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Small-Scale Grain: Post-Harvest Threshing and Processing!

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi all,

There is thread about the book Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon, that has generated a related discussion about small scale processing. That secondary discussion might not be found easily so I'm starting this thread to have it's subject more readily seen; thanks R. Ranson for the suggestion.

I will start the thread by re-posting my last post about a small scale bucket and drill thresher


So I talked to the small scale grain growers I know yesterday at Seedy Saturday. These folks developed their micro threshers by following a youtube video. I found one youtube video that sort of matches the description that he gave me. Perhaps it's the one that he based his design on. It sounds like it from his description.

The basic idea is to have a piece of threaded rod and some nuts that match it's threads, and a few lengths of chain which are put on the ready rod to spin freely between two nuts. The ready rod is connected to a portable drill (battery or corded), and the grain is threshed in no time.

The only thing I don't like about the one in this video is that the chains are striking the bucket, and thus potentially eroding plastic into the food. I guess the winnowing would take care of that in the end, but I'd like to set it up so that the rod is stable in the center, and the chains are just shy of the plastic.

Any body else have experience or ideas about grain processing? This is the your place to brainstorm with us.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I know some smaller scale grain growers who have developed some super cheap to make and small scale thresher/dehullers. They specialize in heritage grains. I think they will be at the Seedy Saturday seed exchange tomorrow. If I see them, and I remember I will ask about the threshers. If not, I will email them and ask them, and get back to this thread.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Thanks everyone. I'm on 26 acres but only trying to raise enough for myself until I retire and have more time for large scale. I i've raised the small-scale greens before and done a lot of research for the bio intensive techniques out of John Jevens organization. I had good success with the growing I have a lot of problem with the holding took way too much labor made about six loaves of bread off of 100 hours of labor it was the least efficient thing I've probably ever done . So I'd like to work on a plan to scale up a bit now that I have my farm and I'm here hopefully forever so any suggestions as far as threshing machinery for small scale that doesn't involve rebuilding a chipper
 
Roberto pokachinni
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So I talked to the small scale grain growers I know yesterday at Seedy Saturday. These folks developed their micro threshers by following a youtube video. I found one youtube video that sort of matches the description that he gave me. Perhaps it's the one that he based his design on. It sound like it from his description.

Bucket Thresher

The basic idea is to have a piece of threaded rod an some nuts that match it's threads, and a few lengths of chain which are put on the ready rod to spin freely between two nuts. The ready rod is connected to a portable drill (battery or corded), and the grain is threshed in no time.

The only thing I don't like about the one in this video is that the chains are striking the bucket, and thus potentially eroding plastic into the food. I guess the winnowing would take care of that in the end, but I'd like to set it up so that the rod is stable in the center, and the chains are just shy of the plastic.
 
Victor Johanson
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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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http://www.permies.com/t/2036/homestead/small-home-scale-threshing-machines
 
Faye Corbett
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Location: Appalachian Mountains
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In the past when I've grown small grain like wheat or oats, I just cut the ripened seed heads with about 6 to 8 inches of stem on it and beat it over a bucket to separate the seed heads from the stalk. Then I lay it on a tarp and beat it with a plastic baseball bat (instead of a flail). Works great! Then I winnow by throwing into the air on a windy day and the wind (or fan) blows away the chaff. I was totally amazed by the amount I got. In a 8 square foot area planted pretty thickly and fertilized well with compost and minerals had enough for over 2 loaves of bread. I also feed it whole to my livestock sometimes (horses, cows, goats, chickens).
 
R Ranson
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Finally a chance to sit down with some library books.

The original question was:
David Miller wrote:Can anyone provide feedback on the books content on processing. Currently I'm dissuaded from diving further into grain until I can find a processor to de-hull/husk that is fit for my small scale.


This was asked here.

Small-Scale Grain Raising by Logsdon

In the wheat chapter, there is a bit about hand thrashing. This involves a cloth on a hard surface, and "whack the daylights out of it with an old broom handle, plastic toy bat, or other appropriate club". The results are winnowed to separate chaff from grain. This is very much like traditional hand methods which is apparently very efficient and requires minimal equipment.

The book also makes mention of small threshers and hullers, but says these are mostly for seed processing trade but informs us they are too expensive for most garden farmers.

There is a drawing of a small grain thresher in the Illustrated Glossary.

On the whole, the information is pretty minimal.

Homegrown Whole Grains by Pitzer

I find these two books go pretty well together. Neither is complete, but they make up for each other's deficiencies.

This is more promising. She covers rubbing, flailing, banging, treading and has a bit about a homemade drum thresher.

Pitzer also has a little bit in each grain chapter on the easiest way to thresh that specific grain and/or thoughts on removing the hulls. Hint, for oats she says the best way to hull oats is to grow hull-less varieties.


Hope that helps.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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A 5 gallon bucket doesn't hold very much straw... It's tiny in comparison to the amount of straw that needs to be processed in order to obtain any significant yield... It is fiddly to stuff straw into a bucket. I can easily pile 10 times that amount of straw on a tarp, and whack it with a stick, or jump up and down on it... If I'm going to do batch processing, I want the batches to be as big as possible.

My favorite wheat/rye harvesting technique is to take a canvas out into the field, and lay it beside the grain. push the grain over onto the canvas and stomp on the heads. The straw stays in the field, the grain ends up on the tarp. Repeat as needed. This technique works great with tall plants that have been selected for ease of threshing...



 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I'll be growing approx 2,000 sq ft this year, and scaling up from my previous 100 sq ft is a bit of a challenge.

Until now I've been able to simply strip the seeds off by hand, and screen it with a small piece of stainless mesh taped to the bottom of a cardboard box.

This year I have to figure out how to break a substantial amount of pasture without a tractor (I'm hoping a rototiller will do the job) or a horse. Since I plan to use a precision hand seeder, I need the soil to be friable enough for the seeder to work properly.

Then there is the issue of threshing and winnowing. I found a big 12 inch diameter cage fan at the restore and I'm going to experiment with it to see how well the blades will work as a threshing mechanism.

My hope is that the blades will strip the seeds, and also produce enough airflow to winnow at the same time without being too aggressive, not aggressive enough, or getting damaged by the seed heads.

I will also be constructing a vibrating screener containing three different sizes of screen. The first one to separate out big stuff, and the other two for separating out specific sized grains as I'm growing malting barley. Everything else will pass through.

Right now though, my challenge is getting the seeds into the ground. Maybe direct seeding into pasture is an option, but that requires a specialised tool which I don't have.

Any suggestions?
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I was sitting on the bus wondering if a rear bicycle sprocket would work as a seed plate in a DIY seed drill, and it occurred to me that sticking the barley into the rear spokes of a bicycle at the proper angle may just very well act as a good thresher.

Anyone heard of this technique? Does it work or is it simply an efficient head chopper offerer?
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 340
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Has anyone tried salvaging the threshing cylinder from a junk antique combine? Until the late 1970s, combines were toys compared to what they have now. Before that, there were even smaller versions that were pulled by small tractors. I believe they were only about 4-5' wide. You still see of few of them in farm scrap piles around here. It seems like there are all kinds of possibilities there.

Just a thought, I've never raised grain without farm machinery, but I have used and worked on some combines from the late 60's-70's. My brother still has a John Deere 55. That's the model not the year.

I'd like to raise wheat again for my own use this time, but I'm in town now. I am going to try some corn that looks like decorative corn, but can be ground or popped. I think it's called Smoke Signals.
 
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