Raising my own grain?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by havenberryfarm, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    I am thinking about raising much of my own grain to feed livestock/chickens next year. I would like to raise corn and oats and some sort of legume. Last time we raised corn I think it worked out to about 180+ bushels per acre. The land is fairly fertile. I am wondering how many bushels per acre of oats I can expect. I would have to do it all by hand, so I would only do about 1/3-1/2 of an acre in oats. I found out that the seeding rate is about 50-75 lbs/acre in this area, and I would go high since I am broadcasting. I could rototill if necessary.
    I also have 5 acres that we let the neighbor farm with his and then we share the crop. We have soybeans on it this year and plan corn next year. The 1 1/4 acres I am thinking of using for a grain field is fallow this year and the corner of it is over our (new) septic system. Could I even use that corner at all?

    Also, is this all worthwhile? I think so but DH does not. But then, I am the one who will be paying for the feed out of the grocery budget! Plus I really like the idea of doing it myself, but I have no idea of all the work that is involved. I have gardened, but I have never planted more than a 40x60 area in vegies. Feed costs seem so scary and depressing to me too... Plus, I won't have to weed oats and corn will I? ;)

    Sorry for all the questions, and for posting this line of thinking in several different places. I am a little obsessed with the idea. :no:
     
  2. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you just priced buying what you need at the grain mill and grinding it yourself?
     

  3. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Valid point. You also ought to look at comparative prices. It's likely that you'd be better off growing a few different beans (and raiding them for green beans, and canning beans, then harvesting the dried beans, and baling the bean straw) and BUYING cereals, than growing a few cereals.
     
  4. Of course it's not worth it. But few things we enjoy really are. So, if you are obsessed, you will try anyhow....

    Oats needs to be planted really early, if it catches a little snow before it's up, no problem. It needs that cool spring to set up good. Way to late for that. Corn it is really too late for also. Anyhow here in Minnesota, about all you can plant is beans yet.

    We get 120-200 bu of corn here, and can get 40-80 bu of oats per acre.

    I would not wish to till or run equipment over a septic system at all. Around here they are only 12" or so deep, so could not run any real machinery in the ground either.

    Harvesting & storage are always problems on small-scale. Seeding & getting it to grow is fine, but hard to harvest.

    --->Paul
     
  5. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    If your neighbor farms other ground, he may have some corn this year he would give you in exchange for your share of the beans. Make sure you check prices and get an even exchange $ for $, not quantity for quantity.

    We planted oats last year, but baled them rather than harvesting just the grain. Cows love that stuff!

    Perhaps you can work out a deal with the neighbor to plant and/or harvest your grain. Sounds like he has the equipment and if it's near where he farms, it may not be a big deal for him to do it for you. I'd probably do it for someone as a favor, if they were nice and good neighbors.

    I also would not plant over the septic, unless you won't be using any machinery at all.

    We use our own corn for feed, but we farm a good bit of ground and have the equipment and storage for it. It does save money, but we have a lot of mouths to feed. Consider all the options of what you can do with that land, then do the math and see what makes sense. Depending on what animals you have, you may be able to plant something they can harvest themselves in the form of an extended grazing season.

    Jena
     
  6. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Great replies. Thanks.

    My neighbor planted all soybeans this year. He prefers to buy seed in bulk I guess.

    Great idea about giving the cattle oat hay with the oats still on there. I wondered how I could harvest that. I wonder if sheep and goats would like that too. I could harvest a little of that with a scythe?????? Maybe just a 1/2 acre or something.

    I think I've been talked into planting primarily corn, but I can't plant that year after year, so what else can I plant to improve the soil in the off-year(s). Oats will not really be enough.
    AAUUGGHH! The thought of growling my own soybeans and harvesting them myself gives me a migraine. :eek: Maybe I could just do a clover and feed it to the pig and chicken. Heck. That pig would probably rototill it all up for me too.

    You know, I really shouldn't be thinking online.... :eek: I am gonna quit now. I have been on this site on and off all day long. Man, I love you guys.
     
  7. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    Around northern and central idaho as long as you have moisture inthe ground you can plant oats up to July and get a crop off, and making it into hay is something regualrly done.... on ground where we have routinely got avg 60 bu wheat, we have got 90 bu oats, the ground is more condusive to growing the oats i believe or the wheat was not intended for that particualr ground type at all.

    Oat hay is tricky to get up, a couple dayz to late and you have oat straw with about every kernel shattered out, so best to watch it close and monitor the weather and be ready to cut before it starts to turn color, it still contains a high quality of feed and goats, sheep and rabbits will eat it as well as cattle and horses.

