Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

This is my Moms bread recipe- she's been using it for 30 years and its the one she taught me. My Mom is a very talented and dedicated homemaker, I respect her a lot! (She makes bread, keeps her own goats for milk, meat, cheese-but that's all another story for another time!)
You will find it is very different baking with whole wheat flour than with white flour, especially when it comes to bread. Whole wheat will naturally produce a very dense loaf, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many people are used to fluffier bread, and this can only be accomplished by adding things. A little bit of unbleached white flour helps the bread turn out fluffier.Some people also mention "dough enhancers" or "gluten flour" to help the bread rise. I don't know what to make of these products. I do strongly believe the less "weird things" you add to your dough the better it is for you. I get great results by simply making sure the dough is kneaded properly, making sure that the yeast is proofed (see tips) and by using a handful of unbleached white flour. And voila, nutritious, tasty, fresh, homemade bread!

* Start out with 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl.
* Add 1TBS sugar or molasses along with 1/2 TBS yeast
* wait until yeast is dissolved and very foamy
* add 2 cups more water
* gradually add a cup or two of flour (you can replace a cup of whole wheat with a cup of white unbleached flour to make bread fluffier) and 2 TSP of sea salt
* stir
* gradually continue adding cupfuls of flour (up to 6-8 cups of flour total, no more than that) until the dough no longer feels sticky on your fingers (or, if you are using a kitchen aid, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, stickiness rule also applies)
* continue kneading the dough for no less than 10 minutes (I usually find it best to set a timer, because 10 minutes feels like a long time when you're doing it by hand!)
* put dough back into greased bowl, cover bowl with a wet towel
* put in a warm, draft free spot and let rise until it is doubled in size (about 1 hour, but it will depend on how warm the spot is)
* once the dough has risen, pre heat your oven to about 350C
* punch down the dough: from here you have some choices. You can form a loaf, put it in a loaf pan, or form little buns- it doesn't matter.
* If you form a loaf, let it rise for another 15 minutes, if you formed buns only let is rise about 5 minutes (basically you're just letting whatever you formed "rest" a little bit before putting it in the oven)
* bake for about 45-50 minutes, only 20 if you made will know when your bread is finished when the crust is golden and when you knock on the front and back of the loaf you hear a hollow sound

-add a little bit of fennel into the dough when kneading. It adds a wonderful flavour and is also good for your digestion. If you love fennel, use up to 1/4 cup seeds, if you're not used to the
flavour use only a TBS or so.
-don't be afraid to
experiment! You can also add ground flax, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc to the bread
-I use whole wheat flour in everything I bake-including non-yeast things like muffins, cookies, pancakes. I sometimes mix in just a handful of unbleached white flour when I am feeling a bit more conventional, but its not even necessary to produce tasty results!


Proofing yeast:

Proofing yeast is a quick and easy way of making sure your yeast is still active. This way you don't have to go through all the trouble of getting your bread made, just to find out the yeast didn't rise your bread :(

All you do is measure out the yeast and mix it with the water called for in the recipe. The water should feel barely warm or lukewarm to the touch. Add just a pinch of sugar to give the yeast something to munch on.

Let the yeast and water sit for a few minutes. First, the water will dissolve the dry coating around the granules of yeast, releasing the active yeast inside. The active yeast will go to work on the sugar and a bubbly foam will start to form on the surface. This foam is proof that the yeast is active, and once you see it, you can add the yeast to your bread dough.

I hope to one day make a tutorial with photos and info for making whole wheat bread. Since I myself am not that experienced yet I felt like other more experienced people might have more to say on the subject! So for now, please peruse the following links- I found them quite enlightening.

Here is a website that answers some FAQ on whole wheat bread baking
This is a very helpful tutorial complete with a recipe, videos and photos on making whole wheat bread by hand

Good luck!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Its winter!

Daniel and I want to thank everyone so far for all the support you have given to us. we are thrilled to be farming, growing food for such grateful people that get as excited about food as we do! We are enjoying getting to know you an look forward to the deliveries over the course of the winter.

Things are finally slowing down for us. Its hard to believe, but its true. The snow is on the ground, the soil is at rest. It is a perfect time for reflection. In so many ways it has been a super year, and in a lot of ways its been a difficult one too. The spring weather, rain, mud and cold, made it hard to start. Transplants sat in the soil and said "this sucks! I'm not growing" for what seemed like weeks and weeks. We would go on our field walks alongside the rows of crops and do our best to encourage them, saying "come on, you can do it! It'll warm up soon, promise!".

