Experience life on a Working Ostrich Show Farm!
A frigid wind blowing through my bedroom window awoke me. Sitting up in bed, I was relieved to find that I did not have a hangover.
The night before, my wife and I, along with our friends Rosemary and Micky drank more wine than I dared to count.
We were in Oudtshoorn after all – on a working ostrich show farm, right in the heart of South Africa’s winelands where some of our country’s best Port wines come from.
By the time I had showered and shaved, the summer sun had burnt away the cold that had descended from the Swartberg Mountains in the north and the Outeniqua Mountains to the south and I heard something I hadn’t heard in a while. Silence.
Apart from a random tweet and chirp from a bird, there was no other noise. No Police sirens. No hooters. Just pure, sweet silence.
Enter the Ostrich Capital of the World
My wife and I had driven down from Johannesburg to visit our friends who had moved to the town three years earlier. We arrived the previous day in the late afternoon and were greeted with our first of many glasses of wine. This morning, Rosemary treated me to hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee, over which Micky informed us that we would be spending the morning at an ostrich show farm.
I must admit, the idea of visiting an ostrich show farm left a total blank in me, but I went along none the less. We had a hearty breakfast under the giant peruvian Peppertree where our multi-lingual guide greeted us. We saw some of the most beautiful flora I had ever seen.
We arrived at the ostrich farm and as we drove through the gate, we received a personal greeting. An ostrich decided to challenge our vehicle to a race. It ran alongside our car while keeping its eyes on us the entire time. I knew at this moment that I would be thankful that I decided to come along that day.
The Big Bird with the Long Legs – and sharpest beak
My views of ostriches prior to this visit was indifference at best. Okay, they’re just big, flightless birds. No big deal, but this all changed when I was standing in front of one, staring at it in the eye. Our guide was an encyclopaedia of facts on these giant birds. He took us first to a hatchery where I watched with amazement as one of the volleyball sized eggs began to crack.
A tiny beak began stabbing out from within the hardened, calcium shell and greeted us and the world for the first time. We were then taken to see a group of ostrich chicks that were only a few weeks old and we were allowed to hold them in our hands. The best way I can describe it, is that it was like holding a handful of cloud within my palm. Again, I thanked the stars for decidding to go along.
After this, we went to go see the mummy and daddy birds. Seeing these ostriches in reality is completely different to seeing them on television or in a zoo. There was something awe inspiring and exhilarating about having to look up at these birds as they towered over us. Our guide gave us some feed and like giant canaries, they began to peck the grain from our palms. Next up we visited the stunning Highgate showroom and naturally could not leave without a little something in Ostrich leather.
This is an experience I will cherish for the next 6 months because that is when we will be returning to introduce our children to these wonderful ostriches.