Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Short Cycle of Birth and Death

Our oldest guinea pig, Toffee, gave birth early this morning. She had been gradually getting bigger and bigger until she looked unfeasibly large. Her daughter-in-law had her two babies a fortnight ago so we have been looking for babies every morning since.
Alas for Toffee there were four babies and all were dead. Probably cramped quarters inside had led to complications. One was almost complete but the rest were a sad and bloody tangle. Toffee has already had a successful litter and her son, Russell, is now a father himself so she should be right to start again. Such is life.
Guinea pigs are funny little creatures. We have learnt plenty of lessons from them - how they don't like cold or heat, can't stomach certain vegetables, like to escape out of tiny gaps right into the jaws of large canines and how fascinating they are to Archie, our Kelpie x Collie. They squeak to let you know their cage needs moving to fresh grass and defecate constantly.
Our two breeding pairs are slow moving lawnmowers who are supposed to breed enough offspring to put under our grapes to keep the vegetation down. So far we have had too many losses to set this up but it will happen later this year, barring another serious breach of security.
Having a farm necessitates dealing with death. Farm animals can have short lives and if they are not disposed of carefully they will often come back to haunt you - particularly the smell. Even if I can learn to be dispassionate about deaths necessary for our food; such as the visit to the chicken abattoir earlier this month - it still brings on a reflective and respectful mood such as dealing with Toffee's babies.
Toffee is back eating grass and lettuce and Archie is back staring. Life goes on.
Toffee eating lettuce in her cage within a cage

Archie staring at the other set of Guinea pigs

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