We landed here in 1993 having come from the burbs of New Jersey and with no plan for what we’d do in Maine. Making our hobbies into our livelihood has been a very interesting and educational journey. We now have a much greater understanding and respect for the work people do with their hands and on the land. Each day presents new challenges, learning experiences and a whole lot of enjoyment.
Sustainability and good husbandry practices are top priorities here. Our sheep and hens move to fresh pasture regularly so they’re eating the best available feed at all times. Rotational grazing allows the grass to grow without stress and letting the hens follow the sheep reduces the incidence of heavy parasite infestation. Together the sheep and hens are a great team of mowers and fertilizers!
We’re currently pasturing the sheep in three locations …two of which don’t belong to us. We’re incredibly fortunate that our community is supportive. They like what we do and enjoy seeing the sheep in the fields. Keeping the land open and productive is our small way of helping to preserve endangered farmland and it’s good for the environment, too.
Our livestock is protected by portable electric fencing that is moved along with them as they graze. It is powered by a marine battery that is charged by solar panel. This fencing system has worked very well for us and we’re proud to say that we’re a predator friendly farm. We’ve kept our Coopworth flock small and select so that we know every one of our sheep well. Our ewes provide us with beautiful lambs and to assure the highest quality fleeces, they wear covers.
The farm family of critters grows a bit during the warmer months not only with the addition of the lambs but with the arrival of the heritage red Ranger chickens. They take up residence in the sheep’s winter paddock which, by this time, is lush with yummy grass and they use the livestock greenhouse for their nighttime shelter. For about two and a half months, they range around and clean up parasites that might be coming to life after the cold winter months. They chow down on the grass and scratch around, spreading the manure that the sheep deposited there. A very efficient operation! Later in the summer, the grass in this paddock will be ready for the sheep to graze.
Also arriving in Spring are the piglets …usually 4 to 6 of them. We particularly like the heritage breeds, Berkshire, Large Black and Red Wattle for their docile nature and rooting power. They move directly into an area of old, overgrown pasture and woodland where they play pig games, root around in the underbrush, eat yummy acorns and (their favorite pastime) wallow. They do the work of many men… or one man and many gallons of diesel fuel. In the course of several months time, they clear away much of the scrubby brush, opening up more pasture for the sheep.
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