Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sprouting fodder for our livestock - Attempt 2 - day 1 thru day 7

I didn't forget about any of this, I've had a few other things to take care of on the farm and I thought this time I'd like to have more sequential pictures ready to post together.

This time I soaked the pasture mix & winter wheat for 8 hours, the black oil sunflower seeds for 2 hours and I added 1 Tbl of bleach to each 5 gallon bucket.  I didn't mix the seeds/grains either.  I filled each 5 gallon bucket 1/4 full with the seeds and then 1/2 full with water.  I started soaking them in the morning, around 9am on the 13th.

I put 3.5 cups into each bin.

The winter wheat weighed 1 lb 12.6 oz wet.
The pasture mix weighed 2 lbs 1.2 oz wet.
The black oil sunflower seeds weighed 1 lb 8.4 oz wet.

Everything rinsed & set up to start round 2.  The set up on the left is winter wheat, boss, winter wheat and pasture mix.  In the bins on the racks its boss, pasture mix, winter wheat.
I made sure to use less in each bin, each being about 3/4 of an inch deep.  (this will be lessened in round 3, you'll see why in the later pictures)

I also drilled tons more holes in the bins, along the bottom edges, up the sides about an inch and tons on the bottom for quicker draining.

1/13/13 - black oil sunflower seeds

1/13/13 - pasture mix (orchard, timothy, fescue & rye grasses with red & ladino clovers)

1/13/13 - winter wheat

I am amazed at how quickly the winter wheat responds to this process, these pictures were taken on the 13th, at night around 10, before I went to bed.  I'd soaked them from 9am - 4pm, so that gave 6 hours of time between soaking & taking these pictures, look at the sprouting already starting!

1/14/13 - pasture mix - the clover has started sprouting - day 2

1/14/13 - winter wheat - more sprouting - day 2

No picture of the boss as it didn't show any changes.

I only rinsed twice instead of the 3 times.  I've been using the flood method, filling the bins about 1/2 way so that the seeds are covered completely.  I also keep the heater off in the master bathroom where I've got these set up.  I talked with the guy at the feed mill and he reminded me that this is WINTER mixes, so they thrive in the cold.  I think that adding the heat to the room may have contributed to the mold growth, as well as the over watering without having enough drainage holes.

1/15/13 - boss - let the sprouting begin! - day 3

1/15/13 - pasture mix - still just the clover sprouting - day 3

1/15/13 - winter wheat - check out the length on those sprouts! - day 3

1/16/13 - I didn't take pictures, one of the dogs was sick and we ended up at the vets picking up worm medicine.  He is doing much better now :)

1/17/13 - boss - more growth and expansion - day 5

1/17/13 - pasture mix - the clover is turning green, the sprouts are very delicate and thin - day 5
I won't be using this mix again, not in sprouting anyways.  Out in the fields its grows like wildfire, so that is where it'll get used.

1/17/13 - winter wheat - can you see how much the height has increased, not the grass, but in the level of wheat?  The grass is a little over an inch tall - day 5

1/17/13 - on the racks - see how much the height level has increased?  I started out with 3/4 of an inch in these bins. - day 5

1/18/13 - boss - they are starting to create a root mat, but the sprouts aren't really greening or getting much longer - day 6

1/18/13 - boss - root mat - day 6

1/18/13 - pasture mix - the clover has sprouted quite a bit, still delicate & thin, lots of green which isn't showing up well in the pictures (I think the chickens will enjoy this) - day 6

1/18/13 - pasture mix - roots - no grass sprouting/growth - day 6

1/18/13 - winter wheat - getting thicker and taller - day 6

1/18/13 - winter wheat - root mat - day 6

1/18/13 - racks - day 6

1/18/13 - additional bins - these bins also started out with 3/4 of an inch of seed in the bottom, the expansion has brought them to about 3/4 of an inch from the top of the bins!  These bins have the most holes drilled in the bottoms and sides, so they are draining super quick. - day 6

