Last night and today it has been raining. Much needed rain as the pastures are short, tan, dry grass. I have had my sheep in pens feeding hay since last month not wanting to over graze the dry grass, waiting for the rain.
Overgrazing the short dry grass will only damage my pastures. I have worked hard to build up the grass in order to graze more sheep. When we first purchased and moved to our little farm, the pasture was mostly weeds, from having been overgrazed. There was more bare dirt than green.
We first raised horses, then we sold the horses and I became a sheep farmer. The sheep were happy to eat the weeds and the little grass the pasture grew. With careful management of not overgrazing and the natural fertilizer sheep spread and them eating the weeds before the weeds produced seeds, my pasture has improved. There is now more grass than weeds, and the bare areas of dirt have almost disappeared.
My sheep pens are on a hillside with the pasture below and mostly flat with very little slope. The rainfall from the sheep pens moves down hill becoming a manure tea before reaching the pasture. The past few years, there has developed a much darker green color of the grass near the sheep pens than the grass at the back of the field. The placement of pens and natural water shed is helpful in managing the resources on your farm. The natural watershed fertilization helps my pasture. Having the sheep pens on the hillside is beneficial for the sheep, as the pens drain faster and dry up quicker helping with sheep not getting footrot.
When I clean out my sheep pens, I compost or pile the manure for at least thirty days, usually a couple of months or more, before I spread it on the sheep pasture. The thirty days helps to combat internal parasites, so I am not infecting my pastures with fresh manure. I also use the composted sheep pen manure for my garden and flower beds.
This little bit of rain will not break the drought, only give the grass a breath of life. We will need more rain in order to break the drought. I will not put my sheep on the pasture until next spring. The grass has been stressed with the drought, the grass needs time to rebuild and grow before I put sheep on to graze.
As a sheep farmer we do more than manage sheep, we manage our resources and a main resource is our pastures. Protecting the pastures from overgrazing, and helping the pasture to grow better feed for the sheep is a part of being a sheep farmer.
I am managing my pasture for next spring, for the ewes and lambs to graze.