We can hear the helicopters rounding up our animal friends…The close proximity of sightings…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, Little Daddy, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

The sound of the helicopters overhead is making me cringe. But, with seven kudus in the garden right now along with Little, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Fred, and Ethel, and seven bushbucks, we’re hoping they’ll hang around with us today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. If they stay nearby, they may be safe, according to Louise’s input.

The male bushbuck we call Bad Leg stood close to us on the veranda.

If they stay in this general area, there is less likelihood of them being herded to their demise. Nevertheless, it will be a tense three days on this end. Now, here comes Broken Horn, with lucerne hanging from his mouth. As he approached, he stepped on the long grass in his mouth and pulled hard to get it out. Animals are amazing.

We underestimate their intelligence. But, then again, do we? As we sit here day after day, totally enthralled, watching them and their behaviors, we’re continually in awe of their innate ability to communicate with one another, let alone with us from time to time.

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds.

Yesterday, while observing dozens of birds who’ve become regulars, we commented to one another how each day is different from the next. So it’s no wonder it’s difficult for us to feel a need or desire to go away for the day. Even visiting Kruger National Park, which we’ve promised ourselves to visit more frequently when we return from the US, doesn’t consistently deliver the thrills we encounter right here in the garden.

No doubt Kruger has its array of thrills; seeing the Big Five is only a tiny part of it. The endless videos we’ve made and photos we’ve taken over the years of extreme sightings in the national park have left us reeling with wonder. We often refer back to them, astounded by what we’d seen.

The gray louries are typically shy around humans. So it was fun to see them up close.

But, the garden is another matter, requiring no hours-long rides in the car without seeing anything and often managing to maneuver for a good spot when other vehicles are crowded near a special sighting. So, for us, it’s usually about the “little things” we see along the way.

That’s not to say we are tired of game drives. Suppose we could add all of our safaris and self-drives in our visits to national parks. In that case, we could easily say we’ve had hundreds of experiences in several countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Morocco, and most recently, India.

A gray lourie landed on the table on the veranda while we were seated, a first for us.

In India alone, we visited three national parks during our private tour of the country before the Covid-19 lockdown. We counted 24 game drives in those locations, always on a search for the majestic Bengal Tiger. Mission accomplished. The Big Five performed in many of the above-listed countries, beginning in Kenya in 2013.

That’s not to say more thrills aren’t awaiting us on more game drives. Most certainly, they are, and we look forward to those opportunities, in many ways inspired by our commitment to sharing them here with all of our worldwide readers. But, of course, doing so makes the sightings all the more exciting and rewarding.

Unusual. Three gray louries (go-away birds) descended on the grill for the first time.

Yesterday, we focused on the dozens of birds visiting the garden, drinking from the birdbath, eating seeds, and even getting up close and personal with us by landing on the veranda table while we were seated here, as we are now. Whether it is the sighting of a dung beetle rolling his ball, a bird splashing in the birdbath, or a band of mongoose munching on leftover meat and fat from a prior meal, we love it all. The close proximity certainly is a factor in our degree of enthusiasm.

Yes, we love it all. And soon, in a mere eight days, we’ll be leaving all of this behind us for four weeks and heading to a world so far removed from what we’ve experienced here on a day-to-day basis. Oddly, once again, it will be a culture shock. I can only imagine the day we walk into a Costco store to buy a few of their popular five-dollar roasted chickens to eat in our hotel with a microwave and full kitchen, and our eyes will open wide in shock over all the “abundance.”

Little, on the left, and Tiny were sitting closer together than we’d seen in the past. They are our favorite pigs, and yet their personalities are so different. Little is pushy and bossy, and Tiny is gentle and accommodating.

Life in the bush is abundant in other ways.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2020:

The ocean is behind this old vine-covered garage in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, in 2014. For more photos, please click here.

Culling in Marloth Park begins tomorrow…Will some of our favorite’s lives come to an end?…A birdie morning…

We had set Frank’s seeds on the table to keep the warthogs and bushbucks from coming onto the veranda to eat them. Suddenly four hornbills decided to dig in.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 10 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 11 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 4 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, and others
  • 5 hornbills – currently banging on the kitchen window
  • 2 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn, Hal
  • 25 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
  • 4 gray lourie (“go-away” bird) – currently making her/his unique sounds

    First, there was one, then two, and it grew from there.

