Cow day!…The simple pleasures of barnyard animals…

Note the different sizes of her horns.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“While Guinness
will always be Ireland’s most famous drink, more of the black stuff is consumed
each year in Nigeria than it is back home in Ireland. In fact, the Brits are
the largest consumers of Guinness, followed by Nigerians, leaving Ireland in
third place!”

From this site with Ireland’s livestock stats.

Livestock Survey 
December 2018 

Add 000’s to the following totals (for millions):

   Cattle  Pigs Sheep
2017 6,673.6 1,616.4 3,981.8
2018 6,593.5 1,572.2 3,743.5
% change -1.2 -2.7 -6.0

Many females of certain breeds have horns.

Without a doubt, our readers are well aware we have an infinity toward wildlife and domesticated animals.  In our “old” lives we had plenty of daily interactions not only with our own dogs but also the neighborhood dogs.  On a private road, there was no enforcement of leash laws and our dogs roamed freely visiting neighbors along the road.

Living on a lake in Minnesota also provided us with frequent wildlife sightings including heron, geese, eagles, wood ducks, loons and many other varieties of birds.  It was truly a bird watcher’s paradise.  

This short rock wall borders the holiday home’s garden.  We saw something move to realized several cattle were very close to us.

In addition, we could count on seeing coyotes and foxes, mostly in the winter when they could walk across the frozen lake looking for “little dog lunch.” Also, in the spring, on occasion, we’d see a moose swimming across the lake.  

The photo ops were outstanding.  At the time, neither of us could take a decent photo, although we had a digital camera.  At the time, neither of us would know that we’d have loved to look back at photos of wildlife, let alone the photos of those we love.  

I was a little too far for using flash when it was almost dark as I took this photo from the living room window.

When a family event was underway someone always yelled out, “take a photo” and we’d all turn and look at one another trying to see if anyone “bit” on the concept.  Seldom was the case.  If only we had photos of those events.  Sure we have a few hundred photos stored on a cloud, but nothing like we have now, thousands of photos each year from our everyday lives of world travel.

We didn’t start taking photos of our travels until we were a few months into it, realizing using our smartphones wouldn’t be satisfactory for our posts.  Over the past almost seven years, we learned a little but never enough. 

This cow was busy grazing in the side yard but picked up her head when we drove toward the main road from the driveway.

From time to time when the lighting isn’t ideal, we struggle to get good shots.  It could be us, it could be our cameras…most likely it’s us.  Thus, we apologize for the lack of clarity in some of today’s photos taken when it was almost dark.  The photo opp happened so quickly we had no time to change the settings on the camera.

Now, in the lush green of Ireland’s summer, we’re thrilled to be able to see barnyard animals and livestock.  After all, 15 months in Marloth Park is hard to beat when at any given moment we had amazing animals standing at the edge of the veranda.

Mom and baby.

A few nights ago we were reminded of Marloth Park when we saw movement outside our living room window.  We jumped up simultaneously, each grabbing a camera, hoping for some good shots.

Alas, as late as it was, close to 2200 hours, 10:00 pm, we were pushing our luck.  As the days are getting shorter since the summer solstice on June 21st, it’s still light here, at least to some degree, between the hours of 5:00 am and 2230 hours, 10:30 pm.  

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am, still needing more sleep, realizing our sleeping problems most likely are a result of too much light in the bedroom with the thin draperies.  Luckily by 6:00 am, I fell back to sleep for a few more hours.

This photo was taken in the evening before the sun fully set.

Thus, when the cows were near the house, although it was still light, our photo taking was marginal at best.  The remainder of the photos were taken during daylight hours albeit with a heavy cloud cover.  Today, it started out sunny but now the dark clouds are rolling in from the sea.  This is common for Ireland.  

Regardless of the weather, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the cattle, sheep, donkeys, horses and occasional pigs we’ve seen while driving on the narrow winding roads.  It seems the cattle and the sheep are most prevalent which, as you can see above, the numbers are obvious.

Soon, when we depart for Amsterdam, it’s unlikely we’ll have many opportunities to take wildlife photos.  We’ll be staying in the city for two nights, taking photos of a different kind of wildlife!  It should be fun.

May your weekend be filled with many wonderful surprises!


Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2018:

Hippos resting on a sandbar on the Sabie River.  Note the number of oxpeckers on the hippos hides!  For more Kruger photos please click here.

Settling in…Photos of this lush green island…A new feature to our site…

Finally, we got a good shot of this pair of cows, most likely a mom and baby, after waiting patiently.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Ireland is a beautiful green country located in northwest Europe. It is
an island that is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea. The island is
considered the 20th largest island in the world and encompasses 84,421
kilometers squared of land. It is home to 6.4 million people, and the capital
city of Dublin has a population of 1.273 million people. The island has hilly
geography with numerous plains and rivers cutting through the land. Its
currency is the Euro. The country’s official language is both English and
Irish. Most people speak a dialect of English. However, many families who have
lived in Ireland for generations understand and speak Irish. Ireland does not
have an official religion, but the primary religion followed in the
country is Christianity. Its flag is a horizontal flag with green, white, and
orange vertical stripes.”
The pleasant drive from the house to Clifden, although long, presents some stunning views.

There will be plenty of photos of Ireland as we get out more and more each week.  Since we’ll no longer be posting “Sighting of the Day in the Bush,” we’ve changed the feature to be befitting for our time in Ireland to “Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland.”  We look forward to learning about this country as we share these facts with all of you.

Maumturk  Mountains in the background are often referred to as the “Twelve Bens.”  From this site:  
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish: Na Beanna Beola; the peaks of Beola)] is a mountain range of sharp-peaked quartzite summits and ridges located in the Connemara National Park[d] in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. Topographically, the content is partnered with the Maumturks range on the other side of the Glen Inagh valley (a Western Way route). The highest point is Benbaun at 729 meters (2,392 ft). The range is popular with hill walkersrock climbers,[2] and fell runners. The 15–kilometer “Glencoaghan Horseshoe” (Irish: Gleann Chóchan) is noted as providing some of the “most exhilarating mountaineering in Ireland” and “a true classic.” A more serious undertaking is the 28–kilometer “Twelve Bens Challenge,” climbing all bens in a single day. The Twelve Bens was known as “Slime Head” or “Slin Head” throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and possibly before — a corruption of the original Irish name (Irish: Ceann Léime).  It was one of the four “principal heads” or mountain peaks that mariners used as navigational landmarks on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.”

As I continue to recover, with the left leg still an issue, I find I am beginning to be able to move around much more. After all, I only began walking on my own and was able to sit up for a little over a week.  

From African wildlife to barnyard animals, we’ve found a degree of contentment, especially when they are as cute as these two cows, huddled together to stay warm on a chilly morning.

It takes time to regain muscle strength, stability, and mobility, but the daily progress is visible right now. Today, for the first time in three months, I am making dinner, chopping vegetables, standing on my feet, and made the bed this morning. I am very hopeful.

Cows are inquisitive. They often stopped grazing to check out who’s driving by.

As for Ireland, it’s not surprisingly beautiful when we both had been here in years passed. It’s Tom’s fourth time in the country (twice before I was on the scene) and once for both of us as a port of call while on a cruise in September 2014 when we visited the port city of Cobh, the last port of call for the Titanic.

The people of Ireland? Outrageously friendly. Yesterday, the “fish guy” John O’Flannery stopped by with his refrigerated truck to see if we were interested in buying some fresh fish. I couldn’t have been more excited to see a fish guy, but we didn’t have any cash to pay him.  

We’ve seen these three burros.  “The only real difference between a donkey and a burro is their domestication status. A donkey is domesticated, and a burro is wild. Other than that, there is no difference — burro is just the Spanish word for donkey. There is no physical or genetic difference between a burro or a donkey otherwise.”

The package from the US only arrived yesterday, containing our two new ATM cards.  When John stopped by around 1600 hours (4:00 pm), we’d yet to take the 45-minute drive to the next biggest town, Clifden, where we could finally go to an ATM for cash.

After purchasing the SIM cards at the post office, we walked along the boulevard in Clifden, enjoying the wide array of shops, pubs, and restaurants.

But, John, friendly and trusting, encouraged us to take our fish choice and pay him next week when he stops by. We purchased a container of fresh crabmeat and a kilo of haddock, fresh from the sea, for a total of Euro 14.00, US $15.66, a sufficient amount for three meals.  

