English: Wheat harvest on the Palouse, Idaho, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here on our 20-acre homestead in north Idaho, we are continuously engaging in projects involving self-sufficiency and food independence. In this we’re not alone. There are expert gardeners all across America who produce most or all of their own fruits and vegetables. But very few have raised that most elemental and taken-for-granted grain in our diet, wheat.
North Idaho is wheat country. In August it’s a common sight to see massive combines rumbling across vast fields, chewing up wheat and spitting out chaff. Every identical strand is cut, every precious grain is captured. Nothing is wasted.
In contrast, the harvesting process for our plot was wildly inefficient, further handicapped by our ignorance. Scything is not perfect, and lots of stuff got missed. We harvested just a bit too late in the wheat’s maturity cycle, so some of the brittle wheat heads fell to the ground. We raked the entire field and bundled the wheat stalks into crude sheaves, but we missed a lot. (We also learned why gleaning the fallen seed heads was such an important part of the biblical economy.)
Harvesting this half-acre parcel took three days of hard work. One day was spent scything and beginning to rake. The next two days were spent raking and bundling the wheat into sheaves. Last of all we gathered the sheaves and put them away where the mice and chipmunks couldn’t get to them. Then finally, at last, we could rest our aching muscles and be thankful it was done. (See our photo essayhere..)
“Why don’t we just buy lots and lots of flour and store it?” grumped our older daughter, unable to appreciate the finer points of wheat production after fours hours of raking.
“What if we can’t buy flour?” I replied. And that sums up the philosophy behind our wheat-growing experiment. We no longer feel secure in being totally dependent on someone else for our food.
In my opinion, there are not enough people in this nation engaged in growing food. More>>>>>>>>>>