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THE LOWDOWN – No udder love


Richard Hoad

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LAST WEEK I mentioned a visit from a USAID team. They were brought here by two sexy female officers from the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme to pick my brains on likely enterprises for our youth.
It seems USAID is willing to donate funds for youths to set themselves up in business. Our youth scheme would identify suitable youths and enterprises.
I can think of several enterprises just waiting to be entrepreneured. For instance, cellphone keepers. If parents feel the need to maintain contact to and from school but cellphones are banned on school premises, why not have an efficient cellphone keeper outside each school in a container with labelled compartments? Plonk down your phone, get a receipt, collect after school.
With a roll of say, 1 200 and 25 cents per day per phone, a keeper could earn a cool $300 a day. And satisfy the wishes of school, children and parents.
What about Drawing Board Transporter? After every match Chris Gayle has to get back to the drawing board. Wouldn’t it be nice to have it carried around for him?
Unfortunately, my visitors wanted possible youth projects in agriculture. Which engulfed me in deep sadness. For, after 46 years as a professional agriculturalist, I was hard put to identify careers for budding farmers. Keep a few pigs? Broilers or layers?
Today’s land prices rule out field agriculture. They couldn’t pay back their loan in a million years by growing crops other than illegal drugs.
“What about goat dairying?” they wanted to know. The enthusiasm surged. I could see a youngster milking ten does before school, selling flavoured milks, suck-a-bubbies, yoghurt, cheese.
Greenland could train and provide animals for such youth to later become full-fledged farmers. Barbados could become the goat milk capital of the West Indies. I have already on occasion supplied milk to Antigua. Some recently went to New York.
Then the reality hit me. None of us can understand what Greenland is trying to do. No research results have I seen from there except a paper by Jerry Thomas in favour of Toggenburgs. Why would Government want to operate a purely commercial enterprise to sell goat’s milk at uneconomic prices?
The nice lady in charge did show me their milking parlour and gave the impression they intend to expand, but that was all.
We have tried to develop year-round production. You have to, if you’re supplying mothers with babies. Greenland apparently breeds all their animals at one time, disappears from the market for three or four months. And then Wham! The supermarket shelves are stocked with Greenland milk at give-away prices.
Goat’s milk is a small niche market. But customers who want it are likely to do all their shopping at supermarkets where it is available. So supermarkets have been begging us to supply more.
My wife thought that by making sure all outlets got some each week, they would stick with us when Greenland’s cheap milk came on stream.
Many didn’t. We were supplying Carlton, for instance, with 260 to 290 pints per week. (Their lady actually asked us to bring 450.) Without notice our order was cut to 80 pints to accommodate Greenland.
My wife felt she had been kicked in the guts. And, to show they still loved us, they sent her next day a nice birthday card with a classic Andrew Bynoe poem:
Picture the water flows/ that grow/ from pit pats/ in a bowl/ to a shoal/ spiralling like rings aged in wood/ as they fall/ pit pat.
Which inspired my less noble offering: Do, Mr B, God bless my soul/ picture the milk/ we must throw in a hole./ Week after week/ St Stephen’s traffic bad/ we brought you milk/ to make you glad./ Ask your cashiers in these times of grief/ who buys most of your local beef./ Now while you slumber to some lullaby/ I sit and watch a good woman cry./ Devastated. Pit pat . . . .
My visitors’ final question: “Mr Hoad, you work all day, every day. No social life. What possible attraction could that have for a youth?”
“Breasts. It’s about the only occupation where a fellow can handle 60 shapely pairs twice a day. And his wife won’t object.”
* Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.

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