The animals and I are all so sick of waiting for the grass to grow! Time to take things in hand and grow our own forage inside (in my shower actually). I should call this how to feed a farm from your shower!
Even Poppy was out there yesterday desperately looking for some green to munch on.
She always loses her hair when she is pregnant. Her temperature rises I guess.
Today is the last day for the cold Easterly that has been blowing into her pen for weeks now – slowly, slowly it will turn to the South. She hates it when I shut her door so we will all be grateful. But that cold wind was brutal.
Anyway, I am going to start growing sprouts in earnest this week. It takes seven days to get from the beginning to the end of a batch. Jake makes pea and sunflower shoots to sell to the lucky people on his List and I realised I have everything I need to make my own shoots for my own animals. I have already bought a bag each of whole seed, animal feed grade (because it is cheap) ; oats, barley, fieldpeas, sunflowers and wheat for sowing in the fields. So I am dipping into those bags.
I have buckets with holes in them for the draining.
I have old seed trays that I will clean up with a little bleach and some scrubbing.
I found an old second hand restaurant grade metal shelf with one wheel missing on ebay.
And my shower is big enough for growing the sprouts and has a hand-held nozzle for watering. (I may have to take a deep breath to squeeze past the shelf into the shower (once it arrives), but I designed it for washing dogs and myself, so it is quite big enough for a 6 foot high set of shelves. Also all the watering water will drain into the grey water tanks outside that we use to water the Kitchens Garden.
So the set up took nothing more than Thinking. Everything is here. And the shelves are on their way.
If I stick to it I will look for better trays – the seed trays will not stand up to much hard work, I think.
The rule of thumb is to feed about 2% of your animals body weight in sprouts. (Of course we will have to introduce these slowly to the pig’s diet as they have not had greens for some time). One pound of barley seed will produce 6-7 pounds of sprouts. (Though the barley seed I bought did not sprout in it’s test so I am soaking a mix of oats and wheat – both of which grew very well in the test). All this seed will have been stored in cold sheds over winter as it is feed seed – raw and dirty from the fields. OK – back to maths –
The pigs in the field are almost 200 pounds and the sows way over three hundred plus little pigs and chickens and Manu. So that is over 2000 pounds of animal. So I need 40 pounds of forage a day. FOUR trays.
So I will sprout four pounds of seed a day.
Remember it takes SEVEN days, so in a week I will have seven times four trays in some stage of production. What is that – um. 7×4=28. (Thank goodness I can still chant my times tables).
Yikes – 28 trays – well, we will see. OH NO! Scrap that. The first two days of growing are in BUCKETS. So we need twenty trays – much better. And if I can stack the trays for day THREE then we only have sixteen growing on the racks.
Is my maths keeping up? We will see, I am only on Day TWO and you are still on Day ONE. You live in my past. Let’s see what happens.
Tane will LOVE sprouts!
Though labour intensive sprouting grains does two very important things – it changes the nutritional makeup of the grains to a product with less sugar and more protein, more palatable, alive, healthy, etc. Sprouting grains for hogs.
And it will be cheaper and at this time of year with the farm running on egg sales we need to be careful with the feed money. I feed a lot of hay to the pigs for their greens and will continue to do so for their roughage, but way less dry grain. Here is another good read.
OK – I will take you through the week WITH me.
DAY ONE. 1. Put the seeds in a bucket, wash with water and 1/2 a tsp of bleach (or peroxide or vinegar) in a five gallon bucket of water to kill any moulds that came in with the seed, drain and rinse until grains are clean, then cover with clean water and soak for 12 – 24 hours. The soaking seeds are in a bucket with a hole in it that is inside a bucket without a hole. When I sign off here I will go and lift the full holey bucket up and set it on the shower floor to drain. Then give the grains another good wash and leave to sit in the bucket for another 24 hours, occasionally washing.
Also, I START ANOTHER BATCH every day.
Have a lovely day.
WEATHER: Rain coming. But it is warmer so the rain is a good thing. Note the wind! Poppy will be pleased.