Wheat – The Staff of Life

You can’t beat wheat for nutrition and long term storage. If stored correctly it will keep almost indefinitely. The uses for wheat vary widely from bread to wheat grass juice to sprouts. We have been buying wheat in bulk and grinding it for bread for over 30 years. For us, it’s the only way to go.
First up, nutrition. It’s packed, including calories and carbohydrates for energy and vitality. This is a link to the website I use to compare nutritional values for all kinds of foods.
We haven’t ever eaten wheat sprouts, or wheat grass, or wheat juice, but we have read about it. When it comes to wheat, the sky is the limit. In years past we cracked the wheat and cooked it for a breakfast cereal. Here are a couple of links that may give you some new ideas about how to add wheat, or more wheat, to your diet.

Wheat Sprouts: Health Benefits and How to Grow Them

Bulk wheat is getting a little hard to find right now, but if you look, you can still find some. And if you do find some, I would highly recommend buying all you can. Wheat berries store much better than flours and they contain the nutrients of the entire berry, unlike any flour you can buy. For years I thought the whole wheat flour I was buying was just that, whole wheat. It is not. Some of the most nutritious parts of the wheat berry are removed to increase shelf stability and prevent rancidity. By the way, a wheat berry and a wheat grain are one and the same thing. I’ve always wondered why it’s called a berry….
We have gone from making yeast bread to sourdough bread. The fermenting process of making sourdough releases more nutrients, lowers the carbohydrate count, and forgoes the necessity of having yeast on hand. For us that has been the way to go. Here are some past articles we have written using wheat.



If you want to make bread from wheat, you will need a grain grinder of some sort. There are many different kinds and most folks have their own preferences. Here is our manual variety if we ever have the need to use it as opposed to our electric model shown in the previous articles.
There are other things you can do with wheat besides make bread. Such as…….

We consider wheat to be a very important part of our food storage. We eat bread everyday. If a collapse scenario occurred, making and eating bread would be one of the things I would try to maintain, for our nutrition, health and peace of mind. One of our newest traditions is having a fresh tortilla every afternoon with a cup of coffee. Now when I make bread, I freeze a large portion of the dough to use for daily tortillas. I keep a bowl of thawed dough in the refrigerator, set some out on the counter in a bowl to come to room temperature for use each afternoon. A fresh, hot tortilla with a little butter and salt is a very welcome part of our diet.

Folks, it is indeed a very hot summer. The ‘events’ in our country appear to wax and wane, but overall the heat and intensity of our nation’s discontent cannot be overlooked. Food prices continue to rise. Growing conditions around the country are strange this year, with food production being impacted in very unusual ways. It appears that the days of taking for granted the fully stocked shelves at the grocery store may become a thing of the past. We seldom go to a store, but lately the shelves appear to have fewer thin or bare spots. The increase in prices, though continues to surprise us every time we go.
Think nutrition. Think calories. Think how deep you need to stock your shelves to provide for you and yours for the long term. We don’t know how the plandemic will turn out. We don’t know how the communist, anarchist attempts at overthrowing our government will turn out. We don’t know if a war will break out. We don’t know what is going on anymore, what is true, what is total lies, smoke and mirrors. What we do know is that there is a good probability that we will be on our own, left to our own devices. And in that case. You need food. You need nutrition. You need calories. For everyone within your realm of responsibility. None of us ever want to be in the situation where our loved one looks us in the eye and says, “Daddy, I’m hungry.” Not when we had the opportunity to do something about it ahead of time. Folks, don’t be too late. The consequences will be too much to bear if you are.
Until next time – Fern

