Home » Industry » The Day Father Christmas Visits Farms!

Having lived on farms for a long time I consider myself to be knowledgeable about what goes on there year after year. One of the issues is that farm workers are left out when it comes to public holidays like Christmas and New Year among others.

Unlike employees in other sectors, farm workers adhere to agricultural holidays that exclude some public holidays.

As a result farm workers enjoy fewer holidays than workers in any other industry. I have not established the reason behind the agriculture holidays and how they came about.

If there is somewhere out there that knows the reason why this is so please fill me in, I would greatly appreciate it.

Not many formal businesses operate on December 25 because most people will be partying, wining and dining all day long.

It is a time to celebrate and enjoy. It is a time marked by parties and family gatherings. It is a day that is celebrated widely across the world by Christians and non-Christians alike but in most cases farm workers do not partake in this merry making.

I was fortunate that at the farm where I grew up there were two very big villas with marvellous thatching, beautiful swimming pools and tennis courts.

We had horses, bicycles and toy guns to play with. It was as if Father Christmas came to the farm every year on Christmas Day, but he only came to the two big houses and never went to the workers houses in the compounds.

I always felt that Father Christmas was a little unfair because it is those kids in the compound that needed him most for their parents could not afford presents and lavish dinners and parties for them, while the farm owner and his manager and their families had all they wanted.

My father was a tobacco man, my grandfather was a dairy man and I am a horticulturist and almost all my Christmas holidays are spent at the family farm in Chivhu.

I normally follow the same routine. I always wake up every Christmas morning and make sure the dairy cows are milked, the chickens are fed, the goats and sheep are taken out to the pasture by the farm workers.

I assign all of them duties accordingly before I leave for the Christmas service at the local church.

I always give my offering at church and ask the Lord for guidance on the next season and then wait desperately for the service to end so that we can go back home to partake of the food and drinks with my friends and relatives knowing that the farm is taken care of.

Meanwhile, the farm workers to whom I have assigned duties are the ones that have the least enjoyable day because they have to stay out on the farm all day doing various tasks.

I remember one incident when I was young when it rained on the morning of Christmas day and two tractors were sent to the farm compound to pick up all the workers because it was time to plant tobacco and everybody had to be there.

A road that passed by our house was blocked so the tractors had to take another route so my family and some of our friends had a decent Christmas Day while others spent the whole day planting in the fields.

I therefore understand the bitterness of evicted farmers because I have lived their lives all my life — life on the farms is just too good! Even in America and Europe, farming is not as good and fulfilling as it is in Zimbabwe.

It is unfortunate though that even on Christmas Day, the dairy cows have to be milked and someone has got to do it.

The horses and pigs, the chickens and the ducks have to be attended to and the tobacco seedbed must be watered.

If you have greenhouses, those tensiometers must be checked, pH levels counted because pests and diseases do not know that there is a holiday they have to be monitored.

There are a lot of expected tasks and accomplishments from farmers and their workers even on Christmas Day, we need to acknowledge that.

There is no way we can run away from that fact that work has to be done Christmas or not but as farm owners we can make it a memorable day by just planning well and ensuring that Father Christmas also passes through the houses of our workers as well.

Most of their houses have no chimneys but we can find a way of dropping off something for them.

It does not have to be very expensive pieces because at the end of the day it is the thought behind the gift that counts not the actual act.

I know I will not be able to stop the rains on Christmas Day but I urge you to plan this year, to ensure that our workers, who are key to the successful running of our farms, also partake in the Christmas spirit.

Let us do as much as we can now to try and ensure that Christmas Day is less busy so that everyone enjoys the day.

My wife gave our workers bags of fertiliser to take to their rural homes as presents last Christmas.

The workers are still talking glowingly about this gesture even though it is something that happened last year.

It is something that has remained etched in their minds and it was greater than beer and meat, which they could have eaten in a day.

I have decided to ensure that during this Christmas holiday Father Christmas will visit each and every one of my employees.

It is something most farm workers would never ever imagine but if we join forces and appreciate the value of our workers this season – we might just bring smiles on many faces if Father Christmas visits our workers’ homes in the coming Christmas Day!

Feed your donkeys and ducks but do not forget to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Evans Zininga is an agronomist by profession. He sits on the board of Animal Farm Consultancy (Pvt) Ltd he is a past national board member of SOFECSA –a University of Zimbabwe innovation platform for farmers in Zimbabwe. He writes for the Farmer’s Magazine — a column called Agri-Business Forum. He brings a lot of experience in research, development and project management. He has now been appointed Managing Director of the Zanu-PF Youth League and Lasch Enterprises PL Joint Venture. The Joint Venture Management can be contacted on 04-668773 or info@laschjv.co.zw. Website: www.laschjv.co.zw .

Source : The Herald