Last Days at the Ranch

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Jesus and Noel

After many happy years, the Ranch has been sold and I’m preparing to hand it off to the new owner in a few weeks.  William will keep the remaining ostriches in addition to the two very successful nightly rentals.

It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ll treasure the memories but most of all, I’m so glad I could make a difference in the life of my big African Red Ostrich, George (aka Gorgeous George).  This photo is how I’ll always remember him, smiling and happy to greet me.

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Gorgeous George

George was a rescue who at 15 years old and with a reputation for aggression, no one else would take.  His previous owner was afraid of him and he was just as afraid of people.  His previous life was lonely and monotonous as there were no other ostriches and his owner would just drop a bail of hay in his pen and walk away.  He was so difficult to handle, I thought we’d never get him loaded into my trailer.  But we did and after a 16 hour straight drive he arrived at the Ranch frightened and bewildered.

That was three years ago.  George settled in quickly and we developed a bond I didn’t think him capable of at his age.  In just a few months, he let me feed him by hand and stroke his neck.  Of all my birds, I felt safest in the pen with him.  He knew I was responsible for his change of fortune and was thankful for it.  Once, I slipped while climbing over the coral fence and must have fallen to the ground pretty hard since I blacked out for time.  I came to with George sitting next me, gently nibbling at the hair on my arm (his favorite pastime).

However, he had no experience with other ostriches, especially females and never showed any nesting instincts.  Until that is, I gave him a harem of females typical of male ostriches in the wild and let them keep their eggs.   Within weeks George was sitting on the nest, counting and recounting and gently turning his clutch of eggs.

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George Tending to his Nest

I’m sure George will bring as much joy to his new owner’s life as he had to mine.

George and his three females (Mary, Darla and Alfalfette) as well as Jesus and his female (Noel) will remain on the Ranch where they grew up.  These six birds will continue to amaze and entertain guests for years to come.

I myself am moving on in search of new experiences.  Life is a journey as they say and I still have much to discover with my remaining time.  Hopefully, they will be as rewarding as these past years at the Ranch.

Camping

The Author and Founder of the Joshua Tree Ostrich Ranch and Guest House

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Kayaking and Canoeing Lake Mohave

 

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Lake Mohave is a widening of the Colorado River about half way between Hoover Dam and Bullhead City Arizona.  Most visitors to Lake Mohave go to the Nevada side where the roads, although dirt, are usually well maintained.  That’s a pity because while the Nevada shore is mostly barren rock and sand, the Arizona side is lush with vegetation which makes for some of the prettiest paddling in the region.

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Water levels in Lake Mohave are usually high even when Lake Mead is low.  The result is a flooded forest through which you can paddle.

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The Lake is teeming with wildlife and a major stop over for migratory birds.  Bass and carp are abundant in the waters and heron and turkey vultures are frequently seen along the shore.  The area is also home to many wild burros.

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Unfortunately, Cottonwood Road to Lake Mohave from the Arizona side is usually in terrible shape and often impassible except by high clearance 4X4 vehicles.  When the author last visited in early May 2017 it was much improved and passable by regular passenger sedan however.

To get to Lake Mohave and the kayak put in spot, take Arizona Route 93 to Cottonwood Road (near Dolan Springs) and head west.  Continue straight to the shore (Pot Cove) and put your kayak or canoe in near the vault toilet.

There are also primitive and private campsites along the shore north of Pot Cove.   The road north along the shore is in even worse shape than Cottonwood Road but if your vehicle can handle it, it’s worth it.

Mary and Pinky Find Happiness at Last

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Mary and Pinky Together at Last

Although Mary has been at the Ranch since she was chick, finding her a mate she accepted has been a difficult task.  Hens are very particular in choosing a mate and for the longest time, Mary was holding out for the alpha ostrich (the ranch owner).

Pinky still acts very much like a teenager and sex is always on his mind but Mary wanted nothing to do with it ever since they were put together.  After two difficult months, Mary finally accepted Pinky as her mate and has started laying large beautiful eggs.

We look forward to their many happy years together (and all the eggs and chicks).