Not only that, it was our first year in business. That in itself felt like a big challenge. Sometimes I didn't feel very confident in my own abilities- I was worried we couldn't do what we set out to do. I probably had a little bit more faith in Daniel than I did in myself! Its surprisingly intimidating setting out and being entirely and personally responsible for every single decision- the welfare of animals, the survival of we irrigate today? Should we plant this out yet, or could the night time temperatures still kill it? is this wheat ready to harvest- it still feels doughy- what is doughy suppose to feel like anyway?? and, we have a wedding to get to!! Lol. and so on.

However, despite the challenges- we feel like the year was such a success- of course we have all our fellow foodies, shareholders, family and friends to thank for that! Most of the plants did grow, we harvested what we hoped to harvest (for the most part). If we had more wheat shares available, they would be sold. Very exciting! Our ducks and chickens are healthy and happy. (look for updates soon regarding 2012 duck and turkey shares!)

We learned a lot (hulling oats anyone?! sigh...), but what is life without some mistakes and learning from them.

We will be spending our entire winter planning and looking forward to the coming growing season. Also, in case you are in Calgary, you can catch us every second Wednesday at the Parkdale farmers market from 2:30-6:30. You can purchase farmer Johns tasty veggies, and our flour, herbs,and crafts there.

Just wanted to let everyone know how happy and privileged Daniel and I feel to be here- growing food on this beautiful land and being able to give it to you. Thank-you! This is Anna signing off, and good night <3 <3

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012 Duck and Turkey shares now for sale!

Duck Share:

Back in October Daniel and I purchased 1 mother and 20 ducklings. We, with the help of the mother duck of course, have been raising them with the intent of keeping them as a breeding flock. We are thrilled with how healthy they are and how fast they are sizing up. Once the ducklings are mature and laying eggs, we will leave those eggs under the new mothers. With a little bit of luck and lots of care, we will have a new batch of ducklings! These are the ones that we will then raise for our 2012 shares. (Christmas dinner, anyone?)

Our ducks are being raised in a compassionate way. They have lots of space. This includes plenty of outdoor space during the summer and winter-they really like scooping up mouth-fulls of snow in the winter. They also have enough space inside their cozy coop for the days when they feel lazy. We also inspect them daily to ensure that they are healthy and happy.

As you know, we manage our farm with the CSA system, meaning we will be pre-selling "shares" of meat for the year 2012.

If you would like to secure yourself a duck, (or two, or three) please contact us and we will put you on our list.

Here are the details:
You can email us to be put on our waiting list now.
We will sell the duck shares as they hatch. So, as soon as they are hatching (early spring) we will email you first and you will pay a deposit of $15 dollars, which secures you your very own duck. We will then proceed to raise these ducklings. Once they are finished, and have been butchered and frozen (at a provincially inspected facility), we will bring them to a pre-determined delivery point. Upon delivery you will pay $3.75 a pound. We will be able to deliver anytime in the fall- perhaps in time for thanksgiving and or Christmas 2012.

Turkey Share:

The turkey shares will function similarly, except we will not be able to hatch our own in the spring. Instead, we will be taking your names on our waiting list now and then purchasing as many poults (baby turkeys) as we need in the spring from a hatchery (. We will then raise these turkeys and sell them in the exact same fashion as the ducks. So, email us now to be put on our list. Then we will be accepting the $20 deposit in March 2012 when we are ordering the turkeys. We will then proceed to raise these turkeys, and they will be ready in time for thanksgiving- or Christmas 2012 (your choice! the Christmas turkeys will end up being slightly heavier).

All our meats (ducks, turkeys and chickens) will always be butchered at a provincially inspected facility. They will also be butchered close to the delivery date to ensure freshness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Frosty Days...

Well it's been an intense year for us, so much so that we hardly found any time at all to blog about the farming for the past 3 months. We've had some really fantastic crops, some good crops, and a few that never even germinated...and overall it was a really good year for growing herbs despite the cold, wet spring we had. We couldn't even harvest all the wonderful basil before it flowered on us.

Unfortunately, it all has to come to an end for the year sometime, and it seems like now is getting pretty much there. And now come the frosts. We've had two in the past three nights I think, which means that our tender annuals like baby dill and our wonderful gourds have been damaged or killed, and our perennials are telling us to stop harvesting them so they can store the rest of their energy until they emerge again next year. So except for a few very cold tolerant species, we'll be calling it the end of the season for our culinary herbs.

