October 16, 2012

Cowpea Sheller

Several of you were interested in the Mr. Pea sheller I mentioned in my "Pea Pickin'" post. I promised to let you know how well it works, so here it is. I got it to shell my Ozark Razorback cowpeas (also called Southern peas). They are a small cowpea that I hope will be a good source of protein for my goats and chickens.

l have to say it is heavier duty than I expected and that I was pleased with the gauge of the metal. So many products are getting flimsier and flimsier, and it almost isn't worth buying anything new anymore. Mr. Pea Sheller however, will serve me well I think. As you can see, it can be attached to any table or flat surface.

The rollers are plastic, as is the handle.

The ad said to be sure to use fresh, fully ripe (English) peas, but I read somewhere that it could be used for dried beans as well. I used crispy dry cowpea pods and they shelled easily.

Once the pods are caught between the rollers, I could continue to feed in more pods.The peas spit out on the same side that the pods are fed into. The empty pods fall out the back.

Mr. Pea Sheller can also be used with a small, handheld mixer. In fact, I used that as an excuse to buy one, thinking I could use it for that, and for whipping cream and making meringues. These are the only two reasons I still miss my Kitchen Aid mixer. Everything else I've gotten used to doing by hand.  Unfortunately the little hand mixer I got didn't fit the Mr. Pea! That was a tad disappointing because I was wondering how much time I could save by using it, although I also imagined cowpeas flying every which-a-way from the mixer's speed.

Turning the crank by hand is somewhat slow, but it is definitely quicker than shelling them by hand. I think it took me an hour and a half to shell a little over four pounds of cowpeas. I harvested close to 2, 33 gallon trash cans full of pods, so this made only a small dent in that. I'll be curious as to how long they last.

My intention for growing the cowpeas was primarily for feeding our chickens and goats. I finally got the goats to eat the whole pods, which will make feeding them easier and give them more roughage. The chickens so far, have ignored the whole pods, but gobble down the shelled peas. I also cooked some up for Dan and me. They were good, tasting similar to black-eyed peas.

Next year I'm going to try planting these with the corn. (To see my corn sheller, click here). I'll plant earlier too, so I can harvest more. They are quite prolific and will produce until frost kills them. And no matter what, I'm just pleased to be growing even a small part of our own feed.


  1. Aren't those chickens funny. I tried feeding mine green beans and they wouldn't eat them until I chopped them up. The geese ate them but liked it better when they were chopped. So all my left over green beans are chopped and in the freezer for winter food for the birds.

  2. Never heard of cowpeas LOL But, I love the sheller!

  3. Cowpeas are tasty; especially with some cornbread on the side!

    I'd never thought of using them as feed...Mr.Pea would certainly make it easier.

  4. Sista, I hadn't thought about green beans as feed. Thanks! It's funny because some things chickens will peck at, some things they just look at you like, "what am I supposed to do with that?"

    Dani, I'm surprised because I read that cowpeas originated in Africa! Interesting.

    Jacqueline, I learned about them as feed when I started researching protein for livestock. This particular cowpea is smaller than say, black eyed peas, so I figured it was perfect for chickens and goats alike. Baker Creek Heirloom seed catalog is great, because they mention when certain grains or legumes can be used as feed.

  5. Who knew! Never gave a thought to the advantages of a home sheller let alone using cow peas for goat feed!
    I learn something new every day! Glad the goat plan is starting to work out BTW, fingers crossed for continued

  6. Good to hear that there are still some things being made to last like your pea sheller. If it saves a ton of time and does the work well, then it's worth the investment. I think it's fantastic that you're able to grow some of your feed.

  7. interesting gadget - could you gin cotton with it, I wonder? but maybe you'd need smooth rollers for that....

  8. Theresa, thanks! They say necessity is the mother of invention. I'd say desperation is the motivation for extensive searching of the internet!

    Nina, it's a relief. There is a much larger electric sheller, but it costs several hundreds of dollars. Perhaps someday I'll be able to justify that, but in the meantime, this is a great tool.

    Bettina, that's worth trying! You might not need smooth rollers for ginning cotton. I'll have to find some cotton bolls and give it a try.

  9. What a super cool gadget! I never knew such things existed (including the cowpeas).--Sherry in MT

  10. Congrats on the sheller. I wonder if you could borrow Dan's drill to try with it? ;o) You might want something power driven when you're getting more of them.

    So do you think the peas will become a regular part of your diet as well? I bet they taste good on a cool fall day.

  11. That will make shelling a breeze! Years ago, I had a short row of beans and ended up shelling them by hand...I now remember why I never planted them again..haha!

