Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marking Territory

Saturday May 22nd was a bad day here for myself and the sheep. I went out in the morning to find Oma in with the rams??? No way would she want in there. Then as I was getting Oma in the right pen Stevie and Pepper were crying and looking for their lambs. Not uncommon but then I couldn't find Peppers ram lamb and Stevie little ewe either. Peppers twins and Stevie's ewe lamb were good buddy's and stayed together almost all the time. On further investigation the fence by the gate to the inner field was bowed in so far that it detached from one t-post. Bella had blood on her side and her ram lamb had a bloody neck?  Oh no!

After I caught Bella's ram he was OK but had knocked his horn almost all the way off getting blood on his neck and his Mom's side and still no sign of the other two lambs. Something big happened here and not that long before I got out at 8:00 in the morning.
So I locked up the sheep got the dogs and started walking my fence line. Up toward the top of the north side of the field something had dug a hole under the fence. Coyotes!!! There must have been a pair because I lost two lambs. We don't have too much trouble with coyotes because in the last 28 years I've only lost a few baby animals. Now are they going to keep coming back for more? How can I ever feel safe and let the sheep graze on the mountain? Jake my LGD is over ten years old now and in the last two years he has been in the front yard so doesn't guard sheep. Getting a new puppy will take years to train. That left me to do what a guardian dog would do, walk the perimeter of the property and mark our territory. 
Jake and Jo Beth did mark some but we have twenty acres and one more hole under the fence at the very top of the hill. Our soil is sandy and there are few rocks to fill the holes. This plant is Desert Peach and it has great thorns on it. I found a large plant that died and brook it up to block the holes and line certain places that would be easy digging. Natures barbed wire!
Every morning now before the sheep can go out on the hill I bring my own jar of  "marker" and continue to let the coyotes know this is our property "Stay Out". Almost twenty acres of fence line and straight up and down a mountain every morning makes a fit shepherdess. Jake won't even come up with Jo Beth and me any more. He sits with the flock, midway up the hill. So far no coyotes have even tried to dig again anywhere along the fence so this works wooo hooo and I made an appointment with a llama  to come stay and hopefully bond with the sheep!! Toni a neat lady and friend rescues llamas so we should be able to find the right guardian.  

Till then it's up the mountain again. This is Mijo the "friendly" lamb. A few days ago I had the yearly T-party. All little rams were banded and all ewe lambs were tattooed. It only took Mijo a few hours and he was back to his friendly little self. Everyone of the rams, six to eight weeks old, did great and were out grazing with their Mom's in just a short while. Glad that is over!


Michelle said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your losses, but amazed to hear how well your rammies took banding! Mine moped around and acted ill for several days. Do you do anything special to make it easier on them? After Black Sheep I'll need to band another one if no one is interested in him as a flock sire.

And I'm looking forward to meeting you, too!

Garrett808 said...

OH my gosh! I'm so sorry to hear you had casualties! I'm also glad that your line of approach to keep them at bay is also working! I tried a llama and he was the biggest wuss and would be the first in the barn at any sign of danger! needless to say he isn't here anymore!

See you at BSG! I'm only bringing sold animals to BSG, no room for 'extra's to try and sell when its so far away!

Carolyn said...

Sad to hear about the little lambs. I hate it when coyotes take little animals. Say, what happened to your etsy store? It is blank on your blog.

Cynthia said...

Mimi I am so sorry about the new coyote drama and the cost to your critters. I admire your fortitude and willingness to walk on and mark away. It really is all there is to do.

I pray that a good guard llama comes your way very soon. In the meantime keep peeing on everything and putting those plants in the way. I have had good luck in the past with making massive balls out of old barbed wire and stepping them into the dug holes. I am not a person that condones barbed wire usually, but the barbed ball is a very quick OUCH for coyotes digging for dinner and very easy to take away later.

Hang tight woman.

Sharon said...

I trust Toni's knowledge in matching you with a working llama. We have one to spare theoretically, and she does alarm, only you'd have to catch her first.

Tammy said...

Sorry to hear about this happening to the flock. It would be so nerve wracking, wondering when they might come back to try again. Hope you can get some relief with a llama soon.

Marianne at Black Walnut Woolens said...

We have an amazing guardian llama. At times, we even have trouble working on our sheep and lambs, as our llama creates such a fuss. I keep telling him that I am NOT a coyote. (Knock on wood) We have not seen a coyote on our place since Yama arrived. I hope you will find one as good as ours has been for our flock.

Linda Loken said...

Mim! You are such a tough ole dog yourself!! You crack me up! I love your ingenuity and creative thinking! When I get stuck, I'm calling you!!