The Farm on Oak Creek

6 Sheep

This is an update on Lonely Girl. My last little (okay, not so little) piggy girl got tired of constantly complaining about being alone somewhere around the middle of last week. Once she realized that complaining wasn’t going to bring back her sisters, Lonely Girl took a look around and reconsidered her options. There weren’t many. If she wanted company, the only things available were three turkeys and the five ewes who always appeared around pig feeding time. (This, as I’ve mentioned before, is because my sheep love pig food.) That’s when Lonely Girl decided that four legs and a soft nose were close enough to pig physiology. If she couldn’t get her sisters back, then she was going to be a sheep.

Now Tiny and her daughters and granddaughter weren’t really down with this. That’s mostly likely because among Lonely Girl’s irrepressible piggy behaviors are biting at hind quarters and swinging an impervious skull when challenged. But the harder the sheep tried to escape their new, persistent big black shadow, the more determined Lonely Girl became that these sheep were her new herd. It was ‘insinuate herself into their little flock, or bust!’

I’m not certain she would have succeeded if not for the Mason Ditch going dry. A dry ditch is a big deal here on the farm because the receding waters reveal an amazing variety of tasty foods. Last year, my chickens spent the whole shutdown cleaning up crayfish. The cats and the eagles catch the fish marooned under my front bridge. Pigs also love the crayfish, but will happily turn the rocks and nibble on the weeds (ditchweed?) they expose. As for the sheep, they work their way up and down the dry bed consuming the lush grass they can’t otherwise reach without getting their hooves wet. Sheep are squeamish about wet toes.

So there my sheep were, torn between escaping the pig or grazing on lush green grass. Grazing won. So as Lonely Girl came to graze alongside them, they set their legs and held their ground. And much to her credit, Lonely Girl settled down with them, minding her head and her own business. That first day I went down to check on them around noon. They had lined up nicely, each clearing up her own segment of bank.

On Day Two of the shutdown, Lonely Girl, who loves to linger in bed until mid-morning, emerged around 9 AM to discover she’d been left behind by her new herd/flock. Being a pig whose eyes are covered by her floppy ears, she couldn’t see that the sheep had made their way to the back of the property. When I realized what had happened I went down to rescue her. The instant she saw me she was at my heels, complaining again about being alone. I walked her back to the sheep. When she saw them, she grunted in pleasure and immediately took her place in that grazing line. By Day Three, the pig had decided to become an early riser. She even refused her pig food in preference for the sheep and their grass-consuming habits.

Today took a new turn. I put out pig food–just in case–but Lonely Girl again turned her back on that mill-produced stuff in favor of her new girls. That’s when Tiny, crafty creature that she is, recognized an opportunity. At midday I came out to discover that Lonely Girl had knocked open the gate to her feeding area, invited the sheep in, then had gone to lay in the sun against the orchard fence while her replacement siblings took their time eating up every last crumb of pig food. There wasn’t a complaining grunt or a massive swinging porcine head to be seen, just pleased critters. Talk about buying love with food!

Tomorrow, I’m going to have five sick sheep and one very content-with-herself cross-species pig/sheep girl. Ah well, at least she’s quiet.

© Denise Domning, 2023