    It is good to know that I need not fear that again, now that you have introduced us to the helpful Mr. Pea. xo

  12. I just shelled my first dry beans / peas last week and it took me for like EVER! If we plant a lot next year, I'm definitely going to look into Mr. Pea sheller thingy, thanks for the review.

  13. I'm thinking that if the cow peas save you a bunch of money on feed, then there should be a jar to add some of that "saved" money to buy the electric version soon. Your time is worth money too! Just sayin' :)

  14. I grow quite a few dry beans every year and simply dump the unshelled pods into a rubbermaid tote. A bit of stomping, shuffling, and twisting separates them from the shells. A quick winnowing later and they are all done. Handshelling would be impossible and a can't even imagine using your hand roller, it would just take us too long. Maybe give it a try?

  15. Renee, I should try that because a little more speed would be nice.

    Dan's not especially crazy about cowpeas, but I do plan to cook them from time to time. If I can find some tasty seasonings, that will be fine. Plus they are great in soup.

    Sherri, it is a job of work! When I realized how many I harvested this year, I knew I needed help! If we need more next year, I might think about something bigger.

    Carolyn, that's it exactly, it takes forever! I bought mine from Lawn Gardening Tools because they had the best price & free shipping.

    Janice, I should try that. :)

    CM, thanks, that's a good idea. I'll have to give that a try. The hand roller is great, but you're right; for what I need it will take too long!

  16. Hey...I love cowpeas! I think of soybeans as animal feed, not cowpeas. The sheller looks like a keeper; glad it's working for you.

  17. Thanks so much for the info! Now off to find out if cowpeas are good for cattle too lol. Getting as much research in my brain as I can before I get my own place :)

  18. Little pea-shaped projectiles. That would have been funny.

    I think it's great that you have the peas to feed your stock with. Thanks for the inspiration! I think I'm going to see if I can put some somewhere next year.

  19. I am going to need to pick up one of these gadgets! We harvested a bunch of dry beans. However, if there isn't an easier way of actually getting the bean without sitting in front of the TV or radio for weeks on end to get it... I doubt the sincerity we will have to continue planting them! :)

  20. That is a very handy tool. I tried some dried beans last year and did them by hand - it took way too long. If I had more space, I would consider growing more. It's nice that someone we trust is willing to review all this stuff so we are saved the trial and error - thank you!!

  21. Sandra, I never thought to use cowpeas as feed until I read the description in the Baker Creek catalog. It's true soybeans are in most animal feeds. But then the're rather ubiquitous in food for humans too.

    Stehpanie, I'm guessing they are. Have you read much Joel Salatin? According to him, the thing you need for cows is grass!

    Jocelyn, projectiles is what I thought too! I think any small pea would do actually. The goats and chickens both love them.

    Cloud, they are definitely worth it. And you can still sit in front of the TV or radio! ;)

    Susan, anytime I think about buying something, I immediately google customer reviews. Those are absolutely the best way of knowing about a product.

  22. Awesome! Thanks for the detailed pictures. My own pile of vermont cranberry beans pods went down considerably a few weekends ago when I had an all day rain. But I actually got hand cramps between my thumb and index fingers the next day. Guess I should work out more. Ha.

    One thing I could imagine still being a problem, with my beans at least, is that about 15% to 20% of them are kinda fuzzy or have bug bites inside the pod and I can't see it till I break the pod open. So I usually crack it first, inspect, then if it looks like it didn't mold then I go ahead and drop into my good bucket otherwise the bean meets the shell pile. I guess with this I would need to sift back through and pick out the bad ones. But a promising product nonetheless. I think I'd go for one before next season.

  23. Andrew, I know what you mean about cramping hands! Another reason this is a useful tool. You could still check for bad beans by the batch. As you can see, I used a pie pan to collect them. That made it easy to check for duds.

  24. First time commenter, but have been reading for a few months.

    A sure fire way to get your chickens to eat the cow peas, is by getting them to sprout. Ever done alfalfa sprouts? Similar technique only use a bucket. You increase the protein and also get some other goodies to improve their immune systems.

    I've been meaning to do this with our pigeon peas.

  25. Chris, welcome, and thank you for your comment! Interesting you should mention sprouting, because I have recently started experimenting with sprouting grains for my goats. I too am a great fan of what sprouting does for food value.

    I have to confess that I have no problems getting the chickens to eat the cowpeas if they're shelled. It's in the shell that they ignore them. :)

  26. I think someone has suggested that I get a Corn Sheller to harvest my Black Walnuts. I might have to look into it and see if it'd work.

    Growing up everyone would collect them in the fall and just dump them in the driveway.

  27. Grish, that corn sheller is advertised to crack walnuts too!


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