from the shepherd
Hello from Sheepscapes,
Sheepscapes, a New Hampshire based vegetation management company,
conducted an Intensive Grazing Project 2002 with the support of
the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, Concord Land Conservation
Trust, the towns of Carlisle and Concord, and the Minute Man National
goal of the project is to restore and maintain pastures with grazing
sheep. The pastures are being overgrown by unwanted woody plants
such as buckthorn, multiflora rose, poison ivy, bitter sweet, and
honeysuckle. Our philosophy: The best way to preserve or restore
a pasture is to treat it like a pasture, i.e. graze it. By grazing
the land, we are essentially exerting a selective pressure in favor
of plants that thrive on grazing (grasses and legumes) and against
plants that do not (woody vegetation).
present, our system involves three grazing passes on each pasture
between May and September. With each successive pass the target
species are defoliated, further stressing the plant and depleting
stored energy in the root system. With multiple defoliations in
a growing season, we expect to see a significant mortality in the
target species over a few years..
lesson we learned is that the unusually hot, dry weather we experienced
inmid and late summer can make vegetation management a bit tricky.
None of the Sheepscapes shepherds have ever experienced a situation
where sheep disliked poison ivy. However, with the dry weather,
we believe the oils relative to the moisture content in the leaves
was high enough to decrease its palatability. The sheep would eventually
eat the poison ivy, but they would first crop the desirable grasses
a bit too close for that time of year. Unfortunately, we did not
learn to control the weather, so flexibility was our only means
of managing that situation.
we feel the project is going well. The palatability of the number
one target plant, buckthorn, remained high throughout the summer.
Not only did the sheep defoliate the plant, they also nipped off
the top 3-6 inches of each shoot. Test and control plots have been
established this year near the knoll on Towle Field and demonstrate
that sheep grazing to control woody plants is promising.
for giving us the chance to manage the Intensive Grazing Project
2002. We hope to see all of you next summer for another great year
of sheep grazing in Carlisle. Meanwhile we will be busy in New Hampshire
tossing hay bales about, building fences, and training dogs. Thank
David Nishida, Your Local Shepherd