I suppose that we are all trying to be a bit more frugal these days, tightening our spending belts whenever we can. Last summer, when my geese were babies, they foraged on grass and weeds in my yard, supplemented by greens from my garden.
Over the winter, I needed to continue to include greens in their diet, which meant purchasing them from the grocery store. I was lucky enough to have a steady supply of commercial dandelion greens -- their favorite -- for Sydney and Phoenix, brought down from Pennsylvania. This was supplemented with spring mix. Since the grass died back at some point, it turned out to be quite expensive to feed them over the winter!
My lettuces are just beginning to fill out in the garden. The girls get very excited, waiting at the garden gate for me to bring them out little bites of red or oak leaf lettuces as treats! Unfortunately, I am beginning to think that my dandelion ameliore seeds I planted a few weeks ago are not going to germinate -- or else, they are the slowest growing greens I have ever encountered!
Now that the grass and weeds are growing again in the backyard, the girls are quite content to "graze". But, what I have been doing is creatively supplementing Syd and Phoe's diet with "found" objects -- by that, I mean the common, ordinary dandelion that we all love to hate in our yard and the equally dreaded chickweed! With certainty, I am sure to be the only person in the neighborhood who doesn't dig out their dandelions. Instead, I selectively harvest some of the leaves, much like we harvest the outer leaves of lettuce in our gardens! Chickweed (on the right in the photo) is my friend, allowed to run rampant in my front yard!
Phoenix also favors a favorite childhood weed of mine. The father of the family who lived next door to me growing up introduced us to eating a wild sorrel that grew in the yard. He was Bulgarian and I am not sure of the exact spelling in that language, but phonetically, we pronounced it "kee-sah-lits". They have a taste that I can only describe as somewhere between bitter and tart. Syd doesn't seem to care for it at all, but Phoenix gobbles it up! Both girls crave what I think is wild parsnip, which is supposedly toxic to many animals -- but apparently not to geese!
It's free, it's plentiful, it's healthy -- and it will get me over the hump until my garden greens can feed my geese (and me!)!