All winter, I’ve been able to treat the chickens to a little fresh green because these WEEDS, (Chickweed and Henbit) don’t die back completely in the Ozarks. For several years, I didn’t know the names of these plants, only that the chickens loved them…they became chicken salad!
Sustenance for some — Nuisance for others
The tiny white chickweed blossoms and pink/orchid blooms of the henbit join early dandelions to provide the first spring sustenance for bees who must be at the end of their winter reserves. At certain times on a sunny morning or afternoon, one wants to pay attention when picking these plants, especially henbit, for chickens because the patch is full of honey bees up to their knees in purple flowers full of early food. Dreaded Dandelions are some of the first flowers out in the spring to feed the bees. Dandelion honey is beautiful — super clear and light.
The bees and chickens make me take a different look at these WEEDS, which can, in some form and at some stages provide nourishment for PEOPLE. See this link about edible henbit. Dried chickweed makes an itch soothes ointment at our house.
I admit that we do make some effort to control these plants in our yard and garden. Using a little lime on our soil will encourage the grass and leave little room for WEEDS. The chickweed can keep our garden from drying out enough to till. When we till it under, though, it turns into a ‘green manure’ that enriches the garden soil. That assistance balances concerns that the plants will be robbing nutrients from the plants we prefer to grow in the summer garden.
From WEED to Chicken FEED
When the weather warms up, they will go away. Until then, at least one extra little bucket goes around with me so I can pull some green goodies for the chickens. Our chickens are ‘free’ within their own high fenced area. The intent is to protect them from varmint and protect us from the feathered bull dozers that would not hesitate to dig and rearrange every flowerbed and garden row we have! The diggin’ chickens don’t get out to pick their own greens, making that our responsibility.
Images from Red Leaf Desktop