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Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm so disappointed we are going to miss the oat threshing on Saturday. We are off to the GIY conference in Waterford which will be a summer holiday of kinds. Well, the summer is happening this week. The sun came out today fora trial run.

This post concerns the oats that were combined a couple of weeks ago, and some of which are drying in our barn. Using the grain mill opposite I tried to de hull some of them, as they are pretty inedible with the hulls on, and de-hullers cost about €20,000, or are a long way away.

It took several hours to prepare the one bowl of porridge. first I ran some oats through at various settings on the mill and tried to screen off the hulls using different sizes of sieve. Then I tried to winnow off any remaining hulls. It didn't work very well because some of the oats were very small and so nomatter what size screen I used I still got some small oats. so, I tried again first screening off the small oats then running them through the mill at a coarse setting which mostly just broke the oats in pieces.
Most of the hulls came off and it was easy to screen off any un-hulled whole oats. Most of the hulls winnowed off fairly easily but so did a lot of the smaller pieces of oat and oat dust. There were still some hulls mixed wit
h the bits which I gave up on but when I got bored, and hungry.

I put the mix in a pot and added water and of course most of the remaining hulls floated to the top. I had a nice bowl of porridge although there was still the odd annoying hull in there.


  1. Hi Madeline - brilliant experimentation! Oats are definitely a great food but so much work... I'd be interested in the relative yield / calories per acre differences between the oats and various outdoor grow corn you mentioned in a previous post... any ideas?

    Looking forward to getting our oats too - although sadly I'll miss the thrashing too as I'm at the college on Saturday... not sure what we'll do with them though - I was thinking pony feed (as horses can digest un-hulled oats - unlike us and cows) but the girls tell me they're too rich for ponies and will send them loopy... maybe time to get some chickens? Or a mill?...

  2. I haven't harvested the everything yet, but yes I want to compare peas broad beans, corn, quinoa, and drying beans for yield of calories and protein under my conditions and the CSA yield of oats.

  3. The porridge looks delicious and healthy too! What is the Seed to Seed book about? You've peaked my interest? I plant all of my veggies and flowers from seed and that looks interesting. :)

  4. great work! looking forward to seeing your grain mill. sorry you cant come to the party.
    ive tried roasting them first (3kg in a wok) some half dehull in a popcorn like explosion. the remaining hulls are more brittle. some separate with rubbing. I dont have screening equipment. so the small ones were a pain. definately a case where size is important!

  5. Seed to Seed is a great book about how plants grow, written by a geneticist, about a year of his life, that of a small weed, and his research. It is a great read, full of wonder at the world.

  6. John, I forgot to mention that I dried them off in the oven, first, where they lost about 10% of their weight. This means they are 11% drier than when they first went in the shed. I didn't think of popping them. its hard to get screen material of different sizes, I got a beautiful set of screens here; http://www.horizonherbs.com/ but they don't seem to sell them any more. Have fun threshing.

  7. I've been watching your posts on the oats with a lot of interest. Just like lots of things, the small scale cultivation of grains together with the knowledge and culture that goes with it is getting lost.

    I think it's really important we return to doing this kind of thing on a local level, for the environment as well as our own food security. It's great your CSA is doing this.

  8. Sad to hear you won't be at the threshing, and we will all miss your rendition of Bringing in the Sheaves.

  9. It's exciting to see you performing this feat. I have been wanting to grow my own oats, too, so I have been studying this a bit. On the gastronomical side of things - oats (particularly flowering tops in the "milky" stage) are good for the nervous system and support brain function. There have been studies about children whom regularly eat oats in the morning are higher functioning in the brain department during school. They also help those who inhabit the temperate north, like myself, who tend to be deficient in Calcium due to it being washed out of the topsoil and not being available to their crops. An exception would be those who garden in limestone areas. Oats is known to be high in Ca and other minerals, as well as high in protein comparable to wheat, but with no gluten. Some say oats is better processed by the body than wheat.

