finest grown in America over much of the country.

The mineral resources of Rhodesia are incalculable value – Coal of excellent quality, iron ore of the best type exist in inexhaustible supplies, and their sources as regards the second mineral have not been touched and in the first only in one area has been opened. As an asbestos and chrome producer, the country is rapidly heading the world. Mica, scheelite and other minerals abound.

scheelite

Scheelite

Naturally, Rhodesians knowing the potentialities of their country are so optimistic regarding the future that the ups and downs of the present hardly have any effect on their good humour. “Any old job will do to tide us over a bit of a slump” – the bit referred to being one that would break most hearts.

So a formal wealthy Tobacco grower cheerfully goes firing on the railways, tends a bar counter, goes lorry driving or road making. He puts up at an excellent hotel and simply refuses to admit that he’s a ruined man. “Once the tide turns there’ll be plenty of jobs where a man can make a bit of money,” he thinks “What’s the good of whining anyway.”

A race of optimists – men who have handled men – men who have faced too much to worry overmuch about financial depression.

And the government is worthy of the race. The Opposition is only an Opposition because Rhodesians being British of the British reckon that it is a fit and proper thing to have one. Few Rhodesians could give the name of the Opposition party. They know there is one and that they vote against the Government to prove that they are fulfilling their duty, and Rhodesians are content to leave it at that.

During the last election, every Opposition meeting was crammed with enthusiastic supporters – at the Poll, however, Rhodesians voted solidly against all but a few of the Opposition – these they put in just that there should be an Opposition.

Rhodesia is the only mining country in the world where any man can buy all the dynamite and detonators he wants and blow up his whole form without any qualifications regarding his knowledge of explosives.

On many farms sticks of dynamite are thrown about anywhere, are half-eaten by rats and nothing ever happens. Boxes of detonators are kept in the pantry or bathroom and though now and again a child gets killed or mutilated nobody worries.

One can buy strychnine, arsenic or cyanide anywhere with the same ease that one can buy candles.

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Any Rhodesian at any time by taking out a £1 prospecting licence is at liberty to wander over anybody’s farm, dig holes, divert water, chop down timber and go away again – if he finds anything worth finding it is shared between the British South Africa Company and himself, the owner getting nothing unless it is a big paying proposition when he received a very small royalty.

Except for buying railway and bioscope tickets money is seldom used – in ordering a drink one usually is given a card marked I.O.U. and a pencil when the drink is served.

Director Dick Cruickshanks (centre) with the Zulutown Players, from Screening the Past

When having a drink one almost certainly tosses to see who pays, a leather bottle and set of dice being supplied by the bar. If one has no friends or acquaintances to toss with the barman or barmaid is willing to oblige. He or she invariably wins and one pays for two drinks and then is introduced to other inmates of the bar and another gentle flutter follows.

The drink bill of Southern Rhodesia is £24 a head – It’s a sober country, however – with cocktails at 2/6d each, whiskey and soda 2/9 beer 1/- it costs a fortune to get drunk – one whiskey and soda per day is £36 per annum – and what about one’s friends’ drinks.

Last year the Railwaymen went on strike – why they themselves didn’t know. Anticipating trouble the Government called for special constables and paid them £1 per day. The mass of strikers enlisting was one of the noblest sights I’ve seen. 

Rhodesia’s great Southern neighbour latterly attempted to readjust the existing Customs agreement. Rhodesians demand not only the cake but jam on it as well. On their request being refused, they blithesomely arranged to turn their backs on the South and do their business elsewhere. They got their jam.

FREEDOM: JUSTICE: COMMERCE:

The old British South Africa Company’s motto is played up to in Rhodesia.

B.M.L.
Written mid-1920s

How A Farmer’s Wife Built Up A Poultry Business by Margaret Leffler 1938

After a desperate attempt to make Flower Growing and Market Gardening pay, I decided that poultry offered infinitely better opportunities. Unfortunately, there was no capital available to start. A friend let me have ten third-year Leghorns and a rooster on credit and in August 1933 I began.

