If you visit a farm that raises livestock, you may encounter livestock guardian dogs (LGDs). LGDs aren't your usual pet dogs, which people don't always realize. We've heard stories of well-meaning neighbors accusing farmers of mistreating these working animals, or worse, threatening to remove the dogs!
We asked one of our Farm Stay U.S. members, Ruth Pepler of Dogwood Hills Farm in Arkansas, about her experience with LGDs.
Some of the things I have discovered about these amazing dogs over the years I have learned the hard way. Our very first Pyrenees, Maya, was given to us because she would not stay way out in the pasture with the goats. She kept coming to the farm house. Our set up was much more to her liking with our farm house in the middle of the hub of pastures. She was an excellent guardian and could be completely trusted with moms delivering, chickens and baby chicks, and our guests. She knew that the guests belonged there and watched over them as well! They say it's not good to let them socialize with people or they won't do their job. We have not found this to be a problem. When visiting a farm with livestock guardian dogs, it's always good to know the ground rules. These dogs have a very specific job to do, and you would not want to distract them. The rules at Dogwood Farm, for example, are:
LGDs may work alone, if the farm is somewhat small, or there may be several dogs working together.
At first, I didn't know that it's hard for them to be the only LGD if the predators are thick. Our dogs run 72 acres, not a large farm, but surrounded by numerous coyote, big cats, an occasional wolf, and bear. We now have a team of 3 adults and 3 puppies. They work very well rotating and training the younger ones.
One of the things I have noticed as the younger ones step up into a more active role, is that they will dig out a hole or several holes in prime locations for watching their charges. If I can't find a dog, the first thing I do is look out where the goats are, then check the opposite hillside and there, dug into the side of the hill, is a watchful dog.
Winter is a whole other topic. The barn is open on either end. The dogs have access to hay, heated water, and cozy goats to snuggle up with. Where do they sleep? Smack in the middle of the driveway, out in the snow, with a paw over their nose! We've discovered that ice blocks make great toys! They carry them all over the place.
Thanks very much to Ruth for sharing some great photos and talking with us about these special "farm hands"! Do you have questions about livestock guardian dogs? Leave it in the comments.
(Photos courtesy Dogwood Hills Farm)
This blog post was written by Susan Gibbs of Juniper Moon Farm and originally
appeared on her blog. She has kindly given us permission to
re-post it here, and we hope it will inspire our readers to get out
there and take some photos for the Farm Stay U.S. 2011 photo
Let me start me start with a disclaimer: as a photographer, I
make a very good shepherd. I have almost no training whatsoever in
photography and everything you're about to read is based on nothing
more than years of trial and error and figuring out what works for
my own pictures.
I do, however, get asked all the time how I get the shots of my
flock that I post on the blog. I'm happy to share my secrets, if
you can call them that. BTW, all of the photos in this post are
unedited because I want to show you what you can do no matter what
kind of camera or software you have.
1. Take more pictures. Lots more. The more you shoot, the
greater the odds are that you'll get one good one. It isn't unusual
at all for me to take 300 or 400 shots in an afternoon and, if I'm
lucky, I'll have three or four photos I consider worth posting on
the blog. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, your odds will
be a bit longer because most point-and-shoots don't work as quickly
as animals move. It was the frustration with that lag time that led
me to buy my first digital SLR and I would never consider shooting
animals with anything else.
2. Get down on your subjects level. This is the easiest way to
improve your photos of animals and probably children. I see so many
pictures of lambs on other peoples blog that are clearly taken
standing above the animal, and, cute though the lamb may be, the
pictures just aren't very compelling.
This isn't always easy to do. Some times I have to lay flat on
the ground in the barnyard or on the floor of the barn to get good
shots. Sometimes I pick the animal up and bring him/her up to my
level. It definitely helps to wear clothes that you don't mind
getting dirty in.
Here are a couple of examples of what I'm talking about:
shot from above
shot from the goats' eye level
chicks from above
In both of the first pictures you can tell that the animals are
cute but the in the second pictures you can
really see them.
