Volume 122, Number 41
South Africans experience ND farming & weather
BY SARA J. PLUM
Megan Olson never dreamed she’d be showing people older than her how to make a snowman. Well, the proof is in the picture and the men she helped are novices when it comes to dealing with snow. It’s something they do not see a lot of in South Africa.
Barry de Klerk works for Ron Erickson of Esmond and is from Kameel in the North West Province, which he says is similar to Esmond in size. He is single and farms with his father.
Dawie Herbst is employed in the Esmond area by Robert Arnold and hails from Koppies, Vrystate (or Free State) Province. He is divorced with two daughters, Tarien, age 12 and Hannah, age 8. Dawie also farms back home.
The men are staying in an older home on the Rick and Beth Olson farm. They arrived in April on temporary work visas arranged through an agency called PLUTO, Inc.
PLUTO stands for "Placing Labor in Unique Trade Opportunities." The placement firm has been in operation for seven years providing Midwest farmers and businesses with highly screened seasonal and temporary workers.
Barry and Dawie elected to work with a farmer and were given a choice as to what type of agricultural work they wanted to do. PLUTO, Inc. assisted with the labor certification and Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services application processes.
The workers contract for approximately seven months with the employers, who are named on their visas. If things do not work out at any time during the seven months, the worker goes back to South Africa even though his or her visa has not expired.
This is Barry’s first year in the program and Dawie’s second. In our area there are South African workers in Bowdon, Fessenden, Devils Lake, Harvey and New Rockford. Dawie is aware of a few men who have been coming to North Dakota for the past six years.
When asked to name the first difference they noticed between farm operations here versus South Africa, they didn’t hesitate to say equipment.
American farmers have greater access to larger and more modern equipment.
Another difference they noted was grain storage and drying on individual farms. Major grain cooperatives in South Africa, with elevators all over, provide storage in concrete silos similar to ones at elevators in Harlow and near Leeds. Barry and Dawie estimate silos in South Africa are approximately 50-70′ wide by 200′ tall and each elevator has several of these silos. Farmers haul their grain using double axle wagons pulled by tractors instead of the tractor-trailer or tandem trucks used here.
The average North Dakota farm size, according to the US Department of Agriculture, was 1,283 acres in 2002. In South Africa, farms are anywhere from 1,000 to 7,000 acres, with larger farms diversifying by raising beef, sheep or chickens and employing 30 to 50 people.
There are no farm subsidy programs in South Africa, so, as Barry explained, everything is mortgaged, down to the last wrench and bolt.
With farming such a risky venture, some farmers have developed part of their pasture land into game ranches for extra income. Hunters from the United States and around the world come to hunt the "Big 5" – lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and Cape buffalo. Other farmers are creating a second income by breeding some of these animals in captivity for sale to the game ranches. Currently these practices are being looked at by a panel appointed by the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Among the other differences we talked about was, of course, the opposite growing seasons. We begin planting (hopefully) toward the end of April; they begin in (hopefully) mid-November. The crops they plant are similar, with the main crops in the North West Province being winter wheat, corn, sunflowers, peanuts and cotton. The Free State Province grows corn, sunflowers, winter wheat and soybeans.
Barry and Dawie pointed out that South Africa is, for the most part, a semi-arid country, with the costal areas of the Indian Ocean having a subtropical climate. Average annual rainfall in their part of the country is 10 inches. We receive 15-17 inches. Ideally, farmers there would like to see approximately three to four inches of rain a couple weeks before planting begins.
Their average daily temperature in the winter is 60 degrees for a high and
28 degrees for an overnight low; in the summer, 100 degrees for a high and 60 degrees for a low. When asked how cold the winters get in North Dakota, I told them I didn’t know exact temperature amounts, but the words cold, frigid, shivering, freezing and inhuman are often used from November to March (at least by me).
The men went on to explain that even though the largest crop in South Africa is winter wheat, their main food source from farming is white corn.
This is used to make porridge, a breakfast staple. And if you attend a barbecue, you will most likely be served lamb instead of hamburgers or hot dogs.
The similarities between our countries are many, and yet the differences are greater than we know. In a country that has gone through apartheid, many things are changing.
When asked if they would ever consider moving to the United States, as some of their countrymen are doing, Barry and Dawie were shocked by the question. No matter what the future holds for South Africa, it is home. The land is in their blood. And like any farmer will tell you, once it’s in your blood, no matter where you go or what you do, it’s a part of you forever.
