My somewhat radical plan for today is to go back to the Lucerne Reserve for the morning, then take the flock into Old Cabin, which is actually part of the Basin Grazing Area for the afternoon, then out via Waterfall Gully Reserve and back to the White Gum Grazing Area. The plan is radical in that I don't normally graze into a different Grazing Area. However, Old Cabin Paddock is the "bottom" of the Basin GA, and hence undergrazed compared to the rest of the Basin. So I thought I'd use it in a shepherding circuit both to even up the grazing pressure in the Basin, and also to spell the sheep from straight lucerne for the day. Finishing off with a nice uphill graze through the biodiverse native pasture in Waterfall Gully seems like a good idea. I might note here that my use of "full day" and "half day" grazing circuits differs substantially from the way French alpine herders use the terms. There, the sheep are confined overnight, away from predators and safe from roaming across common areas into someone else's patch. So a full day for them has to start at dawn and end at dusk to get in the grazing time they need. Because we don't have any serious predators in Tasmania (rustlers would be about the worst threat), and because my property is fully fenced, I don't need to confine the animals at night. They are free to graze until dark, and to start again at first light. So, by the time I get to them at 9 or 9:30, they've had at least one meal, a rumination/rest period, and possibly are starting on a second 2-hour or so stint of grazing. Hence, my "half days" are really only one good meal, and my "full days" cover 2 or 2.5 meals. My system has evolved over the last 3 years to work within my personal constraints--since I'm "it" for everything on the farm and yarn business, I'm not free to start at 6 and not get home until dark. And I can't go shepherding everyday. The compromise I've settled on gives the sheep 5 of 6 well-designed, diverse meals a week, to complement what they get through their own choice of grazing. The other part of the equation is allowing the flock free access through several paddocks in each Grazing Area--the gates between all those paddocks are open for them to travel through. So although the diversity isn't great in the GAs, as the sheep learn where different plants are, they are free to seek them out. In another post I'll get into the differences between what I do and rotational grazing.
END OF DAY NOTES: Well, spectacularly not according to plan--I spotted a flystruck sheep when we were crossing the flat at the top, and just headed the whole flock down the hill to the woolshed, to treat the one and jet everybody. The stuff I use to prevent flystrike is an organically approved compound called Extinosad--a fly nerve poison derived from soil bacteria. It's effective for 6-8 weeks from application, and we are just at the end of 6 weeks, so it's time. I was hoping the flies would be gone by now, but the long warm autumn has kept the little beasties flying and, now, laying eggs. It was a long day--the sheep didn't want to run the jetting race, for some reason--maybe because by the time I got everything set up it was time for mid-day rest, not being pushed (or drawn) through the shed. And I ran out of goop and had to make a trip to Oatlands. Then I had a flystruck ram as well--much trickier to treat, and when I was FINALLY ready to jet the rams, I ran out of fuel on the pump for the jetting race! Just one of those days. So, expect to see the same Full Day in the Lucerne Reserve and Old Cabin Paddock next Monday, when I'll try again. Oh, and no rain after all--just a couple of spits. A blessing, actually, as the Extinosad needs to dry off to be effective. Some times it's better to be lucky than good ;-)