A gentle walk through White Gum Wood

After our wild weather (and nearly an inch of rain, calloo, callay!)  I thought today I might just take the flock through the middle section of White Gum Grazing Area, the paddock I call White Gum Wood.  We'll concentrate on the downhill side of the paddock, and time permitting, may poke our noses into the southwestern end of the Highway Reserve.  The flock has stayed at the eastern end of White Gum Grazing Area up till now, partly because of the persistent easterly winds, and partly because the feed there is pretty good.  Now I think it's time to encourage them to explore the rest of the Grazing Area.  It's supposed to be a reasonable day, though chilly and breezy.  After our long, warm, mild, still autumn, this abrupt return to Tasmanian early winter is a bit of a shock!

END OF THE DAY NOTES:  Ahem.  Well, I was right that it's time to encourage them to explore the rest of the Grazing Area--they were on it!  A long hike out, but a lovely short circuit.  The sheep look good--no ill effects that I could see from the wild weather.  The little flystruck one is fine, and the rest looked all shiny and clean with the rain.  I've decided to work the Highway Reserve differently this year.  Rather than try to go from one end to the other on a circuit, I'm going to try working both ends toward the middle:  a rank gully, difficult to pass through.  I think over time, we'll forge a set of sheep paths through the gorse and long grass in the very  bottom of the gully.  The Highway Reserve is under a Vegetation Management Agreement with the state of Tasmania, limiting the times of year and the stocking rates I can have.  While this has certainly benefited the native plants in the Reserve, it's let the gorse become denser than is useful.  Once the VMA ends next year I will probably make more frequent short excursions into the Highway Reserve to try to reduce the gorse level through grazing.  The short, once-over-lightly shepherding circuits don't have a lot of impact on the natives, but at the times of year the sheep are interested in gorse, they do seem to make some headway in pruning it back.

May 4, 2016
May 4, 2016
P1: White Gums: remnant of pre-European settlement (200 years) vintage, now slowly dying of old age. Many of the new trees I've planted are meant to be replacements. No sheep in sight. I think they beat me to the SW end of the Grazing Area.

P1: White Gums: remnant of pre-European settlement (200 years) vintage, now slowly dying of old age. Many of the new trees I've planted are meant to be replacements. No sheep in sight. I think they beat me to the SW end of the Grazing Area.

P2: As I thought. Nearly as far as it's possible to get from the house. Sheep are showing what the French shepherds call forward bias: grazing steadily in their chosen direction. They haven't seen us: we snuck around to the north of them. This is the direction I want to go, so I'm trying hard not to startle them.

P2: As I thought. Nearly as far as it's possible to get from the house. Sheep are showing what the French shepherds call forward bias: grazing steadily in their chosen direction. They haven't seen us: we snuck around to the north of them. This is the direction I want to go, so I'm trying hard not to startle them.

P3: the back end of the flock, just finishing their mid-morning rumination. Our timing is perfect. Heading to the Highway Reserve now.

P3: the back end of the flock, just finishing their mid-morning rumination. Our timing is perfect. Heading to the Highway Reserve now.

P4: Leo, my mechanically-minded 2 year old. If sheep had Leggos, he'd be in it in a heartbeat. The red marker on his face is just so I can find named sheep more easily. I've decided it looks too much like blood, so I'm switching to another colour. Leo LOVES the Polaris Ranger, especially the wheels, which is a bit of a worry. He's not a bottle lamb, he just likes me. He'll pull on my pack straps or my shoelaces, or folds of my trousers to get my attention.

P4: Leo, my mechanically-minded 2 year old. If sheep had Leggos, he'd be in it in a heartbeat. The red marker on his face is just so I can find named sheep more easily. I've decided it looks too much like blood, so I'm switching to another colour. Leo LOVES the Polaris Ranger, especially the wheels, which is a bit of a worry. He's not a bottle lamb, he just likes me. He'll pull on my pack straps or my shoelaces, or folds of my trousers to get my attention.

P5: In the Highway Reserve, grazing into the wind. They need some persuasion to go all the way down the hill and into the gully, but once there were delighted with the fresh, lush forage.

P5: In the Highway Reserve, grazing into the wind. They need some persuasion to go all the way down the hill and into the gully, but once there were delighted with the fresh, lush forage.

P6: Getting stuck into the diversity down in the gully. The gorse bushes are just coming into flower, and there was a bit of blossom-nibbling. Mostly, though, they seemed interested in the grass.

P6: Getting stuck into the diversity down in the gully. The gorse bushes are just coming into flower, and there was a bit of blossom-nibbling. Mostly, though, they seemed interested in the grass.

P7: They really want to swing back around into the wind and uphill (to the left), so now I'm going to let them.

P7: They really want to swing back around into the wind and uphill (to the left), so now I'm going to let them.

P8: They are really enjoying this fresh, if rather dense, stand of grass.

P8: They are really enjoying this fresh, if rather dense, stand of grass.

P9: I don't know how well you can see it, but a large group has just discovered the wattles growing along the fence and are reaching to browse the branches.

P9: I don't know how well you can see it, but a large group has just discovered the wattles growing along the fence and are reaching to browse the branches.

P10: The rest of the mob heading back up the hill we just came down. We'll leave them to it and head home.

P10: The rest of the mob heading back up the hill we just came down. We'll leave them to it and head home.