Sally and I arrive at the farm twenty minutes before the team and we discuss the #AFCAids goat multiplication center she houses for us. Each goat I see looks great…friendly, happy, healthy. It is good to see names I recognize and to see all the babies prancing around. Thando, the man who oversees the care of the goats, walks towards us and says that one goat, Goosie, has likely lost her baby before she gave birth. His face is calm, but he is concerned, so the three of us walk over to check her out. I stand back, watching Sally and Thando at work and observe how gently they handle Goosie, yet how knowledgeable they are. The udder has dried up and while Goosie seems to want to push, she is exhausted and nothing happens. A quick call to the vet let’s them know what medicine to give the first-time mama and we wait.
The van appears with the team, winding up the long lane to the farm house. With breathtaking views, this is not what most of them expected but they quickly settle in for a tour and their assignments. Some of us are sent to a greenhouse to pick out leftover lettuce that will be fed to the animals because the market for lettuce is weak at this time of the year, and to pull out old broccoli plants that were already harvested. The rest go to an open garden to clear it of old plants. With sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and water bottles, we split up and tackle our jobs, while Eric designs a duplex for the two AFCA staff here, Thando and Keith, so they can bring their families to live in the farm with them.
Ripping out old plants is no joke! Ripping out plants from a massive greenhouse is REALLY not a joke. We pull them out, toss into plastic crates and carry them to various animal pens, with a stray sheep finding me before I get to her pen, eagerly chewing anything that I drop. We take turns carrying the heavy crates, but it is hard work, nonetheless. The ripping hurts my shoulder but I figure I can either do my shoulder exercises and cry or I can pull plants and carry crates. Either way, I am working it and that must be good, right?
Lunch break doesn’t come soon enough and we all drop whatever we are holding the minute lunch is called. Tired kids eat and clump together for a nap while I trudge back to move more veggies to the animals, who seem to be as happy as I have ever seen sheep, pigs and goats to be. As I work alone, I think of this team, which consists mostly of teenagers. These are privileged kids, proven by the very fact that they are here today. Yet, I have not heard a single complaint out of any of them. They take turns washing dishes, they work on any project given to them, they play hard and laugh harder. They have become friends and are sharing a beautiful adventure together that will make them even more grateful for all they have, I hope. They have worked side by side with local kids, forming friendships there, as well. It has been beautiful to watch them include each other in everything, never leaving one out, unless the one needs a break. I would travel with any of these folks again.
Jen, Hae and Eric are seasoned travelers, volunteering with various charities, both locally and internationally. What a joy to have them on this team, as well! We tell stories, share food, wine, and laughs, while keeping an eye on the younger ones and shaking our heads at their energy.
As dinner is served later, a very tired Sally arrives home, having helped Thando with Goosie’s delivery of her stillborn kid. She gives me a report, saying the kid was breech and large, stuck in the birth canal. Goosie is exhausted but they have done all they can for her, including a serious dose of antibiotics. She feels the goat will be fine, as Thando is with her tonight, keeping an eye on her.