April 06, 2008

2-Legged Predators

Last night was a disturbing night for me, maybe I am concerned over nothing but I don't think so. I guess I should start by describing our pasture lay-out. I am not good with distances but our home is maybe 50 feet off of a graveled country road. If I could change anything about our farm I would love to have the house way off the road, unseen by travelers…with one of those long, winding drive-ways complete with large trees on either side like a beautiful canopy, but enough about my drive-way fantasies.

To the east of our home we have actually fenced off part of the yard and some pasture to make the buck's pasture. (Hey, less grass to mow right?) The buck’s pasture comes right up to our home and is longer than it is wide. The buck's fence line is about 20 feet from the road. So if someone is standing on the road looking towards our place they see our home with the buck pasture beside it and the main doe and kid pasture is right behind the buck's pasture with the rest of the property behind and to the west of our goat pastures. The buck and doe pastures share a fence line.

That doe and kid pasture is only about 100' from the road. We have some cedar trees in front but there is a clearing in them where a person can stop and see both pastures from the road. Anyway, I had fallen asleep in the recliner which is actually kind of unusual for me, I am often awake at night because I am an aspiring insomniac and don’t sleep well, of course years of working night shift in the past probably plays a role in that too. At about 2:45 a.m. last night the dogs just start barking like crazy, all 4 of them. Our elderly, almost deaf German shepherd was in the house and the livestock guardian dogs even woke him up.

Now I have Great Pyrenees dogs to protect our livestock. They are wonderful guardians but they bark…a lot…often at night while patrolling the fence line. (I didn’t name the farm “Peaceful Prairie” for good reason) A person learns to tune out the casual barking, but my dogs have a different sort of bark when there really is a threat in sight, it is a deeper, more menacing bark that starts down deep in their throats and is part bark and part howl. The sound of 4 large, Great Pyrenees dogs barking like that was enough to wake the dead and certainly me up from my sleep.

I get up and go to the back door because the goats sleep up by the gate which is actually only about 15' from our back door. I look out and see our dogs Dreyfus and Abby in the doe's pasture right at the buck's fence line barking like crazy. Dudley who is in the buck's pasture is somewhere near the road barking and every one of the mother goats and their kids were all awake, standing up at attention and alarm, all looking towards the road. The herd queen snorted and our little sweet but ornery Kiko cross goat even took a few quick steps towards the fence with her head stretched out like she really saw something (or someone) too.

At this point I know something is out there, but I am thinking it is a feral dog or a coyote. There is woods right across the road from us, so easy enough for a coyote to come from that direction. So I get our handgun because it is easier for me to handle than the rifle and I actually have better aim with it, by this time the dogs had been barking for at least 5 minutes. I turn the back porch light on and step out on the back porch in bare feet. I can see every one of the goats so I am alert but not overly alarmed at this point, but I am definitely watching and listening to Dudley bark near the fence line, listening for the sounds of a dog fight.

It wasn’t but maybe a minute or two later I hear the distinct sound of a car door shutting and a car drives off. What the *#@!, at almost 3am? I didn't hear the car running before over the dogs barking. It really sounded like someone got back in their car and drove off and coyotes don't drive cars. So some person was parked on the road in front of the goat pasture at 3am and my gut tells me they were up to no good but the porch light coming on caused them to hightail it out of here. There really isn't anything outside to steal here, but we do have a pasture full of goat kids right now though. I have heard so many stories of people stealing goats and especially goat kids out of pastures. Another goat breeder in Kansas lost almost his entire kid crop to what he believed was “2-legged predators” last year.

I think after last night it is time to install some motion lights or other security measures, which is sad to me, this sort of thing just shouldn't be so common, especially out here in rural, down home America. Jamey, my husband who was annoyingly nonchalant about the whole thing, doesn't think anyone would approach the fence because of the barking livestock guardian dogs but I watch those “stupid criminal” shows all the time, and somewhere out there in this crazy world, there is a person stupid enough to try, 130 lb barking dog or not.


Dora Renee' Wilkerson said...

I so need one of these dogs. I have been working on my husband to let me buy one. He is worried that they might hurt the babies at first (goats that is.)

I keep wishing and keep asking for one.. Maybe one day.

Dora Renee' Wilkerson

Dora Renee' Wilkerson said...

I just read that link you posted about "2-legged predators." I never heard of that before.

See...I really need one of those dogs.

Dora Renee' Wilkerson

Jennifer said...

Hi Dora! When we first got goats we tried a llama as a guardian, but made the mistake of using an intact male and it didn't work out. I have been very happy with our Great Pyrenees dogs and I wouldn't trade them for the world. We have a litter of pups now that are being raised with the goats. If you get one, make sure and get one from a working home, if you get a good one, you will be very happy with a LGD (livestock guardian dog). Thanks for commenting on my blog. :-)

Oz Girl said...

Hi Jennifer, I have SO enjoyed reading the posts about your guardian dogs. I love reading about working dogs. There is a goat farm not far from me and I enjoy going by and trying to spot the Great Pyrenees in amongst all the goats. I've been tempted to stop and introduce myself and ask if I could take some pics.... but I'm afraid they will be like "WTH??!" I totally understand your fears here about someone out in the middle of your rural-ness at 3 a.m. being up to no good... when we hear/see people going down our gravel road in the middle of the night (which is very rare), we think the same thing, actually even in the daytime, because we are so far removed from the main roads there is absolutely no good reason for someone to be out here!!! I keep telling my hubby he needs to teach me to use a gun, just for safety's sake, but we haven't gotten around to that just yet...