Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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A true work dog

 Fer Coadee is all work when outside, we still have a lot of training to go through, she is fast to learn but slow to change existing behavior.  To which, when people drive up to the farm she is there to discourage them.  Not good when you actually want the person to get out of the vehicle and visit.  When we know people are coming, I have Coadee on the lead and try to calm her and change the behavior towards vehicles.

However, she is the master of her domain; nothing comes on the property without inspection and vetting by her.  Once she has established that there is no threat to the chickens, she is fine.  Her initial reaction upon contact needs tweaking because although the veterinarian said she is timid and passive, her work ethic is all business.  Her bark is ferocious and to a person that does not know dogs at sixty pounds and all teeth she presents a formidable figure.  We on the other hand know she would not hurt a day old chick let alone a person.  Most people do not get out of the vehicle until she is on lead.

The visitors get to know her and she them and that is when the lead comes off.  Coadee goes back to work protecting her charges.  We have seen Coadee chase off dogs, foxes, deer although the latter is more fun for her then work, I think she gets drunk on power sometimes.  We had one traumatic event with a hawk but it proved to be a positive even though we lost a layer.

Last fall Coadee was in the back of the house up on the porch were she could see all the hens.  I came out of the barn and looked over to see all the birds under the trailer and in the house.  That was odd because when I went into the barn they were doing their usual scratch and peck.  Then I saw something move over near the tree line.  It turned out to be a hawk that had just killed a hen.  Why Coadee was on the porch and not over there I do not know, she had to of heard something, but then again I was closer and did not hear any commotion while in the barn. 

I yelled and started to run to the hawk, thinking that charging would scare it away.  It just sat there, turned its head slowly in my direction and stared me down.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I bristled with goosebumps.  I looked for things to throw at it as I continued to yell, “Get out of here”.  Coadee had come down to see what I was doing as I am throwing wood, sticks, rocks, anything I could find to scare the bird away.  The hawk was unphazed and not about to leave its dinner behind.  I finally got a branch close enough to the bird to scare it off.  However, it just flew to lowest branch on the nearest tree.  I went in the house and got my gun, I was not going to let this bird take one of my hens, dead or not it was still mine.  Federal law prohibits the killing of hawks so I was not going to shoot it, but I could shoot near it to scare it further away. 

After about five shots, the thing finally gave up and flew off.  I picked the bird up and took it to the compost pile.  Coadee was there the entire time, head down just following me as I went about the business of composting the hen.  From that point forward when big birds fly near the farm she goes after them and barks.  It is amazing to see because it took her all of one incident to know that she had another danger lurking about. 

Recently, she showed her true work ethic much to the amazement of those on the farm.  English Sheppards are smart dogs you need to vary the training and keep them active.  If you have large herds (we do not) then the dog will keep itself occupied herding and protecting the farm animals. 

One day, I was working Coadee on the lead, by having her stop, come close, move left, right, straight, sit, lay, stay while I walk away and other mental activities.  As a reward I got the Frisbee out so we could play.  I was  throwing the Frisbee and she was fetching.  One of the things she does is goes out and then I throw the Frisbee to her, other times I throw the disk and she chases after it to catch.

I had her go out and then I threw a short one to her, all of a sudden she runs toward me like she is going after the Frisbee but she passed right under it without an attempt to catch her prize.  I realize she has seen a hawk and she had to go to protect her flock.  My wife and I looked at each other, we had just witnessed a dog, go from playing to protector in an instant.  They say that the English Sheppard is the original American farm dog and after that display, I can see the value in the breed.  I joke about it, sometimes I say it is rough when you have a dog that is smarter then you are but then again, who would complain.

 

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