Monday, May 24, 2021


Last week was a bit of a blur between out of town company, in town company, unwanted company, and, oh, it got hot...which is also an unwanted guest who never pays attention to the pineapple at the foot of the bed :-/.

The Evening with the Sheep was just about perfect and we had super fun guests including some folks who'd travel quite a few hours to come to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival and visit the farm.  It was nice to talk sheep and wool and see Auntie Reg and Miss B working the farm shop.  It felt almost like we'd gotten the band back together :-).

Monday afternoon brought an unwanted guest to the farm...a coyote hunting in the front field (!).  Luckily I had the ATV handy and I raced after it "barking" as best I could and chased it off the farm.  I locked up the sheep and stayed on high alert, but didn't see anything on Tuesday.  Wednesday afternoon, two different coyotes came through the front field and I once again did my best Hank impressions and chased them away.  I've not seen anything since.

There could be several scenarios at play here.  They've figured out Hank is gone and are getting bold, a neighbor has done some clearing and disturbed their home habitat or another neighbor has terminally cleared the coyotes Hank spent years training to stay away and new untrained coyotes have flooded in the now open territory.  It could very well be all of the above.

I don't really want to get into a long discussion about how we should or should not handle this situation and why we have not brought in a new guardian dog...  These are very complicated situations and situations we are considering very carefully.  Just know that we are working hard to keep the sheep and lambs safe and our biggest concern is probably the chickens.  What I do want to tell is an interesting story about Salt.  

At 16 years old, Salt is in no way able or expected to intensely guard a flock of sheep even on a small farm.  She is very frail and her hearing is gone, but she still occasionally walks down to patrol the creek and make her presence known and her vision and sense of smell is pretty strong.  If she sees or smells  something amiss, she has a wonderful deep "Ba-roo!" that echoes through the farm and that alone is  still quite helpful...and comforting.  

Salt smelled trouble the other evening.  The sheep were all out doing a last bit of grazing before I locked them up for the night.  There were sheep in the lower paddock, both sides of the wet weather creek and back behind the arena.  I was standing at the gate by the barn watching everyone and she came up beside me and asked to go in.

She walked through the gate and stopped in front of the horse stalls looking to the back of the farm, her nose in the air.  She carefully watched for about a minute and I could see her nose working and then she released the first "Ba-roo!"  

It sounded like her normal "Ba-roo!" which is a sort of a down turning sound, if that makes sense.  The sheep continued grazing.  The second "Ba-roo!" kind of rose at the end...and every single sheep immediately came racing back to the barn.

Hank must have had different barks as well because, like Salt, sometimes he'd bark and the sheep would stay put and sometimes he'd sound an alarm and call them all in.  I hated that I could never tell the difference.  When there was trouble he'd bark constantly until he felt the situation had been handled.  Salt's single "Ba-roo!" gives me more time to think.  I hope there are some coyotes out there who are doing some thinking, too.

Oh, look!  Here's a flashback where you can hear both dogs!  


Shirley said...

Awww Hank on duty....
Salt has a big voice!
Maybe you should play that video loud when you are chasing coyotes on the quad!

Sheepmom said...

Interesting how the fox was assessing whether Hank meant business or not and didn't get seriously alarmed until Hank came toward him. Bark + movement + I'm leaving! Those good dogs.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Wonderful flashback of a good dog doing a good job protecting the flock.
I know it must be complicated getting a new guard will do what is best for the sheeps...maybe deputize Maisie :)

Terry and Linda said...

I loved hearing both the dogs. Dogs do a wonderful job of protecting our little farms. Just wonderful. With Beaglie gone, actually, before he passed, when he got too sick to do much, the coyotes 'knew' and started coming INTO the farmyard. I, often think, there is some current that runs above and around humans, connecting all animals with each other and the earth. When one thing or many gets 'off' they know; long before we know.

Hugs to you, Dear Friend


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