On a day-to-day basis, there’s a good amount of information about what’s transpiring in Marloth Park on Facebook. We both belong to several MP groups. Yesterday, in the group entitled Marloth Park Sighting Page, the following post was listed:

“CULL TO START THIS MONDAY:
Dear Property Owners, MPRA received an email from the Wildlifevets that they will be doing MASS CAPTURE of Impala and Kudu in Marloth Park from the 20th to the 25th of June (as they believe that these animals will be easiest to capture in high numbers) and that all other species can be caught in passive capture bomas thereafter (excluding Giraffe as they want to do a large scale reduction of Giraffe as well, but don’t have an abattoir that can handle a Giraffe carcass at this time). I phoned Cobus Raath this afternoon to make sure I read the email correctly, and he confirmed that they would be installing bomas in Marloth Park this Sunday (MPRA is not aware where these bomas will be erected in Marloth Park). They will then chase the animals into these bomas by helicopter on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The animals will then be moved from these bomas to Lionspruit and will be culled there. MPRA did send an email as to the risks of helicopter chase and capture, due to the alarming rate of development in Marloth Park, employees, tourists, and visitors and suggested that we rather use passive bomas to capture as from 1 May or soonest as we would have enough weeks to passively capture enough animals, and passive capture worked last year even though it was only implemented between Sept and Oct last year. Unfortunately, we received no feedback from the Wildlifevets or the “forum,” which includes MPPOA, HR, WILDLIFE FUND, MARLOTHI CONSERVANCY, and recently THE WILD & FREE REHABILITATION. MPRA, however, is shocked that neither the municipality nor any of the other organizations have given property owners, visitors, tourists, and employees enough warning as to the helicopter capture; and therefore IMPLORE you to warn fellow property owners, employees, rentals, tourists and your visitors on an URGENT basis, please.”
Then, there were three.
Of course, I was shocked and disappointed, but Tom was less so. He accepts the reality there are too many animals in Marloth Park at this time. The overabundance presents a feeding issue, not only during the sparse winter months like now but also during the more lush rainy season in the spring, summer, and fall.
My logical mind understands this harsh reality. But, my heart aches at the prospect of losing some of my favorites to this upcoming cull. Plus, I can’t grasp why they must be killed. Why not gather them up and take them into Lionspruit, where nature may or may not “take its course” or send them to other less abundant conservancy areas?
I wasn’t able to adjust the camera when, if I did, they’d fly off.
The answer to these questions can easily be argued by advocates of culling. They even may make a strong case. But, the prospect of killing many of these precious animals tears at my heartstrings, leaving me sad and bereft. What if Little and Tiny are in the culled group, along with the many kudus we’ve come to know and love. They will even be culling giraffes! That makes no sense to me.
Over the next three days, we’ll be hearing the helicopters overhead, gathering them up into the bomas. This will be tough to hear, knowing the fate of so many of the precious animals.
Little was in the photo.
Of course, I can’t help but worry about my two favorites, warthogs, Little and Tiny, who just spent the entire morning here. What if suddenly they are gone, caught up in the culling effort? We can only wait and see what transpires over the next three days and who will be back in our garden on Thursday morning. Then, of course, we will report back here.
We are still working on rebooking the canceled flight from Las Vegas to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger on July 24th. We should have it resolved in the next day or so. We aren’t particularly worried about this since there appear to be several other options that will work for us.
Bushbucks in the photo.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2020

I found this rose in a neighbor’s garden in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. Not wanting to disturb the neighbor’s garden, I shot this without moving the stem in front of what appears to be an almost perfect rose. For more photos, please click here.

A soaking rain in the bush…Good for the animals…Our ads…A photo shortage…

Lots of pigs!!!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 8 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, Lonely Boy, Fred, and Ethel, and Peter, Paul, and Mary,
  • 9 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 6 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

In the past year, with the assistance of our web people, we added advertising links to our site. We fully understand and appreciate the annoyance of these ads popping up when you’re opening our pages or reviewing any of our archives. We are sorry for the inconvenience of dealing with these ads and hope this won’t deter you from continuing to enjoy our posts.

Over the years, we’ve mentioned we weren’t using this site to make money, and we did not, other than a few dollars each year from our ads listed on the right side of the page. But, during this past year, when our site was redone, we had to change to a costly hosting company to handle our 3200 posts and employ our current web developers to handle day-to-day issues as they occur.

There are always bushbucks in the garden, even at night seen on the trail cam.

There are annual fees for all of these services and features, and we hoped to offset some of the costs by implementing an advertiser program. Slowly, our revenue is increasing but not enough yet to cover the expenses. It may take a year or more to reach such a status.

In the interim, we appreciate your understanding and patience in either using some of these links for your purchases or not, per your preference to move them out of your way. For example, on the side of our page, the Amazon link doesn’t cost you a penny more to use but, when doing so for your purchases, it helps us reach our goal of covering our website expenses. We so appreciate this use and others; when the new ads pop up, should they serve any of your needs.

