Promoting understanding
and compassion for animals

May

12

What’s happening?

Posted in: Animals3 Comments

Before we begin, let me say that I had hoped to include a video in this entry of the piglets Patch and Simon. However my technical aspirations obviously exceed my current capabilities. Even the photo session did not work out well today so please excuse the lack of pictures. I promise to have this rectified very soon!

Well winter has certainly arrived. The past couple of days have been a bit of a shock to the system, not only for us humans but also the animals.

I feel sorry for poor little Simon and Patch who are experiencing their very first mountain winter, especially as they do not have the thick coat of the other animals. Every night I fluff up their straw and they burrow into it together. I have noticed that they take themselves off to bed now at about 5pm. At the moment, they are attempting to train me but I am resisting. Whenever they see me, they run to the fence and scream, trying to convince me that they are starving, that the meagre amount that I feed them is simply not enough.

(I have already found out from a fellow pig owner up the road that I am feeding them too much). They love their grain mix and will push other things (fruit and vegetables) out of the way to get at it first – much like a child with their chips or mashed potatoes. The next favourite morsels are eaten next (usually the plums and apples) and so on. I was quite surprised by this selective method of eating, I suppose I expected them to eat like a dog – gulping down anything that was put in front of them. Also if they don’t like something, they simply will not eat it. It’s funny how we’ve all heard the expression ‘eat like a pig’, well I’m pleased to tell you that it’s not true as I’m sure are many of the other clichés we’ve been told about pigs.

Anyway getting back to their attempts to train me, I have had to be hard, very hard. Sometimes when they scream at me I go into the paddock and play with them or scratch their backs. Or sometime I walk past and ignore them. This confuses them as it’s not the outcome they want. They are beginning to accept that food doesn’t magically appear when they open their mouth and that of course is the way it must be. I don’t want to become a prisoner in my own house!

They definitely know me and the children and while very interested in strangers are wary all the same which is nice. I think in many ways they are like dogs but they are not at all submissive like some dogs. They definitely make their own decisions. Study after study places them above dogs on the intelligence quota and I am convinced of that when I look them in the eye. It is strange that when they first arrived I was drawn to Simon as Patch was the more reserved one but three a half weeks later I actually think that Patch and I have a stronger bond and suspect that he is more intuitive and discerning. It is a hard thing to describe in words, like I said it is something in his eyes and something I feel quite strongly when I am with them. I am keen to explore this aspect as I already find it fascinating that there is communication occurring between us on an emotional level.

Duke and Jeff, the farrier

On another note, the farriers arrived on Monday morning to trim the horses’ feet. It was freezing cold – probably about 3 degrees. I was rugged up in my coat but they stood there as they always do in their singlets. All of my horses are old hands at having their feet trimmed. They are so relaxed that even 4 year old Alana holds one. But now, three days later Kitty has developed a foot abscess probably from all of the rain we had a week ago. It’s always the way isn’t it, she couldn’t have got it just before he came.

A lot of farriers don’t like trimming Shetland’s feet as they are so small and low to the ground. Luckily Jeff, our farrier doesn’t mind.

Everyone else is coping with the cold, coping being the operative word. My three old horses find it tough and I will start hand feeding in earnest next week. Until now we have been lucky and there has still been some growth in the paddocks but that will now come to a screaming halt. Nina our Chianina cow eats more than Duke our 16.2 thoroughbred. Despite consuming 4 biscuits of hay a day, that’s nearly half a bale, she always looks scrawny and rangy through winter. Each year is the same, I can’t wait for the spring growth to appear so she can resume her stunning proportions.

Well, that’s all for now. Hard to believe I was worried yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to find anything to write about in an update like this. It’s more a case of ‘Somebody please stop me!”

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  1. Rebecca said on 12/05/2011 at 11:32 am

    I hope Simon and Patch get through these freezing nights ok all snuggled up together!
    I’ve been fascinated for a long time by pig intelligence. They are absolutely smarter than most of us ever care to think. I’ve still not had the good fortune to really have a close encounter with any pigs but would dearly love to!
    Love how they’re trying to train you. And I honestly think animals just get downright picky when they’re spoiled (not that this is a bad thing), thus refuse food they’d normally otherwise eat. I experience the same thing with cats and parrots, so not at all surprised that pigs also do it… they truly have us humans all figured out!

    That man must be made of steel… wearing a singlet in that weather. Actually I don’t know how any of you cope with it – anything below 15 degrees has me going into hibernation :D I bet all the animals can’t wait for spring time to arrive.

    Always interesting to read your posts and I can’t imagine there ever being nothing to write about. Surely never a dull moment there surrounded by all your beautiful companions.

  2. Shonz said on 12/05/2011 at 12:06 pm

    I was thinking about your animals today, while I was freeeeezing – HERE! In Tea Gardens! Yep, it’s cold as, at present. Brrrrr…. (Love it. But only for a little while.)

  3. sue lobsey said on 17/05/2011 at 9:19 pm

    Hi Diane,
    Yes Banjo & Dottie do the same theing to me everytime they see me they scream, it’s like their being murdered. It’s like they haven’t eaten in a month, when actually I just feed them a hour earlier. Dottie tries to push the gate open with her very powerful nose and I think one day she’ll open that! They don’t do this to my girls (children), just me there not silly. They know I feed them. I absolutely love seeing them every morning there there waiting for me, so is Norman my hand raised steer. He is waiting for his carrots and my piggies are waiting for their grain and other assortments. Life would be so boring without them. Banjo eats his food so delicatley like a old women really, but Dottie well she is a bit of a pig and gulps her food down. I’m glad Patches has come around, i miss them so much and I can’t wait to see a updated photo of them. On my screen saver on my computer is the picture of Simon and Patches getting a scratch from your daughter, I love that photo.

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