Entries in Livestock Guardian Dog (13)

Tuesday
May132014

on the farm ~ quick spring update

 

Spring is a time of renewal and busy-ness in life, especially on the farm.  New chores and jobs seem to grow as fast as the green grass.  Here's a quick look at what's going on at Synergistic Acres...

Our Galloway CATTLE are ravenous for fresh, spring grass and we are building their daily pasture more than twice as large as normal.  Our small group of spring calving is complete and we have lots of nourishing grass for the whole herd.

The PUPPIES continue to be roly-poly bundles of energy.  They certainly have their own personalities and we are excited to meet the new owners so we can best match needs to pups.  Mara Mama is weaning the pups naturally and gradually.  Both Charlie and Mara are giving lessons on respecting elders while they eat.

Our Large Black PIGS can barely be seen in their lush pastures.  We have a group that we will take for processing soon and several litters of varying ages foraging and growing that will allow us to offer pork more frequently throughout the year.

We have a set of very sprcial Heritage Barred Rock CHICKENS, that have been bred specifically for their old-world meat characteristics for over six decades. These will soon be ready for processing.  The hens of the group have just started laying EGGS which is a nice balance to some of our current layer flock that has begun their annual molt during which they don't lay as much.  

One broody HEN that adopted an area by our barn has been sitting on eggs.  She has just a few days left and we are so hopeful that she will be successful in her hatch.  We'd be delighted to see little chicks tottering along after their mama in the yard.

The Heritage breed TURKEY poults are in the brooder, just starting to get some feathers.  They will soon graduate to the pasture pens and follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of turkeys that have enjoyed the pasture based methods we use at Synergistic Acres.

FARMER Jeff has just three weeks left of his 'day job' and then he'll get to be on summer break.  The whole FARM Family is looking forward to that!

 

What's keeping you busy?

 

Saturday
May032014

the joys of one month old LGD puppies

Their eyes have been open for two weeks, they've been eating real food for one and they are curious about their surroundings every minute they are awake. Mara and Charlie's litter of ten puppies are chubby plops of contentment - nursing when they can, batting each other with clumsy paws and sleeping hard.  We visit them often and soak up the sweet smell of puppy breath.  Their personalities are emerging and it's been fun to name them.  Introducing...the boys Jake the Third, George, Dash

the girls Iris, Misty, Season and Nature

and more girls Fury, Izle and Tempest (with a cameo by Iris on the left)

After Memorial Day, we will be transitioning the puppies to their new, loving farm homes.  Several have already been spoken for and we'll be finding great farms for the others to protect in the coming weeks.  We are excited to see them grow and learn to guard and protect as their parents do.  Mara and Charlie, both Great Pyrenees, have been invaluable to our farm as Livestock Guardian Dogs.  

Tuesday
Apr082014

spring adorableness arrives - - - puppies!

The storm brought flash flooding, hail and a shower of puppies. What a night to be born!We are fortunate to have a healthy litter of ten Great Pyrenees pups on the farm.  Mara is an excellent mama and Charlie keeps a safe distance from the protective mother.  

They were born on April 2 - you might remember the huge storm we had?  Here at Synergistic Acres, we had 5.8 inches of rain that night, along with hail and gusty winds...and a shower of puppies.  The puppy den was flooding and we had to elevate it with some beams.  Fortunately, the puppies were able to stay warm and dry and have thrived under the care of their mama.Our weather station actually said this...how appropriate! Someone at Davis has a sense of humor :)

It won't be long before the puppies start venturing out of their den, exploring and playing and then learning the ropes of being a livestock guardian dog.  Please leave suggestions for names in the comments, we have 7 girls and 3 boys to keep track of!One week old and already you can see how much they have grown. Predators, watch out!

 

Monday
Mar182013

a closer look @ our livestock guardian dogs

Hard-working, protective, helpful?  Or relaxing, lazy, sun-soakers?  These are our two livestock guardian dogs and they really do work hard, protect our property and animals and are super helpful.  As Great Pyrenees, they are also nocturnal by nature which is why we see plenty of this snoozing in the shade during daylight.  However, at night, they are an asset to our farm in immeasurable ways.

We chose Charlie and Mara as our guardian dogs due to their"I get extra pay for these turkeys, right?"

  • docile nature with people as we have many visitors to the farm
  • natural instinct to protect and guard
  • needing a new home, we adopted them out of an Arkansas home that no longer needed/wanted them

 When they first arrived on our farm, we had to teach them their new property.  Charlie, then 18 months old, who had been kept on a chain his whole life, reveled in the joy of 40 acres.  Being a puppy, Mara learned as she grew.  Jeff took them for walks around the perimeter several times each week.  They joined us for chores and learned the routines of the animal rotations.  We invested in an electric fence that surrounds our property to reinforce the boundaries when we are not in the pastures.  The dogs wear transmitters on their collars and get a warning beep when they are within a few feet of a fence.  If they were to approach the fenceline, they would get a small shock.  They quickly learned to give fences a wide berth and also to stay on our property.  We want them safe from cars and other dogs and we also want to ensure that they are not causing any problems for our neighbors.

