Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Harvested the Wheat!

Saturday, August 24th was a beautiful sunny day, and since it was 91 days since the wheat emerged we decided to harvest it.
Ready For Harvest!
We asked a local farmer for advice about when to harvest. He told us that the wheat would be ready to harvest when we could easily separate the seed by rubbing it in our fingers and having it crack and crunch like a nut when we chewed it. We tried that test a few times, and at the start it was still too green, and the seed would squish instead of cracking. By August 24, the seed was good and dry for harvest.
Finding the seed in the husk

Since our field is so small (32 s.f., or 4x8 feet) we kept the harvesting method really simple...shears and scissors! No combines, no sickles, and no scythes. Kitchen scissors proved to be the best tool for us. We hand-tied each sheaf (or bundle) of wheat with some yarn.
Starting the harvest with grass shears.

These were the best harvest tools for us!
The harvest took us about 40 minutes from the time we started until we had our seven sheaves of wheat.

It was fun cutting the wheat. We were surprised to find out that it was hollow on the inside! Then Mom reminded us that "straws" for drinking are like wheat straw, both are hollow on the inside!

Three rows done, four rows to go!
We made our sheaves using some yarn. Each sheaf got 12 wraps of yarn and then got tied up. Each sheaf was just big enough for an adult to grip with one hand. Looking at all of it bundled makes us wonder just how much flour we will get in the could be a really little loaf of bread, but we will have to wait and see!
Tying off a sheaf. We harvested 7 sheaves in total.
Once the harvest was done it was a bit odd to look back at the stubble field...kind of like looking at a really furry dog right after a super short hair cut. We still are not sure what to do about the stubble. Do we turn it under? Ignore it? We know that many farmers in our region burn their stubble, but we won't be doing that!
All done, but now what do we do with the stubble?
We all found that it was fun to stand, run, and stomp on the stubble after having been so careful about our little field since April.
Having FUN in the stubble!
Once we had the sheaves it was fun taking a few pictures with them, and then Dad figured out a way to hang the seven sheaves in the garage, since they have to dry for a while yet before we figure out how to thresh the grain and how to winnow it.

Our harvest, hanging from the rafters in the garage.
Now the wheat will have to dry for a while and we have to do some research to figure our how to separate the seeds from the stalks. Threshing and winnowing are the processes. Ancient cultures used a large flat rock area for threshing and the wind for winnowing. We will have to figure out a threshing floor of our own.

It is exciting to get this far in the process, and we are getting closer than ever to our loaf of bread!

And that is all we know so far.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow!

Happy New Month! August is here, and Saturday August 3rd marks 70 days since we first saw the baby wheat poking out of the ground. From what we have found out it should be ready to harvest between 90 and 100 days, which will be Labour Day Weekend.
Starting to change from Green to Gold!
Grandpa Laurie was by the other day to check out the wheat. He figures that the beards on our wheat are bigger than the ones he remembers as a kid on the prairies. Maybe it is because there are different kinds of wheat, and they all look a little bit different from one another.
Measuring up
The wheat now stands between 80cm and 90 cm tall. That's about 32 to 35 inches or so for those who get inches more than centimetres. In a big rain shower the wheat gets heavy and flops over, and the first time it did this we were worried it would stay down, but it didn't. After the sun and wind dry it out it stands back up again. We noticed that we are not the only ones minding the wheat either...the ants seem to like it!
Why do the Ants like the Wheat?
We know that the ants like our peonies and that they help to open the flowers, but seeing the ants in the wheat is a bit of a surprise. No other insects or spiders seem to hang around in the wheat like the ants do. Are they finding something to eat in there?
Neat to see it wave around in the wind too.
The wheat sure looks different than it did when it first emerged as tiny blades of grass. And the yard looks really different from when we started this project on April 20th. There was still snow on the ground! Pretty soon we have to figure out about harvesting, stooking, drying and those steps. Right now we just have to hope for good growing weather for another 30 days. Grow wheat grow!

That is all we know so far.