If you think parents always find themselves with unexpected expenses, try living on a farm. It's like I mentioned a year ago or so -- if you think it's bad having to keep a house clean, add a barn or two and a pasture to your responsibilities. Everything on a farm is like a family multiplied times three of four. And it's no different when it comes to buying things. With human kids, you have to buy shoes, clothes, musical instruments, and so on. With animals, you often find yourself needing to buy more animals, such as new males to breed the females to. I currently have a deposit down on a buckling (yet to be born) in Texas. I am also considering a new ram, because one of my ewes is related to all my rams. About a month ago, I finally bought a herding dog (puppy) after talking about it for a couple of years.
Porter is an English shepherd, one of the original breeds of "farm collies." He came from a sheep farm in Wisconsin, where his parents both herd sheep. He is a sweetie, but he is a puppy. He needs lots of attention and training at this point. My oldest daughter has agreed to take full responsibility for him, and she's doing a great job, even after three weeks.
Unlike our Anatolian shepherd, Porter will not live with the animals 24/7. Instead, his job will be to herd the sheep when we need to move them. That job has been getting harder and harder every year. Whoever said that sheep are dumb did not have Shetlands. They remember what we did last time to trick them into the barn, and they don't fall for the same thing twice. We are hoping that Porter will grow up to be a valuable asset to our farm and our family.
You may be wondering why the Anatolian shepherd can't help us with this. Well, the Anatolian breed has a misnomer of a name. It doesn't herd at all. It's just a guard dog. They hang out with the animals, bond with them, and protect them. And herding is all in the genetics. You have to have a dog with herding instincts to herd. English shepherds are herding dogs, and since they are not recognized by the AKC, it's probably easier to find dogs that still have those instincts. Once a dog is recognized by the AKC, it seems to be downhill from there, as people start breeding for the show ring and for pets. That's a problem with Great Pyrenees dogs. They were originally great livestock guardians in France, but they've become so popular as pets, the guarding of livestock has been bred out of them -- not intentionally bred out, but bred out by neglect. Like many people new to the farm, we tried GPs when we first moved out here, and we had a terrible experience. It's not impossible to find a good GP livestock guardian, but it's not easy. Like one lady said, most GPs today are just big marshmallows, and they make great pets.
Today's dinner from the farm: Chicken, zucchini and garlic!