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Wednesday, January 09 2019
An Hour & A Half

 I measure the success of the Livestock Guardian Dogs not by the body count of dead predators, but by the body count of live
livestock. It's easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when all your numbers add up each night. It's easy to start
thinking that Livestock Guardian Dogs aren't as necessary. It's easy to start feeling bad when the Big White Dogs leave
raccoon bodies in their wake like tourists leave litter. Or perhaps feeling that escaping Anatolians aren't worth the trouble of
juggling them daily. But then . . .

Most of the year we live in relative solitude, but Deer Season in Texas is by all measure, the shotgun start of weekends
of activity as city dwellers swarm to the country in search of peace, quiet, beer and Bambi. Because one camp of hunters
is close to our sheep pasture and another group of hunters has a deer blind close to our fence, we try to lock up the
Livestock Guardian Dogs when the hunters are down for the weekend. Just as most hunters don't appreciate a dog barking at
them when they're trying to be stealthy, people seeking peace and solitude also do not appreciate a dog the size of a
small pony wandering into the camp with a curious, "Howdy Neighbor!"

This past weekend was the last weekend of Buck Season and so hunters were down trying to get their last shot at a big
buck. Starting Wednesday night, Judge and Jury, the Anatolians, went on lock-down. They cannot be trusted not to visit the
neighbors. The Pyrenees-bred fluffy, white dogs, Briar and Bramble normally stay closer to home. Bramble will stay with
Briar but can be coaxed to join Judge in a Welcome Wagon expedition to the hunter's camp, so in an effort to nip that
foolishness in the bud, Bramble's new working partner is the tried, true, and trustworthy Briar.

Briar and Bramble are normally loose all day long. In the evening Bramble is locked in the barn with the sheep. Jury
normally is loose all night to guard the barnyard. The chickens free range all day long and return to four
separate coops at night. They are locked safely in these coops when the sun sets. After dark Briar is locked in one pen with chickens and Judge is locked in the chicken pen farthest from the house. This system works
pretty well, but hinges on the fact that one or two Livestock Guardian Dogs are loose in the barnyard at dusk when the
chickens are returning to their coops. And therein lies the problem. The chink in the armor. 

Dogs MUST be loose in the barnyard at all times. It's easy to get complacent. Easy to assume. Surely the Boogey Beast
would not be so bold as to launch an attack so close to the house. And "bold" is the word of the day. Read my lips. 

We have 12 dogs. Twelve. Two more than ten. Except at night, half of those dogs are either running loose or locked in
outside kennels in a rather large barnyard. Thursday night was The Perfect Storm. 

We decided to go out for a pizza. For two days we'd had rain and sleet, thus the outside kennels were a muddy mess. All
non-Livestock Guardian Dogs were either locked in the house or in the barn. Because the hunters were in blinds close to
the fence, we discussed whether or not to lock up Briar and Bramble. They'd been loose all day, but hunters would be more
active now, so we decided the neighborly thing to do would be to lock up the Livestock Guardian Dogs. Because the chickens
were not yet in their coop for the night, I didn't lock Judge in the chicken pen. I normally feed him in there and if
chickens are not locked in the coop they will foolishly try to steal from his bowl. So I opted to wait and lock Judge in
there when I got back. This proved to be more than a small chink in the armor. 

We returned home exactly 1 1/2 hours later and as is my habit, I immediately went to lock coops and move Livestock
Guardian Dogs. I was greeted by bloody feathers, a headless chicken, and shellshocked survivors. Rage. Rage doesn't even
begin to describe it. It's bad enough to lose a chicken, but when something just eats the head and nothing else, that adds
insult to injury. We had not interrupted the Boogey Beast's meal. The bird was stone cold. Apparently the Beast struck
shortly after we left. 

There are several guarantees in this world - death, taxes, and the return of the Boogey Beast. It is likely this
particularly Beast is a raccoon because they are quite numerous here and are notorius for beheading chickens. I stared down at my headless chicken and thought about the number of times I have stared regretfully at a raccoon carcass baking in the sun after a close encounter with a white dog the night before. I will no longer feel sorry for Rocky Raccoon who cannot outrun an Anatolian. No sympathy whatsoever. 

The life span of a chicken is from birth until its first encounter with a raccoon. The life span of a raccoon is from birth until its first encounter with a Big White Dawg. And there you have it. An hour and a half. That's the measure of your security system. It's easy to believe the dogs aren't worth the trouble when they're working and your nightly numbers add up, but how long can you go without the dogs? I cannot go even an hour and a half.  

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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