Saturday, October 21, 2017

Threshing and Cleaning Millet

I was at the NOFA Summer Conference a few months ago there was a nice display of millet threshers that were being developed for use in Africa. Part of what was interesting about the display was seeing some of the iterations in design. I just found my note with a link to the website which explains a lot more about the project and the designs.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Allen Dong's Seed Cleaning Equipment

It's been a while since any posts went up here, but I thought I'd add a link to a small photo gallery of small scale seed cleaning equipment that I put up recently - here

Looking back at the posts on this site there are definitely some gems from Anthony and Jacob. There's also been a bit of resurgence in interest in this kind of stuff since the blog started so maybe I'll see if I can get some more posts out of some of the folks working on this stuff, soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pedal Powered Grain Cleaning

My good friend Jeffrey built this incredible human-powered machine to clean his homegrown grain. Check out his video:

pedal powered grain cleaning

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Heritage Wheat Trials on Prairie Heritage Farm

A heritage wheat.
In 2009, here on Prairie Heritage Farm, I started trailing around 250 heritage and ancient wheat varieties. Each variety consisted of no more than 30-50 seeds. I seeded around 3 linear feet of each, made general observations all year, and harvested them with scissors and hand-threshed them. In 2010, I took the 30 best varieties and seeded approximately 50 linear feet of each, and again, hand harvested and threshed them. In 2011, I took the best 8 and seeded around 600 linear feet of each. Again, I hand harvested and threshed them.

2011 trials.

My goal all along has been to build up a seed base of the best varieties so that I can eat some of the seed to see how they taste and what they might be suited for (pasta, bread, soup, etc.), and to have enough crop to seed mechanically with a tractor and a drill. The problem with my drill is that when you have so little seed, the cups empty quickly and a lot of seed just sits between the cups, not getting put into the ground. In the past, I've had friends ride on the drill and hand-scoop seeds into the cups as they empty.

Empty drill.
My friend Tim helping me plant a couple years ago.
This year, I wanted to ensure consistency in planting, so I cut the tops and bottoms off used and cleaned quart bottles of oil and taped them over the drill cups. I was able to fill the oil cups with seed and it allowed me to seed the amount I wanted.

Empty drill with oil cup attached.
I took the 2 most interesting varieties (to me), a bread wheat called Ethiopian Blue Tinge, and a Persian wheat called Rusak (collected by the Russian botanist Vavilov in 1924, whose story is told by one of my favorite authors, Gary Paul Nabhan). Since I was seeding 2 varieties, I didn't want them to contaminate each other. My drill has 12 cups, 10" apart. To plant the first variety, I taped 6 oil cups on the left half of the drill. To plant the second variety, I moved the oil cups to the right half of the drill. This ensured that if seeds from the first variety got caught up in the down pipe of the drill, it wouldn't contaminate the second variety when I seeded it.

Drill with oil cups attached, filled with seed.

So my two heritage varieties are in the ground, it's rained, and now I wait for them to push through the soil. In the fall, I plan to use a small combine to harvest them, after which I hope to have enough to seed even more ground next year, eat some, and re-discover the valuable genetics and unique characteristics of these heritage varieties.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Threshing and Winnowing Ideas on Video

I was just sent a link to a video that I'll pass along. There are two different farm built small threshers and a simple demonstration of winnowing with a fan. Here in the Northwest it has been less than a stellar year for our dry beans and I'm not sure if we'll ever get a corn crop. Definitely one of the coldest and wettest on record. Hope it's better in other parts...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Field Day in Washington, Aug 25, 2010

It's been a while since we've had a post here but I wanted to let folks know about a field day up in Washington that's being put on by Snohomish County Extension - "From Field to Feed, Flour and Fermentation." Looks like a great event and you can find out more by going to Brown Paper Tickets.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Park Wheat

I am honoured to be able to post on this blog. I can see that it may develop into a useful source of information for the growing number of smallholders who wish to venture into successful grain and pulse production on a small scale.

First I guess I should introduce myself. My name is John Schneider. I have been farming most of my life and family generations as far back as we can trace have also been farmers. It has been in the last 10 years or so that I have been focused on organic grain production; heritage breeds of grains and livestock have been my further interest for the past 3 or 4 years. We farm in central Alberta, Canada very near the city of Edmonton.

I thought for my first post I would share with you a little info. on the main grain variety that we currently produce. It is called Park Wheat. It was developed here in Alberta at the Lacombe Research Station back in the 60's. It is far from an ancient grain, but it is what I would call a heritage variety. It is an open pollinated Hard Red Spring that was initially bred to resist rust.

Aside from its resistance to various diseases I have found that it is a very early spring variety and seems to be fairly drought resistant. It is also very high in protein and we have had it range anywhere from 13.5% to 14.5% protein. The falling numbers have varied a little more but generally have been in the 330-350 range. It is a very suitable baking wheat with good dark colouring and a moderately rich taste. Not as dark and rich as something like Marquis or Red Fife, but still pretty good.