Daniel had 2 drumming students at an Ostrich Farm Guest Farm. He asked if I would like to go with, and of course I never say no and usually take my 80 yr old mother along for the ride. Thanks to my son, we get to go into all kinds of amazing places and have many adventures. I baby sit Axel during the time that Daniel must work and we have a bucket load of fun together.
So off we went. We were greeted at the gate by a tour guide and told that there was a tour group leaving shortly and we were invited to join at no cost to us...how awesome was that?!
These tourists pay heavily for the privilege we were given for free. First on the agenda, coffee while the tourists got to first put their bags in their accommodation rondavels (round huts) which is where they would be staying over night.
This is where we had our coffee.
It was surrounded by giant shade trees, perfect for the summer sun we have.
After coffee, we were taken to view first the new chicks. These adorable babies were only 4 days old, and despite my spending all my life in this area, it was my first ever experience in seeing baby ostriches. New chicks are fawn in color, with dark brown spots till they are 12 weeks old and then they lose the spots altogether. The guide was telling us that the first week of an ostriches life is crucial and usually only 15% survive. After one week, they get stronger by the day. Hearing that, I was most surprised that we were all allowed to handle the delicate chicks??
Axel was allowed to handle one, even at his young age. So was I and this is how they feel....the top back feathers are rough, the under belly feathers are soft, soft, soft like down while the neck and face were like handling velvet material. Such a mixture of textures on one little creature.
Its strange to think that in no time at all, these velvet necked babies would lose all that hair and end up with rubber necks. I got to touch the rubber neck too....awful feeling-really gross. LOL The necks have incredible muscles in them, and as you touch any section, it starts to move under your fingers...eeewww.
By the way...would this be considered "breakfast in bed?" chuckle.
We got to feed the adult ostriches too. They ate right out of our hands, but for Axel we used the bucket, because their beaks are very hard and could easily hurt him, whereas us adults knew to keep our hands straight (much like feeding a horse) except horses dont peck
One lady did forget the instruction NOT to turn our backs on the birds, and she had her head pecked...looked pretty darn sore to me. I did as told, kept facing the birds so they could see the corn in my hand.
We were permitted to ride them, I declined. The thought horrifies me. These are not animals created for riding purposes, even their shape is all wrong. They dont appear to enjoy it either, hissing and doing their utmost to get free, but people were queuing to do so. I could barely look at it. They even put hoods over their eyes to keep them grounded while big people, even really fat people lumber onto these poor creatures to have their fun. Its harder than it looks to stay on top..once again, probably due to their shape. This did not do anything except repulse me.
Some interesting facts about ostriches :-
Ostriches eat mainly plants, but strangely enough, they HAVE to eat pebbles to help grind the food in the digestive tract. Despite their odd body shape, they run like the wind reaching speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph), which makes them the fastest land speed of any bird.
The males weigh on averaged 115 kg (254 lb) and females 100 kg (220 lb).
Male ostriches can be between 2.1 - 2.8 m (6 ft 11 in - 9 ft 2 in) in height, while female ostriches range between 1.7 - 2 m (5 ft 7 in - 6 ft 7 in) tall. Their lifespan is beteen 40 - 45 yrs.
Its a myth that ostriches hide their heads in the ground when startled. You may have heard the expression "burying your head in the ground like an ostrich"...they dont do that. What they do, is burrow their heads into soft sand searching for pebbles to swallow, and from a distance, it may appear that their heads are in the ground. In the wild, people would keep their distance from ostriches because they kick worse than mules. Its called a death kick, because that is what one kick can do. Their knees bend FORWARD so the kick is unexpected and deadly.
Males and females are totally different in color. The males are a striking black and white, while the females are gray and white.
They lie on the ground, spread their wings and flap sand all over themselves to keep themselves parasite free. I couldn't use the wings flying photos because they kept blurring.
Their whole ostrich is used, the leather for shoes and bags, while the feathers get used to make many things, from feather dusters to jewelry. They dye the feathers before they use them. Here is an example of the black, grey and then blue dyed feather.
From the birds, we were taken to where the eggs are kept.
And its true, you can stand on the eggs without them cracking.
The shells are cleaned and turned into candle holders. Some are painted in colors and then ostrich motives are glued onto the eggs and sealed (decoupage), while others have holes or patterns chiseled into them. This man was fascinating to watch. The fan was kept on him constantly because you cannot believe the amount of dust this egg produced. The smell was weird too, hard to actually describe it in words....but if I must, it was like muddy water - smelling dust.
All the while we were viewing and handling ostriches, a pair of donkeys waited patiently under a tree for us.
Once on the donkey cart, we were taken all over the guest farm and shown various things of interest from incredible plant life in this dry, dusty, arid area to old fashioned implements and transportation. At each point we were allowed off the cart to inspect the various items. This was the first stop, an ostrich transporter. I still cannot see how they transported anything as large as ostriches on this.....but nobody asked the question...not even quizzical me??
