Chicken pasture trees and shrubs

Ever-bearing mulberry

Bush cherryI have a bad tendency to
trees and shrubs
the chicken pastures…then forget about them.  Some die from the
neglect, but others hold their own and eventually get their feet under

The Nanking
and Illinois
ever-bearing mulberries
are in the latter
category.  It it hadn’t been for a late frost, both would be
coated in fruits, but at least we’ll get to taste the first three
mulberries this year (from a tree only one year in the ground!) 
Maybe in two or three years, we won’t have to
our laying hens out into the woods at this time of year
— they’ll be happily
chowing down on mulberries.

We’ve had more failures
than successes, though.  Giant timber bamboo (
) lingered
for a year, then keeled over (probably because we’re near the northern
limit for timber bamboos).  My
hardy almonds were eaten so hard by
Japanese beetles that they bit the dust too.  And several
couldn’t handle the neglect.

Anti-chicken cageOn the one hand, it would be
nice if I committed the time to babying these perennials for the first
year or two.  But  I’m also looking for plants who won’t need
much care beyond annual mulching (if that), so my neglect may be just
the ticket for figuring out the best pasture plants as quickly as

While I’m talking about
my experiments with pasture perennials, I should mention the species
that need more time before I’ll know whether they make the
low-maintenance cut.  We put in two
(only one
of which leafed out) last winter, and a
Korean nut pine
two winters ago is growing extremely slowly in another pasture. 
New this spring are Rosa rugosa and Siberian pea shrub.  Only time
will tell which ones turn out to be perfect plants for our pasture.

Our chicken waterer rounds out the flock’s diet
with POOP-free water.

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