So long…

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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Memut elukunya nabo eng’eno
One head does not consume all knowledge
Meaning: there are limits to one person’s knowledge

 

I’d like to bounce off of an idea that last week’s guest blogger, Julia, brought up…she mentioned how she felt like she was only scratching the surface of what Rimpa and Kenya could show her. I think that is a very wise observation. Paraphrasing a quote from Socrates, I think each person comes to a point in their lives in which they realize that for all their supposed knowledge, they really know nothing – the more they learn the less they know.

Having been an intrepid explorer across the Reserve at Rimpa, the moment I thought I knew something, the metaphoric rug was pulled out from under me.  I would hope that even if I lived at Rimpa the rest of my life that I would keep learning and stay surprised.

I was at Rimpa for only a brief moment and some much can change in a heartbeat. I was there at the beginning of the dry season when the plants were at their strongest. But the cycle of life rolls on and what was green turned brown.  The weather, the land, the people. Each is beautiful in it’s own way but change too is beautiful.

My hope to all is that life stays beautiful even when it isn’t. Dark, dry days will come, but so too will the bright, rainy days.  So I say farewell to you now in this last post from me on the beauties of Rimpa Estates.

 

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Guest Blogger – Julia Becker

Julia Becker is the younger sister of Kaitlin and a relative of the Rimpa family. She visited the estates after finishing a study abroad experience in Spain. She’s a sophomore at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!)

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Growing up in the United States, I had certain expectations about how farms are run. The cows are milked early in the morning using big machines and they spend the rest of their time left alone to a nice big pile of grain and green grass. Each cow has a name and gets pet when you walk past them. Rimpa, and Kenya, has a different approach.

The cows are still milked at very early hours but lovingly by hand (which is much harder than you think, I tried!) After all the girls are milked, herders move them out to the vast expanse of fields where they spend the day munching on grass and I spent a good amount of some of my days following them in hopes of making a friend so I could finally pet one. The calves were especially cute with their big brown eyes looking up at you. I loved walking past them each day on my way out to the reserve, even if they didn’t want to be pet.

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I encountered something new on the reserve each day. Kenya has such a variety of plants and animals, most of which I’d never seen or even dreamed could exist, that I was never disappointed. Of course for the first few days, I was focused on all the animals. On a typical day, I saw over 100 zebra, all divided into their own herds, small bands of hartebeests, who were always snorting and flicking their tails at me for being there, and my personal favorites, the Thompson’s Gazelles. Cute little things, they hopped around, clearing tall grasses as if it were nothing. I followed them on some occasions just to how far they traveled and it became clear they enjoyed the full range of the reserve and lived peacefully.

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On a few occasions, I was fortunate enough to see the family of giraffes which had had a recent addition. The two youngest were nearly able to disappear in the bushes while the adults watched me carefully. When I got too close, they snorted at me and walked away in a single file line. Even from a distance, they were magnificent.

Once I got over the original shock of these incredible animals, I started to notice more. The flora on the reserve is fascinating. Some bushes grow thorns or small seed-like balls with porcupinesque prickles that dare any animals to eat them, though it doesn’t seem to bother the giraffes! I was there in the dry season but there were still plenty of new plants for me to see. If you looked closely, you’d also notice some of the most beautiful birds you’ve ever seen. Iridescent blue-green wings flashed as they bounced around in the bushes.

The reserve is as large and as beautiful as some of its inhabitants. I spent a week on the property and feel as though I barely scratched the surface of things to find.

Ps. While in Kenya, I got a chance to see a hyrax….and fell in love. They are super cute little rodent/guinea pig creatures of cute! They are soft and fluffy like rabbits!

 

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Adventure and Life

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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Last week, we began a guest blogger series in which….Our first guest blogger was Sara Brown and she told a story of a zebra. Sara, in her post, discussed a zebra she felt like she had a mind meld with…I just want to set the record straight and say…the bond was not as strong as she thinks it was. It was hilarious to see her try though.

Back tracking just a touch, I want to talk about how wonderful it was to be able to experience Rimpa with people I care about. See, the first part of my trip Sara was there with me. We have been roommates through most of my college years so we know each other pretty well and it was great to be able to have an international experience with Sara.  Bonding time, ya know? So we would go adventuring and zebra chasing and quote Hocus Pocus and debate the various aspects of nerdy things. Normal stuff for us. It was cool to see how the locals would look at us. Sara, with her then obnoxious purple hair and me with all of my camera bags most of the time.

