CHRISTOPHER Pyne’s call for population increase for SA (The Advertiser, yesterday) reminds me of a farmer I once knew.
This chap was very successful; he used to run 800 ewes on his lush pastures and they thrived, producing a good wool clip and great lambs for market. The grass was so plentiful, he rarely needed to provide supplementary feed.
A farm adviser managed to get his ear one day and with the encouragement of the farmer’s son who had returned from higher education, they agreed to increase the ewe numbers to 1000.
The next year they had more lambs to sell and even though they lacked a bit of bloom the net income was a bit higher. Wool production per head slipped but overall there was a meagre gain.
The next year the ewe numbers went to 1100, which led to unfortunate results.
The pastures were very short; more drenching was needed to combat intestinal worms; lambing percentage dropped as did the growth of the lambs – some didn’t make it to market.
The dams could not provide adequate water for the sheep and as the pastures turned to a dust bowl, causing erosion.
The farmer had to resort to buying fodder to sustain his flock.
The once-profitable farm became a burdensome loss.
The old farmer explained to his son that there is a natural limit to most things and ignoring it leads to disaster.
I wonder whether there is a lesson here for the future SA?