Tag: rural living

Jangali Redux: The Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree Edition


Last year, on the thirteenth anniversary of my Dad’s death, I posted the story of Jangali 1947, the annual cattle-tax roundup conducted by the newly-assigned colonial officers in the Nigerian bush. Having arrived in Nigeria several months previous and been assigned the task, Dad didn’t waste any time imprinting the process with his own unique signature. As Sir Brian Sharwood Smith put it, in his memoir of his time in Nigeria, But Always as Friends–Northern Nigeria and the Cameroons 1921-1957 (emphasis mine):

The man I chose [to supervise the Sokoto Survey] was a newly joined officer named David Muffett. David was a very large man with an original turn of mind and an inexhaustible fund of energy. He had already achieved prominence by applying a novel technique to the lengthy and exhausting business of supervising the wet season cattle count on which the jangali tax was based. By long established tradition this annual contest between the District Heads, who assessed and collected the tax, helped on occasion by the [District Officer], and the nomad cattle owners, who sought to evade it, had acquired many of the characteristics of an international sporting event. There were rules and a ritual. If the District Head ran his quarry to earth, the Fulani paid up with good grace; if the Fulani contrived to spirit away a few hundred head undetected, there were no hard words. The odds on the whole were pretty evenly balanced, for to counterbalance the mobility of the mounted NA officials, there were large tracts of uninhabited bush in which the cattle could be concealed, and the control of the Fulani over their herds verged on the uncanny. But when David Muffett started chasing cattle across country in his Land Rover, a type of vehicle then barely known in Nigeria, the purists raised their eyebrows.  And many herds crossed over into Niger Province where they felt that they would be accorded more gentlemanly treatment.

The Joys of Rural Living: Water Filter Edition


I am so disgustingly pleased with myself that, were it any later than 10:30 a.m., I’d be pouring myself a drink and chilling out in the hot tub. (Oh dear. The little man who lives on my shoulder and repeatedly whispers into my ear–usually at very inopportune moments such as this–“Remember, thou art mortal,” has just pointed out to me that I don’t actually have a hot tub. Note to self: I need to get cracking on that very good idea I had (and mentioned at least glancingly in a post some years ago, I think), that I ought to be able to do something with the barn manure, an old stock tank, and the overflow from one of the rain-barrels, to remedy that problem).

Speaking of which, I read the other day that, in these restrictive days of lockdown, rich people who normally wouldn’t be caught dead chillin’ with Nous Deplorables in Tractor Supply or Rural King are buying stock tanks up in droves as accent pieces and ersatz “pools” for their patios and backyards. LOL. Levi had this figured out about a decade ago:

Entertaining Angels: The Lamb in the Living Room


I’ve written on this theme a couple of times before–Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” That’s pretty much an ironclad rule for me, and although I can’t say I bat a thousand, my average when I get to the plate is high enough to make it worth my while. (Note well that in the foregoing sentence, She finally deploys a sports analogy, correctly, coherently, and consistently. Or so She believes. Perhaps there really is a first time for everything. If I messed it up somehow, please don’t burst my bubble.)

Today’s little angel entered my life last night. I was winding down and had donned my PJs, when I remembered that I’d forgotten to feed our two outside cats. So I took some Cat Chow outside, and as I was filling up their food and water bowls, I heard a terrified-sounding little voice floating up at me from the barn.

It takes a while, if you have sheep (or probably any livestock), but after a few go-rounds, you can actually distinguish the brand-spanky new lamb bleat from yesterday’s, or last week’s, brand-spanky new lamb bleat. There really is a difference, and when there’s a new one, you need to check. And pretty soon you find that you can distinguish the “I’m a happy little lamb with a loving mom, and lots of yummy milk!” conversation (the mother usually responds, quietly, with what’s sometimes called a ‘nicker’), from the “I’m OK, but I’m lost and I can’t find Mom anywhere, please help!” rather panicky-sounding little noises (usually accompanied by great bellows from the equally distraught mother), from the “I’m in real trouble, and perhaps getting a bit desperate” fading and terribly sad little sound with no response at all.