How to make your country property safe and secure.
Living anywhere in South Africa, with its high crime rate and large incidence of violent crime, we are used to always being careful, alert and aware of danger. But living out in the country has its own dangers which are often not as conspicuous as crime.
Crime still remains a threat anywhere in the world, but living in a low density area makes it sometimes a bit more dangerous as criminals often come to quieter areas to carry out crimes. The same rules apply in the country to living in the city when it comes to crime – ‘make your property harder to get into than the next persons’. My husband has done a great job securing our property against criminals, with 2 electric fences as well as palisade fencing which is very difficult to climb. Electric storms striking the gate energisers and other everyday problems means that maintenance of your security systems is very important.
Another good deterrent is to start a neighbourhood watch where you and your neighbours patrol the area at certain times looking for suspicious behaviour and notifying the police. It could be as easy as keeping your eyes peeled while waling your dog or driving in and out of your area. If criminals know that the community is not passive but actively doing something to stop the crime and looking out for one another, they will normally move off to another area.
Snakes are another big threat living out in the country, and we have learnt not to walk around carelessly, especially in summer, after finding 6 snakes in our garden in just one season! With more than 2500 types of snakes in the world, it is impossible to discuss them all here. So it is a good idea to find out which snakes are found in your area, whether or not they are venomous, and what to do should you be bitten. It is also important to know where to take the snake bite victim in order to get anti-venom. If you know the snakes in your area, you will be able to identify which one bit you which is important to know when going to the hospital for anti-venom.
Our biggest threat from snakes comes from the Rinkhuls – a venomous member of the cobra family which is grey or brown on top and has black and white bands on his underside. This snake grows to anywhere up to 1,5 m long and gives birth to up to 60 live young in the late summer. Our dogs are the best snake finders out here and are always alerting us to the where-abouts of a new snake on the property. Once they have been spotted we prefer to get rid of them immediately so they do not have the chance to mate and have babies on the property. This is usually done with a spade or rake. You need to wear gum-boots and protective eye-wear when approaching a snake of this kind so that you are not affected by its venom.
The snakes come onto the property looking for water and food so it is a good idea to deal with your rat and mice problem at the same time in order to avoid too many close encounters with the venomous kind.
My first snake kill was quite nerve wreching, but now that I know what to do, and that even a girl can do it – I feel much better, and is a necessity when your animals or small children are at risk from these reptiles.
Wild dogs, jackals and other predators
Wild dogs, jackals and other large predators are always a threat when you keep livestock on your property. We have had the unfortunate experience of having some of our sheep killed by wild dogs which got through our fences and onto our property one night. Although these animals are not dangerous to people, they can cause great damage to a flock of sheep or cows and so it is very important to have your animals safely behind good fences. Building new and emergency fences is a constant pass-time on a farm and you need to take the time to make sure they are secure, high enough and can’t be dug or pushed under. Constant maintenance is needed to keep your fences strong and in working order and since most of these predators hunt at night, it is also important to keep your animals in a very safe place at night. We keep ours in shelters in our farm yard and have geese in the farm yard which act as very good alarms should any unwanted predators come around at night.
Your own personal dogs can also be a big threat to your livestock and should be kept away from your herds and flocks if they are not trained to be with farm animals as they have a natural hunting instinct which could kick in and cause harm to your animals.