Saturday, August 10, 2019

Yes, Lamb Cuteness is Addictive

Dear Punkin's Patch....

I have followed you for 5 years now. Smiling at your lambs antics, watching them grow into marvelous sheep. Crying when they go to the big flock in heaven and just generally loving your adventures with your wooly friends.

 It was a sure sign of spring when you posted new lamb pictures and you found those special ones to bring home. Burrnie, Baaxter and Maisie hold a special place in my heart.

Now however I can get a more immediate fix for my severe Lamb Cuteness Addiction. Our sheep are gifting us with girls.
4 ewes have lambed and we have 6 of the sweetest lamby lamby's you could ever imagine. (No I am not biased!)
Meet the babies so far:

  This is Mocha, her Mom is Caramel.
She is a chubby lamb and the youngest one. She has mocha colored legs, with a mocha nose and a brown tail.

This sleepy pair are in the shade of our old apple trees. Aberdeen is on the left, she belongs to Barbados and P1 on the right. P1 and P2 are Patches babies, not original names but it works

 Here is Aberdeen and her mom, these are crossbred hair sheep and are not shedding very well. We are learning about the horrible combination of fleece and hair. My good hand shears  cannot cut the felt they develop as they shed.

 Our young dogs love the sheep. Skye was just laying by the gate, watching Patches and her babies.

 Patches had her twins on the grass  in the south paddock. It was awesome. Born quickly and so vigorous they were nursing right away. The bright white lamb is P1, she was born first and has an entirely different coat than any of them. P2 was born yellow. Stress from birth.

Last but not least....Katadin and her girls. They were born on the 15th of July and are growing like weeds. The Dorper ram, Samson, has left his mark. They are long and thick, we are so excited about them. K1 and K2....naming plain white sheep is a challenge. Mostly they just get guessed it.....Lamby Lamby!!

Lamb Cuteness Addiction cannot be cured but it can be treated with the proper access to lambs anytime, day or night.

Thank you to Punkins Patch and God Bless lambs.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Guardians

Ralph and I have always had dogs. Mine were working dogs on cattle ranches and my companions and team mates. Ralph had family dogs and not a border collie in the bunch. Neither one of us has ever had a livestock guardian dog. My Border collies were protecters though and often warned me about coyotes too close or other things going wrong. We had plans for dogs when we got our land. The ideal property  was one with lots of room for dogs. Well the ideal property was not as large as we thought we needed, it also came with one flaw. A flaw we felt we could deal with after proper fencing and set up. It is a very bustling road along the NE edge of the land, in front of the house. The road has given us greif. However we have had the perimeter fence beefed up with additional wire and we use an electric fence. A fence through the yard, between barn and house has secured the stock area. It was time to get dogs.

To me dogs are special, yes they are tools but they also are unique in their loyalties to the world they are in. Bonding with people and other animals that populate their domain. I have always had working dogs that are also in the house. These dogs would not be that. They have to be out at night and patrolling and watching during the day. They will be in the barn and have access to the livestock. Sheep, Cattle, Ducks, Chickens and Turkey's.

 I spent hours looking at LGD breeds. I fell in love with the Central Asian Shepard dogs. Huge and devoted to sheep. I found that first of all there are two use for Protection work in regions of Russia,  and one still used by shepherds in regions of Central Asia. They have been imported with little distinction and you have to be exceptionally careful that you get the livestock bloodlines. Second they are expensive beyond a small farm. Off the list they went.

 Central Asian Shepherd Dog.

 Anatolian shepherds were my second choice. Short haired which I felt would be very good in this climate with the heat and humidity. They do tend to be a bit stubborn and to my frustration I found are difficult to train to small livestock and poultry. Sheep and cattle they are outstanding but not chickens so much.

            Anatolian Shepherd

 I have always loved Great Pyrenees but I was worried about their heavy coat and heat and humidity. However the more I looked into them the more I found out how good they are with all livestock and tolerant of children and are easier to introduce to visitors of your farm. There are a lot of them in use here in our area.
                     Great Pyrenees

 So we had information stored away and I got out the file and started rereading it. We also took advantage of local sheep farmers and our feed store guy. (He is an asset beyond measure) We decided we would look for young dogs and see what we could find. Armed with a list of local sheep farmers we thought we would get serious over the summer and get the dogs in the fall.

