Tag Archives: fall

Goats Love Eating Acorns

Acorns can kill a cow if it eats too many. Goats can gorge on them like deer can.

This has been a great year for fruits and that includes acorns. The ground in the woods is covered with them.

Turkeys eat lots of these little oak fruits but seem to prefer grass seed much of the time lately. The flocks have been working their ways around the pastures every day. They don’t seem to know turkey season is in full swing even though no one around here seems to care.

acorns on the forest floor

Walking in the Ozark woods is not silent lately. All around is the plop of acorns hitting the ground. Places are scraped clean where turkeys have been feasting. Other places I see a path several feet wide of scuffed leaves and know the goats were by inhaling every acorn they found.

Deer are eating their share up in the woods. The goats act like vacuum cleaners as they shuffle their way across the hills.

Acorns can make a goat sick. I’ve had several come in with upset stomachs. The biggest problem is when they stop chewing their cuds. This can be deadly.

Violet went out with the herd one day. The kids stayed in but not without protest.

That night Violet came in for grain but picked. Her sides stuck out more than usual.

The next morning Violet laid around. She was alert but definitely did not feel good.

Usually a goat lying down and not asleep will chew her cud. Violet was not chewing a cud. She was uncomfortable. Her ears were at an odd angle.

A bloated goat is a problem. I usually start with oil to help whatever is causing the problem to move on through.

Violet was slightly bloated but her big problem was not chewing a cud. This calls for something different.

I gave her a dose of Probios. Other times I’ve used yogurt or kefir. One time, in desperation I stole a cud from another goat.

Nubian doe High Reaches Violet and her kids

Today High Reaches Violet is out eating acorns again. Yesterday she laid around her kids wondering why she wasn’t out watching them play. Too many acorns leave an upset rumen and no cud behind. This can kill but a bacteria culture soon sets things right again.

Stealing a cud takes timing and caution. First you find a victim – goat – relaxing and chewing cud.

You watch until a new cud comes up and pounce. Prying the mouth open and extracting the cud can be dangerous to fingers.

The stolen cud is then forced into the sick goat’s mouth. And it must be forced as this thing stinks and is not at all palatable in the goat’s opinion.

In Violet’s case the powdered stuff worked fine over the course of the day. By the next day she was off to hunt acorns once again.

Many Asters Are Blooming

All spring and summer I have been working on my insane botany project. I’ve been doing the fun part: taking pictures of the many wildflowers and plants. Once I have the pictures I try to identify the flowers. The many asters now in bloom are defeating me.

Asters are among my very favorite flowers. They are the highlight of fall.

white heath asters are one of many asters

White Heath Aster loves open areas such as pastures. It’s two to three foot tall plants are covered with the half inch across ‘flowers.’

First to appear are the white heath asters and Drummond’s asters. When I first saw these, I thought they were the same as they are much the same size and have whole bouquets of flowers surrounding their stalks.

Drummond's Aster is one of many asters

Along the edges of the woods and up into them I found this small aster. The plants look similar to white heath aster until you look closer. The flowers are blue. The leaves are different. The buds are different. This is Drummond’s Aster.

Upon closer look differences were obvious. White heath asters are just that: white. Drummond’s aster are bluish lavender. Their leaves are different. Where they grow is different.

So this year I have been looking closely at the many asters blooming. A case in point are the blue asters along the road.

I stopped and took pictures of a blue aster. It was the only one around at the time. Some of the pictures needed redoing so I stopped again at what I thought was the same place.

Aster anomalus is one of many asters

I stopped for pictures of the spreading aster and found this one. The cup under the flower has lots of curly points whereas spreading aster is smooth. It’s rays are shorter and thicker. It is called Aster anomalus with no common name listed.

The blue asters blooming there were not the one I had seen earlier. In the space of ten feet along the road I found three different blue asters!

In identifying asters there are several important things to look at. One is the flower or collection on tube flowers and ray flowers referred to as the flower. The number and color of the tube flowers matters as does the number, color and shape of the rays.

Spreading Aster is one of many asters

Spreading Aster is one of the blue to lavender asters. It’s leaves are distinctive making it easier to identify than many others. The rays are long and narrow but numerous.

Behind the flower is a base. Some of these are smooth. Others have curly cues hanging off of them.

The shape of the leaves, whether or not the leaves have petioles, if they are hairy or not all need noting. The same is done with the stems.

Unknown aster is one of many asters

This is a new aster to me. It has the long narrow rays like spreading aster but fewer of them. The leaves are different. It resides in my Unknown folder for now.

Some asters have big leaves at the base of their stems. Most do not.

Armed with pictures of all of these points I went home to identify the many asters I had found. First I opened the guide books.

New England asters are easy to identify. Their rich purple with gold centers is unlike any other aster.

New England Aster is one of many asters

New England Asters line the roads with three to five foot plants covered with purple blooms with gold centers. The color is richest on plants in the sun.

The blue asters listed in the guidebook didn’t help much. Out came the Flora of Missouri, Volume 2.

This extensive volume lists 24 different asters not counting subspecies. Some don’t grow anywhere around my county. Seventeen do with four possibles.

I did manage to identify one of the many asters I found with this book. I will work on the others again another day. Wildflowers will fill my winter months too from the number of flowers in my Unknown folder.

Finding Indian Pipes

The goats are busy eating acorns and don’t come in on time some days. I went out looking. The goats make such a good excuse to go out walking.

Acorn hunting for the goats takes them out of their normal haunts and up onto the hills where the oaks rule. So I went up the hills.

Following a path up the hill I scanned the ground for evidence the goats had preceded me. The ground is dry and hard, too hard for hoof prints.

Indian Pipe flower cluster

Often Indian Pipe flowers come up in a cluster like this one pushing up through loose gravel on the side of a hill.

Ahead of me six inch tall translucent white flowers stand up among the gravel bits of the path.

Fall has its asters in shades of lavender and blue, its sunflowers in yellows and trees turning various fall shades. It also has some unusual flowers in white.

Think of plants and you think of leaves, stems and flowers. Two flowers in the Ozarks are only flowers.

These strange plants grow underground living as fungi do eating decaying fallen leaves. In fall their strange flowers appear from under the leaf litter.

The colorful pinesap in orange and red does grow here but I’ve found it only a time or two. More common is the ghostly Indian Pipe.

one Indian Pipe flower

Careful looking finds other Indian Pipe flowers like this single flower among the leaf litter.

The flower emerges with the pipe bowl facing down to the ground. As the flower ages, the pipe bowl rises until it finally points straight up when the flower is old and withering.

Indian Pipes should be easy to spot because of their color. They aren’t. Somehow their color blends into the leaf litter that often mounds up along their stems.

inside an Indian Pipe flower

Even inside an Indian Pipe flower looks different.

When I go looking for Indian Pipes, I look for mounded leaves then for the flowers. They are usually on hillsides near gullies so the ground has a bit of moisture in it. Once one clump is spotted, others are often in the same area.

The goats would have trampled the delicate Indian Pipes so they didn’t go up that hill. I wandered off looking for flowers then picking pawpaws.

Evidently the goats heard me as they were waiting at the gate when I came in laden with fruit.