Today was a physically hard day, I threshed and winnowed about 1/2 a Ranault Tafic van full into approx. 100kg. It took me from 10:30am to 4pm. I can now understand why machines were invented to help with grain processing. The first threshers were designed and made in the 18th Century – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshing_machine – and are huge beasts. They stayed in use until being usurped by the combine harvester – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combine_harvester – which did the cutting, that would be done by scythe and the threshing and winnowing. I had a leaf sucker, a kids sandpit/ paddling pool, an old sieve and a waste paper bin. The wind was erratic and I had several issues.
> The blower kept jamming as I pushed too much straw through it
> I had to move as I was too noisy and then used a stone ground to empty my threshed grain onto – great I thought, wrong! No! I now have small stones mixed in with the grain and am not sure how to sieve these out
> I thought i’d also found a quick way to winnow by blowing the straw and grain once on the stone ground and then sucking up the seeds with the sucker/ blower. It worked, but also shattered some of the grain. Not good as these will now deteriorate.
I am now really thinking hard about testing fresh flower. Why not I now have the wheat berries and a place to mill it – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele-mill/ – I need to read up and find the protocol for such an experiment. Off the top of my head I’m thinking. Mill three lots and then bake bread with the same recipe in the same oven. One a week old, another 48 hours old and the last freshest one less than 24 hours old. I’ll test the flour first, if I can find the place to test it – anyone? – for nutrient content and the make bread and test its baking qualities and taste. Before embarking on this thesis I had never considered that flour would deteriorate in quality over time. This article gives a nice write up on it – http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/02/17/food-for-thought-is-freshly-milled-flour-more-nutritious/ – but now having read and understood the science it makes perfect sense. The seed casing protects the content from oxidisation as soon as its broken vitamins and enzymes start to deteriorate.
Its great that I have enough seed to make flour with and will also have some to replant next season, I’m hopeful of enough for five acres, I’ll use the bonfis method – http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/magazines/global/monocultures-towards-sustainability/how-to-grow-winter-wheat-the-fukuoka-bonfils – if I can get winter seed or use my spring seed and graze the wheat once established but before going to seed (really not sure this will work) Maybe I should sow the spring wheat in late March post sowing a clover, chicory, buckwheat, etc mix. I’ll role the mix and plant through it then leave it until harvest.