Learning to be Shepherds
We didn't really know what we were getting into when we bought two Shropshire ewes and arranged to have them delivered to the farm. We were hopeful they could help us move to a regenerative agriculture model on our farm, and we have some animal experience. Everything else we figured we would learn as we went.
Regenerative agriculture is a farming philosophy that focuses on increasing biodiversity, enriching soils, improving watersheds, and enhancing ecosystems. In short, it is the belief that farms can improve the environments they are in, rather than degrade them. So how do the sheep fit it?
Shropshire sheep have successfully been used in European Christmas tree farms for grass and weed control. On some farms, they replace carbon-fueled mowers and herbicides. As they graze, their manure also returns nutrients to the soil. Shropshire sheep in particular are useful because they are very fussy eaters and won't eat Christmas trees.
Our two ewes, Pris and Pru, had a successful first summer grazing in their test plot. Pris and Pru have learned to move from their stall (at night) to different tree pastures. And they've only jumped over their fence once! They've been joined by Wilbur the ram, and with any luck we'll have to learn the next part of shepherding in spring when they lamb.