Last week was corn shelling week…the kids spent the entire day shelling corn and they got it all done before rains came the day after they finished. There are times when I think that school makes human beings miserable–especially seeing how joyfully kids work with their hands…for hours and hours and hours. They came in blistered and dirty, but perfectly happy. We could buy an electric sheller…but why take all of this away from the kids…our corn shellers. Even better, everyone who came over was handed a bucket to fill with corn. We sat out front, working with our hands and enjoying a relaxing time to talk and enjoy the simple life. The sheep hung out by us, begging for an ear every now and then. This corn is animal feed and we buy it by the truck load from a neighbor. When we’re finished it’s half the price of buying corn at the feed store, and it gives the kids plenty of work. We will metal garbage cans and store them in the barn, then crack the corn at feeding time for the animals, mixing in some oats, wheat and molasses. Corn is the chief source of energy (“fire” to classical farmers) in most animal diets on the farm, to which other grains are added to add nutrients–protein in particular. In addition, each animal has free access to fresh, clean water and either pasture or hay. Milking animals get alfalfa hay, which is more tasty and much richer in nutrients. Dairy goats get a pound of grain each in the morning and evening. For sheep, we throw about 2 pounds into a trough for them to share. The cows get 2 pounds each, which goes up to when milking. We grind it find and mix it into household scraps for the pigs and chuck a scoop or two a day to the chickens. Contrary to what many people pretend…it’s not that complicated.
Want to read a great book on animal feeds…go to Google Books and search for the old classic, Henry and Morrison’s “Feeds and Feeding”. Don’t buy modern books on animal care. I’m not sure if it’s in print.