Palm Springs to Fresh Pasture

Tuesday we moved the lambs from one side of the ranch to the other. For the past week they’ve been grazing in “Palm Springs” (pasture, that is). There’s tons of good forage left: rye, kale, vetch and clover as well as all their favorite volunteer plants including mustard, prickly lettuce, and purslane. However, after months of waiting the CrustBuster no-till drill has arrived. That means it was time to move the sheep to new pastures so they can clean up the residual and volunteer grasses and forbs to prepare the ground for “crust busting” and seeding a warm season mix of millet, black eyed peas, cowpeas and sunflowers.

The two fields are about a 2.5 mile trek over the rangeland. The morning started with the crew divvying up roles and troubleshooting the route: who will get the gates, who will be on foot, who will take the ATV, who will be in the back of the flock moving them forward and who will be guiding at the sides. With horses saddled and a plan the crew started by gathering the sheep. The flock passed by the cattle corrals, through the oak forest, across the dry riverbed without incident. Then, about 2 miles in we hit the riparian area. The lambs couldn’t resist the delicious poison oak, coyote bush and willows. They scattered and it took many minutes and a lot of scrambling through brush, praying that it wasn’t poison oak, to get them back on track. They’re now happily ‘mowing’ the 94 paddocks there in preparation for seeding.

~Jess Maier