Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They are not weeds!

Ok maybe they are, technically "weeds" but these weeds actually work for us. But we don't call them weeds we call them "free food." We have a lot of weeds around here - like the cover crops I planted last winter. They do double duty by improving the soil and ripening into snacks for chickens.

The hens went wild for the cover crop of grains. Free food, not weeds.

We had a bit of an incident last week. The Old Man Neighbor (not the Bad Neighbor and certainly not the Good Neighbor) mentioned to me in passing that he felt bad for us because all we had was that (crappy) push mower. He mows his acre lot with a full sized tractor, so he figured he'd help us out and mow down some of those weeds in the front of the property. I really didn't think much of it... until it hit me that he might be talking about the hay I planted! So I ran right out there.

Yep. There it was. Some, but not all, of my hay mowed down. And not just mowed down, brushhogged down. With the tractor. Demolished. He said he didn't like weeds. So he helped us. Ugh.

The only thing that stopped me from becoming completely unglued was that he stopped short of mowing down the comfrey and the clover/sunflower mix I just tilled in. But the expensive pasture mix with alfalfa was done for - not all of it, but enough that would have been several meals for the goats. You'll remember we were cutting it down gradually and feeding it to the goats, then tilling it under and replanting in an attempt to improve the soil.

I have to admit that I was so shocked that I kept walking out there and looking just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. While I feel bad that the Old Man Neighbor doesn't like to see weeds - just across the road from us the farmer has about 100 acres of "weeds", I mean, hay.

So we went to Tractor Supply and got some more fencing materials. We'll be working on driving some of those heavy duty tposts  ...oh... 3 feet into the ground. Good thing we got the survey done last year so we know exactly where the property line is located. And yeah my weeds.. I mean my hay.... is on my side.  

These thistles are at least 6 feet tall. The birds love the seeds from the flowers and the patch is always covered in butterflies. The goats love these weeds - they are good and good for them!

I'm also considering planting a big patch of thistles all along the fence line. Those are really weeds. They are nutritious, improve milking, and help with bad soil because their roots are so deep. Of course, I don't mind of they are invasive because I can feed them to the goats. Since, you know, goats actually eat weeds. And expensive pasture mix. That I intentionally planted and let grow. For heavens sakes.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Now go out and make sure your hay isn't mowed down!


CallieK said...

Oh I hear your pain- last week my neighbour yanked out all my sunchokes that I had planted along the fence because he thought they were weed trees (we get tons of manitoba maples and tree of heaven sprouting in our gardens.) Sigh...

Mr. H. said...

Ouch, that hurts. Isn't it funny how disturbing a few "weeds" are to some people. There is a lot more to them weeds than meets the eye, leastwise your neighbors eye.

Sara said...

I am sorry, but this so reminds me of my story about the time my neighbor mowed our yard. My husband was irate and went out their yelling about the scalping the neighbor had done to our yard. lol

If it had been a field of hay/weeds I'd have been really upset. Obviously the farmer isn't familiar with goats that their weed eating abilities.

IanH said...

Things like dandelions aren't weeds either! More like horse candy. If the guy is a farmer, surely he should no the difference between alfalfa and weeds!

JeffJustJeff said...

I've been reading about making rennet from nettles or thistles. I may give it a try. It's great to put your 'weeds' to use ;-)


Carolyn said...

All I can say is "OH NOOOOOO!".

Sorry to hear that your neighbor tried to "improve" your landscape.

My mom would do the same thing if she had the chance....even though I tell her I purpously let it grow so I can mow it for the goats. A non-suburb-manicured lawn drives some people nuts.

Anonymous said...

I have the same situation! I have an acre in front of my home that I just let grow because I'm trying to improve the soil and the pasture provides food for my critters. My neighbors mean well but they are constantly asking me if they can mow my "lawn". The first 2 years One of my neighbors would come without being asked and mowed the lawn with his tractor. I think he thought he was doing us a favor. Until I nicely explained I wanted the pasture to grow.

Anonymous said...

you probably don't want to go planting thistles... all of your neighbors may turn into "bad neighbors". many thistles are noxious weeds -"the man" can come in and spray them and send you the bill.


Ohiofarmgirl said...

Not the sunchokes! I've been wanting to get some of those for a while. Sheesh!

Mr.H - I dont know what it is about this part of the country. Most of the (huge) lots look like putting greens with a house dropped on it. No trees (hard to mow under), no shrubs (hard to mow under, no gardens (why do that?). Its just silly.

Hi Sara! And yep it was scalped where the actual grass was too.

Hi Ian! I thought he would have known too - my hay looks exactly like the guy's across the street in that huge field.

Hi Jeff! Can you believe we dont have any nettles? I've read about that also. My pal SD was going to experiment with making it.

Hi Carolyn! We are probably driving him nuts with our blackberries - and yes we grew them on purpose! (also good for goats!)

Chai Chai said...

Wow, one would think that since he lived out in farm country he would have a rough idea about what you were up to.

Wouldn't it just be terrible if Nibbles and Debbie got loose and ate your neighbors "eyesore" flower beds, just to help him clean up things a bit!

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

sad that such a thing came out of good intention

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Anon #1 - you said it, well intentioned but wow!

Anon#2/SteveC - thanks for the tip. Right now the thistles are back off the road. But as for my fenceline plan - what about bamboo? HA! (just kidding)

CC - I sent the guineas over to say hi to him.

Thanks David, I'm sure you see the same thing - folks who spend tons of time and money having pristine yards of grass grass grass and more grass - and none of it useful at all. Looks pretty... but I just think of all the wasted space.

Chai Chai said...

Sending the Guineas for a visit...that made me LOL!

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