For anyone who has been following us at all this year, you’ll know that we have had a HORRIBLE predator year. There was the bear who ripped the door off of the chicken coop and had a mighty chicken dinner. We probably lost 50 turkeys, at least, including the hen who was raising two ducklings as well. We had raccoons and weasels and snapping turtles, who turned our many Saxony ducklings into one. ONE! We had a coyote pack attack where we lost six piglets. I could go on and on and on.
So, obviously, we need help. Livestock Guardian Dogs are clearly the answer, since I can’t manage to actually keep llamas alive. Sheep kept with either the horses or the cow are safe from predators. However they are almost as vulnerable to getting inadvertently stomped on by the cows or horses. We’ve had far too many broken legs this year, and Disa put Elly into the wrong shed the other day and Elly stepped on a lamb and killed her. We are not doing well with lambs this year, damn it.
I contacted the Great Pyrenees Rescue earlier, and they sent us Maggie. I cannot tell you what a fit she is for this farm. They told me that she was stranger and food aggressive, but okay with birds, goats, sheep, other dogs. All of that is true. She is also cuddly, smart, and very adaptable. We just love her to pieces. Though she was here for a three week trial, after about a week, we sent in the paperwork and the check. She’s our dog, thanks.
She does NOT like it when anyone shows up here, so I am very careful to have her behind a fence whenever I’m expecting someone, which is not very often. But because I don’t have lots of contiguous fences, she can only patrol one paddock, but we let her out whenever we feed the pigs, and she happily follows along. We hope to get it where she can protect the pigs soon, since is that where we’ve had coyotes lately. But even just having her around and living outside all the time, barking her fool head off at every noise seems to be doing the trick.
I want to get her a buddy out there, but finding the second isn’t going so well. Everyone tells me I need a male, but all the rescue males just sound like more than I can handle. They seem to all be fence breakers, and really? An aggressive dog who I can’t keep behind a fence is more than I can deal with. I’ve had a few here on a trial basis and always just said No. I’m sorry. I think I want more girls. I like girls. They don’t wander. (Bjarki, I’m looking at you.) I like territorial girls, thanks. I’m hoping to find a couple of girl puppies who Maggie can teach about being guard dogs. I think she’ll be good at that, actually. I was thinking I’d get an intact boy and girl and breed them, but then I remembered how many need homes and how much of a pain in the ass it is to have two breeds of one species of breeding critters. (I had Shetland and Icelandic sheep when we first started, and gave away the Shetland sheep as soon as I could find homes for them. Never again!)
Anyway, we love her. Bjarki and Disa love her. She was afraid of Frank when she got here. Now? Not so much. He’s been giving her all of her meals and lots of treats and now he’s her new best friend. She loves me, too, but everyone loves me, that’s easy. It’s hard to believe she’s only been here for six weeks, because it’s just been fantastic. There’ve been no predator attacks since she’s shown up, and dealing with her has become part of our daily routine. Bjarki in particular is just in heaven having her to play with all day.