Wheatgrass, The Promise of Spring

Lulu and Fanny
Lulu and Fanny (and Red in the background)

Walking through the streets of New York City last month, Jon and I came upon a tiny, elegant, outdoor corner shop with a woman in it selling flowers and grass.   The flowers were beautiful, but it was February and seeing that green grass growing in a little square pot, well, it was like a miracle.  I hadn’t really thought that I missed the grass, but seeing all that green was like bathing in sunshine.

The woman told us it was wheatgrass and asked if we were getting it for our cats.  She said they loved it.  Well, I wanted it all for myself, but when we got home, not wanting to be selfish, I put it on the kitchen floor and called the cats in.  They looked at me like, Where’s the cookies, completely ignored the wheatgrass and complained until I gave them some cat treats.

So now, the wheatgrass was all mine.  I put it on the windowsill during the day and on the mantle at night.  I watered it everyday and watched it grow.  I never imagined I’d get so much pleasure out of a pot of grass.

As the grass started to grow I joked with Jon about mowing it.  But I didn’t really want to, I wanted it to get long and straggly, not a suburban lawn, but the wild grasses of the African Savanna.  The stuff the lions sleep in and the antelope hide in.

But this morning I noticed that the tips of my wheatgrass were turning yellow and it was starting to fall over the edge of the pot.  So I got  my scissor and gave my wheatgrass a hair cut. And I knew as I was cutting it that I would have to do something special with the clippings.  I thought of the chickens (because they always come to mind when I have some food-like stuff I don’t know what to do with) but I gave them some old sunflower sprouts last week and they didn’t eat them.  So then I thought of the donkeys.

Now the donkeys will eat leaves off a tree and even dead leaves from the ground, but they won’t eat old lettuce or spinach.  I don’t know why, I tell them it’s leaves, but they just don’t go for it.  But wheatgrass is grass.  And it’s been a long, long winter and a long, long time since the donkeys have eaten fresh green grass.

I remember hearing about a documentary years ago about a gorilla who spent a good part of his life in a concrete cage in a zoo.  The film showed him finally being released into a natural environment in another zoo.  The first thing he did was lay down and roll around on the grass.  I always imagined his joy at touching the earth once again.

Of course it not quite the same, but I thought of that gorilla when I held out my hand with the wheatgrass in it to Lulu and she gobbled it up.  Fanny did the same and they both wanted more.  I know they understood what a gift it was.  There was a calm that settled over us and I leaned the side of my face against first Lulu’s neck, then Fanny’s.  They were soft and warm from the sun and smelled like donkeys smell, earthy and dry.  And there was a stillness and satisfaction that seemed to settle over all of us.   This handful of grass such a great gift.

Next winter I’m going to grow wheat grass in the house if I can.  And every now and then, when it needs a mowing, I’ll delight the donkeys with some fresh green grass when the ground is covered with ice and snow and spring is months away.

Wheatgrass after mowing.
Wheatgrass after mowing.

11 thoughts on “Wheatgrass, The Promise of Spring

  1. I’m sure you can grow wheatgrass even if it means a small grow light and a warm spot. Don’t know if you two have a blender but throw that grass into fruit and veggie smoothies and you’ll feel the energy surge!Donkeys are SMART. 🙂

  2. What a beautiful post! I felt as if I were there with you as you fed the wheat grass to Fanny and Lulu. What a TREAT after this long, frozen winter.

  3. What a lovely harbinger of spring. A little pot of spring green grass. To have a pot of something green, alive, and growing inside on a cold, wintry day is a blessing as well as a day brightener.

    How nice, Maria, that Fanny and Lulu loved the haircut trimmings. And they loved that you thought of them and brought them a treat. What a wonderful connection you have with the animals on your farm. You and Jon have created a welcoming and sacred space in which to live.


  4. You remind me of a year I spent in England, 1982-83,working on a museum exhibit in London. I lived with old friends who kept a redwood yard table under fruit trees. That Spring birds were stripping buds from the trees and obviously dropping seeds all over. Grass began to grow along the plank joins of the table and one day I heard the wife say “It’s time to mow the table!”

    Of our 3 indoor cats one will decimate a pot of grass in about 10 minutes and the other 2 ignore it completely–each to their own. I grow a pot or two each year, just to see green if we have a Winter like this last one and yes, It is snowing again outside on the first day of Spring.

    All my best wishes to you both and to the other Bedlam Farm inhabitants.

  5. How I love the connection you have with your animals! I grow all kinds of things in the winter under a shop light fixture with regular fluorescent tubes (two of them) that my husband hung from the ceiling, on adjustable chains, over a table in our living room. I have lettuce, spinach, beet greens, wheat grass thru the winter, and no, my cat won’t touch it either!! He is strictly a carnivore, most of which he hunts for himself. Annie

  6. My husband screwed two hooks into the ceiling, threaded some light weight chain from the hardware store thru the hooks in the shop light fixture and up to the hooks in the ceiling. This fixture had the fluorescent tubes in it, both cool white. Supposedly it is better if you have one cool white and one warm white fluorescent tube, but my plants don’t seem to care. So 30 mins of his time and $22.00 later I have a mini conservatory! Used it three winters now. Annie

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