What’s happening this week? Well, the chickens and Henri (our livestock guardian dog) who are still on their hilltop winter pasture are prepping for a move down to their Spring-Fall location. Henri has been loving his top of the farm view. He can often be seen from a distance perched right at the tippy top surveying the rest of the farm below.
He’s also finally free roaming and no longer hemmed in by the electric fence. This is working okay… though Banks and Nellie (our border collie’s) have been sneaking out through the deer fence somewhere and frolicking with him when we’re not around. This has led to Henri exploring the idea that maybe he belongs inside the deer fence with them versus with the chickens. That said, he usually gets bored with the farm quickly and heads back up to the top of the hill once he’s made his rounds. Cross your fingers for the move, that he doesn’t get too disoriented by it. Guardian dogs are very much creatures of habit and routine.
For the first 8 months of so that Henri was with us he lived inside the fence of one of the two coops. This is because his former owners warned that he needed to acclimatize to his new home and figure out who he was supposed to guard and what his territory was. We don’t have an exterior fence to keep him in. Apparently one of the most common problems with livestock guardian dogs is that they get hit by cars of stolen by passersby who think they’re strays. This is because they like to patrol their territory and can range for miles.
This winter, Henri elected to exit the fence during one of our big storms. He kept getting out, we kept putting him back in and after a while we realized he knew where home was and wasn’t taking off, so we’ve let it be. We couldn’t figure out why he was abandoning his delux doghouse until one night, around 9pm, worried because he was outside without his doghouse in gale like conditions, I was up there with a headlamp. I peeked in his doghouse to discover it was packed full with 50 Wellsummer hens. The Wellsummers were a month younger than the rest of the flock and the older hens were pecking them, so they all crowded in with Henri when we first moved them out to pasture. As they grew they slowly edged him out of his home.
Henri’s house in now outside the chicken fences and he looooves it. Yay! Here are some photos of Henri with his ladies… and his fancy house that we had our friend Paul custom build for him.
PS he’s overdue for a post winter bath and grooming if anyone wants a farm volunteer activity. I’ve tried hiring a mobile groomer and they won’t return my calls- I’ve left many. Maybe my description is the problem: “huge, lots of fur, really really dirty, must be able to work on him out in the field”.