By Shelby Willard
The University Drive road winds, tracing the outline of the pastures that hold cows, sheep and swine. Amongst the usual species, a special animal stands awake in Ag Valley, looking for any trouble over the horizon.
She’s counting sheep, but not to fall asleep. This llama is staying up all night long.
Mighty Midge, otherwise known as Midge, is the newest celebrity at the Cal Poly Pomona Sheep and Swine Unit. She may not blend in with the other sheep, but she serves a special purpose: protecting the hundreds of sheep that roam through the fields.
CPP acquired the 10-year-old llama about two months ago, right around Christmas.
Llamas are supposed to be cute, but Midge guards a valuable flock of sheep from coyote attacks. In past years, coyotes have terrorized the CPP sheep.
Brad Foyil, the Sheep and Swine Unit manager, explained that Midge has been a wonderful asset to campus.
“We decided to get the llama because we had a bunch of valuable lambs in our unit,” Foyil said.
Midge is not used for student research or classes. She is strictly the “guard llama” on campus.
Foyil explained that they previously had another llama, but it had died from old age.
Midge gained celebrity status after the official CPP Facebook page posted a photo of her about two weeks ago. The photo generated over 1,200 likes and 130 shares. Students, alumni and community members left comments, poking fun at the llama’s security position while admiring her dashing looks.
Comments also questioned why Midge was so dirty. The photo of her showed a llama soaked in mud with a matted coat.
Daisy Vargas, a second-year animal science student and student assistant in the Sheep Unit, said that Midge is responsible for her own looks.
“She’s kind of a hot mess,” Vargas said. “She gets dirty all the time from laying under the trees in the pasture.”
Cierra Starbird, a first-year animal science student, also works at the Sheep Unit as a student assistant.
She explained that Midge is a llama with a big personality. According to Starbird, the famed llama is independent and does not need another llama to keep her company.
“We really didn’t like her when she got her,” Starbid said. “She does what she wants.”
Midge’s stubborn personality has caused some problems with the staff.
“She’s hard to handle at times,” Starbird said. “She hates being on the lead rope, and it’s hard to catch her in the pasture.”
Still, Starbird explains that Midge is doing her job.
“We haven’t had any sheep eaten yet, so I guess that shows you something,” Starbird said.
Vargas said that Midge’s behavior has improved as she has spent more time at the Sheep Unit with the flock.
“She’s proving to be a good guard llama,” Vargas said. “She’s running with the herd of sheep now.”
For now, Midge will work the day and graveyard shift, ensuring that every sheep can fall asleep at night.
Leanna Ahmed / The Poly Post
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