image

With a apologies to people elsewhere in the world still buried in snow with no end to winter in sight- our grass is growing like crazy! Yeah! Well, we deserve a break, after being hammered with record snowfalls last year and then a lot of flooding. The way things are looking, I am guessing I can put the sheep back into pasture rotation in a couple of weeks, in time for lambing. Nice!

The biggest climate challenge we face this time of year is mud. Bleah. We haven’t had a ton of rainfall by any means, but the soil is saturated; so anywhere where there is high traffic, there is mud. Mud is undesirable for several reasons- it’s bad for livestock feet, soil compaction occurs in areas that are allowed to get muddy (which degrades its plant growing ability), slippery mud creates the danger of falling and injury (for livestock and us), and it’s just messy and icky!

image

I have the sheep enclosed in a “sacrifice area”- a small pen that they’ll make a mess of during the winter months, which saves the rest of the pastures from compaction and over-grazing. I do my best to keep the mud controlled in that area by spreading straw around the water tough, feeders and mineral buffets where the sheep walk the most. But it doesn’t take long for fresh straw to squish into the mud and look messy again. Fortunately, the reed canary grass in this sacrifice area is so carpet-like that most of it is not muddy and the sheep have somewhere reasonably clean to lay. They still look filthy though, because of their frequent trips to the feeder area. In future years, I  may switch to using wood chips/hog fuel to create a better base for managing mud.

image

Here you can see how the sacrifice area on the right has zero green grass (the sheep eat anything that attempts to sprout there), but the protected areas outside are starting to grow nicely. This is the reed canary grass field, and RCG goes completely dormant and brown during the winter. So all the green is new growth from “this spring”- if I can even use that term mid-February!

image 

Other signs of spring are appearing: our fruit trees are budding out, frogs are chirping already, and masses of starlings and robins are singing their songs. Our three summer resident bald eagles are back in town, too.

Advertisements