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THE LOWDOWN: The good Stuart

Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: The good Stuart

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Egbert Laurence Bannister was by all accounts a good steward. He ploughed the fields and scattered the good seed on Morgan Lewis land, bringing forth an hundredfold.
He planted coconut trees up Morgan Lewis Hill and in two rows going to the sea. Even today these afford free provender for the local population and vendors.
He went further and built a dance hall with terrazzo floor not far from the beach where excursioning Barbadians might cavort and hoedown.
Morgan Lewis is a wonderful area. Wild, noisy dirt bikers contrast with more sedate horse riders and hikers of hill and beach who seek quiet reflection.
After Tomas, a new Morgan Lewis phenomenon appeared just east of my land – a fallen 50-foot coconut tree with a strange flat bottom. Closer inspection reveals why. The tree grew on top of Egbert Bannister’s still intact dance floor. With no root system to sustain it, it toppled at first challenge.
I call it the “CARICOM tree” for, like CARICOM, it was based on no true foundation. Now tree and treaty have come crashing down in recent times as politicians finally concede that Caribbean unity (desirable) should not mean Caribbean unification (detestable).
Not far from the CARICOM tree is another place of interest marked by concrete bases which once held some structure. Geologist Bob Speed told me the pull of gravity is extra strong in that area, which is why the Gulf or British Union Oil Company drilled for oil there. It’s not the best spot for parking with your girl unless she is too lively and you want to tone her down a bit.
Morgan Lewis has been a veritable paradise for my family and farm animals. Alas, since the beginning of this year, it has turned into a nightmare. Hence my plea below to our Prime Minister.
Mr Stuart, sir, this is a Christian country. There are those of us who are making a contribution, others who prefer to lime on the block and wait for handouts. My family and I have tried to be good stewards like the Bannisters before us and keep the land in fine fettle.
We produce goat’s milk on which many mothers depend to feed their children. Many males claim it puts new spark and vigour into their recumbent postmasters.
The good Lord enjoins those in power to help the industrious. I pray that you will be so minded.
Sir, I am once again beset with a spate of vicious stray dog attacks. They are mauling and destroying my goats. No longer can I leave the farm on afternoons when they strike or risk to rest. On many occasions my wife and my daughter, who is moderately great with child, have had to rush through hill and gully to try to save animals under attack. We are at our wits’ end.
Another farmer in the area, Mr “How Yuh?” Wilkinson, has apparently lost 25 sheep and the Wildlife Reserve has suffered. The Animal Control Unit can’t do much over such a vast area as their traps are often damaged or stolen.
I have trudged through the hills morning, noon and night to little avail. Meanwhile my farm work is suffering as I have to spend so much time guarding the goats.
Some of the goats attacked have died, some have been badly injured, some pregnant females have aborted. It is not nice. The dogs have sometimes even rushed to attack humans.
Mr Stuart, sir, I am pleading that you send some Defence Force personnel to help us hunt these killers. Maybe this is not the usual role for our armed forces here (it is in Malaysia), but surely the protection of productive enterprises merits unusual consideration.
In related news, we are given to understand that today Thursday will see the Hope-Martin Foundation dog-neutering programme closing its doors. This used a well equipped bus and a staff of trained vets to move around the island neutering dogs for a nominal fee and has been an unbelievable success story, putting a big dent in the stray dog population.
The alternative, terminating unwanted animals with expensive euthansia chemicals, costs Government heavily. We can only hope that this island’s benefactor Mr Tony Martin, who financed the project, can be persuaded to reconsider his decision to withdraw.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.