This month I was inspired to talk about the animals of Garner Grows, because there have been a few exciting animal-related happenings here at the garden! As some of you may know, my sibling Layla began a side project raising goats 2 years ago. The female goats will be bred so that they can become milk-producers. The males will be a source of cruelty-free, sustainable meat. Several other members are involved in the housing, feeding and caring of the goats. If you are interested in getting involved, let Layla know!
Our two females both became pregnant, and one gave birth on May 10th! Mom’s name is Perilla, and her two new baby boys are Rutabaga and Radish. The other female goat, Paprika, should deliver any day now as well. Once the babies are no longer so reliant on mom’s milk, I am looking forward to trying my hand at making some goat cheese with the extra milk!
Also a project started by Layla, we have a number of rabbits being bred as a meat source. They are so adorable that it can be difficult to think of them as food, but rest easy knowing that these animals live a much better life than the animals that you purchase as meat in the grocery stores. Layla is passionate about homesteading and permaculture, and these projects are just the tip of the iceberg for them. I imagine that someday they will run their own eco-conscious, self-sustaining farm! I also fully intend to turn to them in the event of a civilization-crumbling apocalypse, because their various gardening, animal breeding, and homesteading skills will be a life-saver!
Another side project at Garner Grows involving animals is our honey bees, which are tended to by Sarah and George. Currently all of the bees are housed off-site, either at Sarah’s house or another member’s house, Aimee. Eventually we will be moving some of the colony to the garden location at Thompson Road Park. Sarah and the crew just harvested the first honey of the season, and hopefully will have some to share with us at the next few workdays! Please bring your own small jar or container if you want to partake (approx 4 oz).
Garner Grows used to have egg-laying chickens on site as well, but we are unfortunately not allowed to have them at our new location. We do still have a few members who keep chickens at their homes, however, and are sometimes willing to share their bounty of eggs! Occasionally you will find some eggs available along with the Thursday produce and bread pickup.
In addition to our livestock animals, there are also the natural animals one might be privileged to spot on a workday at the garden. Recently a few lucky members were treated to the rare sight of a bald eagle! I unfortunately missed this workday, but Tammy managed to catch the sight on video. The bald eagle was chasing another bird of prey, an osprey, apparently in an effort to steal the osprey’s hard-won fish.
Toads are another common sight at the garden. Recently Tammy introduced one of our youngest members, Ivy to a toad. She was trying to get the toad to sing for us by stroking his head, but he wasn’t feeling very vocal. Ivy was interested, but wasn’t so sure she wanted to actually touch the toad!
A blog about garden fauna wouldn’t be complete without mentioning pollinators. Many of nature’s flying critters and other bugs are of vital importance to any garden, as they help to spread the pollen from one plant to another. At our Grand Opening on June 3rd, there will be a booth set up with information about pollinators; be sure to come by and check it out!
Of course, sometimes the animals you see at the garden are pets owned by our members. Pam & Carlos have 2 dogs who love to come and romp in the garden! Other members are welcome to bring well-behaved dogs to workdays as well. Be sure to share some pictures with us if you bring your fur-baby to a workday!