When Nue Pitout told me how and why she started this business in 2013 of rearing dairy cross beef calves and selling them at 4 months old, her story immediately resonated and will probably resonate with many other South African parents who are on the brink of sending a child to a private high school. Nue started this business so that she could pay for her kids education!
I’m never sure how to take it, but whenever I speak to adults who have already put their children through private boarding schools in South Africa, they all say much the same, ‘You will find a way to do it.’ And that’s it! No advice about how to do it, no reassurance that it’s not that bad…only that time flies and that it absolutely will be very hard! You realise quickly that you should have started saving your pocket money from when you were 18 years old to be able afford a good South African education for your unborn children and only ‘you’ can find a way to do it!
This is the beauty of a ‘big, expensive problem.’ There is no time like now to find a solution and to persevere with it, because that is the only way you are going to do it. No-one is going to do it for you. And whatever it is that you decide to do, the beginning of the journey is often a humble start…but the determination is fierce and there is only one way that you can afford to do this and that is to succeed, one step at a time.
Nue started her journey with just two calves. She initially used the garage as the new calf-rearing boarding establishment. The next season, she increased her numbers to 4, then 6, then 20 and now she is up to rearing 160 calves at one time!
This a story of growth, perseverance, the willingness to learn and humble beginnings. Through Nue, I hope to learn more about how to ‘begin’ a farming business, to learn about her challenges, her successes and failures and of course, the business of rearing calves.
I have spent just one morning at Just Love Calves (Pty) Ltd at Twyford Farm and I think this is a particularly uplifting and ‘practical/how to do it’ themed journey.
Another exciting and encouraging aspect to this story is that Nue has grown her business to a point that she needs help. Up until a year ago, she did everything herself. Thanks to the Harry Gwala Agri Student program and the Harry Gwala Agri sponsors Pannar Seed, Nue has taken on 2 incredible and determined TVET agricultural students, Mbali Hadebe and Andiswe Madiba who are in their final year of studying ‘farm management’ and who are getting their onsite practical experience at Twyford Farm.
There are many parts of Nue’s story that I find inspiring, but for me, I admire how there is a theme of empowerment here and working together and supporting each other to achieve their dreams. As Nue grows and learns more about her business, at the same time, she is giving that very same opportunity to other women and developing farmers who want to start their farming journey. For Nue, it’s also about the joy and purpose she feels when doing this work, of nurturing young animals and helping them grow into healthy heifers and bulls, then selling them on. And last but not least, because of what she has started and grown, she can give her children a good education, she can give them wings!
Lianne Ashton Photography©2022
About Lianne Ashton
Lianne is a photographer based in KZN, South Africa. Her work mostly focuses on agriculture, in particular – the human element of agriculture. She creates people-centric photography for organisations and businesses, capturing the processes of an operation and the people in their work environment
Lianne has an agricultural background and is knowledgeable of a number of agricultural industries. Her understanding of agriculture and approachable and flexible nature enables her to connect easily with her clients and the people she is photographing, helping her capture and create authentic and uplifting imagery.