Awful Discovery


Yesterday morning, I spotted clumps of wool in the sheep field. That’s not good. As I got closer, I knew exactly whose wool it was, too. Minnie Belle’s. (With her half-Cotswold blood, her wool is markedly different from Annabelle’s, even though they are both white sheep.) Something was wrong. Very wrong. The sheep were sheared a few months ago and wool doesn’t just naturally fall off them in clumps.

I didn’t want to go find out, since I halfway knew already, but go find out is what you have to do next.

Adam and Robbie arrived shortly after I came back from my first walk into the field, to finish the goat house remodel, and went back with me to investigate then up and around the fields and into the surrounding woods. Both Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior (the ram) were killed. Annabelle and Miss Crazy Jacob were both attacked and have minor wounds.

To the best we can figure, here’s what most likely happened. The predator came in from the back of the field and went after every single one of them until it caught one. The ram may well have attempted to protect the ewes, or he was wounded severely but Minnie Belle presented a meatier or easier final target–whatever happened, the ram was left behind to die. Minnie Belle was bigger than Crazy Junior, and slower with her lumbering Cotswold gait. She was taken down at mid-field and (most of her…..) was carried across the creek, over the fence, across the goat yard, over the fence again, and back into the woods.

Both of my Great Pyrs were in the goat yard, which is likely why the easier prey–the goats–weren’t taken. It was simpler to go after the sheep with no dogs to interfere in the attack. How much ruckus was involved, I don’t know–but I’m sure there had to be one and I don’t believe I was home when it happened. The fact that she was taken away, almost whole…. The fences left undamaged…. Not to mention the wound evidence on Annabelle and Miss Crazy Jacob…. It wasn’t a coyote. There are claw marks–suggesting a mountain lion or a bear. The paw size based on the claw pattern is too close together for a bear (but also too large to think it was a big dog that came in here). A bear would most likely have damaged the fences, and probably would have set to work on the carcass at the site of the attack. This predator was large enough and strong enough to haul a whole sheep over a fence–and leave the fence intact. Everything points to a mountain lion, fully capable of climbing over fences without damaging them and prone to carrying off an entire carcass to enjoy later at another location. A mountain lion usually kills by a powerful bite to the base of the skull, breaking the neck. All that was left behind of Minnie Belle was her head. A mountain lion can attack at any time, but most likely at dusk or right after dark. It’s not unusual for a mountain lion to kill more than it can carry off. I only had four sheep. It took out half my flock and attempted to kill them all.

Very scary.

It’s easier to see the attack on Annabelle’s white wool–blood on her coat where she was clawed as she ran.

When you pull back the wool, you find a pattern of claw marks.

I took Annabelle and Crazy, together with the goats and the Great Pyrs, to the front barnyard where I can shut them in the barn at night for the next week or so (AT LEAST) in case the big cat thinks it might want to come back for seconds. I’m really glad now that I have two Great Pyrs. I just recently started keeping Coco outside at night–she had begun to object to coming in the house at night–and I had put her together with Chloe in the goat yard. (I was thinking Coco’s maturity as a livestock guardian would be a good influence on Chloe, who is still a bumbling, crazy puppy in many ways.) Now I will keep one with the sheep and one with the goats.

Testing the sheep field fencing on Chloe:

Chloe is really still just a big puppy, but it’s time for her to go to work.

I don’t believe a Great Pyr would win an actual direct fight with a mountain lion, but the fact that the goats are all still alive emphasizes that they are a significant deterrent by their mere presence stationed in a field. It is also a reminder that what they do is an important and dangerous job. Their presence in that field saved my goats. Pieces of Minnie Belle’s wool are strewn straight across the goat yard (likely from dragging), from the mid-field point where she was taken down in the sheep field. While the cat carried her out across the goat yard and past the dogs, it moved quickly there, making a straight path, and refrained from any attack in that field. Possibly because it already had what it wanted, but most likely also because of Coco and Chloe.

I treated Annabelle’s and Miss Crazy Jacob’s wounds–they’ll be fine. They were really shy when I went into the field–I had an unusually hard time getting them to come to me. They were hiding in the trees. Once I got them to the barnyard, they continued in the same way, hiding in a stall for most of the day, which is not their usual behavior. They’re freaked out.

I’ve never had an attack like this before. It is freaking me out, too.

Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior were both a little over a year old, just coming up on their full size. The ram was a short-timer. I was planning to replace him, and I’ll be looking for a new ram soon. But the loss of Minnie Belle is tough. With her gorgeous crimpy fleece and meaty construction, she was my best ewe, and what I considered my future cornerstone breeder for my very little flock.

Not to mention, I was pretty darn attached to her.

Stumbling across Minnie Belle’s head was surely the most gruesome experience I’ve had on a farm.

It was kind of a tough day. I didn’t know Adam and Robbie were coming–they work on other farms and come out here periodically, and with the extended power outage disruption for everyone here, I didn’t know when I’d see them to finish the goat house. I was very glad to see them and have some help with the various aspects of the aftermath, particularly in added securing of the sheep field fencing for Chloe and testing her in the field, and in holding down Annabelle and Crazy so I could treat their wounds. It was a good day for some good news.

P.S. This incident has been reported to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. They keep track of suspected mountain lion attacks. Someone is supposed to call me today. I’m not sure if they’ll want to come out to investigate or not. Mountain lions have been sighted in this area in the past.


  1. gardnerh says:

    I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. It must have been really awful. We’ve had coyotes here, but never anything as scary as a mountain lion. I hope all stays safe and sound for all of you, you’ve had enough for one summer.

  2. liz2 says:

    Oh, no, how terrible! I’m so sorry.

  3. MousE says:

    Oh Suzanne! How horrible! I’m very sorry to hear this. You’ve certainly had some trials of late. I do hope it gets better – fast. And that the predator STAYS AWAY NOW.

    And I do hope this is investigated. What do your neighbors report?

    Oh I hope you are all safe and sound now…..

    Many warm hugs to you and all of yours.

  4. CATRAY44 says:

    Now I am worried about the horses and cows and donkeys.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Cathy, I’m worried about them, too, and it’s not unheard of for mountain lions to attack larger animals, but it’s unusual–they want to carry off their kill to their private place, not sit down and eat at the site of the kill, and they can’t carry off larger animals. They like deer, for example. Sheep, goats, dogs, cats, etc are what they’re after unless they’re just starving, and with the number of deer around here, I doubt it’s starving. It probably happened upon the sheep while hunting deer in the woods here…..

  5. ulli says:

    Oh Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear this. Hoping the sheep recover from their fright soon, and also that your heart heals. This is very tough. Farming is not for the faint of heart, is it? I’ll be interested in hearing what the investigator says.

  6. 5and20Alpines says:

    I have read of Pyrs taking on Mountain Lions. But you will need at least 2 per set of animals. One alone will try to protect the herd, but it generally takes 2 to handle anything big.
    It takes 1 to handle 2-3 coyote, but takes 2 to handle a pack of them. Thank God we don’t have wolves around here. The Pyrs don’t stand a chance against wolves. There is a really good article about what a Pyr is capable of at Scroll down to Livestock Guard Dogs at work-Another Side of the Great Pyrenees. The dogs they use are bred to to take on bear and the dogs weigh in at 150-200#. Whatever critter is coming in on you, will come back.

  7. Cbfisher says:

    So sorry to hear this. We only have chickens, but have had more than our share of predator problems with them. Being attached to our girls, I understand how traumatic attacks like this are. Sure hope you’ve seen the last of it!

  8. doodlebugroad says:

    I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sheep and ram – it was horrific I know. My heart goes out to you.

  9. Pam full of joy says:

    Oh Suzanne, my heart goes out to you on the loss of Minnie Bell and Crazy Junior.

  10. luvsclassics says:

    So sorry Suzanne to hear of your loss of the sheep and the RAM. This had to be pretty tough to take care of. During the summer , can those sheep and Ram be kept in the barns? Or would a dog be a deterrent enough for a Mountain Lion?
    That’s good to know that the West Virginia Dept of Natural Resources keeps a count/statistics on these attacks.

  11. BrownSheep says:

    Mount lions from what I’ve been told are inherently afraid of dogs. Also I’ve heard they taste good….just saying

  12. Estella says:

    So sorry for the loss of your sheep.

  13. wildcat says:

    Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your sheep. I am sitting here at my desk in the office with tears streaming down my cheeks. :hissyfit: Even though I know this was a difficult post to write, I wanted to thank you for posting it. I (and many others, I am sure) appreciate the way you “keep it real.” Hearing about the tough realities keeps suburban people like me from romanticizing and jumping into farm life. I really admire your strength.

