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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Buddy And The "Porcupine"

Buddy stuck his nose through the gate as I was feeding Del Boca Vista this morning - begging for a wee nibble "just one pleeeeaaase?" from the old sheep's food ;-).  As the sun (what the heck is that?) hit the side of his face, I saw bright shining straw seed heads sticking out everywhere. Like porcupine quills!

I grabbed the camera and tried to get a good picture, but once he figured out he was the center of my attention, he ran over too close for any more pictures and I've learned that when Buddy wants a back scratch, you'd better give him one because he'll take his front foot and stop you in your tracks if you don't ;-).

You can sort of see most of them in this cropped close up, but really, it doesn't do him justice.  They are all around his face.  Luckily one of the other sheep will probably eat them off his cheeks unlike if this was a real sheep ranch with real porcupines.  We've got it pretty easy here.

And Hank can rest easy :-).

I had a question about Hank and the coyotes and if they were still around, and yes, they are always here.  We aren't wild like ranches out west, but wild enough that there is plenty of room for predators. Hank works hard every night.  

The sheep sleep in the barn and barn lot at night.  Hank stays nearby, usually "resting" on the other side of the short fence between the barn and the arena.  This gives him a good vantage point to monitor the back of the farm but also allows him access to Del Boca Vista and the side field through gaps cut in the wire fence.  We also leave the gate to the front field propped open just enough that he can zip through there if need be.  

I believe Hank works by establishing his territory and then maintaining that territory.  "I'm here. This is MY farm.  You coyotes (and stupid horses!) stay BACK!"  And for us, in this situation with not too many sheep, no lambs and the sheep coming up to the barn at night, it's a job manageable by himself. Bigger farms use multiple dogs and it's fascinating how they work together.

One of my favorite books is Shepherds of Coyote Rocks by Cat Urbigkit.   If you love Hank and are looking for something interesting to read, I highly recommend it.  

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