Beautiful blue butterflies twirl around in colourful circles. Fresh floral leaves drop down from tall dancing trees which sway delightfully to a light rustling wind carrying sweet tantalizing smells. The birds can be heard pouring out their early morning melodies in the small woodland nearby. Beams of golden light burst through the green foliage at the canopy and give the ground below just a peek of brightness. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t help whistling. I tread carefully creating my own rhythm as I let each foot sink into the bed of dry leaves and branches on the ground.
This is the reward for each morning of hard labour on the farm that begins at 4:30 a.m when the shrill piercing sound of the alarm clock invades the silent night instantly awaking me from my slumber. It’s time to milk the cows or else the milk will ‘evaporate’ as they say. The moon is out and gives me confidence to walk in the lifeless night. The only sounds are the hooting of an owl somewhere or crickets chirping plus the thud of my boots as I scamper downhill. In 20 minutes, I am at the farm gate draped in a heavy jacket, warm khaki pants, rubber boots to protect my ‘tender’ feet from the dew and wielding a herding stick and a LED flashlight. The two herdsmen are already up, just waiting for me to start off the day. Quickly we fetch the pails and milking salve cream and the drops of milk accumulate into litres with each pull at the cows’ teats. The stubborn ones are milked from the crush. Within an hour we are done with milking and feeding the calves that still take milk. Then the bulk of it is sold to the community around. By this time, the sun is starting to rise from beyond the horizon creating a sight to behold.
As the first glimpses of daylight appear, we set the herd off into the grazing paddock for the day. It’s a fresh paddock. One that hasn’t been used in a week and the excitement is evident on each cow’s face; fresh sprouted grass. If any of them stays behind or walks sluggishly, the simple deduction is that it is sick and the veterinary doc is called straight away. Fetching water from the nearby stream to fill the 1600 litre trough (80 jerry cans) is the last and also the toughest of the morning labours. This has to be done early before the sun is out to intensify the job. It is after this task that come the reward I speak of; the short quiet walks in the pastures and woodlands soaking in the beauty of this part of the world from which I derive a lot of pleasure.
The stream, full to its brim because of the November rains, happens to run faster at the eastern edge of the farm. It is a calm constant flow that you hardly imagine drying up in the dry season when the heavens are mean with rain and the dry grass is tasteless to the cows. The sun rises higher and forces me to think of returning home. The emptiness of my stomach has begun to make it churn. A few minutes after nine, I’m homebound with a bucket of milk in hand for a hearty breakfast.
Deep in my mind, I know this is pure bliss. Deep in my mind, I know that these are beautiful days. Yet these are but the exceptional days that I enjoy on the sojourns to my village Bushenyi, the place of my father’s birth, which never last more than two weeks. For the rest of the year, I must bear the buzz and rush of the capital.
Bushenyi shall be my permanent home some day.