Entries in Livestock Guardian Dog (13)

Friday
Nov162012

LGD puppies, one month old

As all baby times do, this first month has passed so quickly for our Great Pyrenees puppies.  Mara continues to be a wonderful mom, very watchful and protective, yet also encouraging the pups to be independent.  Papa Charlie tolerates the pups mostly, except when he is eating - they are learning to stay back during mealtime!  They run up to him and try to nurse which seems to confound him (understandably so!).  

The six puppies are so healthy and curious.  They come out of their den when they hear us.  Their personaliites are ever more apparent.  They explore their part of the pasture yet are careful to not go too far away.  They wrestle and growl and fall over their own feet.  They are eating some solid food, yet are eager to see Mara any chance they get.  

They get regular visits from the wandering chickens, guineas, and turkeys which is good training for them as they learn these are the animals to protect.  We aim to strike a balance between socializing the pups with people and supporting their natural ability to be livestock guardian dogs.  Visiting the pups is one of the highlights of our day.  Care to join us?

Thursday
Oct252012

meet the puppies

First off, Mara is doing wonderfully!  She is an attentive mama and has already gained back some weight after her pregnancy.  She enjoys her twice daily meals of beef and veggies in addition to her always available high protein kibble.  

Mara seemed to have an easy time of labor and birthing as the first signs of the puppies were when we checked in at 5a and saw Mara and the puppies in a perfectly clean den.  Mara was tired, but doing well.  At first, Mara stayed with her puppies 24/7 and that was good because they needed her.  After a few days, she knew they could be alone a bit and she'd stretch her legs for a short spell.  The puppies snuggled together in her absence and kept each other warm.  A few more days go by and we find Mara out and about more as well as occasionally hear her protecting the property at night.  A peek at the puppies during this times finds them contentedly spread about their den, most likely snoozing or looking for a place to snooze. 

Seeing her instincts play out so naturally is so rewarding!  Before the pups arrived, I had read about what to expect and what to do and how to help, but really, the best thing I can do is let Mara take the lead and she's hasn't needed anything other than food from me.  I do appreciate that she trusts us with the puppies and permits us to hold them a bit.  

We adore the warm snuggles and wiggles of these tiny pups and the girls are certainly having an experience to remember.  As a homeschooling family, we marvel at the real-life opportunities the farm presents for learning and nurturing.  

Let us introduce you to...

Macy...the largest pup with the biggest voice - you'd think by the ruckus she raises, she doesn't get to nurse much, but by her size, you can tell otherwise

George...the lone boy pup who will wedge himself between any sleeping siblings and revel in his prime location

Waverly...a content and cozy girl, with a unique curl to her coat

Elsa...the pup we thought wouldn't make it.  She's small but lively!  And spotted!

Annie...a girl who likes a snuggle buddy, most often Macy

Snuggles...named by our 3yo for her snuggly nature, she'll burrow into the crook of your arm and fall asleep.  Jeff says you can't have a guardian dog named Snuggles, but our daughter thought otherwise ;)

We enjoy peeking in at the pups to see what they're up to.  They are two weeks old now and have started to open their eyes a bit and are getting stronger as they push up on their legs.  It won't be long before they are pushing themselves out of their den and oh, what fun it will be!

Monday
Oct152012

a peek at the puppies!

10.11.12 was kind of a special day for it's unique date, but for us, it was very special because we woke to the sight of puppies!  During the night, Mara had given birth to her puppies and yes, she used the special whelping den we created for her.  

Mara is being an absolutely wonderful Mom.  She is doing everything she needs to do and taking such good care of the pups.  She energetically tends to her pups, vigorously licking them often.  Her instincts have been spot-on, which is pretty awe-inspiring to see.  

Alright, I know you really just want to see some pics now, so here's a collage of the first few days.  Let us know in the comments if you have any questions and we'll share more pics and details soon!

Wednesday
Oct032012

a busy October - puppies, piglets and calves

October is shaping up to be an exciting month on the farm.  Mara, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog, is pregnant and due in the early part of October.  Great Pyrenees litters are usually 7-10 puppiesShe is defintely showing signs of having her babies soon and we have a whelping den all ready for her.  The girls and I put it together with supplies on hand and have seen her in it a few times already.  working together to create a safe and secluded whelping denAs a child, our dog had puppies and the mother wasn't so fond of the whelping area - she kept moving her puppies under the bed instead.  I can only imagine the odd places Mara might decide to birth her puppies on the farm!