Axel treating the ostrich transporter like a car LOL
There were some other old items like these next few. I especially took this photo with the old and the new form of transport in the same picture. While the original must have been great for bonding, smelling the air and hearing the sounds of nature all at a slower pace, I dare say on a rainy day our new form of transport would be a big improvement.
After the lovely donkey cart ride, and giving the donkeys corn to say thank you, we had more coffee and those who wanted could order a breakfast or light lunch. We opted for toasted sandwiches and side salad with our coffee. This was the view from our table.
Once the tour was over, we were free to do whatever we wished. Most of the tourists went to lie down, but Axel and I went to check up on daddy and see how his drumming students were doing. Axel was privileged to join the trio in a song before being given a squishy daddy hug and then asked to leave so they could continue.
Axel and I walked ALL OVER THE FARM. I reckon I must have walked 5 kms easily (3 miles) and we saw some interesting things like these two dung beetles busy busy busy. (also known as rollers or scarabs) So black and shiny..quite beautiful. We didnt touch them, because if startled they let off a terrible stink that is terribly rancid and its hard to scrub off for a good hour or so.
They roll balls of dung with their hind legs and the ball of manure can get as large as an apple. In the early part of the summer the dung beetle buries itself and the ball and feeds on it. Later in the season the female deposits eggs in balls of dung, on which the larvae will later feed. Dung beetles can roll up to 10 times their weight. can pull 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. Quite an amazing fete. Creation is marvelous, how can people believe in evolution?
We walked and inspected the plant life also. This is an incredibly dry area, yet cactus and such like flourish here and have their own kind of beauty. Mostly its red dust wherever you look with cactus plants growing, but every now and then you find a green spot or tall reeds growing and you realize that a small river or underground source of water is in that area.
But mostly it looks like this.
As tough as these plants are, they all have some redeeming feature, like incredible flowers in season like these. The fact that they need no watering to survive is a big draw card.
Most, of course have incredible thorns which sometimes look like crocodile teeth.
This is what happens if you get too close, as Axel learned this day.
Those thorns rip through skin like a hot knife through butter. He cried and cried, poor little guy. Guess he'll not get so close next time. I have had those thorns rip me too, it burns like fire under your skin, so I felt sorry for him. Anyway, thats life...you take the bad with the good.
Next we explored where the tourists would hear the locals put on a show in the evening of how the town of Oudtshoorn came about. The place is very rustic with an outside fire pit which lead into a tented area with lights hanging everywhere and a stage in the front. The place would be decked out with round tables and chairs and each would be given a picnic basket with all their food and drink inside. There were bales of hay all around the outer edges for those who chose that form of seating. Interesting and a different way to do things.
We would not be there for the show this time, but I will get to see it when Daniel is in it, at the KK&K festival.
Axel and I found a bunch of felled trees which made a perfect play ground for this little guy. I got my second work out for the day. It was Axel jumping from one log to the other, with granny swinging him through the air...with the constant "again granny". I had been to boot camp in the morning so it got pretty tiring. At one point I said to him "granny is 53 you know Axel" his prompt reply was "Axel too" yeah right LOL My arms got so tired, I eventually taught him to do it alone. He was cagey at first, but ended up loving it.
Crossing a sand pile and sinking ankle and then calf deep into the sand.
We could hear no more drumming, so we made our way to the area Daniel was using to teach his 2 students. Axel getting a big squishy hug from his daddy for being a good boy while he was working.
Now here's the funny part of the day. All the work was finished and we sat having a last cup of coffee before taking the hour long trip home. The speed point machine packed up, so Daniel had to go somewhere else to use another machine. He decided to pick Axel up to take him with and realized he had only one sneaker on and asked me about this? Well, I hadnt noticed and offered to walk back to where I thought it may have come off (in the sand pit area) because they are brand new sneakers. I walked ALL THE WAY back to the sand, nope not there. Decided to walk ALL THE WAY to the giant logs in case it came off there, nope not their either. Ended up walking everywhere I had been with Axel....I probably walked the same 5km (3miles) all over again but found no sneaker. In the end, I gave up and decided to leave the sneaker we had behind, so that if the workers found the shoe, at least someone got the benefit of a pair of shoes. By now my knee was killing me and I sat down briefly while Daniel packed his drums and stuff back in the car. As I turned for one last look at the view, there I spotted the sneaker right at the tree next to the table where we were sitting at....oooooooh my word
So Axel, granny and great grandma had a fabulous day. He never got to do much of this in the early part of his life because his mom not only was ill with cancer, but also suffered with OCD and Phobia about dirt, so this is all new stuff for the kid and he is loving it.
This is Axel at the end of the day. I must admit I envied him. I imagined myself flopping on the couch next to him.....but grannies have stuff to do and are not privileged with the afternoon nap.