The Incredible Pinto Bean

In these times of food uncertainty, nutrition and calories are paramount in my books. What I am going to write about pinto beans could generally apply to most shell beans, such as lima or navy. I have had some questions about canning pinto beans so I will include what I know and have experienced here.
First off, if you can find dry beans, I would recommend you buy them. As many as you can afford and find available. I tried to look up bulk pinto beans in preparation to write this article and find that many bulk providers are out, or only have one pound bags or like Amazon, who has a 24 pound bucket for $63.92!! or a 25 pound box for $57.69 or a 20 pound bag for $54.25. I am afraid most people cannot afford these prices. If you have waited this long to try to stock up some long term nutrition, I am afraid you probably waited too long.
We received an email with some information about bulk food items that may be useful to you. We appreciate the effort this person made in sharing a resource with all of us. Here is the email in part:
You mentioned, however, that bulk foods are getting difficult to find. I am LDS and have used the LDS Home Storage Centers for years. You may know all about them. But in case you don’t, they are open to everyone and carry bulk items. You can choose to buy 25 pound sacks of wheat or you can buy #10 cans of wheat in cases. You can buy it In a home storage center or you can buy it online and have it shipped to your home. They just want people to have food storage, so there is not a huge markup. Most of the packaging is done in Salt Lake by missionaries who are donating their labor. The older couples who run the centers are also donating their labor.
All of their locations are listed here:


Here is their product and price list:

Many of their items are out of stock with all of the crazy buying that has been happening over the last few months, but my local center has restocked many of the products that I use and my brother, who uses a center close to his home in Virginia, tells me they have many items back in stock as well. I just bought more white wheat, red wheat, elbow macaroni noodles, and spaghetti. So if you are interested, it is worth calling the center nearest to you and asking what they have in stock.

I don’t know if this is of any interest to you, but in times like this we should help each other however we can. 
Nutrition. Everyday, but now more than ever, I turn to foods I know will provide good nutrition. This will be crucial as food supplies continue to be impacted by the Plandemic and resulting economic disruptions. I use this website for comparing nutritional values on many foods.

As you can see, one cup of cooked pinto beans with water and salt packs a powerful punch, thus our preference for it. It is often said that beans and rice make the perfect protein. We don’t eat rice, but we do eat wheat in the form of sourdough bread or tortillas. We prefer wheat to rice for the comparative nutritional value the wheat provides.

We have a number of buckets of pinto beans that we have had for at least 10 years, which by the way, came from the LDS Home Storage Center in Oklahoma City. We bought in bulk and stored in our own buckets with Gamma Seal lids. If you’re not aware, LDS stands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or commonly called Mormons. I have long thought theses beans would be too hard to cook and eat, and that is true. I also thought they would be too hard to can. This is one of those instances that I was more than happy to be wrong.

Last winter I wanted to get more pintos canned and on the shelf for everyday eating, and to have if the country and world went south. I bought several four pound bags from Wal-Mart, before the virus when they were still available, and we canned a batch of 32 pints. Then recently, we decided to find out if those old beans were still usable. We put three pounds of beans in eight quarts of water and brought them to a boil in the late afternoon. Let them boil for five minutes, then let them sit until morning. I turned the fire on low when I got up around 6:00am and let them simmer until morning chores were done and we were ready to fire up the canner. Here are both types of beans. Both great, on the shelf and ready to eat. The 2010 beans turned out great, good texture and flavor. The older beans are on the left and the Wal-Mart beans are on the right in this picture. Some of the benefits of having beans canned and ready to go is that if you want a quick meal, or the world doesn’t allow time to cook a pot of beans, you have nutrition, water and salt ready to nurture your body.

This summer one of my goals is to grow, harvest and can as many pinto beans as possible. In a survival scenario we need calories for energy and adequate protein. Pinto beans provide 245 calories per cup, a healthy form of carbohydrates that does not cause an insulin spike with a quick drop off in energy, and a good level of protein. In my books, an excellent form of nutrition any time.

Our first harvest of beans yielded 10 1/2 pounds from about two 30 foot rows of plants. Now this is not equivalent to the same weight of dry beans because they were fresh. Some were partially dried, but most still retained a lot of moisture. We canned 32 pints with enough beans left over for another 3 pints. I was very pleased with the yield and hope the plants will continue to bloom and provide another harvest or two before fall.

To can fresh or dried beans, we bring them to a boil the evening before, then let them sit overnight. In the morning, simmer until ready to can. We use the liquid from the pot to fill the jars. In pint jars, fill with beans about 2/3 full, add 1/2 tsp. non-iodized salt, fill to within 1/2″ of the top with bean liquid, then pressure can at 10 pounds for 40 minutes. This timing comes from our Stocking Up canning book.

