The Search for Safe Weeds and Grasses for all Sorts of Farm Animals…

Well! There’s still 6 inches of snow on the ground in our pastures and we’re still reaching freezing temperatures at night but Spring has to be on it’s way. I am just sure of it. I am tense with anticipation to grow out our bald pasture with all sorts of great weeds – easy to grow they’ll enrich the soil and feed our chickens and whatever else we’ll have out there.

I was well on my way of copying down the ultimate list of chicken friendly plants when my computer decided to crash and I lost all three pages of material. To add insult to injury there was my dearest saying, “Make sure each plant is safe for alpacas, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, and turkeys!” I replied, “Sheep?!” He wants to cover all bases, just in case. Plus for some reason he seems enamored with Jacob’s sheep as of late. As for me… there’s no sheep in my foreseeable future unless you want to count the imaginary ones that put me to sleep at night. There’s very likely no goats either but since I was making a master list anyway I decided to add rabbits to it… as I have great hopes of releasing my angoars out there. I’m told the biggest problem keeping bunnies in a pasture is the fact they tend to dig under the fence. I’ve countered this by owning potentially the dumbest bunnies in existence. I don’t think they know how to dig but I’ll probably be courting Murphey’s Law in saying such!

So it’s been two days since I have been acquiring this information. It’s tedious work. To make it all the more tedious is the fact there seems to be controversy over every plant… can a goat eat this? No, it’s toxic. But my goats eat it and they’re not dead… and so I read on, eyes boggling out of head. If this isn’t bad enough alpacas are apparently profoundly numb. If they like a plant they will eat it like it’s going out of style until they do get poisoning from something as innocuous as alfalfa! I suppose it’s like beer. Have one beer and that’s sort of whatever. Drink a few cases in one setting and you might not live to see tomorrow.

So it looks like my plans of using alpacas to keep the weeds low enough for the chickens to eat might be a daft idea… I have however got some colorful notes written down on my chart. Mainly things like, “May grow a toxic fungus (in wet conditions) that causes excessive slobbering.” — That was in reference to what red clover can do to an alpaca. Seriously. Red clover. I think if I sneeze on an alpaca it might die. And in the midst of all this is this one mind boggling fact – there’s no real extensive list on what alpacas can and can’t eat. There’s a bunch of little lists but nothing comprehensive, nothing that says for sure and why and what happens to them… so a lot of the alpaca plant check list is filled with question marks…

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