As I write this today, my “nursery flock” has been given a very important task to complete – mow the berms of the driveway. With three adult sheep plus five lambs, and one adult goat and four goatlings, this should only take two or three days. There are only about 12-18 inches on each side between the driveway and the fences, and it’s about 100 feet long. Doesn’t seem like a big enough area to even bother putting them in, and I’ll still have to do some trimming of the greenery that they didn’t eat (mostly the stemmy, overgrown grasses, and a bit of stinging nettle). What’s the point, then?
For one, it’s super easy for me to block off this section of driveway with a 16’ cattle panel on each end. I clip the panel to the fence on each side and boom! Instant pasture! I just make sure to schedule “driveway eating day” on a day I know we’re not expecting any deliveries – it’s very confusing to the mail lady and other delivery services when there’s a cattle panel with orange flagging tape blocking their way! If I need to leave the farm for some reason, I can always cut through one of the yards. And it’s not an imperative that the driveway berms be eaten down quickly, so I can open up one of the pedestrian gates that you see in the pictures and lead the flock into one of those pastures. The top gate leads to a “regular” pasture, and the bottom gate goes into our front yard. We fenced in the yard for the dog to have a place to run around, but it’s a fairly large yard, and I really don’t like mowing, so it doubles as a pasture. The dog also has a “back yard,” so she always has outside access, even when there are sheep and goats in the front!
Today's view from my desk - sheep and goats doing the mowing!
Another reason I put them on the driveway? All grass is food! Don’t get me wrong, I do mow areas around the farm, but if it’s possible, I like to have the beasties do what they do best, and I’ll come in after them for any touch-up work that needs done. I don’t have close-mown pastures with nary a weed in sight. My farm is messy, overgrown, weedy, with honeysuckle and other “nuisance” flora. And the flock simply LOVE that stuff. It took a few years of grazing, but I discovered that sheep and goats can kill a thriving honeysuckle bush. You read that right! I thought nothing could kill honeysuckle, and was proven wrong. It just took time. That started my change in mindset about pastures – what the edible stuff should look like, and the footprint of the pasture itself. If an area has a good amount of grass and forage, and I can get fencing around it, it becomes a temporary pasture. I have enough of these areas (and a small enough flock) that I can rotate them through each area several times a year. And each year, I notice the greenery is a little more verdant, a little thicker, and the plants I don’t want growing there (poison hemlock, for example) are a little less noticeable. I’ll have to write about the corral/loafing area next to our barn sometime – from cow-trampled mud and noxious weeds to grassy sheep pasture!
Cattle panel across the driveway to create a temporary pasture
I know this system won’t work for everyone, but I encourage you to look at your land with new eyes – what can I temporarily fence in (with electric, netting, panels, etc) for my animals to graze and cut down on my time spent maintaining?
Have you turned a greenspace into a pasture (temporary or permanent)? Was it a success? I’d love to see what you did!