The past few days I have been preparing the farm for the first freeze of the year. The frosty air of fall and winter with the artistic touches of crystals on everything is not the winter wonderland where I live. When it freezes here, we get ice, cold ice covering everything. Often we get rain, that becomes freezing rain when we get a freeze.
The animals all have shelters including the livestock guard dogs. For the dogs I save the wool/hair from sheep I have sheared. There are two reasons I shear my sheep, one is for a show or sale, the other is the yearling ewes who are not quite shedding the lamb wool/hair from the previous year. Their lamb wool sometimes gets tightly matted and difficult to shed, so I assist with a light shearing. I do not shear to the skin, just to get the matted fibers off.
Since I am a person who does not like to just throw everything away in a landfill somewhere, I save this wool/hair fiber to use for the dogs a winter bed. The herding dogs in the kennels enjoy the warmth of these beds, then in the spring, I remove these beds and replace with shavings as it is cooler for the hot months of the year.
Two days ago, I was giving the dogs new beds. They are fun to watch as when their bed is finished, they check out the bed and lay down giving their new beds a try. All except one, Bruno, an eight month old Akbash male. Bruno went in to check out his bed and walked away. The next morning, the wool was scattered all around his dog house. He decided his wool bed would be a fun play toy instead of a warm place to sleep at night when it is cold. Although the livestock guard dogs stay with the sheep, I do provide them a separate dog house where they are fed and can get out of the weather if they choose.
My favorite mare, My Sweet Victoria, did not stay in a shelter for nine years after we purchased her. During the summer, the shade of the shelter was good. If it was raining she would stand outside and every one of the horses with her. If a horse went to get in the shelter, she would herd the horse back outside to stand in the weather, rain or snow, they were standing outside. She did not like the noise on the roof above her head. Three years ago, she finally started staying in the shelter for rain and snow. She is nervous in the shelter, but I guess she figured it was better than being wet.
I provide shelter for the animals, it is their choice on using the shelter. Bruno, this year might be fun to play with his bed and scatter it everywhere. Next year, he might figure the wool would be a warm, dry, soft place to lay when the weather is cold and wet.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink.”unkown