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Leghorns proved splendid layers and yielded not only all the eggs needed for the household but one and a half to two dozen a week for sale. In March 1934 with my egg money, I began to buy Light Sussex eggs, secured a fifty egg incubator on credit and started incubating my Leghorn and then bought Sussex eggs. 

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Results were disastrous a few chicks were hatched out and half a dozen reared. Attempt after attempt failed to give anything but the poorest results but by borrowing a few broody hens I managed to raise fifty Sussex and Leghorn fowls. A friend also gave me eight Rhode Island Red hens and a rooster. I fattened and sold twenty-five cockerels and four of my old Leghorn hens at Christmas and with the money bought netting wire and was lent four old pig huts.

This was the turning point. In 1935 I still had four of my original Leghorns, six Rhodes with twenty-five Sussex and Leghorn pullets laying. I borrowed two, two hundred and fifty egg incubators but having no suitable incubating house the results were very poor; still with what I did hatch out from the incubators and broody fowls I was able to start the 1936 season with 188 Leghorns, Rhodes and Sussex laying hens and pullets.

I returned the borrowed incubators after one season’s use and bought two of the most reliable make but lack of proper accommodation again proved a stumbling block so I turned to turkeys as incubators.

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At last, I have solved my problem. Two Turkey hens I found equalled a one hundred egg incubator. Since a turkey hen could be induced with the aid of a little port wine to sit on and hatch two consecutive settings. Two Turkeys would lay and sit on a number of eggs each but whilst one had fourteen the other only had seven. I, therefore, gave the seven to the bird with fourteen and gave thirty fowls’ eggs to the other.

When the turkey hatched out her turkey eggs I removed the chicks and put thirty fowl eggs under her when turkey number two’s eggs began pecking I removed them to my kitchen stove and gave the turkey a spoonful of port wine and another thirty fowl eggs. On Turkey number one’s eggs beginning to peck I treated her as I had number two.

Turkey incubation proved so successful that I bought a whole flock to use for hatching duck as well as fowl eggs. Generally speaking, I am very well satisfied. Snakes have killed a number of turkeys on their nests, sometimes a bird would persistent in leaving her eggs and sitting with another endeavouring to share her nest, sometimes the birds would kill the chickens and ducklings if they hatched out before I had noticed pecking had begun.

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Still, I’ve found that my turkeys sitting on thirty fowl eggs give me fifteen to twenty healthy chicks and on twenty duck eggs fourteen to seventeen strong ducklings. Much of the loss is due to the turkey cracking eggs through her weight when getting off and on the nest.

In 1936 I added ducks as well as turkeys to my business and began supplying older fowls and ducklings as well as really nice lots of eggs to merchants which gave me a steady income sufficient to pay my poultry feed, to buy iron, wood and netting wire to get good roosters and to begin laying out a modern poultry Farm.

1937 proved rather a miserable breeding year. Hundreds of beautiful eggs were ruined by attempting to incubate in unsuitable housing cats continually got into my kitchen and destroyed dozens of newly hatched ducklings and chicks, heavy rain and shortage of proper accommodation killed mature as well as young stock especially turkeys, snakes worked havoc with birds on nests yet at Christmas I was able to deliver dressed sixty-eight perfect table chickens, sixty-two ducklings and six turkeys whilst my egg sales are approximately fifty dozen a week.

So in 1938 after four and a half years building I have an excellent business yielding a steady and ever-increasing profit. After heavy culling of old and unsatisfactory birds, 1938 sees me with three hundred really profit earning fowls and a hundred and fifty fattening fowls for killing, the duck section supplying a dozen dressed ducklings a week and some sixty turkeys getting ready for the fattening pens.

I have now started barrel feeding. All culled birds and cockerels are put into three section coops on stands. Here they are quickly fattened at a minimum of cost and trouble.

Now, what has the four and a half years of struggling taught me?

Let me imagine now that I have been asked to broadcast my opinion so that others may avoid the pitfalls into which I fell.