1/18/13 - winter wheat - root mat - day 6
This bin is twice the size of the others and the walls are about twice as thick

1/19/13 - winter wheat - day 7
When I came in to water there were hundreds of water droplets on the blades, the blades are strong and thick
1/19/13 - water droplets close-up

1/19/13 - pasture mix - more green - day 7

1/19/13 - boss - starting to get some green - day 7

1/19/13 - racks - day 7
1/19/13 - at evening feeding I gave the chickens one of the boss bins and one of the pasture mix bins.  They weren't quite sure about it initially, but then the turkeys started grabbing it and I guess they thought they were missing out so they started eating it, slowly.

I also took some to the goats.  It took one sniff of the pasture mix and they were grabbing big mouthfuls!  They didn't seem to care for the boss, but they love it dry, so maybe that will change.

The cows, horses & goats will get the winter wheat mats tomorrow.  I'll take pictures of that and post.
Supplies price list:
Lowe's buckets - 3 - $2.78 each ($8.34) - already had on hand
Clear plastic storage tote - 22 - $1.00 each ($22.00) - already had on hand
Mainstays Wire Stacking Shelves (long) - 5 - I bought these years ago in Mesa, AZ, at either Walmart, Kmart or Target, I honestly don't remember.  I'm going to guess they were about $5.00 - $7.00 ($25.00)
1 100 lb bag winter wheat - $27.00 - already had on hand (purchased at local feed mill)
1 100 lb bag pasture mix - $145.00 - already had on hand (purchased at local feed mill)
1 50 lb bag black oil sunflower seeds - $23.99 - already had on hand (Tractor Supply on sale)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sprouting fodder for our livestock Part 6 - mold

I didn't take any pictures of the mold, its ugly, think fuzzy white thick growth the size of marbles, some almost the size of grapes!  I went in to water yesterday and there were mold blotches everywhere, in every single bin.  It was a huge bummer.  I dumped all the bins into a big black contractors garbage bag & took it to the big trash can.  I rinsed all the bins and let them dry, but didn't start over.  Yet.

I went to the feed mill to talk with the guy we order our field seed from about getting our order in for March. We started talking about the winter wheat that we'd planted in our fields this fall, which led me to tell him about my journey in sprouting.  He listened and then asked a couple of questions and then said "Honey, you know that winter wheat grows when its COLD" ... Yeah, it was a DUH moment for me.

This is what I think I did wrong -
1.  Obviously didn't acknowledge/pay attention that it was winter wheat I was growing as well as the fall pasture mix, so keeping the room at 60-65 degrees may have been to warm for cold weather seeds.

2.  Only drilling 12 drain holes.  Even though it was draining well, I don't know if it was draining enough.  I was flooding/rinsing each bin three times a day, about 8 hours apart.  But if too much moisture was staying in the seeds, along with a to warm room, I created the perfect growing ground for mold.

3.  I also think I may have made a mistake mixing the seeds together, I'm not 100% sure on this yet though and I'm going to try that again in only one bin this time.

What I'm going to do different this round -
1.  Not add heat to the room.  This won't be hard since we are using portable oil heaters and not our furnace.  I'll move the heater and keep it on low, which is what I was doing before I started this.  I've also got a small desktop fan that I can set up on the sink so that it can create air movement without disturbing the seeds or temp.

2.  Drill double the amount of holes on the bottom and add 2 rows of holes on the sides of the bins, about 1/2 inch up from the bottom & 2 inches up.  This, I'm hoping, will also help with air flow.

3.  I think I may have soaked them to long.  I went by what I'd read on others trials and didn't follow what I have on the charts.  I'm going to follow the suggested times on the charts, I really want this to be a success.

4.  Each time I rinsed, I flooded the bins.  That may have been to much water, which combined with not enough drainage and warmth, hello mold.