The commission we receive is pennies per transaction, but over time, they can accumulate. Advertising also applies to our YouTube page, found by typing my name in google: Jessica Lyman YouTube to see our hundreds of videos, now with ads. We both thank you for continuing to read our daily posts and for watching our videos.

We are always thrilled to see kudus and, of course, their youngsters, as shown here.

On another note, the past week, our photo ops in the garden have been fewer, not due to fewer animals in the garden but only due to my failing to take many photos. When photos appear to be blatant repeats, I tend to avoid taking them. As of the next few days, when the rain stops, our goal will be to find more exciting photos to share here.

Also, we will strive to take plenty of photos while in the US, in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada. However, to respect our family member’s privacy, we won’t burden them with posing for photos too often. Also, some prefer not to have their photos posted online, which we always respect and honor.

Today, with the rain, we’ll stay put until it’s time to head to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for our usual, always delightful weekend dinner with dear friends Rita and Gerhard. We do not doubt that owner/friend Dawn and her excellent assistant Lyn will seat us at a table out of the rain, should it continue.

Big Daddy is always welcomed in the garden.

We continue to count down the days until we depart Marloth Park, now with only 10 to go. We can’t believe how quickly it’s coming up. Bit by bit, I’m packing in preparation for the departure date of June 29th.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2020:

In the 300-year-old stone house, we rented in 2013, the authentic Tuscan kitchen in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. Unfortunately, there was no dishwasher, microwave, small appliances, or electric coffee pot in the otherwise well-stocked kitchen with items used to make pasta, bread, and sauces. For more photos, please click here.

Our return flight from the US back to South Africa was canceled…Now what???…

Lots of helmeted guinea-fowls in the garden. They kept coming and coming!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 11 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, Lonely Boy, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Benny, Henny and Lenny
  • 9 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 8 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, Little Daddy, Mom and Baby, and others
  • 21 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 hornbills
  • 1 grey lourie (go-away bird)
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

When we received an email two days ago stating that our return flight from Las Vegas to Johannesburg on July 24th has canceled the leg of the flight with British Airways, we didn’t panic. Instead, we decided to wait a few days to book anything in hopes of some additional flights opening up. Also, we didn’t want to be on hold for two hours, as many have experienced when trying to rebook canceled flights.

Tiny and Bossy waiting for treats.

But, today, for peace of mind more than anything, we’ll rebook the return flight but may have to sacrifice price and convenience. We don’t want to change our departure date when our hotel in Las Vegas is already booked at exceptional pricing.  Also, we got an excellent price on the rental car we’ll be picking up upon arrival.

In this case, the car rental was a great price, a fluke with Dollar Rental at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when lately fees have been almost twice as much as we paid last January when we first arrived in South Africa. Rental car prices have been increasing this year, all over the world.

Bossy and a youngster were waiting for pellets.

We weren’t surprised to see the cancelation come through when our friend Kathy, has experienced several cancellations for her return flight to Marloth Park, mid-July. Therefore, when we rebook the flight today, we will not select British Airways for any legs of our flights, fearing this would transpire again.

It’s scary enough traveling such a long distance in light of Covid-19, but at least by the time we return, we’ll be vaccinated, easing a little of the concern of flying and waiting in airports. Several airlines are hesitant to schedule flights to and from Johannesburg when cases of Covid have been rising daily, especially in this hub.

New lockdown restrictions have returned in South Africa, as listed below from this site:

The new restrictions include:

  • The hours of the curfew are from 22h00 – 04h00
  • Non-essential establishments such as bars and fitness centres must close at 21h00
  • All gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate appropriate social distancing, 50% of the floor space may be used.
  • Attendance at funerals and cremation may not exceed 50 people.
  • Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings remain prohibited.
  • The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted between 10h00 – 18h00 from Monday to Thursday.
  • On-site alcohol consumption may continue until 21h00, subject to liquor licenses.
  • Alcohol in public is strictly prohibited.
Big Daddy was looking forward to pellets.

None of these restrictions has an impact on us at this time, but the fact that there is more infection certainly affects everyone, and added caution must be exercised during this spike in cases. Of course, when we depart in 11 days, we will use every available resource we have to protect ourselves; masks, gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer, as well as social distancing when possible.

Bossy is pregnant. We’re looking forward to seeing her youngster when we return or shortly after that.

No, we’re not excited about traveling right now without having had the vaccine, but we feel we don’t have many choices when our visas expire on June 30th. Once we arrive in Minnesota and get the jab we’ll be very relieved, especially after the waiting period has ended.

