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What’s happen’ on the farm?

Written by: Bobbie
March 25, 2014


Or the Joy of Owning Sheep & Goats

Rye Grass for the Goats

Our local Extension Agent, Jed Dillard, has been urging me to overseed pastures for several years. I finally listened and gave it a try last November. It has been a cool and wet time since spreading the seed but I did exactly what he said. I waited until the temperature cooled, didn’t till the ground and spread the seed just before a good rain. Guess what? It worked!

We talked several times about what to do. While I didn’t get to attend Jed’s session on winter forages last fall, friends did. Their motivation encouraged me to give it a try. Plus they loaned us their seed spreader. We did watch the weather guru’s predictions and got the seed spread just before a hardy rainfall. Then we waited and everyday we scoured the ground. Sure enough up it came, not tall but true and steady. Next year I may even try a little extra organic fertilizer. The natural stuff we use, goat berries, just wasn’t enough.

They all enjoy the nice green pasture. The fun part was that each morning we walked a couple of goat groups over to the winter grass fields and turned them loose for a few hours. After about day three, they waited by the gate of their overnight digs and headed straight, well as straight as goat go, to their assigned pasture. Sure beats lugging hay and the pastures are still green and growing. The goats thank you.

Momma Frederica and her twins enjoy a snuggle together in the rye grass field. Lots of leaves are dropping. Spring is our Fall here in Florida. The oak trees are shedding last year’s foliage and producing this year’s pollen at the same time. Yucky yellow stuff everywhere. Car washing businesses are doing great.

Now the Sheep and the Clover

That is another story. Sheep are not a smart as goats. Their defense mechanism – Jump back and run. “Oh you want to feed me. I’ll keep a wary eye on you and sneak up close but don’t move a muscle because I do not trust you. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been doing this same routine for my whole life, I still don’t trust you.”¬† And with this in mind, I’ll tell a story on myself.

Lulu the trouble makerWe’ve had clover growing in a section of the driveway for six, seven or eight years. I don’t really remember when we threw it out there but during the winter and spring it is always pretty, green and nutritious. it reseeds each year as long as we don’t mow it too soon. Anyway last¬† fall I decided to spend some exorbitant amount of money and spread a little more around. Fred dutifully used the borrowed seed spreader and proceeded to my selected locations. One was in a easement outside the sheep field. We could open the gate and let them wander as they pleased since it was completely enclosed. The other spot was an extension of the driveway location that was already growing. Not completely enclosed. You can see where this story is going right?

Off and on over the years I have let the sheep out of their pasture to graze on the clover. Their habit was to run to the clover spot and munch away. I’d hang around in the “Gator” (our ATV) to keep an eye on them. When they got tired and thirsty they would amble back to their familiar location or if I was in a hurry to move them, I’d shake a feed bucket and they’d all come with me. What a good shepherd I am. Lately Rissa, daughter-in-law, grand-baby Mimi and I have been sharing the pleasure. Sometimes alone and sometimes together. But one day, Fred was gone on an errand, Rissa and Mimi were off with dad Jim to Disney World and I decided to let the sheep have their treat.

The flock seemed a little restless and I was having to wave them back toward their designated clover patch several times. One in particular, Lulu, is ornerier than the others. So I decide it was time for them to get back to their home field. Well Lulu decided to break away. Guess who all followed. Down the driveway they went and onto Barnes Road looking for greener pastures. Across the road to one neighbor, then left to another spot and then back past our driveway to the plush planted field next door.

Now on our road there is a fellow that has declared himself the official Neighborhood Watch guy but he was no where to be seen. So after several panicked attempts to lure them back home and no one in sight to help, I called 911. Now our sheriff’s office is used to these type of calls. “Help, all my (fill in the livestock) are running loose.” Not all from me, of course. It could be someones cows, pigs, llamas, ostrich or even that other big bird that was popular for a while, the emu. Meanwhile a van with folks I knew, luckily for me, were coming down Barnes Road. They spotted me frantically trying to gather 30 meandering sheep back to their own home. Johnny and Mae stopped their van and offered to help. “Oh please do.” I cried and I really was on the verge of tears.

Now here is the picture. They are both in their high 60’s, somewhat overweight, Mae recently had a heart attack, she and Johnny both use a cane. However, they came to my rescue. Mae drove the van to an angle in the field, Johnny waving his cane steered the group out of the field and I’m shaking feed buckets luring the back to the driveway. Well it worked and back to the pasture they went. The sheriff, two cruisers, arrived just as we corralled the last stubborn five. They took so long because our every watchful neighbor (except when I needed him) had stopped them to expound on my lack of skills as a caring shepherd. Glad the house wasn’t on fire!

After all had settled, I did feel an obligation to call the folks where the lovely green crop was flourishing to let them know about the sheep raiding their field and that I would take care of any damages. The response was “Oh, that is just cover crop. They can graze on it anytime. We’ll be plowing it under soon.”

Farm tidbit – per Wikipedia – A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to manage soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem. – In this case, the sheep count as wildlife and they now have lost their clover grazing privileges.

So it is on a day at Golden Acres Ranch.