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The second half of my trip to Rimpa, my sister Julia came for two weeks so I was able to experience Rimpa again through her eyes. That was interesting because I realized I had taken the landscape of Rimpa for granted and so, I got to see how excited my sister was the first time she saw it and thus I too would become excited. Picking her up from the airport, we saw a Hyena  running down the side of the road and then an owl as we drove up to the farm. We tried to milk cows and chase down the giraffe family that didn’t show up to be seen by Julia until the day we were leaving the country. We went camping – this time in the front yard and watched our cousin see Disney’s the Lion King for the first time (that was my favorite movie growing up).  We did photoshoots and went shopping at the Maasai market. My sister tried to pet the cows and we chased zebras and saw baby elephants and it was a blast!

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Rimpa Estates and it’s neighboring attractions helped make a huge impact on my life. Trying and experiencing new things – broadening the mind. I think that having adventures is important…but having adventures with those dear to your heart is even better because we now have these shared experiences to talk about.

 

Guest Blogger – Sara Brown

Sara Brown is a friend of the Rimpa family who accompanied Kaitlin on her African adventure. Sara is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor’s in marketing.

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               My roommate, Kaitlin and I first arrived at the Rimpa Estates late into the evening, so we didn’t see the magnitude of our surrounding until the following day, when we were taken on a tour of the grounds. They were beautiful, the air was dry and the wind was crisp. The trees twisted and knotted in beautiful designs, and the leaves were bright and full. The land itself seemed to have arched and caved into different and always more intricate patterns. And grounds were covered in animals, both wild and raised on the farm. There was something refreshing about our new surrounds, something I hadn’t seen before. They were unique and full of life that was not tamed by man. So for the next month we explore the land whenever we got the chance.

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Photo Credit: Sara Brown

Kaitlin and I both love photography, and we knew that being in such a beautiful country would give us ample opportunities for amazing pictures. So we went out trying to capture the lands and the life on that land. This meant we kept trying to get as close to the animals as possible, mind you, we both agreed that it would probably be for the best if we stayed away from the animals who had the sharp horns, and the animals that had the venomous fangs. That mostly left the zebras, cattle, sheep, and giraffes.

There was one instance where we spent several hours following zebras. We got some rather nice photos but neither of us could get as close as we wanted to the harems. You see, when zebras are out and about they have what seem to be spotters, or guards who pay attention to the surroundings while the rest of them eat, frolic, and sleep. Now I noticed that I could get fairly close to them without scaring any ways as long as I didn’t point my camera at them. We assume that comes from the fact that zebras seem to be poached quite often.

There was one Zebra in particular that I took a liking to. There was a spark there something that intrigued me. That zebra let me get extremely close to it, often staying behind when the rest of its harem ran off to stare me down. Now whether it’s because the zebra found me interesting or because I mistakenly entered into a dominance battle with it we will never know. All I have to say on the matter is that Kaitlin is very wrong and that Zebra and I shared a strong connection, a bond if you will.

One thing I learned while I was in Kenya was that wild life is unique and precious. I was surrounded by it at Rimpa. They all had their own purpose, their own form of happiness, and family. The people who run Rimpa understand the importance of preserving that wildlife.

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Photo Credit: Sara Brown

Paradise Found…Paradise Lost

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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I’ve talked previously about how the word “rimpa” comes from the Maasai word for paradise. What is paradise and how do you know when if you’ve found it?

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Obviously, that’s a pretty hard question to answer – not in the least because paradise means different things to different people. Heck, I’ve got a different definition paradise for different moods, so we aren’t going to go in-depth with that question, other than to say that when and if you do find a piece of your paradise you need to realize it and keep it safe.

I’m part of a noisy generation – we like our technology 24/7. We like to listen to music and silence and stillness can sometimes unsettle us – I’m a bit too analog in this digital age, but even I get caught up in the go go go of the busy world and forget to enjoy the moments of stillness.  To take a moment and just breathe.

It was easier to forget the noise when I was at Rimpa.  To allow the warm sun to make me feel like a cat and curl up for a nap, to go on adventures as I hiked after zebras and searched for birds strange plants, to be willing to try new things.

And when I came back , the noise – well, it overwhelmed me a bit and it made me realize how much I needed the experiences I had at Rimpa.  Rimpa was a kind of paradise and it is being threatened by outside forces that seek to take away the stillness and add more noise. I shan’t get into the details, but it is important that you know that Rimpa is worth fighting for.

