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Baby lambs as agents of sustainable agriculture

Hurray!  We have the first of our new lambs!  We expect 20-25 of them this year.  In addition to being absolutely adorable, they are significant agents of the sustainable agriculture we practice here on the ranch/vineyard.

We maintain a permanent cover crop of pasture grasses between rows instead of tilling.  The grass cover supports many beneficial insects and other wildlife, protects against erosion, and builds organic material in the soil.  It also out-competes weeds and makes a more comfortable walking surface.  Because of the shading effect of the vines and the deeper soils, the grass stays green longer in the vineyard than in the hillside pastures above.  During most of the growing season the sheep mow the grass for us.  As the vines bud out, we move the sheep out – and we have to mow with a tractor.  We try to wait to mow until the seed heads have developed, so that the grass will die back instead of growing again.  But sometimes we have to mow twice at least every other row so that it is easy to work in the vineyard.  The difficulty of walking through tall grass, and the additional frost pressure it supplies are not our only concerns – we may mow to reduce hay fever!

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