Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rotating Pasture

From the top: Jeffery --enjoying the grass and wearing a grape vine,
The three Shetland boys, Drake, sampling the goods and lastly Blue and Lanny--the big 'pony' sheep.

The boys are happy today. Each of the two ram pen's got rotated onto fresh grass. We are very, very dry here and in desperate need of rain. If we do not get any soon, I will be feeding hay within the next two weeks. The ewes have two large pastures that I switch them back and forth on. The lower pasture is shot since its so dry and they will likely start needing supplementation on the upper pasture in another week---two weeks if I'm lucky and we get rain.

Blue and Lanny, the Merino ram and his wethered son have three small pens that I switch them through. The pen in the picture is rather small and the grass was pretty well shot last year. Due to several years of neglect and chicken abuse (dust baths) the pen was full of rank weeds. This year I managed to seed it to clover, lespedeza and fescue. Many of the weeds took over again, but down near the ground the other varieties are thriving. I will likely only keep the boys on there a week, then mow it and see how it looks. I'd like to make it a thriving patch of ground again.

The Shetland rams, Jeff & Drake and the wether Callum have four small areas I can rotate them between and that will soon be five. I'm still in the stages of getting things set up, so this year I have unfortunately let them overgraze their pastures, as I couldn't get them moved in a timely manner. Hopefully things will be smoother as I continue to work out a system. Today they went into an area that hasn't been grazed since late spring. I noticed a good deal of the lespedeza I seeded has thrived! The boys were very thrilled to be out where the pickings were plentiful again.

When you first turn sheep out on a new pasture, they will dash about, sampling this and that.. much like people at a salad bar! They are excited and sure that something better is in the next patch of grass. I still have lots of weeds and sprouts in most of my pastures, and the sheep will enjoy eating them as well. I really get a kick out of watching the sheep on new pasture.

The girls were quite put out that everyone was getting new pasture but them! I'm hoping to have at least one of their pastures cross fenced by next spring and keep them rotated in a more beneficial manner. The end goal is to cross fence both pastures and have a total of four smaller pastures to move them through. I would love to be able to offer them new grass every week, and I know the pastures, sheep and shepherd would benefit from it.

Have a good weekend.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Boy, it doesn't LOOK dry there! Very lush pastures your sheep are enjoying . . . mine would be jealous if they knew what they were missing.

shepherdchik said...

Your sheep are beautiful! Looks like you are about as dry as we are...