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June 11, 2012

Amber Waves of Grain

The wheat I planted is ripening... isn't it glorious?  I believe most of the grains in our part of the world are early this year because of the warm and mild weather - folks are taking off their grains for harvest.

Just beautiful!

So am I. However I'm not using a big combine. Just my scythe... good old SwingBlade. I planted the wheat as a cover crop but instead of just tiling it under I let it grow to maturity. Now its serving double duty as feed for the chickens and straw for mulch.

These are still a little green

If you are interested in this project then run right over and get Gene Logsdon's incredible book, Small-Scale Grain Raising, Second Edition: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains, for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers.  This informative book tells you exactly how you can grow grains in your garden - from getting the soil ready to harvesting. How fun would it be to have a pancake garden?

And of course Harvey Ussery has some things to say about using your homestead's resources to feed your flock. He finally has a book out also - I consider him to be the King of the Flock. He really knows his stuff.

In the mornings me and ol' SwingBlade trolly out to the front of the property and cut down some of the the grains, gather them up where they lay, and take them into the henyard to a multitude of rejoicing chickens.
The straw - the stems from the wheat - have all kinds of uses. And are free.

Sure I guess I could harvest them for our use but really, I'll get more bang for my buck cutting down my feed bill than having it for our use. Especially since we are trying to be all paleo and stuff. When I get a larger area we can work on having more for us but letting the cover crop that improves the soil help in these other ways is a great use of time and space.

These are the oats, just about ready.

The hennies scratch around to get the grains leaving the straw for me to rake up - with some barnyard litter - to use as mulch for the garden. I've been working on building up the mulch layer in the pathways of the gardens to cut down the weeds, retain the moisture, and provide places for the worms to hide.

If we ever get some predictable rain I'll till in the stubble from the grains and then plant more alfalfa and hay. But for now we are so dry that the rain that is supposed to be coming isn't even making it to the ground. Hopefully tho, we'll get a good soaking later today. Until then me and ol' SwingBlade are heading out to get some "free" food for the hennies.

Happy Monday everyone! Anyone else taking off their grains?