8 October 2009

Chickens feasting on the Amaranthus Gangeticus (Elephant Head Amaranthus)

This summer has been another extremely dry one - with a lot of very hot days up until a few days ago when the temperature outside was 30°C. There's very little grass anywhere and we've been supplementing the sparse grazing for our sheep and goats with hay for the past few weeks. The geese are going further and further away from their normal circuit to find something to eat and we've been giving them extra corn to keep them in condition and build up their fat reserves for winter.

With the lack of fresh vegetation around, I suppose it's inevitable that the chickens have started pecking food in the vegetable plot which they normally leave alone. A week ago they started eating the remaining courgettes and then pecked away the leaves until each plant has almost disappeared.

I don't mind them eating the courgettes, everyone is fed up with them anyway and they're hard and tasteless at this time of the year especially since it's been so dry.

The chickens normally start to peck the veg towards the end of October when there's very little for them to eat after a hot summer but this year they've started early, snipping off the lower leaves of the sweet peppers and Aubergines when they're still plenty of fruit left on them. I've noticed them pecking the new growth of Globe artichokes, they've even started to peck out the Foxgloves and they've almost totally destroyed the leeks I planted a few weeks weeks ago !

Thankfully, I had a lot of Amaranthus self seed last year and this variety "Elephant head" have been really rich and beautiful this year growing alongside Cleome Spinosa which also self seeds freely. The chickens love the Amaranthus, so I've started pulling up a plant or two to let them eat the leaves and seed heads. They peck away furiously at each one for about two days until there's nothing left but the stalks.

I'll keep giving them a few plants each week to give them something to squabble over and keep them of mischief until the rain (hopefully) encourages the grass and weeds to appear - and I mustn't forget to save a few seeds for myself for planting next year.

7 comments:

granny said...

What a beautiful photo ! I always enjoy your blog,thankyou :0)

detroit dog said...

Great photo!

Frances said...

Our chickens left our courgettes, but ate our one and only pumpkin, which was slightly annoying, but I'm glad they enjoyed it! :) Great that we've had some rain now and grass can start growing back. Love your pic of the chickens, the Amaranthas is beautiful!

WENDY BANDURSKI-MILLER said...

I am surprised to read your summer was so dry... its been really wet this summer here and very cool. It meant no tomatoes.....very devastating... the blight came through when we were in Australia and after we came back it was too late..... It is always the unexpected things that give one pause. The chickens though are VERY happy! Lots to eat......

Emma said...

I came via Fennel and Fern and can't believe it has taken me so long to find your beautiful blog! :D

The Oak Leaves said...

Good morning,
Im really enjoying reading about what your doing in your garden! I wrote a very short bit about it on my blog and used one of your photos(let me know if this is not ok)...

thanks for sharing!

chrisi

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Thanks everybody for your comments !

Chrisi, of course I don't mind !

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