A Day on the Tractor

Photo by RGR G. on Pexels.com

A few times each year I mow the pastures. I do not mow for hay, but to control weeds. I mow the weeds down a few times each year. I was late in getting the end of summer/fall mowing done when needed. Reason I was late, I was helping my daughter and her family as we welcomed triplets into our family.

Actually since March, things have been put aside as we were host to out of state family members and assisting my daughter’s family with preparations for the birth of triplets.

After six weeks of living with my daughter and her family, I am glad to be home. We get along great. But each household does things their own way. Learning and doing things differently, plus helping take care of newborns – this Granny was ready for the farm.

What better way to get centered than working from a tractor. The tractor is noisy (I use ear protection), and nothing is heard above the tractor. The consistent mowing back and forth, can allow the mind to relax and think about nothing. Unlike driving on the road, there are no other vehicles around, no streets signs to look for, just you the tractor and the field.

As I mowed I evaluated my pasture. There are not as many weeds as there was five years ago. The sheep grazing on the weeds has thinned the number of species that grow. The weeds I was mowing were annuals, but they have fibers on them that irritate the skin and eyes. These plants irritate my skin. Sheep will eat the seedlings, but once the plant reaches 6 inches in height, the plant is too tough to be palatable to the sheep.

The grass was filling in the bare areas and increasing in density. A nice thing about sheep is they fertilize as they walk. They move over the entire pasture areas. Unlike horses and cattle, the manure does not form a pile that the grass does not grow through.

Pleased with my pasture and the progress from being a field that was over grazed and majority was numerous types of weeds to a pasture that is more grass than weeds.

I could spray a herbicide every year and be rid of weeds in two or three years. But the chemicals would be in the ground. I live on a slope where the watersheds into my pond and ponds in the area. Some of those ponds have fish. I feel mowing and caring for the land without herbicides is better for the overall ecosystem in my area. The neighbors around use herbicides. I lost a goat to herbicides last year. Goat was on their property, not the owners fault.

Herbicides would kill some of the vegetation my sheep graze on, such as clover. In the late winter and early spring, the clover starts to grow until May. The early weeds from seeds blown onto the pasture, sprout providing feed for the sheep. Sheep like eating weeds and brush more than just grass.

The peace of sitting in the tractor for a day, going back and forth mowing is one relaxing part of my occupation of being a sheep farmer.


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