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Farming for Dummies
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Farming for Dummies

Farming for Dummies

Parkes, AU

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Posted by Alexandra Berendt over 11 years ago

Everybody talks about trees; fruit trees, nut trees, shade trees, legume trees, flowering trees, fodder trees and more! Here are some of my thoughts on trees, particularly of the fodder kind!

When we think cows or horses, we usually think GRASS.

And so did I, right up until a few weeks ago.

Not sure why this has never occurred to me before, maybe I just didn’t think about it too much, however, horses and cattle (and of course goats, and even sheep) can and will browse as well as graze.

By “browse” of course I mean, “eat trees and shrubs”.

And as we all know, trees and shrubs have deeper, better root systems, they stop soil erosion and offer shelter from the wind and the sun! Some trees are legumes and can therefore fix nitrogen with their little root nodules, thus not only improving soil structure, but soil nutrition.

Deciduous trees naturally mulch the area surrounding them every fall (if animals don’t gobble up the leaves as they fall), some trees bear fruit, which are edible for livestock or humans or both! Their branches and twigs routinely drop and will, in the right circumstances, turn into topsoil, the very thing that Australia has so little of!

Many trees and shrubs are also simply said “pretty”. They have a visual appeal to me that definitely beats the plain and, to me, boring, undulating fields that seem to be a main feature around here. I love the autumn colours (possibly because many fond childhood memories of growing up in Germany), I love the smells, I love the shade (I don’t cope too well with the heat and full sun that seems to dominate summers in Australia, but that might just be me), especially in the shape of long, quiet avenues and I love all the different things that trees can do for us.

So, after some lengthy consideration of trees and horses and cattle and a whole bunch of day dreaming and fantasizing, it kind of beats me why cattle and sheep are usually run in huge, bare, windswept paddocks. Salinity and erosion are only the most obvious or problems with this whole concept.

I decided that even though we already have tons of trees, I want more trees! More different trees. More beneficial trees. And I most definitely want some fodder trees!

Drought is an ever-present threat to Australian agriculture and as I intend to run some cattle, goats and sheep with my horses one day, planning for the day when grazing is not sufficient (it already isn’t and I only have two horses) and doing something about it seems logical to me.

I kind of stopped telling people about it though, anyone who has seen my place usually blurts out something along the lines of “TREES? Are you crazy? You already have tons of trees out there!” and so I do, however, my horses do not seem to like gums and pines much as their dinner and that is mostly what I’ve got. Do you see the problem now? Well, most people don’t, in their minds, cattle, horses, sheep and such are still strongly linked to GRASS not TREES.

My dog and some trees.

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