“There’s nothing like putting your bare feet into fresh cow dung on a cold day. It’s great “
Makhaya Ntini – first ethnically black cricketer to play for South Africa
In a previous blog I wrote about constant renewal using lessons from the farm and I now have another ‘farm story’ from my childhood.
One of my jobs was to ‘pen up the calf’ each evening. This was done so that when my father milked the calf’s mother in the morning it would have enough milk to collect for our growing family of four boys. Rounding up the calf each evening was often a challenge. Regularly the calf would be cunning and refuse to go through the gate to be penned up.
The cow paddock was also a world of excitement for young boys. A creek to cross, dive bombing plovers in mating season, the odd angry bull, a mob of kangaroos with joeys, snakes……….
What a challenge!
However, the paddock other dangers. Yes, it was full of ‘land mines’ (our nickname for cow manure) — ranging from the very fresh to the dry and dusty.
It was fun to trick my youngest brother. He sometimes followed me around on my afternoon chores. On one of his first adventures into the paddock with me to pen up the calf for the night I encouraged him to jump on a week-old cow pat. Not being entirely convinced, he tapped it with a stick. It sounded hard so he then, with my encouragement jumped on it.
Two things happened.
Firstly, he was shin deep in cow manure and secondly, I doubled up with laughter — apparently the look on my brother’s face said it all. What a mean older brother. I certainly had some explaining to do to my mother when we got home.
The cow paddock in many ways was a great learning ground for a life in business. It was a very practical lesson –
‘what you see is not always what you get’
Are you careful enough in assessing opportunities and problems which are your land mines?
Are they what they seem on the surface?