Spring and Summer visitors will have enjoyed our wildflower meadows in full bloom, and no doubt many of you think that because they are wild that the meadows just look after themselves. That isn’t quite true! The conservation of the meadows takes management with a light touch, and that process starts each November with sheep.
We harvest our meadows very late in the summer to ensure that the seed heads from the flowers have dropped, the meadows are then grazed in winter and that helps the reseeding process. The sheep eat, poop and tread in the seeds for us – they are the perfect size of the job – cows would be too heavy footed and would churn up the ground and their waste is too copious and too nitrogen rich for the task – wildflower meadows don’t need too much fertiliser, they thrive in poor soil.
We need more sheep than our own mini flock to do this job, so during the winter months we have what’s known as ‘keep sheep’ – quite simply, we keep other people’s sheep on our land – they benefit from our pasture, and we get our meadows maintained in the process.
At the moment we have 20 ewes grazing the Poor Field, last month they had a ram in with them for mating – or tupping as it’s known. Ewes are only in season once a year and tupping usually begins in November and means lambs will be born 145 days after pregnancy occurs – just in time for spring. Our keep sheep will be moved from our farm before they get to lambing time but we’re happy to know that our species rich pasture has kept the pregnant ewes happy and healthy while they are here!
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