Let’s compromise

This series of posts may periodically be updated as I think of more things to compromise on.  Please, visitors, add yours at the bottom.  I’m sure you could find one from your own life.


Good:  Coming home to cats lounging in the sun beams.

Bad:  Coming home to a present from the cats, a headless mouse which has actually been hiding there behind the chair for three days and is starting to smell and collect bugs and/or maggots.

Compromise:  Fewer mice = fewer cobras/puff adders/zebra snakes = safer cats and happy me.


Good:  The dog likes to keep me company when I work on the computer.

Bad:  The dog has periods of toxic gas emissions that smell like a foot died inside a carton of milk that you forgot about in the trunk of your car last summer.

Compromise:  If I happen to be having a day of gas emissions myself and don’t want to take the blame….



Good:  No mosquitoes.

Bad:  No moisture in my skin to the point it may just dry up and fall off.

Compromise:  I can use the fancy skin lotion that normally just sits in the cabinet and which, with its sweet smell, probably would attract more mosquitoes to me.  Oh, no wait, everything attracts mosquitoes to me.


Good:  I get to learn foreign languages.  Although, just one would have been ok.

Bad:  I get laughed at a lot.

Compromise:  I get to learn humility, patience, and sign language.


Good:  When a wildlife conservation organization and a cattle ranch can be neighbors.

Bad:  When a cheetah released from the organization preys on the neighbor’s calves.

Compromise:  That’s the million Namibian dollar question.

This is my cow. I named her Cow. I managed to bring her back to health when she was much smaller after she was attacked by a cheetah. Most calves do not survive. This year, 2 years later, she’s going to be a mom!

Guard bees

Some people have guard dogs.  Maybe a really big guard snake or a ferocious guard cat.  We do have a dog.  He’s not very intimidating though.

No.  We have guard bees.

We had a big, aggressive swarm in a box right next to the house for about a year.  Then they packed up and left without notice, leaving us vulnerable to attackers.  Not long after though, a new swarm moved in, even cleaned out the mess the old swarm left behind.  We left a second box out in case a homeless swarm happened to be in the neighborhood and sure enough, it too was soon inhabited.  Again we are fully protected.

Our bees fly about during the day, picking up nectar and water.  It is not unusual for us to cross paths as we do our daily chores.  But yesterday in the laundry room, there were a bunch of bees flying around, totally out of character.  They never use the washing machine.  They have no reason to be in there.  They seemed lost. 

Luckily, Jay is smarter than me.  He realized it was a new swarm looking for a home.  So he put out a couple of boxes and we let them be. 

An hour later we were sitting on the kitchen floor, quietly reading the instructions for the new energy-saving fridge.  A small murmur wafted through from outside.  I dismissed it as a foraging chicken.  Jay shouted “There!”, jumped to his feet, scared the crap out of me, and ran outside.

A smart man he is.  The laundry room bees had found the new box, went back for the whole clan and were moving in. I’ve never seen a swarm move in before and this was a big one.  It started slow; a few leaders scrounged their way inside the box.  Then more landed, more flew in, more showed up.  Soon the box was literally dripping bees and the rest were in a buzzing whirlwind around us.  We were surrounded.  The chickens and the dog ran for cover.  Jay ran for the camera.


After a mad rush into their small front door, they were all inside.  The whole thing took less than ten minutes.  

At sunset, all was quiet, you wouldn’t even know a massive swarm was in that box. 

Beware the guard bees.

First day back in Namibia

There was a rabid kudu attacking the cattle at the corral by the house.  So Jay, Sniffel, and I trudged down there, me still half asleep since my body had no idea what time it was, and Jay with a rifle over his shoulder.  Sniffel bounced along in his usual, jolly, all-is-well spirit. 

The kudu thought it was hiding in a bush, but we could see it perfectly clearly.  One whistle from Jay and it looked directly at us.  One quick bullet to the head and it collapsed, dead, to the ground.  Normally, when we shoot an animal on the farm, it is for food and I still have never gotten used to it.  When it is rabid, it’s not so hard; I know we are releasing it from an agonizing death.  And when I say we, I mean Jay, while I stand a few feet back, restraining the dog from bravely bringing down the animal by his tiny self. 

We tied it to the back of our diesel pick-up truck by its long, twisted horns and hauled it to the vulture restaurant, a self-descriptive place not far down the road.

One cow had already been infected. (Usually, they are bitten as the rabid animal fights to get to the water trough.  Rabies lames the throat muscles thereby causing an insatiable thirst which is why the animals seem crazed).  She couldn’t stand anymore but to scramble a few steps in any direction.  She was drooling at the mouth.  She had miscarried.  Where the calf should have come out was then only blood.  We propped her up with a few small boulders; at least she wouldn’t be on her side.  Their bodies shut down faster when they are on their side.  We shot her up with the last of our rabies vaccination and hoped for the best.  Two mornings later, we found her dead.  Overnight, jackals had taken her eyes, udder, and some of her internal organs after ripping open her backside.  She, too, was hauled to the restaurant.  We scared away many vultures, resting after feeding on the kudu.  We laid the cow to rest next to the skin and bones which was a live animal just 48 hours ago.  Vultures hovered for yet another day.

I’ve done these things before, they are not uncommon on our Namibian farm.  It was simply an abrupt and blunt welcome back and a reminder how far I had traveled from the city life of the past three months in the States.

                     Earth to earth, so easy to see in Africa.