So ... I'll start over tomorrow and post as I go.  I'll also post the other items I mentioned in Part 5.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sprouting fodder for our livestock Part 5 - success & growth

This morning when it was time to rinse/drain, I was greeted by green on the sprouts!  This was a happy moment because this being my first time sprouting I was hoping that everything I'd read about them not needing to be in direct sunlight would still produce a green growth, which (yay!) happened.  The sprouts have been sitting on the island counter in the middle of the kitchen, getting indirect sunlight from the window over the sink and the window next to the door.

1/09/13 - Pasture mix green - day 5

It was suggested that at this stage it would be beneficial to the sprouts if they were transferred out of the jars into a bin where they could have more space, better air flow and better light.  The picture below was taken a few minutes after arranging them; later in the day the sprouts had grown/moved more upwards, towards the light coming in from the skylight (I'd also moved them from the kitchen to the bathroom, where the main setup is)

1/09/13 - winter wheat, black oil sunflower seeds, pasture mix - day 5

The set up, ta-da!  My original plan was to use racks that came out of an old fridge, lay them across the edge of the tub and put the trays on them.  The racks weren't long enough.

This set up is from supplies I already had on hand.  The wire racks I'd purchased about 15 years ago from either Kmart or Walmart.  I did a little rearranging of towels and supplies so I could use these.  The bins I had stored in a box, I'd bought them a few years ago at one of the dollar stores.

If you haven't been following along (our Sprouting/Fodder page) I'm using our bathtub because it doesn't get used for baths.  Our hot water heater can only fill it 1/4 of the way with hot water, so its been used as a beginning brooder for chicks & guineas and not a tub.  I don't have to worry about setting up draining tubs to catch the water, I have a water source about 2 ft from the bins, it sits almost directly under a big skylight.

Please don't pay attention to the awful colors in this room, I haven't gotten around to painting over it yet, so just pretend its white or pale blue. 

I had 20 bins in the box, plus 2 that I found on top of the fridge in Mr. Wilds shop.  The grating we've had for years, its been sitting around waiting for a job.

Last night (1/08/13) I mixed the 3 seeds/grains that I used in the trial into a 5 gallon bucket.  
I used pasture mix (orchard, timothy, fescue & rye grasses with red & ladino clovers), black oil sunflower seeds and winter wheat.  During the trial I've noticed that the growth rate was really close for all three, the wheat sprouting a bit longer than the other two, so I decided that for this round I'd mix them together and see how that works.  The mix weighed 20 lbs dry.

1/08/13 - close up of the 3 mixed together

I did the initial mixing of the 3 in one bucket, it was about an inch and a half maybe two inches from the top.  I realized as I had my hands in it stirring it around that I was going to need more space for water and swelling.  I got another bucket, divided it in half and then filled them a little over half full with cold water straight out of the faucet.  Some of the other trials/journeys I've read through have mentioned adding vitamins  or soaking in bleach or vinegar, this is to help prevent mold and to help with growth.  I'd like to see how this goes without any additions as one of the reasons for doing this is to reduce costs for feed.  If I have issues with mold I'll consider the options that have been shared.

1/09/13 - after soaking overnight, roughly 12 hours

I still needed to drill the holes in the bins.  I used a 3/32 drill bit.  I used this small size because the grasses and the clover seeds are tiny and I didn't want the water to pour out quickly.

I drilled 12 holes in each bin.  I'd recommend drilling from the inside of the bin to the outside.  I did it from the bottom into the inside and ended up with lots of plastic sticking up into the bin, blocking the holes.  I also did a quick in/out drilling and ended up having to re-drill each hole (12x22 twice,  not fun) and then clean up each hole with a pair of tweezers to remove all the plastic.

I drilled holes yesterday in the red bucket, after the time it took to drain I now realize I should've drilled many many more.  This bucket is only for rinsing after the overnight soak, so I do want the water to drain quickly. 