Tom doesn’t eat fish unless it is battered and fried, so I’m on my own with everything we’ll purchase from John in the three months we’ll be here. Before too long, the “vegetable lady” will stop by with fresh organic produce from her nearby farm.  We love country living with these types of perks.

The strips of shops made it easy to get around the downtown area.

As mentioned above and in yesterday’s post, our package from the US finally arrived. The local DHL tried to deliver the previous day but had called our property owner Eileen to tell her we’d yet to pay the Euro 259, US $290 customs fee assessed on the package.  

Plants for sale at a local garden store. The owner came out to greet us.  The Irish are very friendly.

I spoke to the DHL driver and gave him the verification number, proving we’d paid when we received an email requesting payment several days ago. At this point, he was too far away to deliver the box and didn’t bring it out until yesterday after he received notice from the company that we had paid the customs fees.  

Contained in the box were our two new debit cards, which had expired at the end of March. We had virtually not a single Euro in our possession. We desperately needed some cash.  

The Clifden town square.

Plus, we’d tried to purchase SIM cards in Clifden on Monday for airtime, text, and data from the post office only to discover it couldn’t be accomplished without a debit card and cash, of which we had neither on Monday. All we had in our possession was our various credit cards, none of which could be used for this purpose. We returned to Clifden today with cash and debit cards, and now our phones have working calling, data, and text.

St. Joseph Catholic Church is located in downtown Clifden.

Whew!  We’ve certainly had our fair share of complications lately, but somehow, one by one, we’ve knocked them off. In the next few days, we’ll get to work on the waiver for the request to return to South Africa after we were banned as “undesirables” for the next five years when we overstayed our visas by 90 days as a result of the four surgeries in Nelspruit.

The island we encountered during the drive to Clifden.

For now, we’re settled in. For days (if not months), we’ve been reeling with handling many essential and, at times, frightening issues. We’ve always known we ran the risk of dealing with such matters, and as each of the situations, one by one, is resolved, we realize we can handle the most difficult of challenges.

Sheep are marked with paint as described here:  “Farmers “paint” their sheep for identification. Frequently, you’ll notice large pastures blanketed in green grass and dotted with sheep.  Typically, these pastures are enclosed by stone walls or wire fences and are shared by multiple farmers.  When it comes time to claim ownership of the animals roaming around hundreds of acres, a customized painted sheep is easy to identify. Also, during the mating season, the male ram will be fitted with a bag of dye around its neck and chest.  When mating, the ram mounts the ewe, and a bit of dye is deposited on the ewe’s upper back. This way, the farmer knows which ewes have been impregnated and moves them on to another field away from the ram.”

A most peculiar aspect to living in Ireland is the fact it doesn’t get fully dark until around 2300 hours, 11:00 pm, and it’s fully light around 5:00 am. So far, we’re succeeding at sleeping through the night and possibly getting six hours of sleep each night, more than either of us have had over the past months.

Awakening to the divinely cool mornings and spectacular views of the sea is therapeutic and enriching. We look forward to many more mornings, days, and nights in this majestic environment as we “lick our wounds” and strive for a full recovery in this peaceful place.

A ram with curved horns painted in red.

Have a fantastic evening, and thanks again to all of our worldwide readers for staying at our side during these difficult times.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2018:

None of the six of us or our guide Alfred could believe our eyes as we watched this male elephant build his mud pool in Chobe National Park.  We’ve seen a lot of elephants in Africa, but this was a rare sighting for us. For more photos of this elephant and others, please click here.

Unusual sighting on a drive…Who knew?…New photos!

Later, upon arriving home we laughed over this photo that appears to be what??? A six-legged cow? No. The photo is a fluke which one cow standing behind the other.  We didn’t stay long for better photos when they began showing a few signs of aggression.

After days of bad weather, yesterday as the winds diminished we took off for a drive anxious to get out. The sun was shining and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be on our way. 

It was Saturday and the roads were busy with outdoor activities including a motocross event and a bike race requiring we make a few detours to get around the road that runs along the ocean.

We were able to take many photos often getting out of the car when possible to walk down country roads for better shots when parking wasn’t readily available at the most scenic locations.

