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The day a dairy’s hearl stops beating

My father’s brother, Karel van der Berg, has been farming on the farm Charlottenburg between Bloemfontein and Verkeerdevlei for the past 45 years. On this very farm, among the red grass on the western side of a rocky ridge, lies my father’s grave.

If I retrace my steps, all the way to my earliest memories, I go back to Oom Karel in his dairy. He picks me up so I can see how a dam of white creaminess is stirred in a large, shiny tank.

But in November last year Oom Karel had to shut down the dairy. Not that he wanted to. Even though he has 75 summers behind him, he’s still quick on his feet, and if you do the same thing every day for 45 years, it’s not easy to stop all of a sudden. How would you know what to do the next day?

“I don’t know,” says Oom Karel, sitting at the head of the long

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