Luke, I Am Your Fodder

Wouldn’t that have been great if I were able to add the labored breathing? You know you totally just read that in Darth Vader’s voice! Jeez, you all must think I’m a sci-fi junkie or something between Vader here and my buck being named “Seven of Nine”. That’s right folks… I referenced Star Wars and Star Trek all in one post. This actually has nothing to do with sci-fi movies, but I couldn’t help myself.

I have Trevor excited about one of our next project! That’s rare enough for a celebration! We are going to be setting up our own fodder sprouting system. Huh wha? Basically, we will be using a combination of whole wheat and barley grain seeds to sprout into tall, nutrient dense food for our chickens and rabbits. We even hope to have converted all of our animals (except the bees of course) to a 90% sprouted fodder diet. The chickens will still need grit, possibly calcium, and will free range for bugs and the rabbits will still need hay for roughage. We want to get our animals off of processed, pelleted feed and on to a much more natural and delicious food source. Hold on to your pants…

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image source: google images

I know what you’re thinking, but this is bigger and better than rinsing some seeds in a jar until they sprout. Sprouting fodder takes the idea of sprouting and lets the grain grow until right before the sprout gets its second leaf at around 7-10 days. This amplifies the grains natural proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymatic activity, omega 3s, amino acids, and natural hormones. Crazy stuff. Not only that (as if it weren’t enough), when you sprout grain in this way your feed expands in volume as well. When you start with a 1 pound bag of grain, you can end up with 3 to 8 pounds of sprouted fodder in about 9 days. What’s even better is that we can use the same sprouted fodder for the chickens, rabbits, and incoming quail year-round!

Our 50 pound bags of pelleted feed sits around for a few weeks and it certainly doesn’t multiply! So this is pretty much a win, win for the animals and for our wallet. And let’s be honest, our wallets do usually make the end decision right? Trevor is more than happy that our feed bill may very well be cut by two-thirds.

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image source: google images

The main idea is to keep sprouting grains in a cycle. Every day you start as many trays as you feed in a day. So if I feed 2 trays of fodder to the rabbits and 1 tray to the chickens, I will use 3 trays of fodder and need to start 3 trays of seed grain every day. For a 9 day cycle, I will need about 30 trays (this gives me 3 extra trays for emergencies). Of course it will also depend on the size of the trays too.

We hope to have everyone fully on the fodder system by the end of March. As always, we will be sharing our setup and progress with you here and I have started a “Sprouted Fodder for Livestock” section on our DIY Projects page to refer to. Feel free to ask questions or hopefully even share advice if you are using a sprouted fodder system already! This should be fun!

Featured on “Farmgirl Friday” Blog Hop

Book Review :: The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture

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The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem
Use the link above to purchase from our Amazon affiliate page and support Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm!

I love this book! But don’t stop there.

I love this book because not only does it get into the philosophy behind permaculture, it gives you examples of permaculture and the knowledge to design a permaculture system to fit your space and needs. I simply could not put this book down. The author packed this so full of great, useful information that I couldn’t even skim! That’s a big thing to me… I’m a book skimmer. I can get the general message of a book by flipping through or speed reading through the paragraphs, but I found myself actually going back a page and re-reading some of what was written. Not because it was difficult to understand, but because the methods in this book made me think. I love books that make me think! I even had have scratch paper stuffed in the back of the book with notes of crops and ideas I would like to try and especially things that I would like to change about what we are already doing.

The author covers everything I could possibly hope for in this book. How to do everything yourself from compost tea and log beds to trellising and mushroom logs. For the first time, I discovered theories behind building soil up instead of tilling (foreign concept to me) and tree guilds. I had no idea that some of these methods actually produced greater yields than conventional American gardening. I say “American” gardening because, thanks to high school history, I remember that the English would arrange their gardens from shortest shrub to tallest tree. Tree guilds remind me of this, but include so many more components that can give you even more food in the same amount of space without plants competing with each other. Simply enlightening!

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The whole idea behind permaculture just amazes me. I didn’t really have the most educated idea of what “permaculture” meant before, but through this book I have become much more familiar with the concept. So if you are struggling with what permaculture is or why everyone is so ga-ga over it, please please read this book. You need it.

The concept of “inputs and outputs” is something I have been very interested in and just didn’t know how to best execute it on our property before. The idea is that you produce no waste. None.
Example: You input water to your garden and the garden produces (output) vegetables and grains. Your chickens eat the grains (input) and produce eggs and manure (output). The chicken manure is input to the garden to help produce more vegetables and grain. And so it continues.
Obviously that is a very simple example, but imagine that your whole garden, all your animals, and you, are able to have a working relationship between each other where the needs of one element are filled by the yields of another element. It’s a full circle folks.

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So, obviously, I am enamored by this book… which doesn’t happen often. But if you still aren’t convinced that this book is worth it, just wait until spring and summer when I show off our new permaculture-inspired changes. I have a ton of ideas to try out to make our micro farm much more of a closed system. I would love to go all out one day, but until then I have a list a mile long of aspects of our farm that can improve and how to improve them. Trevor will be rolling his eyes and regretting buying this book for me, but I’m sure you will look forward to seeing what comes of this!

