June 28, 2017

Wheat Harvest

Last fall I planted a quarter-acre of wheat. Last week it was ready to harvest.

Dan cutting the wheat with his European scythe. It would have been
much better to have a grain cradle, which I'll explain next time.

You can see how nice and green it is under the wheat. My original plan had been to plant this to pasture once the wheat was harvested. Last month, I decided to try overseeding the wheat with grass seed in hopes that the goats wouldn't have to wait to start grazing after we harvested.

The wheat is a bit sparse here, so you can see
how well the pasture grasses are growing.

It worked! After we hauled off the wheat I turned the girls in to graze.

Jessie enjoying fresh grass.

We didn't get it all, and quite a lot of the wheat heads remained behind.

Sky hunting for wheat heads.

Wheat is easy to grow but not so easy to process, i.e. thresh or separate the wheat grains from the heads. That's important for making flour, but fortunately, goats, chickens, and ducks don't need it threshed. The goats eat the entire wheat head and the chickens and ducks peck out the berries from the chaff themselves. That means we only need to thresh and winnow it for our own use.

Still quite a bit of wheat stubble left, and also quite a
bit of wheat heads to glean, but also plenty of grass.

I wanted to let the chickens in here too, because they would love gleaning the wheat as well, but to get there they'd have to go through a newly planted area of pasture. I didn't want to risk them eating all that seed!

Every year we experiment with threshing, and I think we've finally figured out a way that works well for us. I'll show you that in my next post.

Wheat Harvest © June 2017 by Leigh


Living Alone in Your 60's said...

That looks like hard work using a scythe to cut wheat! Well done. I love experimenting to with how I plant or germinate things. Thanks to YouTube I've learnt so much.

Leigh said...

Tania, we would have used our sickle mower but couldn't wait on the new cutter bar. If left too long, all the wheat seeds will shatter out of the heads! Not too bad with a scythe, really, except we really should have had a grain cradle.

I so agree about YouTube! Best place in the world to learn anything!

Karla said...

Thanks for the post. We are growing spring wheat for the first time this year. Looking forward to your threshing post.

Ed said...

Back when we raised wheat, we always over seeded with alfalfa to get a cutting of hay afterwards.

Up here if I had just a little wheat like what you have, I would have contacted an Amish crew and saw if I could take it over to get it threshed with one of their belt driven machines. They do make portable threshing machines for small quantities like what you have but I'm guessing it is price prohibitive. I hope your threshing goes well and I can smell the freshly baked bread already!

Harry Flashman said...

I didn't know wheat would grow in Georgia. I have never seen it planted anywhere here. Congratulations. Innovation is one of your strong points, seems to me.

Kev Alviti said...

This is great. I'm always wanting to experiment with growing grains on a small scale. This year I have a 20ft bed of Quinoa in as a bit of an experiment in producing a "grain" so I'll see how that goes. My dad produces hundreds of tons of wheat but I'd still love to grow my own organically and produce my own chicken feed.
Well done, you guys should feel proud of what you've achieved here, it takes self sufficiency to the next level and that's what some of should be looking at doing.

Leigh said...

Karla, you're welcome. I hope I can pass on some information that's useful to you!

Ed, it would be great if we had Amish living nearby. I'm sure we could learn a lot. I have found one treadle thresher, but you're correct about the price! We tried something new this year and so far so good!

Harry, I don't know if it innovation as much as a willingness to experiment! I think wheat will grow almost anywhere, but the growing is the easy part. The threshing is where all the real work is!

Kev, thanks! Grain growing does take some experimenting, and so far we've done best with corn and wheat. I like having amaranth for chicken and goat feed, but I've had trouble growing it the past couple of years. The nice thing about wheat for chickens is, it doesn't need to be threshed. They'll pick it right out of the seed heads!

Sandy Livesay said...


Congrats....you've found a way to grow and harvest wheat that works for you and your critters. Will you be using the wheat for making breads and such, or will it just be for your critters.

Rain said...

Hi Leigh :) Both you and Dan work so hard for your lifestyle, it's so inspiring! I can't believe you do that all by hand! Your goats are so beautiful. :)

Leigh said...

Sandy, we'll use it for both. Hopefully next year we'll be ready to process a much larger amount. The goal is to grow a year's worth of wheat for our food storage!

Rain, growing and cutting it is the easy part! We do have a sickle mower which we could have used, but a replacement blade was on order and we needed to take advantage of the weather to harvest. Next post I'll show you how we do the rest.