Entries in Livestock Guardian Dog (13)

Saturday
Dec172011

Charlie and Mara - Livestock Guardian Team!

While telling Jeff about our day, I mentioned "Chara and Marley."  Oh, this is only going to be the beginning, I'm sure.  You see, we got a new dog.  He's a Great Pyrenees, like Mara, and actually lived with Mara prior to her adoption by us.  He's just over one year old and has been trained to guard chickens.  His owner was looking to part with him and we decided to buy him.  

Well, he came with his name, Charlie, and it's taking me a bit to get used to it.  And having two similar dogs, well I guess it's kinda like when you're flustered and call your kids by other names!  Luckily, he doesn't seem to care what we call him, he is just loving the attention we give him.  He's just starting to get familiar with the new territory and thinks everything is something to alert about.  

He is big, bigger than I realized he would be.  He's well over a hundred pounds, but full of playful puppy energy - what a combination!  His head and paws are huge.  Mara loves to romp with him and it's completely adorable when she scurries under him (there's plenty of room) or when he rests his paw on her.  Boomer and Charlie had 'words' just once and have seemed to come to an agreement on sharing this space.  Boomer surprised me by protecting Mara at first, until he realized Charlie is already quite fond of her.  So, now we have one older LGD to protect our chickens and another learning the ropes.  Two great guardian dogs and one flock of safe chickens sounds like a good combination by any name.

Tuesday
Dec062011

Morning Chores

Mornings have taken on a very different rhythm for me now that I live on the farm.  It starts with my alarm going off at 4:30am.  This is the time required for me to get the morning chores done before heading of for work at 6am.

I was going to take pictures of each job as i did them, but they would all look like this -- 

....because as you can imagine, it is quite dark at 4:30 in the morning.  So...I took some pictures on the weekend when I sleep in until the sun comes up.

The first thing I do is get the outdoor wood furnace burning to heat up the house.  

  

After I get the fire roaring, I start filling the water trough in my truck to deliver to the cows who are out on pasture.  Each morning, I take them fresh water to put in their trough.  A long term goal is to have water run throughout the pastures, but for now I manually deliver it. 

Then, I head out to the cows.  I break the ice in the trough with a hatchet and then add water from the trough in my truck.  I also do a visual check of the cows-- make sure everyone is doing well and check the entire perimeter of their electric fence to make sure it is working properly. 

   

   

After the cows have been watered, I head to the chicken barn.  I wake up Mara and let her out so she can help with chores.  Then I add water and feed the chickens and check the temperature of their brooder to make sure they are comfortable.  

Then I come in, leaving Mara outside to play while I get ready for work - change out of my chore clothes and put on my teaching clothes, wash up, get my lunch and head out the door.  I bring Mara back to her barn to sleep for a couple more hours and then head off to work.  My commute is right at an hour, I try to leave close to six so that I arrive just shortly after 7.  

It struck me the other day how different it is for me now -- by the time I walk into school and see the friendly smiles and say good morning -- I have been awake for three hours -- and it has been a Great Morning!

 

Tuesday
Nov292011

Meet Mara - Our Livestock Guardian Dog

Our critter count continues to rise.  We now have a livestock guardian dog.  She is young like the chicks and is starting to bond with them and will learn to protect them as she gets older.  Right now, she is quite curious about the chicks and gives them an occasional lick.  I'll warn you though, farm dogs get into lots of things (ahem, cowpies) so I don't suggest accepting kisses from her yourself!

Mara is playful and energetic.  She loves to romp in the fields as we go about our morning chores.  She is a quick learner as she has already learned to sit before I set down her food dish.  Our other dog, Boomer,  seems to enjoy playing with her, but also appreciates a break from her youthful energy.  I think he enjoys his status as the official 'inside dog.'  Mara sticks close to home and often snoozes on the front step in the sunshine during the afternoon.  At night, she sleeps in the barn with the chickens (in a separate room).

Mara is a Great Pyrenees.  This breed hails from the Pyrenees mountains of Europe and was developed to protect livestock from predators.  Pyrenees are nocturnal by nature and can protect their stock from nighttime predators prowling in the darkness.  Mara will likely grow to be around one hundred pounds, and just as importantly have a 200 pound bark.  

Mara, pronounced Mar-uh, is a twist on a traditional Arabic name meaning 'guardian.'  We are hopeful she will live up to her name!

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