Farm Crew, goats, karakachan, LGD, Uncategorized

LGDs . . . First Kidding

Today was an exciting day! One of my favorites on the farm, in fact. When I got home from my “other job,” I found Bergenia had given birth to triplets! Once I knew all the kids were dry and nursing well on their mom, I decided to let the pups have a supervised visit. This was their first kidding, which can be overwhelming. There were so many new sounds, smells … and tastes.

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The puppies are almost 6 months now and have entered the teenage LGD stage. During this time, I expect them to become more of a challenge and require extra training. These dogs are amazing, but they aren’t magical unicorns. You can’t get a puppy, throw it into a herd of animals and expect things to go perfectly. Sure, some fairytales come true, but that’s not the norm with these dogs. They require training. Especially when you don’t have a veteran LGD to show them the ropes. As much as I love these pups, there are some days I questioned my decision to add them to the farm. After all, they can be a lot of work. But I am now reminded why I got these pups and how genetics and upbringing play a huge role.

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I could not be more proud of their reaction! The pups bounded in like they normally do, eager to be with the goats. But they became immediately calm when they noticed the newest additions to the farm. Approaching them slowly and quietly, they gave each baby goat gentle licks.

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Saint Patricks-6Petra quickly started to “clean up” the birthing area for us, while Boris engaged the kids. He actually shocked me by becoming completely submissive and rolling over for the baby goats. I was in awe of their behavior around the kids.

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When I originally brought the puppies to the farm I had people question why I didn’t adopt a dog for this roll. I will always be a dedicated rescue advocate, but I also always set dogs up for success. I knew it would be irresponsible to put just any dog with our livestock. There are very few dogs that instinctually have such low prey drive and will act so calmly around new, small prey animals. Today I am a very proud LGD mama. A light bulb came on and I finally understand why they are worth their weight in gold.

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Chickens, Farm Crew, goats, karakachan, LGD, Uncategorized

LGD Life – 4 months

The puppies are 4 months now and entering that awkward teenage stage that large breed dogs go through. They are on the go most of the day and take a few naps to recharge their batteries.

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I have experience with so many dog temperaments – both fosters and family dogs. I’ve had dogs that were dog aggressive, food aggressive, feral, etc. But I was near those dogs most of the day and was able to give them constant direction. It’s different with the LGD pups. Although I am giving them as much training and supervision as I can, it is impossible to be with them all the time. In fact, I want them to bond closer with the livestock than with me. The biggest difference is watching them grow and mature in their own pack.  And as hard as it is for me, I know I must remain hands-off for the most part.

The puppies are still working out who is the team leader, but I already know it will be the female, Petra, of course. Ranger is only with them while I am around but they clearly respect him at this point. While they may bicker over a bone or a dead animal they find, they wouldn’t dare challenge Ranger. I’m so lucky that Ranger is very appropriate with them in his corrections. Though he’s young, he is a good teacher… except when he chases his best friend, Chuckie the cat.

untitled-35One of the main reasons we got the working team was to help protect the chickens, because we lost almost our entire flock our first year here (along with other animals). But now I find myself making sure the chickens are safe from the puppies! HA! You see, they are still puppies, and big ones! Although their instincts and breeding definitely shows when it comes to goats, it’s harder for them not to think of the chickens as toys from time to time. They are perfect 99% of the time. During that other 1% I will see them bounding joyfully after a chicken. So we’ve been working on this and I can already see an improvement. Eventually I know we will be able to trust them completely with the chickens.

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Often people get LGDs and think they can just put them out with the animals and it will just work. That has not been the case for us considering they are so young. Teenage dogs are in-fact teenagers, so we must be patient and continue to work with them. Most afternoons, now that it’s warming up, I see the puppies lounging with the goats. It makes me feel good to know that the goats now feel safe around them. Petra in particular adores the goats – she will even eat hay with them!

