Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wheat - the final chapter

How to harvest wheat...

Step one - take a large dose of crazy.

DSC_2835Once the wheat was dry, and it can take a week or more, we were ready to separate the berries from the shaft. We tried several methods. The first was to rub the heads between our hands. After only a few handfuls our palms were sore. I don't recommend this as the best way.

The next thing we tried was a rolling pin. We put the wheat on a clean tarp and rolled the pin across it several times. That worked great. Except that my back hurt from crouching over the wheat. It was also harder to keep track of the wheat and get it into a container for storage.

Then my hubby came up with this beauty of an idea. We cut off the heads and put them in a large, clean trough. Then we dropped a concrete stamper on them. Softly of course because it didn't take much. Even the kids got in on this one. I got sick of cutting the heads off. It was time consuming. So I laid the tarp out again, placed the wheat around the edge, root side out, and stamped my way around. The kids would gather up the bare stalks and put new ones down. It was super slick!


We still had a problem of "cleaning" the wheat. Now, what ya'll need to understand is that the wheat you buy at the store has been sent through a cleaner up to four times. I have neighbors that have grown their own wheat and had the combine come harvest it for them. Sure it comes out separated, but it comes out with dead grasshoppers and all the chaft. Seriously. So the wheat you buy comes out the same way, it has just been cleaned. Cleaning gets out all the "extras" (including the grasshoppers) without using water or chemicals. It's just a sifting. In order to sell their wheat, farmers have to sift it multiple times to get it clean enough for the consumer to not go "yuck" when they open the bag.

DSC_2838Harvesting by hand kept the grasshoppers out - thank heaven - but the chaft was still an issue. I had the brilliant idea of using my blow drier. Going around the tub a couple of times pushed the lighter chaft to the top and over the edge and the heavier wheat stayed at the bottom.

DSC_2839What we were left with will still need to be picked through before I can send it through the grinder. But it is much cleaner than what my neighbors had. See, here's our first little handful. All in all, I was pleased with the result. It's December now and we've eaten out way through everything we harvested. It didn't last us anywhere near a year. (I'm going to have words with whoever gave us that estimate.) But the sense of pride and accomplishment are well worth the effort.

When we started out, we wanted to see if a family could grow enough wheat to support themselves for a year. We didn't. But I believe we could. Is it work?You bet your cute little pa-toot it is. Is it worth it? I'm going to have to say yes. We learned skills we didn't have before. We worked together as a couple and a family on a large project. Our kids learned the cycle of plant, harvest, eat. We also got some darn good bread. So yeah - it was worth it.

No comments: