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Andries knows his Merino's

Andries knows his Merino's

In Carnarvon there is a man who truly loves his Merino's and believes that they herald the coming of rain, by shaking their bodies as though they are wet. In spite of numerous setbacks, he is enthusiastic about the future and excited at the prospect of leaving his farming to his son one day.

Andries Maletha (78), who farms on the Carnarvon commonage, reckons that time is not on his side. "I'm afraid I will be called away too soon." He would love to be about five years younger and wishes he had known about the Konsortium-Merino long ago, because they are definitely going to improve his Merino's bodies.

During the past five years, Andries' Merino flock was almost completely decimated by dogs and stock thieves. Gawie van Wyk, of the NWGA in Carnarvon, approached Konsortium-Merino to donate a few sheep to help Andries to get his farming up and running again. He positively glows when talking about his Konsortium ram and five ewes and his gratitude is evident when he says that this is the greatest gift he has ever received.

Andries was born on the farm Bloufontein, belonging to Abie Cloete, Carnarvon. He had no formal schooling but as a small boy, he learnt to keep his eyes and ears open. It was Abie who taught him about Merino sheep.

He tells how he started off farming with goats, but found them too troublesome for his liking. He swapped them for 20 draft Merino ewes. When he retired in 2006, he moved to town. He took his love and knowledge of the Merino with him. He hired the commonage and bought about 40 Merino's with money loaned from the Landbank.

Andries is very proud of his Springbuck head and is a true shepherd. He always carries his binoculars with him in the veldt and believes you have to be very alert. "I see my sheep every day. They can't talk, but they can show me that they are unhappy or that their food is finished."

Andries says that his sheep taught him a lot. They tell him how far-off the rain is and they work sparingly with the veldt - they don't eat off all the new young plants. "The Merino is a clever animal. It is because of them that people build tar roads and drive smart cars." He is convinced that Merino's look happy when the rain is on the way.

His ideal Merino must be "square - well built with nice, long medium wool." He likes fine body pleats, but acknowledges the fact that this type doesn't do as well as the new Merino. When asked what he liked about the Konsortium-Merino he was quick to reply: "I like their soft wool and nice bodies. They have a lot of meat and a lively attitude."

He says that Keith Coetzee, of BKB, classes his sheep and that he has full confidence in him. His previous ram was one from Stefan Naude. He is glad that he got hold of a different ram, because "the blood must mix."

Andries eagerly shows his sheep at the Carnarvon show. The last four years he has done well and won enough prize money. When he does come second, he loves to tease the winner:  "I 'll be waiting for you next year!"

He hopes he will be around long enough to see his son take over the farming. His wise words about this subject are: "He must take over the farming if he wants to, because every person has their own way of doing things." Until that day, he will do his bit and attend to his Merino's every day. Konsortium-Merino wishes him luck with his sheep farming. May his love for his Merino's be an inspiration to other Merino farmers

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