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While at Rimpa I was trying to film my first try at a documentary…while on the Reserve one day following the grazing herd of Rimpa Estates cows, these two guys ran up to me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had two friendly dogs come running at you with tails wagging and smile on their faces seeking attention, but it does make trying to work pretty darn hard. But it didn’t bother me too much…you see dogs like these two definitely have a place in my paradise.

Do you think technology hinders our quest to find stillness?

 

Camping

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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Some of my favorite memories growing up involve being surrounded by family. Crowded around a campfire, we would tell stories, make each other laugh, and stay up late looking at the stars. Despite all that, I haven’t really camped all that often. So imagine my excitement when during my stay at Rimpa, I was able to experience all of that and much more.

See, I’ve travelled internationally before and stayed at hostels. So I’ve experienced a form of this ‘strangers coming together and sharing experiences and bonding’  but camping on the Reserve? It was so much more.  The flurry of frenzied activity – packing, setting up tents and chairs and gathering the pots and pans of the potluck meal, children running back and forth with childish giggles – all of this with wild zebra herds not more than 25 yards from us!  Then of course there was a game drive in which all of us that could fit jumped into Kiptoo’s matatu rigged for safari drives and drove out farther on the Reserve and fell deeper in love with the nature that surrounded us. We didn’t see the giraffe family that night, but we did see many zebras and a few ostrich.img_20160604_172327870_hdr

It is so amazing to me how welcoming friends and family of Rimpa are. Because you see, I didn’t know many people at the start of the day and yet, I was treated as if I was a long lost distant cousin to the family. I was told to eat more and asked after and turned away when I offered to help with dishes.

I had pleasant and in-depth intellectual debates on what makes art and life as I tried new foods and let the smell of campfire wrap around me (it’s my favorite smell!). There was a great sharing of cultures as friends of Rimpa have lived in England, Canada, France, and further still. And as the sun set in hues of pinks and oranges and the stars came out, I can remember trying to store the feeling away so that I would keep it with me forever.  And finally, when the fire was too low and my eyes fell closed one too many times, I moved into my tent and snuggled under the covers and fell asleep to the distant sound of hyenas calling.

These are the memories I reach for when I’m having a not so great day. What are some of your favorite memories?

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Farm Animals!

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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So I talked about the amazing creatures I saw on the Reserve and near the Reserve, now I shall talk a little about the animals I saw around the Farm at Rimpa.

First off, the baby cows! There were so many baby cows! So Rimpa raises simmental cows for beef and has another breed of cow that is milked each morning. Then most of the cows are taken out on the Reserve to graze. But Rimpa also has dorper sheep that they raise for wool, meat, etc. The sheep didn’t like me as much, so I don’t have a wonderful image of them…so I’ll share one of my favorite cow pictures. See, I followed the herd back in from grazing a couple of times and saw the baby cows race towards their moms demanding attention and food! It was fairly adorable.

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Now, of course, no farm would be complete without the hens and the rooster that crows at all hours of the day and night!  And believe me, crow all the time he did! But there are also all manner of other birds that flint here and there around the farm. My personal favorite is this guy here. To those who have never seen him before, he’s shiny and metallic and pretty. At Rimpa though, he’s as common as a robin or cardinal in the U.S.

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It’s easy sometimes to start taking your surroundings for granted and forget just how amazing and beautiful life can be. How do you keep your eyes fresh?

World Animal Day

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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October 4th is World Animal Day, so I figured that this post should delve into three of my favorite animals seen on around the Reserve and briefly about the African elephant. In my previous post, I mentioned the hartebeest, so I’ll gloss over them and move on pretty quickly to the zebra. There are so many zebras and they were amazing!

But first, hartebeests! Although they often look silly or less elegant than most antelopes, they are in fact one of the fastest of the antelope species! They also have a higher endurance in running than most hoofed prey. These various abilities is why they were named hartebeest, which means “tough ox”.  Hartebeests move between being social and forming small herds of 12 to being fairly solitary.

AND NOW ZEBRAS!

Zebra stripes, much like human fingerprints, are unique to each zebra. Thus, a zebra mom can find her foal by looking at the stripe pattern.  Despite popular belief zebras are more closely related to donkeys than horses. However, like horses, zebras are very social animals and live in large groups actually called harems. Generally, these harems are made up of one stallion and at least six mares and their children. I just learned that mares often keep other zebras away from their foals for the first couple days to ensure that their child recognizes their mom by sight, voice, and smell. And zebras are really really fast, being able to run up to 65km/h!

img_5368crop2Photo credit: Kaitlin Becker

While visiting Rimpa, I was able to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization that focuses on wildlife conversation in Africa. They are specifically known for their Orphan Project; taking in orphaned or injured baby elephants and nursing them back to health and then releasing them back into the wild.  This in an important project because a baby elephant needs it’s mother’s milk until they are two years old, so often times poachers kill the mother elephants because their tusks are so long and the babies are left unable to survive. This is especially sad to think about when you realize that the old adage about how elephants have such a good memory? That’s true – they remember everything they have experienced in their lives.

