“I didn’t decide to farm,” Franelyn Hoffman laughs. “I grew up on tractors. In my standard eight year, my father woke me up one morning during the school holidays and said: ‘Come, I need a driver.'”
She got onto the white CASE with its red stripe and her heart remained in that seat.
Franelyn, or Lollie as those around her call her, grew up on a dryland farm during the seventies. In those years, the Delmas area was in a fertile maize triangle with beautiful harvests and fields. Nowadays it is a different picture: mines and industries have crept closer and disrupted the once thriving farming community.
“I learned about teamwork from my parents; I saw what a husband and wife can do together on a farm,” says Lollie. “It was difficult sometimes, and you could feel the tension when there was mo rain, but then we were always blessed in time.”
In 1994 she married Francois Hoffman and went to live on the farm Goedgedacht, which they bought themselves. “It was hard work to convert a dryland farm to irrigation,” she admits, but the farm’s success testifies that it was a good decision.
“We irrigate maize and soya beans, but also plant these crops on dryland. We supply peas, sweetcorn, and potatoes for the frozen market to companies such as McCain and Nature’s Garden. Furthermore, we also raise broiler chickens.”
Women and men farm together
Where farmer and womanhood overlap, Lollie feels she can speak with authority. “With my parents, I saw how a woman can support her husband, just as I had to stand strong for what was to come.
“My husband went through a very difficult time over the past three years. We experienced severe financial stress. He burned out because of it. I can testify today that burnout can turn into depression and later suicide.”
After the tragedy, she and her four children decided to continue farming and live out the dream she and Francois built together.
“Our farmers – regardless of the language they speak – must be looked after. Farming is in jeopardy and there needs to be a broader understanding of what it takes to put food on the table for a community.”
Her respect for other farmers comes from her own experiences with her husband and father. “Together we toiled, sweated and prayed. I respect men who stand strong in such an environment, because a farmer is not just a person who plants a seed. He is in so many ways a special person that God created. A farmer is a miracle. He must be able to think on his feet and take nature’s extremes into account while providing for his family and employees,” explains Lollie.
Women need to understand the pressure their men are under. A man cannot just walk into the house and be a loving, carefree man. He also needs time to switch off and unwind. “But we have to spur each other on, inspire each other and keep our humanity.
“Women who want to farm must have a passion for it. If you were not born into it and did not grow up farming, start from the bottom. Learn from someone. Put on your veld shoes and get your hands dirty!” she says.
Strong women in a man’s world
“It warmed my heart when the supporting companies came to me to ask whether I was still going to plant this year and how they could assist me; they never doubted me.
“Everyone welcomed me with open arms; there was no discrimination. They had no doubts that my team and I would still deliver the products,” she testifies. CASE was one of those companies that made her feel welcome.
To upgrade the farm, the following equipment was added: CASE MAGNUM 340 and MAGNUM 250 tractors, a 16-row Early Riser 2130 planter, a CASE 3230 sprayer, a JX 95 tractor and a TLB. The 250 was purchased for planting and harrowing, where the 340 will do heavier tillage.
“The 340 is a 254-kW tractor with a high-pressure hydraulic pump that better controls planters and sprayers with hydraulic systems. Both tractors have the ASF signal free for five years. This allows Lollie to manage her fleet better. With the technology, harvester maps are created and stored, and the information is shared with the rest of the implements to promote precision farming,” explains Gerhard Lindeque, VKB Delmas’ CASE representative.
The 340 has a luxurious cabin with a Pro1200 screen.
The new planter will be used in the coming planting season. “It is designed to ensure even and early emergence of the crop. It uses downward force to plant each seed kernel at the right depth and in the right place.
For the first time after my husband’s death, I am excited about where I am because I see the opportunity, but I am not doing it alone. I have a wonderful team behind me,” says Lollie.
Get excited about your farm and special farming with the right equipment! Call +27-11-922-2300 or visit www.caseih.co.za to find out more.