Barry de Klerk, left, and Dawie Herbst, center, enjoyed the Oct. 5 snowstorm by helping Megan Olson build a snowman. It also didn’t take them long to learn how to make snowballs.
Maddock joins NESC
The Northeast Education Services Cooperative (NESC) welcomed a new member at its October meeting. The Maddock School joined the cooperative in a signing ceremony October 12 at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake.
The NESC, formed in January of 2002, now has 17 school districts and two colleges as sponsoring partners. The cooperative permits coordination of education services and provides opportunities for shared and new services for school districts. School districts involved are Adams-Edmore, Bisbee-Egeland, Cando, Dakota Prairie, Devils Lake, Four Winds, Lakota, Langdon, Leeds, Maddock, Minnewaukan, Munich, Rock Lake, Rolette, Starkweather, Warwick and Wolford. Governing board members of the NESC welcome Maddock to the cooperative. Standing, left to right, are Rob Peterson, Rock Lake; Wanda Olson, Cando; David Ambers, Minnewaukan; Sharon Humble, Wolford; Sue Best, Rolette; Ken Dahl, Lakota; and Kay Gravdahl, Warwick. Seated are Steven Peters, Bisbee-Egeland; chairman Keith Nielsen, Starkweather; Chris Lauinger, Maddock; and Maddock School Superintendent Brian Bubach.
Gun safety taught
Members of the Farm & Home Improvement 4-H Club who attended the October 20 meeting are pictured. Left to right, back row: Andy Backstrom, Jordan Backstrom, Levi Slater and Jaden Kallenbach. Third row: Mandy Johnson, Anne Backstrom, Preston Gilderhus and J.T. Rice. Second row: Kimberly Randle, Ben Backstrom, Zach Johnson and Jenae Johnson. Front row: Hailey Kallenbach, Megan Wald, Caleb Johnson, Jakob Schmid and Noah Engels.
The Farm & Home Improvement 4-H Club met at the Maddock Community Center October 20. The meeting featured a hunting theme and a variety of game was served, including Salisbury goose, dressing, goose with rice, two varieties of deer sausage, brownies and apple crisp.
Mandy Johnson, gun coordinator for Benson County, gave a presentation on gun safety, the parts of a gun and told of the Benson County 4-H shooting class which will be held this summer to teach gun basics and safety.
Participants must be eight years old or more. For more information on the shooting class call her at 473-2540.
The next meeting will be November 21 at 7 p.m. at the Maddock Community Center.
Maddock play cast
The cast will compete at the State Class B One-Act Play Competition November 21 at the Mandan High School at 1:45 p.m.Members of the Maddock one-act play cast are, left to right, standing, Erin Markestad, Ashley Duren, Isaac Engels, Andy Rosendahl, Kara Gutormson and Preston Gilderhus.
Seated: Anthony Benson, Thane Solberg, Ashley Finley, Drew Lauinger and Trish Simon.
The Maddock High School won the Region IV One-Act Play Competition in Rugby November 8. The 11-member cast performed the drama The Friends of Julia Dark by Art C. Lennox, earning an ensemble superior acting award as well as the championship plaque (which is currently on display in the Maddock School office). The plot of the play involves a police detective interviewing a group of teenagers about what happened to a friend at a party the night before. The story sends messages about drug abuse and friendship.
Under the direction of English teacher Kathy Sears, the cast of 7th through 12th graders has been practicing up to four times a week since the end of September. Most rehearsals began at 7:15 a.m. so the students had to put in extra effort for the play to come together. This was also the first year Maddock has tried drama instead of comedy, so the serious tone of practices was more challenging.
The judges from Minot State University shared their comments and critiques with the cast. They offered suggestions on how to improve the performance.
All were impressed with Trish Simon’s emotional intensity in her small but vital role, and other actors were commended for their interpretations of the lines.
Five generations of females are pictured with baby Jaylen Anderson in the lap of her great-great-grandmother, Maxine Yri of Leeds. Seated, left, is her mother, April Keller Anderson. Standing on the left is grandmother Wanda Keller of Leeds and standing, right, is great-grandmother Marlys Darling.
In celebration of North Dakota’s 116th birthday on November 2, the eighth grade North Dakota history class at Maddock decorated a cake to represent a topographical map of the state. They also included the major bodies of water, roads and cities (including Maddock). Left to right, front row: Erin Yri, Erin Leier, Sharisa Yri and Kara Kallenbach. Middle row: Matthew Hagen, Mitch Olson and Jason Smith. Back row: Derek Engh, John Sears and Jesse Brandvold.