Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nothing like experience...

I didn't want to complain to my husband about his sheep pen design - he was working with limited materials, limited time, and he did a good job under those conditions.  However, he did receive a first hand lesson in why having no gates to the chickens except by going through the horse stall which opens up the sheep stall is not such an easy idea.

Apparently, before I got home, he and the two younger kids were trying to layer the chicken pen with dried grass.  As I have found out, even the smallest crack into the horse stall is an invitation to a sheep: they can squeeze into the surprisingly smallest places!  One ewe and her 6 month lamb were out in a flash, and running around in the yard.  This attracted the dogs' attention, which is not a good thing.  I imagine it was quite a sight.

I really do need to think about what to do about Balto.  He has killed so many stray cats and chickens.  He has killed a couple of the barn cats.  The instinct is in him to hunt.  He is an older dog, though, already 10, and he is a good guard dog.  Since I live in what amounts to the wild west, a guard dog is an important deterrent.  Dead sheep aren't a fun proposition.

I have had a dog in the past that learned not to eat the livestock and cats, although he would often go out into the woods himself and fight the wild boar.  I could hope that Balto can learn the sheep are off-limits, like he learned with the indoor-outdoor cat (barn cats he kills, Nani he won't touch).

Another big decision I have to make is about the gelding.  His laminitis is not resolving to a point where he can at least be comfortable.  My farrier says it is time to put him down, but it is such a hard decision.  This horse is my baby, but I hate to see him hurting.  Bute isn't helping; the weight is back on him, but he is so very sore.  We're going to put him in shoes on Thursday - if he can at least stand and walk comfortably I will try to keep him going.


Chai Chai said...

I never imagined the Hawaii that you describe existed. A dog that kills livestock normally wont stop, but I can understand the need for a good guard dog. With the horse situation it sounds like you have a lot of difficult decisions to make.

Sorry I have no suggestions for you today.

NancyDe said...

I was thinking the old dog might be the only chicken killing dog to ever learn to stop. Once a kid goat snuggled up to him after being rejected by a doe, and he just sighed and snuggled right back. He would still go out and hunt when he got bored, though. It was like he knew the difference between my animals and the ones out in the forest. Not sure this dog, Balto, will be as smart as his predecessor. Probably not - so I need to find him a home or kennel him...or keep the sheep and chickens securely penned. I will figure it out.

As for Ohia horse, I am still praying and thinking on what to do.

Grandpa said...

I am confused by my two year old rottie too: she'll attack ferociously kid goats and chicken ( presumably because they run away from her everytime she tries to snuggle up), but ok with big goats. She's friendly with people who actually enter the farm, but chases passers by along the fencing. And I think she's scared of wild boars which until today ravage the farm.

NancyDe said...

I think the running away is the key. Our house cat doesn't run away when she ventures outside, but the barn cat used to. I heard that when the sheep were out in the yard, they actually chased the dog, and he backed off. That makes me feel a little better, but not enough to let the sheep roam while I am not at home.

My big lab/shepherd dog was the one who used to go hunting pigs and learned to live with the kid goat as his constant companion. We have a big problem with pigs, too. They can dig up huge amounts of sweet potato and taro in one night. I visited a school on O'ahu which lost 2000 lbs of taro in one night!

Maybe your rottie thinks that people who are passing are sneaking, where as someone enters, they MUST have been invited!

Chai Chai said...

Lost 2000 lbs? Holy Smokes, you really must grow a lot of stuff there!

NancyDe said...

Well, Chai Chai, it wasn't my lo'i (taro patch) that got raided; it belonged to a project-based school I visited this summer. But a surprisingly small lo'i can produce a ton of taro. I have one variety that the corms are 5-10 lbs each, so a little bit goes a long way. Also, I grow my taro dryland, which isn't as productive as a lo'i, which is under water.