LET'S take a break from the Olympics. I want to share the story of Zainal, a goat breeder extraordinaire. Ably assisted by his wife, Fatimah, the couple is enjoying life and found a new excitement that's very satisfying in many ways.
Zainal was the CEO of a big service company operating in Kuala Lumpur. Big may be an understatement, actually. Mega would be more appropriate. Fatimah was with the Government, using her training in landscaping to get her a senior position until she chose to retire a few years ago.
Together, the couple is landscaping a new life, one that offers them a good night sleep every night, leaving the stress of city living behind. They have the best of both worlds - juggling between an urban lifestyle and a rural one. I met them at the MAHA exhibition a few days ago.
I've known the couple for quite some time. Zainal have this interest in locating plants that are not easily available anymore. Once he's got them, he would plant them in his small orchard, properly tagged and cared. This went on for several years until he a retired few years ago.
Nestled in the rolling greens of Serting, Kuala Pilah, Zainal and Fatimah have found their paradise. Tending to the Boer goats from Australia, the couple have become experts with deep and first-hand knowledge of goat breeding. They are the new kids on the block, pun intended!
This is no ordinary goat farm. The whole area is beautifully landscaped, with new trees being planted to provide shade and serve as a herbal remedy when the goats are ill. A big pond has been added and fish are bred there for consumption.
Grilled over a slow fire, and eaten with home-grown ulam (salads) on a wakaf built near a big mango tree just beside the pond, the fish is just simply divine! Aided by the cool and fresh breeze, one must be excused for indulging in second or third helpings.
Zainal and Fatimah spend between three and four days at the farm. He has a family kampong house not far from the farm. The farm itself have houses for his small band of workers. Soon, there will also be dormitories for visitors (but that's a different story altogether).
Sitting in the wakaf, and then again during the MAHA show, I kept asking Zainal how did he make the adjustment from the CEO of a mega company to that of a gentleman farmer. Wasn't it difficult to adjust? Wouldn't he misses the urban trappings as he retreats beyond the hills of Kuala Pilah? What's the formula, I asked.
"It's quite simple actually," Zainal explained. "First thing to do is to list your priorities, and ask some basic questions. You may also want to list your needs now that you have retired. I narrowed my needs. I did all that and have now found a new meaning to life, one that is extremely satisfying," he said, enjoying his cigarette after the meal.
As a top corporate person, Zainal has 'been there, done that, seen that." Flown first class? Done that. Seen the world? Done. Stayed in well-known hotels and dine at fabulous restaurants? Also done. Rub shoulders with the rich, famous and powerful? That too.
Having done all that, Zainal wanted a change. He wanted a new challenge, one that is more personal and one which he is the Owner, Board member, CEO, farm hand - a four in one kind of job. Hence, the BoDen goat farm.
BoDen is actually a combination of two words - Boer (the goat specie) and Den (the Negri Sembilan way of saying aku, or saya, or I). So, when seen as one word - BoDen - it simply means my Boer goats!
The farm is one of agriculture's real success story. Zainal didn't plunge into breeding goats without first of all doing extensive research. He went o Australia to take a close look at goat farming. He even had a couple of Aussies to be his advisers. (The irony is that Zainal has now been asked by the Aussies to advise them on some matters pertaining to goat breeding in the tropics!)
Fatimah is tasked with documenting the farm's progress, including maintaining and updating its data base. Each kid born in the farm has a birth certificate, and this is very useful in determining the stock of the parents and everything else.
Do you miss the KL life, I asked. Not really, they said. Wednesday is Zainal's golf day. From Thursday or Friday till the weekend, they are at the farm, enjoying the fresh air, warm breeze, green hills and fresh ulams. Monday and Tuesday are spent in KL for other purposes such as networking, meeting business associates and the usual errands.
Life can't be better for Zainal and Fatimah. They've worked hard, stayed focus and invested wisely in new ventures (and adventures too). Its been a new learning curve in some ways, I'm sure. Zainal prefers the route less travelled, and I'm sure he's made the right turn for himself and his family.
Syabas and all the best my friends! You give me ideas too...