Shellin’ Corn

(Left to right) Samuel (4), David (7), Jonathan (10) and Elizabeth (8) take turns running the old corn sheller. Most of the work they did by hand, then used the mechanical sheller for the last bit.

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.

Jacob (3) spent three days picking up loose corn.

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.

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4 Responses to Shellin’ Corn

  1. Those are nice, sturdy overalls on the boys!

    Mr. W, in the last part of your post you say that the cows in milk get their grain ration raised from 2 pounds to ___, but you left out that number. How much do they get when in milk? I know nothing about caring for farm animals and really want to learn as much as I can. Thanks for giving us a glimpse!

    • villapacis says:

      We really let our dairy animals eat all they want. They’ll pig out, which makes many people imagine that they would eat forever, but they don’t. If you let a milking cow chow down…and you are buying bagged animal feed, you’ll be paying $8+ dollars per 50lb. bag of feed and they’ll each go through 20+ lbs. each week. If you had 2 dairy cows, that would be $8 per week just for grain or $32 per month. In addition to that you’ll need hay, which costs $20 for a large round bale. In addition to that, you’ll a mineral block which is like a salty vitamin that they lick. Think salt lick with nutrients added.

      That might seem like a lot, but your two milk cows would be giving you (on average if all is well) over 6 gallons of milk PER DAY. Yes, you’d be spending $50 per month on feed, but you’d be producing well over $1200 of fresh milk each month–if milk is $3.50 per gallon at the store. Now, that’s way more milk than a family can drink…but you can do what you want with the rest…and feed it to your animals. I have 6 boys who will all be working hard on the farm in a few years…we might drink that much. 🙂


  2. Thanks, Mr M. That is very helpful.

    I have 4 boys and 5 girls who LOVE raw cows’ milk, so I don’t think we’ll have a problem disposing of the milk. 🙂

    Plus, they like to make butter and ice cream, and want to learn how to make cheese. No problem. Whatever we don’t eat or feed to the chickens can be bartered with our friends who have bees (they make great candles from the wax) or others who have other things we need.

    It’ll be a while before we have any animals besides the chickens, but I really want a Jersey. Do you know anything about miniature Jerseys? They are suppose to be the original Jersey that was brought here from England, before Americans bred her to be bigger ad produce more milk. Supposedly they eat less but still produce plenty of milk. Full size would be fine by me, but just wondering what your opinion on minis would be. I don’t know of any in my area (I could be wrong), so I would bet that finding a bull for her each year would be difficult.

    PS: Dungarees are great.

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