As we get to know our grazing herd out at Tablas Creek, we're becoming increasingly convinced of its effectiveness. A photo will illustrate the impact. It shows the border between two vineyard blocks, on the right one that had the animals in residence for the previous five days, and on the left the new, bushy block where we'd moved them that morning:
We've been amazed how fast they can turn under a cover crop. That browsed area is about an acre and a half, and they cleared it out in less than a week. Walking through you can see their manure spread throughout the area. And the divots that their hooves have made breaks up the surface. When we got rain, the areas that had been grazed soaked that rain right up, helped surely by the uneven surface.
The impact of the added fertility brought by the manure is still to be felt, but it's spread thickly enough that it's sure to have an effect. We'll be paying attention to how the grazed vineyard blocks fare this summer compared to those where the cover crop was mowed and to where it was disked or spaded into the soil.
Four more photos of our fuzzy workers, so you can get to know them along with us. First, two of our Dorper sheep, in a little shelter we move along with the mobile fence:
Next, one of the Alpacas, who we've named "Boo":
And Fiona, our ever-vigilant guard donkey:
And finally the two lambs who were born last month, already grown a lot:
The animals' time in the vineyard is coming to an end for this year, as with budbreak we're going to have to move them to the pasture we've been preparing. We've already noticed some of the alpacas browsing on the bark of the dormant grapevines. The sap must be flowing!