UC Davis undergraduate, 4th year
Major: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology
Our beautiful evening walk
This week at the ranch was unbearably hot. As I became soaked through my t-shirt with sweat, the piglets basked in their cool water bowl as if it were a spa day. Despite the humidity, I found quite an escape on my walks with the pigs in the early mornings and dusky evenings. The walk we take is lined with redwoods and covered in a thick layer of soft green grass. In the mornings, just before the sun rises over the barn, the path is still cool and dewy and small rays of sunshine peek through the branches of the redwoods. In the evenings, small white butterflies flit along ahead of us. Walking the piglets like this is incredibly calming. I find myself not focused on other tasks or to-do lists, simply at peace in the practice of walking through nature with an animal. Though the pigs are just a bit more excitable than their trainers and occasionally get spooked by certain things along the walk like unfamiliar surfaces or odd smells, they do seem to look forward to and revel in their walks.
Obstacles are no stranger to the pigs on their walks, however. There are a few dogs on the property of the ranch. Up until this week, we hadn't had any problems, but as I was walking Jelly Bean back to the stall one evening, one of the dogs on the property came up to us without much warning. Neither animal was in any kind of danger, but the dog was quite curious about the strange creature before it and Jelly Bean was understandably a little frightened. I got her back into the more familiar stall as quickly and efficiently as possible and she immediately calmed down. Pigs are extremely resilient beasts! We've had a couple other encounters with the dog, but we've worked out a schedule with the generous owners of Pine Trails so that the pigs and dogs will have minimal contact. These are the daily challenges of having so many different animals on the same property!
In addition to refreshing the pigs on some "sit" training (the girls are catching on quite well, but chaotic Romeo is taking a bit longer) and socializing the pigs with humans, we welcomed five new faces to the Green Care Lab family! This week, two mini horses named Olivia and Randy and three mini donkeys named Mary, Daisy, and Memphis made their way onto the Pine Trails Ranch land! Over the weekend, some of the team set up a great temporary pen for our new friends. The minis seemed wary at first, but quickly adjusted to their new home. Claire and I soon started to introduce the piglets to the minis on our daily walks, letting them sniff at each other through the fence. The donkeys seem completely disinterested in the pigs, but Randy has taken quite a liking to them! I'm so excited to be expanding the Green Care Lab family and I look forward to getting to know the minis better!
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!