Don't Fence Me In - Home on the Range Blog at - 315438

Home on the Range

Don't Fence Me In 
Nov. 18, 2013 1:53 pm 
Updated: Nov. 21, 2013 12:38 pm

In spite of my efforts, Bruno continues to climb out of the pasture when he deems it necessary. I totally understand his intentions as there have been so many dogs as well as  predators around due to his having been confined and unable to patrol and repel them. A lot of the ranch dogs have now figured out that the Maremmas can’t enforce anything through a fence, so they stroll through my backyard and terrorize the chickens with impunity. One of my Jersey Giant roosters has found he feels safer staying with the flock...that is, the sheep flock. He often perches on the back of one of my ewes, they don't seem to mind much.

Little more than a week after Bruno was stopped from patrolling, a cougar has moved in and is lurking around the houses. It was in the boss’ back yard, in spite of all the cowdogs they have, so close to the house that his wife could hear it growl. Now it has been eating the dog and cat food out of her shed. She has called in the state trapper. It was then spotted one morning behind the house closest to us, which is next to my sheep pen. It apparently was strolling along, unphased by the 16 barking dogs on chains just feet away from it. I’ve been told multiple times it is not afraid of dogs, but I feel it begs the question, why is it not eating my sheep and the rooster that lives with the flock?  I suspect it is because the smaller dogs, even in packs, barking and posturing, are not as intimidating as 2 dogs equal in size to him, that would seriously take him on. Instinctively the Maremmas use only as much force as is necessary to achieve their objective, which works well for me, as I don’t have to worry much about them injuring the working dogs on the ranch, but they will use lethal force if necessary. I’m reasonably sure they have held cougars at bay here before as there were those nights they were barking all night when I went out and found them wayyyyy out in the back, and pondered what on earth was willing to face off with over 200 lb of angry dog...only to hear there were cougar tracks at the pond nearby, the next morning. Their dam brought a dead cougar home for the pups to chew on before they were 3 months old, so it isn’t that unusual for the breed kill even a mountain lion, if it is called for.

The only way I could keep Bruno safe from being caught in a trap, was to lock him in the house with me. That had me up all night as I had to let him in, and out, and in, and out as he barked or had other needs.

The fence in the little pasture the sheep have been living in, is only 4’ high and the cougar has been down where he could easily spot them. He’s been spotted 5 times, usually in the daylight, so far. He has not successfully been trapped or treed in spite of everyone’s best efforts.  Cletapotamus was guarding alone as he doesn’t force his way out of the pasture. It’s not a good situation as it would be risky for him to protect the flock AND combat a cougar should it decide to try its luck. Bruno is the better combatant of the two dogs and is normally the perimeter guard but giving him access to the sheep also puts him in danger of escaping and being caught in a trap, so there was my dilemma.

Normally, the Maremmas are free to pursue a predator. This has been a huge game changer and the ‘bad guys’ keep coming in closer and closer all the time. One of the trappers who is our friend has gotten 59 coyotes in just a couple of weeks. Great for the trappers, but not good at all for me, my dogs or my livestock. I will be glad when either the cat or the state trapper are gone for good. 

My friend and I proceeded to drag home t-posts and all my insulator posts and wire. We pulled field fence off of the old line that is falling down and attached it to posts we pounded in the ground, making our teeth rattle. All 4 sides of the pasture were hotwired. The last two mornings I have awakened to a beautiful sight, that is, TWO dogs in my sheep pen. It’s good to know that both the sheep and the Maremmas are safe now that Bruno is back to work, even if he's locked up in a small pasture with them. At least between the two dogs, nothing can breach their defenses and the sheep are secure.

Madge was so happy to see him, she spent the morning laying near him in lieu of joining the rest of the flock. 

All the sheep and Cletapotamus welcomed him back. It’s always good to see the ‘kids’ getting along.
Nov. 18, 2013 2:21 pm
Wow, another blog where I can almost see the big cat and your great dogs. Can't imagine the tenseness that they are feeling about the cat. Always know I read your blogs, they are a treat no matter what their content is :)
Nov. 18, 2013 3:38 pm
your writing makes me feel as if I watching from a close vantage point. I wish those wonder dogs luck in their efforts. I know your thanksgiving will be awesome...i'm still thinking of that dinosaur turkey ya butchered. send me an e-mail my dear friend. georgia has been good. may your thanksgiving be filled with your loved ones.
Nov. 18, 2013 5:02 pm
You must have nerves of steel or some good sleeping pills to get any rest at all! Even I'm worried about your dogs tangling with that cat - are you sure the dogs would win? Keep us posted - your blogs are my favorite "stories"!
Nov. 18, 2013 6:19 pm
aw, Thanks Cindy, I am glad you enjoy them!
Nov. 18, 2013 6:20 pm
will do gderr! expect one in the a m! :)
Nov. 18, 2013 6:22 pm
scootersandi- It is not very likely this cat is going to want to tangle with my two boys, but if it did, yes, I am unequivocally certain they would dispatch it. They each weigh as much or more than it does, Bruno being slightly over 100 lb and Potamus tipping between 120 and 130, and the breed was developed to protect sheep from wolves, which are more formidable. I would be VERY concerned if they had to face those, as I have only the two LGD's.
Nov. 18, 2013 9:18 pm
Thanks for sharing. It's amazing to me how the dogs and sheep get on so well, and how protective the dogs are, and appreciative the sheep seem towards the dogs.
Nov. 19, 2013 7:40 am
I'm happy to hear that about your dogs! And I forgot to mention how funny the pic with the rooster & sheep is! Perfect timing on your part! I'm scared to death of wolves, also - my sister worked at a kennel that boarded a couple of "tame" ones. Those eyes! Scary to the max! I creep out when I just see the ones on TV ads!
Nov. 19, 2013 8:06 am
Petey, thanks for the blog and photos. Hope you're having more good days than bad. Much to be thankful for!
Nov. 19, 2013 10:00 am
Thanks Doc. LGD's are amazing animals. They are like no other genre of dog. They are fiercely protective of their flock and actually become a member of the flock. They are submissive to the sheep, which is so unlike other breeds who tend to have a high prey drive and desire to dominate them. If the sheep get scared, they run TO one of the dogs for protection. It's amazing to watch.
Nov. 19, 2013 10:01 am
ScootersandI- I wish I had my camera out there at the right times, but I usually either have my hands full of hay or fencing tools, but he often jumps on the backs of the sheep and tries to roost there while they are eating! LOL
Nov. 19, 2013 10:02 am
Thank you Peggy. I have had some VERY good days in between flares lately. It makes me very hopeful!
Nov. 20, 2013 3:08 am
I just love your photos - I can't say it enough! Those dogs are beautiful!
Nov. 20, 2013 11:14 am
I know it must very stressful right now until the cougar is caught. I also think your boys could handle it.Glad you are continueing to have a lot of good days. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Nov. 20, 2013 1:07 pm
Thanks MotherAnn. I am rather partial to them! :)
Nov. 20, 2013 1:07 pm
Thanks Char, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well
Nov. 21, 2013 11:54 am
Enjoying reading your blog so very much. So glad you are doing better and that all the dogs are safe. Happy Thanksgiving Petey and know you bring happiness to many hearts with your descriptive writings.
Nov. 21, 2013 12:38 pm
Petey, thank you for another wonderful read, I still thin you should write a book:))Happy Thanksgiving.
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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