  14. Tawanka says:

    Mark your territory by scattering the dogs’ poop around the perimeter of your barnyard. The smell may deter the culprit. It makes it unsure where the dogs are. Contact local hunters to bring their dogs to make practice runs of the area. That may make it decide to move elsewhere. I’m surprised it hasn’t gone after the chickens. They are so much easier to catch. This is the Ying to the Yang of a peaceful barnyard. Good luck

  15. Remudamom says:

    That’s too bad. It happens though, when you have livestock. We have mountain lions here. They are impressive predators, and we believe we’ve lost a couple of our herding breed dogs to them. You probably do need to pair up your dogs. They’ll keep coming till the buffet closes. An unprotected herd will be targeted sooner or later.

  16. Chickenlady62 says:

    Suzanne, Words can’t even discribe how sorry I am for you. I need to go find some tissue as I can’t see the computer screen from these stupid tears… can’t imaging how you feel..


  17. Diane says:

    How heart breaking. Sorry for your loss. I would be afraid for all the animals. I am not sure if the dogs would be enough to keep a mountain lion away.

  18. SarahGrace says:

    So very sorry! I can’t imagine how tough it was yesterday!

  19. brookdale says:

    Oh Suzanne, I am so sorry to hear this! Minnie Belle was the cutest thing.
    There’s always something, isn’t there? Hope none of the chickens are missing.
    You were brave to treat the other sheep’s wounds. Glad the “hired men” were there to help you.
    Hope the mountain lion moves on to another mountain, or that one of the neighbors gets rid of it. If it is bothering other people’s animals, that just may happen!
    And…congratulations, “Grammy”, on the upcoming happy event!

  20. CindyP says:

    I am so sorry. While many will say or think “that’s life on a farm”, your animals are such pets. They are what has helped you learn every step of the way.

    Can the sheep remain in the goat yard with the two dogs instead of separating everyone up? Herds of things can be a better deterrent against a mountain lion.

  21. Miss Judy says:

    So sad. I didn’t know West Virginia had mountain lions. We have had some sightings here in Missouri also. Now I am worried about the dogs. I know that is their job but still…
    This is a stark reminder that farm life isn’t all serene pastures and cute baby animals. My heart goes out to you.

  22. Jersey Lady says:

    We send our sympathy on the loss of Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior. We pray the other critters will be safe.

  23. GA_in_GA says:

    RIP Minnie Belle. πŸ˜₯

    I am so sorry, Suzanne. I know that was one of the hardest times you’ve faced. If it was a big cat, you need to keep the horses in a protected area, too. :no: And you need to take a dog or two when you walk the back 40. Do not walk alone when there is a cat in the area. A big cat will not be afraid of a single human.

    Stay safe. And you have my condolences.

  24. GA_in_GA says:

    RIP Crazy Jr, too.

  25. Rose H says:

    Oh my goodness how devastating and frightening for you. I’m quite choked reading this πŸ˜₯ …those poor frightened animals. I know that nature is cruel, but it’s hard to accept when it’s your dear animals that have been attacked. I know you are doing right by them and care so much Suzanne – just hope it doesn’t come back again.
    Rose H

  26. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Has any else in the area had attacks too? I’d talk to your neighbors who have livestock to give them a heads up. Mountain lions can have huge territories. I also would not depend solely on dogs for protection. You may have to shut everyone up in the barn at night for safety. Do you have a gun? Carry it with you. Hopefully this lion is moving on.

  27. gapmusk says:

    Ugh, that was a horrific discovery! πŸ˜₯ :hug:
    5and20Alpines is correct though, if it is a mountain lion Chloe and Coco will be no match for it. They have come back in Oklahoma, the farmers and ranchers here are having to struggle with them a lot. I hope it doesn’t, but until it’s dead all of the animals and most importantly you and Morgan are at risk as well! Please stay safe!

  28. cabynfevr says:

    That is so terribly sad. I’m sorry for your loss. πŸ˜₯

  29. Launi says:

    Oh, Suzanne~ I’m soo sorry for the loss of your two wooly friends. So, so sorry. Be so careful when you go out, especially at dusk. I’ve heard they are very brave when they can see better than we can. Dang cats. We love you.