Our LGDs patrol the farm, particularly at night, to keep predators away.  It is really cool to watch them in action as they really seem to 'come alive' during the night.  They actively patrol separate from each other, but call for each other when needed.  This winter, Jeff was doing a late night piglet check and witnessed the dogs in action.  Charlie had cornered a racoon and gave a distinct bark.  Within seconds, Mara came tearing thru the woods, ready to protect.  Charlie and Mara protect our animals from racoons, skunks, possums (all three common chicken predators), cats, coyotes and other dogs.  Who knows what else they have scared away?

They're not perfect of course...they've killed a few chickens as they 'played', occasionally test the boundaries, and eat eggs if they can get access to them (I was so mad at Charlie on one of our early farm days when he opened and ate the whole dozen of eggs I had proudly gathered).  Most of these issues are management issues on our end and we have addressed them as they arise.  We are learning how to be good LGD owners.  We've had very few predator issues and we think it is largely from the presence of our LGDs.  It takes a lot of training, but we find it is worth the effort.  We are very glad to have Charlie and Mara as a part of Synergistic Acres.

Friday
Jan042013

recent FAQ, winter wonderings

Jeff opens up the hens portable coop on a recent morningIn another installment of attempting to answer some recent questions we've been getting, here's a fall wrap up.

Q: How is Goldie doing?

A:  Well, just before her eggs were due to hatch, something happened.  We think the dogs got in the garage and she skeedaddled off her nest in surprise.  Seeing eggs, they ate them.  Feeling bad for her as she brooded an empty nest, I put several other eggs under her.  She continued to brood the eggs for about two weeks, but then started laying MORE eggs.  It is unlikely these new eggs would be fertile since Goldie is not in the yard with Roco, our rooster.  So, she continues to brood her nest, but also lay more eggs and none have hatched, though it's been long enough on this second batch, I would have expected chicks by now.

Q:  Has anything surprised you about farming?

A:  Jeff has been surprised how easily the pigs learned about rotating pastures.  He was worried they'd bust out of their pastures all the time, but they are surprisingly mellow about it.  They have got out occasionally, but not often.  And when they are out, they are pretty easy to get back in.  Shake, shake goes the feed.  The cattle are much more of a pain to get back to their designated pasture.  

I have been surprised about the time and money a farm demands.  Although I expected farming to take a lot of both, I am surprised it's significantly more than I realized.  It's not just a hobby for an hour a day, it's a life choice that affects your every decision every day.  And then you probably dream about it, too.

Q:  Do you have a dairy cow?

A:  Though it's true we have several cows (and sows) producing milk, their milk is for their babies alone.  We like the idea of fresh, raw dairy but will need to work out the logistics of how to work that into our days before we take that leap.  The nearest offering of raw dairy we have been able to find is SkyView in Pleasanton. 

Q:  Any progress on the house?

A:  With the exterior painted, we've been focusing on the interior aesthetics.  We've recently been able to finish repairing and painting the upstairs.  We replaced the flooring and then nearly doubled our living space overnight as we 'moved in.'  Hauling our furniture upstairs reminded me why I don't want to move again for a very long time - like ever!  We've really enjoyed having the upstairs as living space and the whole house seems bigger as our things are more spread out.  The house seems to stay cleaner as things tend to have a more accessible designated place.

 Q:  Can we get more chicken?  Pork?  Beef?

A:  We sold out of our pasture raised chickens all summer and fall.  But, we just decided to do a winter processing of some Prairie Ranger chickens, as well as a variety of breeds of roosters.  They turned out to be a bit larger than some previous groups, with many well above 4#.  With our KS weather, it will be spring before we get chicks and they need 8-12 weeks to mature so this bonus winter processing batch will be our last until then.  We anticpate the pork being available in early 2013 and beef in fall 2013.

Q:  Do you still have the puppies?

A:  Those healthy and curious bundles of energy are all in their new homes.  We were delighted at what wonderful homes they went to.  We miss them and look forward to hearing about their adventures on their new farms.  Several will be learning to protect goats, a couple will have new chickens to get to know and all have acreage to patrol.  Most of the new homes have existing guardian dogs to help train the pup.  

Q:  What do you do with your trash?

A:  This one was a surprise to me, after years of JoCo living.  In our nearby town, there is a waste disposal site that will accept household trash for free.  All I have to do it take it up there and toss it in.  I go about once a month and drop off our trash.  Our recycling gets dropped off at a PaperRetriever bin when I am in the city.  Our town site actually accepts paper and plastics, but I'd have to sort it and the city bins allow me to toss it all in at once.

I love the randomness of FAQs, it's how my brain works much of the time.  Let us know if you have other questions for us - if you're wondering, chances are somebody else is, too!

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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