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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Predators: them or us!

We have raised market lambs now for 9 years, and bred and our own ewes for market lambs for 5 or 6 years. We've lost a lamb at 2 months old, had one stillborn (out of triplets) and lost a ewe this year a few days after delivery. We live in the country (the woods, really) and have seen bears regularly, coyotes a couple times, and there have been cougar seen every year or so that take cats or dogs.

Steve went out this morning and found Lyndsey's first choice market lamb dead, with it's stomach ripped out.  The 3 ewes and remaining lambs were huddled in the furthest corner of the field possible.  We called ODFW and the trapper and wildlife officer came out.  They determined it was a cougar and set the dogs out, with no success.  So they set two traps by the body. I moved the flock to the pen way across the orchard and moved the ram to the hillside pen beside them.

I respect the predators, and appreciate them for their services. They are a needed aspect of our world. However, we have plenty of deer around right now and it was one of the mildest winters we've had in years.  My flock is not to be considered "available" for dinner at any time.  I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer that we catch it.  I feel bad for the other sheep who are obviously panicked, and the ewe who lost her baby is crying for him.  Somehow, weaning doesn't seem as bad as having your baby killed in front of your eyes.

I will keep you posted!


  1. Oh, Ruth, those kinds of deaths of our animals are just the worst. I am so sorry this happened. Unfortunately, the cougar (or bear or wolf) doesn't distinguish between species when it comes to choices for a meal. I hope the cougar is caught and this is the last destruction of your livestock.

  2. Echoing Mama Pea. My condolences to Lyndsey, especially. :-(

  3. Sorry for your loss. I hope they are able to trap the cougar and relocate it. We have them near us, too, as well as bears and coyotes. I have never lost a goat, but every year we lose several chickens - mostly to small predators like weasels, I think. I don't mind giving up a few chickens in the name of a healthy ecosystem, but a lamb must hurt. Best of luck.

  4. How awful! I hope it moves on or is caught. I agree about sharing space with predators, but there are a lot of choices and lamb shouldn't be on the menu. I'm sorry you lost the lamb, and sorry that it was Lyndsey's little market lamb.