  30. alba says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of sweet mini-belle she had such a beautiful face.
    How scary that there might be a Mountain lion in the area I guess they are not just in the Jungle.
    Might have to do the old trick of string tin cans around the property as a signal ….
    Truly sorry for your loss it must have been very traumatic for you Hugs.

  31. irishhillstrish says:

    It is sickening! My mother passed a few weeks ago, and while going through old photos, we stumbled upon one of a massacre in her sheep flock. There were nearly 30 dead ewes and lambs, but it was a large shepherd mix that did the job. He was hunted down and killed, but yes, the carnage still brings back shudders and a sick feeling in the pit of my gut. Sheep are so.. sweet and trusting. It’s not fair, but that is life on a farm. My heart goes out to you. Peace be with you, dear girl!

  32. farmgirldarlene says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Crazy Jr and Minnie Belle.

    What really makes me mad is that these “cats” have been brought in by the WVDNR and they release them in areas that need predator control (to thin out the coyote population). A few years ago my husband saw not one but two cross the road in front of him around dusk just two – two and a half miles from our house. After many farmers called DNR to report their farm stock had been feasted on by them they did nothing. They even lied about them being released in the area. And all farmers were told that they could face charges and even jail time if they shot said creatures. I don’t know what the answer is to your situation besides be very careful. If you don’t have a gun to protect yourself while with your animals then you should. Our property stretches 215 acres and is a mile deep from the main road to the back fence, he carries a hand gun with him while checking fence just incase in runs into a coyote or any other creature that may harm him.

    I hope they have moved on to another area for your sake. It’s hard to provide all necessary security for your animals no matter what size your farm is.

  33. marymac says:

    Oh I’m so sorry to read this awful news. I can only imagine how devasted you feel and how vulnerable you must feel. Pray it won’t happen again!

  34. Jersey Lady says:

    Do you want us to have a can drive so you can put up an early warning system?
    Our relatives in the south live on 700 acres and never go into their wilds without a weapon even when they are on tractor.

  35. PattiLynn says:

    Oh no! So sorry to read this. I’d still be in a state of shock if I had been there. So unexpected and so violent…just hard to believe.

    Pls take all precautions for yourself and Morgan.

  36. shirley T says:

    Suzanne,Words can’t even express how how sad this bad news is to me πŸ˜₯ I am so sorry for your loss. I will remember you and you famly of live stock in my prayers.The poor sheep may never want to leave the barn again. Until the cat is caught I wouldn’t advise any late evening horsback riding~~or daytime either for a while. love you guys

  37. FreedomValleyFarm says:

    I am so sorry, Suzanne. I hate that you have had to experience this horrible thing. Mini Belle was such a special little girl. They are so much more to us than livestock. I’m glad the pyrs kept the goats safe. I will be thinking of you.

  38. Jan Hodges says:

    I’m so sorry about this. I lost three goats to stray dogs in February and have since gotten 2 pyr puppies, who eventually will be able to prevent anything like that. I joined an LGD list and it sounds like against a mountain lion or a bear you don’t want one dog to be alone. There is a wonderful web page

    I know what it’s like, and that wonderful Minnie Belle. Hang in there, hugs coming from here.

  39. fowlers says:

    I just cried: so so sorry, oh how I’m sure EVERYONE is wishing you a speedy capture of the cat, hope you have a gun, and that all your neighbors have now been informed and to be on the lookout also. God Love ya, how horific and sad, big hugs to all of you! keep us up to date on the call back. Living on a farm can be great fun and excitement, however death is part of it also, at least no small children or big kids for that matter, had to witness it or be a victim either. Those creatures have been known to do much much worse.

  40. bbkrehmeyer says:

    Once a lion has located a flock, it will consider it his dinner plate. with the one dog a puppy and the other dog still injured, I think they would both be in great danger. Trackers need to get there and try to find that
    cat before he does more damage.Is there any restrictions against hunting them ? my worry will also be with a newborn calf…
    I feel terrible about your loss.we say its just life on the farm or ranch but it still hurts

  41. SanAntonioSue says:

    Oh, Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear about this!! It’s hard enough to lose animals that you are fond of but when the loss affects you financially as well, it makes the sting particularly painful. Hugs to you, honey πŸ˜₯ . And please take the others advice about taking a gun and one of the dogs with you on your outings and anytime you’re working out in the fields because you just never know…. Mountain lions are huge, very smart and can be unpredictable in their behavior, especially after getting a taste of easier-prey livestock. My grandaddy and daddy were always “packin’ heat” anytime they were away from the house working cattle, etc…

  42. wanda1950 says:

    I am so sorry. The tooth & claw side of life is sometimes so appalling that it’s hard to accept. Your animals get a lot of love & care so know they had a good life. It’s just hard to know they felt fear & pain. Please be careful & I hope this predator can be relocated.

