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Threshing with a club

I've harvested the rye already a couple of weeks ago. It was one sunny evening, I had a little free time before the last customer of the day, and the weather forecast said that the next day will be rainy. So I just quickly cut the rye with a sickle, but didn't bother with arranging them into neat bundles. I just carried all of the rye into the sauna, and started a small fire in the stove just to make sure the rye will be dry enough. This weekend I finally had time to thresh the rye.

A year ago in the comment section of my threshing post someone suggested to put the rye in a bag and to beat it with a club. I like the idea and decided to try it this year. I cut a handful of rye cobs and tossed them into a cotton bag. I placed the bag on top of a solid surface and started to beat it with a wooden club. After some beating I poured the contents of the bag into a plastic bucket. And - yes - almost all of the grain was separated. Now I realized that the work would've been so much easier if I had my rye in bundles so organized that all the cobs are about even. That way I could just put the top of a bundle into the bag, beat it, grab the bundle and pull the straw away from the bag. When I was harvesting the rye I thought that I can arrange them into bundles later on, but now I found that difficult - all the rye was just a mixed and tangled heap. I found it easier just to leave the heap as tangled as it was and cut the cobs from the stalks. Oh well - but that is how it goes; try to save some work one day and you end up doing more work the other day.

But the bag-and-a-club method was rather efficient. The bag keeps the grain from flying away, which allows one to beat them properly. Still, beating with a wooden club doesn't break the grain, they just turn loose. As I kept on pouring the contents of the bag into the bucket, I soon had the bucket 1/3 filled with a mixture of chaff and grain. It came to my mind that I could use the bucket for initial cleaning - shaking the bucket should make the heavier grain to sink to the bottom while the lighter chaff stays on the top. That way I could just peel off a layer of chaff. I tried that, and realized that a bit more vigorous shaking, and some of the lighter chaff gets carried away by the wind.

It took several hours to thresh the rye, and all in all I was satisfied with the process. Although, I think I will skip growing rye next year. This variety of rye is sown in autumn, growing roots that survive the winter so that it gets an early start the next spring. But now I'm all too late for autumn sowing - first freezing nights are here, the days are getting shorter and pretty much nothing grows any more.

A heap of rye
A heap of rye
beating
beating
shaking (chaff is in the air)
shaking
the yield
the yield
tags: 
diary
homesteading
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Comments

Aha cool. I just sowed about 25 acres of barley today, myself. 10 or 15 more acres tomorrow and it will all be done for this year. We use a tractor and a seed drill to plant and a combine to harvest though, of course. ;P Hehe.

Will you grind this into flour, or do you have other plans?

In one of the barns here, we have some kind of ancient grain cleaning contraption that my great- or maybe even great-great-grandfather built. I have no idea how it works, but supposedly it's what they used to clean up the grain before running it through the old water mill to grind it into flour. If you would like, I will see if I can get someone to explain how it works and take some pictures, if you will be doing more of this in the coming years and would be interested in building a more efficient contraption for cleaning your grain.

Is the barley mainly for cattle fodder?

I think I'll grind a small portion of the rye and keep the rest to be sown later on.

Hmm... If, in some future years, I'll be growing and processing bigger amounts of grain I'll need some kind of machinery. I think some of my neighbouring houses are still storing old-fashioned grain processing machinery in their barns. They are belt-driven, so any kind of engine producing rotational movement could be harnessed to run those machines. I think I could go investigate those machines, and then try build a smaller version for my own usage. But, at the moment that is not the highest priority for me - maybe in the coming years when I get the house renovation project completed I will have more time and energy to tinker with building all kinds of apparatus =)

Yeah, we grind it into feed. I am going to abscond with a few buckets full and try to make some beer this year, too, though. It is getting too expensive to buy, lol...

Hehe, good luck with the beer! It will be interesting to hear how it goes. I assume you have to start with malting the barley - I only have a general idea how it is done, but I've never tried malting.

I am not sure yet, lol. I need to do some research. :3

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