Unwelcome Visitors

Yesterday I was going about my normal morning routine, letting everybody out and putting breakfast in the feeders. I had just opened the door to the Boys’ Clubhouse when I heard a snarl behind me. I turned around and there were four adult coyotes playing in the treeline behind me. Four. Coyotes. Playing. By all the howling and yipping at night I know there are at least two dens in the area, but I haven’t seen a coyote out during the day in years and these were just chasing each other and tussling without a care in the world, as if there wasn’t a human standing about fifty feet away from them.

Not Good.

The sheep took off the minute they noticed the coyotes, but poor Duke almost had a heart attack when everyone else ran off and left him by himself. There’s no electric on the fence in the old horse pen where Duke has been staying, so I moved him in with the other boys and hooked the perimeter fencing back up so there’s electrified wire all around where the sheep are. That plus locking them up at night is about all I can do at the moment.

I’ve been researching guard animals off and on since before I bought the first four sheep, but until I have something more substantial than electric netting between the sheep and the yard I don’t want to add an animal that might decide to kill Watcher for running along the fence and barking at the sheep. Which he does. A lot. I’m not sure what kind of guardian animal I could use, anyway. A guard dog wouldn’t do well in my situation, and donkeys tend to be stubborn and mean (in my experience). A Llama would probably be the best option, but llamas freak me out for some reason. Since I don’t have the facilities for any type of guardian animal yet, that’s a problem for another day.

For the time being, Duke was highly appreciative and grateful to be allowed in with the other boys.

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“Ruuun! Run for your liiife!”

Actually it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I moved the girls up into the field nearest their clubhouse to give the boys one less thing to fight over. Liam immediately walked up and popped Duke right in the head, but when Duke took about six steps back and lowered his horns to charge Liam quickly decided running like mad was the better part of valor.

Neo tried to get in on the fighting at first, but he’s so small none of the other guys took him seriously. It was quite a blow to his ego. He pouted for a while, and after that he mostly just stood at the fence staring longingly towards the girls’ pen while the girls stood along their fence staring longingly towards the boys’ hay. Or maybe they were watching the guys fight. Probably more worried about the hay.

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“Duke. Seriously. Back off!”

Eventually Barney got out of breath found his courage and bonked heads with Duke enough to calm things down for a while. Liam valiantly stood behind Barney. To watch his back, of course. He wasn’t hiding or anything like that.

This morning the hay situation in the boys’ pen turned out to be a problem, since the feeder in the Clubhouse can only comfortably accommodate three sheep at a time, and poor little Neo was getting squeezed out. I moved Duke’s one-flake feeder over to the boys’ pen, thinking that Neo could eat from the small feeder in peace while the big boys ate from the big feeder.

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But, you know, the other way around works too. Neo had no complaints at least.

Not until Duke figured out what was going on and decided to join him, that is.

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“Neo, I am your father! So be a good son and share the hay.”

“ShepherdPerson, why’d you have to move in another BIG sheep? Why can’t you ever bring in sheep that are SMALLER than I am?”

I’m sure he would be pleased to know that pretty soon there are going to be lots of little sheep around here smaller than he is. He should have a younger sibling, a cousin or two (or three…), and a niece or nephew in about a month!

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6 thoughts on “Unwelcome Visitors

  1. Coyotes. Ugh. I read somewhere (National Geographic?) that some coyotes have interbred with wolves, which makes them less afraid of people and more of a problem. I hope you can protect your flock – and yourself!

  2. We had a coyote come through the front here yesterday in broad daylight too. When they get too loud and close, I turn on a small radio in the barn and sometimes the back barn light just to throw them off – switch things around. We love having Hank here, but your already thought of issues are valid in your situation.

  3. I also run out there and play guard dog any time I see them for sure and many times if I hear them too close. Most LGDs work by establishing their territory and reminding everything that it’s their territory. I can bark almost as loud :-D. Usually works pretty well. Of course, lambs are a lot more fragile…

  4. Ack, I also worry about this. I often hear a large group of coyotes just on the other side of our pasture fence at night. I haven’t seen them in the daytime yet , but there is nothing to stop them from coming in the pasture when the sheep are out if they like. And even the barn isn’t very secure — the coyotes could come inside if they wanted to. A couple of the alpacas are a little bit protective of the sheep, but not enough to take on a coyote I don’t think. I’m sure a llama would be better. When I do hear the coyotes, I also go outside, even if it’s midnight, turn lights on, make a loud of noise and generally cause a disturbance. It does shut them up. But the noise, isn’t really the problem is it. 😦

    • I always assumed that all the howling and yipping means they’ve already caught something and brought it home to the pups, but I think it doesn’t hurt to go out and let them know I’m here and I’m paying attention.

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