"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Food - at last

We had our first visit this year from Jack Frost yesterday morning.  And again this morning.  Never mind the hollows in the ground looking like it had a t-h-i-n covering of snow - the cars were so iced over it appeared as though their paintwork was suddenly metallic - with the ice being about 3 mm thick.
Frost on the ground outside yesterday
We've woken up to a chilly 1oC outside on both mornings.

Have I mentioned lately that I love winter lol

We tried to grow fodder for the alpacas last year, with no success.  The cause was a mixture of soil amendment required, and lack of rain.  But, it was very disheartening for newbie farmers.
Adding 2 tons of lime to the fields acre
But this year, armed with our soil analysis, and 2 tons of lime which RMan added to the soil, we tried again.

The lime got added to the ground in mid-December - we were told to let it lie for 60 - 90 days before planting.

In mid-March RMan sowed the oat seed with the help of John, our local labourer.
This is what 153 mm of rain does to an almost empty dam

Admittedly, it was not only the lime, and the soil prep which contributed to the successful oat harvest - we had enough rain too.  The 158mm which mostly fell in early June was a Godsend.  Not only did it fill up the rainwater tanks, and the dam, but it also soaked deeply into the ground.Which was just what the oats, which had been planted in March needed.
The oats are gorgeous and green, and about a
foot high (isn't it funny how some imperial
measurements stay fixed in your brain)
In mid-June the oats were certainly looking 100 per cent better than last year's crop...
End of June this year - the oats are almost at
the top of the fence level and the fence is about
a metre high
... and were almost a foot tall.  Now, in mid-July they are nearly as high as the 1.0 mtr high fence.

RMan has been toddling out and harvesting an armful for the alpacas every second day.  Giving them a taster, so to speak.

But, it wasn't only the alpaca's who are enjoying the crop...
The birds - mainly weavers - enjoying their
early morning breakfast
... the birds too are have a field day bwahahahaha
Some birds you can see - and there are birds
further down that aren't  visible.
I'm amazed that the oat stalks are strong enough to hold up a bird, or two or three.  We don't begrudge them their seed meals - there is more than enough to go around.
Temporary dry storage for the small amount of
 oats that were harvested by sickle yesterday
We were told that the ideal time to harvest the oats for fodder is when the seeds give off a milky substance when they are crushed, as that is when the nutrition is at it's highest.  That time is now.  So, yesterday, with the assistance of a sickle, the start of the oat harvest proceeded.

Methinks we will need to sort out some sort of "barn" to store the oats in until next winter.  RMan and I have a couple of inexpensive ideas - more on that as it transpires.

There is great excitement all round.  Certainly for the next year the alpaca's oats fodder is sorted.  It feels so incredibly good to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient in that regard.


Dawn McHugh said...

Growing our own animal feeds is something that is on our list, perhaps next year the plan may be put into action, its great news that you had success with it this year :-)

Dani said...

Dawn - Don't know what your feed costs are, but any saving we can make in that regard is a bonus. Plus it relieves us of the worry that the alpacas may be experiencing short shrift in their grazing.

Quinn said...

Do you have to do anything to clean or dehusk the oats before feeding them? The oats I buy are always labelled "triple cleaned" or something similar, unlike any other grain I buy for feed, so I wondered if there is some kind of processing that is actually necessary. Looking forward to your harvesting/storage/feeding adventure! If I could grow the goats' feed, I'd be spending a LOT less.

Dani said...

Quinn - Not that I am aware of, nor read. We just give the whole ruddy plant to them - minus the roots of course. Those we're leaving in the ground to add "matter" to the soil for next year ;)

Chickpea said...

Oh well done, must be a wonderful feeling seeing the field full of healthy plants. I have been reading some of your earliest posts, you have come so far!

Dani said...

Chickpea - It is very satisfying to have successfully grown some fodder for the pacas. Yeah, come to think of it we have come a long way, haven't we :) From bumbling novices we are slowly getting where we want to be. It's an ongoing process, but when something like this happens, it makes the bumbling all worthwhile :)

1st Man said...

How cool is that? Congrats, self sufficiency at its best! We've been toying with the idea of starting to clear (this Fall) a section of our property for "future" animal needs after we found out that several acres used to be (just about 15 years ago) flat smooth pastureland. We'd like to get that back. Your property inspires us.

Keep up the good work!

Dani said...

1st Man - You would not believe the rush when you are able to feed your animals from your land. Can actually see you and 2nd Man with alpaca's too :)

Thanks for your encouragement and very kind words.

Harry Flashman said...

Looks like you folks are cooking with gas! Everything seems to be working out the way you planned. I always like looking at your pictures, you can see so far out to the horizon. I'm shut in by the forest unless I go up slope to a place where there are granite outcroppings and no trees to block the view.

Dani said...

Harry - Not only gas, but solar too bwahaha

Yeah, as much as I like forested areas / woodlands, I think I would feel a bit claustrophobic living within one. I, too, like having some lebensraum.