From her farm to the four corners

Even when Sabine Joyce isn't traveling, the world resides in her backyard, with her exotic menagerie


Sabine Joyce craves adventure. And to whet her appetite, she travels the world, partaking in dangerous and exciting excursions.

For example, Joyce climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last year.

Before that, she rode a camel through the desert to Mount Sinai and climbed the Mount Mousa peak, where tradition says Moses received the Ten Commandments.

She's also ridden a Brahma bull, water buffalo, elephants, and she has swum with dolphins and manatees.

"I'll ride anything I can get my hands on," Joyce, 67, said. "The dolphins are the most beautiful animals and manatees are so sweet. When you leave manatees and get back in the boat, they look up at you with the saddest look on their faces. But I still haven't ridden a zebra yet."

Over the past 40 years, her adventures have taken her to more than 100 countries around the world, including Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Bali, Australia, Japan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Morocco, Aruba and Jamaica. When she arrived each time, she created her own Amazing Race-type adventures.

"My trips are a lot like the Amazing Race," said Joyce. "I've applied to be a contestant on Amazing Race with my daughter twice and have not yet been accepted because I think I know too much about the world. So when I land at the airport in whatever country I'm visiting, I wing it."

For example, she doesn't make reservations at a hotel. Instead, she waits for an invitation to someone's home.

"It may be my cab driver or someone I meet at a local market," Joyce said. "If I feel comfortable that nothing will happen, I go home with them."

In addition to making friends all over the world, she's had some incredible experiences. For example, she watched giant tarantulas in the Amazon jungles scampering across the nets that covered her sleeping area.

On a trip to South Africa, she stepped on a scorpion and almost died.

There was also the time she took a dhow - a traditional sailboat made of bamboo - on a trip on the Indian Ocean. When they ran into a storm, she was told that if the boat capsized, she should drown quickly before the sharks devoured her.

She said despite her many close calls, she's not afraid of most things, with the exception of straight, steep mountains and bungee jumping. For instance, she visited the Tepui Mountains in Venezuela and rappelled down a 9,000-foot mountain.

"The mountain was straight up and down," Joyce said. "It was pouring rain and I couldn't see the bottom. The rain probably saved my life. It was then that I realized that I could never go bungee jumping."

However, she gets herself into some pretty harrowing situations, including being followed by a group of Komodo dragons.

"The Komodo dragons were slithering behind us like snakes," Joyce said. "But the village people were prepared. They led a goat through the jungle and when the dragons hear the goat they follow the noise. Eventually the villagers released the goat to feed the dragons, so they didn't eat us."

When Joyce isn't roughing it in some desert, rain forest or on a mountain, she takes care of six horses, two Irish setters, a pond full of fish, and more than 40 exotic chickens.

She's even managed to have some adventures in her barnyard battling creatures that prey on her chickens. Although raising chickens isn't viewed as adventurous, Joyce chose to raise them because she grew up with them, and Kevin, her husband of 42 years, wouldn't allow her to keep her boa constrictor.

"Right before we married, I told her the boa went or I went, and she chose to get rid of the snake," said Kevin Sabine, a former patent lawyer.

Joyce was born in Poland and raised in Germany. One of the earliest pictures she has of herself includes a chicken.

She walked through the barnyard in knee-high rubber work boots identifying chickens, pointing out a silver-laced Wyandotte, a Brahma, a Spitzhauben, and a Faverolle.

She continued to a large coop where she picked up a white and then a black Chinese silky chicken without feathers, but fur so thick it resembled a poodle.

"They're beautiful little chicks," Joyce said. "When I clean them I take them in the house and shampoo and blow-dry their hair and they just stand there loving it."

She sat the black silky down and moved over to a rare Araucana chicken and said, "This is my chicken that lays the green eggs," she said, holding up a newly hatched egg. "And they're blue on the inside of the shell. This is the kind of chicken Martha Stewart has and this is the green color she loves so much."

She walked outside the coop and called the chickens - "Here chicky, chicky, chick!" The chickens scurried back out of the bushes and from behind the buildings.

"I let my chickens run around free and that can be very dangerous," said Joyce. "We have raccoons, snakes, possum, hawks and fox. When the predators get near the chickens, they don't fly away, they sit down. So occasionally one gets killed."

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