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July 28, 2011 / 74

Whipping On the Wheat (still)

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I disagree. Necessity is the MASTER of invention and it drives it HARD!

Yep – still trying to figure out “easy” ways to get the wheat off the stem and out of the wheat head. If you have any experience in raising and harvesting grain, and you don’t have a combine/thresher, about now you should be falling off of your chair laughing. There IS no easy way… no. that’s not EXACTLY true. there is one.

THE easy way to get the wheat out of the head is to leave it until it’s LONG overdue for harvesting. Then all you have to do is touch the stem and the wheat kernels will just fall out and land in the dirt. Needless to say, this is not a desired method.

So, having wheat to harvest, I started trying some methods I read about.

I beat handfuls of the wheat against the side of a bucket. That took a LOT of time and a LOT of energy and yielded enough for the typical “daily bread” for about one person. So if you have NOTHING else to do but collect wheat, it’s good.

So I looked around for faster easier ways to get the job done. My next foray into the threshing business was to tarp the back of the pickup and put the wheat, stems and all, in the truck and beat the snot out of it with a flail. (See picture from earlier post). This worked a lot better, was faster, and was a bit more efficient in terms of time to pounds of wheat. But it was STILL slow.

So I looked around the garage and thought, “what can I use to beat the snot out of wheat stems without destroying the wheat?

My eyes fell on my chipper-shredder, hiding behind a bunch of BIG stuff in the back corner of the garage. Run at low speed, it just MIGHT work!

I shifted the piles, and dragged it out. I was worried that it wouldn’t start – it hadn’t been run for a year and a half to two years, and there was still gas in the tank. So after liberating it from its hole I dragged it outside. (Which required that I move the motorcycle, which process also required a ride on said motorcycle.) When I got back from going to the post office and picking up some milk at the store… I parked the bike and pulled the rope on the heavy flywheeled Briggs-Stratton engine – it roared to life after only about four pulls!

So today I dragged it up to the wheat patch, and got all set up, started the “thresher” and uprooted my first few hand fulls of wheat plants, then stuffed the cluster of wheat heads into the maw of the Machine! (I love having a machine with a “maw”! Wow! It’s just so cool to be able to use the word!)

There was a slight tugging, and the ends of the wheat stalks were gone. Oops. I forgot to run The Beast at low idle. RPM adjustment made, the next batch came out with a few beat up heads still on the straw – and so on.

The problem with the process was that uprooting wheat means that you get a lot of dirt hanging on to the straw… which since the straw is shorter than the feeding chute, said dirt ends up dribbling dirt into the machine. Fortunately there is a dish-like bowl at the bottom 0f the chute that gathered the dirt, so I was able to just remove the outflow bag and shove the dirt into the shredder blades, which with the bag removed, spit it all over the hilltop. But hey… hilltops are made of dirt, so no harm. Right?

In the heat and the really high humidity, I was drenched in sweat fairly soon.  I also had a cell phone that had mud caked on the keyboard – good thing I’d put it in a plastic baggie!

The routine went: grab wheat – stuff into machine. Grab wheat – stuff into machine. Grab wheat – stuff into machine. Remove bag and up-end machine, then shove dirt into machine. (A TIP!!! Try to keep the broom out of machine – it’s not good for the bristles.) Put bag back on and grab wheat… etc. I quickly figured that the wheat was once again winning. So, with rain expected later today, and a meeting (with free food) to go to, I tarped the machine, and brought the bag full of wheat, cracked wheat, straw, wheat hulls, and other chaff, and headed for the house.

After wasting a bunch of wheat by thinking that the compact mess from the bag was mostly chaff (it wasn’t) and giving it to the guineas (who were very happy at their wheatiful bounty), I decided the only way to separate the mess was to winnow it. There being no breeze, I took a fan out the back door on an extension cord, and cranked it up, and poured the stuff from one tub to another, covering the driveway with wheat chaff.

But – there in the bottom of the tub emerged the brown gold I’d been working for! I got about 5 pounds of wheat for my hour and a half of work with the chipper!!!

NOW we’re cooking!!! And I’m thinking that since the wheat heads are becoming friable, maybe now the smacking of the heads on the inside of a tub would be fruitful! And THEN stick them into the chipper! That would give me MY wheat and the CHICKEN’s wheat! But if it rains today, or tomorrow… I’ll have to wait until it dries off again. And if it hails – well then I guess I’m pretty much done harvesting the wheat and the rye, eh?



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