We had a death last night. A healthy reminder of what can and does happen on a farm. When darkness covers and the shadows reign supreme, death lurks and waits for the opportunity to strike. It's ugly and it's grim, but so is life in various seasons.
Death has a name.
This morning, Seth and I saw two large dogs running in our back pasture. We've never seen these dogs before and due to losing a ewe last year, we are highly cautious and will take action if need be to protect our property. We would expect the same from neighbors if our dog was roaming; all is fair, which is why I always make sure Franco is tied when I'm not outside and that he's in sight when I am. We watched these dogs chasing something (probably a rabbit) and I was amazed at the ground they could cover. Such great strides.
Later this morning, my Father-in-Law came in and told me what happened. My heart sunk and the dogs came instantly to mind. I grew up on a farm and I KNOW what dogs can do, even the nice ones that no one thinks could hurt a fly. You get two dogs together and the 'pack' instinct kicks in...and it's a strong instinct at that. Now I can't blame a dog for their instincts, in the wild with out it they'd die. Fact is fact.
However, we also can't let dogs run loose. Any farmer you'll meet will have a story or two about loose dogs. This is fact too. Dog owners need to be responsible for their pets or in turn farmers will be responsible to protect their livestock.
After the breakfast dishes were done, I decided to go have a look.
My mind was changed.
Death didn't come in the form of dogs of the domestic kind. They don't kill the way the wild ones do. Coyotes will kill, devour, and strip their prey. The word 'thorough' comes to mind when I think of a coyote kill. Dogs will kill and maybe a chew a bit, but not the way their wild counter parts do. This friends, was a coyote kill.
Protective measures will be upped. Sheep will need to be locked in the barn every night, the electric fences will have to be in working order, and ears will need to be tuned in the the yip's and yowls of these night seekers.
Lord willing, we'll have lambs in a few weeks and you can bet that these opportunists will have to find their easy meals somewhere else.
I sure am sorry about your loss! I realize it comes with the territory when you're a farmer, but it never gets any less disappointing. Unfortunately that's also how I learned (the hard way) when securing our chicken's coop. We lost some 3-month-old chicks last year and luckily it wasn't too late in the season to get more, but you still put a lot of time and effort into caring for your animals. It's a symbiotic relationship: you care for them and treat them well, in turn they give you quality food and sustenance.ReplyDelete
So even though you start over and the deaths become a distant memory after a while, you never forget the lessoned learned and the experienced gain from all the ups & downs that come with farming.
You nailed it Brianna!ReplyDelete
So sorry for what has happened. Lots of folk around here (eastern NC) get DONKEYS to put in with the livestock for protection. Have you considered that as an option? My brother in law has 4 donkeys to watch over his 1500 head of cattle. He thinks it has really helped. Enjoyed you website, this was my first visit. Have a blessed day!ReplyDelete
Thanks Sylvia. We've considered getting a donkey or a livestock guardian dog, but a little hesitant. I have small children and I don't want to worry about having them in the field with me. The sheep don't mind them, but since I have no experience with a livestock protecting animal, I'm not sure how they'd be with kids. Probably should look into that. For now, we have a barn that they sheep can go into every night and that's what we're gonna have to do. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to 'see' you around again. :)ReplyDelete
Oh how appropriate this post was this morning! Due to one of our own dogs and raccoons, we have lost 7 of our 8 chickens since January. Last night our dog grabbed two while my 7 year old watched and was duely traumatized. Fortunately/Unfortunately (?) the kill was fresh so the birds didn't go to complete waste. One is already boiled down to stock and the other is in the fridge to be roasted. But, it was not my intent to stop in the middle of making dinner to go skin two of my remaining hens. I believe this little dog has his days numbered on our property, or we really have to make a run for the chickens. They have a good coop, but I love letting them out in the evening to free range. The little dog does an excellent job of keeping the fox at the back of the property, so he does have a role...until he found the taste for chicken.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry for your find this morning as well. That is one of the hard parts of the responsibility of animal husbandry.
Yes, it is one of the hard parts of animal husbandry, but it makes us a little wiser...hopefully. I bet if you made a run for the chickens and locked up the dog when they free range you'd be better off. I know what you mean though, if our dog 'got' any of our animals, it would probably find it's home somewhere else.ReplyDelete
My husband and I have decided to finally commit to a run and my plans are to plant extra greens around the perimiter to give the girls (and maybe a rooster) some supplemental goodies when we aren't able to let them free range. The dog is too ingrained into our family and he is really good at keeping the fox, whose den is on the back of our property, at our property's perimeter. Now, if the dog starts grabbing goat kids, then we will have a larger problem.ReplyDelete
Our other chickens are kept in chicken tractors and are relatively safe. I don't think any housing is 100% safe and guaranteed to not fall victim to something. The larger coop is close to the garden so I would have the hens conveniently housed for insect control, which they did quite well!
