Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Dose of Cute: Second Easiest Guard Job Ever

Donkeyland guard dogs 1 - FarmgirlFare.com

More photos below. . .
Donkeyland guard dogs 2 - FarmgirlFare.com

Donkeyland guard dogs 3 - FarmgirlFare.com
(This was the first one.)

Want to see more Donkeyland? Here and here.
More Marta Beast? Here and here.
More Crazy Daisy? Here and here and here.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where nobody around here likes getting knocked down by a sneezing and snuffling cold (least of all me), but snuggling up under a heavy vintage quilt (the second one), rereading a favorite novel by a dear friend, slurping homemade chicken soup, munching on a forgotten hunk of mocha brownies I found buried in the freezer, sipping from endless steaming mugs of herbal throat tea with honey, and listening to the gentle sounds of rain tapping on the tin roof definitely all help.

So does spending much of our time in the new house (new photos hopefully soon!). Yep, we really are getting moved in, though I'm still blogging from my little office in The Shack. I'm going to miss how much louder (and to me, cozier) the rain sounds when there's no insulation between you and the tin roof (who knew?), but I definitely won't miss the rain that's falling through a large scary hole in my office ceiling and plunking into a plastic red dishtub next to my chair.

P.S. The donkeys are only locked in that corral at treat time to keep the sheep from launching an attack.

P.P.S. Since I've already almost polished off the brownies (it was a small hunk), I'm baking up a batch of my favorite whole wheat chocolate chip raisin cookies (in the new kitchen!) because chocolate cures everything, right?

8 comments:

  1. Hope you get to feeling better soon! Looking forward to seeing pictures of the new house! :)

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  2. absolutely correct - chocolate cures everything and been fighting my own respiratory affliction with large doses of indulgence! Hooray about new house - you will get accustomed to lessened rain noise and rejoice in no rain in office!

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  3. Those sheep only want their share too!

    Get well soon.

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  4. Congratulations on moving into the new house!!! You will probably love, love, love being a lot warmer in the winter - and no dripping rain will be very nice too. Can't wait to see pictures! And...you will always have fun & wonderful memories of living in The Shack.

    Now, take care of that cold - eat more chocolate sounds like a great idea to me!!

    Barb

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  5. So question, since you have both...do you feel like just one donkey is adequate protection for a small group of sheep/goats when dealing with coyote issues?

    My husband and I will be moving to an area with moderate coyote problems and most people have donkeys with their cattle...but cattle are naturally able to defend better than sheep/goats. So, I'm curious how one LGD would stack up vs one donkey. It'll be our first herd protector since we haven't needed one thus far.

    We've also looked at llama protection, but would love your thoughts on donkey vs LGD. If you have time, I know that's tough to come by... :)

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  6. Hi Erin,
    My apologies for the delayed reply - thanks for your patience. :)

    As for whether donkeys or dogs are better for guarding livestock, the answer really depends because every situation and every animal is different.

    We've had llamas, dogs, and donkeys guarding our sheep, and in my own experience, Daisy and Marta, the two LGD dogs we have right now (Great Pyrenees and Great Pyrenees/Kommondor/Anatolian Shepherd mix) are by far the best solution for us.

    Each type of animal has its potential drawbacks: I've had a ewe killed by a male llama trying to mate her, and my first Great Pyrenees started ripping the throats out of lambs. Not a good experience!

    I thought a donkey would be a perfect solution, and while I do think that when we just had Donkey Doodle Dandy in with the sheep, he did help keep coyotes away to some extent (but not totally), he also chased the sheep when they were in heat, or when he just got excited and was trying to play.

    When we added to our donkey herd, the donkeys tended to simply guard themselves, rather than the sheep. We saw a coyote come right up near the flock and the donkeys didn't do anything - until they finally ran away.

    When we recently had the donkeys out in the hayfield, we had a coyote coming around hunting for varmints in the grass (which is exactly what they're supposed to do), and the donkeys totally ignored it - possibly because they didn't view it as a threat. There were also deer prancing all around, and the coyote ignored them, so who knows. :)

    Continued in the next comment. . .

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  7. With LGDs, it all depends on the specific dogs. Most of the long time sheep farmers I've talked to have had both wonderful and not so wonderful experiences. "Perfect" dogs can be very rare. We are thrilled with the job that Daisy and Marta are doing - we haven't lost a sheep to coyotes in over three years, when we acquired Daisy in 2008 as a two year old (Marta was just 6 months old then), but they have their drawbacks, too.

    For the size of our property, having two dogs works out really well. They often stay together, but they also split up when the sheep are split up. I would really like to have three guard dogs, but these two already fight with each other enough (think blood dripping from them both - it's horrible, but according to the vet and everybody else, it's just what they do), and bringing a third dog into the mix would be asking for trouble.

    I do know that guard donkeys work great for some people - it all depends on the donkey. Joe says you have to only use jennys (females), which I hadn't heard, but I know some people who had both jacks and jennys, and those donkeys wouldn't even let the family pet dog into their pen, they were so protective.

    We mostly live in cattle country, and I don't think I've ever seen a donkey guarding cattle - they're usually just out on their own. If donkeys are the guard of choice in your area, and you want to try using one, I would see if you could find somebody willing to sell you a donkey that is already a proven guard.

    If you're looking for an LGD pup, meet the parents, try to see them at work, etc. If you're buying an adult LGD, find out as much as you can about how it works, why they're selling it, etc.

    We totally lucked out buying Daisy. I'd gone to a farm to look at her pups, and the only reason the guy was willing to sell her was because he had 9 guard dogs and just didn't need them all because he'd cut down his goat flock.

    The nice thing about donkeys is that if you get one and it doesn't work out as a guard, they're still lots of fun to have around - although they're pack animals and do really prefer to be in the company of at least one other donkey or horse.

    I hope this helps! :)

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  8. P.S. Just like with donkeys, some people have great experiences with guard llamas. I tried it twice - the first with an intact male (because at the time the prices were so high that the male was $800 and females started at $2,000 or $3,000), the second with a male and a female (which I bought at the sale barn for $240 total) - and sadly, both were disasters.

    First of all, these llamas weren't very interested in guarding. Secondly, if you live where there are white tailed deer, you must give the llamas a dose of pour on ivermectin every month in order to keep them from getting infected with meningeal deer worms (and possibly being killed by them). If your llamas aren't halter trained and/or like to be touched (like the ones I bought at the sale barn), this is impossible.

    The $800 male I bought from a breeder was supposedly halter trained - and yes, every time he saw the halter he tore off in the other direction. :)

    Llamas are neat creatures, and they can be very vicious protectors, but unfortunately they didn't work out for us. :)

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