Blackberry Farm

Guardian Animals

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Blackberry Farm employs over three hundred team members to orchestrate every facet of your stay. Some of these team members are not human. Yet, like every member, they have a particular role that contributes to making the whole operation work. The role of the Llama, George; and the Akbash Sheep Dogs, Queenie, Dharma, Marshal, and Lily, is to protect the sheep from predators. Their service is exemplary and their role as part of the farm is undeniable.

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Why the Llama, you ask? Well, guard llamas are not passive bystanders where predators are concerned. Members of the dog family traditionally have preyed on llamas and as a result they are naturally wary of the coyotes and stray dogs that pose a threat to our flock. Llamas are territorial and protective of their flocks. George, our Llama, was brought here from Georgia in the spring of 2005 to watch over the sheep. He also provides the shepherd with hours of entertainment. He's not very social at times but he gets lost without his herd. He keeps a watchful eye out for the rams and keeps them in line.

Each group of sheep is watched over by a guardian dog of the Akbash breed. Akbash is Turkish for white head. These tall, muscular working dogs were bred for their guardian sensibilities and their white coat, which would blend in with the flock allowing the Shepherd to visually identify a predator simply by color variation. Queenie, Marshall, Dharma and Lily are key members of the livestock team. They become part of the flock, assisting mothers with the birth of their lambs, watching over each sheep with care. Like sentries, they forever safeguard the flock from potential predators—their beautiful form a product of their function honed over centuries in Turkey and now here in Walland, Tennessee.

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