I began poultry raising as a wife begins rearing her first baby. I knew nothing at all about the business. Books helped me little for they all presupposed that I had proper housing, proper food, proper fowls. I had none. Sellers sold me pullet eggs – I even tried to incubate eggs bought on the market – wonderful eggs but as I know today obviously unfertile.

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Starting today under the same conditions and same money I’d buy a couple of turkey hens, a bottle of port wine and five dozen really exceptionally good eggs of table and egg production breeds. I would get one or two dozen eggs from two or three really first class poultry farms and put them under the turkeys. Probably the results would be two dozen good fowls born and reared under my supervision free of all disease.

Of these fowls a dozen at least should be females; out of the other dozen I would select four of the best roosters not to mate with the females hatched with them but for future use. When my dozen females were ready for mating I would buy for them two fairly elderly roosters known and proven. My own cockerels I would use on fairly elderly hens of good laying reputation bought from really good poultry farms.

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Until I could afford to build a proper incubating room I’d use turkey hens and my own broody fowls for hatching and when you eventually I got my incubating room only a brand new incubator of an absolutely proven make would satisfy me.

But before beginning incubation on any scale, I would insist on a proper brooder house for my expected chickens. For years my poultry boy and self have rushed frantically out to catch and put scores and even hundreds of chicks and ducklings into boxes when rain has threatened.

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Often the threat never materialized and chicks had to be brought back to their runs. Even now I have a nightly task of gathering and boxing some three hundred ducklings and chicks a job sometimes repeated once or twice a day when bad weather threatens.

Proper housing and runs are essential to successful poultry farming, drastic culling of unsuitable females and the use of only first-class males are vital in building up a really strong healthy flock. Free-ranging means a great loss of eggs and every detail of poultry management must definitely be under one’s own personal supervision. I’ve had splendid natives but no native can ever grasp the enormous importance of scrupulous care in the weighing and mixing of food, of the essential difference between laying and fattening foods. To a native’s mind, a few handfuls of mealies are all a fowl requires.

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Poultry to pay must have proper food. A bird has no teeth, therefore, it must have grit to masticate the swallowed food. the veld and sand are full of ticks, lice and fleas and a bird supporting insect life cannot give her owner the eggs or flesh a clean bird can.

In selling eggs or table birds absolutely scrupulous honesty must be one’s rule. Sell pullet eggs as such, don’t mix them with full-sized eggs. Never attempt to incubate immature eggs and never give an old fowl spoonful of vinegar, kill it and place it amongst first-class table birds. Sell your dressed culls as ordinary fowls bought by the consumer as such. Even if short of a bird to make up an order carry the loss and sell chickens as chickens without a cull amongst them.

Remember always that for one table bird producer there are one thousand egg producers. The bulk of poultry sold for the table are the culls of egg-producing farms. It is a slow process building up a table poultry business it is the most difficult section of poultry farming but once built up it is by far and away the steadiest and most remunerative.

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Two and a half to three pound Sussex, Rhode or other table chickens, ducklings and small compact turkeys are always in demand, eggs are not. With a table poultry business, there are enough eggs to not only pay expenses but to show profits – and there are the tender-fleshed, toothsome young cockerels simply pure clean money. What first class dealer can afford to allow a really choice table bird to be passed over? None.

Margaret Leffler
Valley Farm
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria
28/01/1938

FARM MANAGEMENT 1930s South Africa

Two essentials to successful farm management are trustworthiness and organising ability. It is easy to select and train a Native to become an excellent foreman but can one rely absolutely on any statement he makes? No! And in consequence, nobody would employ a native as a manager even if he possessed the intellectual ability.

Unless a farm manager is able to visualise all his work all the time he is quite useless. Unless he possesses organising ability both his own and his employer’s time is being wasted. Always a manager must be asking himself – can I do with less or with cheaper labour on this, that or the other job? Can it be done better another way or with other implements? If it were my farm would I consider this worth the trouble or that worth the expense? 

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A Manager’s job is to extract the maximum of efficiency at the minimum of cost from every employee, animal, land or implement. Unless he soaks himself in an atmosphere of trying to obtain efficiency he is certainly little good to his job.