1/09/13 - rinsing after soaking overnight - the purple color is from the red clover

I measured out 6 cups for each bin, I weighed each bin, they ranged from 2.42 lbs to 2.64 lbs, so I added/subtracted to make them each an even 2.5 lbs.  The exception being the big bin in the back left, that bin is quite a bit bigger so it ended up with almost 6 lbs in it, spread out it is an inch deep.  

1/09/13 - the seeds dispersed evenly into 12 bins

The seeds needed to be rinsed a few more times as the water that was draining was still draining with a purple tinge.  I rinsed/drained 5 times before the water ran clear.  I don't know if this was necessary but it made me feel better that I wasn't leaving dirty water in.

I use a gallon jug to rinse, pouring in enough water to float/move the seeds in the entire bin.  Its a little over 1/2 full when I do this.  Again, I don't know if this is right, but for me I can see that the water is getting to all parts of the bin, watering them all.  I also think (and I'll post how it turns out) that the flooding method will help to wash out anything that may cause molds and give everything a better chance for growth.

1/09/13 - close up of the rinsing/draining

I put the temperature & humidity gauge on the back of the tub.  I've read that the seeds need between 60-70 degrees, with 65 being optimal.  This was up in our barn and I didn't give it much chance to adjust to the temp change when I took the picture.  When I checked it around 3pm, it was 64 degrees.

Tomorrow I'll go over the costs, the things I'd change about what I've done so far, the supplies and what I expect out from the amount I've put in.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sprouting fodder for our livestock Part 4 - tripled in size!

This mornings rinse session was super exciting!  The wheat had tripled in amount while the black oil sunflower seeds and pasture mix doubled.  I had to switch them all into quart size jars.  Unfortunately the 5 grain scratch isn't sprouting and has started to smell funky, almost like fermentation.

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this journey.

Winter wheat sprouts pushing up through the cheesecloth - day 4

Winter wheat filling the pint jar - day 4

Black oil sunflower seeds over half full in the pint jar - day 4

Transferred into the quart jars - day 4

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sprouting fodder for our livestock Part 3 - its growing

As I mentioned in Part 1 & Part 2 I started with a small amount (1/4 cup) to test the success or fail of the seeds/grains we already have on hand.  So far, I am very pleased.  The winter wheat and the black oil sunflower seeds are growing at about the same rate.  This morning when I went to rinse, the wheat sprouts were sticking out of the cheesecloth!

I rinsed & drained 3 times yesterday and kept the jars tipped in the plastic container (to allow them to drain and not sit in water) and covered with a cotton tea towel.

Day 3 - wheat sprouts sticking out through the cheesecloth

Day 3 - black oil sunflower seeds

Day 3 - black oil sunflower seeds

Day 3 - winter wheat

Day 3 - pasture mix - so far it looks like the clover is sprouting, I'm not sure if the grasses are.

I don't have a picture of the 5 grain scratch because I'm just not sure if its actually sprouting or if what I'm seeing is pieces of cracked corn.  I think I saw sprouting on the barley, hopefully this evening if it is, it will be more obvious and I'll have pictures to share.

After rinsing this morning I decided to leave them uncovered (I'd been covering them with a tea towel) as its going to be a bit warmer and the sun is actually shining in through the windows.

I'd like to start setting up the racks & trays today as well as get the bucket drilled.  I'm going to set this up in my bathtub in our master bathroom.  When we bought the house it didn't have a tub, so we bought one but didn't think to check the depth of the tub against the capacity of our hot water heater.  So now we have a really deep awesome tub that our hot water heater only fills 1/4 of the way with hot water.  Taking a bath at this time just isn't happening.  So far, our tub has been used as a starter brooder for chicks and guineas lol.

My plan is to use grating we've had stored for years as well as some wire racks that came out of an old refrigerator.  I can hook up a short hose from the faucet so I can water the trays and the water can drain down the drain.  Also our bathroom has a big skylight so that provides the diluted sunlight/ambient lighting.