I am not quite sure how I do it but I manage to convince all the animals here at Primrose Farm of three rules by which they must live harmoniously together. These rules are:
Love is unconditional
Respect is mutual and
We don’t eat family members
This is no mean feat as we have a variety of species each potentially on different rungs of the food chain and all are very much free-range, allowed to wander freely about the farm. So dogs, cats, sheep, turkeys and hens all share their living space with each other and I am amazed at how well it works. Spend an afternoon with us and you will soon appreciate why I say Primrose Farm is where the inmates run the asylum.
So when Cal the Maremma sheep dog arrived at the tender age of 9 weeks, he went through the whole Primrose Farm orientation process. Being a pup, he had the concentration span of an intellectually challenged flea so the introduction to all other animals had to happen gently over quite a prolonged period of time. But he is a lovely lad and with the exception of one unintentional accident with one of the hens, he has been amazing.
The really interesting thing is to watch how various animals form distinct and close bonds. A pair of hens will always settle down together at night, roosting side by side. Related ewes will keep in close contact with their family, despite being part of a much bigger flock and when I run them through the race I can be pretty sure that if Budd comes through the gate, her sisters Buffy and Bushby will be close behind.
But the bonds form across species as well. Cal who is now almost fully grown is wonderful around the sheep, after all protecting them is what he is bred to do. But Cal has taken this all one stage further and has become special friends with Bill the giant Ryland wether. And Bill is very happy with the attention. So the two gentle giants spend a lot of time together, content in each other’s company and mindful of each other’s living space. Having watched the proceedings in the House of Commons recently I realise how much we can learn from animals.