We have coyotes - one got our dog a few years ago. We only have on acre so I fenced the whole thing in with a 6' fence. We've not had trouble since then. As much as I don't want them killing my chickens or my goat, I know their habitat has been severely reduced by suburban sprawl around here. The ones that I've seen this winter look like they're suffering. We're overrun with rabbits in our rural neighborhood. I wish the coyotes would get more of them! (Found you on Homestead Barn Hop!)ReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss! We've been losing chickens lately to foxes. It will come out in broad day light and my 9 yr old has even scared one off mid-attack. Our goats are in an electric only fence, and though we haven't seen signs of coyotes I am sure they are out there especially since we are backed up the mountains/woods.ReplyDelete
Thanks. Those are some brave foxes...and way to go to your 9 year old! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by Joan. :) I'm sorry one got your dog, wow that would be a surprise. We are taking preventative measures now and we are working on our fencing too. We bought our house 2 years ago and all the fencing is sooo old. In time it will be done and hopefully lessen this.ReplyDelete
Bummer!!!! I feel for ya, as I lost all my geese to a pair of bobcats earlier this year, and we've lost birds to yotes and to my dog. Granted, they were stupid chickens that repeatedly hopped the fence despite clipped wings. My dog got a pass because while he ignores the birds that are out ranging the yard, the two times he ate chicken were when the stupid birds managed to hop the 6' fence of his kennel. His house, his rules. Amazingly, he ate nearly everything... Feathers, bones... Just left behind the gizzards. Bizarre.ReplyDelete
Hope you get the yotes before they can do any more damage!
Btw, found ya through the hop, and I'm diggin your blog. :)
Thanks Rae! And sorry to hear about your geese and chickens. It's definitely a bummer when you have to deal with predators gettin' livestock, but that is farm life. Hope to see you around again.ReplyDelete
Thanks Rae! It's always a bummer when you lose livestock to predators, but such is farm life. And yes, those coyotes better watch out...we're onto them.ReplyDelete
We had to give up sheep as the coyote problem is out of control here in the Ozarks. They walk by the house in broad daylight. Howl all night long. Our Pyrenees works hard at her guard duties but I can't face loosing all my lambs. Between the coyotes and the bear they destroyed our ll colonies of bees is is discouraging to say the least.Can't let chickens free range and the owls got two kittens!ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry about your lamb :( I'm not as sure as you about this being coyotes rather than dogs, and I would also be ready to shoot those 2 dogs if they come around again. We used to have wild dogs running animals when I was a kid growing up on a farm and they were very destructive, especially if they had been stray for awhile.ReplyDelete
I hope you don't have anymore issues! I would really like to have you share this message on The HomeAcre Hop tomorrow...
Your post is right up our alley!
Sure lisa, I'll enter it.ReplyDelete
We will shoot those dogs if they come back, but we think the kill was much too clean for dogs to do. We didn't witness it, so we don't know for sure.
The fate of those dogs is known if they decide to return...ugh!
Oh, that's terrible Diana. I'm so sorry! I wonder if you had more than one guard dog if that would help?ReplyDelete
When I raised sheep for 4-H, many sheep farmers/ranchers swore by having a llama in with them. They are supposed to be more effective than a guard dog. I worked on a llama ranch in college, they were gentle and easy to work with. The less tame ones were indifferent and aloof and tended to avoid me. I know a true guard dog is not a family pet, so I also would be nervous about having my kids around one.ReplyDelete
On a different note, I know that currently we don't have any coyotes around our house. We saw a Timberwolf in the field across from us yesterday. Where there's wolves, there won't be coyotes. They bring their own set of troubles...
I am sure Stacy. My husband is from Wyoming and so they are dealing with wolves. So scary! I've heard that llama's can be mean to people, is that true? I'd be interested if they were nice...ReplyDelete
If you don't mind my asking, where do you live?
Thanks for stopping by, it's nice to hear from a fellow former 4-Her. :)
Get a paint ball gun. It won't help the lamb already killed, but if these dogs (if they even did it?) show up back home with "Shots" from the paintball gun, I bet their owners are more inclined to keep them from roaming. Terrible that you had to lose an animal intrusted into your care. I hate that more than anything.ReplyDelete
Yes, it really stinks that we lost a lamb. I considered trying to find the dog owners, but from previous experience it makes things worse...not better.ReplyDelete
We lost our entire flock of 14 hens in one night to a mother bear with 2 yearling cubs. She tore the side off the enclosed hen house and they ate the flock! It was a massacre. Nothing can stop three bears when they want to get in. Fish and Game put a trap on our property for a month and although they came back for weeks killing neighbors goats and other's birds we never caught them they just moved on. We're prepared with a shotgun now and hope they don't come back.ReplyDelete
Oh, my! That would be frightful. I hope that never happens again or if it does that you get 'em good while being caught in the act. Yikes!ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing that very thoughtfully written account of a most unpleasant reality check. I'm sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
Dogs in a pack don't act the same as single dogs. It's been a long time since I have seen animals killed on the farm...you're probably right about the coyotes. But I'd still be grabbing my gun if I saw dogs!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop! See you Thursday on the next hop!
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