Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Do We Call It The Animal Garden?

Stone Bridge left a comment a few posts ago:

"I have kind of a dumb question...why do you call it the animal garden? "

First of all, there is no such thing as a dumb question, but you knew that already, didn't ya?

It's a good that I explained last year, but there are of course new people reading this blog this season.

As you probably all know, we raise laying hens, meat birds and pigs....every year.

Feeding these dang things gets expensive....and besides, we're trying to be more and more self-sufficient as time goes on. We'll never be 100% self-sufficient, but I will settle for growing most of our own food and meat, and making our own fun (the inexpensive kind).

We Really Really Want to stop giving so much of our money over to the Feed Store. Knowledgeable people, yes they are, to a degree. Although once when I was in there to buy lay pellets for the hens, I asked the lady, "What other cheaper ways are there to provide food for them?"

She looked at me like I was insane....oh well, not the first time that's happened! There was nothing, she assured me.

Yeah, right! So I started doing a bunch of book reading and internet surfing to see what I could find.

And since I really like John Seymour's books, I read them over and over and realized we could be growing at least Some of the feed we needed for our animals.

And there it is....the Animal Garden. Yes, it is Bigger than the Main Garden (Human Garden) but then again, there are more Animals here than Humans....
I just hollered to the Gman and he hollered back that the size of the garden is about 40 x 60 feet.

Last year, the Animal Garden was half the size as this year. And we learned that in order to feed 3 pigs, we would need Twice the garden space. So we enlarged it this year...problem is, we also doubled the amount of piggies this season....Doh!

Anyway, here's what I planted in the Animal Garden this year:

10 rows Turnips
7 rows Mangels
7 rows Rutabagas
4 rows Field Peas
6 rows Carrots
2 rows Beets
2 Rows Sugar Beets
2 rows Potatoes

That is a LOT of food....I spaced them all close, squeezing in as many as I could.

So, somewhere around the middle of July, the Gman started doing some thinning down there. We knew that would have to happen...actually we wanted that to happen.

Why? Cuz we could pull out some of the immature veggies, in order to let the remaining ones get a lot bigger. And the ones we pulled? We could feed those off to the animals at an earlier date than having to wait till they got Big. Know what I mean?

Over time, my arm gets better and better. So, today I was the one down there in the Animal Garden, sweating my buns off, thinning and thinning.

Since we will be away from tomorrow late morning until Monday evening, we wanted to have a bunch of thinnings already on hand for the friend who will look after our livestock.

We've got a small freezer down at the barn (we use 3 freezers to hold all our feed - climate and rodent proof = good!) So, today I loaded up that small freezer to the brim.

This is probably about 1/3 of what I picked. But I had already tossed a bunch in the freezer before remembering to take a picture, and I wasn't going to pull them all out, lol....

I thinned turnips, mangels and rutabagas.

You can see that the mangels are already developing some nice roots. They will get a LOT bigger (they can get to about 15 pounds or more). Here I've got the Gman's work glove sitting beside them so you can hopefully get an idea of the size.

Both the hens and pigs go C-r-a-z-y for this stuff....they love all the veggies we toss them.

We still feed the pigs hog grower. Three large coffee cans (2lb cans), twice a day for all 6 pigs (not Each). Now, I know some of you will scoff and think, That's not enough grower (believe me, I've heard it before) IS enough grower.

We're not finishing them yet, we are Growing them. And even when it comes time to finish them, we will decrease the amount of room they have to run.....and then feed them Even More Veggies.

The laying hens still get some laying pellets and a bit of scratch and oyster shell. These days however, they are more into the greens, the fancier the better. Seems they're getting a bit Cosmopolitan, the little snobs!

Of course, all animals NEED to have lots of lots of Fresh Clean Water all the time. Clean is important....I scrub out the hens' waterers probably twice a week. You can't let algae crap start growing in their water dishes....they kick dirt in there too, you have to clean them out.....

Rutabagas - these take about 110 days to mature....we pick the thinnings early, maybe thin one more time, then leave the rest to get huge.

Turnips - these take 50 - 70 days to mature. I plant Lots of these, simply because they are quick growing.
And if you leave Turnips in the ground, some of them can get dang huge.....
So, there ya go....that's the story behind the Animal Garden. Plenty of good healthy veggies for our animals....and less money spent at the Feed Store. It's a Good Thing!
Tomorrow, we leave for 2 nights of camping with the Nman and Kgal, then we will go on to Kelowna for the first oncology appointment. Enjoy your weekend!!!
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Captain Hook and Lady Crochet said...

Thanks for the answer! I figured it was something simple. But now I know...I think I will do an animal garden next year! Last year we got the throw aways from the farmers market we set up our booth at. Thanks for the inspiration, have fun on your trip...and good luck at the appointment!
Have a Blessed Day!

Linda Foley said...

Oh my gosh Annie! I think I am jealous... it's hard to hold onto a dream when I am the only one with the dream. It seems as time goes on I get more and more discouraged. Reading your posts help keep the dream alive. Perhaps next year I will accomplish what I want with the garden. I guess time will tell. It helps knowing we get to stay here though.


Linda Foley said...

P.S. I am so glad you are getting stronger!!!

Linda Foley said...

Hey Annie - last night we were having a discussion at the dinner table about homesteading. Jim popped up and said "Now ANNIE is a REAL homesteader!" You made a real impression on him. Just thought you would like to know that. :D

The Beers said...

So, you freeze the animals produce? "Cool" idea! (couldn't resist the pun- LOL) Do you do anything in particular before freezing?


Annie said...

Krystal, welcome to our blog! No we don't freeze the produce for the animals, we just throw it over the fence for them.

But, we do use old freezers (that we find at the dump) just to hold all our animal feed in. That way the feed is protected from the weather and mice, etc...

Linda, you're doing a great job there on your homestead. Just go slow....every time I go to do something, I ask myself, how can I do this easier? Especially if you are doing most of the work yourself, you have to find the easiest ways! Lol at Jim....I could point you to a few different people up here who homestead way better than we do!

Stone Bridge, I encourage you to plant at least a few rows next year for your animals, you will be able to see for yourself how much money you can save bypassing the feed store!


Linda Foley said...

Annie, I was thinking about your animal garden and how I plant in beds. Sooo I made a post a while ago in my blog. You can check it out if you like. I'd love some feedback!

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