Monday, July 28, 2008

The White Ghost

This past weekend my youngest daughter and her fiance visited. He is a big guy - college football star build. Levite didn't like him at all. He's never seen anyone that big so he took him as quite a threat. When Marc walked up to the fence Levite rushed up with fur all bristled, barking ferociously. When Levite was sure that Marc wasn't going to come inside the fence he went to check on all the animals individually that were laying in the barnyard, even checked each chicken. Looked like he was counting them. When he was satisfied they were all safe he placed himself between the animals and Marc and just stayed there until Marc left the area. One time a sheep started to come up to the fence and Levite snapped at her to send her back to the others. Later, my daughter and Marc did come into the pasture with me to see what we had done with the fencing and Levite was OK, but cautious, with Marc while I was there, even let Marc pet him a few times. But all the time we were in there Levite was skulking about 15-20 feet from us, first in this bush, then behind that tree, then in that grass. He was like a white ghost just keeping watch from a close distance to be sure we were safe. I'd hate to even think about what he would have done if Marc had shown any aggression. And I almost pity any coyote that mistakenly believes he can snack at our farm!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let the Experts Run the Farm

OK, I'll admit it. The barking of a Great Pyrenees is nothing to be trifled with - or to sleep through. Add 2 more to the chorus and the 3 of them can wake the dead!

Usually they'll bark only for 15 minutes or so and give up. This morning about 4 a.m. they all went spastic and kept it up for way longer that the usual. The neighbors have quite a few apple trees and when the apples begin to ripen, which is about now, the deer come in to dine. Since I didn't hear anything else about I figured that's what was upsetting them. So.... I got up, hastily got dressed, put on my muck boots, and wearily traipsed out to bring everyone into the barnyard and close the paddock gate so they couldn't get out far enough into the pasture to be disturbed. Of course I was muttering the whole time about stupid dogs that couldn't tell the difference between a predator and a vegetarian deer.

As I was taking off my boots and entering the house I heard the distinct chorus of coyotes in the field down the road. Boy, did I feel stupid! Had to go back to the barn and apologize to the dogs.

This morning when I opened the gate to the pasture, Levite, our dominant male, led the procession out as is his usual way of making sure everyone is safe. He has everyone wait at the gate, goes out just far enough to make sure everything is safe, then turns back to his flock and using some secret code that only the sheep understand, tells them to follow keeping a distance of about 15 feet behind. They all orderly file out to begin their day's activities. I did notice that when Levite marked his territory and did his usual scratching of the dirt, he kicked it in my direction. I'm sure he was thinking "Stupid humans can't tell the difference between vegetarian deer and predators!"

Best to leave the managing of the farm to the experts!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Speaking Sheep

I have a neighbor across the street who comes up for the weekend from CT only a few times a year. Since the Pyrs aren't used to hearing anyone over there they stand at the end of the pasture and bark in his direction all night. So when he visits we put the flock in the paddock near the barn at night. When we let them out in the morning Levite, our domanant male, insists on being first out of the gate to check out the pasture. Then when he's sure it's safe, which only takes a few seconds, he "tells" the sheep to follow him out and they follow in a calm and orderly fashion out to graze. I don't speak sheep but apparently he does because they obediently wait at the gate for the "all clear". They know just from his body language when they can go out. However, it frustrates him that the goats don't care, or perhaps he doesn't speak goat.