Jacob’s Cattle Beans

Something I learned about canning fresh beans as opposed to dried beans. Fresh beans tend to be much softer when you cook or can them. I prefer a bean with a more firm texture, like the old beans and the Wal-Mart beans. We grew Jacob’s Cattle beans a few years back. It’s another shell bean very similar to a pinto. We also canned them fresh and they were much softer, just like the pintos we just harvested and canned. I always thought the softness was just the nature of the Jacob’s bean and never thought about the difference in canning fresh instead of dried. Accidental learning can be a very interesting teacher. Now, instead of canning our next harvest fresh, I will dry them first and see if I can get the type of canned bean I prefer instead of the softer variety. One benefit of the soft beans is the ease at making a type of refried bean for tortillas. By the way, if you have trouble finding pinto bean seed to plant, the ones from Wal-Mart work just fine.

A few years back we tried a different method of canning beans we had read somewhere. In quart jars we added dried pinto beans to half of the jar, filled with boiling water and 1 tsp. salt, then canned according to recommended time (I don’t remember now how long.) They were tough and crunchy. I don’t know how old the beans were or any other details, but we found out for us, this process didn’t work.

Ground pork, pintos & salsa with sauteed cabbage

There are many different ways to add beans to a meal for a nutritional boost. I’ve already mentioned refried beans and a bowl of beans. You can add them to soup or to just about any dish. Like this. But folks, nutrition and energy is, and will be the name of the game as our future continues to unfold. I pray the day never comes that I can’t sit in my comfortable, air conditioned home and type on a computer on the internet. Just how much infrastructure has to remain in place for me to continue doing this? How long will it last?

We will never forget someone asking us why we go to all this work to raise and preserve our harvest. Why do all that work when you can just buy it at the store, they asked. Because now you have a hard time finding or affording the humble pinto bean at the store. Grow it or buy it, food is of utmost importance right now for everyone. Like I’ve said before, regardless of the events surrounding us, peace or anarchy, without food, you are dead.

Until next time – Fern

Grinding Flax & Other Bread Making Lore

We finally used the ground flax we bought for our sourdough bread and have begun grinding our own. We found a place to buy bulk flax in 50 lb. bags that we pour into five gallon buckets with Gamma seal lids. This is explained in this article with our bread recipe, well what used to be our bread recipe, I have changed it somewhat – again.

We are grinding the flax using the KitchenAid grinding attachment. It is slow, but does the job. When making the last batch of bread, we switched the grind to a coarser setting than what we started out with, so it doesn’t take as long and the texture is good. Some folks may want a finer grind, but we like it this way.


This grind is definitely more coarse than the store bought, and it also is more oily, which shows me that ground flax has some things removed to make it shelf stable, just like whole wheat flour. We are really happy to add our own ground flax to our bread.

The difference in the recipe came when Frank asked me to make biscuits and gravy one day for a treat. I dug out the sourdough biscuit recipe I had used before and realized the only real difference was the addition of two tablespoons of baking soda. I also didn’t knead the dough with the KitchenAid dough hooks like I did for bread. The biscuits turned out really good, they weren’t crumbly from lack of kneading, so now I make regular bread the same way. I stir it in the bowl with a spoon and my hands if needed, but no kneading. That’s it. Doesn’t take as long and reminds me of how I used to make regular whole wheat bread without the assistance of the dough hooks and a machine.

Everyday starter on the left, stored refrigerator starter on the right.


It was time to feed the extra sourdough starter I keep in the frig when I made this batch of bread, so I also put the everyday starter in a clean jar. I pour about half of the stored starter in the everyday jar, refresh what is left with more water and flour, then return it to the frig. It’s then good to go for about a month or so. Did you know that the vertical ridges down the side of a half gallon jar have an indention on the inside of the jar? Me neither, until one time I was washing the sourdough starter jar, which takes more elbow grease than a milk jar. The starter leaves a film on the inside of the jar that needs to be scrubbed well. If anyone had ever asked me, I would have said the inside of the jar is smooth and flat. It’s not, and starter wants to stay in those little grooves. An old toothbrush works well to clean the grooves.