It's actually a bit of a blessing, because we still have a lot of other work to get done before the snow flies, and we could use the breathing room to be sure. We still have 4 more weeks of deliveries to make for John's summer CSA before the end, so we still have that but we also need to start preparing the perennial herbs for the long winter ahead, which means applying wood mulch around all the plants so that the temperature in the ground stays a bit warmer and more stable. We'll also be adding extra straw mulch to some of our more tender perennials like sage to help them get through to the spring. A couple more really tender perennials like rosemary and lemon verbena will have to be dug from the ground and stored in a cold frame or stoarge shed in order to make it through.

We also still have our seed and grain crops to harvest and bring in from the fields. Our wheat and oats are still a little bit greener than we like, and some of our herb seeds like dill and fennel aren't quite ready yet. With the slow start we had for the year, it's going to be a tough one to get all the grain and seed we were hoping for, but there is still some time yet.

I'll be sure to put some pictures of our finished crops up later to show how everyuthing's looking...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Mother!

A couple of months ago, one of our hens decided to go broody. When we say that a hen 'goes broody', we mean that she decides that it's time to sit on some eggs and try to hatch them. The only problem was that she wasn't actually sitting on any eggs, but sometimes it can be pretty hard to get a hen to quit when she's decided it's time to have some babies. Luckily, we had some extra fertilized eggs that didn't fit in the incubator, so we tucked a few eggs under her to see if she would hatch them out.

It can't be easy to have the patience to wait out a chick before it hatches. We have these fancy incubators with controlled heat and humitidy and machines inside that turn the eggs side to side six times a day, and I still had trouble finding the patience to let the rest of nature take it's course. A hen, on the other hand, does nothing but sit on those eggs and turn them around once in a while for three whole weeks. That's a lot of time staring at the same coop wall day after day.

And like clockwork, three weeks after recieving her surrogate eggs, she had become the proud new mother of six beautiful baby chicks.

It turns out that natural brooding is also way more successful than incubating eggs. The only eggs under our hen that didn't hatch turned out to be infertile to begin with, basically giving her a 100% success rate for hatching this year. Even the best, most practiced chicken breeders with the most advanced incubators only get somewhere around 80%, and our own incubating experiment this year wasn't anywhere near that successful.

I think maybe we'll just let the hens do what they do best in the future, and let them do all our incubating from now on...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Grain Shares NOW available!!

Starting in October/November 2011, we will be delivering the first shares of our grain CSA program to Calgary, Red Deer, Olds and area.

By signing up for our grain CSA for 2011-2012, you will be signing up to recieve a delivery of freshly milled or flaked grains every other week. We will be supplying you for an entire year.  At each delivery, you will receive a 1kg bag of either whole wheat flour made from heritage wheat or flaked oats. They are being grown absolutley free of synthetic chemics, so you are receiving a fresh, nutritious and naturally grown product. 

We are now beginning to take names on our waiting list for the grain share. We intend to offer 50 shares for our first year and slowly increasing the size as it makes sense for us. Unfortunately, we won't know how much of a yield we expect to have until September or October, as the growing season can vary depending on the year we have, so we won't start taking payments or confirming anything until then.

This is what you do to be first in line for your very own share in our grain harvest!
  1. Email us at or visit our website
  2. You will be entered onto our waiting list
  3. In the first week of october we will contact you and confirm your membership and begin accepting payments
  4. You will be meeting us every other week at the designated delivery points in Red Deer, Calgary, and Olds and receive your fresh oats or flour!
  5. That's it!

Some details pending... you can visit our website for more information. If you have any questions at all, please email us and we will be happy to talk with you.

Chick Video

Here's a little 1 minute video of some of our chicks running around in their brooding coop. No narration, just three week old chicks running around.

Since we took this little video, we've had two more batches of chicks arrive on the farm. We now have a toatl of 174 little chicks running around on the farm and growing, and more are on the way. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Chicks

About three weeks ago, we got our first batch of new chicks. This first batch is smaller than we were expecting, but we think it's a good thing for us as we can now get experience brooding chicks for the first time with a smaller number of them.

For this first batch, we got three breeds; Chantecler, Sussex and Ameraucana.

We're keeping them in this little chicken coop on the farm. We gave it a very thorough cleaning and heated it up before introducing the chicks to their new home. The ground isn't covered by snow anymore either.

At first, we built a little cardboard brooder for the chicks so it would be easier for us to keep their livivng area warm. We use red heat lamps in the brooder to keep them warm. When we first got the chicks, we had to keep their brooder at 33C, and we have to decrease the temperature by a few degrees each week until they have all of their feathers. If we don't ge the temperature right, we can seriously hurt their development as they grow.