 

The Views are Free at Pierce Ferry Airport

Long a favorite of the locals, Pierce Ferry Airport (also known as Meadview Airport) offers great views of the Colorado River and the beginning of the Grand Canyon but doesn’t cost you anything.

The airport is a dirt runway ending at a cliff overlooking the Colorado River as it enters the Grand Canyon.  The colors of the Canyon walls at sunset are stunning red, orange and violet and the views of the river are spectacular.  Unfortunately, the overlook at the Airport is little known outside of the local residents.

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The Airport can be reached via an unmarked dirt road off of Pierce Ferry Road.  The turnoff is near mile marker 43 and is noted by a yellow diamond road sign (photo below) followed by a 35 mile per hour speed limit sign (just past the exit).  The 10 minute dirt road leading to the Airport can be rough but is passable for most vehicles, just drive slowly.

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Stress Free Kayaking at Lake Mead at South Cove

Stress Free Kayaking at Lake Mead at South Cove

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Why wait on long lines to put in and then have to dodge enormous motorboats at Boulder City and Temple Bar when you can kayak without all the fuss at South Cove on Lake Mead.  About 45 minutes from the Joshua Tree Ostrich Ranch and Guest House, this marina is little used but provides access to the best boating, swimming and fishing on Lake Mead.

There are plenty of wide, private sandy beaches accessible only by boat along the shoreline and several have vault toilets.  The best beaches and scenery are found heading right (east) after leaving marina.

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Unusual Waterfall Emerging from the Side of a Hill

A paddle to where the Colorado River empties into Lake Mead takes about 1.5 hours.

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Muddy Waters of Colorado River as it Empties into Lake Mead

The put in area is a well maintained concrete ramp with plenty of adjacent parking.  A floating dock extends about 50 feet into the water.

To get to South Cove, take Pierce Ferry Road east 37 miles from the Ranch just until it turns to dirt.  Turn left and take the nice, short paved road all the way to the water.  Vault toilets are available at the end of the parking lot.

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Large Boat Ramp Area with Plenty of Parking

Taking Time to Enjoy the Calm Before the Storm

Taking Time to Enjoy the Calm Before the Storm

The second chick of 2016 was born to Red and Alfalfette on April 5th.  The incubators are full of eggs and many more chicks are due to hatch in the next few weeks.  So it’s nice to have a chance to relax and spend some quality time with these first chicks before the onslaught.

Alfalfette’s chick hasn’t been named yet.  She was born very sickly and with splayed legs so it isn’t certain she’ll make it.  But her owner is feeding her by hand with a medicine dropper and taped her legs to straighten them out.  Her strength is improving every day so the outlook is hopeful.

Guests staying at the Guest House will have plenty of chicks to hold and pet and also have a chance to name this new chick too.

Swimming, Fishing and Kayaking at South Cove Lake Mead

Swimming, Fishing and Kayaking at South Cove Lake Mead

There’s more to South Cove on Lake Mead than a boat launching ramp.  A little used cove to the right of the boat launch has an excellent sandy beach for swimming and great fishing as well.  Don’t confuse this with the dispersed camping area down a dirt road to the left of the boat ramp.  That area tends to have muddy beaches which make swimming a messy activity.

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A Short Path behind the Picnic Area Leads to the Beach

The author frequently puts in a kayak at the boat launch for a nice 2 hour paddle to where the Colorado River widens into Lake Mead.  But a paved road to the right just before the boat launch leads to a paved parking area and beautiful day use picnic spot with vault toilets.

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Entrance to the Parking Area with Vault Toilets

A short walk down a sandy path to the water’s edge brings you to an unexpected beach with great swimming.  Good fishing can be had from the shoreline further down the beach.  When the author was there the first week of April, good size striped bass were seen just 1o feet from shore.

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Stripped Bass Just Ten Feet from Shore

South Cove is 39 miles east of the Ranch off of Pierce Ferry Road.  The good road is paved all the way to the water.  The turnoff to the day use picnic area is not well marked.  Just look for the first road to the right as you approach the water.  There is a small Park Service sign saying no overnight camping.