There’s half a bushel of brussel sprouts that’s been sitting in the pig trough for three days. We collect all the leftovers from the local food pantry. It’s amazing what they get donated. It’s good that we have many species here to eat them. Different species have different tastes, and different tolerances.
Last winter they were twice hit with literally a ton of expired tofu. Both times we got over half of it. Our pigs will eat 25 pounds morning and evening. Any more will sit. I’m still trying to figure out why anyone had a ton of tofu at one time. I do not believe that all the grocery stores and restaurants in Cheshire county sell a ton in a month.
[We’ve also had yoghurt hits. Everyone likes it, but emptying four ounce snack size Greek yoghurts into buckets is spectacularly boring, and financially compares unfavorably with working at McDonalds as a way to get pig food.]
Every species has different tastes. The pigs are omnivores. They’re big and eat a lot, favoring calorie dense foods: dairy, meat and grain are their favorites, in that order. We have very tame and friendly pigs. Neither of us has any qualms about going into the pen and giving the boar a scratch. We will not, however, get between any of them and chocolate frosting.
Pumpkins and squash are yummy. Potatoes are not good for them unless cooked, and they know it. They’ll eat one or two raw potatoes, five pounds of baked ones. Other vegetables are tolerated, except the cabbage family. We’ve seen them carefully pick broccoli out of the food trough and drop it on the ground. Broccoli is not food.
Chickens are also omnivores. They like some salad with their meat. Grain is okay, but not to be compared with an earthworm. They and the dogs split the pork products we get, since we won’t feed that to the pigs.
Ducks are omnivores. They like some bugs with their salad. Grain again is okay, but they would really like greens, the way the chickens would really like bugs.
Geese are herbivores. They graze. No interest in bugs, and they will eat hay, although they can’t live on it as they can green plants. They will come running for watermelon, and give the sheep an argument over it, which is uncharacteristic.
Ella Mae is an American Milking Devon, one of ‘the cows that browse’. Her breed survived here in New England because they can come through a hard winter on poor hay and brush. We give her good hay and all the brush she’ll eat. Her treat is Wonder Bread, given to her by her previous owner. She still recognizes the wrapper and comes a running. She doesn’t like most of the things she should, and keeps Danny from eating them either.
The sheep will eat almost anything green. Except brussel sprouts, which is why the pigs have the ones that started this essay. We chose the breed because they eat like goats. Unfortunately, they also treat fences like goats do. They like fruit, they love grain. It’s bad for their digestion, and makes them junkies. They use the twinkie defense constantly for fence busting and breaking into the grain stash. In Iceland they get fish meal in the winter. We stopped giving them grain because we don’t like the way they act on it. They like pumpkins and squash, but have trouble eating them even if we smash them first. (Ruminants have no upper teeth. Horses do, but are not ruminants.)
The horses are grass princesses. A few leaves for variety, but must have hay or grass. If we worked them hard they would need grain, but loafing about, hay is plenty. Carrots and apples are appreciated, but a cuddle and some affectionate words are almost as good. Lisa says they will also eat brussel sprouts. I’ll try them next time we get some.
We did compost lemons and limes last holiday season. No one but people will eat them. I canned a bit of juice and really enjoyed the lemonade last summer. This year, I invested $14 in a Walmart citrus juicer. Lemonade. Margaritas. Mojitos. Eat your heart out critters.