Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Growing Bread Part 3 of 4: Harvesting

Back to the wheat field... I planted in mid October and the wheat grass came up quickly. Among the many surprises from this project, the grass was lovely: soft green that rippled like the sea when touched by the wind. It stayed a little less than knee high all that winter and began growing again in the spring. At long last, I enjoyed being out standing in my field...

By summer the wheat was in the ear, first green, then gold. How do you know when to harvest? When the ears begin to droop, I was told, harvest soon or the ears will shatter and all the grain fall into the field. For me this was mid July.

How to harvest? If you sensibly only planted a few square feet, you could harvest with kitchen shears. I knew I wasn't up to trying a scythe (you can accidentally cut off a body part!), so I decided to try a sickle. I had a very hard time finding a sickle!! I eventually found one some ways away in an ag supply place.

What a surprise! I thought the sickle was a curved knife and you used the whole thing to cut... Nope. The knife is at the very end. You grab a handful of wheat, hold it taut and draw the sickle across, cutting it with the sharp end. You kind of figure it out as you go. I reaped and the kids tied together the sheaves and then we went rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. Since I didn't have a barn, we used the porch.

When I had finished reaping my tiny hundredth of an acre, I stood up and thought: that was fun. If the field had been just a little larger, that would not have been fun!

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