    Being able to fixate Ca well from the soils as well as providing lots of biomass makes them a good cover crop to be used in rotation, mostly for spring, but some varieties do not winter kill so are suitable for fall sowing. Removing the hull is a problem without some equipment. According to Gene Logsden author of Small-Scale Grain Raising (re-released in May 2009), there is some small-scale equipment that can sometimes be found made a while back by Japanese firms. (More below) My farming partner is borrowing the book, so when I get it back I will look it up and post more info about this. This book is well worth getting especially since it is now available again at an affordable price. A way around the hulling issue is to plant and cultivate naked or hulless oats, Avena nuda. The yields can apparently be higher than
    regular oat varieties, if you can keep the birds off. If you can't keep the birds off, you can lose most of your crop.

    On drying grain there is a old almost extinct method of drying grain by stacking it in these special stacks that are open in the center and the top grain heads organized in a spiral to support the stack. Grain and straw can be then be collected and stacked in place across the field instead of labor intensively collecting it into one place. I would love to know more about this, anyone have any info or links? The grain can then be threshed at the site of each stack and collected to be cleaned. This is made possible with people powered threshers like a foot-pedal-powered or bike powered drum thresher. One pedal threshing design: http://www24.brinkster.com/alexweir/thresher/Index.htm
    There are other links for these drum threshers but I don't have them. Masanobu Fukuoka talks about them in his One Straw Revolution and I have seen a picture of this somewhere... His design is one of the foot-powered threshers, but the plans were not published. Like many things, people in the 60's, 70's, 80's had it right but the collective We didn't have the follow-through to continue the journey, until now? Logsden also recommends modifying a gas-powered mulcher (like a chipper but with hammers). He apparently had good success with this.

    Hope this helps.

  10. Hi Madeline and Followers
    the simpelst solution would be to grow hulles oat's which are availabel
    I have propagated quiet a view of the Irish heritage varieties and this year I have grown Cafferys No2 one of my favorits it is the earliest maturing one comes in straight after winterbarley (end of July early August) waether permitting
    I thought we had found asolution to the husked Cereals like Emmer Spelt Barley Single Corn Wheat and of course Oats as ISSA planned to purchaese a dehusker Costs in total € 5000 but is 3phase can be put on to a trailer and could be traveld around the country if we can solve the 3 phase problem......or bring your crop to the dehusker ISSA can't at the moment finance this I wonder if we would form a coop?
    Their is also hulles barley just if some one is interested
    The use of the husked cereals is a hard nut to crack and even the Agro archologiest do not come up with simple solutions which our for Bearers must have had or did they only brew with it.......????
    loking forward to meet 10 people plus willing to invest € 500 for a dehusker......or a Sponsor.. great blog Madeline
    regards to you all

  11. Thanks for all that Michael, I have grown hullless oats (only a very small patch) and the birds ate most of it. Do you think it would work Ok on a field scale. I was hoping to go on the ISSA winter cereals course last week. Were you the teacher at that?

    The seed grown by the CSA I think came from ISSA but I don't know the name of the variety. Bantry CSA now has its own website http://www.bantrycsa.org/BantryCSA/Welcome.html

    There is leader money around at the moment that we could possibly apply for, for a dehuller. I had a good search on the internet but couldn't find anything cheaper than about €20,000. A co-op is a great idea, of course we would have to match the Leader money but 2.5K sounds a lot more possible. I'm sure we could find some down here.

    I would like to sow some winter cereals now, as we have some large (and fairly dry) empty beds in the garden now. Can you recommend anything suitable?

  12. Hi Madeline and Followers,
    Birds can be a problem with most cereals. I do not mind the Sparrows and Finches to much but Crow's and Pigeons; against this ones I use fishing line on tall bamboo sticks will see that I can include a pic on Wednesday
    The Oats Sonas which the Bantry CSA got came from Dominic Grayson in Co. Meath, who got it from myself - nearly 12 years ago
    ( and I got it from a international Gene bank and propagated as part of a ISSA program)
    and propagated it in to aprox 20 + acers in a low input conventional system. Would have been a nice touch if Bantry CSA would have invited us...
    pity the community is small and needs networking.
    The Winter cereal workshop didn't happen, lack of interest.
    How many m square do you want to put in to winter cereal?
    I can provide you with Spelt Emmer 3 biodynamic bred winter wheat's with baking quality, maybe some Rye you also can use the sonas oats sow before this spell good spell comes to an end
    sowing quantity is approx 20 g per m square
    Let me know what aerea and what cereal and I will send it to you
    take care out their

  13. Its a pity about the workshop, I think there will be a flood of interest in the next few years. Thanks for offering to send seeds, I would be happy to pay for them. I would like to sow about 40sqm of the spelt emmer and maybe 20 of rye. I could maybe come and get them, you are in Tip somewhere aren't you? I will plant some of the Sonas oats too. Can I sow my naked oats now or should I wait till spring?

