As you may have gathered from the photos on facebook last week, the sheep have arrived!
Each year we welcome a flock of sheep onto the ranch for a couple of winter months. It’s a lovely symbiotic relationship, and a perfect representation of the integrated way we farm. With the assistance of the sheep, we are able to control the flourishing grasses and cover crops, while gaining additional fertilization from the sheep, and we don’t need to rely on tractors which would compact the wet soil and burn a lot of fuel. In turn, our neighbor, whom the sheep belong to, is able to rejuvenate his pastures while the sheep are contentedly grazing here.
We enclose the flock with an electric fence that we are able to move as the sheep progress through the orchards and vineyards. Sheep, quite sensibly, prefer the tender new growth on the ground to tough olive leaves and bark. In fact, we are able to use that preference as a barometer—when the sheep turn their attentions to our olive trees; it’s time for them to be rotated to a fresh space with more tempting fare.
This year, we are using the sheep only in the vineyards. Rather than the 200 that we have had in years past, we have a sweet little flock of 20 ewes and lambs—among them is a set of pink-eared, bleating triplets! What a treat it is to happen upon these wooly guests while rambling the ranch; our joy in their presence and gratitude for their assistance are heart-felt, indeed.