Scout the Chicken Whisperer...eventually
What an interesting, sad and happy month it has been. Our infamous Molly went missing and then in
quick succession EIGHT more chickens went missing. After investigation we determined it was a fox. To many she was just chicken but to me and my family she was our pet; wandering around the deck and the house looking in the windows and running up to be held. One second she was inspecting our latest batch of chickens and 15 minutes later......gone without a trace. She was the most loving and unique chicken. Earlier in the week she posed with one of the girls for her picture, with her sweet inquisitive look. Always willing to be held and cuddled. Visit previous blogs for more Molly antics....
Much to my very patient husbands dismay we had to quickly purchase an additional coop
with a run so the chickens could have their own coop. We were trying to keep the chickens and guineas together, but neither was very happy sharing.
Current situation, the chickens, who have free ranged every day, are very disgruntled at having to be "cooped" despite the frozen apple cubes, chunked zucchini & cucumbers and the random ham bone as treats. Surprisingly, we are having quite a bit of luck rounding up the guineas in to a coop at night; anyone who knows guineas would appreciate their independent nature and know this is quite an accomplishment.
After an appropriate grieving period, I started to research in depth how could we possibly keep chickens, let them free range, and keep them safe. Many hours on my favorite site BackYard Chicken a fellow reader referred me to BackYard Herds which has a forum dedicated to Livestock Guard Dogs (LGD). WHAT? Another DOG? How was I even going to bring this up; I'm still in the doghouse over the new coop?? Since we bought the property in December 2016 we started with a few guineas, goats, barn cats and our 2 dogs. Now we have added Llamas, Chickens, Bunnies, more Guineas and inherited from guests an extra dog and miniature donkeys. BUT..... I found a RESCUE Great Pyrenees
just a few miles from our house. Recap, a dog who will guard our chickens AND who needs a home. WIN-WIN. I spend the next few days reading 3 great books; Livestock Guardian Dogs by Jon Mitchell, New Improved Great Pyrenees Dog Training and Understanding Guide Book by Vince Stead and Life with Livestock Guardian Dogs by Barb Dickenson. Researching through the website Livestock Guardian Dogs which has a wealth of information. Why so much research? An outside dog with a work ethic is new to us. We want to make sure we are all successful.
Finally, I am to the point of the story. We adopted "Snowflake" the girl dog who was actually a boy and is now named Scout. We reserved him at the shelter and picked in up together; but he has not been without his challenges. He escaped from my husbands arms and through a 4 in by 4 in fence within 10 minutes on the property. The next 24 hours were spent by family and even some guests scouring the property; racking up some 20+ miles on our fit bits and a multitude of tick bits, poison ivy and bug bites only to find him fast asleep on the guests porch in the morning. He has a mind of his own as he chooses to do this even up to today, much to our dismay.
He is bonding with our Llama Dolly and the other animals and is nestling in as a permanent resident at Rim Rocks. We have set Scout up with a small swimming pool, constant supply of water, and enclosed stall with a fan and a comfy bed. We are slowly exposing him to the pasture he will patrol while guarding the chickens but right now he is just getting settled. Some of the guests have expressed concern over the fact that Scout is outside or in the barn, as dog lovers ourselves we struggled with allowing him to stay outside as well. But, we have educated ourselves to his purpose, and we are tending to his needs and ensuring his comfort. Please respect our decision to allow our puppy to fulfill his role in life to guard the animals and work as a partner with us in this journey to keep all of our animals safe. We will continue to ensure he is taken care of, as ALL of our animals are and hopefully when you visit you'll see that big ball of fluff on duty, patrolling his pasture and minding his chicks. Until then, he is in training.