The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Field corn for the goats

Sprouting corn

Last year, I decided that I wasn't going to grow field corn again for the goats. My reasoning? I'm leery of feeding ruminants grain unless you really have to, and our spoiled darlings didn't like the field corn leaves nearly as much as they enjoyed sweet corn leaves. Overall, the crop didn't seem like a good use of our limited compost.

But pictures don't lie. That's a long double row of field corn growing on my garden. What's up?

Goat kid

While Artemesia was getting her motherhood feet under her in late April and early May, she went through last year's field corn like it was candy. Our doe would eat greenery at the time, but only if I sat beside her and tended to her kids so she knew they were okay. I'm ashamed to say I didn't have two hours a day to feed even my favorite goat, so I babysat sometimes...and sometimes I fed the nervous mother corn that she could snarf down in a few short minutes at the end of a long, tiring day.

Grazing goat

I ran out of corn not too long after Artemesia finally started taking the kids out to graze. And while milk production lowered by about half a cup per day after she went off the grain, Artemesia's coat looked shinier and her fat deposits stayed at a good, healthy level on the new/old diet.

As a result, I don't plan to keep graining her (even though it would likely increase milk yields)...but I do want to have corn on hand for next year. In a perfect world, Artemesia's second go at motherhood will be less emotionally fraught for both of us. Still, it's good to have quick fixes available just in case.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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