It has been a busy July full of new arrivals, (and no I don't mean babies) interesting weather and learning curves on grass management and sheep.
In the above picture is our new friend. Turns out she is quite keen to herd sheep and chickens and is currently learning to fit in with her new routine and her new housemates. I don't think that our Border Collies are too uncomfortble with the new dog in the house. There have been a few squabbles about whose bone is whose and also who gets to sleep on whose feet in the living room, other than that they are currently having an afternoon snooze in the calm, coolness of a Sunday afternoon in July.
The new method of rapid, rotational grazing in smaller area of ground using more sheep has worked amazingly well during the dry, hot weather. An area of land where we had been able to keep 100 sheep for 120 days last year, we have had 220 sheep on grass for 100 days. So almost double the production from the same grass no assistance from anything other than sheep eating grass. This year also included 2 exceptionally warm periods in our grazing time when grass growth rates are halted. Not even any supplements from grain or hay required to keep the sheep in condition.
The increase in insect life digesting all the manure left behind by the sheep has been phenomenal so after about 2 weeks there is no manure left on the surface. This means that improvement of soil through grazing leads to more insect life, therefore more soil life which brings more bird life and other wildlife onto a property. An increase in organic matter in soil from manure also slows down water run-off into the river system as soil with high organic matter is more absorbent.
Where poor soil is found on the farm then the manure takes longer to degrade and in fact in some places is still visible even now that we have taken the sheep away. Fortunately this is not found in many places on this farm and with some hard work and good management it should improve year on year.
The photo above shows that even with no rainfall the grass will regrow if the soil has good capacity to hold moisture from higher organic matter.
At the market the other day in Riberac I was joined on my box by a dragonfly. I felt very honored that it had chosen me to sit with. The lavender in our garden has provided a much needed source of food for many insects. And I am happy to say that our Campsis Grandiflora hosts quite a swarm of bees. I have noticed an increase in bird life around our house this year, and saw a Hoopoe for the first time in our garden. As they say every little thing you can do can create a little magic in your garden and local environment.
Have a lovely cooler week see you soon
I am farming sheep and goats on the Dordogne/Gironde border with my husband and our 3 children. We have an on farm butchery and sell our meat direct to the public via the markets and delivery points in our local area