 Strange things happen though and this chain of events makes me smile everytime I look at the puppies. We are getting three steers butchered in September. The only processor close to us has a 6 month waiting list. We were at the butcher discussing cutting orders and conversation led to talking about our plans for the steers and what we are doing with the land.   Our butcher runs 150 head of hair sheep. So we had a great time talking sheep issues. Then Ralph said we had plans to get LGD's, what breed does he have?   Much to our surprise he asked if we wanted puppies? He had Pyrenees x Anatolian puppies that would be ready to go in a few weeks. No charge .....we could pick one or two if we wanted. We looked at each other and smiled....Yes we said in unison. Ralph and I were dumbfounded. They are raised with Sheep,  cattle and chickens. The mother is not heavy coated as she throws more to the Anatolian. The father is Registered Great Pyrenees who although only a year old is patrolling extremely an older dog would. Our butcher smiled...he admitted the puppies were an accident. Not that he didn't plan on breeding the mother but he had not planned for summer puppies (The mother had dug out of the barn to get to the male) plus he had wanted to see how the young dog worked. So much for that plan he said. she had 14 puppies! We took the opportunity in front of us, deciding to get two females. We had a month to set up in the barn.

A few weeks later, 6:50 am, Ralphs phone rings.....its not a number he recognizes so he lets it go to voice mail. 6:54 am, my phone rings is Amon....our old Amish neighbor who sold the land next door He is inviting us to Amish Wedding carry out?  What? His oldest daughter is getting married....would we like to come for carry out? We were not invited to the wedding but friends are often invited to come and get a plate of the wedding meal. It was such a nice gesture we happily accepted and at 11:00 am we headed over to Amon's new farm. It was incredible, the ladies filled two carry out plates to the brim with fresh creamed peas, mashed potatoes, dressing and some fantastic fried chicken.

 We were thinking since we were not far from the butchers we should drop by to confirm we were serious about the puppies. We still had two weeks to wait. The day took a truly interesting turn when we got to the shop. Our butcher was fixing his baler, he smiled and exclaimed balers always break in good weather. Then he introduced us to his wife....she promptly asked if we were here for the puppies. Well it seemed she was quite eager to have them gone, they were just at 6 weeks. Yes they were eating puppy food. So off we went, the short drive to the farm and meeting the dogs was a blur. In no time at all we were driving home with two chubby fur balls on the floor next to my feet.

They like the barn and sleep under the feed room during the heat. They come when called, not like a Border Collie but still pretty well. They sort of patrol as they amble up to us. They love the Turkeys and are good around the chickens,  it helps the Momma hens set them straight about chicks right away.
They have grown faster than I had imagined. At the Vet, last rabies shot, Skye was 35.9 pounds and Meg 34.6 pounds. We will be getting them spayed at 6 months. The Vet says its much better to let them get a bit older to have the surgery.

Now as I write Meg and Skye are sleeping under the woodshed. Its cool there. Central to the livestock and best of all beside the orchard where the ewes and lambs are. They can watch them. Skye lays with her head on her paws, the only movement is her eyes, but they are scanning the pasture. They are 4 months old. Meg is the patroller, Skye the guardian.

Meg will walk the fence around the sheep and poultry. She checks out the cows then returns to the orchard. Skye will get a drink when Meg gets back.

They are still very young but you can see them begin to develop their skills. Don't get me wrong they are still puppies. They chewed their dog brush to bits and come to the back steps when they know they shouldn't. They like tomato scraps and watermelon rind. They watch closely when I milk Katie. They play at wrestling and dig holes.
The lambs arrival though has brought out the guardian instincts. The ewes like the puppies but now they have lambs they stamp a warning if the pups get too close. Katadin bashed Skye solidly...I was worried Skye would retaliate but she didn't, she learned the space limit and to stay back if a ewes stamps her feet.
We marvel at our LGD's. They fit in to the workings of the farm.

God Bless you and your endeavors. Plan and hope and dream. Work hard and have faith.