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June 28, 2012

Feeding whole grains to chickens - the old fashined way!

You can't get much more old school than this!? 

Most of our state is under an extreme fire warning. We've been so hot and dry that some of the grain fields are actually burning down. Not only from stupid people throwing burning cigarettes out their car windows but also just from the heat. It a terrible loss for the farmers and a hazard for everyone nearby.

Our grain patch is far enough back from the road that I don't think an accidental fire is likely - but then I remembered that we are coming up on the 4th of July. One of my least favorite holidays. Not that I'm not patriotic... far from it. Its just that most times I'm standing there in my yard with the hose just waiting for my stupid neighbors to have a shoot 'em up, shoot 'em off, good-time-for-them-and-no-one-else bonfire. So I figured I'd get out there and take off the rest of my wheat before something foolish happens.

You can read more about why I let the grain ripen instead of just tilling it under here. Today I thought I'd show you what I do most mornings. I gather up Ol' SwingBlade, the pitchfork, and Little Red and head outside the gate.

I only have a small patch left but this patch has fed my hennies for most of this summer. A few swings later and I have a nice little pile of wheat in a heap.  See how I put it all in a row? Its easy the scoop up like this.  If I was fancy I would have something like this to help make this work go faster.

I scoop up the grain and load up Little Red and back to the henyard we go. This morning I had some much appreciated help. Thanks, honey!

Then I just dump it in the henyard and watch the fracas.  The hens thresh the grain themselves. That is - they remove the grain kernel from the husk. Not only does this keep the hennies busy and out of the bingo parlor, but its basically no work for me at all!

Whats left when they are done eating all that good stuff is just the straw. I just rake it all up along with the barnlitter and voila!  Mulch perfect for the garden. Isn't that just a wonderful little cycle?

And this is great if you are looking to feed your hennies without soy. You can read more about the how's and why's here. My pal Freemotion really knows her stuff!

Growing our own grains has been one of our best projects. This fall I'm going to go nuts planting winter wheat in the lower part of hill where we have been clearing. The wheat will grow very slowly over winter and then reach for the sky in the spring - and then we'll start this all over again.

Feeding whole grains to chickens - what could be more fun?

Happy Thursday everyone!  Keep cool today - its gonna be a scorcher for sure.