“Pieter stood up and stretched gently, trying not to escalate the ache in his ribs to an unbearable pain. The 30 000 Kruger pounds he’d been given should be safe until he could come back for them.
With a sign of relief, Pieter made his way to the barn which housed his covered wagon. Mosiko and Mhlopi arrived and assisted him with inspanning the oxen in preparation for the trek to his brother’s farm which was quite a distance away from any major cities or towns.
We will be safer there.
The other farmworkers were sent to round up his cattle and goats, a tedious task which would take two to three hours.
Pieter checked the yokes, skeis and strops for each pair of oxen. He did not want his animals to be damaged in any way during the journey. Next he checked the trek chain, wooden wheels and spokes and the iron tyres covering the rims of the wheels. He filled the water barrel and hung it under the wagon with the cages filled with chickens.
When he was satisfied that the wagon was ready for the journey, Pieter spoke to his farmworkers: “The British soldiers are coming. Mosiko and Mhlopi will come with me and lead the oxen. Feile and Kleinbooi will help me to drive the cattle. The rest of you must take your women and children and go back to your villages until the danger has passed.”
As he dismissed his farmworkers and told them to travel safely, bitterness burned in his heart like acid.
My farm is lost to me now. It is time for me to assess the future for me and my family.
The wagon was loaded with farm equipment, seeds, kitchen utensils, bedding and clothing. Lastly, Marta and their two little girls, Renette and Suné, wearing their button-up boots and carrying their rag dolls, climbed into the wagon. Mosiko, who assumed the position of voorloper when the family trekked, took his place at the head of the oxen to lead them. Mhlopi, the driver, would walk next to the oxen. Mhlopi cracked his shambok and the heavily-loaded wagon lurched down the rutted track that lead away into the bush veld.
He smiled down reassuringly at Marta from his position on his horse next to the wagon. “Willem and Sannie will be glad to see us. We can help them around their farm until we decide what to do next.”
An extract from A ghost and his gold which explains the meaning of inspanning a team of oxen in historical South Africa. This post was written for Sue Vincent’s weekly photo challenge which you can participate in here: https://scvincent.com/2019/07/04/thursday-photo-prompt-span-writephoto/