Milkweed, the food of the monarch butterfly, grows in my goat pasture. Milkweed is on everyone's list of plants which are toxic to goats. It's also on everyone's list of plants to protect in order to save the butterflies. What to do?
I've seen Peaches nibble a leaf or two, but surely the goats wouldn't eat so much of it that they would make themselves sick unless there wasn't anything else to eat, right? But, Light River did get bloat last year, and I can't think of anything else in the pasture that could have caused it. Despite my friends recommendation that Roundup will take care of my "weed" problem, I don't want to kill the milkweed.
I'm going to try to relocate it, even though it's already grown bigger than the recommended transplant size. Apparently, it's a little tricky to transplant because it has a deep tap root, which is nearly impossible to dig up without breaking. It's a perennial though, so if I can manage to relocate the plants, they will come back each year.
After doing the evening animal shuffle - locking the donkeys in their yard, and letting the goats have access to the big pasture. I gathered a bucket and a shovel, and dug up three of the plants. The problem with gardening with goats is that they want whatever I have, so it was a challenge to stay focused on my task while trying to keep them from eating the milkweed in my bucket.
Hattie the donkey was interested to see what was in my bucket too. I set one of the plants with it's big root ball on the post while I negotiated the gates. I thought I dug a pretty big root ball, but the plants started to wilt right away.
I decided to plant these three at the top of the herb spiral. Milkweed isn't an herb. Dang it, Rain, you're already messing it up! In my defense, I wanted to plant them somewhere very noticeable, so I won't forget to water them. Plus, they might look really neat on the top of my herb mound, especially if they attract some butterflies. Or, it might look really goofy. We'll see, right?
Because they were already so droopy, I decided to cut the top off the plants. Since I trimmed the roots when I dug them up, it seems only fair to trim the plant to a size that can be supported by fewer roots. Look at all that white milky sap. I can see why they are called milkweed, although if they changed their name to milkflower, they might find more admirers.
I asked all my co-workers if anyone would like to give a milkweed a home, and despite Brandon's predictions that no one wants my weeds, four folks offered to take them. Hooray for butterflies!