But, the hay does not have the same quality as it should and I was advised to supplement with some sort of grains. Barley is the preferred grain for sheep. Normally I ordered screenings from the local seed cleaning plant when I had not been able to get organically grown grain, so I ordered some mixed grain; peas, oats, wheat, barley and 2% flax and some barley screenings.
It was a nightmare unloading the grain. The driver and his helper did not seem to have any idea how best to auger the grain into the totes and the first tote toppled to the ground, ripped and spilled a bushel of grain at least. Had I not owned a skid steer, I would have insisted they empty more of the grain out, upright the sack and shovel it back in. As it was, I picked the bag up with a chain and the forks of the skid steer and they were supposed to shovel the remainder into the bag and forgot. The first four bags were not unloaded very well, so I did the last four with the bag attached to the skid steer. I did ask that they tie the bag to the auger to prevent so much dust from escaping, but they didn't. Then I moved the filled bag onto the pallets and it was upright and not in danger of toppling. The bags were then tarped to keep the rain and snow out, as this grain will last until next year this time.
What confused me is that I always ordered screenings from the seed plant previously and did this time, only was sent grain. When I called to inquire about the screenings, I was told they did not have these in the computer and what I was brought was what they had as screenings, same thing. I don't believe that. I will inquire more in the next few days.
Anyhow, the grain is here, at least the mixed grain. The fate of the barley which is not screenings, is still up in the air. The cost of the grain, 7 new totes, even though they tore one, and the delivery was $2013.24. Ouch! I expected to pay half of that, which was what the cost was last year. That is a huge jump!
The bad spring and summer with no rain and the oil crash has affected pretty much eveyone in this area, for either they are farmers or work or worked in the oil patch. For those fortuanate to still have oil jobs, they have enough to pay this extra for feed this year. For us poor small farmers, this is a stretch that we cannot afford two years in a row. I sold my motorhome to pay for animal feed this winter. I don't have another big ticket item to sell for next year, so all I can do is hope and pray the weather cooperates and feed is abundant. That, and I will continue to hoan the flocks and herds and keep the best only.
I have not fed grain to the ruminants on this farm and do not believe it is a natural food for them. In fact, it can kill them if it is not introduced very slowly to allow the gut to procreate the proper bacteria needed to digest the grain. This will be a first and I feel so defeated. I am no longer an organic farmer, for this is local grain that has all the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and glysophate in it. But what is one to do when organically grown crops are not available? I cannot let the animals starve or become thin because of poor quality hay. Yet, I cannot help the feeling that I have failed in some way. So sad.