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Panthers Hollow

To Mow or not to Mow?

Jennifer Quinn 

Why mow? That is the question I generally ask when I hear homeowners complain about having to mow large lawns, sometimes amounting to several acres. What would be wrong with just having a small area of lawn near the house and letting the rest become a meadow?

For the property owner whose main concern is maintaining the landscape there could be a number of answers and approaches, which I won’t go into here. As for me, with something resembling a lawn surrounding my house, garden and orchard area, it involves a different set of issues. My main motivation for mowing is to have a ready supply of organic matter for use as mulch or to add to my compost. I’ve also read, though, that one way to control fleas and grasshoppers is to keep things mowed, and I’ve had a lot of trouble with fleas and grasshoppers.

My usual approach has been to try to keep the areas near the garden mowed to a height where they’re not going to seed, and only mow the other areas a few times a year, mainly to keep them from becoming a jungle. But some of the weeds and grasses outsmart me by simply going to seed at a shorter height, before I can get to them. I guess they’re on an internal clock that tells them when to set seed, and height doesn’t matter. So I feel I should be mowing more often, though I can’t seem to find the time or energy for it, with all the other tasks demanding my attention during the growing season.

Since it seems like a losing battle, sometimes I wonder if I’m worrying about it too much. But here’s another angle: I’ve noticed that wherever I’ve just been mowing, the chickens and guineas are all over it, pecking away at a great rate. I suspect that cutting it down makes it easier for them to find the bugs and seeds that are in there. Possibly this could be helping with pest control. And if they’re finding more to eat, they must be eating less of the purchased feed I give them. So when I mow, maybe I’m actually saving money on feed!

I’ve also decided that if I just leave the weeds on the ground or pile them up somewhere, the seeds will eventually fall out and either get eaten or germinate right where they are, rather than blowing into the garden. So maybe it is worthwhile to try to keep after it as best I can.

grass

Poultry Peacekeeping and Poultry Weather Forecasting

Jennifer Quinn

flock

So what’s all this preening about ... feather mites? But I just treated the poultry house with a liberal application of diatomaceous earth yesterday! On the other hand, it’s getting very cloudy and feels like approaching rain, though it’s not in the forecast for today. Maybe they’re just preparing their feathers for rain? Sure enough, within minutes the rain starts.

A friend once remarked that watching chickens is better entertainment than TV. I’m inclined to agree with that. But it can also reveal some fascinating aspects of their behavior. Here’s an example:

A couple of times I’ve seen two of my young guinea cocks get into a fight. They stand facing each other and jump up and down, pecking at each other and grabbing each other’s bills. What’s really interesting is that once when they were doing this, I saw the older chickens and the other guineas gather around, crying and scolding and even intervening physically to try and break them up! Eventually they seemed to prevail. Who would have thought?

Now, if my cats would just follow their example …

guineas