This back can hold no more straw.
I was so excited because I was going to write a post about how we have the tallest corn in the neighborhood (this is a huge deal when your neighbors are Amish). But just as I was about to pull out my laptop I noticed Geoff out the front window pushing the wheel barrow. Immediately I knew something was wrong. There was no reason for him to be pushing the wheel barrow. At first I thought it was our smallest goat Nadine. I ran out to Geoff and yelled over the barking dogs to ask him what was wrong. He couldn’t get the words out. The pain is too much. Finally he managed to say, “It’s Pepper.” In less than seven weeks we have lost both our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs. We had each of them for less than one year.
I can handle loosing a chicken. I can handle loosing a duck or a bunny. Those losses make me sad, but dogs are part of our family. Dogs know their own names. Dogs are happy to see you. This is some really upsetting bullshit. I am not a happy farmer.
Sgt. Pepper was an excellent dog. He stepped up after we lost Maggie and protected the goats like a professional. He was sweet and curious and loving and a tribute to his breed.
We don’t know the cause of death. We know that it was NOT a predator. He was found dead in the middle of the goat pen without a mark on him. It could have been something congenital. He could have consumed something poisonous like mushrooms or the wrong combination of plants. It could have been heat stroke because the temperatures have been high, but he had plenty of access to water and shade. And Geoff played with him just a few hours before he died and Pepper seemed fine. We have no idea how this happened. We just know neither of us can stand to lose another dog. Our hearts are broken every which way.
The bottom line is this is not sustainable. You can’t have a sustainable farm and lose a guardian dog every six or seven weeks. We might have to switch to llamas or donkeys. They don’t know their own names.
We’ve got a few hours to grieve and then we go pick up our last set of interns. We don’t want our sadness to mar their experience in what, more often than not, is a happy place.
Right now, we can’t win.