• Finding Alaska: The Life and Art of Shannon Cartwright
    Finding Alaska: The Life and Art of Shannon Cartwright
    by Shannon Cartwright
  • Trapline Twins
    Trapline Twins
    by Julie Collins
  • Riding the Wild Side of Denali: Adventures with Horses and Huskies
    Riding the Wild Side of Denali: Adventures with Horses and Huskies
    by Miki Collins, Julie Collins
  • Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher
    Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher
    by Miki Collins, Julie Collins
  • Two in the Far North
    Two in the Far North
    by Margaret E. Murie
  • Alaska's Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser
    Alaska's Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser
    by Jim Rearden
  • Back Tuva Future
    Back Tuva Future
    by Kongar-ol Ondar
  • Cave of the Yellow Dog
    Cave of the Yellow Dog
    starring Batchuluun Urjindorj, Buyandulam Daramdadi, Nansal Batchuluun, Nansalmaa Batchuluun, Babbayar Batchuluun
  • Mongolian Ping Pong
    Mongolian Ping Pong
    starring Hurichabilike, Geliban, Badema, Yidexinnaribu, Dawa (II)
  • Making Great Cheese: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre Plus 18 Special Cheese Dishes
    Making Great Cheese: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre Plus 18 Special Cheese Dishes
    by Barbara J. Ciletti
  • Grain-free Gourmet Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living
    Grain-free Gourmet Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living
    by Jodi Bager, Jenny Lass
  • Cooking Alaskan
    Cooking Alaskan
    by Alaskans
  • Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
    Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
    by Carol Hupping
  • The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
    The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
    by Carol W. Costenbader
  • Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
    Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
    by The Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante
  • Dersu the Trapper (Recovered Classics)
    Dersu the Trapper (Recovered Classics)
    by V. K. Arseniev
  • In the Shadow of Eagles: From Barnstormer to Alaska Bush Pilot, a Pilots Story
    In the Shadow of Eagles: From Barnstormer to Alaska Bush Pilot, a Pilots Story
    by Rudy Billberg
  • Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun
    Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun
    by Velma Wallis
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
    Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
    by Velma Wallis
  • Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life
    Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life
    by Nancy Lord
  • Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
    Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
    by Steve Solomon
  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
    Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
    by Mike Bubel, Nancy Bubel
  • Beluga Days: Tracking the Endangered White Whale
    Beluga Days: Tracking the Endangered White Whale
    by Nancy Lord
  • Fishcamp Life on an Alaskan Shore
    Fishcamp Life on an Alaskan Shore
    by Nancy Lord
  • The Snow Walker
    The Snow Walker
    starring Barry Pepper, Annabella Piugattuk, James Cromwell, Kiersten Warren, Jon Gries
  • The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)
    The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)
    starring Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Madeline Ivalu
  • Heartland [VHS]
    Heartland [VHS]
    starring Rip Torn, Conchata Ferrell, Barry Primus, Megan Folsom, Lilia Skala
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    Hunting * Fishing * Trapping * Gardening * Gathering Wild Edibles * Raising Livestock * Building by Hand * Homeschooling * Flying * Backpacking * Dog Mushing * Cheesemaking * Rock Hounding * Backcountry Living * And Other Old Timey Stuff

    Sunday
    Jul062014

    Fodder update

    Well, barley fodder has been a main component on our homestead for 8 months now.  By the time November rolls around, I expect we will have grown 18 tons of sprouted barley fodder in our family room!

    Chickens are happy, goats are happy, and now the little piggy is happy... and most of all, I am happy.  Yeah, it takes routine work- every day will find me harvesting fodder and scrubbing trays and washing buckets and soaking grain and watering seeds.  I still love it.  It's a little messy- future plans include building moss mats below the trays to catch drips, but overall it's been a real bonus around here.

    We have seen real gains against continually rising feed prices, allowing us to drop the price of our eggs when everyone else's prices are going up.  And the condition of my goats is fantastic.  They have done really, really well on barley fodder.  

    The piggy is new, he's only 25# and eating barley fodder and goat milk every day.  No packaged food and no whole or ground grains and no slop.  We'll see how long he takes to grow, but so far so good.

    So I guess I'm calling an end to the fodder experiment and accepting that it is a beneficial facet to the way we run this homestead.  Love it when things work out!

     

    Sunday
    Jan052014

    Chicken fodder, etc.

    Adding straight barley fodder to our feeding regime didn't give my birds what they needed to lay well.  Then I added pea sprouts to the mix and the chickens tried to avoid eating them.  They like soaked peas, cooked peas and fermented peas... but not pea sprouts.  Go figure.

    The next experiment was to add camellina and flax sprouts to the barley fodder.  The camellina did not sprout well, and the flax sprouted very well but created drainage problems for the barley.  So I scrapped that plan for the time being and moved on to clover.

    My alyce clover seed finally arrived after about a 3 week wait.  I put it to use right away, and built a new tray system to grow bird food.  Here is what it looks like... simple and it works.  What I didn't figure into the equation is that I'm feeding the sprouts earlier, so my yield isn't going to be 5 or 6x.

