Monday, May 23, 2011

To Eat or Not to Eat

Last night we laid in bed watching lighting flashes and listening to thunder, first from afar and then it rumbled in. Strong wind blew rain sideways at the wall behind our heads.

We were watching the Red Sox and Cubs with Boston leading in the 8th inning when we lost satellite connection. We never heard any especially close cracks but thought the animals had probably headed to the barn to seek protection. They love the rain, as I have said before, but don't like thunder storms.

I was surprised, when I went down to the barn this morning, to see a sizable piece of the big wild cherry tree had fallen on Beau's stanchion just outside the barn. It came off from the top of the tree but I don't know if it was a lightning strike or a weak spot in heavy wind. None of the animals were hurt from the limb falling but I knew I needed to remove it quickly as wild cherry is poisonous to sheep in its wilted stage and I could see some of the leaves had already been eaten by someone/s. John took a chain saw to it and we removed it promptly.

What if we had not been here. Make a note: when we leave for more than a day and someone is watching the sheep they need to know that if a storm falls any tree limbs- wilted cherry is poisonous to sheep. I don't know about Beau.

Generally, animals know what they should eat or not eat regarding herbaceous plants but I don't know about woody plants because they eat the leaves of poisonous trees when they are fresh and I don't know if they know about the wilt factor. I do know many a sheep have died from eating wilted cherry. (hydrocyanic acid)

Wild cherry are everywhere so it is difficult to get rid of them all. When sheep have their choice of abundant plant material they only eat the good stuff but they love to browse on tender leaves and most in the main pasture within reach have been consumed so if a big limb suddenly becomes available it is tempting.

I took Beau and the girls down to the lower pasture this morning where there are plenty of safe leaves. I haven't seen any ill effects today.

Red Sox 5 Cubs 1 , sun came out, -- all seems good.

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