The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Grazing the Front Lawn

May 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment · Posted in farming


“When do we mow the front yard?” my wife asked.

“When it gets long enough,” I replied.

I wasn’t trying to crack wise. But we’re not about a perfectly manicured lawn here on the farm. But then it occurred to me: Why mow when we have all these animals that love to eat grass? In fact, our two female goats and the ram sheep have been stuck in their enclosures all spring, trying to nibble out a living on the same tired turf. Time to put a little fresh salad on their menu. So I set up some temporary fencing around the front yard and opened the gates.

Turns out goats–our goats at least–are just fine grazing grass. But you do have to be careful around ornamentals. I had to re-arrange the fencing to protect a flowering crabapple tree. The goats took right away to eating the tree–blossoms, leaves, branches and all. And as you can see in the photo, they are terribly adept at stretching high to get leaves even off the larger trees. They just prop themselves up with front hooves on the trunk and reach for the sky. And they love bark. This tree is wrapped with wire mesh. But if they can make a meal out of bark they will, whether the trunk or branches. They will even eat the needles off a pine tree.

I’m using this opportunity to clean up around the goat enclosure. The electric netting has been there since last summer and grass was starting to get a hold on it. Grass and weeds will short out the fence if left unattended. Fortunately, our goats have no interest in escaping. There have been many a time when the fence was left off and the goats just continued about their business, browsing whatever vegetation they could wrap their lips around.

Now the two goats and the ram are my cleanup crew, coming behind our main mowing team–10 sheep, one Jersey heifer, one boy goat–who currently reside on the upper pasture, grazing like crazy and moving to a new paddock behind the portable fencing every couple of days. The hungry threesome has now moved off the lawn to munch on the odd slices of pasture and weird strips and corners that the main crew didn’t have access to.

I expect we’ll eventually make a move toward the orchard, where the grass is already growing tall. In turn, the laying hens will move to a new location. If they stay too long in one spot, they tend to turn it into a sand lot. They do love their dust baths.

I feel the summer routine is upon us. Eat grass, move fences. Eat more grass, move fences. Wash, rinse, repeat.

So much grass, so little time.

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  • barbara

    Long ago had a friend with your idea of using her critters to keep the grass down in her front yard. Like your photos — barbara