Today we acquired a new staff member on our acreage: Bob the Dog is now on duty.
Bob is an Akbash-Maremma cross, bred as a livestock guardian. He was born on a sheep farm, and then lived on a cattle farm with one of his littermates, where together they kept an eye on things and harassed the neighbourhood coyotes. They were bought as a pair because coyotes can take on a single puppy, but won't try two pups together, and there was a substantial coyote problem in the area. Now that they've grown up however (they are 3 years old now) only one is really needed, and Bob was 'underemployed'. Through a series of emails, I found out about him ... asked some questions ... and decided he was likely a good fit for our acreage. The Boy and I talked about it too: a trained LGD is a significant investment, equivalent to the purchase price of at least a couple of sheep, but we decided it was worth it if it could prevent the loss of lambs. The very last thing we need is to have The Boy's 4H lambs killed by coyotes!
Union Guy and I went today to meet him and his Person, although from phone calls I already knew Bob was almost certainly what we needed. We arrived and discovered that (in addition to belonging to a very nice Person) Bob was nicely even tempered: he happily lets you handle his paws, put your hands in his mouth to check teeth, and didn't question our presence, as his person had indicated we were okay. We packed him up and brought him back to Apple Jack Creek, where I was prepared for some hesitance on the part of either dog or sheep ... and got absolutely none. I took him out of the truck, walked him over to the sheep pen, and put him inside. The sheep looked at him, he looked at the sheep, and then he went and walked the boundaries of the pen to check out the area. That was it. I kept waiting for someone to freak out or get all skittish, and nothing happened. So, I got the pitchfork and shovelled some straw into the dog kennel we had moved into the pen (thinking we'd need to pen the dog near the sheep, but keep them separate for the first day or two until everyone got used to everyone else, but that was clearly not needed). The pen can provide some shade from the sun and shelter from the rain (which we have been having the last few days) as it's covered with shade cloth. We also shifted the position of the temporary sheep shelter to lean up against the kennel, and that will give a bit more room to hide from the elements.
Once we get the fences up around the full perimiter, we will just turn Bob and the sheep loose in the main area of the acreage, and at night (or in the heat of the day) they can snuggle into the new sheep shelter that Union Guy and I built. I used to worry that they would be too 'exposed' and that the coyotes might get them unless they were penned securely every night, but with Bob on duty, I am not afraid of that now.
The Boy is going to paint this shelter when he comes home ... it is made from leftover lumber from the house building project, and roofed with leftover metal roofing. Oddly enough, we found one piece of roofing that is bright green - the house is roofed in brown, and we aren't sure where this came from. I think it got blown into the yard one day ... but hey, we'll take it! It was exactly the size we needed to finish the sheep shelter roof. :)
So, things are progressing here ... it'll be really nice to have an outside dog on duty, I've known since I moved here I needed one ... but the right one just now showed up. :)