Earlier this week I wrote in “Pyr-Buck-Bees-Sheep” that I was struggling to get excited by my present book (still true, although a little better), and that what was keeping me going was farm planning – thinking about what I really want to be doing. I made my list of sustaining plans, to be paid for by the book advance – a Great Pyrenees dog as a guardian for our livestock, a Nigerian Dwarf buck for our breeding program, Honey Bees, and Sheep for our pastures. Oh, and there’s some incidental poultry in there, and my seeds and fruit trees, but that ruined the rhythym of my new chant.
Well, this morning “Pyr-buck-bees-sheep” became “Buck-bees-sheep.” We drove a ways to meet a 6 month old Great Pyrenees puppy, and he’s coming home to our place on Monday. The kids named him “Maccabeus” after the team of shepherds-turned-warriors in the Chanukah story, and we’ll probably just call him “Mac.” At six months, he’s the size of a normal large dog already, and he’s got a good way to grow – his Dad is 150lbs. But he comes with the Pyr personality – soft, mellow and sweet natured.
We are getting him from a breeding couple named Phil and Phyllis who have one of the most welcoming homes I’ve ever seen – they have dogs, cats, a bunch of grandkids running around, goats, miniature horses, ducks, several relatives in need they’ve taken in to their none-too-large home and just about the warmest personalities of anyone we’ve met, and the dogs are a lot like them. We saw Mac’s brother let an 8 lb Pomeranian climb on his head and then take his food. . But we also saw Mac’s parents get between us and their goats the moment we came down the driveway. The combination of protectiveness and gentleness are just what we need.
Great Pyrenees dogs were bred to care to protect defenseless ruminants like the goats and sheep that live at our farm (sheep are seasonal here). They are huge and look something like a sheep, and much of their guarding is done simply by being present – meanwhile, they are so gentle that they are safe with baby animals and small humans. A number of Phil and Phyllis’s dogs have been used as therapy dogs for people, and they breed for dogs designed to be working family dogs *and* protective of proximate livestock. This boy is exactly what our farm needs.
Rufus, our senior working farmcollie died just about a year ago now, and it has taken us this long both to get emotionally ready for a new dog, but also to figure out what kind of dog we needed in both our family and our farm. Mistress Quickly, Rufus’s half sister has been an only dog since then, and it has been a bit of a lonely role for her. And we’ve seen the consequences of being a one-dog farm in the interim – that things aren’t working quite as they once did. Time to grow a little (or a lot, given that the dog is the size of a small polar bear ).
On Monday, Mac will come home to the farm. And I supposed I’d better start looking for a buck – and go back to working on the book .