    For the first phase of this rendition of the experiment, I've been mixing 1 part clover with 2 parts barley.  I'm not presoaking the seeds at all.  Here is what the seed looks like at the end of day 1.

    Day 2

    Day 3Day 4

    Day 5

    And then we feed it!  The birds love it, both chickens and quail.  They've only been eating it for 4 days now but thus far there is zero waste and laying is more than holding steady... its even perking up a little.  Of course the experiment is yet young, so we'll watch how things unfold.  But for now, I'm really happy with how its playing out.

    The next move is to increase production as I'm only getting a 4x yield by feeding time and I'd like to have about 30% more to feed them each day.  

    One last pic:  here is what our goat fodder system looks like in full production.  My heaviest tray thus far has been 20 pounds but most weigh about 17.5.  So our yield is still hanging between 5 and 6x.  

     

    Saturday
    Dec282013

    Reflections

    Another year is coming to a close.  2013 sure packed a punch, and I can't say I'm sad to see it go.  That's alright, live and learn and be here now... right?

    I have more fodder updates for those who are following our experiment in a new way of life.   I increased the drainage slant on our trays to 2 inches and increased the number of holes in the edge of the tray.  This successfully improved our rootmats and germination at the low end of the trays.  

    We've also quit growing straight barley trays and are seeding all trays with 1 part peas and 8 parts barley.  My new tray weight record is 19 pounds!  So, we are getting there... another step closer to that magic 6x yield.

    Other changes include switching up how we feed the fodder to our livestock.  Previously, I had been feeding 3 trays full free choice to all the goats in the yard.  It turns out that the young goats were hogging the fodder and started getting fat on it.  Now I've switched to feeding fodder on the milkstand first, and then the leftovers go out to the yard feeder for the young ones to munch on.  

    I'm still waiting for the clover seed to arrive.  It should be here any day.  The plan is to seed 1 part clover and 3 parts barley for the chickens, 1 part clover and 1 part barley for the quail and see how that does for everyone.  Life is one big experiment.

    If I can't get my quail to lay well on fodder, I've decided to give them up.  I refuse to feed soy and they're not doing great on added fishmeal... what they do best on is hamburger but I just can't afford to feed that to my birds everyday.  So we'll see what happens with the clover aspect.

    Other news is that Ben is gone trapping for awhile and my longterm interns will be moving on to greener pastures this spring.  If you know of some free spirit who wants to learn alot and work super hard in rough living conditions, send em my way.

    Cheers, and may 2014 be the best year yet!

    Thursday
    Dec122013

    Birds in the wild

    Cool.  Ben brought us home a fresh ruffed grouse.  We carefully prepped it for our dinner, and I want to share with you what we found.  Here's the food that was in it's crop.  Can you see what it was eating to keep it strong and healthy in our deep winter?

    Spruce nuts, high bush cranberries and what I think may be blueberry bush tips.  Yum.  Now I know how to configure feed for our quail...  And while we're at it, here's an eyeball pic.  Cheers!

    Wednesday
    Dec112013

    Barley fodder gains

    It's been so exciting to watch our system grow... but the real enjoyment is in seeing our milk production improve.  My herd is currently producing 13.4% more milk than they were giving before we started feeding fodder.  

    In the springtime or summer, it might be easier to shrug at that number since milk numbers are generally on the rise during that time of year.  But increases like this are never seen this time of year, when our sun has gone behind the mountains and will not rise again until early January.

    In fact, it seems that milk production will continue to improve for at least awhile before the herd settles into their new normal.  Mango, an older doe who has always had a difficult time holding her weight because she puts all her energy into the milk bucket, looks fatter than I have ever seen her.  And the newest doe, Moonbeam, is perking up nicely with a new fluffy coat and an overflowing udder.

    Pretty incredible stuff.  I'm still having a blast, working things out, watching it grow, and feeding up my animals.  We've continued to make improvements to the way things work... I suppose it will be a work in progress for sometime- as all new projects are.

    I installed a recoil hose to water the shelves, no more hauling water by the jar to each and every seed tray.  And I hooked up gutters at the back and front of the shelves to feed waste water into buckets for easier removal.  Then I bumped up production from 2 to 3 trays per day.

    The best part is that our new record for finished tray weight is 17.5 pounds, giving us a solid 5 times return on the barley investment.  And I'm still aiming for that 6x yield, so I'm sure more improvements will be coming...

    I'm mixing things up for our bird families, since they like the fodder more than they like their usual feed.  This is a problem because the barley fodder has a lower protein percentage, and their egg production started to suffer the consequences.  So today I started the first tray with camellina and flax substituted as a portion of the barley.  And I ordered some alyce clover which has 35% protein to add to future trays.  

    Now I'm starting to dream of pigs... and how much barley fodder I would have to grow to support a breeding pair and their subsequent offspring.  Maybe by springtime we'll be ready!