That’s it for today, folks. I will head to the kitchen as soon as the floors dry (Zef and Vusi are here cleaning) and make cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast. We’ll dine on the veranda, as usual, enjoying every visitor that wanders into the garden. At the moment, the two hornbills are banging on the kitchen window, an almost daily occurrence.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2020:

The back of the 300-year-old stone property we rented in 2013 in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning in the bush…Last night’s new experience…

The sun began to set while the four of us were at Buckler’s Lodge, a short distance, outside the gates to Marloth Park.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 18 warthogs – inc. Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, 2 sets Mom and Babies and others
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, Notches, Little Daddy, Mom and Baby, and others
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 impala
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Crooked Face
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

It was a busy morning. We had our teeth cleaned in Komatipoort at 9:00 am with Luzanne and had to leave the house by 8:30 to arrive on time. Although my recent root canal was still a little tender, the cleaning went well, and we were both happy with the results. We’ve been trying to get our teeth cleaned as often as possible to avoid dental issues in the future, if possible.

Regardless of how often we get our teeth cleaned, floss, and brush, it’s no guarantee that dental problems won’t occur, as evidenced by my need for the root canal this week and a subsequent crown when we return from the US. Typically, I floss a few times each day and brush my teeth two to three times a day. Tom does the same. But, still, from time to time, we need some dental work.

Quickly, the sun began to disappear on the horizon.

After our teeth cleaning appointments, we shopped at the Spar Centre, shopping for wine, brandy, and food. We did a careful assessment of what food we’d have left on hand and what we’ll eat during these last 12 days until we depart. We have it carefully figured out, so by the time we go, the refrigerator and freezer can be defrosted. Unfortunately, few refrigerators in the bush are self-defrosting.

Yesterday, I made a favorite ultra low-carb hamburger dish which we’ll have tonight and tomorrow. I made three extra tin foil pans, good for two more nights, and froze them. Tom will eat one each of the two nights, and I’ll split one in half for me. A few weeks ago, I made him one of his favorites, low-carb pot pie, which is too high carb for me. So I’ll have whatever is left in the freezer those two nights, leaving us with six dinners covered.

Also, we’ll be dining out at least four times between now and then, leaving us with one only one more dinner to figure out since we’re going on the morning of the 12th day. This is ideal. As for packing, we won’t be packing many of our clothes when we plan to make some purchases in Minnesota. We plan to leave room in our luggage for the new items.

Friendly visitors to the garden on a sunny day.

Yesterday, son Richard wrote that the temperature in Las Vegas was 121F, 49.4C. We don’t plan to purchase clothing suitable for such hot weather since we’ll seldom leave the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, and Casino. Casinos typically keep air conditioning very low to keep “players” comfortable while gambling. So any warm clothing we’re wearing now will be suitable while there.

I’d ordered three quality sweatshirts/jackets from Takealot, similar to Amazon in the US. The items arrived yesterday, and I was delighted with all of them, all American brand names, at half the usual prices. Lately, when we’ve needed supplies, Takealot has done a great job with the availability of products and quick, free shipping. With careful planning and shopping in the US, we may not need to order any shipments from the US over the next year.

Tom is trying to take a nap right now, but I doubt he’s having any luck. I am outside on the veranda, but three hornbills keep banging on the kitchen window, making quite a commotion. Then One Wart showed up, ate all of Frank’s seed from the container on the veranda when I went inside to get some cabbage for the seven bushbucks that suddenly appeared.

Just as I was adding this photo of wildebeests, Crooked Face stuck his funny face around the edge of the house to see what was going on here. Seconds later, Little made an appearance. Busy day, wildlife friends!

Moments later, a small band of about 18 mongoose showed up, and I went inside to cut up some Paloney (a South African type of baloney in big thick rolls) in bite-sized pieces for the little characters. Unfortunately, I have been so busy with the wildlife, I’ve hardly had time to work on today’s post. A young male impala entered the garden and is being chased off by One Wart, Fred, and Ethel. It’s a busy afternoon.

Last night, we headed to a restaurant we’ve never tried, at Buckler’s Lodge, a short drive outside of Marloth Park, partway to Komatipoort. It’s a BYOB establishment with no bar. Rita and Gerhard made the reservation, and once we arrived at the scheduled 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, we were thrilled to see the gorgeous location on the Crocodile River.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any wildlife on the river, but we were delighted with the beautiful location, excellent service, and good food. Mine and Tom’s total bill was US $20, ZAR 282, including tip. I had fish grilled with butter, not oil, and three fried eggs, fried in butter.

Tonight, we’ll cook our beef dish in the oven and enjoy a quiet evening in the bush. The weather has warmed up this afternoon, making the evening all the more enjoyable.

