Tuesday, September 11, 2012
A new livestock guardian
Protecting livestock from predators is an ongoing battle. It seems like we can never quite get control of the situation. We've had an Anatolian shepherd for eight years, and he was doing a great job the first couple years until we started having problems with packs of coyotes. So, we bought four llamas, and a year later, we got two more. They were doing a great job working in pairs on three different parts of the farm until one of them died. He was 18, which is old for a llama, but alas, his partner was then left in a bad situation working alone, and we had our first sheep loss in four years this summer.
And as you might know, eight years old is old for a livestock guardian. I think Sovalye might be feeling the desire to retire too. When that raccoon got into the chicken house a couple of months ago, he walked in when Jonathan called him, and then he walked right back out again. A couple of years ago, he would have taken care of the raccoon in short order.
You might recall that we also have Porter, an English shepherd, and although he is a great guard dog when it comes to strangers, he only has the urge to herd raccoons and the like, which would be humorous if the coons were not interested in eating my chickens and turkeys.
So, we decided to add another dog to the homestead. Meet Lucy, a Great Pyrenees from Triple Creek Dairy --
She was living in the goat barn when I picked her up, and when we brought her home, she looked rather scared and nervous until she saw the goats. She immediately perked up and ran straight to them. Because she is a DOG -<gasp>- the goats were not terribly excited to meet her, but they are slowly starting to come around. She understands how to deal with them, and if she sees them coming at her, she drops to the ground so they can't butt her.
For the first week, we kept her in the barn in a kidding pen next to Carmen and her kids so that they could keep each other company through the hog panel partition, but Carmen couldn't beat her up. We let her out whenever we were outside so we could supervise her with the livestock, both for her protection and the other animals.
To help me remember that she was born in 2012, I decided to name her Lucy Burns because this is an election year, and Lucy Burns was one of the "baddest" suffragettes of them all. She worked for women's rights in both England and the U.S., and she was arrested more than any suffragette. She also led hunger strikes in the jails, and when they tried to force-feed her with a tube in her nose, it took five guards to hold her down. She was fearless, which is how I hope my little Lucy Burns will be when it comes to predators!