The air was cool, but we’d dressed accordingly. This area is an amazing wealth of unique sights to see, unlike many countries we’ve visited in the past inspiring us to take advantage of sunny days.

This sign is posted at the entrance to the Belted Galloway farm.

Many sightings, unique to New Zealand, only add to the excitement as we wander onto road after road, making an effort to avoid repeats.  I almost hold my breath as we drive anticipating something special at the next turn. 

It’s no wonder we haven’t wanted to drive far away, incurring hotel bills, costs of meals, and expensive fuel when everything that appeals to us is within a two-hour drive.

This morning, prior to preparing today’s post we headed to town again to purchase eggs at the Farmers Market Taranaki, a trip we make every other Sunday morning. Open only in the mornings and having taken my time getting up this morning after a fitful night, we decided to head out as soon as we were up, showered, and dressed, even waiting for our usual morning coffee.

The egg farmer from whom we purchase usually purchase six dozen free-range, organic eggs, asked if we’ve traveled much throughout the country. We explained how much we’ve loved this general area and he laughed saying, “Many locals never visit all that you two have in their entire lifetime in this area!”

The line of demarcation of the white and black hide is fairly defined in these unusual cattle.

We certainly understand this often typical scenario. Who goes sightseeing in their own town unless they’re taking out-of-town visitors to see a specific venue or visiting a few popular sites with their children and/or grandchildren?

By the time we leave the Taranaki Region, we feel we’ll know it quite well as opposed to knowing a little of “this and that” from frequent travel outside the area. 

Perhaps, this is a rationalization for our lack of interest in making long road trips at this time. As we explained to the egg rancher, we do what we love to do which ultimately brings us the most joy and meaning and, hopefully, provides a modicum of entertainment for our worldwide readers.

Taking dozens of photos which we’ll share over the next many days, we were able to see a “story” in many of our camera subjects, especially the photos we’re sharing today, that of the unique (to us anyway) Belted Galloway Cattle. 

We’d never seen this breed of cattle in all of our world travels where over and over we’ve seen a wide variety of the more common breeds.

What a sight to see…these belted cattle!

This website is a good resource for information about the Belted Galloway who originated in Scotland in the 1700s.  Here’s a little about these special looking cattle from the online source:

“Belted Galloway cattle originated from western Scotland, a region whose weather is strikingly similar to Ireland’s own damp climate! This makes Belted Galloways perfectly suitable for the wet, cold winters and the boggy soft terrain of Irish farms. Their long, curly outer coat is ideal for rainy weather, as its coarseness deflects moisture from the animal’s skin. They also have a soft undercoat to keep them warm in colder temperatures. The head of the Belted Galloway has long hair around its ears, preventing frostbite in a case of an extreme Irish freeze.”

These unique animals are often referred to as the “Oreo” cattle. We “borrowed” the below photo from the website to illustrate that point which once seen clearly makes sense of such a nickname:

Yep, kind of similar to an “Oreo.”  Tom misses those for sure but looking at these cows didn’t make his mouth water as much as eyeballing a package of Oreos at the grocery store.

Standing on the side of the road, having parked on the narrow weedy road’s edge we proceeded with caution. (Few local roads in New Zealand have a “shoulder” for any necessary or desired stopping).

Wading through the tall grass and weeds we were able to get close enough for today’s photos. This breed of cattle may be aggressive as noted in these comments from the website:

“The dams also have strong mothering instincts, which is a plus for farmers who worry about the safety of vulnerable calves. Any nearby predators can be warned off by protective Belted Galloway dams; however, as with every breed, this kind of aggression should be treated with caution, and extra care should be taken around a volatile dam and her offspring. In the case of bulls, visitors should always be wary of the danger! Have a look at our article on Bull Safety to remind yourself of the right practices.”

It’s the females that are more aggressive in this breed as may be the case with this mom who may have a calf nearby.

As we stood and watched the cattle we could sense a bit of possible aggression as we noticed the double electric fence. As we’ve seen most recently cattle have certain movements such as kicking up a leg at a time and snorting indicating agitation.

Preferring not to upset their daily routine, we took these few photos and were happily on our way to see more treasures in this special area. We’ll be back with lots more over the next several days.

May you have a day of new discoveries!