Have a fantastic day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2020:

In Venice, Italy, with the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple, and as evidenced in the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30-minute ride in the congested canals. Instead, we walked the sidewalks and were quite content. For more photos posted one year ago, please click here.

Visitor in the kitchen on crumb patrol…Little pleasures…

Our friend Frank, of Frank and The Misses francolins, had a self-tour of our house, including the kitchen.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 20 warthogs – inc. Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, 2 sets Mom and Babies and others
  • 7 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 12 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, Notches, Little Daddy, Mom and Baby, and others
  • 21 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • One wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 1 female duiker
  • 12 mongoose
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
Moments later, he turned around and went the other way.

When I entered the house to refresh my glass of ice tea, I nearly fell over laughing. Frank was wandering about the kitchen, perhaps looking for bits of food on the floor. Fearful of scaring him off, I quickly grabbed the camera to take the two photos included here today. Please excuse the blur in the photos caused by my laughter and inability to hold the camera still.

After taking the photos I wandered into the kitchen to find him quite “at home” to see me there. Also, he had no issue or confusion in finding his way out the door. After a few minutes, he wandered toward the veranda door and “saw himself out.” I didn’t have to do a thing.

These “little things” make our time in Marloth Park and elsewhere in our world travels that make life so fascinating. Every day, it’s something new that piques our interest, leaving us in awe of nature and the world around us. Whether it is a laugh-worthy experience or a tender or disappointing moment, we can’t help but notice little details.

Spikey and kudus.

This morning while seated at the table on the veranda, Little appeared as he often does, multiple times each day. But, this morning was slightly different. His right eye was oozing blood, not from the eyeball but from the corner of his eye. We wondered what had happened to him, concerned for his well-being.

Could he have been in a fight with another animal? Could he have incurred the injury while walking through the spiked branches of trees and brush in the bush as he continues on his daily tour of the park? We’ll never know. The injury doesn’t look life-threatening. Warthogs are sturdy animals and most likely, in time, they will heal on their own.

Lots of kudus in the garden.

With so many warthogs in Marloth Park, few with injuries are attended to by the rangers and local vets who oversee the well-being of the animals. The attitude is to “let nature take its course.” When an animal is caught in a snare or suffering significantly, the vet may work with the rangers to treat the animal properly.

But if it’s a warthog, which many consider annoying and less “important,” they may be “put down” if they suffer from a disabling or life-threatening condition. This is a reality in the bush that all of us animal lovers must face. One day, a favorite “visitor” may not appear in the garden, leaving residents wondering what happened to that animal when in fact, they may have been killed on the road, killed in a fight, or died from natural causes.

Some of these animals are old. Tiny is one of them. Warthogs can live 15 to 18 years, although the average lifespan in the wild is 7 to 11 years due to stats when they are killed by apex predators. But, here in Marloth Park, where they rarely face a lion, cheetah, leopard, or other apex predators, they can live many more years.

Another busy morning in the bush.

We consider the reality that when we return from the US at the end of July, having been gone for 28 days, some of our favorite animals, including Tiny, Little, Frank, and others, may never be seen by us again. They could easily be killed or simply lost interest in returning here when we’ve been gone so long.

The only encouragement I have is the fact that almost two years after we left Marloth Park in 2019, Little found us once again and visits every single day. We’ll hang onto the hope that we’ll see them all again, maybe not immediately upon our return, but in the days and weeks to come.

May your day bring you joy in the little things…

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2020:

We highlighted Venice, Italy, one year ago. Check out the crowds! For more photos, please click here.

Excellent evening in the bush…

Busy morning in the bush.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 8 warthogs – inc. Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, Sigfried and Roy, and others
  • 7 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 16 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, Notches, and others
  • 18 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 4 wildebeest – inc. Crooked Face, Hal, Old Man, Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Seeing Don again after over two years was quite enjoyable. With Rita and Gerhard here with us for dinner, the five of us had a fantastic evening. The food and the drinks flowed. We had filet mignon on the braai, and Don likes his meat well-done. We always refer to it as a hockey puck. Tom likes medium rare, and R & G preferred medium. Of course, mine is always rare, a quick sizzle on either side.

We were pleased to see so many species in the garden this morning, especially after so few appeared during last night’s dinner.

With baked potatoes, sweet corn, Rita’s nice salad, and filets all around, we had plenty to eat. It was cold outside last night after a warmer day, but we were appropriately bundled up. As is traditional in South Africa, dinner and happy hour (sundowners) guests bring their alcoholic beverages. This keeps the cost of entertaining at a manageable level, inspiring more to entertain regularly.

