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Hard choices

Last week my beloved Thea started getting violent with the other ruminants. Not in the usual way of a swing of the head or a light bump, but actively trying to harm the others, culminating in an earnest attempt to hurt or kill Ferrington.

There’s a lot I can cope with, and scuffles for rank in the herd are not unusual, but this was something beyond the usual scuffles. So I made the difficult decision to place Thea in a new home, and sent Frankie with her so she’d have a buddy.

I still feel like I need a good cry. I loved them both, and I can’t even stand to look at pictures of them right now. Luckily Gwyn has adapted to the loss of her mother just fine, because I think if she were crying I really would be, too.

There’s a little bit of happiness, though, in that two potbelly pigs have come to stay and be working pigs to till the gardens and learn tricks.

On the left, a solid black pig about two feet high. On the right, a black pig with a white stripe between her eyes, white trotters, and a white stripe on one side of her neck. They are VERY fat, and also frothing at the mouth.
Apparently stressed pigs foam at the mouth. I did not know this.

The pigs don’t have names yet (I need to consult with my animal naming crew on Patreon![1]) and need to lose some weight, but they’re settling in well and finding the shady places, food, and water. The solid black pig is a barrow, a male pig neutered before puberty. The one with white is a gilt, a female pig who has never had a litter of piglets. She may have one later (she’s only 8 months old) but for now they both need to lose some weight and settle in. Future piglets will be intended for food, but these two are here to be pets and garden tillers.

The goats and sheep, by the way, are horrified.
The entire herd of goats and sheep clumped up and staring off to the right of photo where two small inoffensive pigs are located off-screen.

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Sheep smarts, a brief follow-up

Yesterday morning we went out to find that Frankie, a goat wether, had broken off the ends of his Stick of Shame and had his head stuck in the hay feeder. Again.

Right next to him was Reuben, the friendlier of the Soay wethers. Reuben’s horns actually have a wider spread than Frankie’s and more of a hook, so I was pretty sure Reuben was stuck, too. But as Daniel and I approached to wrestle Frankie out of the hay feeder, Reuben nonchalantly maneuvered his horns backwards through the gap and wandered off.

So in terms of spatial awareness and the ability to problem-solve, at least one sheep in this world is smarter than two of my goats (Thea also periodically gets her head stuck).

A small reddish brown moderately woolly sheep stands sideways to the camera. He is looking back behind him, so we see the right side of his body but the left side of his face.
You win this round, Reuben. That’ll do, little man.