We have a small flock of Shetland ewes at Bear Swamp Orchard, we are seeing how they do as grass-eaters and tree-fertilizers. We are still in trial runs to see how sheep do in our orchard; six little sheep can't possibly eat all the grass on the property, but we should get an idea for the number of sheep we would need to do the job. We are rotationally grazing them through the pasture and rows of the orchard using moveable, solar-powered electric fencing - so far they are amazingly low maintenance. Who knew anyone could get fat eating nothing but grass?
We chose Shetland sheep since they are a hardy, self-reliant breed that gets by just fine eating grass without supplements. They are also small, which means that we can graze them around the standard sized trees without losing too much tree in the process. Shetlands are a fiber breed with really exceptional wool, sought after for centuries as wool to be worn against the skin, or for baby clothes. We have them shorn in March.
Sean, Stripey, and Dot with Henna (RIP, old girl) in the background.
Blondie with her hours-old lamb Gimble
Our current flock consists of Blondie and her 2-year old daughter Fifi, Stripy, Dot, and Sean, and Blondie’s son Gimble, born June 3rd 2011. They also have a guard llama named Fern, who carefully chases them back into the barn whenever she feels there is some threat.
Fern the guard llama coming to live with us.