  43. Merino Mama says:

    I agree with some of the others on here. Leave Chloe and Coco together with the sheep and goats. It will be back and Chloe doesn’t stand a chance. Put them all in the barn before dark. It will be back. RIP Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior. How awful. πŸ˜₯

  44. Darlene says:

    So very sorry. May I suggest getting a donkey or two. I won’t go into detail but some pics I received showed a tame donkey killing a mountain lion with ease. And….it’s fun riding donkeys! Now I will go cry some more.

  45. SanAntonioSue says:

    And I also meant to add: If she hasn’t already done so, might be time for Morgan to take a gun safety course and get in some practice shooting this summer. Just a thought….

  46. whaledancer says:

    I’m so sorry, Suzanne. That has to be one of the hardest aspects of being a farmer. Plus, I know that you are very attached to your non-meat animals. A sad and scary day at Sassafras Farm.

  47. CarrieJ says:

    Awww…poor Minnie Belle. I ordered her picture as my reward…I just looked at it, it’s hanging in my office. I can’t imagine that you don’t have weapon. If you don’t, please get one and know how to use it. I would be afraid to run around without one. I’m sad.

  48. Debbie in PA says:

    I am so sorry to read about the horrific loss of Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior. I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said, except to maybe alert any neighboring families to the attack, so that they can be aware and stay safe.

  49. rhubarbrose says:

    What a horrible shocking experience!!! I am so sorry that this happened to you and your sheep.

  50. 5and20Alpines says:

    With donkey’s, if you have 2 or more, they bond to each other. To get them to bond to the herd you have to only have 1 donkey.

  51. SanAntonioSue says:

    Haha, I’m glad you’re armed and ready if need be!! And if by chance and it’s legal to do so, you happen to get the opportunity to send it’s(meaning whatever predator) soul to meet it’s heavenly maker, hang it’s (in the words of my daddy) “sorry, thievin’ sumb**** a**” carcass over your front fence line. Daddy always said this served 2 purposes: 1. To let the neighbors know what might be causing trouble on their own farms if he hadn’t already talked to them. 2. As a warning to other like predators from hangin’ around. Not sure how, but it seemed to work. πŸ˜‰

  52. lavenderblue says:

    So sorry for you and everyone (thing?) involved. What an upsetting experience. It seems to me I remember you handily dispatching a predator at the old place, although I am sure it was much smaller than a mountain lion.

    If you feel your life is being threatened by the creature, government agencies wouldn’t be fool enough to charge you with killing a protected species or whatever, would they? Hard telling, I know. But you know, a fur rug in front of that fireplace of yours would look mighty good. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

  53. DancesInGarden says:

    Poor things! It must have been very scary for them, and for you! Is it normal for the thing to attack the entire herd like that, instead of taking one of the animals and leaving??

  54. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I’ve been thinking about this atack and wondering why it chased the sheep around like that. I’m wondering if it isn’t a young and inexperienced hunter.I know mountain lion populations out west are exploding and the young are moving east to carve out territories. We occasionally will have a few in Wisconsin and it seems in every case they are young lions. Maybe this is the case here. The animals on your farm were easy pickings. I still say keep all your animals locked up at night, including your barn kitties. The favorite livestock prey of mountain lions are sheep and goats but they have taken horses and cattle too. I wouldn’t leave your dogs out either. Lions are as visible and noisy as a puff of smoke at night.Your dogs wouldn’t know what hit them. I’ver heard of a chained pit bull that was killed and partially eaten right next to someone’s house and the dogs inside the house were not alerted. Take care.

  55. doubletroublegen says:

    Oh Suzanne my heart just breaks for you!!!! I cannot imagine the horror of finding the aftermath of such destruction. Praying that the killer is found quickly and brought to justice. Hugs to you and Morgan :heart:

  56. boulderneigh says:

    I can’t imagine anything more awful other than witnessing the attack. I’m so sorry! Be sure to keep those wounds sprayed; fly strike is awful, too.

