What’s for Lunch?

I’ve been a little fixated on food lately, since I’m trying to eat less of it. I’m not starving myself in any way, and feel full and satisfied, but I’m eating fewer sweets, more protein, and fewer carbs (but I’m not doing the extreme low-carb diet. No thanks.) My goal is to drop the 25 pounds I put on during a two-year-long eating binge, and then not binge again. In six weeks fourteen pounds have come off, so I’m doing okay. (But I’m getting desperate for a glass of wine! Arghh.)

It’s hard not to think about food. So instead of thinking about human food (or wine), I will instead focus on the food our sheep and cattle eat.

When animals graze, you need to know what they’re eating. Are they eating mostly grass? Here’s some grass:


What kind is it? I must confess I neither know or care, which will bring a scolding from Melissa, since she’s fascinated by all the different types of grass. Me? Is it green? Does it have blades? It’s grass.

What’s in the pasture besides grass? Is there a lot of clover in the pasture? Or alfalfa? If the sheep are eating mostly grass then suddenly move to a pasture with lots of clover, there could be a problem. Sheep and cattle will bloat on too much clover or alfalfa, as their tummies don’t have enough “clover or alfalfa-eating microbes.”

When we notice there’s a lot of clover in a pasture, we might move the sheep in there for a few hours, but then kick them out again, back to the previous pasture. They don’t like this. They look at us as if we’ve lost our minds. We’ve already eaten everything back there. You expect us to go back and nibble around our piles of poop?

Yes, we do, at least until they’ve had a day or two to adjust to the different diet.

So what does clover look like? Everyone’s seen this red clover:

And what does alfalfa look like? Like this:


We have three legumes in our pasture: clover, alfalfa, and birds’ foot trefoil. Clover and alfalfa can cause bloat, but here’s the AMAZING thing about the trefoil: no bloat. Sheep can eat all they want and they won’t bloat. It’s a miracle food.

Here’s what a pasture full of yellow birds’ foot trefoil looks like:

And close up? Can you see the slender brown seed pods? They look like, not surprisingly, a bird’s foot.

Not all farms can grow trefoil successfully, but for some reason the plant likes our heavy clay soil, and thrives.

Maybe if I find myself needing to go on another food binge, I should choose birds’ foot trefoil as my lunch.

The only question is, shall I choose red wine, or white?

6 thoughts on “

  1. I read your blog from Arizona, a homesick MN girl. I’m amazed at how livestock survive on the dead looking, so-called grass here. But, apparently it’s far more nutritious than all the lush green stuff you speak of. I heard if you move animals north to south or vice versa, you can starve them or kill them depending on which way you’re going. Amazing.

  2. Catherine,

    That is really cool info about the grasses…thanks! I commend you on your health efforts and especially that you are losing weight at a healthy rate and doing it the healthy way. 🙂 It isn’t easy.

    I would go with a dark beer instead of a wine. 😉

  3. Thanks for writing your books, thoroughly enjoyed the “Hit by a Farm”. Would be interested in seeing a community collaborative effort on a Rising Moon Farms Almanac, or just yours and Melissa’s effort.
    I had one question (you may answer it in your next book “Compassionate Carnivore” but have not received it int he mail yet.) How do your sheep and chicken go from pasture to plate? (besides dropping off at “butcher”, hate that term!) I would like to learn more about the humane, ? if you will?, ending of farm life…..before I venture into my own dream of a farm, and your work is honest and human, so if you have to time to explain I would love to learn more. Thanks.

  4. Barb,

    Sorry I didn’t respond to your inquiry—been either out of town or sick. But by now you must have received your copy, so hopefully that will answer your questions.

    We no longer raise meat chickens—couldn’t make a profit, but a friend has a butchering plant so when we have old hens, they go there. It’s quick.

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