One of our new buckets of hard red winter wheat ended up being white wheat, even though the bucket was labeled red. I knew the berries were almost twice as big as the previous bucket of hard red wheat, but didn’t realize it was white wheat until we made a batch of bread out of it. It’s okay, and some folks probably prefer the taste of white wheat since it is more like a store bought bread flavor, but we prefer the taste of hard red wheat. It is a hardier kind of taste and hard to describe. So we resealed the bucket of white wheat and marked it ‘open’ and ‘white’ so we can skip over it. If we need it someday, it will be there, but for now, we will continue to eat hard red wheat.

Do you know what you do when the squash starts producing? You eat lots of squash, even on your pizza. We use the same sourdough bread recipe for pizza dough that we use for everyday bread. The toppings change from time to time, depending on what we have available. This version has ground pork, frozen peppers from last summer, fresh crookneck squash, tomato sauce we canned last summer and our mozzarella. Well done, just like we like it. But the dough came out thicker than we like, so I’ll leave the baking soda out of the pizza dough next time. Like Frank says, our bread and pizza never taste quite the same from batch to batch.

Enjoy what you have. Learn everyday. Appreciate the opportunities, talents and challenges you’ve been given. It’s what makes life worth living.
Until next time – Fern

Got Wheat? Fern’s Sourdough Bread

I had to look back at some of the previous articles on sourdough to see what we had written, and how this particular journey has evolved since that time. One of the last articles for bread is here if you want to do a comparison. Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee, this has turned out to be a rather lengthy article. Hope you enjoy it.

There were two small boxes of ground flax sitting in the cabinet, that I bought for some forgotten reason (You don’t do that, do you?) and wasn’t sure what to do with. The research on cholesterol and blood pressure we did lead me to flax. There are many, many articles about the benefits of flax, this one is an example. After reading the research, those two lonely boxes of flax got put to use after checking to make sure no weevils or other bugs had set up residence. 

By the way, when we moved here we had some weevil issues the first year. Then I found some traps (similar to this one) for the weevil moth, and other critters of that kind, that I hung around the area we had grains and food they prefer. After trapping them for two years, we have never had another problem. Our bulk grain is stored in five or six gallon buckets and transferred to a canister as needed.
Once we began using ground flax in our bread recipe, we stocked up on some from Wal-Mart, picking up a few bags each time we went. Then we researched online and found some bulk flax seed that we could store in some of our empty five gallon buckets that have gamma seal lids. The first time we tried the flax seed in our wheat grinder, we thought we had killed it. The flax is too moist and oily for our WonderMill. Frank was able to work and work and work on it. He ran through some wheat that removed the gummed up flax, and it still works like a charm. We have had this grinder for at least ten years and would highly recommend it.

Flax

You see that piece of blue tape on the bucket? That is a date, which will help us determine how long our stock will last at the current use rate. When we’re trying to prepare for the long haul, estimating how long our supplies will last is critical. They may not last as long as we do, but if we have a rough idea, we can plan accordingly. 

Wheat

Next, we found a grain grinding attachment for the KitchenAid mixer, which is designed to grind oilier seeds like flax. It works well. Which mixer? Well, the KitchenAid is okay, but we now have purchased three of them since moving here. The first red one died after a couple of years so we got the yellow one. After a year the gears started grinding and we thought it was dying as well, so we ordered a second red one. In the meantime, Frank removed the top cowling to see if there was anything he could do for the gears, there wasn’t, but since looking in there and putting it back together a couple of years ago, it still works. The red one is just sitting in the wings waiting it’s turn. I guess we could put it away, but as you can see, we haven’t. Do any of you have stand mixers like the KitchenAid you would recommend? What are your experiences? We also have manual back-up grinders in case the grid goes down. You can read about it here

 And speaking of grinders, see that cord coming out of the bottom? Frank has given up trying to figure out how it wraps up and stores in the bottom of the grinder, he just leaves it for me. He just can’t see how it works anymore than he understands how yarn (he calls it a piece of string) can turn into a sweater, or thread keeps fabric together after it goes through a sewing machine. Now, Frank is a very intelligent man and can fix just about anything I ever bring to him. He can wire, plumb and build a house, learn and install a solar system and a myriad of other things, but he just can’t see how these things work. Our point is, different people have different talents and it’s no sin or crime to not ‘get’ something. Me, physics and the realistic interaction between things – I just don’t get it. Things that are simplicity in itself to Frank are like kryptonite to me. Sometimes this causes friction (another scientific term, right?) and sometimes it causes laughter. There is nothing wrong with not getting something, or understanding things at a different rate, it’s the blessing of being individuals instead of robots.