  57. mds9 says:

    I agree leave the dogs together. It does sound like a young cat.
    It has made a kill in this area. It will be back. Fire you weapon
    in the back fields. You will not see it, but it is watching you.
    The sound may convince it to move on. They attack by ambush. You
    will not have time for pepper spray, but any loud noise, air horn,
    loud whistle, even banging pots may convince this cat there are
    safer places to be.
    Take care

  58. bogini says:

    Suzanne, so incredibly sorry for your pain and sense of loss! Pls consider getting spiked collars for the doggies. They are quite often used in Europe for Pyrs guarding sheep flocks agains wolves. They prevent the predators from getting a good grip on the necks.

  59. ibnsgirl says:

    How awful! How scary! And knowing that it is still out there… Take care and stay safe! I don’t think you’ve seen the last of that cat.

  60. Country Blossom says:

    I am so sorry! I lost a lovely goat some years back. She was my pet and it’s not how I choose to remember her. I will keep you and your animals in my prayers.

  61. Andrea.tat says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I really admire how you approach both the good and bad on here, it gives a sense of honesty and realness that I just love about citr, but it was so hard reading this. Prayers and thoughts go out to you. It’s always scary to know that there is a large predator out there- in addition to dealing with the loss you also get this primal sense of mortality. Keep yourself and the animals safe.

    On the bright side dealing with a cougar is good practice for milking Glory Bee. :devil2:

  62. The High Altitude Tea Duchess says:

    Oh, I am so sorry! This wesite might help you to figure out what did it.
    I know you will be, but be careful!

  63. Rah says:

    Oh, Suzanne, I am so sorry. My sympathies.

  64. myaizar says:

    So sorry Suzanne for the lose of Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior…it is horrible to think of what has happen. And I agree that Coco and Chloe would not be much of a threat for a mountain lion….but have you though about a llama? They are supposed to be really protective.

    I would think your mountain lion is either a young male developing his skills or a female with cubs…I just hope it goes very far away!!!! Stay safe!!!

  65. silentgoddess says:

    What a horrible thing to have to deal with and then worry about it happening again. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved sheep. Lots of good advice above from others, so I won’t repeat the same. Just know that there are lots of us grieving the loss with you. Take care and carry a shotgun.

  66. Tina says:

    Suzanne, I am so very sorry for your loss. W

  67. Tina says:

    Wanted to say that I can’t even imagine how you must feel. I’ve been crying ever since I read your blog. What a godawful thing to happen. Prayers and hugs to you.

  68. SwissMiss says:

    How horrorific. I agree with others that the animal will be back as you have a virtual buffet at your place and it has a kill there under its belt. Don’t you wish that the sheep, goats and dogs could talk and tell you what happened? They had to notice.

    On your donkeys, I don’t think they could be guard animals being minis. Alarm systems yes, but they lack the size and power be protectors against large predators. Also, as someone previously stated, I doubt that Jack would care unless it was Pokey that the predator was after. They would just move away as fast as they could. Now I have seen what a full size donkey can do to a coyote (pretty sure it was a coyote , definitely canine, was really hard to identify the remains) and it wasn’t pretty. But it was the only donkey with the cattle herd at calving time so it was invested in the protection of its herdmates. The farmer that had the donkey was very happy with its work and went on to start raising them.

    I must say my first thoughts went to GB and BP down in that creek bed. I am under the impression that mt lions like to drop onto their larger prey when they can as they are very strong but not distance runners. I know they will run down smaller prey over short distances. I don’t know if that is a true picture of their hunting style or not. I would be so worried about the girls. Although the goats and sheep are probably a more tempting target at present. They are not nearly as much work as a large cow.

    Hopefully it can be encouraged to look else where for its meals preferrably of the deer type.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with any predator being shot that is bothering my livestock and family, but you probably ought to find out what WV law is before you shoot. Then if it isn’t in your favor and you have to defend, you may just need a real peaceful, remote spot to place the remains.


  69. Canner Joann says:

    When I think of you and your farm, I see an idyllic wonderland of nature and beauty. This is a terrible, terrible reminder to me that life as a farmer has it’s ugly side, too.

