Saturday afternoon we had to move animals. We actual do this every day or so but it’s nice on Saturday to be able to sort of take our time with it and get distracted chasing black crickets if we want to.
The idea of rotational grazing is that you move the animals around the big field in small pieces to keep them from over grazing one area. A few years ago our field was a cotton field and we started the grass from scratch. That’s not an easy thing to do–especially if you want to minimize chemical inputs and have a diverse stand rather than a single type of grass. It’s one of those things that you can’t “make” happen. It just takes time.
Our field has some really good spots and some not so good spots. The idea is to give them just enough grass for one day until we move them. So if there’s good, thick grass, they get a smaller spot. If it’s thinner, weedy grass, they would need a bigger spot for one day. We use temporary fencing (those three white lines up there) to move them every day. We just keep setting up new lines to the left and moving them over.
It’s a bit of an art too. Knowing how much grass they need per day. Knowing how fast the grass is growing back behind them. There’s an amazing dynamic between the animals and the grass. You know how pruning your roses can actually help them grow? Grass is the same.
Mowing (or eating) it during the right seasons can actually encourage it to keep growing and thickening up. But you can’t cut it too short and you can’t keep cutting it during a drought because that damages the root system. (That would be overgrazing.) So we let the animals do the mowing and prevent overgrazing by not letting them go backwards until the grass has had a chance to grow back.
And this weekend we got a surprise.
We were out there moving everyone and saw an awful lot of excitement over one spot in the grass…
Turns out we had a late lamb!
We have a group of 5 cross bred ewes that haven’t lambed yet. We figured that they either bred late (apparently true for this one) or that they didn’t breed at all this year. Being cross-bred they’re small and likely to carry singles anyway, so we just couldn’t be sure if they were pregnant or not.
So I’ve got my eyes peeled for the other 4 to drop any time now…