Archive for the ‘Homesteading’ Category

Fodder for thought!

I’ve been reading a lot lately about fodder.  The fodder I’m speaking about is sprouted grains that you can feed to your livestock and replace almost all grains that are fed to them.  There are systems that you can purchase that will grow the fodder for you.  One of the companies that builds them is located about 3 hours away from me.  They are called FodderFeeds out of Bend, Oregon.  I am more than certain their equipment is wonderful, and some day I would like to get one, but I’m just not sure if my animals will like it nor do I have the extra money right now to purchase even one of the small systems.  So, I thought I would start a small trial here at home and see if the chickens, alpacas, turkeys and cows will like it.  Then I’ll start thinking about it.  🙂

So what you do is take whole grain, soak it and then spread it in trays and 7-9 days later you have sprouted grain that looks like grass.  Why is this important.  Well, take dry barley for instance.  Only about 30% is digestible.  You sprout it, and 7 days later it is 82% digestible and the protein had increased as well as many other nutrients for the animals.  For ruminants like alpacas and cows, this will still only be a supplement.  Pigs and chickens it could be their only feed beyond on what they get by grazing.  Here is a picture of what fodder looks like once it has been growing about 7 days.  The white layer is the roots that are 100% edible.  The brown is the sprouted grains and the green is the growth.  All, 100% edible.  This stuff is amazing.  Many people’s blogs I have read like to snack on it while it is growing and they say that it is really sweet.

So why am I doing this? Well, to be honest, first and foremost, to save money.  If I can take about 2 pounds of dry grain and get about 15 pounds of fodder to feed to the animals, everyday, this will save me not only on grain (I won’t buy any but to sprout) and I will be able to cut down on my hay purchase every year.  This year we spent over $1300 on hay just for the alpacas alone.  The second reason, and one of the main reasons I am moving on is the health of the animals.  This will give them a better feed throughout the year, even when we don’t have green pastures.  It will help our cow to give better milk, our alpacas to have better fleece, and our chickens to be healthier even longer.

So today I started our fodder experience.  I am going to try and sprout out 2 pounds of some wheat I had in the garage.  Here are some pictures from these first steps.

Here is the wheat we had.  As you can see, it is old, from 2004.  It has been sealed tight until I opened it today.

I weighed out 2 pounds of dry grain.

 

I rinsed it very well,  I wanted to get the chaff out and to make sure it was clean.

 

I was surprised how clean it was.  Not a speck of chaff.  I rinsed it 3-4 times and then filled it back up with water to about this height with water.

 

I then placed it in our pantry where it will keep a constant temperature and stay dark.  I’ll let it sit for 12 hours and then I’ll drain it and go on to step 2 of the process.

If you would like to continue to follow this project, follow along on my farm web page, Silk Creek Farm.

My wish is that I’ll be able to get a good system up an going here at home to get me started, and then I’ll start putting money in my savings account and start saving for a professional larger system that will grow with no problems because of outside temperature or any other issues.

 

 

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Money in the Bank & Trust

If you’re a farmer and raise livestock, or you have a backyard farm, then feed or hay should be considered “Money in the Bank”!  We had our hay delivered today, and that is a picture of it stacked and ready to get us through the next 11-12 months.  Right now we have 4.5 tons of prime third cutting Eastern Oregon orchard grass hay.  It smells wonderful, and the animals LOVE it.  But one problem, HAY IS EXPENSIVE!  I’m guessing in other parts of the country where the summer rains just haven’t come, hay is getting close to cost prohibitive.  This year we are paying $280.oo/ton.  That is the most we have had to pay to get good hay.  We could purchase lesser quality hay and save some money, but then we would be hurting our animals.  It is hard to find the fine line between quality and price.  How do we make the decision?  We have found an expert to get us our hay, and we trust her and her knowledge.

I think this is the key to many items we have to purchase.  Trust!  You have to find someone that you trust.  Do you trust the person helping you at the car dealership when you are buying a new or used car?  Can you trust your realtor?  How about the guy you see every week at the grocery store in the produce section?  Do you trust what they are telling you and do you take their word for it.  This is one of the reasons we became “farmers”, trust.  We didn’t trust where our meat (beef, pork or poultry), eggs or dairy were coming from.  We decided to become the experts for ourselves, and we now raise our own meat and eggs, and within the year our own dairy products.

