Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Herding Dog

Lately, I've been trying to blog with information that might prove useful to other urban farmers, but today's blog is strictly a stupid pet story.

Most evenings about an hour before dark, we head out to the backyard in the hope of getting a little work accomplished after the heat of the day. While we're tending the gardens, we let the hens out of the chicken yard to wander around, pecking grubs and bugs from the ground. Our dog, Beta, has learned to follow the chickens without harassing them too much. She seems to enjoy the hens and our evening family time.

Beta is half German Shepherd. She came to us several years ago from a shelter organization. She had clearly been abused in her life before us. She was afraid of everything, choosing to hide in the safety of her crate most of the day. Over the years, she's become a good family pet, but she overcompensates for her fears by being unnecessarily protective and overly aggressive. Nevertheless, she is kind to the chickens.

The other evening, one of us began to shoo the hens back into their fenced chicken yard. As soon as we began, Beta carefully circled to the far side of the chickens and gently corralled them into their pen. We were amazed, so we let them back out and tried it again. As soon as we began to shoo them, Beta calmly passed beyond the farthest hen and efficiently herded them into their pen. We tried this new routine four times, and each opportunity Beta became more confident and efficient, never ruffling the hens.

Most of us think of German Shepherds as drug-sniffing police dogs, but at some point in their history they must have been sheep herding animals. I guess some of those instincts remain. It's a good pet trick for an unusual farm dog.

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