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Tuesday, May 10 2016

We tap dance with the predators around here. Just before dusk each night the coyotes gather up and sing. Although four coyotes can sound like forty, I'm still pretty sure we have a double digit coyote pack around here. It's tempting to actively hunt them but to do so would simply open the niche for a less stable pack to move in, so we opt to manage our livestock instead.

We have Livestock Guardian Dogs for the sheep and goats, and if they are grazing in pastures away from the barnyard, we escort them with Border Collies and return them home when their bellies are full. Micromanaging the small livestock is easier than cattle. One would think the cows can take care of themselves, but baby calves are vulnerable. For this reason, we kept the first time mothers close to the house until their babies were big enough to discourage an attack. We do have tiny babies now, but their mothers are veterans who will kill a dog in an instant, so we assume coyotes would fare the same. 

It's hard to keep weight on nursing mothers that are penned, so last week we turned them loose. Naturally we had a baby born in the forest, but she was born to Daisie Mae, a battle ax of a cow who thinks nothing of tossing dogs or humans. (Homegirl needs to head to the auction barn as soon as her baby is weaned.) 

We still check these cows daily to make sure all the calves are still alive and take note of any cows getting ready to have babies. Trace comes with us because, like a Trunk Monkey, you never know when you'll need a Border Collie. I'm sure there are better trained and fancier working cow dogs out there, but Trace does a fine job and doesn't have the bravado that would get him killed, so he's #1 CowDog when working pairs. This is because Trace has enough sense not to take the fight to the cows. 

With cow/calf pairs that attitude can get you killed. Lily has a no-nonsense approach that is best used in other situations. Trace's stare/retreat/regroup/"I'm still here" approach tends to work better with pairs. He gets the job done without upsetting cows or getting killed. Sometimes retreat is the better part of valor, or as Shakespeare's Falstaff says when he defends a seemingly cowardly act of playing dead to stay alive, 

"The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life." 

In other words, doing what you have to do to live another day is a part of valor.

Trace lives by that code. Here he is with Daisie Mae, the Battle-Axe-Bitch-Cow. Trace walks out with Other Half.

The cows notice him in the tall grass and decide he is a predator that must be stomped.

Retreat. Regroup. Reconsider.

Daisie Mae decides that it's easier to just take her calf and move. It isn't showy, but the cow moves and everyone is still alive. 

 Although Lily would call this cowardice, she has been kicked and run over many more times than Trace, so when you hang your hat up at the end of the day, if the job got done and nobody ended up at the vet or in the ground, I guess it's all good. 

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:36 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Hey, you have to give credit to Trace for being sensible enough "to stay alive to fight another day". That's the kind of dog I appreciate. When I first read your title I thought, "Oh, no! I hope nothing has happened to the animals."
Posted by Terri's Pal on 05/10/2016 - 05:54 PM
Yes, that is definitely Trace's motto!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 05/17/2016 - 08:35 AM

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