Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In which JJ goes herding...and brings home some sheep

With the exit of the registered Montadale sheep (snif) last summer,

My son, Marshall, musician/ex-sheep breeder, and some of his Montadale sheep - last summer

the pasture has had quite a rest and has grown to heights unseen for many years here. See below:

Maddie helping me take photos of the soon-to-be-sold horse corral. March 2009.

The low grass places in the photo above, are the results of my Dryland Pasture Improvement Management program, initiated two winters ago. To make a short story long: I disced up my nice native clovers and grass, spent $140 on seed, risked my son's life as I told him to sit on the back of the disc and crank the hand seeder while I drive the tractor that is older than me, and seemed to be running on just 3 of it's 4 cylinders that day "bababa...BUM...bababa...BUM..babab...BUM", plus the little lurch on the last note -oh - it was safe, alrighty...). Dragging an old fence panel behind the disc covering the seed perfectly (I'm sure). Did I mention it was lightly raining thru all this? Yes - it was time to seed - Oct. 10. The rain stopped the next day and then the sun shone for 10 days straight, reaching 90+ degrees. Needless to say, the seed germinated quickly and then promptly burned up in the heat. I bought MORE seed, scattered it myself on foot. Raked it in by hand (it was just an acre..). Ouch. The Dryland Pasture Mix did not appear. Nor the native clover. Nor the native grass. No nothing. Oh wait - that nasty little sharp stickery weed grew. Basically, I spent lots of time, money (but, for the record, did NOT harm my child) and ruined my pasture.

Moral of story: Farming is one of the biggest gambles in life.
So this fall, I scattered some rye grass and fescue seed (as well as wildflowers). I found a couple varieties of native clovers had returned!
OK - we're back in business. We need sheep...
A call to friend Fiona Hibbard (her first Aussies 20 years ago came from me - and she was one of My People back then) (Oh. She was the ONLY People I had- except for oldest son Emmett, age about 5 ...now there's some stories...). But I digress (again). We bought 4 Katahdin x Dorper yearlings at Fiona's and had a nice herding lesson with JJ - who - of course - did nicely ;-)
And here are the four new sheep:

#4 is loooking over the back of Helga, on far right. They are watching Fern closely - she's with me. Fern is watching them closely, too.

Now, I must (1) remove a 21 foot tower, (2) an old engine, so I can (3) build a round pen. Update: Tower gone! Thanks Pam & Harold (of Emmy fame).

No photos of JJ herding yet...must get the round pen up...stay tuned.

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