Farm Hodges Photographs and words from Farm Hodges in northern Namibia.

In Digital Iris
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Early morning

The sun peeks through the bedroom curtains; the slivers of light dance around the room, illuminating dust particles in the air. The faint sound of bleating sheep and lambs can be heard in the distance. Get up, stretch, yawn, and scratch your balls. Daily male routine completed.

A quick breakfast of two eggs, bacon, four slices of bread with a thick coating of margarine just to fuck around with your arteries—the city might not embrace carbs but they are the way of life here. Eat up; you will need all the energy you can get.

Clear, blue skies with the occasional herd of migrating cumulus clouds; fresh, invigorating air; no cellular reception—total disconnection from the digital world. Everything here is analogue.

Time to get the day started.

Mid-morning

First assignment: drive around the farm to find out what needs to be fixed and what needs to be replaced. The solar-powered pumps are acting up—some of them are not working properly; and some of the reservoirs need to have their pumping mechanisms repaired. With some ingenuity you will replace the solar-powered pumps and with a little grunting and swearing the reservoirs will be restored to their full working capacity. All of this will take a while, of course. You are a writer, after all, and your friend is an auditor—the wild does not respect your academic achievements, son. Prepare to sweat it out.

Thank God for those carbs!

Keep a loaded hunting rifle in the back of the Toyota Hilux in case you sight something to shoot. You will see some kudu later on, but your friend with “hunting experience” will shoot at the ground four hundred metres away. He will tell his family and friends that he nearly hit them. “Just missed them by a whisker,” he’ll say.

Yeah, cool story, bro.

No kudu steaks for supper. More driving.

Afternoon

Back at the farmhouse and the sun is at its highest point. It is hot, but the heat is not overwhelming like it will be in the high summer. A slight breeze twirls the reddish-brown sand into small sand devils. A fleeting lunch: Boerewors rolls, fruit, water. A lot of water (slightly brackish but surprisingly refreshing).

And then back to the farm trails. First gear, second gear. “Avoid the muddy ditches. If we get stuck here we’re screwed.”

Rick Ross’s “In Vein and “Sanctified, and Drake’s “Worst Behaviour blare out of the car speakers as you avoid rocks and sly, conniving ditches as best you can. A flock of Guinea fowl look at your passing car and its (attempted) rap crew with obvious disgust.

Second assignment: Take stock of the cattle on the farm. That means fencing off the water points so all the cows are forced to meet at one central point. Once that is done start counting. But count quietly. Some of the calves are skittish around loud numbers..

Three hundred and twenty-four in total. Not bad. Things are looking up.

That’s it for the day. It is time to go home.

“Dude, I swear I nearly hit them,” he keeps saying.

“Of course,” you reply.

Early evening

Return to the farmhouse. Shower? Maybe. But that means waiting for the water tanks to fill up and then you have to get undressed and then—nah, too tired. Showers are for pretty boys. We are farmhands for the weekend. Let’s pretend to be Bear Grylls.

Night

Firewood, firelighters, a braai—lamb chops (bought, not killed), garlic bread (warm, fragrant), some potato salad, and a bottle of Coke passed back and forth. The sparks from the fire dart and flicker into the surrounding night; we are a small island of light in a pool of darkness.

A small moth kamikazes into the flames. Dumbass.

And conversations. About life, about work, about love. About all the things that scare us, the things that excite us, things that we plan on doing, and the things we are doing to get to where want to be. Plans. So many plans. And so many words.

Above us, the hundred pinpricks of light we see in the city become a hundred thousand lanterns floating in the dark. The Milky Way Galaxy stretches its bright, creamy tendrils across the black welkin and shifts three times as we talk late into the night.

“Bro, I promise you. I am sure I could have hit them,” he says.

“I don’t doubt that at all, bro.”

And then silence. An owl breaks the calm, comfortable silence with its angry hiss.

Eventually, Hypnos calls. We answer.

Bedtime. No electricity. There might be spiders plotting your murder in the pitch-black night. Best not to think about them. Ignorance is bliss. (Bliss, strangely enough, lasts all of five minutes before you lose your shit and turn on the flashlight to scour corners and cupboards for murderous arachnids.)

More silence.

And then a drowsy voice says, “I am sure I hit something, dude.”

“Yeah, of course.”

Location: Farm Hodges, Outjo, Namibia.
Photographer: Rémy Ngamije
Author’s note: Many thanks to Josie Kustaa for hosting me for the weekend, driving, and for killing most of the spiders.