Other practices on Willemsrivier

Posted on Thu February 25, 2021.

During the time that grandpa Paul and grandma Mieta (married in 1871) was on Willemsrivier with their eleven kids, a sheep was slaughtered every weekday and on Saturday even two. One of the extra sheep was for Sunday. In the case of cattle being slaughtered, it wasn’t even enough for a whole week. Including the family, all of the coloured people that worked on Willemsrivier, also received food out of the house.

The two Jews that had a shop there, also got their portion, while the teachers of the small school ate at grandpa Paul and grandma Mieta. Many a day there were also guests that could enjoy a meal there. During this period from 1900 to 1920 there were approximately 75 white and 150 coloured people living on Willemsrivier.

Grandpa Theunis’ one sister was married to Louis Pienaar, better known as “Red Pienaar”. They were extremely poor and struggled immensely. He was the so-called iron smith on Willemsrivier.

Although he also worked for the MacGregors, and here and there for other people, most of his work was for the Kotzé’s at Willemsrivier. Although Red Pienaar couldn’t make horseshoes himself, he could do a good job of affixing. He also “shortened” all the wagon’s wheels.

This is done when the iron band around the wheel began coming loose as a result of friction. Then the iron band is taken off, made shorter and warmed up. Afterwards it is placed back on the wheel and wet so that it could shrink again for a good fit.

Except for the wheat and the sowing, there was also a offshoot of sheep farming. As a result of all of the jackals the farmers were never without their guns or good dogs with the sheep in the fields.

In those days the focus was mostly the Damara sheep. Grandpa Theunis didn’t have money for for drill holes, so the sheep had to be content with drinking from “fixed waters” in the fields. Luckily the water of the Heiveld is extremely fresh.  

Each Kotzé on Willemsrivier had a different mark for his sheep. This differed from “swallow tail” and one or two “half moons at the back or front”. So each person knew which sheep belonged to whom.

Years ago there was a “mandatory dip” as a result of sheep scab mite that broke out among the sheep. A “hourglass” was used to ensure that the work was done right. Each sheep must be in contact with the dip water for a certain amount of time because it had to be in contact with the medication for a set amount of time.