Okay, so, making sourdough bread. Our starter lives over here in this corner away from the kefir and jars of oatmeal. We discovered years ago that most cultures don’t play well together so they have their own ‘areas’ of the kitchen. Our starter now lives in a half gallon jar with a piece of cheese cloth over it to keep the little gnats out that show up here a few times a year. It also has a sprouting lid on it. Why? Well, we had a catastrophe with our starter a few years ago. I was keeping it in a ceramic pitcher in this corner. It had

cheese cloth over it held in place by a rubber band. One morning when we got up there was a hole in the cloth. Upon removing the cloth we could see a live mouse looking up at us trying to keep his head above the surface. The catastrophe of the situation is that I had not kept my backup starter in the refrigerator fed and it had died. I was left without any starter. I was upset. Then Frank remembered that I had shared some starter with a friend, Grace, down the road, who was happy to restock our supply. Lesson learned. Now the starter lives in a jar that is mouse and bug proof. One of those experiences I would never have thought would happen. You know that old saying, “You just never know.” I think there is a reason it is an old saying. And remember, two is one and one is none.

The bread. Warning. I don’t measure much, so everything will be estimated amounts. I will list everything here then show you the process.

3 cups starter
1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 – 1 cup filtered water
Approx. 2 tbsp. sea salt – no iodine
1/4 – 1/2 cup honey
2 cups ground flax
5 – 6 cups fresh ground wheat

 

We start with the 3 cups of starter, then to that add the oil and water. The amount of water I add depends on how much liquid is in the starter. Sometimes the starter is thicker and sometimes it’s thinner, just depends on how much water I put in when it is fed. 
Here is how the salt and honey are measured. Very precisely……..
 
We have gradually increased the amount of ground flax in the recipe. I started off with about half a cup, waited to see how it tasted, then gradually added more. Now it’s about 20% of the recipe, not quite, but almost. 


Once these ingredients are in the mixer, we start it up and start adding the wheat flour. I usually start with five cups and add the remaining amount as needed until the dough clings together in a sticky ball. Sometimes I need more than others, it just depends on how fluid the starter has, and how much water and oil I put in, since I don’t measure precisely.

After enough flour has been added, I set the timer to around seven minutes (it depends on how long it took to get it to the right consistency) and let the machine do the kneading for me. 

 

 We mix the dough in the morning while fixing breakfast, put it in a glass bowl and set it on top of the frig for the day.

One time when we made bread, Frank noticed this glass lid, that goes with the stock pot, fit perfectly on the bread bowl. Up until that point I had been using plastic wrap. Interesting.

 In the evening after doing the chores, it’s time to bake bread. I start with pouring some (about this much) olive oil on a large cookie sheet and putting it in the oven to warm as it preheats to 450*. We use virgin olive oil, not extra virgin. We just don’t care much for the extra virgin taste.

As the buns or rolls are made, I coat one side with the oil, then turn them over. I’ve tried a number of different ways to do this including using lard, which works fine, we just prefer the taste of olive oil – while it is still available.

Unbaked

We have tried loaves as well as buns, but we prefer these for the crusty nature of a bun. They also travel very well when we have to be out and about. We take four buns, a couple of boiled eggs, a piece of our cheddar and a quartered apple. Lunch on the go. Besides that, it has been over a year since we have eaten out anywhere. We just don’t like any food but ours and if we eat anything ‘off the home menu’ we feel sick. Part of that may be age, but it’s also an indicator of what we’re used to, what our bodies are accustomed to dealing with. Another thing to consider if a collapse occurs. Store what you eat and eat what you store, otherwise your body may not cooperate when you start feeding it ‘foreign’ objects.

Baked

Most other rolls or buns I have baked with past recipes bake for about 20-25 minutes. These take 45-50 minutes. The bread comes out fairly heavy and dense, plus, we like the crust on the crunchy side. If you try this you will need to adjust the time to your personal preference. Upon removal from the oven, I coat the tops of the buns with olive oil.

On bread nights, we usually have a lighter supper because regardless of the meal, we always have bread for ‘desert’. One for me, two for Frank. It’s tradition. Buttered, of course.