  14. for the people who can read german I put the dehuske+detail's here

    Universalschälmaschine Typ UNI 110

    Die Horn Universal-Getreideschälmaschine kann aufgrund ihrer besonderen Bauweise nahezu alle Getreide und Samenarten, die mit einer Spelzenschale gewachsen sind, problemlos schälen.

    Durch Einsetzen eines speziellen Weichprallringes ist auch das Schälen von stark fetthaltigen Ölfrüchten möglich.

    Aufgrund der schonenden Schälweise werden die Spelzen kaum beschädigt und können jederzeit als Füllmaterial Verwendung finden.

    Ein im Zuflusskanal angebrachter Magnet verhindert die Beschädigung des Fliehkraftrotors durch Metallteile.

    Bei Schälen frei werdende Schalen und Staubteile werden durch die integrierte Steigsichtung mit regelbarem Aspirationsgebläse bis zu 20 m weit weggeblasen.

    Zum Erreichen einer guten Schälqualität wurde der Schäler bzw. Schälmotor mit einem elektronischen Drehzahlregler ausgestattet, sodass für jedes Schälgut eine optimale Drehzahl eingestellt werden kann.
    Mit Ausnahme der normalen Reinigungsarbeiten ist der Universalschäler nahezu wartungsfrei. Der Wechsel des Prallringes erfolgt ca. alle 150 to. Dies ist denkbar
    einfach. Der Austausch des Kunststoffprallrings kann vom Betreiber selbst erfolgen.
    Zum Separieren der geschälten von der ungeschälten Ware empfehlen wir einen Tischausleser.

    Die Maschine ist steckerfertig verkabelt. Dadurch sparen Sie Anschlusskosten und man kann sofort nach Eintreffen der Maschine mit dem Schälen beginnen.
    Technische Daten:
    Schälermotor: 2,20 kW
    Dinkel: 200 - 300 kg/h
    Spelzengebläse: 0,75 kW
    Hafer: 150 - 200 kg/h
    Sonnenblumen: 150 - 200 kg/h
    Stecker: 16 Ampere
    Abluftleitung: 100 oder 150 mm Ø
    Gewicht der Anlage: ca. 200 kg
    Maße: 1.000 mm x 700 mm x 1.600 mm

    please see website http://www.horn-anlagenbau.de/

    I also want to share a different Idea with you all
    It is a concept which has a dual purpose

    A) Food security
    B) Seed security
    Seed security=Food security
    So I am looking for Seed=Food-security share holders
    1 acer of land would hold 8 shares but only 7 shares would be given ou to shareholders
    this would mean 1 share is 550m square to sow this in to wheat would require 11kg of seed or 88-90kg of seed per acer
    expected minimum yield would be 1000kg or 125 kg wheat per share but only 7 shares at 100kg would be distributed between shareholders per acer share 8 and surplus has to sustain the Farmer and provide Seed for the following year and a bit bit more for security reason
    one share would entitle the share holder to 100kg cleaned Seed which empowers the share holders to mill, flake, brew, sprout, sow the same this 100kg would be enough to sustain 1 person for a whole year
    now what would you invest for such a share I have afigure in my head but would like t see what people think would be reasonable dont forget the farmer has to carry the infrastructure , storage cleaning drying land and cultivation,
    looking forward to your offers
    On Sunday the 27 of September we will sow future at Seed savers Apple+Biodiversity-day
    by hand sowing of winter wheat. We will use horses to harrow the wheat in. So, come be part.
    Each 20g of seed shall carry a donation for GMO Free Ireland, we will sow 10 to 15 kg of seed aprox 500 m square
    would apriceat generous donations for GMO free Ireland
    I would call this an investment in to the Future and not in to "futures"
    We will harvest in July/August 2010 with a harvest festival
    so come be part of the Future
    regards Michael