THE LOWDOWN – Off Bim’s back
My daughter, grandson and dogs were out walking recently when a heavenly chorus came upon their ears. And soon they espied a tree festooned with myriad grass canaries doing a spirited fortissimo rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, although in their exuberance they had probably taken it up to Eb. Obviously enjoying every note.
Something wrong here. These little birds, not a PhD among them, live in the same Barbados that we do, experience the same vicissitudes of weather, get no overseas assistance, sow not neither do they reap.
So how can they be showing off such full-bellied delight at a time when maguffies Courtney Blackman, Charlie Skeete, Michael Howard, Peter Boos, Owen Arthur, Clyde Mascoll, Mia Mottley and Bruggadung Boarhog are preaching economic doom and hardship?
Could it be our experts are forgetting Jesus’ message: “Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
Strangely enough, had you passed Morgan Lewis last weekend, you would have heard the resident goat farmer, in no less fortissimo form than his canary neighbours, belting out “All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above”.
Pavarotti would have thrilled at the volume even as he winced at the tone.
For why, Heaven-sent gifts have kept me well fed and watered of late. The usual mother-in-law weekend fare. An exquisite spinach soup from Jamaica Rose. An equally splendiferous pumpkin soup à la pigtail from Grenada Myrna.
And brother Ted sent down some giant gih-to-muh shirts. The sleeves o’erreach my arms by a good foot, the length goes down to my knees. I wear them around with nothing underneath much to the wife’s delight. (Actually she goes “Chicken legs!” in imitation of a popular ad.)
If I am fed and clothed, what more could I ask? A thriving business, of course. And the Book also speaks to that: by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat pork. So it’s a two-edged message: God will provide, but we must do our part.
Let me thank Haynesley Benn for setting me straight on this. I whined about subsidised Government milk underselling mine; he ignored me. Forcing me to become lean and mean and make by business prosper at rock-bottom prices.
Which brings us to today’s topic. We dairy farmers give our animals a two-month rest or “dry” period before they calve or kid to build up resources for the next lactation.
High-producing animals cannot consume enough nutrients to maintain their daily output of milk. So at peak production they are said to “milk off their backs”. Which means they convert stored body reserves into milk. If the dry period has been well managed, this will mean a slight loss of condition, nothing more.
In the mid to latter part of the last century, Barbados enjoyed a similar “dry” period when we built up resources and paid our way in the world. This was done largely through the superhuman efforts of Bajan sugar workers, our real national heroes.
They worked for low wages and this island prospered. We built the port and hospital (I think) out of windfall sugar profits.
Enter a new breed of mamsy-pamsy politicians not brave enough to tell Bajans we have to produce to survive. These squandered our capital and burdened us with foreign debt as they vied with each other to create a freeness mentality – subsidised bus fares, housing, school meals, water, education, health care.
Now many Bajans have gone soft, whining and complaining, neglecting their productive lands, expecting others to deal with their snails and mosquitoes, clean up their garbage. A burst pipe is an excuse to close a school or business. And the NUPW, in the face of economic crisis, wants eight per cent increase for public workers!
Bim, our national cow, has milked off her back for too long. Her condition is poor, no reserves left. Yet we are asking her to give more!
Mr Sinckler, be a man. Tax, trim, cut back, enforce, do whatever is necessary to restore our beloved country. Dr Estwick, get those idle lands now in the hands of selfish speculators back into production to reduce food imports and earn foreign exchange.
Rescue Barbadians trapped in the mine, or rather, mindset, of freeness and negativity.