Yesterday Jon and I moved the sheep a mile down the highway to Betty’s field for the summer. My flock consists of 11 ewes, 4 yearling ewes, and 17 lambs. Thirty-two sheep on the hoof. We made two trips with the school’s loaded stock trailer.
I had spent the morning setting up for the move. Tightening the frames of the old shelters, lashing back on tarps after winter, assembling stored rolls of fencing, battery charger, ground rod, and water trough, and ferrying everything to the field. The preparations were time-consuming but pleasant work in the warm sunshine.
It was exciting to see the condition of the pasture. After only two summers of managed grazing from my sheep (and mowing behind them), in this third summer the field is almost entirely clear of goldenrod.
Here is the field in early June, 2010. [Click to enlarge.] See all that bunchy stuff? That’s goldenrod.
Goldenrod is a pernicious weed. Livestock and whitetail deer will occasionally nibble the leaves, but the florets are mildly poisonous, causing gastric distress. I have devoted many, many hours to getting rid of it.
Here is the field yesterday. No goldenrod, just luscious spring grass so tender that you can see Jon’s footprints. *
I’m extremely pleased. I have worked and hoped and mowed for hours for this outcome. However I realize not everyone shares my fixation with productive grass pasture.
Last fall I allowed myself to brag, telling Betty happily, “I think I may have eradicated almost all the goldenrod!”
Betty’s brows contracted. “But I like goldenrod!” (The fields crammed with yellow flowers are lovely in August.)
Luckily, just over the stone wall she has another field in which the goldenrod remains knee-deep.
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* Apologies for the smudge in the center of the current photos. It appears that damp got into our old camera and mold has grown inside the lens. The camera has had such a hard life in the back pocket of my coveralls for the last three years, it barely operates at all. I’ll have to do something about it soon.