Monday, June 23, 2008


"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.... you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your God."- Leviticus 19:9-10

We consider ourselves poor in this context, and all the area farmers were busily harvesting their wheat fields with their huge combines this week -- most times missing the edges and corners completely just because their huge machines can't turn or cut that closely to the edge. It is a waste, and will probably be burnt off when they burn stubble (another waste of straw) in order to hurriedly get the ground ready for their next crop.

So Steven and I gleaned the corners and the edges, as we could. We began Friday evening, and gleaned until near sunset. Then we did a different field on Sunday afternoon.

"When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle, on your neighbor's standing grain." - Deuteronomy 23:25

We actually found that was the easiest way to harvest anyway - just plucking the heads off. It was also easier to evaluate which were the better, fuller heads, and skip those that might show signs of mildew or emptiness.

Several months ago, when the bank where I work was clearing out some supplies and converting to some new processes, they unloaded thousands of muslin(?) fabric bags that used to be used for transporting coin. They are stamped with the bank name on the side, but other than that are very attractive bags - about 12" at the short end, by probably 28" or more in length -- like a long, skinny pillow case. We modified a couple of these bags to be gleaner bags (will still need to add a strap to make them easier to carry), and they worked out beautifully.

It will take a lot of wheat to make enough for even a few pounds of flour. Steven is going to do the threshing or winnowing to get the kernels from the heads we plucked, and then we will dry it thoroughly and begin thinking about how best to grind it to flour with what basic tools we have.

We realize we have no idea what variety/type of wheat we have gleaned, although it is most probably a hard red winter wheat that is common in Kansas, like Jagger or Jagalene. While it is still subject to the chemicals/fertilizers they put on it in the field; at least it won't also be treated with the chemicals they put on the kernels after harvest in the holding bins and when being processed into flour (processors put tons of insecticide and anti-mildewing perservatives, etc. on wheat kernels on its path from the local grain elevator to the bakery).

I'll update as we go through the process of trying to turn our gleaned wheat into flour for our home use.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Such a busy time at the farm! Of course, I'll admit Steven does most all the work; while I had to do the commute to town for the cash work *wink*. But I would much rather be home farming.

Yesterday, Steven went out and hand-gleaned a bunch of rye and volunteer wheat. He bundled it and we will store it for feed for the goats for winter. I imagine he will do that off-and-on all summer, as gleaning opportunities are around.

I had originally suggested maybe he put it in the "attic" area of the garage -- which is currently just the open area above where I put the car in the old shed, which just got a new roof last year. Building on that, he said yesterday (and I agree) that it makes more sense to create a holding area like that in the barn itself. It has a fairly low roof, but it does have an "attic area" of sorts in the rafters. If we attach lengthwise boards, and maybe some chicken wire, that would be a good, dry, and handy place to let the hay sit until needed in winter. Then they would already be out in the pen, as well. So with a bit of planning, we will probably do that.

Worked on the ceiling in the living room of the house last night. Hot, dirty, nasty work. The old horsehair plaster-n-lathe work from this 1880s part of the house is crumbling. Big chunks of plaster had fallen off the lathe work and weighed down the acoustic ceiling that had been added below it. We had to take off much of the acoustic panels, clean out the broken plaster and stuff, and try to put the acoustic back up for now. This ended up being a much bigger job than we hoped it would be - and it is apparent that in all reality the entire ceiling is going to have to be torn down and re-done; but we got it patched for now. I was sneezing black dust out of my nose the rest of the evening, even though we wore bandannas over our faces to keep from breathing all the dust. I'm sure this plaster, most of it, at least, really began to break away and fall when we had that roofing crew putting on the new roof two years ago. Lots of pounding on the roof will vibrate that old stuff loose.

We also weeded in the garden for quite awhile. The frequent rains have made the garden wonderful, but has also been a boon for the weeds; and the mosquitoes! So I worked on the bean rows for quite awhile, which Steven did the squash and strawberries. We got our first fresh ripe strawberries of the season too! Delicious! They are loaded, so we are bound to get many more.