Spring Means Predation

Spring gives rise to red fox and mountain lions. Some people see bears, but I don’t expect them until the Autumn. But I hope to be home in Oregon by that time. There have been several nights with strange and bewildering sounds outside my little home. The Guard Dogs, Mary and Joseph, are having to work after a rather lazy, fat-inducing Winter.

Last night Joseph was very angry, and defending the home and night pen from some unseen enemy. I went outside to hear the most awful sound. It sounded like coyotes fighting. I could not describe the sound any other way. It was not the triumpant yip of finding a group meal. It was not the rumbling sounds of wolves. It was not a sound a mountain lion would make. And not sure I’d know if it was a sound to be heard from a fox, but we do have a family of fox. Perhaps some foxhunting needs to happen… red coats, horns, whippers in, hounds. Just drive them off to another den. Perhaps they like this property for its partial perimeter protection via fencing. They are lovely to look at, but lose their appeal after a snack of lamb. As I stood on the porch listening to this sound, I wondered about Mary. Was Mary in a fight with a group of coyotes? I contemplated my ability to travel the forest and swamp in the deep snow. Even with snow shoes, it was a heavy, crusty snow that would anchor the snowshoes with each step. And to consider traversing it with a rifle in the dark, with lions and wolves and possibly bears… oh my. It was kneed deep at the least in the forest.

As I weighed this option I just prayed, and repeated a mantra, and wished to see Mary. Just then she sauntered out of the barn with a yawn. She seemed to wonder what the overweight Akbash was on about… perhaps she was glad he was finally working. She seems to do the bulk of the work. But this is only an observation of partial working hours. In any case, she went back to bed, and Joseph continued on his rant for several more hours.

By morning, all was quiet, and I headed off to work, with my usual blessing spoken to Mary to “stay safe, and be well, and watch over the sheep.” She escorts my truck to the gate, and watches me leave. When I come home, she generally gets to my truck to say hello to me first, though always from her safe zone a few feet away. But today, despite her approach, there was something amiss. The dogs were calm, this is what was so odd.

There lay in the gateway to the night pen, a lamb I’d been treating for pneumonia. I’d felt there was no improvement, and added a second antibiotic, figuring if there was still no improvement, I’d see what the vet could offer. I also added some herbs, which I hadn’t done before. This poor lamb seemed determined to die. So I see her laying there, and think she’s dead. I go have a look, and she is indeed alive, but in poor shape. This is when I notice the wounds.

Across her back, at the withers, she has skin torn, and punctures.

I only see one tooth on each side of her withers… odd.

I check her belly and there are scrapes, and large areas of abrasion with the hair gone, but not a puncture. She’s bloated also. She behaves like she’s broken.

I go in the house for the camera, wanting to photograph the wounds, and intending to euthanize her after. After I photograph her back and side, I photograph her belly, then roll her to her other side, to check. She rolls to her stomach and sits there. So I return the camera to the house, and consider that I might treat her for bloat, or should I just end her suffering. I look out the window, and she’s up and walked away.

I’ve seen this happen with bloat. But I had not treated her. So begs the question… did she bloat (as she’s been on antibiotics) and the LGD tried to “help her?” I mean the punctures are not deep, though the skin is torn. The tears on either side of the withers needs stitching, but I had to wait for the skin to dry after I flushed the wounds. I will glue the skin. The marks from teeth do not break the muscle. So the bite was not that hard.

Well perhaps the fox came, grabbed the lamb, and was stopped by the LGD? Still just too hard to figure. But Spring is here. I look forward to our return to Oregon. At least the predators are smaller. But I do believe this year could do with a trail cam or two.

Now, does anyone have experience with using the wolf recordings for keeping wolves at bay, in conjunction with the LGD? How do the LGD respond to this?

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About Intention Hill

Intention Hill is the name of my collective hobbies of raising Blackbelley Sheep, Belgian Shepherds, and art. The name stems from time spent with Gurumayi Chivilasananda, and the power of intention, and the many sacred events on Topovan in Ganeshpuri, India.
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3 Responses to Spring Means Predation

  1. Lynda says:

    So sorry to here about your lamb. Life on the farm is hard some days. I lost 2 goats just before Christmas to a neighbors dogs. I helped him lose his dogs. I wish you the best in determining the predetor.

  2. Louise of Grazerie (Sarplaninac) offers that it looks like an attack by a Raven. This makes the most sense.

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