We are also being extra careful about how we raise these chicks because we are raising them without any medicated feed. Many chicken keepers raise their chicks for the first couple of months on a feed that is medicated to prevent a disease called Coccidiosis, which damages the intestinal tract of a chicken, weakens it and makes it susceptible to other diseases as well. It is a very serious disease in large concentrated chicken operations. We chose not to premedicate for a number of reasons, including our desire to be as organic as possible and our belief that premedicated feeds cause harm over the long run. The way these feeds work is they prevent the chick from developing vitamin B1 in its body properly, tarving out the Coccidiosis from their bodies. The lack of this vitamin also makes the chicks weak themselves. Of course, if they get sick we will certainly treat them as the need it.

By keeping their coop warm, clean and dry and making sure they have fresh food and water every day, we are raising them in a way that keeps them healthy and lets them develop a natural resistance to disease.

Now, after three weeks, our chicks have their wing and tail feathers and have gotten so much bigger than they were when we got them. They are really healthy and active, flying and running around in their little coop. It's been really fun raising our chickens from day one this time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farm Update, April!

It has been a while since we've posted here. There has been so much going on at the farm, it just kind of got pushed to the back burner. Now, it's mid-April and there is so much new to talk about. Just a couple of days ago, we got our first batch of chicks from our friend Kyle, who kindly agreed to do the collecting and hatching part of the process for us.

It's getting pretty late today, but in the next few days I will be posting about the new chicks as well as whats going on in the greenhouse.

For now, you can see the chicks in their box right when we picked them up...

Cute, aren't they?

Going Organic?

Recently, we've been thinking about whether or not we should be working toward organic certification for our farm. It has been one of the really tough decisions we've faced.

When we first decided to start farming, we weren't going to bother with organic certification even though we were going to grow organically. We figured that it was far too much work and expense to certify our small farming operation. We're also somewhat jaded about the whole issue of organic food. Canada has only had the new national standard for organic agriculture for about a year, and even now there are still so many different certifying bodies that each have different standards that you have to adhere to. We can still try to be better than the certifier requires of us, but would we be comfortable throwing in with a certifier that we aren't entirely happy with? Also, especially with the organic animals, there are other standards like Animal Welfare Approved that are almost completely in line with what we want to do, yet doesn't require farms to be organic.

The most important thing for us is taht we're growing our crops and raising our animals ethically. To that end, we are always going to grow in the spirit of organic agriculture, and maybe one day we will certiy as well. Being certified organic would allow us to give our customers a guarantee right from the get go, allowing us to provide the guarantee that there are no chemicals or altered genetics in our food. Then it wouldn't just be our word, but it would be backed up by a third party as well.

The organic standards aren't perfect, but they are a start. Certifying would also be beneficial for any seed that we end up selling, as one of the most difficult aspects of growing organic food is finding untreated, organic seed sources. In fact, it can be very difficult to find almost anything organic for a producer here in Alberta.

Unfortunately, as long as we're still renting land it isn't feasible for us to certify anyway. We would have to spend three years transitioning the land and working with John to make it work, only to have to do the whole process over again when we moved to our own land. So for now, we will continue trying to grow naturally and responsibly, and in a few years when we have our own farm, we'll think about certifying organic then.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rosemary, chives and more

It's about this time of year, even in the cold heart of Alberta that growers are gearing up for the coming growing season. Sometime around mid February, when days start getting longer than 10 hours, there's enough light for plants to start growing vigorously. Of course, we still have the -35 to -40C nighttime temperatures to contend with. But in order to get some of the more difficult herbs and vegetables to produce in our 90-100 frost free days each year, we tend to find ways to get things started indoors. On the farm, we've started using Johns staff trailer to get his onions and our chives, thyme, oregano, pansies and lavender off to a good start. Unfortunately we're starting to lose sight of the floor. And so we've also been working with John on getting his heated greenhouse warm enough to grow in, which is certainly it's own challenge.

Even before that, Anna's mom was kind enough to let us take some cuttings from her Rosemary shrub back in B.C., where it's warm enough that it can actually grow into a full shrub. We've been slowly getting these cuttings to take root in the basement under a grow light. It can be pretty amazing how a plant will put out new roots with just a little encouragement from us. We took these cuttings at exactly the time of year we weren't supposed to take Rosemary cuttings, and had them sitting in a box in the fridge for a week before we stuck them in soil with a little bit of rooting powder, and still we've had about half of them root and start forming new leaves.