Happy reading!

About Me, Sarah

Sometimes I forget that through all this blogging and sharing, you don’t really know too much about me. Sure, you have gotten an idea of what I am like through my experiences here, but otherwise, I am just another little thumbnail picture and a quick bio. I don’t really know why I feel the need to share, but I’m going to. So skip this post if you don’t need another blabber mouth in your life…

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I don’t know of anywhere to begin except that I usually tell people that I am the black sheep of a black sheep family. (Sorry if you’re reading this Grandma!) I’m pretty sure I was the weird one growing up and now, even at twenty-six, I’m not so sure I ever grew out of that weirdness. I was the kid with the mismatched socks, Christmas headband in May, and t-shirts with hand-drawn puff paint sketches. I’d like to blame the early nineties, but I am pretty sure anyone who knows me would see right through that. I still love to do creepy things like make a pool party cake for Easter or sew cockroach stuffed animals… for no real reason other than to give myself a giggle.

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No one but my brother would eat that cake by the way. It’s totally a jello pool.

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and so was my mother’s family for generations before me. My great-grandfather was one of the oldest survivors of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and even helped build the Golden Gate Bridge (his name is on that sucker I’m told). We are old school Californians.

Growing up I always wanted to be an “artist” and now I know how truly subjective that term is. I even attended RISD (riz-dee: Rhode Island School of Design) for a short stint and tried my hand and computer animation. I hated it. It turns out that I have been working with ceramics for twenty years for a reason. But I wanted to try something I had never done before. That aspect of my personality seems to work its way into every thing I do. I’m a Virgo folks.

Trevor thinks I am eccentric. Maybe I am. He is always pulling me back to the ground when my ideas get too big. And anyone who thinks he is a lesser man for squashing my dreams… obviously has never heard some of my crazier ideas and plans. We need each other for that very reason. I am also quite outspoken and opinionated. If you have ever met me you would have noticed that I am not afraid to tell you what I think. Sometimes I even catch myself interrupting, but its only because I am excited or I completely agree with you. Don’t be offended.

I am a firm believer in following your own path. Even if it’s wrong. God knows I have been wrong more times than I can count! I’m human; what can I say? Most of my life has been passing whims, but I think this one might be here to stay. Unlike my other “jobs”: 411 operator, cashier, retail craft buyer, belly dancer, tea house owner, art camp director– farming has really worked its way into my soul. It feels weird to even call myself a farmer. Like I haven’t earned it? Or what I’m doing isn’t big enough? But farming has really reached into me. I have become passionate about my food and about my rights to grow veggies and raise animals. I recently told a friend that I am a “meat advocate”. When she asked what that was, she had never heard of it before, I told her I had just made it up on the spot. That’s my job now. Meat advocate. I am the opposite of PeTA. (How much hate mail do you think I’ll get for that one?) I love keeping people on their feet and I’m sure my few close friends can see me smirking through the screen.

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I’m not really sure where I was going with all of this, but I am hoping that you have a greater insight into the mind of the life you are reading about here. I like to think of myself as an easy person to talk to so don’t feel weird for emailing me randomly. So many of you emailing me seem like you don’t know what to expect back… is that bad or good? I have actually made some pretty good friends through this blog and have met even more wonderful people than I know what to do with! So there it is guys, Sarah in a weird little nutshell.

See Ya Next Time Sid

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This morning when I went out to feed the rabbits, I opened the door to the Rabbitry to find Sid paralyzed and screaming. I immediately pulled him out of his cage and laid him outside to inspect him for a cause. After checking his eyes, nose, ears, stomach, and vent I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with him. But there was obviously something wrong because he was very limp and was laboring to breathe. There were no signs of disease or illness or even the notorious wool block. That’s when I decided that he would need to be put down. It’s pretty horrible to see an animal visibly suffering. I turned around to get my pellet gun and when I turned back to Sid, he was already gone.

I fear he may have broken his back.

Obsidian had only been with us for four months, but he was already growing on us. We nursed him back to a healthy weight and even arranged for “dates” with the ladies. He was really turning out to be a good rabbit. Sid was a very spirited buck and I think that may have even led to his demise. Even a large breed like French Angoras are very fragile creatures.

As parents, Trevor and I are very open with Cami on the subject of life and death. Considering we grow and raise our own food, we feel that we need to be. But this is our first real encounter with the death of an animal on a personal level (excluding the hand-me-down goldfish that died last year). Sid was a “breeder” for the herd which meant that he was not meant for food in any way. This left me a little unprepared as to how to explain to Cami why Sid was not in his cage this morning.

She cried for a little bit and then decided that she would take care of his babies for him. I can’t help but cry a little as I type this just because I am so proud to have raised such a compassionate little girl. Cami realized that Sid couldn’t be there anymore and that she could be. She knows what death means, but she also knows what life means.