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We hear the coyotes on a daily basis here, but since the puppies arrived we haven’t lost anymore animals! They are still not out alone full-time, so we are really impressed! Although these dogs are a work in progress, we know in the long run they will be worth it! IMG_4613

Farm Crew, goats, LGD, Uncategorized

It’s not all butterflies and kittens

I get it. From the outside our farm may look like a petting zoo. I post pictures of goat kids, puppies, kittens, bunnies… If it’s cute and furry, we probably have it. But it’s not all butterflies and kittens here.

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A year ago today I was out farm hunting and stumbled across this place. It met almost all of our criteria and came with a farm-load of work. To be honest, I really had no idea how much work really goes into a farm – but I do now!

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We have been here almost a year and we’re already officially legal to sell our goat milk and eggs! But with that comes long hours, never a day off, and no naps! Most days I wake before my children after being up most of the night nursing our youngest. I try to at least get the animals let out before my husband leaves for work, and start milking once my girls are awake. I work a “real job” 3 days a week to pay for animal feed and other farm essentials. And on those days, I am often doing chores after the girls are in bed.

untitled-31Today while mending fences (a never ending task), rotating shifts with my other half, a huge white puppy escaped. I had to slide down 10 feet into a creek to get near him and beg for him to come back to me. Luckily I found the hole from which he escaped and patched it. Although things ended well, containment is a constant worry here.

untitled-30I work through illness and nasty weather because the animals can’t wait, and I’m in bed before 10 every night for a reason. So when I have no idea what is on television at night, that is why. I am beyond grateful for the farm friends I’ve met over the last few years. They inspire and support me on a daily, and sometimes even an hourly basis. There are days when I want to call it quits, when wine will never take the edge off, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

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I dream of making this farm my full time job. Working outside everyday with my girls and actually making some money from it. But on difficult days I have to remind myself why I am doing this, because it is not for the faint of heart.

Thank goodness I take photographs of everything. They renew my passion and remind me of my ultimate goals – a sustainable life and an unforgettable childhood for my girls!

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Uncategorized

New kids have arrived – Spring is almost here!

Soon (if you’re lucky) your newsfeed will be filled with baby goats – kidding season is here! Today our doe, Queen, gave birth to 2 bucklings!

untitled-26.jpgI was lucky enough to be present for the whole thing. I’ve promised my husband to keep the pictures PG, as I took pictures of every moment and angle of the birth.

untitled-25Mothers of any species amaze me. Their strength is unmatched. While cleaning one kid she was actively passing the other kid. Minutes after both were born she had them up and nursing.

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We have more does due soon, but each time is a special experience for me. We can’t keep them all, but kidding puts our does back in milk. The kids that we don’t keep either go to pet homes or other farms.

untitled-27Please email us at blabauve@gmail.com for kid and milk availability.

Chickens, Farm Crew, goats, LGD

LGD Life – The Adventures of Boris and . . .

Petra! Sorry for those of you routing for Natasha. I just can’t yell that across several pastures.

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It’s been a week since Petra arrived and I feel terrible I haven’t introduced her formally. I wanted to give her some time to adjust, and to be a dog. Yes, “be a dog,” a notion that is somewhat foreign to me.

I’ve spent my entire life loving dogs, often going beyond that by dressing them up, the babying, cooking their meals, etc. And I will still do that! But these dogs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) are different. They don’t want all of that, and of course they don’t need it. So as much as I want to scoop these adorable puppies up and love on them constantly, I don’t. I let them do what they love – work.

They’re still in the bonding phase where they are getting to know all of our animals, and vice versa. They are fantastic with the goats and donkeys, but can’t be fully trusted not to chase a bantam chicken yet.

Petra was ready to work from the minute she got here, feeling more comfortable around the goats than me. Don’t get me wrong, they love us too, but are even happier romping with the goats all day. They don’t come bounding at me when I call them, and that’s okay. I want them to prefer staying with the animals.

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This has certainly been a unique experience for me, considering I never imagined myself raising working dogs outside. I learn something new every day and know these dogs are happiest while working. I will not interrupt that. I’m so thankful they are in our lives and will soon be protecting our animals. We hope you will follow along… the adventures of Boris & Petra have just begun!

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