3. Get closer. Then get closer still. You really want to fill up
the frame with the subject.
See the difference? And while we're on the subject, unless
you're shooting man-eating tigers, zoom with your feet, not your
close, but not close enough
4. It's all about the eyes. Okay so now you're on the animals
level and your really, really close. Start shooting and look for
moments when the animal is looking at you full on, where both eyes
are on you.
This is an okay shot but…
this one is orders of magnitude better.
There is no way to get these kind of shots without taking many,
many, many pictures. Here's another example:
Very close. I probably would have gone with this pic had I not
gotten a better one.
This. This is exactly what I wanted this picture to do. You can
really see this lamb's personality in this photo.
One more example:
Of course, not every picture has to have the animal looking
directly into the camera, but if he's not, then it should be
deliberately so, as in this pic:
If you have never read a farm blog, now is the time to start.
There are a legion of bloggers who write about their lives in often
hilariously funny or wise or insightful or heart-warming (or all of
these together) prose.
I am sure there have always been farm diaries written late at
night when the chores are done and the kids are in bed, even when
the only light was from an oil lamp and not the computer screen. I
am also sure we write our stories as a way to exhale from the day's
unexpected events, because life on a farm has more than its share
of unexpected events.
Photos are the side benefit of many of the stories. We have
become photo-journalists in our own right. I almost hate to go out
to the barn without a camera in my pocket.
So, here are a few of the farm blogs I have found entertaining.
They are great for reading alone or aloud. Great for a laugh or a
cry. Great to know we are not alone in the vagaries of farm
life! (Disclaimer: I have included my own farm blog in this
list. I hope to look back on it in 20 years for a good laugh and a
adventure alpaca alpacas Amish animals apiary apple cider pressing apples Arizona Arkansas astronomy autumn B and B backyard chickens baking barn cats beach Bed and breakfast beekeeping bees birding bison Books butter making cabin cabin rental calendars California camping canning cat cattle drives cheese cheese making cheesemaking Cheese-making chickens children under 12 chores Christmas colorado community Connecticut contest cooking cooking class cooking school country cows dairy Dan Morgan disney world donkey donkeys draft horses Easter eco tourism travel ecotourism eggs elk essay fall family farm family farms family vacation family-style meals farm farm activities farm animals farm blogs farm dogs farm life farm school farm stay farm stay story Farm Stay U.S farm stay u.s. Farm Stays farm to fork farm vacation Farm Vacations farmer's markets farmhouse Farming Farms farmstay featured farm fiber Finding Farm Stays fishing Florida food fruit gardening gardens geese Georgia gift certificate gifts glamping goat cheese goat milk goats goji grapes grass fed greenloons Hawaii Haycations heritage heritage breeds hiking historic homesteading honey spinning horseback riding horseback riding vacation horseback vacation horses hunting Idaho illinois Indiana jam making Justesen Ranch Kansas Kentucky kids knitting land conservation lard leaf peeping LGDs Lili Debarbieri livestock livestock guardian dogs log cabins Louisiana Maine maple sugaring maple syrup Maryland meals to order Michigan milking Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana mother earth news national forests national parks natural foods Nevada new england new hampshire New Jersey New Mexico new york North Carolina Ohio olives orchard orchards Oregon organic organic gardening ozarks Pacific pack goats Pennsylvania permaculture pets welcome photo essay photos pie pie crust pigs Pinterest quilting racehorse ranch ranch stay ranch vacation ranch vacations ranches Reading recipes relaxing renewable energy riding lessons romance rural events seasonal self-prepared meals self-reliance sheep site updates skiing sleigh ride snow snowmobiling snowshoeing soap making South South Carolina Southeast southwest special events spinning stargazing stewardship sugarhouse swimming syrup teaching teaching farms teaching ranches Tennessee tents Texas Thanksgiving thoroughbred tourism traditional foods trail riding travel turkey u-pick USDA vacation rental vegetables Vermont video video essay vineyard Virginia Washington weaving weddings West Virginia wine wine grapes wine tasting winery Winter Wisconsin working animals workshops wwoof yurt
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