Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Friday, January 25, 2013

What We Are Up To

We have been busy working on the garden lately. I am sure I have said it before, but we are greatly expanding the garden. We don't need more space to grow more for us as we grow plenty to use immediately and put up for future use. However, one of our big goals this year is to grow more for livestock feed. Feed costs are rising and the drought plaguing most of the country has not showed any sign of letting up. In fact, it just seems to be getting worse. That means even higher grain costs as farmers simply can't grow grain. I have already culled my goat herd and can't afford to cull the rabbit herd, in fact I need to expand that. So what is a smallholder to do? Well, the answer is simply grow as much as you can yourself. Now, it really isn't practical for many smallholder's including myself to try and grow all of their current grain needs. It simply would be too time consuming to do it by hand and too costly to try and find equipment that would even fit on my property let alone find the pasture space to give up to that much production. So again what to do? Well, take a look at what some of the old timers did who were in the same situation. In the days before heavy equipment which led to small grain fields instead of several hundred acres farmers grew root crops to supplement their small grain fields. Things like turnips, beets, sweet potatoes were very often grown more for livestock fodder than human food. These things could be easily stored during the winter to supplement grain. Peas were readily grown for a protein source and often dried on the vine. Vine and all were then fed during the winter to the family milk cow. Another thing that some did was to plant and grow a grain field and then let the stock harvest it themselves. Usually they turned the stock out onto fields that were not quite mature in that the plants were still green and while the grain had formed was nowhere near ready to harvest. The time that the animals were on the fields allowed the farmers to stock up grain rations that would be fed later when the fields were fallow. This meant that the farmer could grow more grain than he was capable of harvesting and still get the benefits of large grain production. So what are we planning here on our little 10 acres? Well, we are planning lots of root crops...turnips, sweet potatoes, and beets in abundance. Everywhere we can stick them. Then we are planning a small grain patch to be rotated throughout the year. Then we are planning on turning the pigs on the front pasture for a few months until it is time to plant quinoa (high in protein) and then move the pigs and plant the grain which will be harvested. We have a lot of concrete space around the pond which is in the center of the garden and we are building beds on top of this concrete to grow crops that would otherwise take up ground space. This will increase our gardening square footage tremendously. We will also be planting loads of field peas to be our protein source. Field peas don't take up much space and a whole lot of them can be grown in a small area. Many varieties produce several crops during the growing season and unlike beans can be fed straight off the vine or simply dried. Once the harvest is done then the whole plant can be pulled up and fed to the livestock. It is a lot of hard work, but we have to watch our costs and even if we can only substitute one store bought grain meal a day for the critters that still cuts our needs in half. So, I guess I had better get to work. Blessings, Kat

1 comment:

teekaroo said...

This has been on my mind as well, even though I don't really have much livestock to feed. In my future garden I would like to include a large area to grow root vegetables for livestock.