Friday, October 10, 2014
Guard Donkey and Her Gelded Sidekick
As the days stay cool and the nights get almost cold once again the livestock around the Small-Hold go through their normal changes. They become more active, at least when it isn't raining. This year the rams are all running around trying to get the attention of the ladies through the fence. This is the first year we have kept ewes up near the barn and it is proving to be interesting.
Typically all the ewes and the lambs go to the Summer pasture after the lambs get big enough so they are not easy prey. The rams are a good 2 miles or more away from the ewes until the first of November when we put them in the Winter breeding lots and introduce the rams to their respective harems. However since I kept the non-bred ewes and whethers in their own little group for weed control I now have six ewes going into season because of the cooler weather right up close to the rams. So far this hasn't caused any problems because the ewes are more interested in food than rams much to the disappointment of the rams I might add.
The cutting crew did their job very well and ate the sections I had for them down to where I know I won't need to mow it now at all this year. Since the hayfield is also done for the year I just opened up the gate behind the barn and let the sheep have at it. I had tried to cut them off a section of the hayfield to keep the sheep and the horses apart but the sheep kept going right through the temporary electric fence especially now that their wool is nice and thick and getting out into the field.
At first I was a bit worried that the horses might try and get out or chase the sheep but while the sheep could care less about the electric fence the horses are still deathly afraid of it. The horses also completely ignore the sheep so I just left the arrangement as it was. It has worked well now for the last two weeks or so.
The other day I noticed something new developing though. The old donkey who started life carry Mary to Bethlehem began hanging out with the sheep. Then the gelding who is always being picked on by those vicious old mares began hanging out with the sheep. At first the sheep were a bit afraid of the gelding although they had no issue with the donkey but after a day or so they accepted him as one of their own and now they are always together out there grazing away.
Then the cold nights brought the coyotes back running and yipping in the night. We have never had any issues with coyotes bothering our full grown sheep but then again we never had them out in the hay field before either. When I heard the coyotes close enough that I was sure they were out there in the field close to the little sheep flock I walked out to take a look. The moon was bright enough I could make out the white sheep along with the donkey and the gelded paint about fifty yards or so out. The sheep began making a bee-line for the barn but the donkey and the gelding turned to face off in the direction of the coyotes.
I know that donkey does not suffer a dog to get close to her and neither do the horses for that matter. The stray lab mix who moved in with us a few years ago found that out for himself. Well apparently this hatred for canines extends to the coyotes as well because it was pretty obvious they were not going to tangle with the donkey. The coyotes gave the little mixed flock of sheep, donkey and horse a wide circle and moved on across the road and the sheep went right back to grazing near the donkey and sidekick.
I am not sure I would want to attempt this arrangement in the dead of Winter or with smaller sheep but as a temporary thing for the next couple of weeks it seems to be working. I wasn't too thrilled about moving these ewes into a new area so close to the planned breeding move and shaking things up so close together but the coyote issue did leave me a bit worried.
Regardless I think I am going to start locking these ewes up at night once again. As the samll game gets scarce the coyotes will become more bold so better safe than sorry.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!