Sunday, 7 July 2013

Herd Community

Our first little herd of sheep have arrived, they are 38 Dorper ewes in-lamb and we are very excited to be starting our first little farming enterprise - raising great prime lambs.

Dorpers are a South African breed of sheep. They  have come from  Black-headed Persian sheep and Dorset horn sheep and together their names form the name of the breed 'Dorper'. They are tough and hardy and suited to the harsher landscapes that Australia has in bucket loads. They should do well on our 'unimproved' native grass pastures, hilly landscapes and scorching summers. We hope to do our best by them.

They have a tendency to shed their fleece and do not require shearing. Some of them shed better than others - some have little remnant  woolly rugs on their backs.

There are some twins brewing here...
A new Highfield past-time is emerging. It consists of pulling up a chair and watching the girls graze (or waiting for them to pass before us). It's a very peaceful activity somehow deeply satisfying.

Shepherd stations
Shepherd at work

Sooner than we know and possibly sooner than we are ready, it will be lambing time. We are looking forward to it and are slightly trepidacious at the same time.

It occurred to me that this must be an ancient practice watching ones' herbivores graze - one that is buried deep in our mutual evolutionary history?

Humans and herbivores have been together for a very, very  long time. Perhaps as with our history with dogs and horses, we have co-evolved with herbivores such as sheep, goats and cattle.

I intend to keep up the association between human and herbivore, shepherd and sheep.

Our Dorper ladies have come from  the  extremely helpful and knowledgeable Nicola and Harry at Alpine Dorpers. They are in a similar climate to us, up in the outstandingly beautiful ranges around Mt Buffalo  in NE Victoria. Thanks Nicola and Harry for all your help.


  1. I know that they breed with them in the Karoo - which is a very flat landscape with sparse low growing vegetation and it only gets 20-290 mm of rainfall per year! But the meat from Karoo reared lamb is very tasty!

    1. I thought I'd hear from our South African 'Shroom' on this. My goodness, we are MUCH wetter than that (av 750mm pa here) but Australia is notoriously variable... still we a harsh and summer-dry landscape a Mediterranean one with most rain coming in winter. February can be bitterly hot and the grass turns a crunching blinding bone coloured.

      I sampled the lamb from Alpine Dorpers before getting my sheep from them and you are right it was tasty. They are even wetter than us but similarly cold.

    2. Tee hee! Our garden isn't that dry either, 250-750mm of rainfall a year, mostly in the summer. Still not great. We also get nasty heat waves. Last seasons' was so bad all the chickies stopped laying and threw off some feathers - we had to treat some for sunburn as well. Poor chickies! They much rather prefer our winters. Although dry, they are an average of 12oC.

      SA also has a wide variety of biomes, especially along the coast line and is very similar to AUS & New Zealand climatically. There aren't many SA garden blogs, hence why I stop by here :)

    3. Oh your poor chookies. Last summer was horribly hot here, record breaking, but we didnt have the chookies then. I think they would have suffered. I am very glad you drop by here, please keep visiting!

  2. What gorgeous animals! I love their black heads and punk rock-esque shaggy backs. I'm sure they will give many hours of entertainment.

    1. I confess I am rather fond of them and spend too much time just watching them move in the paddock. Today we even tried moving them - just the lad and I - from paddock to paddock. We don't want to use dogs or motor bikes, we came here to be quiet, and they moved beautifully and quietly for us. I cant wait till lambing.

  3. Love the blog Louise! And of course am biased towards thinking the Dorpers are beautiful! Also can't wait until your lambing - all lambs are cute - but Dorper lambs, with their distinguished little black heads, are VERY cute.

    1. Thanks Nicola, we think they are beautiful too. We like how chunky they are and so much more interesting than regular sheep with their black heads.



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