Early rising is a necessary portion of any farmer’s job. If he is the last to come on the scene of farm labour and the first to leave it is obvious that his employees won’t do their full share unless he possesses more than ordinary powers of handling labour.

Any intelligent native can carry out an ordinary farm job if shown how to do it. The white man’s task is to see that every job is done and done properly.

Excuses are never convincing and are usually irritating. Lies defeat the very object for which they’re used. Once a superior catches a junior in a falsehood it’s a good policy for that junior to look for another job – he’s lost the confidence of the man under whom he is working.

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So to gain the reputation of a good farm manager a man must needs:

(1) Be absolutely honest

(2) Be interested in his work 

(3) Be able to get satisfactory results from it.

(4) Be able to win and hold his employee’s respect regarding
            a.  his character
            b.  his personality
            c.  see his devotion to his job
d.  his results

Nothing is more irritating than working with a man in whom one hasn’t confidence. Inspire that feeling of confidence and it is amazing how quickly ones’ troubles disappear.

B.M.Leffler
Valley Farm
Pretoria
South Africa
Circa 1930s

BALANCING ONE’S DIET

An article published in the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa circa 1930s.

Every stockman handling valuable animals requires to know something about food values. The subject is a fascinating one and a student instinctively compares the haphazard treatment accorded human stomachs with the carefully worked out feeding methods used in feeding animals.

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Human bodies need very much the same essentials as do those of animals. Protein, carbohydrates, fats, mineral salts and water are required by both and wrongful proportions immediately cause harmful reactions. Instinct guides us roughly to the food our bodies need but a little knowledge is of far greater help than instinct if we would get the utmost value in the cheapest way.

An average man requires about three and a half ounces (100grams) of Protein, 1 pound (450grams) of Carbohydrates, an ounce of mineral salts (28grams) and two ounces of fat (57grams) to maintain himself in a healthy condition. If a manual worker, he requires more food than one engaged in a sedentary occupation. Old people require less and children more than middle-aged and young, women, less than men.

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One often hears and knows of small men with remarkably large powers of food consumption. In such cases, there can be no doubt that the small man’s body or diet is deficient in some essential – in the majority of cases a mineral salt.

Most ills to which mankind is subject are digestive or bodily disorders caused by wrong dieting. Meals consist of too much of one element, too little of another resulting in the over-accumulation of waste matter, non-renewal of tissue and a general choking and fouling of the system. Again it might be that deficiency of fat, of protein or of mineral salts is responsible for upsetting the functioning of the digestive organs.

A meal of oatmeal with sugar, eggs, milk, bread and butter is an example of a well-balanced feed. The salts and protein are present in the eggs, oatmeal and milk, the carbohydrates in the sugar and bread; the fat in the butter and milk. Cheese and bread make an excellent combination for cheese is the most valuable concentrated foodstuff man knows and ordinary bread is almost pure carbohydrates.

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Every individual’s diet should be considered from the maintenance and productive sides. So much fuel is required to maintain health so much to create the necessary energy to do his work. To ensure proper assimilation of vital elements meals must be sufficiently appetizing to enable them to be eaten with relish.

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When however excess fuel has been loaded the body demands that it be used or got rid of. Long walks or any extra exercise will consume the surplus but neglect will always result in some disorder of mind and body.

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The importance of the various salts needed by the body is seldom sufficiently emphasised. Lime, common salt, iron, phosphorous, sulphuric acid, chlorine and magnesia are vital to the human and animal body and cheese, milk, eggs, pulses, fresh fruit and green vegetables are the chief suppliers.

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We all know how often cod liver oil, Parrish’s food and various manufactured foods are ordered by doctors for children and invalids. In many cases, they are given as being more economical and easier than attempting to reorganise a diet.

Parrish

Often neglect of properly balanced food has so strained or impaired the digestive organs that only concentrated foods can be given.

B.M.Leffler,
Valley Farm,
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria,
South Africa