So if you’ve been following our adventures, you know we got some chickens in the spring.
You might also remember that as an attempt to defray some of their feed costs, I planted a few different things to see what, if anything, would produce something worthwhile.
The mangels (giant beets used as animal fodder) were dismal – not sure if I need to amend the soil or what, but they ended up smaller than my regular beets.
The sunflowers were also mostly a fail, but just because the slugs destroyed most of the seedlings before they had a chance to do anything. The few that survived did okay, so they’ll get another shot next year.
That brings us to sorghum.
Sorghum is a big grass that’s mostly grown for syrup (think sugarcane) and also produces seeds that are a common ingredient in most bird seed. It’s generally grown in the south, but I found a variety that was supposed to do pretty well in northern areas as well. So, we planted that, it went mostly untouched by the slugs, and it turned out halfway decent. Didn’t end up as tall as I expected (again, maybe need some fresh compost), and the seed heads weren’t huge, but not bad for a test crop. I’ll probably try growing sorghum again next year, and give it an extra dose of nitrogen.
After we cut off the seed heads, we were left with the stalks. Not wanting anything to go to waste and knowing that in the south, they crush the stalks to extract the juice… you know what happened next.
If I come across something that catches my attention, I like to try it at least once. Some things turn out well and are repeated. Others, not so much. This was one of those not-so-muches. To clarify, the end result was fine, just minimal, and the process was very time-consuming for the payoff.
I first stripped the leaves off the stalks (not so bad). Because we don’t have a sorghum press lying around, I decided the best course of action would be to “crush” the stalks in a blender. To get to that point, I cut the stalks up into about 3-4 inch pieces (not so fun), then blended them in small batches to break the stems up and release the juice (not fun at all). The stalks are hard, and if I tried more than a cup at a time, it just turned into an ugly fibrous mess that was hard to get out. I don’t think the blender has forgiven me yet.
Eventually, I ended up with a few cups of juice, which boiled down to (remember your 40:1 maple syrup ratio?) a couple tablespoons of sorghum syrup. The syrup itself was good, with a mildly grassy, sharp molasses flavor. The four hours of labor required to produce just enough to top one stack of pancakes was what stunk.
So it was an interesting process, and an educational experience, but not something I’m about to repeat any time soon.
Unless I’m growing an acre of the stuff and get a real-live sorghum press.
Which ain’t happening.
Hey, you live and learn right?
Anybody grow something for the chickens that produces well?