    I hope someone tracks and finds the animal that did this…sooner rather than later. Please be cautious and start carrying a firearm whenever you are out and about. If Morgan is going to be riding out of sight, please get her some gun safety lessons, too. We already know that Zip is going to be a great horse and won’t get spooked by the sound of the gun.

    My heart goes out to you. No one should ever have to suffer the loss of a precious animal in this manner.

  70. quietstorm says:

    Oh Suzanne, I can’t even imagine…..I feel sick just reading that. I wouldn’t be able to handle that…. Please be careful & stay safe

  71. bonita says:

    First, my heart goes out to you on the loss of Baby Belle and Crazy Jr. What a horrific discovery. Next, two respectful suggestions (in addition to firearms). If DNR has introduced cats for whatever reason, it may be possible to recoup the monetary loss of the livestock. Second, if there are not sufficient hunters in your area, you might offer you for fields to dog coursing or similar on an occasional basis. Dog poop can be a deterent, esp. if you’re dealing with inexperienced cat.

  72. yvonnem says:

    All I can say is I’m so, so sorry this happened. Please take care!

  73. Murphala says:

    :hug: What a horrible thing to find. Several have suggested a gun and I concur. I’m so sorry for your loss. Life in the jungle (or farm) is not pretty sometimes.

  74. laurie hamar says:

    Suzanne, I read this post this morning and was sad all day. I’m sure that writing this post was almost as difficult as living it. I just wanted to say that I appreciate the fact that you let us see the good, bad and the ugly. It is a reminder that the reality of living a life filled with animals can be heartbreaking. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this pain and worry. I pray that your animals and family are safe and know you will do whatever is necessary to make sure they stay safe. Sending love at this difficult time.

  75. farmershae says:

    Oh Suzanne. I’m so sorry this happened. I agree with a lot that has been said – be cautious – it is a cat and therefore sneaky, carry your firearm, and get the thick spiked collars for the dogs – it’s just another tool in their toolbox to help guard the livestock. As far as the laws for taking care of predatory nuisance animals in your area – by all means, find out what they are. Then as my old-timer neighbor says – shoot it, shut up and start shoveling.

  76. dixiecatinthehat says:

    Dear Suzanne, wishing you peace and comfort…I’m sure we’d all take turns sitting with you and listening and holding your hand if we could. If would even be okay if you were thinking, “When will these people go home!!” compared to the thoughts that are probably playing in your head now. Do you have a favorite book or movie that is a comfort to you, “Anne of Green Gables” or “Gone with the Wind”?

    For what it’s worth, the attack was probably over quickly and the animal survivors supposedly don’t remember details like we would. We human survivors who love our animals seem to have a longer road to recovery from shock and sorrow. I know you take wonderful care of your animals and that you’ll do everything possible to protect the ones still with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your fallen animals – Catherine

  77. auntbear says:

    Sad news from the farm today.So sorry to hear this.I can only echo what others have already said so well.Keep safe and commence shooting practice in the morning.

  78. dl30f0dls says:

    Suzanne, I have been following your blog for nearly two years now, and this is my first post. I only wish it was for a happier occasion. Please know that like the others, I am so sorry for your losses. I have admired your grit and determination in the face of many challenges. I know you will get through this one too.

  79. Junebug says:

    I have cried at intervals all day about this. I am now in panic mode for the chickens, the goats, the other sheep, the horses, the cows, the dogs and Morgan. Don’t let her ride out alone till this is handled. I’ve seen several suggestions that sound good in the other comments. Please use as many of them as you have to in order to protect your critters. I am horrified for Chloe and Coco. I know they are supposed to be working dogs like this, but I cried every time I thought about it when Coco was just missing. I can’t imagine losing either one of them permanently. I would be afraid for Coco especially due to her wound. There will still be a smell of blood to a predator animal. Please protect these babies. I know I will never meet any of them personally, but I have watched them be born and grow up and it affects me personally when something happens to one of the animals. You are one of the strongest ladies I’ve ever had the honor to know via your website and I admire everything you do, so I know you will do whatever it takes. I just worry. Please take care of yourself, the kids and the critters. Please let us know what you decide to try and let us know for sure if this mountain lion gets captured or exterminated. Love to all at Sassafras Farm

  80. Mandys says:

    Oh my I am so sorry :(:( What a horrific thing to find. I can’t imagine how you feel πŸ™ I’m so sorry. I will miss these two as well πŸ™ πŸ˜₯ πŸ˜₯

  81. CynRob says:

    What an awful experience for you to go through. I’m so sorry.

