The lamb saga on the farm continues…

 This photo op sent me swooning with delight.  Too cute for words.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Witheridge: 
From this site:

The village of Witheridge is set in a gloriously scenic area dominated by the waters of the Rivers, Little Dart, Dalch, Taw, and the lovely River Mole. It is a charmingly un-spoilt village which has clung steadfast to its rural way of life, with farming being mostly at the centre of the economy.  The village is perhaps best known for its beautiful village church, this has a sturdy clock-face tower crowned with pinnacles and is surrounded by an attractive church-yard. There is a village store, a post office, and a newsagent. Two village inns provide good food and lively conversation – the pub is the place to be if you want to meet the locals! Witheridge is on the Two Moors Way, thus it offers easy access to the delights of both Dartmoor and Exmoor. The townships of Crediton and South Moulton are both just a short drive away.
_______________________________


We’re still reeling over the entertaining experience we both had on Tuesday while assisting John and Renate in herding the 6-month old lambs from a paddock located across the road to the fenced area where the barns and outbuildings are located.
At one point, the lamb herd wandered over to the pond next door to our house, Pond Cottage.  We couldn’t help but laugh.

I can’t help but tease Tom over his participation in this process as a competent shepherd.  Moving this many sheep at one time always requires a third person to assist, most often a neighbor or friend.
The lambs wandered off to wherever they liked with little regard to the mission at hand.
Knowing we wanted to take photos, they asked Tom if he’d take the role of the third person while I would do what I could with both of my hands on the camera poised to take photos and videos are shown in yesterday’s post here.
They checked out the pond.
Although we’ve always appreciated the work of farmers, we had no idea how challenging a process such as this can be, along with all the other endless chores facing a farming family.  
They stopped to graze on some fresh grass, far from where they were headed.
Living on this farm in Witheridge gave us an entirely new perspective.  Not only, do John and Renate handle 350 sheep (they have professionals do the sheering) but they harvest tons of apples from their orchard and make their own cider and apple cider vinegar. (Tomorrow, we will post photos and details for this fascinating process).
Finally, they acquiesced and enter the area to which they’d be nudged along. 
In addition, the have a good-sized garden, greenhouse and apple orchard to maintain and harvest, wood to gather, chop and sort for the wood-burning stoves, chickens, ducks and geese to feed, the day-to-day management of the sheep and the maintenance and management of their huge 500-year-old house and of course, this separate house we’re renting. 
The chickens were curious as the watched the lambs herded into the barn.
John is on his tractor many hours each day.  Renate works right along with him.  The most amazing aspect of this well-managed farm which they handle without permanent staff, they are both in their 70’s.  John is 79!  We can’t imagine working so hard at this point in life but they seem to enjoy it thoroughly.  
With all of them in the fenced area, John nudged them along further.
John and Tom have literally spent hours chatting.  They have similar views on many topics and can’t seem to get enough.  Unfortunately, they are leaving on holiday late tonight and won’t return until after we’re gone.  We’ll be alone at the farm but they have a friend coming to feed the chickens, ducks, geese and check on the sheep.
Still, a little resistance from the young ones.
They encouraged us to wander about at our leisure while they are away and when there’s a sunny day (if, there’s a sunny day) we may do just that.  Right now the grass, the rocky paths and the walkways are slippery and muddy from the constant rain.
With all of them inside the fenced area, John and Renate locked the gate.  John is a retired doctor (no retiring for them working so hard on this 150-acre farm) and handles most of the sheep’s health issues with expertise and ease.
Today, when it stops raining we’ll head out to the garden to pick a few tomatoes for dinner and see if we can roust up a few more tender morsels this late in the season.