Now that March has come around, we're going to be getting into full grower mode, seeding new herbs and vegetables every week until summer.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Website

Anna and I decided that we should go ahead and get a proper website so that we can have a full presence on the web.

It isn't much to look at yet, but we'll really be beefing it up soon with a full description of our farm and products. The website will have details on what we have available for sale (our shares, what's in season, etc), how much it costs and so on.
We even hope to create an online store for you to purchase dried herbs, tea, and even egg and flour shares. So be sure to have a look as we continue work on the website.

Don't worry though, we will continue to update you with our daily farming adventures on our blog! The blog is where we will keep you posted on the happenings on our farm and also in our small but exciting local and sustainable community!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cleaning our Wheat

This week we finally got around to getting some of our grain cleaned. At first we tried to clean all the grain by hand with 1/4 inch screens, but this was a long and laborious process, and we just couldn't seem to get the sunflowers in the wheat separated. As it turns out, the small seeded sunflowers that John grows in his maze are just about the same size as a wheat kernel.

Stan was able to track down an Emerson kicker, an old seed cleaner no longer in production, from a museum. I guess it's not an antique anymore when you make modifications.  These cleaners used to be used in grain elevators to test incoming grain for the amount of dockage (impurities in the grain). Once a few more modifications were made (it actually moved across the floor when running, so it needed to be stabilized on a forklift) and it was good to go. It goes at a pretty good pace too.

We decided to get the cleaning process on video, and you can see Anna here explaining what's going on. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is it spring yet?

I, Anna, sat on the deck this morning in the brilliant sunshine and wove a wreath. To think it was -25 just a couple of days ago. I am pretty sure that it was at least 5 or maybe even 10 above on the deck this morning! Everything is thawing, trinkling and wet. Almost as if winter is coming to an end. Of course its not, but we still hope! Ahh, Alberta. Both Daniel and I are eagerly awaiting spring. We just got our seed order from Richters in the mail yesterday! Yay! Thats not all the seeds yet- we're also waiting for some seeds from Heritage Harvest Seeds (in Manitoba),  as well as a couple from Mapple Farm (it's out east somewhere as well). I feel excited to try the varieties that we chose and see how we particular we are excited to try:

Mystery Keeper tomato (its supposed to store a long time, and ripen from the inside out!)
Fennel (Bronze and Sweet- see how well they go to seed in Alberta)
Gourds (Birdhouse and Crown of Thorns)
Bay Laurel
6 different mints (spear, pepper, orange, pineapple, ginger and chocolate)
a blend of herbs for tea making (bergamot, lemon balm, anise hyssop...)
a smorgasbord of edible flowers

This ties in with Daniels current project, seed saving. This year he will be experimentally growing a whole variety of vegetables and herbs for seed, in order to start with our own seed next year. I am excited about this- it ties in so beautifully with sustainability- it makes sense to us. We made a point of ordering open pollinated types of herbs and vegetables in order to make this project possible.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bok bok! Our egg rainbow...

Another one of the "crops" we plan to offer starting next year is eggs. But we won't be giving people just any egg, like the white or light brown ones you see in the grocery store. Different breeds of chickens lay a whole assortment of different colours and hues, so we're planning on marketing our own eggs as "rainbow dozens". Our eggs are going to come in a wide range of colours, in a range of whites, browns, pinks, and greens. Right now, we have hens laying both green and brown eggs. You can see a picture of our four girls below.

From the left, you can see Peeper, our speckled Sussex. Next is Beetlejuice, a black Ameraucana, and Beaker, a partridge Ameraucana. Finally there is Chaunti, a partridge Chantecler, and a total babe at that!

We were especially excited about starting to keep Chantecler's on our farm because they are the only breed of chicken from Canada, and because it is classified as endangered by Rare Breeds Canada. We want to help keep the breed alive. They were bred in Quebec and Alberta to be exceptionally hardy in our cold climate and to keep laying more consistently throughout the dark winter months. We also like our green egg layers, the Ameraucana's for the same reasons. Well, also because they are beautiful creatures with great personalities!

Here are the breeds of chicken that will make up our flock this next year:

- Chantecler, Ameraucana,  Australorp, Sussex, Plymouth Rock, Maran, Brabanter

The Australorp, Sussex and Plymouth Rock are all brown egg layers, laying a eggs in a variety of shades of brown, the Maran is a breed of chicken that lays dark, chocolate brown eggs, and the Brabanter is a very rare breed in Canada that is one of the few cold hardy white egg layers. We will be getting all of the chickens for our farm from local breeders.

