The Farm, Laikipia
Outside the nightjars were calling and a zebra brayed in the valley. The constellations were still bright as the dogs all piled into the Landcruiser with me for the drive out to the yards. During two years of drought we’ve been unable to sell cattle, which have cost us a fortune in hay, silage and feed. After the rains came at last in April, green grass sprouted across the farm until the pastures waved like wheat on the plains, fattening the livestock and returning life to the way it used to be. At the crush I busied about the scales as cowhands arrived, twirling their cattle sticks and stamping their feet against the chill of the dawn.
Weighing cattle is always a big to-do and the burly figure of Leshoomo, our head stockman, strode up, set down his rifle and directed everybody to their places as we waited for the work to begin. We put 50 kilo bags on the scales to test their accuracy and then the men amused themselves by weighing each other. Incredibly fit but very thin, most of them were about two-thirds of my weight. Leshoomo was about the same as me but he’s all muscle.
Then up the hill came the herds, cows lowing for their calves, bulls bellowing, herders whistling. In swirls of dust they came in, all humps and dewlaps, the rumble of their hooves on hard ground. For me there are few things more exciting on the farm than a morning like this, with the gathering of cattle in the yards.
We were looking for steers and cull cows ready to sell at last, but all of them had to be weighed.