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.

1 comment:

Tabletop Homestead said...

Hello Tracy,

I just found your blog through your post on the Biblical Agrarianism site and am enjoying reading it. I wanted to add that wheat seems to grow as you grind it. 2 cups of whole wheat will end up to be nearly 3 cups of flour. It doesn't change the weight, but the dry measure difference is interesting to me. We buy whole wheat from the Oklahoma Food Coop, as we don't have enough good crop land to grow it. We're concentrating on corn and milo as our home grown grains, but as yet have quite a way to go to be truly productive and self-sufficient.

Judy at Tabletop Homestead