When you pass a farm, do you sometimes ponder what your fate would have been, if you’d had your own ranch or plantation, with acres to cultivate, cattle to raise, and of course decimate, but all for the greater good, and all romanticised long before Hollywood made the cowboy the hero of all heroes. I mean, I have not heard of one occasion where a farmer is presented as the villain of the piece. On the contrary, these days farmers are portrayed as perennial victims, with footloose governments playing into the propaganda of agriculture being part of a country’s defense.
But I’ve known some wonderful farmers in my time.
There was Abdulrahman, a bedouin of the desert, in Saudi Arabia, who tethered his goat herd among the oil derricks, or more to the point, entertained us with his wonderful zest for life while his employees tethered goats. But what a perfect example of a young gentleman he was, only being depressed once, when a Pakistani trader stole one of his goats, which was subsequently found at a market a hundred miles away.
There was his neighbour of sorts, Maged, who I spent many a long evening with, among his camel herd, eating dates piles high with creamy froth from a pale full of camel milk, as well as a few nervous but glorious times bareback on a camel, swaying as the camel drifted up and down dunes into the sunset.
There were reindeer herders too, who taught me two highly unusual facts about reindeer herding. The first, in Mongolia, that if you need to relieve yourself in nature do not do so near a herd of reindeer because they find nothing more tasty, and running away in deep snow, with flies undone, past laughing Mongolian women standing outside yurts, with a pack of reindeer chasing you, will rank very highly on your list of most embarrassing moments. I know. And it is especially embarrassing. There are specific reasons why it is specially embarrassing, but let us just say that being in that exposed condition in the cold with a sudden fright will not present you in the best light. As for women in a same position I would say there would be a fairly high quota of embarrassment too, depending on exactly when the marauding reindeer are discovered.
The second, in northern Finland, is the reverse. The reputed Fly Agaric mushrooms of fairy tales and such, the red ones with white dots, are not in fact poisonous, but rather conducive to a rather pleasant ‘high’, especially when ingested through a reindeer first, which removes the toxins. The reindeer urine is in turn used as a potent brew, thus the stories of of a merry Santa Claus and flying reindeer, say nothing for fairy tales themselves. I am not sure where the Christmas goat then steps in, in Swedish and Finnish lore, but it does.
But if I had a farm I would have ostriches and rhea birds for the excellent meat, and the odd goat for the cheese. My fields would be sown with hemp and bordered with jute, and I would thus be able to sit at sunset pressing my hemp oil and extracting the odd marijuana plant to replace any desires to discover whether the Agaric mushroom is worth sampling or not.
a pirate dream
swapping seas for long grasses
-a trip on land!