“I already had a few Ouessant sheep at home, in my garden,” says Mickaël. We always had to watch them with my wife so that they didn’t eat the roses…” Faced with the voracity of these four-legged mowers, Mickaël saw a new business. He decided to start and set up his eco-grazing business, Eco-Ouessant, in March 2014. Since then, companies such as Enedis, Hennessy and communities such as Jonzac and Rouillac have called on him and his 240 sheep to maintain their grassy plots. He thus “mows” more than 39 hectares of meadows and lawns almost everywhere in Charente.
“Everyone was learning”
“Left, look back, bring back. Mickaël guides his border collie, Lucky, with a masterful voice, even if the herding dog sometimes tries to turn a deaf ear. The sheep gather around the Charentais shepherd. A mastery which is the fruit of long years of work… Because before launching completely, Mickaël, who remained an employee, took his paid leave to carry out breeding training in an agricultural college.
“With the animals, when you leave on Friday evening, you don’t close the barrier behind you. In case of problems, you have to go there: it’s 24 hours a day”
“But there, you also have to be a salesman, an accountant, a secretary…”, lists the Genteen. In addition to the skills involved in self-employment, Mickaël had to learn how to educate a dog for the very specific work of keeping a herd. “Everyone was learning: the sheep who had never seen a dog in their life, the dog and myself,” he laughs. But we are improving from year to year, there I go back to another little dog, Maya. It’s like in all professions: you have to roll up your sleeves and you’ll get there. »
This Charentais shepherd is today a real “Swiss army knife”, at the head of a herd made up of three breeds. Small Ouessant sheep, no taller than a dog, so light that they do not damage the ground on which they graze. But also Solognotes and Shropshires. This last breed, English, has the advantage of not attacking the bark, which is why these ewes maintain certain vineyards in Cognac. With this pretty menagerie, Mickaël manages the pastures of his various customers. He moves his herds from field to field, “after his four-legged employees have worked well” to transfer them to where the grass is (literally) greener.
“I am autonomous in decision-making, time management or contingencies. In short, the former maintenance technician is happy with this new life. And this, although she mobilizes it daily. “With the animals, when you leave on Friday evening, you don’t close the barrier behind you,” he confides. In case of problem, you have to go there: it’s 24 hours a day. ” But when the good weather finally arrives, “that’s when we appreciate being in the fresh air compared to the former colleagues who are at the factory”, smiles Mickaël for whom the key to happiness seems to be that of fields.