Team Work Makes The Dream Work
If regenerative farming was easy, everyone would do it. It takes a farmer with vision, determination, organization, patience and a host of other qualities to rotationally graze livestock just for the health of it. For the health of the soil, the health of the plant, the health of the animal and ultimately the health of the human.
On June 5, 2018 Lucy and her sister, Rose, came to work on our farm as pups. I picked their names. They are named after Monte's grandmother and great grandmother. Both women lost their husband's early in life and kept the farm going to pass on to the next generation. Monte is the fifth generation. So because they were the guardians of the farm it was only fitting that we name these two pretty little ladies after them. Rose and Lucy worked as a team and successfully kept our sheep safe from predators. Lucy is a natural with the sheep and they are her flock. Eventually Rose became more attached to her humans and wouldn't stay with the livestock so she retired herself and now lives happily as our shop dog.
When our ranch manager, Ryan Jenkins, came to us and told us he needed to pursue an opportunity back on his family farm and would be leaving us we had several emotions. First our concern for the ranch and livestock and how we would get it all done without his help. At the same time we were happy for Ryan that he was given the opportunity to farm for himself and be closer to family and we always support that.
Monte and Ryan stayed in communication and just as we were deciding that sheep were not the best fit for our farm at the same time Ryan was ready to integrate livestock on his farm. Coincidence? We don't think so. They negotiated a sale of our entire flock, fencing and the sheep guard dog, Lucy. I was ready to let go of the sheep but I wasn't excited about losing Lucy. On a cold snowy day, January 16, 2022, we said our good-byes and our flock and Lucy loaded into Ryan's trailer and moved to their new home in Iowa.
We told Ryan if she ever had a litter of pups we wanted one. The phone call came with news that we had grand puppies and we got the pick of the litter! Monte and I made the trip to Ryan's farm to pick up not one...not two...but three puppies. Not because we like buying a lot of dog food but because our wooded farm has plenty of predators waiting to help themselves to a chicken dinner. Monte also has plans to add goats to continue clearing the underbrush in the timber and they will certainly need guard dog protection.
We don't hunt the coyotes on our farm. There's some interesting research about how they adapt and grow their pack when the leaders die. Hunting them might actually cause a pack to split and grow. The presence of these dogs is enough to keep them at bay and they look elsewhere for their food bringing our farm into balance naturally. We recently had a large raccoon that was helping himself to chicken nuggets. The solution was to live trap and relocate him. The chickens were grateful.
We now have three litter mates in training in the chicken barn. They are doing great. The chickens give them space and so far there's no playing games with the birds. So wish us luck! If you can train a dog to guard chickens, they can be with any animal. All that's left to do is come up with creative names for two males and one female.
The ranch hands work as a team. The guardian dogs work as a team. Ranch hands and dogs work together as a team and we are fortunate to be part of a team with other regenerative farmers. Sharing knowledge, experiences and resources makes doing this job a little more enjoyable and a lot more rewarding. It was great to see Ryan and Lucy doing so well and the flock getting ready to lamb and grow. Great job Ryan!
From the Farm,