All creatures great and small

September 07, 2017

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott _ Dash the coolie

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott - Rosie the Jack Russell

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott - Lisa in the tractor with all the dogs and the cat

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott - Zippy and Moss at the back

Cohuna dairy farmers Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott - Nara the pig who thinks she is a dog.

Miriam Crane and Lisa Elliott are dairy farmers from Mead near Cohuna. They bought their farm in 2016 and have struggled through a year of low milk price.

How on earth did you end up with a pig?

Miriam: Nara was a Christmas gift from Lisa. She is a proper registered Australian miniature pig that has just kept growing and growing. When we got her she was tiny and came with a harness and leash. She used to sleep inside, she is obviously too big now, and she is house-trained — she is very intelligent. She loves apples and grapes and used to sit for apples but she is too fat now.

How intelligent is she?

Lisa: Well she loves milk and every morning when we get up she runs over to the vat for a drink of milk. She squeals and squeals until we feed her and she has been known to open the tap on the vat and help herself, if we don’t shut it off tight enough.

She loves to follow us around the farm and she runs along side the Gator with a top speed of about 8km/h. You have to be careful she doesn’t overheat so she spends a lot of time in the troughs and she loves irrigating because she can just jump in the channels. In summer we hose her down a lot and she just loves that.

She is also very protective and rounded up a cow that kicked one of the dogs, it really was so funny. She cracked it and started squealing and running backwards and forwards and ended up pushing the whole herd into the yard — she saved me having to do it.

How would you describe Nara?

Miriam: She is definitely a smart alec, she is entertaining and has lots of personality. She has her mad five minutes every now and then where she tears around the place jumping, kicking and squealing and it’s hilarious. She has been known to scatter feed bags all over the place and she loves to get into the AI gloves and spread them everywhere.

So who is the smartest: the pig or the dogs?

Well, the dogs are helpful about 10 per cent of the time, it depends who you have and what you are doing at the time. Each have their strengths and problems but mostly they are companions and they are also very good at letting us know if someone comes in.

Rosie the Jack Russell is the rabbit hunter and the only animal we have ever bought. Zippy and Fly are sisters and are a bit scatty. We have had Zeb for four years and he is our special needs dog — he has lots of anxiety. Dash is the partly deaf coolie who is extremely protective of the ducks and will swim around in the channel until he turns blue, while Moss is the black kelpie, the boss of everyone and probably the best companion dog we have.

Words and pictures: Sophie Baldwin

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