After several years of no losses of our sheep to predators we were complacent and so this past autumn we suffered greatly from not having taken measures to protect our sheep. In our defense, we are relatively new to this sort of thing and our concerns were with the predators that killed our chickens, a whole different set of problems.
We had just fenced in the entire farm and the idea that we were vulnerable to coyotes or marauding dogs was not even considered. In the space of just a few weeks we had lost a very large percentage of our flock. It had gotten so bad that I had to put everything else on hold and turn my attention to this one problem; this one problem would end our entire operation, I was desperate. I even went so far as to place an ad and invite hunters to the farm. Even with high tech calls and weapons no predators were found. A neighbor’s boy came out and set traps, still nothing. Except for all the mutilated sheep, there was very little evidence that there were any predators. I was not happy with the prospect of hunting and trapping because the predators are essentially dogs and I love dogs but I had to stop the carnage.
I knew that there was really only one permanent solution to my problem, dogs. I have read about and even talked to some people that believe llamas can protect sheep but suffice it to say that my experience does not bare this out. Perhaps a certain llama in a particular situation has been a deterrent but I don’t believe they are reliable livestock guardians and they present a whole other set of issues to deal with.
Life on our farm had become unpleasant. By now the weather had turned cold and wet and I was spending nights outside with lights and my riffle protecting the sheep. Of course I could not keep this up but I could not sleep either. I dreaded going out for morning chores to find some horrific scene. Nothing I tried would help for more than a few days before they would come back and attack again. We were devastated! The remaining sheep were traumatized and would not go into their shelter at night. Angie helped me bury some of the dead lambs one morning but after a while I would hide them and we just didn’t talk about it.
I accepted that I would have to find the money to buy the right dogs but what was available was mostly puppies and I needed dogs that could help right now. I found one pup nearby, bought him, but that was just more work caring for him and he would be no help until summer. Every day I searched the internet for older dogs and then I found them! They were three hours away and only 8 months old but that was good enough. Two Great Pyrenees sisters living on a small goat farm and the kind lady who owned them practically gave them to me for making the trip. After a few days confined to their shelter I let the girls loose and within a few hours they had covered every acre. They quickly discovered a waterway that ran under the fence between paddocks and found their way to the other side of the farm. They bounded through the wetland, waded across the pond
and claimed the pastures for their own. They went where I did not want them to go deciding that they knew their job better than me and that no place should be off limits to them. The farm was now completely under their protection.
There have been no further signs of predators and the sheep have learned that these special K9’s are no threat to them. Lursa and B’Etor (some of you may recognize these names) have literally saved the farm and are my heroes.