Updated: Nov 20, 2020
When the kids were younger, I have to admit I had a strong desire to have a nice, neat lawn they could play soccer or volleyball or frisbee on… You know the lawn, with grass that
is short enough to see the dog poo before you step in it, smooth so I don't break an ankle, and somewhat less than 20% dandelions. Fast forward to empty nest and a much larger herd of sheep!
Here is a close-up of our lawn, just before it is grazed by our nursing ewes and their lambs. Those pretty white flowers are field bindweed. In other parts of the lawn, you would see dandelion, Dutch clover, red clover and even some volunteer alfalfa and sanfoin. This summer there was even a big patch of birdseed sunflowers and pigweed grown on a bare spot. This lawn is a delectable salad bar, as Joel Salatin calls it!
The lawn is not only delectable, but very nutritious. There is a huge amount of protein in those weeds: bindweed 16%, pigweed 9-20%, common sunflower 14%, alfalfa 20%, dandelion 17%, etc. Lactating ewes require feed with 15% protein and lambs require 12%.
Now that is a lot of facts, but the fun thing is watching the sheep graze. Oh, how they love bindweed! We call it “sheep spaghetti.” They make a first pass over the lawn and it is GONE! Then they get to work on the rest. Lambs learn to eat weeds by watching the ewes.
Professional lawnmowers. Did I mention that we don’t have to mow?