Last year we had a drought and our pasture was like a dead zone. I remember walking through it hardly even finding a grasshopper and the dogs couldn’t find field voles, which are usually everywhere. It was really barren of life .
This spring we added some new seed and kept the sheep off the pasture as long as we could and let them on to areas gradually. Not necessarily managed intensive grazing, but at least partly managed grazing. We have mowed about two thirds already since it’s starting to go to seed, and the sheep are working on the last un-mowed section while the rest of the pasture rests and regrows.
For some exciting reason, we have attracted a pair of Eastern Meadowlarks who have made their home in the NW corner of our small pasture. I have not seem a Meadowlark since I moved to Ohio in 1995. We have had Killdeer nest in our pasture almost every year, occasional Bluebirds and Violet-Green Swallows and we do actually have a nesting pair of the Violet-Green Swallows in our remaining nest box. They, and a few barn swallows, accompany me across the pasture each morning and afternoon while I check on the poultry who we move across the sheep pasture in summer.
I know Kelly wants to mow that last third of the pasture sometime soon, but I’d like to keep a section of the pasture un-mowed so we can protect our new Meadowlark family.
In the above picture, taken earlier in May you can see that our neighboring farm planted a cover crop of grass hay next to one side of our pasture last fall. It’s now been cut, ploughed up, and planted in corn, but is shown in the above picture. I think having this area nearby gave various small animals a good place to overwinter as well as looked nicer than bare soil.