Desmond and his hens may be the new luckiest chickens on the farm. When I set up their paddock, I left a large plant growing in the middle, thinking it would be a safe and attractive, shady spot for chicken siestas. This year it started to bloom, and when I came in from work one day, Farmer Steve was near dancing a jig. "Elderberries!", he said. To my knowledge, we haven't had any here before, so it is a wonderful surprise. We will be able to add elderberry to our winemaking repertoire, with any luck, and the chickens can feast on the immune system boosting windfall.
When we set up our livestock paddocks, we try to either situate them in places where there are 'bonus' food plants growing, or plant things along their fencelines to supplement their available forage. It reduces our feed costs and increases their happiness to clean up seasonal treats such as muscadine grapes, persimmons, herbs like comfrey and wormwood, blackberries, and now elderberries, what luck.
We'll see how that luck holds out. We planted our two little American chestnut trees today. We brought back the seeds from a mountainside in Virginia last fall. They stayed in a plastic bag of slightly moist peat in our refrigerator over the winter, and then we planted them in pots in the greenhouse this spring.
They were all vigorous and ready to be planted, so we considered carefully where to put them. We chose spots inside two of the chicken paddocks, with rich soil and some protection from a mature treeline.
The little guys were then given a protective chicken wire cage to shield them from potential nibblers.
The sour cherry tree next to our front porch is ripening its fruit, and I believe it might be the most ornamental plant on our farm.
Our week old little turkeys are happily kicking around in their brooder room at the hen house, and their little brothers and sisters will be ready to join them this evening. 43 in all, that's a good bit of fuzzy cuteness.