alternative hay

So we are a little worried about winter fodder, what with the wet weather which did not allow us to save as much hay as we could, and the hay that we lost in the rain (we’re still at it, mind, but the seed heads are fully formed and will scatter so whatever we save from now on will not be as nutritious as could be). We Are Not Alone ! The Farmers Journal headline this past week was Fodder Shortage Looming. In short, if we were planning to be able to buy hay in early Spring next year if the grass was as slow to grow as it has been the last two years, we need to think again.
I remembered reading about how in Sweden and continental countries up to the nineteenth century farmers used to pollard trees and dry the leafy branches for winter fodder. So this is precisely what we are at, I am cutting along the roads one-year ash branches before the hedge-cutters get going and flatten the landscape and we are tying them in bunches and hanging them upside down under shelter. We will wait for the fruit/seeds to show to cut more from our hedges. We will have eight goats to feed over the cold months and they like to munch and ruminate and need roughage to keep warm with digestive action. Ash trees are the goat tree par excellence and ash is plentiful around here. It is all commonsense, although my local garageman said people would think it was a crazy notion, it is called leaf-hay, and it is free.

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