This morning, in about 30 minutes, we’re heading to Malalane for a dental appointment for me with Dr. Singh. I’ve had a severe toothache for a few days, and it needed to be addressed. He’s the most highly regarded dentist in the area. A few months ago, I went to Dr. Singh for a complete check-up, and all was 100% fine. It’s odd that in such a short time, something went wrong.

It’s delightful to see wildebeests and kudus getting along well during the “pellet tossing.”

After finally getting rid of most of the cough, I’m frustrated that now this toothache is an issue. But that’s the way life is, often unpredictable and filled with unexpected events. Bless Tom’s heart for being so patient with me.

Our friend Kathy, Don’s wife, has a British Airways flight booked to Johannesburg in July. In the past several weeks, her flights have been canceled several times. She spent hours trying to find alternatives. We booked our return flight from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Johannesburg at the end of July, and now, we wonder if our flight will also be canceled.

Broken Horn, an outcast by the other wildebeests, stops by daily on his own.

Most likely, our flight will also be canceled. No doubt, it will be frustrating to be on a tight schedule visiting family in the US and dealing with finding alternative flights to return to South Africa. We all spoke to Kathy last night, and she was scrambling to get here in mid-July.

British Airways is trying to avoid flying to South Africa due to Covid concerns for their crew. We understand that, but they shouldn’t offer flights if they are going to cancel them anyway. Somehow we’ll figure it all out, as we always do. If we cancel now, we’ll be penalized. If they cancel, we’ll get a full refund. We have no choice but to play it by ear.

A Big Daddy and several female kudus visited us this morning.

It’s been a busy morning in the bush. The garden has been packed with animals of many species, and we stayed busy feeding them until it was time to go to the dentist. We just returned from the dentist, and I had a root canal done and will have the crown done after we return from the US.  What a relief. Also, the cost was only US $265, ZAR 3659, compared to three times more in the US. The crown will be about the same price.

Tom dropped me off at the house and headed to the salon for a haircut. He quickly returned home after an excellent cut that should get him through our time in the US.

We leave Marloth Park for the US two weeks from today. I can’t believe how fast time is flying. At this point, I am only 50% packed, not entirely, due to the fact I am having to wear most of the clothes I’ll be bringing. Tom’s clothes are folded and neatly stacked in the closet, and he will be able to pack in minutes. We’re each bringing one full-sized suitcase and one carry-on.

That’s all for today, folks. I need to get to work on the corrections for the remainder of the afternoon.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2020:

During an uncommonly heavy rainstorm in Sumbersari, Bali, I went out to the freezer in the garage to get some ice. I saw this long black thing, referred to as an omangomang in Balinese, moving along the garage floor. I called out to Tom to come to see it. He grabbed the camera and came running. Creepy. Was that an eye looking out at us? For more photos, please click here.

An odd discovery about a favorite animal…Dinner party tonight…

This is Thick Neck, now discovered to be one and the same as Bad Leg. Note the size of his neck compared to the average-sized neck of the bushbuck in the photo below.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy, Little Daddy, Notches, and others
  • 33 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Miss
  • 3 hornbills

Something dawned on us in the past few days, but we continued to observe and concluded that Thick Neck and Bad Leg are the same. Shortly after we arrived in Marloth Park, five months ago as of yesterday, we took a liking to a thick-necked male bushbuck; we aptly named Thick Neck. He is shown in the main photo above.

The typical-sized neck of a bushbuck.

In no time at all, he responded to his new name and made a point of stopping by several times a day. The pellets, carrots, cabbage, and apples were plentiful for him when we could manage to toss the food to him when no pigs were around. The warthogs try to scare off any other animals when food is tossed but don’t do so well with kudus and wildebeests.

Then, over the past three weeks or so, we noticed a thick-necked bushbuck limping with his back right leg totally off the ground when walking. He didn’t seem too miserable and managed to get around, with his limitation. We surmise that eventually, it will heal when we’ve seen improvement as days passed.

A few days ago, it dawned on us that we’ve been referring to Thick Neck and Bad Leg as if they were two different bushbucks. After all, many of them look alike. But, none we’ve seen in these past months have had such a thick neck. Thus, we concluded that Thick Neck is also Bad Leg. He responds to his Thick Neck name. From now on, we’ll address him as Thick Neck/Bad Leg until his injury fully heals.

I had to take this photo through the screen, or the birds would have flown away. There were no less than 12 birds in the birdbath at one time. They were as noisy as they could be. Quite adorable!

In any case, we still favor him, and knowing he has a little trouble getting around, we can’t help but give him a little more than we may offer the others. Of course, Tom has a particular affinity for bushbucks. He always has. With no less than 10-12 visiting us each day, it’s impossible not to find them as special.

