Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Thursday, 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.

11 comments:

Veggie PAK said...

Self-sufficiency the old fashioned and BEST way! It must be nice having all those chickens. I bet you don't lack for fresh eggs.

Jody said...

That is a wonderful little cycle. To bad we don't have space for grain. Although we're getting better at winter cover cropping. Maybe we could harvest some of that grain for our birds the way you've shown. Our birds do love to scratch through the hay litter we use under the rabbit hutches. Yes we have rabbit meats. Don't tell anyone. We don't want to be in trouble with anyone for eating fury things :)

David said...

I love me a circle. How is the buckwheat going? Is that for the hennies too or for human consumption?

mitsy said...

I'm interested to know a little more detail about this. How much wheat are you growing (area-wise) for how many hens? Where did you get your seed and when did you sow it? Are you feeding the hens any store-bought feed? Are you planning on trying any other grains for them? Sorry for so many questions, but I'd really like to do something like this!

tami said...

Bingo Parlor...Ha!

I love how your brain works....

Stoney Acres said...

Too bad we don't have more space, our hens would have a blast with that. It probably makes for some great tasting eggs!!

Chai Chai said...

This post had me immediately thinking the following:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/stories/fairytale/littleredhen/story/

Follow the link and note the pictures and names fit in perfectly with the characters of the GoodLand!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks VPak! We have a LOT of eggs... and they are superdelish.

Hi Jody!Ha! you should tell everyone about your meat rabbits! Good for you!

Hey Dave! Buckwheat is mostly for seed - its great for improving the soil and loves our bad clay.

Hi Mitsy! I'll do a more detailed post early nest week. But the short answers are:
* not even half an acre and the hen swarm pic shows most of the chickens. I havent counted them for a while...
* Got the seed from local feedstore - I can get it by the pound, instead of 50lbs at a time, which is great for us.
* Nope - just whole grains and a lot of free ranging.
* I have oats, wheat, and buckwheat.

Thanks for asking - I'll have more later for you. :-D

Hey Tami - them hennies are always up to something....

Stoney Acres - Its really just a small patch and every bit counts.

CC - thats hilarious. I do have loud ducks and lazy dogs...

Kate Fide said...

I just did a search for this topic as I knew you would have covered it at some stage! We have just built hennies a new yard with the idea of growing them feed in their old one then rotating etc. Do you always just cut and give it straight to them?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Kate! yep - just cut it down and give stems and all to the hennies. they will just love it and have a lot of fun scratching out the seeds. then you can sweep/rake up all the straw/stems and other barnyard litter and put it in the mulch pile.

Kate fide said...

Thankyou!

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