We've talk before about how we are working to thin out parts of our forest for tree health and forest fire prevention. As this work continues steadily through out the year, e continue to learn and refine our practices.
Right now, the Oak trees are fattening their acorns on the branch. Walt has plans to do some acorn harvesting with his Acorn picker for winter storage. But we are learning that, even before the acorn fall we can find ways to give the pigs access to the acorns.
We routinely haul green, leafy branches over to the goats so they can gobble up the foliage and help us trip the branch before we chip them up for various purposes such as mulch, soil building, animal bedding, weed suppression and to fuel the GEK. When we noticed the large amounts of acorn on the oak branches we were hauling, we started to feed the branches to the pigs.
The sniff out the acorns and eat them straight off the branch. It is an effective way to provide food for the pigs in the earlier parts of the fall before the acorns have fallen to the ground for harvesting.
Since the pigs generally do not like to foliage of the oaks, and because their late summer pen is adjacent to the goats, we can toss the acorn stripped branches into the goat pen to allow them access to the leaves which they enjoy so much.
This level of integration is a good example of how a greater diversity of animals can be fit into an existing management practice without much added work.
It is great to see the little piglets chomping down the acorns with glee, and is a another small step forward into finding ways to provide ever more food for our growing cast of animals from the abundance our forest naturally provides.