The old ewes are doing a good job cleaning up an old neglected farm pasture. First, I divided the pasture into seven lots that I estimated the 88 head could eat each lot down in about seven days. They start with mature grass that is knee-high to crouch-high and eat it down to the top of the instep on my work boot. Then the good hired help I have this year — a 17-year-old homeschooled boy/man — and I have spent 125 man hours cutting, gathering and then burning the trees and treating the stumps of thorny locust trees and brush out of each lot after the sheep have eaten the grass down and I have moved them to the next lot. This has been a lot of work, and I still have one lot yet to go.
Back at home, the two lamb groups started back on the summer annual field for the second grazing after 53 days of rest and rain. Unfortunately, I have to report that the cowpeas and turnips did not come up like I had hoped for after I got some rain. But the pearl millet, red clover and chicory have grown very well, and the lambs are gaining weight as they go through it.
I belong to the Green Hills Farm Project in Missouri, and in the middle of September, Greg Judy, who is also a member, had a pasture walk on his farm. I have known Greg for a long time and talk to him a lot. This year, he told me about keeping his hair sheep in with a single electrified wire at 10 inches. I know, my mouth fell open, too. “No way,” I said.
So, when he said he was having a pasture walk, I said, “I’m coming.” Well, the 4.5 hours, 268-mile one-way trip was very well worth it. There are many things that go into making this work, but it does work. Greg told the group that the single strand electrified wire also held in 22 steers weighing 600 pounds one time when they got in with the sheep. I walked over the fence very easily. One trick is: Don’t let the sheep get hungry and also leave a high residual.
Gregg Brann is having a pasture walk Oct. 18 in Adolphus, Kentucky, and that is always a very good learning pasture walk. The Heart of America Grazing Conference with keynote speaker Jim Gerrish is Oct. 29-30 in Burlington, Kentucky. On Nov. 1, there is a pasture walk with Dr. Gerrish on a farm close to Burlington. A wise man once told me that education was expensive, but stupidity costs more.