    Lately on the news they’ve been reporting about a big cat in Ashland, KY. It’s supposed to be a bobcat, but many have said it has the size and gait of a mountain lion. Yes, they’re in our area, but usually not in town, which goes to show how brave they’ve become around the human scent. Out in the country I’m sure it’s much worse.

    I’m glad you’ve contacted the DNR. Hopefully they’ll have some good advice or even a solution for you. Keeping the dogs out will help, and it would be great if all could be kept in the barn at night. Perhaps that isn’t feasible, but maybe modifications could be made somehow to at least make it temporarily possible for the animals’ safety.

    I will be keeping you and your farm in my prayers. Sometimes it seems like we take a step forward only to be knocked back 2 more. However, we both know God will not allow more to be put on our shoulders than He will help us carry, so we just have to ask Him for guidance in everything.


  82. heidiannie says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss.
    I’m glad you could doctor up the other sheep- it is good to have something positive to do when faced with adversity.
    I don’t know anything about guns, but I will be praying for the safety of your dogs, herd and flock. I do know something about prayer. πŸ™‚

  83. Ramona says:

    This wordpress gives me an awful time logging in so I haven’t left comments in a long time.

    I’m so sorry. That’s horrible to know that there is a huge predator that can do that kind of damage at will.


  84. Pat says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss. Farming isn’t an easy life to be sure. Hope the predator moves on.
    Pat in Eastern NC

  85. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Bonita’s comment about getting a reimbursement from the state for loss of livestock from certain predators reminded me that this is indeed a possibility. Ohio does it for such cases.

  86. MissyinWV says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I would consider electric fencing. I know Mountain lions can jump high but it would deter them. I would also consider getting light out in the pasture. Go out to your pasture and shoot your gun in the air. If a mountain lion is watching that, he won’t like what he see’s or hear’s….and will leave. Don’t go out there without carrying a gun! And don’t run from a mountain lion. I hope these tips help! I hope someone gets a shot at it!!

    RIP CRAZY and MINNIE BELL…….. :no:

  87. Barbee says:

    Oh, my, I am just exhausted after reading such sad news and all the comments to this point. I had never even thought of such a thing happening! Coyotes, yes, but not this. However, I have read that mountain lions (a.k.a. Pumas, Cougars) are in Tennessee. I figure if they are that far, then they surely are all the way to Florida Everglades. I hope you are able to get the special collars for the dogs; I have read about them and how they help save dogs. I guess it would be hot and itchy to wear, but that’s nothing to mauling or death. This is such a blow!

  88. Jane L says:

    You have my sincere sympathy for your loss, and I hope that you are able to protect against future losses. I am however, not unhappy to see that the mountain lion has not been eradicated from the territory. I hesitate to write this since I don’t want to appear insensitive to your feelings, or to your worries about the future safety of your herd/children/self etc. I just like living in a country that still has top predators living wild – not just in zoos. The fact that many of your readers would not hesitate to kill such a majestic animal – over a sheep – frankly blows my mind. Anyway, I do hope that it moves on – or at least starts to dine on the deer in the area!

  89. Jane L says:

    On second thoughts, I am sorry I pushed send! I think I should have left that thought to myself. I really hate to think of you worrying.

  90. smwalter says:


    Sorry for your loss. There is a website that tracks mountain lion sightings in West Virginia.

    There is also another one that researches mountain lions:

    I used to live in Maryland and saw a mountain lion in Berkley Springs, West Virginia about 10 years ago. It came out of the brush on one side of my sister’s back yard and bounded across and into the woods on the right side. Took me a few seconds to realize what I was seeing. Anyway, thought you would be interested in this information.

  91. stacey3940 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Some may thing our livestock is just that, but they are part of our lives and losing any of them is tramatic, especially the ones you are close to.

    You definately want to keep your dogs together for the near future becaues they will work better together than apart and be more of a deterant. Just to caution you, I live in SW PA and we have moutain lions here and they have been known to kill horses and cows here. You may want to keep Zip in the barn except for the daylight hours when the lion is less likely to be hunting… espeically because Zip is alone right now without Patriot. Unfortuantely that predator is much more likely to return knowing that you have a free buffet there for him/her. Good luck and keep yourself and your family safe.

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