Anything is possible...
Since I am so good at it, I'll make a short story really long. Pictures to come later, as right now, we still have our current 4 pooches.
So we had SOME critter attack our chickens. In the first attack, they managed to kill one, and damage some others. Some bad enough that we had to separate them. One we chose to eat. Others have healed, and some have also died from their wounds. That made me very sad, and Larry VERY angry. There was talk of guns, traps, guard llamas and letting Grish and Athena deal with it. The last thing Larry wanted was more dogs. But we did some research and discussed dog breeds that are good at guarding and herding animals, as well as fighting predators. Larry made a post about such animals. During these discussions, I signed us up with the local Great Pyrenees rescue with the very teeny chance we might actually get a working dog through rescue.
The rescue group said it was a slim chance they'd have a working dog come through rescue. In the meantime, the critters came back. Coyotes? Raccoons? Who knows - but they hurt quite a few more of our chickens. One died, several were wounded, and one we ate. Some are still healing. Angry once again, we have now installed electric fencing around the pens. But how well will it work in a rain storm? Can it short out if the wind blows it into tall grass? Can a coyote jump it? Would they dare? It certainly keeps OUR dogs out!!
Then I did get an email from the rescue. This is an unpleasant story... but this reknowned Pyrenees breeder in Missouri is in some trouble. I won't go into it in case there's a slander suit - but she has to find homes for almost 100 dogs ASAP, before they could get killed. She already lost her stud horse and some other livestock. So we can't save 100 dogs, even *I* couldn't take on that. But we can save a few. So we are driving to Missouri on Thursday night to pick up our pups on Friday. These are bred and raised for guarding livestock. So we are hoping to take them in and let them guard our pasture. Of course, guard dogs need to bond to their flock, and it's sort of hard to bond with chickens... so that also means we need to get them sheep! While they are still young, we need to provide a herd they can bond with and train with, so that we can keep them as guard dogs for years to come. This could get interesting...
I always said I liked big dogs, these male pups will weigh up to 180 pounds when full grown. I am happy we can provide them with a home, and wish we could do more for this woman. I really wish we could! I'll post pictures when we get them home. And also of the sheep we'll be getting to go with them! Ridiculous!
So the portable electric fence has actually been very effective. We haven't lost a single animal or been attacked since I enclosed the chicken pens in a 100'x120' area. However, in the long run I was planning on using that fence to mob up the 4 footed herbivores I had planned on getting. I was going to use the other set (I got 4 lengths, using them it batches of 2) to enclose the turkey's and egg layers, who are now out the crates and roaming free in there fenced in area. If I have to enclose EVERY single bit of chicken crate... I'm going to go nuts. Its seriously increasing the pain in the ass factor of getting food and water out to the chickens. What happens when we use our neighbors 12 acres that has no fence? What happens if we lease some of the open land around us? This portable fence is great stuff, but really, it ISN'T the best solution. Dogs are. They have always been the best long term solution. I just didn't want 7 dogs! (Guard dogs like to work in teams of three)
So, because of the craziness in this poor women's life, we are getting high quality dogs that run 800 buck a pop for 100. Her dogs have killed "Panthers". I can only translate Panther as Mountain Lion since there are no Panther/Jaguars in the USA.
I didn't want sheep yet either. I feel like I'm just getting a handle on the whole chicken thing. Oh well.... at a certain point you gotta take a deep breath and trust in the Good Lord. I guess there is a reason these dogs are available now. As Mr. Burns said, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go agoogly" I'm feeling very googly right about now, but I'll just roll with the punches.