Grooming and mating

No, not grooming for mating, two separate events.

A big, exciting project which has been going on here in Harcourt is the grooming of the picnic gully block. Katie and Hugh bought the 5ha block a few years back, which unfortunately from a grazing perspective, was way over our heads in gorse, briar rose, wild plums and black berries. As Oli’s dad said, great property for goats!

To see the ground we’re working with Katie and Hugh got in David with his groomer. A mother of a machine, we watched him reduced 2m shrub to a beautiful ground mulch with just two passes.

There are many opinions on how to manage these plants and their regrowth. Many have tried, many have failed, different combinations at different times. One thing I know is that these plants are colonisers,; full of minerals and organic matter which we need so desperately on our soils here. A friend who’d done many experiments managing gorse said it doesn’t matter what you do, if you have the grazing pressure of wallabies, nothing will ever get ahead to out compete the gorse.

So with years of work ahead we are taking the path of managed grazing. We’ve been busy hand broadcasting seed, many perennials, hoping they will take advantage of the coming Spring and the rich organic matter which is currently decomposing. Once established, we will use the cows to strip graze, followed directly by slashing any regrowth the cows missed.

Next winter we are hoping to get a large tree belt planted down the gully. This will help to stop erosion while taking advantage of any moisture to grow more tree fodder for our ladies.

The second major event that is happening is the breeding of our herd. This was going to be a simple trailer trip to the bull and 9 months later hey presto, calf. Not so, we’ve had a few unsuccessful dates with the bull and the embarrassing problem of not being able to catch Olive when she was on heat. However, another story of a ridiculously generous farmer; our patient neighbour has visited for AI and is now teaching me how to do it. This is certainly not as easy as he makes it look! I plan to always use natural mating where I can,  but the convenience and genetic options of AI has it’s advantages.

As spring has sprung I eagerly watch as the grass grows and the days warm up.

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