What will we do when we run out of honeysuckle?
For the last month or so,
I've been taking the goats out for a half-hour honeysuckle walk after
my own lunch. As a result, our woods are becoming considerably less
Not long ago, Mom emailed
me to share her concern that I might denude our forest of honeysuckle.
She's right --- I probably will. Whether that will actually be a bad
thing, though, remains to be seen.
Japanese honeysuckle is
an invasive species here in the U.S., and it can actually strangle trees
when the vine's growth is particularly luxuriant. The photo at the top
of this post shows an ironwood that was sturdy enough to handle several
thick honeysuckle vines, but for every tree like this, there are two or
three that I end up just cutting down rather than pulling the vines out
of their canopies --- the tree is simply too mangled to survive.
Of course, that's just
looking at the forest --- what about the goats? Our girls do seem to be
thriving on a diet rich in honeysuckle (although, when given the choice,
Abigail still makes a beeline for the garden to munch on half-dead oat
stalks). In fact, when I look back at photos from two months ago, our
girls look like entirely different goats, and I don't think all of their
new bulk is due to their thick winter coats.
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So what will we do once
we run out of honeysuckle? I have various thoughts in mind for next
winter, and they mostly revolve around cover crops.
This fall, our girls liked oilseed radishes okay and loved oats, and
they currently like rye pretty well. Since those cover crops have prime
green periods that span October, November, and December, that would be a
good start for providing our girls with some early to mid-winter
fodder, as long as I plant quite a bit more of the last two. I suspect
it would be thinking too big to say that I'll replace most or all of
this winter's store-bought hay with homegrown cover crops for next year,
but we should definitely be able to provide our goats with that
essential half-hour nibble of green!
And, in the meantime, I'll keep pulling honeysuckle out of the trees. I suspect that both trees and goats will appreciate the gesture.