Rain takes on a whole new meaning when you are a farmer. Too little rain and your animals and crops suffer. Too much rain and the same can happen. Conventional agriculture can have a love/hate relationship with rain. Good thing we are not in the conventional agriculture business.
In Regenerative Agriculture, you live in a symbiotic relationship with nature. Everything you do must work with the land, animals, even the microbes in the soil. This may sound like a daunting task, but it isn’t. You see working with nature is the easiest way to ensure success in your farming or homestead venture.
Over the last few months, Florida has seen quite the drought. Prior to today our property had not seen rain in almost a month. The rain it did see a month ago was not substantial either. While our land is not as robust looking as it usually is, it is nothing compared to what it would be if we were practicing conventional agriculture.
We run our sheep through a heavily wooded 5 acre property. We moved them to this property in late January of this year and have seen huge improvements from when we had them on pasture. Sheep are meant for forage and woody browse. They are not meant for flat grass pastures. They thrive amongst the weeds and vines. (The reason we had not done this much earlier is because the opportunity had not presented itself. Otherwise, they would have been in the woods from the very beginning.) In a time where many of our neighbors animals are looking thinner & the neighbors are paying lots of money for feed, our sheep are fat and happy from grass, weeds and vines.
The 5 acres we have the sheep on not only provides nutrients our sheep need, but our sheep are also clearing the land for the owners. Talk about symbiotic relationship! My husband pulls down vines from the trees to clear the canopy, and the sheep enjoy food they normally can’t reach. The sheep rut through the leaves and feast on acorns. Occasionally, we smell orange juice walking around the property because the sheep eat oranges that have fallen from the trees! I have watched a ewe eat two oranges on right after the other and then move on to green leafy vines. All these things they are eating provide nutrition but they also provide water. Our 10 sheep barely drink one 5 gallon bucket of water in a day!
Our sheep are cool in the shade of sweet gum trees and towering pines, get water from sources other than a water bucket and still have a small field of grass and clover they can sunbathe in if they choose. So while the pastures are getting drought stressed, our forest with lots of organic matter is holding water in the ground and providing nutrients for our sheep.
Now this doesn’t mean we aren’t doing the farmer’s prayer for rain. We still pray for rain daily because rain only makes this process better. I thanked God this morning when I heard rain drops on our roof and saw puddles on the ground.
Rain is an important part of agriculture no matter how you farm. However, working with nature, working with the animals, working with the microbes in the soil can make a drastic difference whether rain will make or break you.