Saturday, December 17, 2011

Grinding Wheat

I was given a Magic Mill grain mill a while ago and up until today it's been out in the barn.  I used it a few times when I got it but it is so noisy, big and heavy that it wasn't worth its weight.  Instead if I wanted some flour from my whole wheat I'd use the hand crank coffee grinder.  It's metal, not plastic and worked just fine.  I got the idea to use the coffee grinder from reading The Long Winter, one of the Little House books.   In fact, The Long Winter was what lead me to the idea of the hidden food storage room! If you recall, Almonzo didn't want anyone to take his seed wheat (or at least he didn't want his brother Royal to sell it).  He built a false wall in their cabin and poured the wheat into it. 

My mill is about 40 years old but still works.   It's big and heavy and is not something that I can store in the kitchen.  I put the mill on a sturdy shelf in the garage.  It is so loud that I am tempted to put in ear plugs.  The mill has the ability to be hand cranked if there is no power.  This is a real important feature.  Of course, I don't have the hand crank.  I looked on the internet and found it available for $23.99 plus shipping.  I'm going to first see if I can make one myself.  That's a lot of money to spend for the crank.  On the other hand, it's not that much money if you have a bunch of wheat in your storage program and no way to grind it up!  I have a years supply of food stashed away but I have very little wheat, instead just storing flour.  I know that the flour has a shelf life of a couple years (I store it in the freezer then pack into mylar and buckets) and wheat can last forever.  Wheat can also be planted to grow more and give myself an unlimited supply. 

In some areas of the country it is illegal to plant wheat that has not been treated with fungicides to make sure that the wheat growing areas don't get infected and all die off.  I'm not sure what the regulations are around here since it's not a big wheat growing area.  Around here they historically grew barley.  Anyway, if I wanted to grow wheat in an area 100 feet by 100 feet (about 1/4 acre) I would need about 20-25 pounds of wheat seed.  I'd broadcast plant, which for me would mean putting the seed into the "whirly-twirly" and walk around with the seed getting spit out the front.  Yield is anywhere between 2 and 15 bushels (60 pounds per bushel or between 120 and 900 pounds) for that 1/4 acre grain patch.  The difference in yield would depend on the amount of rain we get, or the moisture in the ground, or if I water a couple times during the growing season.  If I wanted to make a pound loaf of bread each day for the year I'd need 350 pounds of flour.  A 1/4 acre patch should be plenty.  I'm going to buy wheat seed next month and spread it in one area of the pasture that I will be able to fence off to keep the sheep out.  

The property across the road planted oats many years ago.  The oats grow each year, they mow it down and bale it up for hay.  Enough of the oats fall back on the ground that they don't reseed it each year.  It comes back on its own.  I wonder if the same could be said for wheat.  That way the grain is available if needed but if not needed we don't have to go through the labor intensive activity to process it.  It's said that doing all the work by hand from cutting and threshing will take about an hour or two for each gallon of wheat that you can put into your storage program.  That's really labor intensive.  I'd rather go to the store and buy it, if IT hasn't hit the fan and we can still go to the store! 

1 comment:

  1. We planted wheat last year, and the very next day a HORDE of birds descended, I kept shooting the shotgun at them, but to no avail. Not one speck of wheat came up LOL. I'll be more diligent next time, maybe put a scarecrow out at the same time we plant the seed.