Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Getting Time

I always thought getting a livestock dog was a thing of the future. You know, something that would happen when I was independently living on my own 100 acres with oodles and doodles of stock to tend.

Now I'm not so sure that getting a canine farm hand is as much a thing of the future as it is a thing of the present.

Today was an absolutely awful day of attempting to move the animals to new pasture. Just know that when I casually write that I "moved the animals to new pasture today", it's really not a casual happening. It's written on here because it happened. It's written because I really did move the animals to new pasture. It's hard doing it by myself, and becoming increasingly difficult as more animals find their way here to GSF. More often that not, what happens is Ivy won't leave the old pasture, Peaches zooms ahead but instead of going to the new pasture, she ends up in the backyard, Heidi starts munching on apple trees that are NOT in the pasture that she is supposed to be in (those would be in the backyard too), Summer trips me up which spooks Sombrita and Metty, Poppet becomes a phantom who is in unable to be caught by even the most cunning person, everything turns to bedlam, I get my daily one-mile run in by trying to get everyone into one pasture or another, and I find myself repeatedly saying, "I need a stock dog!"

So that was my day today. Go back and read it again. Don't ask how long it took to corral everyone. And guess where we all ended up? The old pasture. Grrr! I. Was. Mad.

I came inside the house, huffing and puffing, plunked down at the computer and started running every Google search I could think of to find a started herding dog. I only found one, and it was $1,800. That's a bit over my budget. But stock dogs aside, this really is getting beyond me. I'm getting some electrified netting soon, which will allow me to move the animals much more frequently, but I cringe just thinking about moving them! I thought about an electric fencing alleyway so I can just send the animals down it and straight to new pasture, but it doesn't help me in getting Ivy out of the old pasture. And while I'm busy trying to herd/lead her into the alleyway (note: I have tried this before, so I know what happens!), all the other animals double back into where we all started, and then no one will go into the alleyway!! Gaah!

So then I thought maybe I should just start using the good ol' bucket of grain trick. It works, but only a little. Heidi is too aggressive when it comes to food and she either knocks me over, or she gets so excited in trying to knock me over that she causes all the other animals to stampede and scatter. Which never gets us to new pasture. 

Just an hour ago I let our Shih Tzu mix dog into the backyard and watched with raised eyebrows as he slipped beneath the gate and into the pasture where the animals were. I ran over to catch him, but paused in amazement as I watched that flying furball go. The little guy had no idea what he was doing, but he executed a beautiful outrun on the goats (running around and up from behind them), gathered them and the cow and herded them into the barn. On his own. He weighs 20 lbs. by the way. I laughed uproariously at the sight and then pulled him out. But was really an eye opener as to how nice a good herding dog would be... 

Brody, our Shih Tzu mix.

This is going to take some thought... I need a dog. I need something.


Anonymous said...

why don't you use Brody?

Goat Song said...

The silly boy doesn't have enough brains to learn the rest of herding, nor does he have the stamina to keep up in the long haul! ;) I did think about it though... LOL.

Anonymous said...

Your story of moving the goats reminded me so much of the children's book by Jan Brett: The Wild Christmas Reindeer. If you haven't read it, go browse a copy at the library. The heroine has grand ideas about how she'll look after the reindeer, but things don't work out as planned - they go into the wrong stalls, they get mad at her for pulling their coats when she brushes them, they lock antlers with each other etc. And when she takes them out to practice driving, it's a disaster. You would relate. I'm glad you got the goats where you needed to get them - and Brody is too cute. Could you put Heidi on a lead and get the rest to follow the bucket?

Head Farm Steward said...

We don't let them have the option of heading to the yard...anymore We lay out the new pasture with netting, open the fence and when they are through we close it up behind them. If, for some reason, I had to move them a longer distance I would be tempted to make a long corridor with fence to get them there. That or use a bunch of leashes.

We're leaning toward guard dog over stock dog. Something big and mean that will swallow a possum whole, catch an owl out of the air and convince the raccoons that the neighbor farm is a better place to raid.