Tonight, we’re having a small dinner party, just five of us including Rita and Gerhard and our old friend Don (of Kathy and Don). Don arrived in Marloth Park, their other home(s) in Hawaii, about a week ago and stayed with Linda and Ken in Johannesburg to buy a car. Once this task was accomplished, he was on his way to Marloth Park. Kathy will arrive in mid-July.

Like many of our old friends in Marloth Park, Don stayed away at their “other” homes due to travel restrictions and concerns regarding Covid-19. Now, slowly, over the next several months, others will arrive after travel restrictions are released, and they’ve received their two-dose Covid-19 vaccinations.

Busy time in the garden with 9 warthogs.

I supposed, in a way, we’re not unlike them, when soon in 15 days, we’ll be returning to the US to get our vaccines, and then return to Marloth Park, less than a month later. The scary part for us is safely arriving in the US after over 35 hours of travel. Of course, we’ll proceed with the utmost caution.

Tonight, we’re preparing a leisurely dinner on the braai, beef, pork, baked potatoes, and sweet corn. Rita is bringing the salad. Making elaborate meals for guests is a thing of the past for us. We’d rather spend quality time with our guests than spend the bulk of the evening in the kitchen wrapping up the finishing touches of a complicated meal.

So, we wish all of you a delightful Monday, wherever you may be. In our world, being retired, one day of the week is no different than another. A Monday night is as good as a Saturday night!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 14, 2020:

The walled city of Dubrovnik posted one year ago, visited in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

An excellent afternoon with friends, at the Crocodile River and an evening in the bush…

It had been a while since we’d spotted a waterbuck. But, this female was on the move and was out of sight in seconds.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 5 warthogs – inc. Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, and others
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy and others
  • 48 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 duiker
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Yesterday, Rita and Gerhard picked us up at 3:00 pm, excited to show us their new vehicle, an upscale 4-door Toyota pickup known as a bakkie in South Africa. They couldn’t have been more thrilled with their purchase, and we shared the excitement with them.

Rita and Gerhard with their new “bakkie.” It was a very smooth ride!

The ride to the Crocodile River in this four-wheel-drive vehicle was actually comfortable on the bumpy dirt roads in Marloth Park, compared to the cheap small car rentals we hire when more smooth riding vehicles are three times the cost of what we’re willing to pay. Unfortunately, the cost of car rentals throughout the world has increased outrageously over the past year of the pandemic, as have many travel-related expenses.

You’d think that the prices of travel-related venues and services would be a little lower to encourage hesitant travelers to begin booking again after this long haul. But, no, the prices continue to climb, which ultimately will impact the future of the travel industry.

Once we arrived at the river, we pulled out our camping chairs, arranging them in a tight row to leave room for others who’d come to the river hoping for exciting sightings. It was busier at Two Trees than we’d seen in a long time. Louise told us that bookings were up, mainly with South Africans, who longed to get out to the bush from the bigger cities in South Africa.

Please increase the size of the photos to see everything in the shot. There were two ostriches and two warthogs eating out of a trough made from a tire. The warthog was attempting to tip it over when he couldn’t reach the food. Very funny!

Few guests were international. For most travelers, flying into South Africa is not appealing at this time, with the Covid variants, increased cases lately, and the lack of available vaccines. We’ve yet to hear back on an opportunity for booking the vaccine in South Africa. However, our friends Linda and Ken, living in Johannesburg, did manage to get called for the first jab.

But, we’ve yet to hear of anyone getting vaccinated in this more remote area, other than healthcare professionals. We doubt we’ll hear anything before we leave in 16 days to head to the US where we feel confident we’ll be able to get the jab, now that walk-ins are available at some locations in Minnesota.

A mating pair of warthogs cuddling during a nap in our garden.

After the river, around 4:45, we left the river, and Rita and Gerhard dropped us off at our house, where we picked up our car and followed them to Jabula for dinner. Tom suggested we drive ourselves to avoid them having to backtrack to take us home at the end of the night. It all worked out fine, and we reached Jabula at 5:30, with plenty of time for fun at the bar and dinner shortly after that.

For a Saturday night, it wasn’t as busy as it had been pre-Covid. The four of us sat at the bar, chatting among ourselves and others, and by 6:30, our meals were ready, and we headed to our usual table on the veranda. It wasn’t as cold as it had been a week earlier, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our delicious meals and the lively conversation.

A mom and baby bushbuck have been stopping by each day.

We’ll be busy getting ready for guests coming for dinner tomorrow, including Don (of Kathy and Don), Rita, and Gerhard. Kathy will arrive in Marloth Park a few weeks before returning from the US at the end of July. Even more, fun social times are on the horizon!

