......as we move beyond the autumn equinox and gradually see plant life dying back, its a good time to reflect on how the new grazing system has worked so far... I haven't 'measured anything in terms of quantities, growth etc, but from my own and various others observations the main outcomes have been that the grass has grown to a longer length, and with more species of herbage/flowers in it. In addition the sheep and cows have looked and seemed generally fitter, healthier and calmer. Sorting and selling lambs earlier this week, one thing that struck me was how similar sized (a good size) they were. Usually there would be a handful of smaller, weaker lambs at this time of year) Less positive observations are that the sheep/lambs still required dosing with chemicals to treat internal parasites, (though the cows needed none). In addition, some of the sheep have started jumping over dry stone walls to move into the next field in the rotation. Disability caused by injury has also meant I haven't been able to maintain managing the grazing system over the last month or so, meaning the sheep have had access to 4 different fields at the same time.
So, the plan for the 'winter' (pagan/farming winter..when the grass stops growing ...ie from now), is to continue to move the sheep weekly, but to use an electric fence to back up the wall boundaries. About 30% of the land cant be used over the winter (due to fast flowing becks), and this increases to 60% in snow (deep drifts). This still leaves 3-4 separate fields though, with less sheep (the lambs have been sold now) and I will be using the cows on some of the land alongside the sheep as a 'flerd' Over all the results of the new system feel very encouraging and exciting and next summer (after lambing) I will start the new growing season by recording some specific measurements/species of plant/health of animals etc, to be continued throughout the year.