2015 is the year that we transform our home and gardens to a self-sustaining homestead. Our first step is adding goats for milk and meat. I know… Some think that this is strange. But it is our way of life.
On December 27, we got to bring Frankie home. He is a neutered St. Croix sheep and the companion to Pepper, our new Nubian goat. Pepper was taken to our friend, Jessi’s homestead for breeding. ( www.westcreekfarmstead.com ) she got to come to her new home on December 29. Frankie cried and cried for Pepper. You should have seen him when we got Pepper home! He pranced around!
What a sweetheart Pepper is, too. The kids are loving every minute of having them both here.
What is our goal with goats? With Trystan’s severe intolerances to both gluten and lactose, we hope to add milk back into our household and want to make our own cheeses. Don’t get me wrong, we do have some milk and cheese In the house, I just want more! We want to make our own soap as well. We should, keeping our fingers crossed, have a baby or two born at the end of May. We know that Trystan’s tummy can handle goat milk too.
Over the last month, the kids and I have put up a fence, built and installed 4 gates. We had many of our amazing neighbors drop of supplies while we working. We had a chicken coop and a wooden goat feeder were also given to the kids. We are truly blessed!
Ok, so I am sure that you are finally bored with my posts on fodder…. I am just thrilled at being able to share my success (and my failure as well) with you… and I know that there are some out there who want to have chickens AND save money on feed. This is the way to do it! Once you master the process.
However, This morning, I woke up to my fodder being moldy… Not certain what happened, But we are dumping and starting again! LOL AHHH They life of experiments and trial and error. I think that I need to drill more holes in the bottom of the trays and use less seed. We were using 3 cups of seed in the plastic shoe boxes. I think that we are shifting to 2 cups… I also had buckets under each of my trays rather than letting them drip down to the next one down because I didn’t have the correct shelf.
I also went down and picked up some buckets at the local hardware store. And I drilled 10 holes in the bottom of them as well. I am not certain if everything wasn’t draining well enough or if it was too thick in the trays… so with trial and error, we are starting up again. I do also plan on soaking the see for 24 hours rather than 12 hours. Here in AZ, there is so much less humidity in the air that I worry that I was over watering and
Here is day 7 (that is one day of soaking and 6 days in the trays)
**** Note: We are going to continue to grow this batch for 3 more days and then see if the mold is worse or not.
Oh My! Day 5 is here… we are half way through the growing on the first tray of barley fodder. I have determined that if this continues to work that we need to build another greenhouse… Oh LARRY?!?! Want another project? I am thinking a lean-to on the front of the house. 🙂
So far, so good, no mold or mildew. That was one of my biggest worries. We are going to move the trays to the garage in the evening for now until the fruit flies expire for the season. Those little buggars are driving me crazy! I think that I need a metal cart like I have for the kids homeschooling supplies. I picked that up at Sam’s club for about $60.
Anyhow, the root system is really taking off on this first tray and the other trays are following just like the first one did. And now, on day 5 there are little plant sprouts too!
So the sprouts have really begun this morning and the roots are forming! We have 3 bins going now, plus tonight will soak seeds before bead for the next day to make the 4th one.
There is a “sweet” smell from the seeds and about 3 dozen fruit flies on them this morning. I have to find a way to nip that before it gets bad. We are still having beautiful weather, so, these seeds will be going outside later today once the morning cool warms up – I have added a paper towel on top of them while outside and did not put them in direct sunlight, but rather under my porch out front (we have high sun with no clouds…. PERFECT for solar oven cooking!!). We are keeping them extra moist by watering mid-day today too… just because they are outside.
This has turned into a bit of a science experiment for the kids and I … good thing that we homeschool!
We woke up this morning to a bit of a change on our barley. They have begun to sprout over night and we can start to see little white root coming out of some of them.
We did have some fruit flies on the trays this morning. Made a home-made fruit fly trap (jar with a funnel and a 1/2 of a tomato inside of it.) And we will be putting the seeds outside for a while today.
Our process today is simple. Dump the soaking barley into it’s new tray and shift all of the trays over one. We watered day 2 and day 3 with a cup of water each and with the drain water, I watered my herbs outside.
Day 2 is kind of boring. We dumped the soaking seeds into their tray and watered twice, once in the morning and once before bed. The seeds did get much larger from soaking overnight. We dumped the drained water onto our herbs outside.
We added 3 more cups of grains to our soaking bucket for the night to start another day. I really don’t know why we hadn’t started this before. It only takes a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at night.
