This picture sums up just how far I will go not to mow grass. I hate grass. Never has a crop consumed so much time in care and maintenance and yielded so little joy. We rent so I had not done much in the way of gardening the first 2 years. Only last spring did we decide we are staying for the next 10 years or so which had me totally revamp the front yard you can see pics here.
The guinea pigs came to our home because the youngest among us was lonely. He felt the dogs were not “his” companions (even though the Coconut sleeps in his room) so, being the neo-hippies we are, we researched the optimal habitat for guinea pigs and decided that these folks advocated for what seemed humane conditions. But I had another, secret, reason for going along with adding guinea pigs to our home, fertilizer.
So while the quirky fellas live in our living room I’d often take them out to keep me company while I gardened knowing their penchant for gobbling greens meant I didn’t need to mow the grass and that their droppings were great fertilizer for the lawn.
As the lawn disappeared I continued to bring them out with me, picking the toughest dandelion greens, which they squealed in delight to see, feeding to them knowing whatever minerals and nutrients the dandelion taproot had pulled up would be available to the guinea pigs and then the soil.
We use a system of blankets, towels and newspaper for the cage bedding. Once a week we dump the droppings and leftover feed into the compost bin. I figure the guinea pigs are instant composters so we feed them ends of celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, basically anything they like and then use their manure to enrich the compost.
Putting guinea pigs out to graze in my garden has gotten us a fair share of looks and there are adamant cavy lovers who say having them outside at all is bad. We have red tailed hawks and other raptors in our neighbourhood so we do not leave our guys unattended. We put them out in the early morning or late afternoon in the shade and while someone is out with them. Local cats are also a concern, some have been really curious about this large (and tasty?) looking rodent.
In the gardening world permaculture advocates, like myself, are on the fringe. Using a guinea pig as a grazer may put me on the fringe of the fringe but it is an interesting space to occupy. Plus the little fellas are cute as all get out and highly entertaining. And the gardens? Well they are looking pretty awesome too.