Prominent veteran farmer Hilson Shuman passed away last Wednesday at the age of 86 from organ failure.
Shuman, who had been suffering from dementia in the last few months, was the owner of Grey Craig farm in the Tylden district, and was well-known for his Afrikaner cattle and Merino sheep.
The fourth-generation Shuman farmer often featured in publications and won many awards. In 2018 he became the world record holder of the Wool Clip title after delivering his 65th clip. He set the South African record in 2013 for his 60th clip. Last year, Grey Craig farm celebrated a 100 years of Afrikaner cattle farming. It had come to be known as “Home of the Afrikaner”.
Shuman’s farming journey started at age 16 in 1952 after the sudden passing of his father, Ken Shuman, who was the owner of Grey Craig. In 2017 Shuman was endowed with the South African Veteran Farmer title by the South African Agricultural Society. He was also the longest serving chairman of the Border Mohair Growers’ Association, from 1976 to 1980.
Speaking to the Farmers Weekly publication in 2013, he called his sheep the “League of Nations”. The breed was known as the Grey Craig Merino and was renowned for its quality wool developed by Shuman, using various studs. He was inspired to improve the quality of the wool after objective measurement became part of the wool industry in the 1970s. “I thought we had fine wool and was surprised when it measured 22 to 23 microns. Thanks to Letelle rams, in one generation the microns decreased to 18 or 19,” he said to the Farmers Weekly.
Shuman also ventured into cattle breeding. He registered the KS Afrikaner stud, named after his father, in 1952. The KS stud was bred from the Pringle and Gradwell bloodlines. After gaining popularity at agricultural shows, animals were supplied to breeders in the Eastern Cape and as far afield as Namibia. It was registered until 1984. In the 1960s Shuman was the first to breed red and white Afrikaner cattle and even made an attempt at a pure yellow herd.
When he died Shuman was far from his beloved cattle and sheep. He was in Cape Town in the care of his daughter, Elizabeth Reid, and his wife, Isabel Shuman. They had fled their farm last year following a police tip-off that there would be an imminent attack at Grey Craig. After initially being moved to Cathcart for safety, the Shumans eventually went to Cape Town.
He is succeeded by Isabel, his son Kenneth Shuman, Elizabeth and her husband Stuart Reid and grandchildren Ross and Brittany Reid.