Other Beings on the Farm



Goats need protection when humans are not around.  Wild dogs, coyotes, bear and hungry humans can all be a threat in North Carolina. Every year we hear of friends losing goats to such attacks.  Our only incident was losing a group of six goats to hungry farm workers one day when the owners were gone elsewhere and the guard dog Tess was inadvertently trapped in the wrong field.  Guard dogs, mules and donkeys are the favorite protecters, and we have had Akbash (look like a Great Pyrennes) and Maremma dogs. 

Tess, an Akbash from a sheep ranch in Colorado, has been with us 12 years and is now in the twilight years of sleep and eat. Next came Bieber, another Akbash.  We were told not cuddle and fondle the new guard puppies or we would end up with a pet instead of guard.  This is so hard to do with a new puppy.  The next Akbash, Zafron, has become a Guard Professor for the newest addition, Zeitun, an over-excitable Maremma.  When Zeitun chases goats and barks continuously Zafron will take him to the ground, mouth on the neck, until Zeitun is calmed and submissive.  In the 20 acre browse fields the dogs, minus sleeping Tess, are often put together for a day of chasing each other.  

Although bears come through the property (prints found in browsing fields and occasional specimens seen or heard), the only critters our guards have brought down are snakes and possums.  Fortunately when a farm tenant’s miniature Dachschundt got into a field, the dogs let it be. 

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Schwee-schwee the farm cat has relations with all the farm critters. She’ll catch mice in season, but only to play with--they seem not to be on her diet.  She has the usual interest in birds, especially ones that get caught in the barn.  She’ll sometimes stalk a chicken but ends up deciding they’re too big.  The goat barn is divided into goat and people sides;  Schwee-schwee prowls the people side, separated from the guard dogs with the goats.  The younger guards Zafron and Zeitun sometimes go into a barking frenzy when they see Schwee-schwee, as Bieber once did.  Cat-like, Schwee-schwee sometimes will approach the gate closely to taunt them mercilessly. 

Once recently Jon was in the kid field where Bieber was stretched out lounging.  Amazingly Schwee-schwee came into the field and walked to a few feet from Bieber, who just calmly turned his head to look; neither one of them bolted.  Schwee-schwee must have known it was

      Beiber, despite the very similar look to all three guards. When Sedro-Wooley was living on the people side, she and Schwee-schwee would hang out.  One day we saw Schwee-schwee on her back with Sedro-Wooley standing by, rubbing the cat’s belly with a foreleg.  

When we bought the farm, there were two dilapidated chicken sheds near the house, storing old junk.  Eventually Della sent to Texas for a box of chicks, and the chicken sheds got rehabilitated.  The chickens learn the hard way not to go into a field with a dog.  Apparently considering the chickens potential predators, or maybe just for practice, the dogs attack.  As with Schwee-schwee and the mice, they don’t eat them, just attack. 

We had one rooster named Lynnwood.  Lynnwood apparently had some type of gamecock ambition and liked to attack people.  All of us have suffered spur wounds on the leg, and carrying a stick or golf club to cross the farm became standard.  When he started flying up to head level, he was donated to a professional chicken ranch, and Lynnwood Jr. has so far been quite courteous.

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