Now that our hens have started laying, we have all kinds of beautiful eggs to eat at home. The green ones, and some of the smaller brown ones in the picture are ours, along with some of John's eggs as well. Between our two farms, we hope to start offering our egg CSA share sometime around January 2012.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Anna's wheat baby and the future

So, backtracking a little here.

Why grow a quarter acre of wheat and do all the work by hand? Back in the spring of 2010, I felt a need to try something new...something exciting...challenging...something I've never done before. Wheat was the answer. For many reasons. I have no experience with growing wheat, or growing grain period. It is also a sustainable thing to do. I wanted to eat a slice of bread for breakfast and know that I seeded, weeded,and somehow magically harvested and milled this grain myself. How satisfying that would be indeed. I wanted to know exactly how much work this would be.

As described in the earlier post, it ended up being quite the adventure. What, you have to stook the grain? What's a stook? How do you get all that other stuff seperated from the grain? How do I keep the fan from blowing everything everywhere including the grain?? That's not how its supposed to work! And these sunflower seeds? There's more sunflower seeds in there than wheat (long story)...

Yes, there were a lot of lessons to be learned. And to be honest, I had my moments. Luckily Daniel is ever so patient, and he adopted this project with enough passion and gusto to match mine. So, with his endurance and my determination (well, and a lot of help) we ended up with a whole 350 kg of lovingly grown wheat- that is perhaps a bit frost bitten and not the cleanest yet. But its ours. And we have a hilarious story to boot.

This is the first step of a long journey. Not to get too sentimental, but seriously. This year, 2011, we hope to expand to a couple acres. We will be growing a special variety of wheat known as Red Fife. It is an heritage variety that used to be the most important wheat variety of Canada. A fellow young farmer of Alberta, Mike, suggested it to us. (Ps check out his awesome website) It supposedly grows really funky and looks nothing like the perfectly uniform commercial wheats you see today, but its flavour is supposed to be exceptional. We can't wait!

Our First Farm Venture!

This summer, the two of us began our first venture as farmers, wheat! Neither of us had much of an idea how to actually go through the whole process, but we wanted to see for ourselves what it really takes to start with planting a wheat kernel in the ground, then harvesting the finished grain, threshing and cleaning it, and finally milling it into fresh whole wheat flour to make tasty tasty bread!

The first part was easy enough. Plant it, weed it, and wait...

Then, in October, we had to figure out how to harvest all that grain.

We were able to get it harvested by an incredibly large swathing machine that cut down the whole patch in a couple of minutes. It only took that long because it had to turn around to make a second pass. Then we loaded all the wheat sheaths into large wooden crates and hauled it all up to the barn, 14 crates in all!

We decided to give hand threshing a try. We had to break the grain heads off of the straw, and rub the heads across a screen to separate the kernels from the chaff, and then drop everything in front of a fan so it could blow the chaff free. It was very hard work, and took 7 of us all afternoon just to get 14kg of grain threshed. This was maybe 5 percent of everything we had. And we wouldn't be able to keep all our friends if we kept asking them to thresh grain everytime we saw them.

Back in the field after the wheat had been cut, we had sort of dismissed the idea of "stooks", deeming them unimportant. Little did we know! Normally, once the crops are cut down the grain sheaths are tied in bundles, or stooks, that stand upright in the field so that they can properly dry. This also aids the threshing process (when done by hand) because all the grain heads have the same orientation. We ended up wasting a lot of time and grain getting our messy, non stooked sheaths onto the table and rearranging them so the grain heads all faced the same direction. Next time, we stook!!

At this rate, it would take us until sometime the next year to get all the work done. So we borrowed a combine...
And we didn't fill it by much. That's all our grain managed to fill the hopper up to on the machine:

It was pretty crazy. We'd spend ten minutes forking wheat into the front of the combine, then Stan Mills,a great support and resource we had through this whole experience, would quickly turn the machine on and off to thresh it. Each time the combine required a whole two seconds to suck back what had taken us so long to load. This way, we were able to take all those crates of grain, and reduce them to a satisfying 360kg. Now all we had to do was clean it. By hand...with screens:

But in the end, we've been able to turn a field of grass into fresh, whole wheat flour:

This has really been an educating experience for us. It might seem like grain farming should be pretty simple and achievable, but it takes so much knowledge and equipment, making it a fairly hard industry to start in. But it is so satisfying! We have exciting plans for this season...