Day 1 – Yep, we are starting this journey of growing our own chicken feed for our hens (and a few roosters… and some ducks and geese too) If this works the way that we are hoping, we will have to double production on this in the next few weeks and then double it again when we get our rabbits and goats!) I foresee a second greenhouse just for feed in the future if this works the way that we are hoping.
Day 1 is VERY SIMPLE! You measure out your grains into a metal bucket and add enough water to cover the seeds in the bucket! Do this at night before bed when you are watering your trays. THAT’S IT! Every day, you repeat his process. After you dump your soaked seeds onto your try the next morning.
We measured out 3 cups of seed and it is about 1 pound 1 ounce in weight. That should yield us about 4 pounds in fodder on Day 10. (And that mean that 1 bag of Barley will last about 7 weeks when making 1 of the shoebox trays.
We are going to revisit our fodder growing in severeal weeks. We dumped all of the moldy trays (yes, the chickens loved eating them still) and have 2 new methods going – A bucket one that we saw a youtube video on and another one where you water the top and the excess water drips down to the bucket below.
(NOTE: THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED OVER THE NEXT WEEK AS OUR FODDER GROWS!)
We were generously gifted chickens after our black labs brought me almost all of my laying hens at the end of the summer. We also hatched some of our own eggs that we had in the coop the day of the “chicken disaster 2014”. Then, last week, we were gifted 16 more chickens!!! We have a TON now (not really a TON, but about 40 or so and to me that is a ton right now.)
Winter is coming! Yes, I have been waiting to say that for a while now! And we want to be able to keep our feed bill lower for our hens and keep our egg production up. I called my sister, Jen (www.turningcrunchy.com) and she showed me how they are feeding their chickens for the winter (and supplementing their goats as well). When she said that 50 pounds of barley seed can become 200 pounds of feed by sprouting, I jumped all over that!!! SAVING MONEY!!!
I searched high and low for a metal food shelf (the ones with holes in it) at a yard sale to no avail. I am a closet case yard-saler for things for around the Kid Ranch. We are starting small and working our way up. Trystan and Rowan cleaned up one of my ugly greenhouse shelves (yep, another yard sale purchase) and brought it into my dining room for our science experiment fodder growing experiment.
To start out, I bought 9 plastic shoe boxes and drilled 10 holes in the bottom on one side. And because I couldn’t find the correct shelf to allow the water to drain from box to box, we used 9 of plastic shoe boxes that I had here already to catch water too. This will allow the water to drain out so that the spouts are not sitting in water and not forming mildew or mold. (***We do have a little bit of mold growing on Day 6… so I am going to really watch it and see if it gets worse. We will water less and drill more than 10 holes in the bottom of the trays.) We also gathered 9 pieces of wood to put in the bottom of the buckets to make them angle so that the water drained out easier.
I also found recleaned barley at one of our local feed store. (I <3 Warren’s in Chino Valley, AZ!)It was about $13 for a 50 pound bag (I am hoping that this will give me about 200 pounds of feed. (We buy 4-5 bags of feed a month for our chickens in scratch) I will measure weights as I am going through this process.
I measured out 3 cups of barley and placed it in a metal bucket – not a pretty bucket at all, as a matter of fact, it looks like it has been drop-kicked a few times as well as run over by the motor home at least once. But, there are no holes in it to leak water… so it will work PERFECT!! You can put as much seed feed as you need in your trays, as long as it measures to less than .5 inches so that it doesn’t mildew.
After adding my seeds, I filled water to just above the barley seeds in the bucket to have them soak overnight. I placed the bucket up on my planter windowsill in the kitchen to “soak”t. This is a daily event, because this is the start day for my sprouts for my fodder. And since my birds will be eating every day, I need to start a new batch of seeds daily to make their meals.
The biggest complaint that I have so far is that there are fruit flies on the bins even with a fruit fly trap made and sitting on the shelf. It is the end of fruit fly season… and is already too cold to put sprouts outside overnight. I am going to take a tray down to the greenhouse later today to see if they will grow there with the cooler evening temperatures.
List of items that are needed (or at least the ones that we used in our house):
A metal soaking bucket
9 plastic shoe boxes with holes drilled in the bottom of one side
9 plastic shoe boxes to catch water drippings
9 pieces of wood (or mall cut PVC pipe to angle the top shoe box for water drainage
a bag of recleaned (NOT HEAT TREATED or ROLLED) Barley, wheat or oat (Although, I have read that oats do not sprout as well)
cup or pitcher to water your seeds
A shelf with direct or indirect sunlight.
Check out each individual day from our Fodder Growing Experiment