“We hired the three Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs I mentioned in last week’s note. So far, so awesome. When breeding and instinct and training line up with a job that needs to be done, you can almost feel a click of satisfaction in a working animal, the same sort of feeling that emanates from people who are doing work they value and are good at.
These three started the week penned with the ewes, but separated, in a four-foot high run made of page wire and solid fence. The idea was to allow the ewes to get used to the dogs through the fence, and let the dogs learn where home is while safely confined. Every day, we took the dogs out of the run and walked them through the flock, then put them back in their fence.
Two nights ago, just before bed, I went to check on them. Before I reached the barnyard I could hear coyotes howling all around us, the nearest group not a hundred yards away. The ewes were bunched next to the feeder, and in front of them, on guard, was the female dog. Somehow, when the coyotes started yelping, she’d managed to climb out of our very solid run to put herself in front of the sheep. I still have no idea how she did it, but her sense of duty makes me optimistic.
I’m hoping that the most mellow of the three, Jake, will be able to join the laying hens as soon as the ground is soft enough to fence. Chickens are more challenging than sheep for livestock guardian dogs, because they’re just so tempting for a dog to grab and chew on, but if any dog can do it, I think it’s probably Jake. He is one very chill, very big boy…” Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.