March 31, 2008


News sure happens fast. No sooner did I read that analysts are getting nervous about this years corn crop that I read that US acreage planted will be down from last year and people are predicting corn rationing.{The numbers in this link turned out to be bogus; assuming 100 bushels per acre yield the nation will produce 4 times what the analyst recorded. She must be a commodities trader.} In response, Gene Logsdon comes through with another great post about raising it yourself.

His key point...

In an economy ruled by interest on “pretend” money, as I call it, about every ten years there has to be a shakeup to bring the dreamers of riches, floating around in their bubbles, back down to earth again

Even if the weather holds in the midwest this year, food prices will continue to head up, and high-grain foods, like feedlot beef, chicken, and pork will lead the climb. Farmers...time to look for alternate feed sources for your grain eaters.

If you're interested in Gene's book, it's available for free from the Steve Solomon's Soil and Health Library.

Update: Bucking the trend towards inflated food prices, I should mention that we've lowered our beef prices. Some production efficiencies, notably our new fences, allows us to do more with less time commitment...

Posted by rich at March 31, 2008 06:45 PM

hey rich, thanks for the link to gene's book. i'll have to take a look at it. down here in southern oregon a lot of us veggie farmers have been talking about grain production as well. we think it might be more cost effective to cycle the grain through animals as forage chop instead of trying to compete with the commodities and their prices. any thoughts?

p.s. our friends josh and melissa (who live 5 miles up the road from us) were just at the farmers market association meeting too. i think melissa's on the board as well. small world.

Posted by: chris at April 3, 2008 09:02 PM

Hey Chris

Unless you've got the specialized machinery, it'd definitely be more worth it to feed the results through animals. Forage chop is pretty high quality, but you'll need a silage/haylage/baleage rig to store it. Of course, if you can graze it in situ, that's the cheapest option...but it doesn't buy you much in February.

If you let it go to grain, you can sicklebar/scythe, shock and hang it under cover, and feed it over the winter. The straw works pretty good as bedding, and chickens love tearing apart the grain heads.

Posted by: rich at April 4, 2008 03:20 PM

what is entailed with a silage rig? a forage chopper, a wagon to catch the chop, and somewhere to store it covered? or is there more?

could you let it go to grain, forage chopper it, and then pile that as feed, or that might just compost eh?

interesting. i'll ponder this some more. investigating an allis chalmers all-crop combine as well. familiar with them? cool little rigs

Posted by: chris at April 4, 2008 04:25 PM

There's lots of options, but the basics is a chopper and either the wagon or a rake. Our neighbor puts up baleage that rolls up what looks like round bales of wet hay and shrink wraps it.

Whatever gets done, it has to be either very dry or wrapped so that its anaerobic. Otherwise, you've got compost and/or a barn fire.

Posted by: rich at April 4, 2008 04:34 PM

we've been talking about 'growing our own' a lot around here lately. we've been thinking about field peas and oats as a layer ration. of course, as you two have already noted, the harvest/storage piece is the issue. we own a grain drill, so growing it wouldn't be difficult, but ... how to harvest? store? process? once you start thinking it through, it's a big deal. we own a copy of gene's book, which is helpful, but he does suggest using a combine for the scale we'd want, so it's kind of like ... ok ... now we're back at square one. combine-less.

Posted by: Katie (Oakhill Organics) at April 6, 2008 07:34 PM