Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Drought Cracks

This morning, I took a few minutes to run outside and take some photos of our drought cracks.  This is what they look like after an hour of steady rain the night before last!  To a shepherdess, this is NOT good!
 I don't like that!  This one is 14 inches deep and more than 2 inches across at the narrowest part.

 This one is in the ram pen.  Thankfully, it's filled in a bit, but it sure scared me when I first found it.
Some of them are hidden under grass and weeds.  This one goes several inches down and is on the route the sheep run down to get to pasture.

It would be quite a challenge to find them all or fill them all in.  They are caused by a percentage of clay within the soil that contracts as it dries.  This causes the soil to "shrink" and become rock hard.  After such an extended period without good, soaking rain, the contracting soil is observed to be much deeper than usual, turning the cracks into deep, narrow, zig-zaggy holes.  These holes are just the right size to let a Shetland leg in, but small enough and so hard around the edges that if the sheep were running with any speed, it would be...well...not good!!!  Cracks in the soil are normal around here in the heat of summer, but having lived here all my life, I've never seen anything as deep or big as these are!  Notice the 'grass' around the hole?  See how short is is?  This runway has not been mowed once this summer!  We normally have to mow it twice a week most of the summer to keep it nicely passable.

It will take a good deal of frequent rains to return our soil to normal.  Each year, we work on improving our pastures, but this year was a giant step back with vegetative dieback.  In the last seven years, I think our farm has experienced:

1.  The hottest summer
2.  The coldest winter
3.  The driest summer
4.  The snowiest winter
5.  Record tornados 
6.  The warmest winter
7.  The most flooding
8.  The most recorded lightning strikes per hour and
9.  The deepest drought cracks!  (Ok, that's one I added. lol)

Whew!  I DON'T want to know what's next!!!

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