Monday, September 17, 2007

Nothing new

Nothing new on the predator front. We still have one person spending the night in the pasture, and several nights, a second person has gone running out there when we heard the coyotes howling and yipping. We have yet to actually see a coyote, but we haven't lost any more sheep. This is ridiculous and frustrating, but no one is willing to say that we should stop spending the night out there because we're afraid we'll lose more lambs.


We've been busy lately. As the days are getting cooler, we're reminded that winter is just around the corner, and we still have work to do before we're hibernating.

Yesterday, Mike and I put up a new woven wire fence along the east side of the near pasture. There was an electric fence there when we moved here, but it was woefully inadequte for goats. We moved the original three wires closer together and added three more wire, thinking that would do the trick. That worked for a few years, but then the naughty goats were born. I guess I can't blame them entirely. I don't think it's a coincidence that they were bottle-fed and spent many days in our house and in our yard. They know the world doesn't end at that fence. So, for the past two years, those little girls have been going through the electric fence as if it were merely a tickle. After all, it was worth it when there were delicious weeds and apple tree bark on the other side. If you've been reading for a while, you know that they killed four apple trees last winter by stripping the bark from them.

So, yesterday we put woven wire between the pasture and the yard. Knowing that Lizzie also is a jumper -- our first -- we made the electric fence higher on the south side, and we added ground wires, so if she touches them in mid-air, she will still be shocked. One must be grounded to be shocked, so if she touched the wires while her feet were in the air, she wouldn't be shocked at all. After working all morning to upgrade the fencing, Katherine arrived home from church to burst our bubble. "What did you do to the fence between the near and middle pasture?" As the word, "Nothing" came from our lips, we knew our work was in vain. Lizzie and Shirley are really too smart for their own good. They will realize quickly that they can go into the middle pasture then go through the south fence to freedom. So, all we've really done is made their trip to the apple trees a minute longer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Predator update

We haven't lost any more lambs. (knock on wood) After five nights of us sitting in the pasture all night, waiting for a coyote to show up, we finally decided that our presence is keeping them away. For the past two nights, we've had a tent out there with someone just sleeping.

The dog has barked less in this past week than in any single night in the past year. Once or twice a night, he'll make a soft little bark and trot towards the fence, but that's it. We don't even hear him in the house. Last night, we were having dinner at sunset, and he suddenly started barking viciously. Mike and Katherine both ran for the pasture. The dog was barking fiercely at the fence towards the woods, but after the humans arrived, his barking subsided and then stopped. We know from experience that he would not stop barking just because we were there, so the threat must have moved on.

I wish the news were as good for the ducks. We are down to seven -- we had 14. Yesterday morning at 6:15, we heard a duck wildly quacking, but by the time Mike got to the window, he didn't see any sign of the quacking duck or a predator. The quacking had stopped, and he counted only seven ducks. There had been eight the night before. With the ducks being completely free range, I'm afraid there is not an easy answer to keeping them safe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Night shift

Someone pointed out that we are probably dealing with a pack of coyotes, which explains why our dog can't handle the situation. He is chasing some of them while one grabs a lamb. Regardless of how many are out there, we are spending the night in the pasture now. My shift is 8 to midnight. My oldest daughter does midnight to 5 a.m., and my youngest daughter is there from 5 to 8 a.m. I think our presence is probably enough to deter them, since coyotes are shy animals and don't like humans. We do hear them sometimes, but they aren't getting very close.

It's time for my shift now. Gotta run!

Monday, September 3, 2007


The total lamb loss is now six, leaving us with only four lambs, including Princess, who is living in the barn. This evening, we tried to catch the lambs, so we could put the rest of them in the barn, but that was more ridiculous than I'd anticipated. Finally, we decided that my oldest daughter would sit outside all night with a gun. Mike has to teach in the morning, so he needs his sleep. Before you think this sounds too "old west," I'll add that she'll keep herself awake by watching her video iPod. She just received it in the mail a couple days ago, and she's already downloaded two movies, two episodes of M*A*S*H, and an episode of The Simpsons.

The livestock guardian dog was out there last night, so I'm not sure how the last lamb was taken, other than to assume that the LGD was in the wrong pasture. He can go between two pastures, and for some reason unbeknownst to us humans, he doesn't like the pasture where the sheep are currently grazing. Still, each pasture is no more than two acres, and he should have certainly known what was happening so close. We're terribly disappointed in him.


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