Often when people find out we have a farm with a bunch of animals they ask about all the work it is to care for those animals. What people usually don’t ask about is the interactions between the various species of animals that happen sometimes in unexpected ways.
We have a Jersey cow, Rosie. When we first got Rosie she was supposed to live out with our neighbor’s cow herd, but she was little and they were huge (Rosie had also only been around other calves before). The first day she figured out how to step through the barbed wire and would walk up to the house and moo for us to come out. After this happened a couple times I remembers that I was told she loves pigs AND our pigs were from the same place so they already knew each other. I put Rosie in with the pigs and she was happy then. After she settled into our place I slow introduced her to the other cows until she would stay with the herd. Rosie still would come by the fence and visit with our pigs Petunia and Ginger.
Recently Petunia and Ginger both had piglets, about the same time Rosie needed to stay away from the cow herd for a bit. A bull was temporarily staying with the herd and Rosie is a couple months too young to be pregnant. Rosie has not been happy about it, but at the same time is very interested in the piglets (and they in her).
Rosie’s talent for escaping has continued to develop. Fortunately she stays inside the fence, but she knows how to let herself out of the barn and opens latches on other doors. We can keep her on the property but sometimes she does unexpected things. Recently I locked her in the barn for a couple hours because our fields were being hayed and I didn’t want her to accidentally escape. At some point went into the barn and she had unlatched the door to the pig birthing stall. There were three latches on the door! She undid them all. I found her laying on the ground covered in piglets enjoying life. We managed to get everyone rounded up and back to where they were supposed to be but Rosie wasn’t happy about it.
Then there was yesterday…I was waking up from a nap and I said to my partner Chris, “that oinking sounds close, is Bart in his pen?” Bart is our male pig and currently is closer to the house then the others. Chris looked outside and said “Bart is where he is supposed to be, but it looks like the ducks have kicked over their feeder like they are rock stars.” This whole time Rosie was moo’ing like crazy. I had checked my calendar and confirmed she shouldn’t be in heat yet (every 21 days Rosie becomes hormone crazed and yells a lot for a day). So after a bit we decided to go check and make sure everything was okay.
As I walk outside up trots Petunia with 7 piglets. Then all the other signs made sense, the oinking close to the house the knocked over duck food. It was concerning there where only 7 piglets with her though, she has 9. Where were the other 2? We find the other two in the barn and discover she had broken the door to their pen. Chris fixes the door and I get everyone back inside. Our adult pigs are pretty easy to handle, you just put feed in a bucket and then yell “pig pig.” They come running!
Now we do have an alarm system on the farm, we have two Livestock Guardian Dogs who didn’t bark once this entire time. Normally they bark if anything is different. Silence. Good thing we have Rosie our guard cow!