BACK TO NATURE. LATVIA

Following my return from London – already a bit more than year now – I’ve been trying to blend back in system, and now I’ve managed it although not as smoothly as you can expect. The period between my return and above mentioned dividing line has been filled with translations and learning, and blogging, and reading, and research  etc. In one word – I have tried to fill it to the utmost, but not only that. I’ve done my bit of travelling around Latvia as well, and today I want to advice you that in case you are staying in Latvia, you can try a bit of its exotics, at least exotic for European travelers – namely if you are heading towards one of our biggest tourist attractions – Sigulda and Gauja Nacional park, don’t miss the oistrich farm “Indrāni” on your way, which is located some 20 km from Sigulda. The only precondition is that you have a car or you rent it, otherwise it is quite difficult to find. Also don’t expect to have hot meal on the site, although it is advertised on their website that they are catering. Otherwise you can buy ostrich meat(Ostrich meat tastes similar to lean beef and is low in fat and cholesterol, as well as high in calcium, protein and iron. Uncooked, it is dark red or cherry red, a little darker than beef.), sausages, dumplings with ostrich meat, eggs in the nearby shop. In the shop you can buy also ostrich feathers, leather goods and other souvenirs. The farm is still young and still developing. 

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Ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms.

New chicks are fawn in colour, with dark brown spots. During the first year of life, chicks grow at about 25 cm (9.8 in) per month. At one year of age, ostriches weigh around 45 kilograms (99 lb). Their lifespan is up to 40 or 45 years.

The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. However, the tail of one subspecies is buff. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is pinkish gray, while the male’s is blue-gray, gray or pink.

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The long neck and legs keep their head up to 2.8 m (9 ft) above the ground, and their eyes are said to be the largest of any land vertebrate: 50 mm (2.0 in) in diameter; they can therefore perceive predators at a great distance.

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With their acute eyesight and hearing, Ostriches can sense predators such as lions from far away. When being pursued by a predator, they have been known to reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h and can maintain a steady speed of 50 km/h, which makes the ostrich the world’s fastest two-legged animal. When lying down and hiding from predators, the birds lay their heads and necks flat on the ground, making them appear like a mound of earth from a distance, aided by the heat haze in their hot, dry habitat.

When threatened, ostriches run away, but they can cause serious injury and death with kicks from their powerful legs. Their legs can only kick forward. Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in sand to avoid danger.

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In some countries, people race each other on the back of ostriches. The practice is common in Africa and is relatively unusual elsewhere. The ostriches are ridden in the same way as horses with special saddles, reins, and bits. However, they are harder to manage than horses.

The racing is also a part of modern South African culture. Within the United States, a tourist attraction in Jacksonville, Florida called ‘The Ostrich Farm’ opened up in 1892; it and its races became one of the most famous early attractions in the history of Florida.

In the United States, Chandler, Arizona hosts the annual ‘Ostrich Festival‘ which features ostrich races.

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The farm features also emu.

The emu is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas, dense forest, and arid areas.

The soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds reach up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. They have long thin necks and legs. Emus can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and, if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph). Their long legs allow them to take strides of up to 275 centimetres (9.02 ft) They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without food. Emus ingest stones, glass shards and bits of metal to grind food in the digestive system. They drink infrequently, but take in copious fluids when the opportunity arises. Emus will sit in water and are also able to swim. They are curious birds who are known to follow and watch other animals and humans.

Indrāni don’t have nandu though. Nandu or the Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is a flightless bird found in eastern South America. Other names for the Greater Rhea include theGreyCommonAmerican Rheañandú (Guaraní) or ema (Portuguese). One of two species in the genus Rhea, in the family Rheidae, the Greater Rhea is endemic to ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilParaguay and Uruguay. It inhabits a variety of open areas, such as grasslands,savanna or grassy wetlands. Weighing 50–55 pounds (23–25 kg), the Greater Rhea is the largest bird in South America. In the wild, the Greater Rhea has a life expectancy of 10.5 years. It is also notable for its reproductive habits, and for the fact that a group has established itself in Germany in recent years.

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