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Those who raise farm animals and livestock will be familiar with LGDs or Livestock Guardian Dogs. There are several breeds that are bred specifically for living with and protecting livestock on the farm. One of the most common that immediately comes to mind would be Old English Sheep Dogs. You often see these fluffy white giants patrolling the field boundaries or laying with a group of lambs while their mamas graze. It is their job to protect their flock. That is what they live for.

But did you know there are other animals that can also do the job of a livestock guardian? You might be surprised at just who or what, can fill these shoes – and do it well!

Donkeys

The use of donkeys, both standard and miniature, as livestock guardians or companions is not a new thing. Descended from the wild ass in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, these animals were domesticated by the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago. They are still used as beasts of burden in many countries throughout the world and now, also as guardians.

Livestock guardian was never one of the donkeys’ primary jobs. This “side job” possibility evolved when the donkeys were pastured with goats and sheep. The territorial behavior that is inherently strong in the donkeys is a benefit when they are in multi-species grazing situations. While they aren’t necessarily defending or protecting their pasturemates, they are defending their ground – and the critters that are with them on that piece of ground.

Donkeys, especially a jenny with a foal by her side, can be a vicious protector. Coyotes, dogs, and wolves are their top enemy. The jenny will bite, kick, slash, and tear apart canines (or other perceived threats) that dare to get too close to her baby – and ultimately, her herd or flock. While they are usually a solitary animal, the donkeys will bond over time with their pasturemates and consider them part of its own herd.

Llamas

Llamas were domesticated as pack animals in South America, right around the same time as donkeys in Egypt. Llamas were essentially a novelty or fiber animal in North America for several centuries. It wasn’t until the 1980s, that US sheep farmers began noticing that their flock losses to predators were reduced when they had llamas grazing with their animals.

Llamas tend to be a social animal that enjoys being a part of a herd or group, they don’t like to be alone. If you keep just one llama with your smaller livestock, the llama will bond with those animals and ultimately become their protector as well as herdmate.

While llamas definitely have size going for them, their alertness is one of their main defenses. They are constantly scanning the area and monitoring their pasturemates. If they sense a threat, the llama will let off a high-pitched scream that gets the attention of everyone – everyone. At times, this alarm alone is enough to scare off the intruder.

If their scream doesn’t get the job done, the llama will assume a threatening posture, approach the danger, and start spitting. The llama may place itself between the smaller animals and the threat. As things escalate, it may even attack the intruder by kicking or pawing at it, even stomping it to death if necessary.

Along with the goats and sheep, many producers run a llama with their calves, deer, and poultry flocks. They are definitely a multi-species guardian that bonds with their charges.

Emus, Geese, Guineas, and Ostriches

While these last creatures aren’t really a livestock guardian, they could easily be called barnyard “alarms/alarmists”, “protectors”, or “watchers”. All four of these bird species are notorious for being noisy and obvious when sensing something unusual or threatening.

Anyone who has lived with any of these birds knows that when they start acting up, something is amiss. Of course, it could be a mouse they have cornered or a fox, they don’t always differentiate or prioritize the danger. Whatever it is, they’ll let you know it’s there.

It is not uncommon to see geese engaged in a standoff with a stranger in the driveway or a group of guineas chasing away a stray dog at full speed. The ostriches and emus are extremely intelligent and nosy and will see everything going on. When they become agitated and defensive, it is a good idea to investigate and find out what has set them off.

No matter what type of animals you have or are planning on getting, you must have some type of protection in place. Along with secure fencing and shelter, a livestock guardian might be just what you need. Having multiple layers or lines of defense will keep you and your animals happy and safe.

So what kind of livestock guardian do you have?

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Preserving Your Harvest: A Canning Overview

There’s nothing more satisfying than raking in a good harvest and it almost makes you feel like you can finally take a break from all that farming. But not so fast! You still have to make sure that your harvest stays fresh and preserved for the upcoming months. There are numerous ways of storing your harvest and keeping it fresh, such as freezing, drying, and canning it.

Canning is an age-old practice that was used by farmers to preserve their tomatoes and vegetables at a time when refrigeration wasn’t a service that was easily available. It involves adding produce to a jar and then heating it to a point when the air is driven out from it.

Two Methods

So there are two main methods that are completed through pressure canning and a boiling water bath. You can use a boiling water bath to drive out the air from cans that contain tomatoes, or other processes jams or jellies. This even works for pickles, as long as preservatives are added. The jars containing produce are heated by being completely submerged in boiling water.

Pressure canning, on the other hand, is practiced as a way to store vegetables and other products like poultry. In this method, the jars of food have to be placed in a few inches of water while inside of a pressure cooker. The entire setup is then heated to 240 o F at least.

Which Method to Use

High Acidic Foods

The boiling water bath method works well for high acidic foods like tomatoes and other fruits. These contain a pH that is lower than 4.6.

Low Acidic Foods

Pressure canning is implemented for low acidic foods (vegetables), which have a pH above 4.6. The reason why they can only be preserved this way is due to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a microorganism that can leave behind deadly spores which thrive in low acidic conditions.

How To

The main difference between both methods is that pressure canning is achieved through a high temperature of the boiling water bath. So you’ll need a special pressure cooker to prepare vegetables using this method.

In both methods, you’ll need clean jars and brand new caps. You need to thoroughly sterilize each jar and keep them in boiling water until you’re ready to store your produce. Whether you’ve added the jars to a pressure cooker, or a boiling water bath, you need to give time until the right temperature is achieved. This is 212 o F for the boiling water bath method.

After removing your jars to cool, listen for a popping sound which indicates that the jars have sealed. You can check this by looking for a depression in the lid. If it hasn’t sealed, you should keep them in the fridge to eat soon.

Should You Try Canning?

While the boiling water bath method is great for preserving pickles, jams and salsas, the same can’t be said for a variety of foods that can be stored by the pressure canning process. If you’re looking to store beans, broccoli or other such veggies, you’ll find that other ways to preserve them, such as freezing, are much more suitable. On the other hand, if you want to store produce using the boiling water bath method only, you can add acidic mediums like vinegar or lemon juice that can keep botulinum from growing. Happy Farming!

More about canning here: Can Do


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