My parents ‘had a farm in Africa at the foot of the….’ Outeniqua Mountains!
I look at photographs from that time and I smile. These were city people who began farming. They farmed hops, tangerines, sheep and cattle. And they ended up with a menagerie of all kinds of pets.
Foxy was a black and white crow that decided that our farm was definitely the place to be. And Foxy spoke. Not only that, but he swore like I’ve never heard before! There is that saying: He swore like a trooper! Foxy made a trooper’s language seem polite! And his timing was so utterly impeccable. Mum and Dad would be having this really smart dinner party. This meant using the Camilla Copeland Spode china, the pure silver cutlery, the beautiful table cloths and napkins handed down from Mum’s grandmother. Foxy would wait until the starter was finished and people were well into their main course with wine and laughter flowing. Then he would stand on the chimney which led directly into the dining room and hurl these obscene comments down. “Jy blerrie #€**#< $€#%~*#. You get the drift! The visitors would look with shocked faces around the table to see who was uttering such…such filth. And Foxy would give this knowing chuckle and continue. Dad would have to go outside to where he could see Foxy literally dancing from foot to foot on the chimney as his performance continued.
“Foxy, that is enough!” my Dad said in Afrikaans. “Go away! Voetsek!” (Translation: Bu**er off!)
My Dad’s mum came to stay on the farm for a while. Gran used to love to plant little seedlings. You would see this very nimble 88 year old woman, trowel in hand, kneeling on the ground and moving slowly around the flower bed as she pushed baby pansies into the earth. She was unaware that as fast as she was putting them into the ground, Foxy was quietly taking them out and placing them neatly on the grass. When my gran had finally finished planting her 24th green plant, she slowly got to her feet, brushed off her skirt and turned back with a sigh of satisfaction to survey her handiwork. Foxy also turned back to look with equal satisfaction!
Foxy used to watch the flight of crows overhead with longing. One day he bought another black crow to the farm with him. He seemed to preen in her presence and almost seemed to be showing her where he lived. It obviously didn’t match up to her expectations because the two of them took to the air and left.
About six weeks later, we heard his voice swearing with joyful abandon from the fir tree outside the kitchen. Foxy was back! The word quickly spread on the farm that Foxy had returned. The workers left what they were doing and they crowded underneath the tree laughing and calling to Foxy. He didn’t disappoint us that day. He kept his verbal antics up for about an hour and a half. Then he flew down from the tree to where my Dad was standing. “Hey there, Foxy!” my Dad said fondly.
“Jy” groot poopal!” he answered. (Translation: You big poop!) He allowed Dad to rub him above his beak. Then he took to he air. He circled the house once, gave two swoops and that was the last we ever saw of that wonderful crow with the obnoxious and colourful tongue.