Exploring farming, food and fun in California's Northern Central Valley
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I used to think picking starthistle was bad...
...and I still think it's a lousy way to spend a summer morning. But did you know that if accustomed to it and given little other options, sheep eat star thistle for breakfast, lunch and dinner this time of year?! The seed heads are high in protein when most other free-range sheep feed is too dry to be provide for their nutritional needs. If you are not familiar with star thistle, this is what is looks like up close:
This is what an entire hillside of it looks like:
And this is what sheep who can absorb the protein from star thistle will do to it!
Brown = grazed star thistle, green = new paddock
When I was young and an "indoor girl" I was occasionally required to weed a hula-hoop sized section of star thistle from our water deprived yard during the summer. Oh the pain, agony and complaining this chore inspired!
Now I volunteer to tromp through a field of waist high barbed weeds and bang electric fence into hard, crusty earth on the weekends. Oh how things change, how we are led to places we never imagined in our youth. Who would have thought such a heinous childhood chore would now incite smiles at a difficult task well done?