Picture: Naicker sisters with their goats.
Age has certainly not been a barrier for three elderly sisters who have stuck together through thick and thin to continue the livestock farm, left behind by their father after he passed.
Meet the Naicker sisters; Pungaamma, 83, Tulsiamma, 81, and Damyanti, 71, who live on their goat farm overlooking Namuka Bay.
Continuing the farm and the experience that comes with it, has taught the sisters independence and strength in sticking together.
On the hill, with a view of Namuka Bay, amongst prairie, roam goats belonging to the Naicker sisters.
Damyanti, a retired school teacher, who spoke on behalf of her sisters, spent her youth teaching. She was once engaged to marry, only to have her dream shattered when her fiancée died.
Pungaamma, a divorcee, has devoted her life to goat farming with the help of their sister Tulsiamma.
The goat farm which started in the 1950’s, was born out of love for a father of 11 children, to his daughter to rebuild her life.
“My sister, Pungaamma after getting divorced from her husband returned home to the loving embrace of our father,” Damyanti said.
“Our father was a locomotive operator for sugarcane. He bought a pair of goats for Pungaamma to start with and she expanded thereafter,” Damyanti said with a smile.
It was not all success, as one who begins a business of any kind knows.
Years after her successful goat venturing, bad luck again seemed to have found Pungaamma when 40 of her goats were stolen from the farm.
“She was devastated and cried for days till our brother who resides in Malomalo bought her another pair of goat,” Damyanti said with sadness in her eyes.
Speaking with much wisdom, she said mishaps happened in life, but one must continue on the course.
“Those lessons prepare us for the world and decisions we make in life make us what we become,” she said.
“We experienced heartache in our personal lives, tough-times with our livestock and hardship living as women at home with no men.”
She added, it was their sisterly love that kept them going and while her sisters did not speak English well, they made it up for it with other talents such as sewing and cooking, which was perfect.
In terms of being independent women, who survived the cruelty of life together, Damyanti said women should not need to depend on men.
“Stand on your own two feet and look at ways you can survive, so when something happens you are ready and can carry on. If we could do it, so can any other women.
“Never look down on yourself, always remember that we are all talented at something and no one is perfect always.”
For Damyanti, after she retired from the civil service she dedicated her time to the farm, rounding up the stock from the hills.
“It is my responsibility and at my age I enjoy it. I know where the goats are and they know my voice. When I call, my voice draws them near from the far places they have roamed,” she said.
“My sisters would be waiting at the shed. I do not want them to go uphill because of their age but they are still strong and sometimes they assist in the rounding up the flock.”
The Naicker sisters’ love for animals dates back to their father when, at that time, they not only kept goats and cattle, but cats and dogs for security and helpers.
“Because we have no men on the farm and in our lives, these dogs and cats keep us company and entertain us daily,” Damyanti said.
Reaching the sisters’ farm is not a comfortable road trip. One wonders how they managed all these years’ with the current farm road they use.
“The road has been our only way to market our goats and we have been stuck with this for years and apart from focusing on the farm and the stock we would be really grateful for one thing and that is to get a proper farm road,” she said.
Today, the sisters’ are looking after a stock of approximately 150 goats and 10 cattle.