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)
A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed four new members to site who joined us in March. Today we bring you Part II of that post, with three additional farm and ranch members to introduce!
Ovenell's Heritage Inn at Double O Ranch, Concrete, Washington
This 580 acre working cattle ranch is nestled in the rugged foothills of the North Cascades, along the Skagit River. Enjoy abundant wildlife, and seasonal ranch activities like the round-up in September, or the birthing of calves starting in February.
Ovenell's Heritage Inn can accommodate up to 43 guests -- anywhere from 4 in a cabin or 6-8 in a guest house. Meals are self-prepared, breakfast may be included. Children under 12 are welcome, as are pets, weddings, private parties, and other special events.
Flip Flop Ranch, Lucerne Valley, California
Described as "the middle of nowhere" by the farmers (yet close enough to all the big sights), Flip Flop ranch is situated on 40 acres in the high desert of Southern California. They specialize in raising endangered heritage livestock, like Cotton Patch Geese (pictured), rare breeds of chickens, and more.
The farm can accommodate up to 24 guests with a variety of rooming options. Meals are are self-prepared in the full kitchen, or shared family style. Children under 12 are welcome, as well as wedding parties, reunions, and other special events.
Happy Hills Alpaca Farm, Monroe, North Carolina
Located less than 30 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, the denizens of Happy Hills Alpaca farm invite you to relax among the shade trees and watch the alpacas graze. Guests can simply enjoy their surroundings, learn to spin alpaca fiber into yarn, or get down and dirty with alpaca training.
The farm can accommodate up to 4 guests at a time with a guest bedroom and an RV. Meals are included with family style dining, cookouts, and refreshments. The farm allows one well-behaved child under 12, as well as weddings, parties, and other special events.
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