I didn’t see any cows in the suburbs today, but did come across a donkey nibbling on the short grass outside someone’s gate:
And a horse looking at me rather quizzically from nibbling short grass inside someone’s gate!
The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns is possibly among the most popular means of introducing young people to classical music and to the different instruments that make up an orchestra. The other is that wonderful symphonic fairy-tale for children, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. At the end of May this year, the Grahamstown Music Society devoted the first half of their concert to a transcription by Werner Thomas-Mifune for cello and piano of The Carnival of the Animals. Parents were invited to bring their children and “nobody will take offence if they leave at interval!”
I cannot show you all of the animals, but will introduce you to a few – with a South African twist.
The Royal March of the Lion
Instead of hens and roosters you can see a Red-necked Spurfowl
Donkeys will stand in for the Wild Asses
I will have to skip the kangaroos and the aquarium, but a Zebra will step in for the Characters with Long Ears
Skip the cuckoo for now and come to an aviary
Of pianists I have no pictures, so perhaps some Bagpipers will do
The fossils will be represented by a skeleton
Alas, I have no swan so will show you a Yellow-billed Stork instead!
Look at the idyllic scene below of cows grazing on open grassland. The early morning light casts long shadows over the contented herd whilst highlighting the treed hill beyond. Look more closely and you will realize this is no ordinary rural scene.
What you are seeing is an open park below our house. Beyond that is the national road that leads into our town at the bottom of the hill. Now, take a closer look at you will appreciate that these are not rail-thin creatures desperate for any food they can find.
No, these animals are sleek and large, well-fed and are quite at home in this open area. Apart from being a hazard to the traffic on the road beyond – I know of people who have stopped at night to shoo them off the road to ensure the safety of other drivers who tend to speed into town – the cows do not confine themselves to this lush patch. The problem is that they move onto the pavements and into gardens. These ones are outside my front gate.
This one is inspecting my neighbour’s verge and made short work of the plants shortly after it was photographed.
And here are some of its mates – those sturdy creatures are not to be trifled with!
Meet The Urban Herd that wanders through our streets and gardens unchecked. A neighbour complained the other day that not only had she had to herd cows away from her garden early in the morning, but that later on she had had to slow down for about eight donkeys in the High Street, and then was met with a goat running around in the Church Square.
There are donkeys everywhere. I nearly crashed into one on my way to purchase groceries the other morning. Against the rising sun it looked at first like a drum at the side of the road – perhaps warning motorists of yet another pothole – and then it moved in front of my car in a flash. We know of people who have driven into donkeys or had an accident swerving out of their way.
Another neighbour added to the general complaint about the cowpats left on his lawn and that the cows had damaged his rock pathway by “creating a very uneven surface for some-one to stand in, fall or twist an ankle at our letter box”. Others complain of their plants and shrubs being munched on. Who would expect to meet cows standing or lying in the main road or suburban streets in the dark?
Some residents have tried sending pictures of the animals to the Municipal Manager, contacting the traffic police, and have even publicised the telephone number of the person in the municipality who is said to be in charge of stray animals – how odd that he always seems to be ‘out of town’ at a meeting when one asks to be put through to him. All to no avail. As someone said recently, “now that voting is over I think we may all just sing for our supper!”
The Urban Herd appears to be here to stay and the number is growing.