Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Noises in the night!

      So much to do, so much to do! Cold weather is coming soon!  It has been so calm, the weather has been unusually great, dry without our ususal October winds and rains. The sheep and cows are trimming the pastures down for their last rotation thru the pastures of the year. When the pasture rotatations move into our lake pasture we always bring the flock up to the barn paddocks at night because of the threat of unwanted wildlife moving thru seeking water to drink.  However, we usually do not bring the flock up while they graze in the other pastures as the pastures are somewhat close to the house and usually predator free, we have counted on the cows to run off predators from the flock, until the past several weeks. I have separated the cows from the sheep so that the cows can graze down a rougher area that really needs to get eaten and tromped down. That was when the trouble began.

     Coyotes have made their voices known. In fact, they have even put in several appearances. Now being wild animals you would think they should be shy, not the coyotes here. They are speaking loud and clear, and hungry like as they circle the farm and run thru the front yard not 200 yards from the house, inside the fence! The entire household was up save for the littlest one, who blessedly slept thru it all.

The dog was sent out to bark and earn his keep. He dutifully kept up his end of the bargain by barking up a ruckus until he heard, maybe saw, how close those coyotes were... then he ran top speed back to the deck and barked from there. Admittedly, any barking he does helps, as it echoes throughout the valley and sounds like several dogs not just one, but this time, the barking was not deterring. So the tallest humans began yelling out the windows at our nocturnal visitors. Now, I don't know about you but "Shoo!" "Go away!" just don't seem like effective words to use on predators.  To no one's surprise they weren't very effective but between the tall humans, barking dog, and the ramming ram, the coyotes left They came back about an hour later but weren't as interested in the crazy place as before. Being who we are we went to the pastures twice that night to make sure the flock was okay.  Happily, all were okay, but  the humans sure weren't the next morning.

 So the debate has begun. Guardian animal?  Clearly, the cows have been protecting the sheep and miss them. Daily they try to graze as close together as possible on opposites sides of the fence in separate pastures.  However, after winter the cows will return to the big pasture and the sheep will resume rotations. So a guard animal is needed. Llama? guard dog? donkey? Bells on the sheep?  The research has begun!