White Gum Grazing Area and Old Highway

July 3, 2016
July 3, 2016

Over the weekend, snow was forecast for today, which is my usual full shepherding day, so I hatched a plan to take advantage of the somewhat nicer weather Sunday. (Today's forecast is now for heavy rain-we might get as much as another inch, so my decision was definitely the right one!)   When we found them, the flock was resting happily in White Gum Wood, a slightly tongue-in-cheek name for the remnant white gum grove in the middle of the grazing area of the same name.  We tried to get them moving steadily to graze downhill in a nice pocket of forage, but they really didn't want to go.  By the time we got them started, they weren't much interested in grazing.  Eventually, some of my special kids noticed me near the bottom of the hill and came across the streamlet to see what I was up to, and the rest followed.  We grazed the downhill side of White Gum Wood--the "bottoms", where there is quite good forage in patches.  While they were exploring what I call "the Wedge"--a triangular patch between the tree reserve to the north and the highway reserve to the west, the dogs and I stopped for lunch, and were entertained by a wedge-tailed eagle taking advantage of the strong winds to soar over us.  The wind came up very strongly just them--blowing 50 kph, I'd say.  (When I got home, my sheets had been blown nearly off the line--which takes some heavy gusts!)  After lunch, the sheep took themselves across the big creek (they really are getting much better at crossing soggy ground) and up to the southern gate of the Highway Reserve.  Then, ahem, we made 3 passes, or maybe it was 4, trying to get onto the old highway.  The flock kept bypassing me at the entrance and heading back up the hill.  We finally got them onto the highway, though nobody was very happy at that point.  Once there, they put their heads down and had a wonderful browse--decimated a number of broom plants, jumped for low wattle branches, climbed up steep banks to get to the she-oaks and blackwoods, and generally had a whale of a time.  By the time we finally got to the highway, it was after 2, so I didn't let them linger, as I like to head home no later than about 3.  Still, they got a lot of browsing in during that hour!  I've attached a longer video (about 12 minutes) that I put together over the day.  I've decided to make one of these edited videos just once a month hereafter, as they are a lot of work at the end of a long day.  I'll do them the first full-day shepherd of each month, and I'm hoping they will provide a seasonal record, where we can all watch the changes in the landscape and the flock as time goes by.

P1: Heading lickety-split down the first part of the hill, where I had hoped they would be grazing peacefully. I think I’m probably trying for too much precision in getting them to graze down smallish patches.

P1: Heading lickety-split down the first part of the hill, where I had hoped they would be grazing peacefully. I think I’m probably trying for too much precision in getting them to graze down smallish patches.

P2: Into the top of the Highway Reserve. I thought Table Mountain looked rather elegant with the big cloudy sky to set it off

P2: Into the top of the Highway Reserve. I thought Table Mountain looked rather elegant with the big cloudy sky to set it off

P3: Aha. I thought I had a leak somewhere in my watering system–that’s the float on the ground, which means the lever arm that would normally be held up, shutting the valve, is down and allowing the water to flow out continuously. Jeez it was cold, up to my elbows in the water! I’m glad to have the mystery solved–with 35 or so troughs on the property, it can be quite a job to find a leak.

P3: Aha. I thought I had a leak somewhere in my watering system–that’s the float on the ground, which means the lever arm that would normally be held up, shutting the valve, is down and allowing the water to flow out continuously. Jeez it was cold, up to my elbows in the water! I’m glad to have the mystery solved–with 35 or so troughs on the property, it can be quite a job to find a leak.

P4: A lovely little native heather on the west-facing hill in the highway reserve.

P4: A lovely little native heather on the west-facing hill in the highway reserve.

P5:  A decimated broom plant on the edge of the old highway. They pretty much all look like this now. The sheep are eating gorse as well, but not with the same enthusiasm–this is about the only stand of broom on the property, so maybe it’s like going to a fancy French restaurant, instead of the usual home-cooking.

P5:  A decimated broom plant on the edge of the old highway. They pretty much all look like this now. The sheep are eating gorse as well, but not with the same enthusiasm–this is about the only stand of broom on the property, so maybe it’s like going to a fancy French restaurant, instead of the usual home-cooking.

P6: Climbing up into the she-oak grove.

P6: Climbing up into the she-oak grove.