    If you rely on a cusstom processor to cut it and bale it you will never get it up on time and lose out, making it better to have your own machinery, albeit an square baler and mower and rake with a single tractor to pull the implements, or a combine to harvest the grain [you should be able to get your nieghbor to drill the seed for you ata reasonable cost per acre]. Depending upon how deep the septic is you should avoid driving on it, although if it is a concretectank you should not have a problem, ive driven over 1000 gallon tanks with an 1150B case crawler and not broke one, and drove over them routinely with 580 backhoes with no problems either. the drainfield depending upon the type it is would dictate what you do there, if shallow, you may have a problem even with 4 inch pipe, if it is the newer style of arch, then it will give away in a heartbeat so avoid it altogether with machines. Growing a crop on for animals to graze should be alright though i would not let the swine on it for fear of them damaging the lateral lines trying to root up moisture.

    William
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    To answer a question yes sheep will eat oat hay but it has to be made right. You don't have to grind grains for sheep, but I think Paul is right, getting it harvested is your weak point.
     
  9. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Can you do it? Yes. Have I done it? No.

    I would suggest the book Small Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon. It's a great book that would address all of your small scale questions. For example he talks of cutting grains with a scythe. Rather than threshing the grains he talks about leaving them on the stalk and letting the chickens do the "threshing" He also discusses sprouting the grains on the stalk as feed. The straw after the grain is picked off becomes bedding.

    Please read this book. It's out of print so you might ask your library for an interlibrary loan or search for it on Bookfinder.com there's a few copies listed right now.

    When I get my poultry operation going next year I'll be using some of the ideas from this book.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. zekell

    zekell Member

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  11. Gayle in LA

    Gayle in LA Well-Known Member

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    Practical Skills by Gene Logsdon, Rodale Press is another good source, particularly for corn if I recall. And Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living has excellent coverage of small-scale growing and harvesting of all sorts of grains.
     
  12. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a strong feeling that if you take a sythe out and cut a half acre of your fallow ground right now you will be able to get a better idea about the scope of what you are thinking of doing. You will have to do $300 worth of labor figuring it at minimum wage to harvest $100 worth of grain. We are not talking about easy work either. You will be as sore as a boiled owl long before you are finished. If you are physicaly able to do that kind of work, your time would be much more profitably spent mowing lawns with a push mower. You could make enough in one day to buy more oats than you will harvest by hand from a half acre. And the oats we buy in zone 5 are northern grown, and better quality than we can grown here in the warmer climate.
    Just imagine how great you will look after a summer behind a push mower.
     
  13. stonefly71

    stonefly71 Well-Known Member

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    Growing up here in Ohio we use to plant 2 acers of corn and pick and shell it by hand. I tell you it was a pain in the butt. Now if thats all you have to use then thats all you have to use. If your person who shares your land has the equipment then I think you could talk him into picking it for you since it won't take that much time. Espesily(sp)? if he has other land to pick with same equipment. Won't hurt to ask. We kept are corn in a corn crib and shelled most by hand and sometimes used the neighbor's corn sheller which was a hand crank one. Good luck hope things work out for you .
     
  14. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. I found a guy in Bowling Green that sells mixed grass/alfalfa hay for $3 a bale. At that price it would be pretty silly for me to try to do it myself. I think I will just do corn on it and rotate it with a legume cover crop. I could try clover and just pasture the chickens in the summer and till it under in the fall. Could I do a two year rotation that way? I am thinking that the green manure plus the chicken manure would make fertility high enough again for corn. What about trying to pasture pigs on it in the fall? Could I rely on them to till it under for me? Would it fatten them up?

    Thanks for your responses. I like to think ahead too much. This is all just so interesting and exciting for me. I just want to try everything!!! Of course, reality sets in pretty quickly. I am pretty strong (for a girl :D ), but I can sure drive my DH crazy thinking up all these wild schemes. so sorry for my constant questions. My kids drive me crazy when they pester me for answers and here I am doing the same thing!
     
  15. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I have a very old book that describes "hogging off" a crop. Basically, they turned good-sized pigs onto the ready-to-be-harvested crops, and let them help themselves. The pigs dug potatos and peanuts, knocked down corn stalks to get at the corn, and so forth. The farmer supplemented as he saw fit.

    This was before the days of easily available machinery, and it was easier to keep up the fences than harvest by horse power.
     
  16. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Very cool. And without spending a penny on equipment!