If you’ve been reading my blog you may remember that around the end of May I wrote ‘Thank God for the Firies’ about the rather dramatic grass fire we had in our paddock.
Well the outcome was that a neighbour from up the road, let’s call him Sheep Man, knocked on our door the next morning ~ yes, the very next morning because the grapevine in the country is lightning fast ~ and offered his sheep to keep the grass down. And we now have sheep!
It’s taken longer than expected to get them here as Sheep Man had to erect an inner wire fence around our four-acre paddock boundary to protect the 200 trees, and as we’ve had a lot of rain, he hasn’t been able to do it as quickly as he hoped. However today, was the day! The weather was magnificent and they are in!
So we have 26 African Merinos, and very good looking sheep they are too! Apparently they are very docile and we won’t even notice them. That’s probably true because the paddock has lots of little hills and valleys and it won’t be that easy to see them. Sheep Man says it will take them a couple of days to find their camp, which will be either near the water troughs under the trees or on the very top of the paddock, but the very first thing they will do is check the boundaries to get to know the area.
When they arrived it took them some time to sort themselves out. They huddled together for about 30 minutes, until suddenly there was a leader and they took off! And as Sheep Man said, they went straight to the boundary and started walking around it. Merinos are excellent foragers and very adaptable. Because they love clover they’ll find that first, usually where tyre tracks have pushed down the long grass, and only then will they start eating out the rest of the paddock. By the picture above you can see they have a big job ahead of them!
Our little flock are about 2 years old, and as most of you would know, Merinos are bred predominantly for their wool, which is very fine and soft. Sheep Man has about 800 head spread around the area, and he and his father do all the shearing themselves every year about late November, which in Australia, is coming into summer. He will be checking on them every few days, and as there won’t be any lambs ~ he keeps those on his property to protect them from dogs ~ it will be an easy job. And it will be nice for us as well to not only learn more about sheep, but to have someone drop in a couple of times a week.
So now it’s all done! I’ve painted a ‘sheep’ sign for the gate, and hubby and I are both very happy to have a ‘living’ paddock on our property again. Apart from kangaroos, the last time we had animals on a property was twenty ago when we lived on acres in Sydney and our paddock was used by the local riding school to rest their horses.
When Sheep Man was finally satisfied that the herd was happy, he hopped into his truck and with a thumbs up and a wink, left us with these parting words, “It’ll look like a park in here next year!” … and I believe it will!
A Next Morning P.S. ~ I think I’m turning into a sheep watcher! 🙂
Inara Hawley © 2013