UC Davis undergraduate, 4th year
Major: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology
An action shot of photogenic Romeo
This week was quite a whirlwind for me. My roommate had been visiting home and came back to Davis feeling a bit under the weather. On Monday, she took a COVID-19 rapid test and it came back positive. A couple days later, I began to feel sick, and I too tested positive for COVID. This threw quite a wrench into the exciting plans we had planned for the pigs.
This meant that I was unable to come to the ranch all week, so I spent my time working on the website you're using right now! Hopefully the hard work paid off.
The pandemic years have been incredibly taxing on the mental and physical health of people around the world. Quarantine absolutely took a toll on my own mental health, but thankfully I got through the first two years of the pandemic without contracting COVID. Getting it this week, in the midst of important training and bonding with the piglets, seemed like possibly the worst timing in the world. I was frustrated and heartbroken that I'd be missing so many days with the team, but there wasn't much else I could do other than stay home and get some rest!
During my days in quarantine, I spent a lot of time thinking about how relevant my experience was to the work we're doing at Pine Trails Ranch. Our eventual goal for this project is for people to gain therapeutic benefits from the animals we work with. I can say with certainty that after an extremely isolating and lonely week in quarantine, returning to the ranch and spending time with the piglets immediately lifted my spirits.
Care Bear, queen of the hill!
The minute I stepped into the piglets' stall after being away, Jelly Bean began to scream at the top of her lungs in excitement. It was a flurry of wagging tails and pig smiles (yes, pigs can smile!). I plopped down on the straw-ridden floor as each pig tapped their way over to me, sniffing and prodding at every inch of my pants that they could reach. It was so gratifying knowing that my bonding with them had paid off; they were happy to see me! I felt myself relax simply watching the three piglets snuffle around in their straw. I had no other worries; I could just sit with these creatures for hours and observe their little lives, give them belly scratches and boop their noses.
Jelly Bean scrounging around on the (now completely destroyed) straw bale
All in all, this past week has been strangely restorative for me and has reminded me of the importance of this project. As we progress on this journey, the personalities of the pigs only become more clear, and the vision of them aiding people in need becomes more concrete! Exciting things to come!
Green Care Blog
Here you can find blog posts from each Green Care Lab intern. We'll be talking about our research process, the benefits of Green Care therapy, and sharing pictures of our work. Follow along with us!