Additionally, our breeding set of Large Black pigs might be due later this month.  This is the first breeding season for them and we choose to not pregnancy check them medically.  Instead, we monitor their behavior and watch for signs of pregnancy/impending birth.  So, they could have piglets this month or it could be later this fall/winter. 

Galloway grazing for twoOur Galloway cows are bred to have their babies in the fall as well.  This is off-season of most cattle, but research has suggested that Galloway calves thrive better when fall-born, in part due to the quality of the type of forage available on our farm. We have four cows that could calve, Lass, Mama, Ulani and Ruane.  They are respectively dun, belted, dark brown and white and we have a black bull, Winchester, so we are eager to see what the calves look like.

though full of energy, these chicks will snuggle up in your hand and fall asleepOn a related note, our Buckeye and Maran pullets are at the early side of the laying window, and we are eagerly anticipating collecting eggs from them sometime this month.  We still have fuzzy and adorable chicks, too.  We hatched out about 60 chicks from our laying hens eggs and they are just a few weeks old.

If you want to see fall farm babies, check in with the blog or the facebook sidebar (you do not have to be on facebook to view) as we are sure to post pics or better yet, visit to see them in person!

Saturday
Feb112012

cold weather on the farm

 

A quick quiz...

Who cares about the cold weather on the farm?

a. the dogs

b. the pigs

c. the cattle

d. the chickens

e. the foolish dedicated farmers that tend to all the above animals

Let's have a look...

Is it the dogs? Nope, not the dogs.  The dogs are as happy to romp and chase as ever.  They can often be found lying in the sun, sometimes together, but with all their fur, they are not cold.  They do have the barn for shelter as well as several hiding places around the exterior of the house and outbuildings, but they generally just hang out close to the house.  We do have to keep an eye on their water as it freezes quickly being a small container.  We have a couple containers in rotation so we can thaw some overnight in the house.

Would it be the pigs?  Not them either.  Their current pasture is in view from the house and oftentimes throughout the day, I see them zipping around their pasture, chasing each other and apparently playing pig games.  They have a simple shelter made from a cattle panel and tarp that, when given lots of straw, gives them all the protection from cold and precipitation they need.  As with the dogs, we frequently check on their water supply throughout the day.  With thawed water, they are content to root around for tasty bites, snuggle up together, and poop a lot.  Pretty much in that order.

Perhaps the cows?  Negative.   They are happily grazing, chomping and chewing their cuds whenever we check on them.  They can nose through a thin ice layer to get to the water in their troughs. However, a couple times a day, we tend to the cows water needs by trekking out to see them and whacking the top layer of ice with a step-in post (or a boot).  If I slide the hunk of ice out of the trough, the girls find it quite an entertaining ice skating experience.  Sometimes, the cows will be seen with their backs to the wind and the calves will be in the shielded spot of their mother's massive girth.  Their pastures often include a bit of woods if they care to seek additional shelter.

Surely the answer is d, the chickens.  They're little and vulnerable right?  They were little, but now they've grown quite a bit.  They have their feathers now and can keep warm on their own or in a small group.  They do have the most shelter currently as they are in a barn with access to the outdoors, but even on cold days, they enjoy scratching around outside or laying in a sunny spot in the grass.  They scratch out little dents in the straw or dirt and nestle in.  They occasionally hide behind a straw bale which probably protects them from the drafts a bit.  When you pick them up, you can feel the heat emanate from their little bodies.  You'd think with those scrawny exposed feet, they'd be more particular about the cold weather, but nope, it's not the chickens that care about the cold weather.  We keep their food and water well-stocked so they can keep up with their fast metabolism and stay warm.

Well, it's down to e, yours truly.  Wearing so many layers, I lose count, it's me that notices the cold weather.  I am not a big fan of winter in general and would rather stay inside a nice, warm house.  But, with the animals to tend to, venturing outdoors is just a part of life.  On these below freezing days, the girls and I tend to the animals in the late morning and early afternoon while Jeff checks on them in the early morning before he heads to work and again before bed.  We all bundle up from hats down to snow boots and tend to all the animals here at Synergistic Acres.  Of course, the breeds we chose are heritage breeds and hardiness to cold weather is a trait that is considered valuable.  The animals have adaptations to handle the cold weather, unlike we farmers (unless you count thermals).  And really, once I get out there, it's rather fun!

 

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