The Unlikely Farmdog

All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.

Charles M. Schulz

This afternoon we came home to a bonus chicken. You read that right. Where we should have 17 chickens, our usual 14 hens and 3 roosters, we had one extra. She was a cute little buff colored girl seemingly right at home within our flock.

Bonus chicken with Oreo looking on.

Visiting chickens are nothing new at our house. The neighbor across the lane has a small flock and a few of them are prone to wander over and scratch about the flower beds. We don’t mind. In fact, that was part of the allure that drew us to this place.

The neighbor next door has chickens too. A larger flock than ours. They started out with 25. They lost a few the first year. Hawk strikes, other predators, and a couple culled roosters. But they leveled out somewhere around 20 birds. Then they added a few so they’re probably back up around the mid-twenties again.

Today’s bonus chicken was one of their flock. I recognized her as one of three that frequently visits our side yard. Again, we don’t mind. We love being in the midst of chickens. But today she must have jumped the fence to mix in with our birds.

Of the three flocks, we have the only roosters in the mix. So getting mixed in with our flock, the little buff colored hen was being sized up by all three of our roosters as a potential mate. We’ve never discussed how the neighbors feel about fertilized eggs, so we decided to encourage her to return back to her family.

It took some doing. The little hen wouldn’t let us get near her. She was not familiar with us, nor comfortable around us, as she is with her own family next door. It took some creative herding and driving, along with more than a few attempts, but we finally got the little buff colored hen to take a short flight and end up in the relative safety of her side of the fence.

Surprisingly, this task would have taken a lot longer if it were not for the unlikeliest of help.

Meet Bo.

Bo is our farmdog and it is a responsibility he takes very seriously (most of the time). It’s hard to believe how well he’s taken to the job. Given his rocky start, we had our reservations.

Bo is a rescue dog. Christine found him at the pound almost 5 years ago and he was a very different dog. Originally named “Rocky,” he had been previously adopted and then returned to the pound. We suspect it was because he was just too wild for his first adopters.

He took some getting used to for sure. The kids were a little scared of his rambunctious nature at first, but they quickly fell in love with him and he became a loving protector for them.

Bo’s boy and girl.

Sometimes Bo is too protective though. It’s been a hard streak to break in him.

We were worried about how he would do with the chickens when we first got them, because he had spent much of the previous year terrifying the neigbhors’ chickens and chasing them from our fence.

So when our first chicks arrived we introduced them to Bo the very first day. He didn’t know what to think of the 17 tiny fluffballs that arrived in a small cardboard box, but he seemed to grasp almost immediately that they were his to protect. In fact, everyday Bo would be the first to the door when it came time to head down to the brooder in the basement. His excitement was palapable!

Checking on the little ones.

We worked with him daily showing him the chickens were to be protected. The big test came though when the young chickens were moved out into their coop and run.

Could Bo be trusted with chickens on his own?



Almost all the time.

Excepting when he gets yelled at for chasing one here-or-there.

But, he’s done surprisingly well. Yes, he will run along after his favorites here or there in an attempt to herd them. Sometimes with his mouth wide open directly under the startled flying bird. But most of the time he just saunters around and about them without concern.

Standing watch.

He’s even alerted us when the errant chicken doesn’t make it in before the coop automatic door closes for the night!

Wheezy. It’s always Wheezy.

The next big challenge came with the introduction of our goats. Unlike the chickens that were raised around Bo since their birth, the goats were introduced being already several months old.

While the goats had their own separate pasture, and therefore freedom and escape from the Bo, it took a while for them to reach an understanding. Bo exhibited more curiosity than aggression toward the newcomer goats. He seemed to view the goats as just strange dogs.

Finally after a few awkward missteps, some chasing around the big tree in our backyard, and a few well thrown headbutts by the goats they seem to have worked things out.

Bo and his goats.

Bo has become the most unlikely farmdog. He’s blessed to have gone from a small concrete holding cell to his own 5-acre kingdom. He races out each day to greet the chickens and goats. And he can often be found watching over his small herd.

Humans and all.

Sleepy dog getting some well deserved rest.

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