You need to trust who you are working with, but for me, it’s most important if you trust yourself first.  There were a few times when me and my wife were first married that we didn’t trust ourselves when we didn’t feel good about a certain purchase or insurance.  We went against what we felt was right because we didn’t want to hurt the person we sort of knew.  That ended hurting us financially.  We purchased insurance products that made us no money and only made our “friend” money.  We’ve learned to trust ourselves first.

TRUST YOURSELF first and then you can know if you can trust others!

The reason our hay is money in the bank is because we will now not have to pay to feed our animals this year.  It is paid for and we’ll get a return out of it.  If we feed our female animals well, we’ll get healthy babies that we can sell, we’ll get a brand new baby cow and then we’ll start getting milk, and then from this hay, we’ll have milk, eggs, cheese, butter, ice cream, fiber from our alpacas to sell and we’ll make money from the babies we can sell.  That is money well spent!

Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Taken by Yousif Waleed

Well, I just got off the phone with Meyer Hatchery and ordered turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Meyer Hatchery is not a local farm where I’ll go pick up a turkey around Thanksgiving, they are a great hatchery out of Ohio that will be sending us 15 day old turkeys in about 2 weeks.  I have ordered from Meyer Hatchery many times before, and they have healthy birds and great service.

Now you may be asking why I categorized this post as “Debt & Homesteading” and not just “Homesteading”.  Well, one of the reasons we moved to our farm 4 years ago was to become more self sufficient not only by raising and growing our own food, but also financially.  We will not be eating 15 turkeys for Thanksgiving (I do like turkey, but not that much!).  We purchase more turkeys every year and then raise the surplus and sell them to people who want a good, pasture/grass raised turkey that is given the opportunity to live a normal life without having to be raised in a poultry house with no sun or nature.  We don’t make a lot of money off of the turkeys, but we make enough to pay for the feed, the processing, and then a little extra for our time each day to make sure the turkeys are well taken care of (about an hour a day).

I read on a lot of other PF blogs about getting side jobs, well, one of my side jobs is right here at my home.  We raise chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys and we are raising a cow that we are planning on selling milk shares later on, all to help us become more independent and self sufficient.  With our farm, I don’t have time to go deliver pizza’s or take another job away from home.  I do have time to do some extra work on the farm to help make a little bit more money to help us reach our goals.
What are you doing to help supplement your income?

Homestead Freedom on the 4th of July!

I thought today would be a great day to start a blog I’ve been thinking about for a little while, Homestead FREEdom!  The name Homestead Freedom comes from a couple of different places.  My wife, I and our three daughters moved to our small farm almost exactly four years ago.  We have a dream to make our farm self-sustaining and raise most of what we need right here on our farm, we want it to be our homestead.

Freedom, well I’ve been reading some blogs lately (I’ll get in to all of them later) and one of them is Man vs. Debt.  One of his posts last year was a post of a TEDx talk he gave late last year.  In his post, “My TEDx Talk:  Sell Your Crap, Pay Off Your Debt, Do What You Love…” he asked a question that has had me thinking the last few days.  His question was:

What does FREEDOM mean to you?

He explains that he isn’t asking what the word freedom mean, but what does it mean to us in our life?  What will being free mean to us?  I’ve thought about that, and I don’t know if I have a perfect answer, but I know what some of the answers are.  One is to be debt free, another to be able to live off of our farm, and finally to run my own business.

One thing he says in there is that most people don’t like their jobs.  I am one of the people who does like my job.  I really enjoy the people I work with, I enjoy what I do, but I don’t want to do it the rest of my life.  I would rather be at home on my farm and make money from my farm, but since that isn’t possible now, I really enjoy what I am doing!

My hope with this blog is to share our journey of getting out of debt (and that may be a long journey), our journey to adding to our farm, working with our farm, and working towards our dreams.  I hope you’ll join us on this journey and I hope to learn from anyone reading.

So, what does FREEDOM mean to you?

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