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.