Can you imagine growing up with a memory of your mother’s murder? It would be horrendous. According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, this is the case for about 80% of the rescued elephants that they help. You can see it in their eyes; when I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and walked among the rescued babies…you could tell which ones had lost their mothers. The keepers I spoke to talked about how some of the orphans will mourn and mope for months, for years, from the loss of not only their mother, but their herd, their family.

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The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a wonderful program in which you can foster a rescued elephant and all the money goes directly to these elephants. Thus, I was able to not only become a foster mom to this young cutie, Murit, but also fully come to understand the impact humans have had upon this most amazing species.

So, hartebeests, zebras, and elephants! Next time we will take a lot at the Farm side of things!

Guest Blogger – Kaitlin Becker – My time at Rimpa

Kaitlin Becker is a relative of the Rimpa family and was able to visit this summer in between completing her Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Missouri.

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Visiting Rimpa was an experience. Granted, I have very rarely visited a farm before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I wasn’t required to help, really, but I wanted to try. My first try at being a farmer was….not great.  I awoke at an hour I am not accustomed to seeing and trekked out to where the Rimpa workers milk the cows every morning.

Very few spoke English, but we were able to communicate enough for them to understand I wanted to try to milk a cow. I felt silly and the workers laughter confirmed I was not having succeeding. Still I took it all without offense – clearly, I was not meant to be a farmer!

From there, I ventured out onto the Reserve – further and further each day. The trek is long and hot, especially when carrying lots of camera gear. No lie, I felt a bit like an explorer – or a National Geographic photographer!

I had been told to be careful of the tall grasses, because Kenya has poisonous snakes that like to live in the tall grasses. So you can picture a short blonde woman, weighed down by camera bags, gazelle jumping through the tall grass as if playing an odd version of ‘the floor is lava’.  Whatever I looked like, I didn’t get bitten by snakes, so I call it a win.

While on the Reserve, I played a dance with the wild animals that lived there. A dance, if you will, with the animals – wanting to get close, but not close enough to be a threat to these animals. There is a particular type of hoofed animal called a hartebeest…they look like a cross over between deer and gazelle. But to me, they will forever be called Pantaloons, because it looks like they are wearing a pair of puffy, tan pantaloons. Anyway, these things have horns, so I stayed away from them! The zebras were my favorite – I would go out zebra chasing all day (I call it zebra chasing not because I’m chasing them, but because zebra shooting sounds bad, even though I’m just using my camera).

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Photo credit: Kaitlin Becker

A family of giraffes also comes to visit the Reserve, but they live on the far far side of the Reserve. Many days, I would walk out to the back of the reserve, trying to catch a glimpse of the giraffes. And each day I went, they were never never there….until the last day before I flew out of the country.

Rimpa was an amazing, life changing experience. I did a lot of soul searching on this trip.  Have you ever thought of being a farmer? Or an explorer?

 

Karibu to Rimpa!

Karibu! Welcome to the blog of Rimpa Estates! This blog is dedicated to the happenings of Rimpa Estates – both on the farm and on the Reserve.

Rimpa Estates takes the first part of its name from the Maasai word for paradise and sits in the Rift Valley outside of Nairobi, Kenya. There we farm Simmental cows and Dorper sheep. However, our Reserve where we graze our herds, is also home to the migration patterns of wildlife herds and so we also offer game drives through the vast acreage of the family’s land. There, herds of zebras and cows can be seen grazing peacefully together.

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hoto credit: Rimpa Estates

This blog will cover a range of topics, including farming challenges and experiences as well as featuring guest bloggers who have camped out on the Reserve for been on game drives. Our goal is to update this blog twice a week.

Not only are we at Rimpa working to be educational to our neighbors in Kenya, but also across the world. Because we are a family run business, we strive to make everyone feel like they are a part of the Rimpa family.  Being family run means that everyone has a part to play and each part is vital to the smooth running the farm.  The Estate has worked to bring the Ole Sein family back to their home – it is in their blood to be together. Yet, the Estates have worked their magic even further…it brings together people from all walks of life with an open mind and an open heart.

This farm, started by the love between two people, now serves to spreads a sense of belonging. What do you do to show your family you love them?