Saturday, January 24

Saturday Daily Dose of Cute: Keeping the Food Supply Safe

We Use Marta Guard

No Threats Here

Want to see more Marta?
7/27/08: Siesta Time
10/26/08: Mostly Marta
10/28/08: Just Doing Her Job
11/6/08: Maybe Marta

© 2009, the well protected foodie farm blog where puppies still aren't allowed at the All Day Hay Buffet, even if they have grown up to be as big as their sheep. Although this one—who I'm pretty sure will eat just about anything—regularly pushes her way up to the treat troughs and happily snacks on grain because the sheep are too busy inhaling it as fast as they can to bother stopping her. She likes to chomp on stolen rock hard donkey treats, too. Which I guess means the food supply really isn't very safe after all.


  1. Susan -- when you have a moment do share more about how the puppies protect the livestock. Do you have to train them, or is it just instinct? Do they respond to any noise, threat, etc, or wait until it's an imminent threat? Do they protect just with noise / barking, or do they go after predators too? I love all this cool stuff.

    One of my Amish families have two Australian shepherds who protect their free-range chicken farm. The dogs and the chickens seem to really like one another - they even frolic some. But the dogs respond to even the tiniest fleck in the sky, suspecting hawks. Lucky they're not over any flight paths.

  2. One of our dogs (MY dog, of course) will eat anything. Including the corn we give to the sheep and their mineral. Despite the fact that both substances induce either vomiting or, um, intestinal distress. She's either really hungry, or not so smart. Probably the second one.

  3. Thank you again for providing a moment of calm and bringing it all back to what is truly important.

  4. What a great photo shot to catch. Sure put a smile on my face. I seriously have been thinking of a guard dog lately and then, your post. Something tells me that I need to look into it, especially for the chickens like Country Midwife mentioned in her comment. The donkey is coming in the spring to protect the goats from the coyotes, which are really bad where we live but I don't think he will protect the chickens?!

  5. Marta is so adorably cute - she seemed to have the diners under control so could take a nap.

  6. Cheesychick - how do you train a donkey?! Or is it just by virtue of his size?

    PS -- my word verification today is "turdical" :)

  7. I just love your dogs!!! Your sheep, too, of course!

  8. Marta is clearly keeping the food supply safe for herself!

    Of course, dogs are omnivorous.

    (My cats tell me that cats like grain - in the form of baked goods - too. Even though they are theoretically pure carnivores.

  9. Your picture brought a huge smile to my face and a welcome break from the work-from-home I'm doing this weekend. The sheep do seem to have the base of food covered - though watch out when that puppy gets a bit more grown!

  10. I always take my three dogs with me when I go out to feed. The oldest, a Chesapeake, loves to sneak back into the garage when he thinks I'm not looking and sticks his head into the 4-way bag! I can always tell when he's been in there without my knowledge by his turds (speaking of "turdical"!).

  11. Hi Susan..
    Just a note to let you know that I'm constantly lurking just outside of love love the daily farmgirl photos...!
    We are doing well here in Maine, surviving weeks on end of subzero temps, writing books, making photos, cooking comfort food (with help from our wonderful winter farmers market, supplying lamb, eggs, poultry, winter veggies, rabbit, etc.) Hope you are well and have a healthy, happy, prosperous 2009...
    xoox love Stephen

  12. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for all the comments!

    Hi CountryMidwife,
    Yes, one of these days I definitely need to write more about our livestock guardian dogs. A lot of people ask about them, and what they do really is cool stuff!

    Hi Cheesychick,
    I'm not sure if a donkey will help protect chickens or not. I'm sure it would depend in part on your set up, as far as how close the donkey is to the chickens - and of course it would also depend on the donkey. Some will go after any intruder they see as a general threat, not simply to their 'charges', and some (like mine) don't. : )

    I don't know if donkeys can be specifically trained to be guard animals or not. I know our dogs do it instinctively - that's what those breeds have done for ages.

    When I got my first donkey, Donkey Doodle Dandy, I didn't know if he would guard the sheep or not (that's not why I got him) - and he didn't have any experience guarding animals. But I did feel better having a larger animal out with the sheep, and he stayed right with them, even insisting on sleeping with them in the barn in winter.

    When I got Dan two girlfriends, Dolores and Daphne, the donkeys seemed to be more into being in their own little donkey herd than hanging out with the sheep - and on at least one occasion I know they ran from coyotes rather than chasing them off. We have a big problem with coyotes here.

    On the other hand, I have friends with donkeys who are so protective they would not even let a miniature weiner dog puppy into their pasture. And not long before Dolores' son Dinky went to his new home, I saw him standing at the farmyard gate braying loudly at a wayward hound dog in the farmyard - twice. Very cool.

    As with all guard animals, whether they're dogs or donkeys or llamas or whatever, what kind of a job they do depends on the situation and the animal. Right now our livestock guard dogs are doing a wonderful job, but I'm still envious of my friends' killer donkeys! : )

  13. Just saw that you are the winner of 'Best Food Blog - Rural'! Congratulations and will be a more often visitor because I have got to see the things I have missed!!

  14. Very cute picture - what a lovely pup she is, and hasn't she grown so much. But I am wondering where is her sister?

  15. At least she's keeping it safe for the sheep.....and her!

  16. Hi Susan ~ Is it me or what?? I can recall seeing pictures of Marta, but isn't there a 2nd dog like her? For whatever reason, I don't seem to remember seeing picture of the other dog or even the name of the other dog. (Maybe my brain has frozen from all this cold winter weather!)


  17. I just want to bury my hands and face into those fluffy and beautiful sheep. Great job with those sheep Farmgirl!

  18. Just sweet! These pictures had me laughing. Thank you.

  19. I love all of your pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  20. HA! That second picture of Marta is priceless.


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