What is the difference between a bullock and an ox?

A bullock is a castrated male bovine, usually kept for beef. They’re generally a lot less aggressive than uncastrated bulls, and can be kept in herds. Bulls, not so much.

Oxen is a term usually applied to cattle kept for work, such as might be done by horses – pulling carts or ploughs. Oxen may be male (usually castrated) or female. They may also be kept for beef or dairy, although beef cattle are preferred as oxen due to their greater size and strength.



What if sheep had gone extinct in 2001?

In the alternate universe of my favorite show Fringe, sheep had went extinct in 2001. What kind of real world effects would this have had if it had occurred?

Well, my main hobby, and dream of supporting myself as a designer of hand-knitting patterns, would be severely compromised, for a start. We’d lose a sturdy, renewable, bio-degradable, hygroscopic, fire-proof, naturally insulating fibre that can be used for clothing, soft furnishings and home insulation; and lanolin, a waxy substance with waterproofing, emollient, lubricant, and antiseptic qualities.

The huge worldwide revival of interest in knitting and crochet since 2000 would have stalled at the start, or would be limited to those who can afford more expensive fibres like cashmere or vicuna. Ravelry, the Facebook for fibre artists, might never have happened. The British Wool Marketing Board’s Campaign for Wool would never happen, and the BWMB itself would have shut down. We’d have been deprived of performance art, too.

Sheep farmers would have gone bankrupt, which could have serious economic implications for some countries – New Zealand, for example. Lamb and mutton, two of my favourite meats, would be off the menu permanently.

I haz a sad now.

If your cat could speak, then what would they say annoys them the most about you?

Her Highness, the Princess Deasa Sheepworrier, Scythe-Clawed Destroyer of Soft Furnishings, Dementer of Little Birds, Terror of the Hedgehog Crossing, would probably say the most annoying thing I do is lock all my lovely wool away from her. She’s particularly partial to hand-dyed silk blends and cashmere.

She has excellent taste, but I’m glad I don’t have any qiviut or vicuña.

If domestic home cats were as big as large dogs, would it be safe to keep them as a pet? Could it be dangerous?

I have a Border Collie cross – I don’t know with what, but he’s bigger than most BC males, who weigh 14–20kg. I’d estimate he’s closer to 25kg, and at least a head taller than other BC males I’ve measured him against.

He has injured me. He’s drawn blood jumping on me in excitement, tripped me up, bitten me quite badly when I trod on his tail accidentally, and has a habit (mostly broken now) of nipping if he doesn’t like what you’re doing, during baths for example. He’s also jumped on my bed and pinned me down physically, just because he loves me so much that he wants to be near me all the time.

I also have a cat. She’s a fairly wee thing, but scaled up to Feather the BC’s size, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did similar damage. However, since she sleeps most of the time, and doesn’t get So. Damn. Excited by my mere presence as Feather does, the incidents of harm done by her are substantially fewer than those done by him.

Roosters, on the other hand… I have known some vicious roosters. I never want to see a BC-sized rooster!

What would happen if Falkland Wolves suddenly reappeared on Falkland Islands?

Everyone would go, “Fork me! Is that a wolf?”

More seriously – well, their Latin name, Dusicyon australis, means “foolish dog of the south”. This was because they had no fear of humans: they would walk up to a human holding meat in one hand and a large knife in the other. This behaviour led Darwin, who saw the animals in 1833, to predict that they would die out very quickly – which they did, only a few years before Darwin himself became extinct.

In the modern Falkland Islands, sheep-farming is widespread. While sheep may not have appealed to Dusicyon’s palate, they certainly frightened sheep, driving them to their deaths in the bogs and marshes. Today’s sheep farmers would take as dim a view of this as those of yore, and may well swiftly make the wolf extinct again.

However, given the beast’s friendly and trusting nature, it’s possible that they could make good pets. I’d like to think the Falkland farmers could befriend the wolves, and perhaps train them as sheepdogs. Wouldn’t that be nice?