Have a fantastic Sunday! We plan to!

Photo from one year ago today, June 13, 2020:

Us in front of one of the most exciting ruins of Ephesus Jordan on this date in 2013. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Fun outing today…A logical solution for load shedding!..Thanks, Gerhard!…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 13 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, and others
  • 41 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Today, Rita and Gerhard are picking us up at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs., in their newly purchased vehicle, and we’re all heading to the Crocodile River for game viewing, photos, and sundowners. As soon as darkness falls, we’ll head to Jabula for dinner. There’s load shedding tonight from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, 1900 hrs to 2130 hrs.

Since we’ll be at Jabula for dinner, most likely, it will only be a short time until we have power, when later they’ll drop us off at our bush bouse. We usually sit at the bar for an hour or more and dine around 6:30, 1830 hrs. It’s easy for us to entertain ourselves for several hours.

An oxpecker on the back of a kudu.

Recently, when load shedding ramped up again, I thought, if we could download some movies or TV series, we could watch a few shows during the outage. However, after trying several possibilities, I realized how difficult it is to download movies or tv series on a Chromebook.

As mentioned in a prior post, we can no longer use Graboid, a straightforward monthly fee download site. It just doesn’t work for Chromebooks. As it turns out, for the same reasons, Graboid doesn’t work, nor do Hulu downloads, and many others available online. This was frustrating.

Had we known this when we purchased Chromebooks, we undoubtedly would have stayed with Windows 10, although we weren’t keen on that operating system with its weird nuances. So, here we are, with what we have. Tom’s new device is also a Chromebook; since he disliked Windows 10 so much, he didn’t want to start that up again.

This morning, Big Daddy stopped by to see what was on the menu.

Gerhard doesn’t use Chromebook. However, he had read our previous post, where I mentioned our inability to download movies, and he surprised me while we were out to dinner at Bos. Restaurant here in the park. He handed me a flash drive with approximately 50 movies on it from 2016 and 2017, all Academy nominees, and offered to let us download them and return the flash drive to him when we’re done.

This way, during power outages, we can watch movies in the dark. How do we do this with no power? Simple. Our Chromebooks have a massive advantage over any other operating systems and devices; the batteries may last as long as 14 hours since a recent charge. This was a big motivator for us in choosing Chromebooks.

Of course, playing downloaded movies may reduce the available charged time considerably. But, with the inverter Louise and Danie provided for us in this house, if our laptop or phone’s batteries are low during load shedding, the inverter will recharge them. The inverter kicks in when the power goes out.

At times, bushbucks nibble on these plants in the side yard.

The inverter doesn’t provide enough power for the entire house, only one lamp in the bedroom, two-floor fans, and sufficient power to recharge our phones and laptops. Nevertheless, it’s all we need during load shedding. So, when Gerhard gave us the movies, I downloaded them onto our external hard drive, which fortunately had enough room for all of them.

Then, a dilemma presented itself. There was no sound in any of the movies, although the video quality was good. Unfortunately, Chromebooks have lousy sound systems. We’d downloaded an app, Ultimate Volume Booster, from the Google store for our regular viewing. It works excellent for Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon but wasn’t available to use for Gerhard’s movies.

Then, I downloaded the app, VLC Media Player, and finally, we had sound, easily adjustable for Tom’s loss of hearing. Next, the challenge was finding all the movies on our two terabytes hard drive that is almost full after adding the movies. I needed to know each movie’s name to find it or spend at least 30 minutes or more scrolling through all the files.

Little and some friends.

Yesterday, on an app on my phone, entitled “Keep,” I created a list of every movie. Once we watch one of the movies, I’ll make a note next to each item, “watched.” That way, we don’t have to recall what we’ve watched. In going through the list of approximately 50 movies, there were 8 to 10 of them I know we’ve already watched. Tom rarely remembers the names of movies or TV series we’ve seen in the past.

Now, when the power is out, I open VLC, type in the name of the movie we’d like to watch (from my phone app), watch it, and mark it as “watched.”  Easy peasy. Of course, all of this took a few hours to set up. But, now, when there’s no power, we have an easy solution to keep us from staring at our phones, playing the same dumb games over and over again. Thanks, Gerhard! We so appreciate the movies!

That’s it for today, folks. We hope that you, too, find workable solutions for the challenges facing you!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  June 12, 2020:

After returning from Kruger on a Sunday, we headed to Amaazing River View, Serene Oasis, to watch the sunset and wildlife on the Crocodile River. This waterbuck was busily grazing on the vegetation as we captured his reflection in the river. For more photos, please click here.