I was feeling it tonight. I thought it was burnout.
So I sat down and put pen to paper: I wrote down everything that has happened over the past 6 weeks.
Pulling the flock off pasture for a historic winter storm, working sheep solo for the first time, pulling lambs: one a success and one leaving me with nothing but sore muscles and an ear-tag with no owner. Building our first permanent infrastructure. Initiating spring’s intensive grazing program. W-A-I-T-I-N-G on edge for the remainder of the flock to lamb. Working to remain consistent in the business building side of my farm… and more.
Looking at that paper full of experiences I realized…
It’s not burnout, it’s growing pains.
The experiences of the past 6 weeks have been unmatched opportunities for growth.
As I correct my perspective, I shift to thankfulness. Thankful the Lord has brought me through each new and difficult experience.
I know more now than I did 6 weeks ago… and while it doesn’t eliminate the exhaustion, it does lift my spirits.
I’m sore, but I’m growing… and that growth is worth the exhaustion.
-the Shepherdess 🐑🌱
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”2 Cor. 12:8
“It’s not crazy, it’s being a shepherdess.”
7 words that set me free as I was rigging up electric fencing at 11pm the other night.
At the end of the day sheep are sheep. Not pigs, not cows, not chickens, not ducks. Sheep are sheep and they need a shepherd(ess).
When I made the decision to buy this flock I had already been managing it for several months.
When I became a shepherdess I did so with the understanding that these sheep will require more of me than any other animal I probably could have chosen.
If I were to retain any other expectation, I would quit.
As I remind myself of that commitment , frustration fades into a sense of duty. I am sure that time and experience will smooth out some of the bumps, but, by the grace of God, I am committed.
I wanted to quit rotational grazing my sheep this month.
There is no green grass, we have already made one pass through each paddock since the first frost, and the sheep are becoming more difficult to contain. While we are feeding hay, I assume their constant escape of the electric fencing is an instinctual drive to find more and better food.
Thanks to some encouragement from sister, and farm-partner in crime, I am continuing this rotational-grazing-sheep-thing over winter.
I realize that not everyone lives in a mild winter-climate like Texas, so barn and bedding are essential for many farms… but with average temps at just 40-50 degrees in my parts, I don’t feel like I have any excuse to pull the flock off pasture.
Here is why I am rotational grazing my sheep over winter:
I am rotational grazing my sheep for even manure distribution.
The flock puts off about 150lbs of manure per day. Having this spread across 30 acres instead of in a barn is worth the moves. Plus, I have NO machinery to scoop and redistribute deep bedding, were I to house the flock in a well-maintained barn. By continuing to rotational graze, the sheep are ammending for my lack of machinery and spreading their own manure across the pasture.
I am rotational grazing my sheep for Parasite Management.
The parasites that can plague sheep are dormant, but not absent, during winter. Paddocks still need rest time during winter for UV sanitation and parasite die off. By rotational grazing my sheep over winter, my pasture paddocks continue to receive 30-45 days of rest between grazing.
I am rotational grazing my sheep to avoid soil compaction.
When I wanted to pause rotational grazing over winter, I considered designating a 7-acre pasture to be my “winter pasture”. However, as I watched what happened when I left the flock in one spot during days and days of rain, I realized I’d end up with a mud pit by the end of winter. I know for a lot of climates there is no other option than to leave your animals in what is called a “sacrifice pasture”. For me, however, my winters are mild and I do have the ability to maintain my rotational grazing program.
I am rotational grazing my sheep over winter to maintain personal work habits.
Confession: I feel like consistency is difficult for me to cultivate and maintain. By maintaining my rotational grazing program throughout winter I am staying in the groove and constantly working with the flock. When spring comes and the weekly rotational grazing program shifts back to a daily rotational grazing program, I will have a better chance of adjusting back to that work load.
Do you rotational graze your animals? If so, are you able to maintain your rotational grazing system over winter? Tell me in the comments!
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9