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Delafield Neighbors

From Farm to Table: Local Connections that Matter

Jul 23, 2014 07:11PM ● By Laura Ustanovska

The dog days of summer are upon us, with hot, humid days and breezeless nights. That term, dog days, is intriguing and, for me, brings about images of dogs, panting in the August heat. Why did this uncomfortable season get linked with our canine friends? It is during the summer months that our dog works the hardest here at Morning Star Family Farm - Hartford, WI.

In conventional livestock farming, especially for chicken and pork production, keeping animals indoors 24/7 is standard procedure. Among other things, this practice provides protection of the animals from predators. When following the pasture-based model, as we do, decreasing predator pressure is a full-time job. Who better than a dog to meet the challenge?

Rex is our resident guard dog. While not a professionally trained livestock guardian dog, he still works hard to keep predators in the woods and out of our pastures. Born on a farm and raised around the many species of livestock that we have, Rex has a keen sense of friend and foe when it comes to animals. In addition, his very presence and scent helps to keep potential problem animals at bay.

So, if dogs are so helpful, why do the hottest days of summer seem to be blamed on them? According to Wikipedia, it has little to do with animals at all. Apparently, the phrase “dog days of summer” has its origin in ancient times, in the nighttime sky. Sirius, the dog star, would rise during the same time that weather would turn sultry. Changes in the heavens have affected this correlation, but the name has stuck.

This is good news for Rex and all of the other hardworking guard dogs out there, as it means that they are off the hook and free to go about their business of protecting livestock. That is Rex’s part in helping us to get tasty, local foods from our farm to your table.