Wild Pygmy Goats!

Well, Split got a bit of work today.  She got it as a reward for behaving herself while I was watering the sheep and Buster.  Bringing water up to the sheep using the ATV and wagon is a challenge.  First you have to get the ATV running and know for sure that it’s going to stay running.  A number of times I’ve brought the ATV out, hooked it to the wagon and filled the water barrels only to have it stall and not start again.  Securing the water barrels so that they don’t tip over in the wagon can also be a trick.

Once I’ve got the water barrels filled, I head out to where the sheep are fenced.  During the day, I let Merlin roam free on the 15 acres.  He sometimes gets into a bit of trouble, but in general, he behaves.  This cuts down on how much hay I have to feed him and of course it’s more interesting for him to be able to roam 15 acres vs. his half acre pasture.  As soon as I open the gate, the seven dogs that belong to the people out front charge up the fence barking like fiends.  Want to know how much noise seven dogs can make?  If I’m pulling the wagon loaded with water barrels, I have to go down the driveway rather than cutting through the field so I have to listen to the damned dogs the whole way down.

Getting the ATV and wagon into the ElectroNet without Liath or the sheep getting out is the real difficulty.  It’s so much easier watering the sheep if there’s two people doing it.  One to keep Liath and the sheep back and one to bring in the truck or ATV.  Gel can keep the sheep from escaping; Liath is another story.  I am sure Liath knows her name and her recall is great within the fence, but if she escapes, Katy bar the door.  The last time she got loose, she attacked one of the neighbor’s dogs.  Quite frankly, the dog deserved the attack, but letting the livestock guard dog kill the neighbor’s dogs doesn’t make for good neighbors.

So, I get the ATV as close to the gate to the ElectroNet as I can, turn off the power to the charger and then wave my arms and the fence to push Liath back.  A few times she tried to rush the gate to escape, but a rap on the nose with a stock stick stopped that behavior.  She’s deathly afraid of the ElectroNet so waving that helps to some extent to reinforce my get back command.  With this cold weather, she’s wired for sound and for a dog as big as she is, she can move amazingly fast.

Often, I’ll leave Split home when I go up to do anything with the sheep because if she does go with us, she runs laps around the ElectroNet like a flaming fool which makes Liath even more insistent on getting out and should Liath escape, I’m very much afraid of what’s going to happen when the two dogs come face to face.  They have been introduced with Liath on a leash, but Split doesn’t seem to understand that these livestock guard dogs outweigh her by a good 50 pounds.  She plays and gets along well with Rose, but Rose has a much different temperament than Liath; Rose puts up with Split standing on her, but Liath would likely eat her for lunch.

Today, I let Split come along and as soon as she started running the fence, I told her to lie down and she did.  I had to correct her once when she got up, but that was it.  Good girl!

As a reward, I stopped by Red’s house and let her work the two pygmy goats that live there.  It was a bit of a rodeo because these two goats are wild as skunks, but Split handled them relatively well.  The goats are housed with a huge pot belly pig and they seem to think that the pig is their protector so they kept breaking away and returning to the pig.  Split ignored the pig and worked the goats, which was what I wanted.  I am so looking forward to having a small herd of goat kids to train her on.  Gel was pissed that he couldn’t come in.

As I write this, both dogs are sacked out.  In a few minutes, I have to head out to the post office and do a few more errands.  The sun is shining and it’s getting warmer.  Finally!

Earlier, I wrote that I didn’t want to do much work with the sheep because some of them will start lambing in a month or less; but I remembered that Wally had to pull lambs from several ewes last year.  While the sheep were at his former residence, they got little exercise and were fed grain.  I think a bit of exercise will help keep them in good condition so hopefully no lambs will have to be pulled.  I don’t know if I could do it if I had to.

What a poor excuse for a farmer.

Until later …