On December 9 I started the barley fodder mat growing experiment with 20×12 propagation trays and a bag of hulled barley seed from Oñate Feeds in Albuquerque. The trial tray had three cups of seed that had been soaked in water (1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water) for twenty-four hours then drained and quickly rinsed. This was too much seed by the fourth day, so I transferred the seed to fill another 1/2 tray.
After fourteen days, not the seven to nine days I was expecting, I had about five inches of green barley grass. I think the temperature was too low in the garage (heated with radiant heat). Since then I’ve increased the temperature to about 65 degrees with better results. During the first trial I soaked the seed for four to ten minutes and then drained the water from the trays. Subsequently I’ve soaked for as long as an hour before draining the trays, and I drain only three times a day. All seems to be growing well.
The most important part of this experiment, however, is to have the little darlings eat what I have so carefully nurtured to rich, green growth. The good news is that our male alpaca Blackjack and our mom alpacaTequila grabbed the individual chunked mats and are now addicted. The not-so-good news is that seventeen other alpacas are harrumphing at my efforts. I’ve tried several recipes, including putting their favorite grounded up supplement pellets sprinkled on top. Harrumph!
On December 27, I finally had success. I cut off about two inches of the tops of the barley fodder mats and pulled up a few strands of grass with roots attached. I garnished the barley grass with carefully selected crushed alfalfa leaves, and mixed it well. Success! This morning I lessened just a little of the garnish and included more barley roots. Again the alpacas went for the mixture. My goal is to have them eat the barley fodder mats with relish. Well, not “relish” but to greedily go after the whole hunk.