Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Sad Day on the Feldman Farm

There are good days and bad days on the farm.  Good days are when things are going well- the animals are all healthy, kids were born, or the garden is producing lots of veggies.
Sad days are when the calf someone is waiting to pick up gets worms; the goats eat all Mama's rose bushes, plus the garden, and we run out of feed; or worst of all, when one of the animals dies.

Monday was a sad day.

5:30, Monday morning, I heard the dogs barking loudly and insistently outside.  They bark a lot, since this is their primary means of defending our property from intruders, so I didn't think much of it.  As I was getting dressed though, Kep ran up to the back door, barking.  Now Kep isn't much of a fighter- he leaves that to Inez (who is a Great Pyrenees), while he runs to the house to get help.  Knowing this, I decided to go out and check on things.
As soon as I stepped out the back door, I heard one of the goats yelling, and I knew something was after them.  Desperately waking up Evan, I hunted for a light (which of course, I couldn't find), then we headed out there with the gun, but the predators had already left.
From the tracks and the injuries on the goats, it was evident that they had been attacked by a pack of dogs.  Two goats and one chicken were killed, and one goat injured.  Mabel stayed with the horses, and escaped with only a minor scratch on her neck.

And now, I'm nursing Honeysuckle, Mabel's doeling from this year, back to health.  She spent the first day in the house, and now has moved outside.
Honeysuckle in the house, Monday afternoon, limping into the boys' room to visit Russell.

It was so sad to lose Freda, my very sweet future milker.  I will miss her running to meet me when I go out to the pasture, and rubbing her head on my leg to ask me to pet her.
Freda at 7 weeks of age.
The other goat was Mabel's Boer cross buckling from this spring, which we were raising for meat.
The good news is that they did not make it to our back pasture, where the sheep and calf were.
A few months ago, this happened to some friends who live nearby, but it is so different to experience such an attack ourselves.  It showed me a few things:
1.  A single guard dog, no matter how good, is not quite enough to stop a determined attack.
2.  Never relax your guard.
I should have been locking up all the smaller animals securely at night.  For a while I was, but years passing with no attack had caused us to let down our guard, and this is the result.
3.  This was a reminder of how important it is to train your dogs.  If these dogs were trained and contained, this would not have happened.  Sometimes innocent dogs are shot because they are not within their boundaries, and an angry livestock owner thinks he is dealing with one of the scourges of the neighborhood.  Boundaries for dogs, like children, are for the purpose of keeping them safe.  Train your dogs to respect boundaries.

As of a few minutes ago, I heard that the three dogs were shot by Animal Control officers.  They were not wild dogs, and their owner is facing trouble for not controlling his dogs.

Sad as this attack was, good has come out of it, though we may not see it all yet.
After all:
"We know that all things work together for good for those that love God, and are called according to His purposes."
Romans 8:28

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