A complicated application process in South Africa, at a company that helps South African people find work in the United States, brought Gerhardus Venter to MacFarlane Pheasants. He lives here with nine other men from various parts of South Africa, and will be here for 10 months. All of the men will return to their homeland on January 15, 2018.
Gerhardus worked in a farming town in Malalane, Mpumalanga, South Africa, farming tropical fruits and sugar cane for 12-15 hours a day, before he came to MacFarlane Pheasants. “I lived a plain life, working my days away to create a better future,” he said.
Gerhardus proudly described his home town. He told us that the Kruger National Park is less than 2 miles from his home in South Africa. This park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 7,523 miles, in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in North Eastern South Africa. Another interesting piece of information Gerhardus shared is that the park was first protected by the South African Republic government in 1898. It became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
On our pheasant farm in Janesville, WI, Gerhardus works from 5:30-2:30 each day. He has learned to peep birds and also how to set up pens and care for birds in the pens. Obviously, the shorter hours and completely different kind of work are the most significant changes in his work life. Gerhardus also mentioned that there is a major difference in currency between the two countries, which affects the pay. The dollar currency in South Africa is the rand. One South African rand equals 0.078 of a US dollar.
Another difference in daily life between Gerhardus' home country and Janesville, WI is that because he works less hours here, he has more spare time. “All the people and environment are different so it feels like a new world,” he said. He has lived in the same town (population 3500) his whole life and says it feels good to get away from his normal life where everything is the same day after day. He misses his mother’s cooking but has found a new favorite food in Janesville-cheese curds! He is also looking forward to seeing snow for the first time.
It is such a pleasure to learn about one of our newest employees, Gerhardus Venter and the home he left, to spend time learning the pheasant business at MacFarlane Pheasants Inc.