Hi all, I added this question to Rick's thread but then decided to address it to the group at large. Do you grow anything in your food forest (oasis rather than forest in my case) that is intended solely or mostly for feeding animals? I am incorporating more and more patches of alfalfa for the chickens and goat, and I coppice some small Siberian elms for the goat; would love to hear about other possibilities. What are the rest of you doing for your critters?
"Just outside our field of vision sits the unknown, calmly licking its chops."
I am developing a stand of bush willow for the rabbits. I have seeded my lawn with various grasses and clovers for rabbits, chickens, and ducks. I have planted mulberries for coppicing for the rabbits. I'm also adding more and more roses both because they please my elderly momma and because they are rabbit crack.... when I finally get comfrey going, that is another plant that will be part of the forage for the animals... most but not all that I grow (whether for human consumption or not) tends to have a livestock forage feature.
http://notquitethereyethomestead.blogspot.com/ --On the highway going from here to there the question is oft asked "are we there yet". The oft given answer is "not quite yet". So it goes with life and with my little piece of it. This is my story. I get to tell it my way. I hope you enjoy it.
In my book the Secret Garden of Survival I talk extensively about this, as well as on my YouTube channel.
I grow countless "weeds" that grow naturally in my area... from spiny lettuce to sows ear, and MANY more. All those weeds help make the soil more fertile, and keep the microorganisms healthy...
I never pull the weeds out by the roots, but rather, I am always cutting them off and throwing them over the fence to the goats (while fruit and nut growing season is in peak)... After growing season is over I let the goats into my garden and they feed on fallen leaves, weeds, etc... so they also do any "trimming" of my plants... such as, the goats will also eat blackberries leaves/ bushes and keep those trimmed back...
I also purposely grow alfalfa, wheat and oats for the goats... the goats love the wheat grass and they love the oat grass even more... I let some of it go to seed, for our own consumption and for planting the next year... Of course alfalfa is great for them and it is also a nitrogen fixer for my other garden plants.
The goats love my red clover as well, which is also my base ground cover and nitrogen fixer.
And of course many of the plants can be used to feed my rabbits, including branch trimmings (they eat the leaves and keep their teeth trimmed on the wood.)
My ducks free range throughout my garden (they don't dig up roots like chickens do) and the ducks eat the bugs, slugs, grubs and snails that I otherwise don't want on my plants. They also eat any fallen fruit, like grapes that didn't make it, so that these don't simply rot on the ground attracting more bugs...the ducks also eat some greens so I keep them out of me keyhole vegetable and herb garden, but they do patrol around the entire perimeter of the that area, so they do get to pick up many bugs before they can get to the plants...
And whenever it happens, I take bugs like tomato horn worms and throw them to either my fish or my ducks, so they can turn that "pest control" into protein for me.