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2015:

In Kauai, Tom spotted these two chickens. “Must have been a double yolker,” Tom clucked as I laughed. Kauai has one of the largest feral chicken populations in the world. For more photos, please click here.

How we’re spending the two month gap between two visits to Bali…Partial Itinerary…Moo…baa…neigh…

This is our favorite cow to visit when we’re on a walk.  She always sticks out her tongue and does a little dance when she see us.

When preparing yesterday’s post, we realized it may sound a bit confusing regarding our back and forth for two trips to Bali. The bulk of the decision to go back and forth revolved around the fact that Indonesia has strict visa regulations with stays only allowing for 30 days (with 60 days possible). We’ll figure that out soon.

Recently, these fillies/colts were born.

As a result, we thought it might clarify the plans we made for the almost two-month gap in between the two separate bookings for the same property. In part, the owners gave us an excellent price on the villa with a full staff but preferred to get more for the high season. 

The walk in the area is always lovely.

If we’d leave and return, they could get higher rates than we’re paying during the peak season, resulting in excellent pricing for us during the two separate visits on either end of the peak season.

Also, during this two-month gap, we found a two for one special on a Viking Mekong River cruise, providing we paid the cruise fare in full at the time of the booking which we were happy to do for the savings.

Cattle seem interested in humans as we’ve found on walks and drives through the countryside.

In these two transactions, we saved several thousand dollars for venues we may not have found affordable at the full rates and fares. The more countries we can visit at the best possible prices and terms the greater our worldwide experience. 

There are numerous varieties of long-horned cattle in New Zealand.

It’s not that we’re on a mission to visit every country in the world. It’s not practical in today’s world of war and terror.But, we are on a mission of visiting the countries we find interesting and enriching as we continue on our world journey.

The gap between the two Bali stays made sense when by coincidence and admittedly diligent planning and research, we’re not only excited about the time we’ll spend in Bali but also the two months in between and shortly thereafter, as shown below:
                                                                                         # days                        Dates

 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
Cruise –  Sydney to Singapore  14  RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise –  Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  15  Viking Mekong    7/8/2016 –
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 –
 Bali House  59  9/1/2016 –
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 –
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16  RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 

Luckily, the time in Bali will be low-key and relaxing while the interim period will be a whirlwind of flights, hotels, cruises, and comings and goings. Having this hectic schedule is good for us when at times, we can easily fall into the “homebody” mode staying put in one spot for a while. 

Discovering these horned cattle was a first for us in New Zealand.

The above itinerary over a period of seven months requires seven flights, four of which we’ve yet to book. We have plenty of time to book the remaining flights.

Don’t get me wrong…we love quiet times in the country. Without a lazy bone in our bodies, we keep our days full of activities we love to do, ultimately highly fulfilling. 

Many cattle are dehorned.   But, we don’t believe that process is done on this breed.

Although it may appear we’re occasionally “couch potatoes” which on occasion we are, we’re actually quite active most days of the week, not unlike many of our readers, who say they’re busier in retirement than when they were working.

Young bulls down the road from our house.

Of course, living on this farm in itself provides enough daily stimulation, activity, and entertainment as we spend considerable time outdoors enjoying every single moment. 

They often approach to check us out.

With the diligent use of repellent I’m able to spend all the time I’d like outdoors, as was the case when we lived in South Africa, Kenya, and other parts of the world where mosquitoes, biting flies, and sandflies are an issue.

On our usual walk, Mount Taranaki with our favorite cow on the right and a few sheep who often baa at us.

Today, it’s raining with heavy winds with more rain in the forecast. As summer winds down in New Zealand, apparently the much-needed rains have arrived. Knowing this is good for all the grazing animals in the countryside, we’re happy to see the rain, greening their pastures.

Tomorrow, on the day of my birthday we have a planned evening out and a special story with new photos we hope our readers will find entertaining. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2015:

It was one year ago today, we made the treacherous trek to the Queen’s Bath in Kauai, a known dangerous place to visit. Making our way down this area was challenging. Had we known how dangerous it was, we’d probably wouldn’t have done it. At times I grabbed any sturdy branch I could hold onto and when possible hung onto Tom to keep from falling. When we were done, I was glad to have challenged myself but also realized the practicality of such risky treks makes no sense at this age.  For more photos of Part 1 of this story, please click here.