After the fog lifted this morning, the dogs and I took a run with the Polaris up the hill. It's still very soggy and muddy, and I nearly got the Polaris bogged in an innocent-looking, but nefarious, stretch. One lovely benefit of the run, though, was seeing the flock putting themselves back into Waterfall Gully, grazing into an easterly breeze.
We'll try to go down Brian's Track (named after Brian Fish, who discovered the old track when he was bulldozing gorse for me several years ago), and down the old highway. Assuming the flock is where I'm expecting them, at the southwest end of the White Gum Grazing Area. There are several pockets of long grass in among the gorse cover that I'd like to let the flock graze.
Sunshine makes all the difference. Today's forecast was much the same as last Monday's, but this was a much more pleasant circuit. As you might guess from my roundabout track to the sheep this morning, I had a lovely idea for a completely different circuit than the one we did. The sheep foiled me by placing themselves nearly at the gate into the highway reserve, so off we went, to repeat last week's trek.
Another 1 and ½ inches of rain this week has left us all quite soggy, until last night, that is, when a -4C (25F) frost put an ice coating on all that wet ground. The sun is shining, but the thermometer has not yet thawed past freezing and there is a nasty "lazy" wind blowing (too lazy to go around you, so it goes right through!).
Ok, this is one of the many cultural challenges I didn't even know I was facing when I moved to Australia: first, having a Queen at all; second, not being a republic (really??), and third, the liberties that are taken with the Queen's Birthday holiday, which is on a different day in almost every state, none of which correspond to her real birthday on April 21.
The sheep are now in the Racecourse Grazing area, and the next few days are forecast to bring heavy rain--as much as 60 mm (2 and ½ inches) if we're lucky. But as you know, I wimp out of shepherding when it's really awful weather, so I'd like to give the flock something a bit special today.
Another white frost today. I wish I were going shepherding, as it promises to be as nice as yesterday. Instead, I'm heading up to Campbell Town in my role of second assistant wool steward to help tally scores and arrange fleeces. The C'Town Show is the longest continually running agricultural show in the southern hemisphere, and is great fun. The Show runs tomorrow and Saturday, and is well worth a visit.
I love a white frost. It transforms everyday small beauties into things magical. A fence line becomes the frame for a tapestry of abandoned cobwebs. Old Man Willow no longer looks sad, but rather regal in his hoarfrost coat. To add to the frosty beauty of the morning, my pair of swans (well, I like to think they are the ones who've nested on Swan Lake before) were visiting Old Man Willow's water hole.
I'm expecting to find the flock about where they were on Monday, and then with the northwest wind to graze them into the Back Gully Reserve, one of the biodiverse areas. There's quite a lot of gorse in the gully itself, and so far the sheep haven't shown their usual winter interest in gorse as a forage.
Assuming the NW winds are keeping the sheep towards the western end of the property, I'm planning to take them on a repeat of yesterday, into the Highway Reserve from the southwest end. This time I'll see if I can get them to graze down the hill to the west, before heading north into the tricky gully at the bottom.
The good news is we had 14 mm (just over ½ inch) of rain over the weekend, in a series of wild storms and gale force winds. The ground is covered with tiny moths flying below the radar--their first chance for the right hatching conditions all year, I suspect. Today the forecast is for 50 kph winds, so I think I will let the wet sheep hang out wherever they darn please, and give myself a break from trying to convince them they WANT to go into (or even with) that wind. I skipped Saturday's half day as well, mostly because I was still worn out from Thursday's marathon. You see how easy it is to slide into laziness and complacency with this shepherding business? Good thing I have all of you to keep me honest! I really will do a circuit on Wednesday--probably back to the Highway Reserve for half a day, to let them enjoy this:
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.
Well, though on Saturday I promised you a circuit in a new area, I lied. Not lied, exactly, just didn't think it all the way through. I'm betting the sheep will still be on the eastern end of the White Gum Grazing Area and therefore close to the Lucerne Reserve. Might as well have another bite at beating the bugs to the lucerne crop!
It continues terribly dry, though a bit of rain is forecast for Thursday, so I decided to do my full-day shepherd a day early and keep Thursday for a (hopefully!) rainy day of finishing my quarterly taxes. The bugs are gaining on the sheep in the lucerne (for those who missed earlier posts on this, I have aphids/mites turning my beautiful stand of lush green lucerne (alfalfa) into yellow standing hay).
The Lucerne Reserve is an area encompassing about 50 acres of monoculture lucerne, with grass and weeds, and an upper area of predominantly native pasture. Most of the fences shown on the map are no longer there-I took them down last year to allow free access from the sheltered hill area (native) to the lush feed of the lucerne flat. My plan is to give the flock the morning in the lucerne, then head up the hill into the native pasture for the afternoon.