THE URBAN HERD CLOSE TO HOME

The Urban Herd often passes by our home – so often that we actually name individual animals we easily recognise. Here is the Mud Cow, for example, so named because she looks as though she has been splashed with mud. This photograph of her was taken in November 2021 when she was grazing on our pavement.

Late yesterday afternoon she was on the pavement in front of the house next door to ours – this time with a skittish calf in tow.

She was one of a larger group of the Urban Herd we had not seen in the gathering gloom until our return. A few of them are caught in the headlights through the windscreen. There were many more dark shapes in the background that we had to wait for before we could proceed.

From time to time we come across a new-born calf. This one was nestled in the grass while its mother grazed nearby on the hill above our home.

At other times we can hear the mournful bleating of a calf that has become separated from the rest of the herd, like this one a short distance below where we live.

Here is a part of the Urban Herd resting in the park below our house. For some reason – apparently a new mower has been purchased – the municipality recently mowed the grass there for the first time in months. The Urban Herd still pays it regular visits though for there is water from a leak that has been untended for years and plenty of shade for them to lie under while they chew the cud.

GOODBYE TO ALL THIS

We leave this morning for an adventure into the Western Cape. As we head out of town we will be saying goodbye to:

A herd of goats in Graeme Street, crossing the road from a private school to test out the lawns further down on the Rhodes University campus.

The Urban Herd of cattle making their way along Somerset Street.

And farewell to these donkeys walking along African Street.

I wish you all well over the Easter weekend.

ROADS OUT OF TOWN

Those of my readers more used to tarred highways, fast traffic and concrete bridges might like to pause a while to come on a journey with me to see some of our roads. We will start on the corner of the tarred road below my home (hidden behind the trees) where, having crossed over a bridge we are halted by part of the Urban Herd taking a rest from grazing pavements and any shrubs or flowers they find during their daily trawl through the suburbs.

If we were travelling during December, we might wish to stop in at the local supermarket to buy some refreshments. As we drive out of the parking area we would halt again to admire the street and pavement strewn with jacaranda flowers.

We would have to cross over a disused railway line that once carried good and passengers to Alicedale and on to Port Elizabeth.

You may prefer to eschew the highway and drive through some of the farming areas. We would be travelling along the dirt road, but you may wonder at some of the tracks, such as this one, on some of the farms we pass by.

Occasionally, on what you think of as a good tarred district road that will give us a clear run to our destination, you might be surprised at having to halt once more by this typical rural scene.

At last we reach the Addo Elephant National Park where we turn off some of the main tarred roads to explore the dirt roads – one of which will lead you to the well-known and much photographed waterhole known as Hapoor. The spectacle of hundreds of elephants milling about drinking, bathing, or enjoying each other’s company will cause us to halt again. They are so interesting to watch that more than an hour could easily pass before I could persuade you that we should drive on for there are other animals to see.

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER

Green, green, its green they say on the far side of the hill sing the New Christy Minstrels. I’m going away to where the grass is greener still, they continue. After the December rain there is green grass everywhere and so it was quite amusing to watch this cow walking purposefully along this pavement:

Prior to reaching this brick-paved section the cow had walked over thick green grass covering the pavement for most of the length of the street. Clearly she had noticed that the grass was ‘greener’ on the far side for she didn’t halt until she had reached this address:

Perhaps she prefers her grass to be freshly mowed?

URBAN HERD UPDATE

I counted sixty head of cattle spread out across the open area not far from our home late this afternoon – all munching on the lush kikuyu grass that has responded to the recent rain. This is what the area looked like at the beginning of November:

On Tuesday this week the grass looked like this:

I suspect the municipality deliberately neglects to mow the park lawn – on the other hand, their mowers may be broken … perhaps there really isn’t any money… The Urban Herd doesn’t mind and is congregating in ever greater numbers.

This cow was doing its best to wrench this low branch from the tree growing on the pavement opposite my front gate.

While this group are about to cross the road to join the rest. Note the pretty jacaranda blossoms that are in bloom all over town at the moment.