May you have a fine day!
______________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2018:

A giraffe visiting our garden was quite a thrill.  We’d seen this large male at other locations in the park.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom, the shepherd…A truly exciting farm experience…Out sightseeing, late posting…

Part 1…Tom, the shepherd…
Part 2…Tom, the shepherd…

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon: 
From this site:

Devon is home to the last castle built in England:
Not everything in Devon is really, really old. Castle Drogo dates from 1930 – and is the last castle to have been built in England. In 1910 Julius Drewe bought about 450 acres south and west of the village of Drewsteignton and asked Edwin Lutyens to build him a castle. The First World War and the economic downturn caused many delays. Exeter City Council had nothing to do with this one. The castle’s defensive characteristics are purely decorative and it had electricity and lifts from the outset, with power being supplied by two turbines on the river below.”
_______________________________

It’s 5:30 pm (1750 hours) and we just returned from a day of sightseeing when this morning we awoke to much-appreciated sunshine.  Based on the weather reports we may be bombarded with more rain over the next several days making today our big chance to get out.

When we noticed the sun was shining first thing this morning with the sky mostly blue with few scattered clouds, we hoped it would last throughout the day and to our delight, it did.  

Suddenly, they’ll stop and decide to go back the way they came.  It takes some coaxing to get them walking in the correct direction.  The sticks are never used to hurt them, only to guide them along the way.  It definitely is a minimum of a three-person job.  They often bring in outside help to assist when possible.  But, we were here and thrilled to assist.

Now, we see the grey clouds rolling in leaving us grateful we’d made this decision. We took many photos, but first, over the next few days, we’re thrilled to be sharing today’s photos and the heartwarming experience we both had yesterday when John and Renate asked if Tom could help with herding the sheep.

Finally, they were headed in the right direction.

Of course, my job was to take photos and assist when and if the lambs took off in the wrong direction near where I was standing. Each of the four of us had a specific spot as to where to stand. I didn’t have any sticks for guidance with my hands busy with the camera but Tom was well-equipped.

The lambs (150 of out a total herd size of 350), all born in March or April this year, began their journey down the road to be moved to the barn for worming and later returned to a different paddock.  Tom had two long sticks to help Renate and John with the shepherding while I took photos.  

He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, nor could I. He’s not necessarily a farm-type of guy. His grandparents, mother, and father both grew up on farms. Renate said he was a “natural” sheepherder. Perhaps sheepherding is in his DNA!

Where we lived in Minnesota, we had some exposure to farms, by purchasing free-range eggs, chickens and organic produce from local farms. We always appreciated the hard work of farmers and the commitment to the lifestyle.  

After considerable guidance, they were headed to the barn.

A few times over the years we attended gatherings at various farms owned by Tom’s relatives or our friends.  We always treasured the experiences. Since we began our travels seven years ago as of October 31st, we’ve had the blissful opportunity to live on a few farms. This beautiful farm is the second in the past 30 days.

It’s always a treat to have an opportunity to interact with the farm animals and yesterday’s example will remain in our hearts and minds as one of our favorite hands-on experiences in our travels.

At one point, they turned and made an incorrect turn (herd mentality) and again, Tom guided them back in the right direction. 

For us, the “experience” has so much more meaning than seeing one more historic stone building, one more church or one more museum.We’ve already done that. And, no doubt we’ll continue to do that again for many years to come (God willing).

However, experiences such as yesterday’s sheep herding is hard to top in our realm of things. We loved every moment and we look forward to sharing more farm photos in the next few days. Please check out our videos, albeit a little jittery when I had to pitch in and assist.

This adorable boy wanted some attention which Tom and I freely offered.  So sweet!

From there we’ll share our sunny day photos of the Torquay, known as the English Riviera.Thanks for your patience in being able to see this late post. Please check back for more each day!  

______________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2018:
It’s important to always stop and wait patiently when wildlife is crossing the road.  No honking necessary!  They’ll move on.  For more photos, please click here.

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

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

“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 that is 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 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 range 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 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 right now the daily progress is clearly visible.  Today, for the first time in three months, I am making dinner, chopping vegetables, standing on my feet and actually made the bed this morning.  I am very hopeful.

Cows are very curious.  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.  This is 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, 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 we purchase 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 choice of fish and we could 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 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 prior 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 payment 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, in fact, 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/or 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 both cash and debit cards and now our phones have working calling, data, and text.

St. Joseph Catholic Church 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 important and at times frightening issues.  We’ve always known we ran the risk of dealing with such issues 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.