Skulls, spiders and sunsets

Hello from the livestock/trophy hunting farm!  I had a rather uneventful move last Sunday to my new home (besides from seeing around 50 vultures sat on the gravel road on the way to the farm, which was a magical sight when they all took off as I drove closer!) and have unpacked and settled in very easily.  I guess I am pretty adept at moving now, having done it far too many times to count in the last 11 years!  The farm I’m staying on is a huge 24,000 working cattle ranch and trophy hunting reserve, with a side business in meat processing – just the ideal place for a vegan!  One might consider me a masochist…!  I guess they say, “know your enemy”.  Not that this farm treats the animals badly at all – far from it; the cattle graze free-range in large, wild camps.  They are antibiotic-, hormone-, and steroid-free; they are healthy, they are not killed by predators despite having both leopards and cheetahs on the farm, and they live harmoniously alongside wildlife.
 
So far whilst here I have been going out every day with the cattle workers to check on the livestock, water points, fences and grazing camps.  I’ve already learned more than I could have ever hoped for about livestock management and how cattle can live alongside carnivores, although there is much more to learn.  The people here are very knowledgeable about the topic and only too happy to chat to you about it – although there are certain language barriers.  Today I was talking to one of the younger cattle workers, who speak 9 languages, although is native tongue is Otjiwambo (one of the tribal languages).  We were discussing the differences between wildlife in Namibia compared with the UK.  At one point, he asked me if we still have dinosaurs in the UK.  After a few seconds of bewilderment, I figured that he did in fact mean reptiles!  Lost in translation…  Makes me wonder what else we have not understood properly!  Oh if only I had the time to learn Afrikaans.

The cottage I’m living in at the moment is a cute little bungalow with a lounge, double bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/diner.  It was intended as accommodation for a gardener to the large (but unoccupied presently) house next to me, but has been left practically empty since being built.  It’s a cute place and has everything I need, along with access to the garden complete with dozens of citrus trees.  During my downtime, I’ve been having fun picking oranges and lemons to make the best homemade fruit juice ever!  Today I went to pick new fruits and came across quite possibly the largest lemon I have ever seen in my life!
 
The family here have a bunch of very charismatic dogs here – in fact, most houses here have dogs to protect the house, who bark when intruders come near.  They have a cute puppy Daschund called Snoopy, a large and boisterous boerboel (for those of you who are unfamiliar with this breed, it was bred to protect livestock from lions in Zimbabwe, so you can guess the size and temperament of the dog!), a gentle giant great dane, a super cute German shepherd puppy called Jungle, and a very scared Irish terrier who sadly gets bullied by all the other dogs and spends most of his time hiding under cars from the others.  Yesterday the German shepherd puppy and the dominant boerboel were playing tug-of-war with a stick in the garden and I managed to take some photos of the action.  Later on, Jungle found a paintbrush from somewhere and decided to carry it round with him as a toy – cute!
 
Being back out in the bush again with no light pollution, I can once again admire the fantastic sunrise, sunsets, and starscapes at night.  It is astounding just quite how many stars you can see here at night, and how absolutely pitch black it gets out here.  It’s so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of you!  For someone who is now living by myself 1.5km from any other human being and of whom isn’t too fond of the dark, this is sometimes quite a scary proposition!   The sunsets in this garden however do make up for it.
 
For those of you who know me, you may understand my somewhat weird interest in skulls.  I went on a skull preparation course whilst back in the UK and was very happy to bring back with me a newly-skinned rabbit skull to soak in water for a while to break down the tissue.  Many people may find this rather morbid, but guess what?!  I found other people who do it here too!  In fact, if you’re a trophy hunter and want a pristine skull from your successful hunt, they too use the technique of soaking skulls to break down tissue.  I must say, the smell from the barrels is not for the feint-hearted!
 
Living in the African bush, it is inevitable that you’ll come across creepy crawlies daily.  After my escapades with a poisonous spider bite last time I was in Namibia, I’m now far more cautious putting shoes and clothes on, and also getting into bed.  I did not, however, expect or want to find a shed spider skin in my underwear drawer!  I have no idea how the little shit got in there, or where he is now.  I shall be extra careful when putting my delicates on from now in though!

Comments

  1. You have to be the toughest female I ever met - vegan in a carnivore environment (except for that lovely lemon) poison spiders, alone in dark, darker, darkest - much more diversity - YOU WIN THE TROPHY -

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