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  • Writer's pictureMouse

Musings of a Mouse, March 2022

Rocky Hollow

Windy and dry, pale blue skies with not a cloud in sight.

I can see that I started my Musings last year in almost the same way, little did I know

it was going to get even dryer. Those dusty dams I talked about have been dusty for a

year, except for one, on our neighbours, who got a lucky storm, so luckily the elephants

and giraffes, zebras, and antelopes are all drinking from there. I have been working on

habituating the resident wildlife to the horses, and it’s turning out to be the perfect time

as they are enjoying the grass reserves that we have and now we are part of their landscape

so are now just watching us go by with much less concern. It’s the leopard who is coming to

drink out of the horse trough every night who worries me a bit, but as soon as it rains, I

know he will move off.

In September, we were lucky enough to be invited by friends, for a Historical learning curve on a Turkish Gullet in the Mediterranean - we had a week of serious luxury, great travelling companions, deep blue swimming, in perfectly cool water, exploring ancient Roman ruins with an incredible guide and then Istanbul - most marvellous city.

In November, having delayed a Spanish riding safari for a year, off we went for some fabulous Andalusian horses. Following the coast and the mountains and visiting all of Dali’s homes and museums we could not have had a more different holiday. Apart from one day of truly freezing rain, when I thought my hands would fall off, and my saddle squelched, we had lovely sunshine. Shared adventures in a foreign land with one’s friends and family

are always the best.

The house is looking great and we finish more and more every month. We had our first family

Christmas there this year, (although we were missing Fia) and it was a good place to eat

too much turkey! I have come back from Nairobi, several times, with my car full of curtain

material. Charlie has been buying rugs and carpets in the auctions and they look lovely in our

big rooms.

After Christmas, we started three different trips, Charlie riding for a week with wonderful Belgian siblings, miles and miles of exploring and adventure. Milo was in the Mara Camp and in the Chyulu Hills, with extreme comfort and extreme wildlife and not a horse in sight! Riding

safaris with mixed levels of competence can be tricky, but I was lucky enough to have a sweet Swiss family come to spend time at Rocky Hollow then and off to a riding camp for a night. We managed to have some good gallops instigated by their 12-year-old daughter, while her

mother, who was more sedate, rode along at a gentle walk with the grooms. Such a fun family holiday.

One of the nicest things about our lives is the wonderful people we meet on safari and it was so satisfying to introduce some great conservationists to each other. Charlie Burrell and Issy Tree from Knepp Castle in England have a huge rewilding project, and we took them to meet Richard Bonham from Big Life and Michael Dyer from Borana Conservancy, both of whom look after vast tracts of wilderness in Africa. They never stopped talking, and their conversations were fascinating to listen to.

The Opuntia prickly pear was originally bought into Kenya, in the early 1900s by a keen gardener to decorate her garden while her husband, the District Commissioner, was stationed in Doldol, a small town not far from us. The plant soon escaped the confines of her garden, with the help of the baboon and the elephant, who think that their purple pears are delicious. As you can imagine, an elephant can eat a lot of them and have been spreading them for years. They are tenacious in their will to survive and have taken over the overgrazed degraded land in parts of Laikipia, especially in this drought time. Cattle and goats cannot graze around them or eat them. The natural control of them is a small spider mite, called a cochineal, and it’s been spread around to try and help, but it doesn’t quite work fast enough. So we have had a large group of ladies from the community who have been employed for the last couple of months, digging it up on Rocky Hollow, and hopefully, over the years we will get rid of it. Such a good way to get money into the local community and improve the land.

We are delighted to have our Masai lady runners, Lucy and Jane, getting ready for the full Lewa Marathon again, excellent conservation and community projects, and hard running! Elephants and rhinos are considered normal running hazards and are gently moved off the tracks by helicopters. Milo is ordering new tents and I am getting new horses, all the way from Zambia, Charlie is building new water tanks, all in all, a positive way forward and we really hope you can come and share them with us soon.


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