We just finished pouring the last wheat from a six gallon, 45 pound bucket into the canister when we made bread a couple of days ago. This bucket of wheat will last us approximately 12 weeks, which means we consume about 3.5 pounds of wheat per week. More than we thought, but it gives us a baseline to use in estimating how much wheat we want to store. It’s interesting collecting data on yourself.

How do you make bread? We always enjoy hearing other versions of our recipes, it makes good ‘food for thought’.

Well, I’m sure your coffee cup is empty by now, mine is long gone. And I think Frank is wanting another piece of bread. We have one every afternoon for a snack with a cup of coffee. Another tradition we have started.

Until next time – Fern
 

Grain Grinder, Manual Type

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

There has been some spooky news in our country lately. This has given Fern and I a reason to think about our homestead situation. So, this morning Fern went out and dragged in a product that we bought a couple of years ago and have never used. We have lots of things like that. Things we have stocked up on and never used. But, today was the day to try out one of our manual grain grinders.

This product is a Wonder Junior and it’s manufactured by Wonder Mill. Our electric grain mill is also made by Wonder Mill. The electric one turns at significantly greater 

speed, since the hand mill is rated at one human power. It’s not rated the highest of the hand grain mills, and it’s not made for industrial or agricultural purposes. But it was rated consistently among the good to better hand grain mills. So here is the results of our test today.

Assembly was pretty straightforward. It is durable enough that when I tightened all of the pieces down, nothing fractured or warped. The instructions are self explanatory. They’re written in plain English, by someone whose first language is English. The reason I mention that is I buy some radios that the manuals are in English, but you can tell it’s not the writers first language. Back to the mill.


Okay. It’s assembled. Instructions are easy to follow. Here goes 1 cup of hard red winter wheat, and you know who starts cranking. The instructions say that if the grinding is real difficult, then release a little pressure off of the grinding plates, we did, and cranking was much easier. But the flour was still too large of a grit, which the instructions addressed. We were to grind it once, resulting in a more coarse flour, tighten the grinding plates and re-grind it a second time. The instructions were correct. It took a little bit more time, but it was much easier to grind, both times. So, again, the instructions were right.

I am so funny.


You can remove the handle if you choose, and attach a pulley wheel kit assembly. We did not purchase this option. It also comes with a little gizmo type drill bit, which is an optional accessory, and use your electric hand drill. We did order this attachment, but I can’t find it. So. After watching the video of how to remove the handle, where this man used his fine adjusting tool, more commonly known as a hammer, to pry loose the handle. Well, the one in the video had obviously been removed a few times before. You would now say that mine is definitely a used machine. There are a few dings and chips in the back side of the handle, but I got it off. The video made it look real easy, but they have editing. 


So, what I did was after removing the handle, I replaced the retainer bolt back into the auger, found the appropriate socket size, which I will share with you is 13mm, and that little gizmo turned just fine with my battery operated hand drill.


We have since ordered the little gizmo bit attachment thingy, that is made especially for this hand drill type purpose. Remember, I lost the first one. I do believe a larger drill, like a 1/2 horse, with an adjustable trigger for speed control, would be a better choice. That’s what I will use next time. But, it worked just fine grinding the wheat. I have a large, older electric hand drill that I use for much heavier jobs when I really want to twist the head off of something. Back to the mill.

This mill comes with two sets of grinding plates. One set of grinding burrs is for dry items like corn, wheat, barley, things with a much, much lower oil content. The other set of grinding burrs are made of stainless steel, which is made for things like peanuts and other oil producing type seeds or grains. So, if you’re into making peanut butter, stainless steel is the way to go. Or, if you choose, you can use the stainless steel all the time. But if you do mess up and use the stone burrs for something like peanut butter, it will not ruin them, you will just have to spend a little time washing them with a very coarse type brush.

After having used the mill, some of the flour was a little difficult to contain. While we were ordering the hand drill bit attachment, we also purchased a flour guard. This should make clean up significantly easier, not that it was difficult at all though. 


Overall, I found the hand mill easy to assemble, the instructions were easy to follow, we only ground a dry type grain, which was wheat. It gave us a nice flour, and it was easy to disassemble and clean. I can’t speak to it’s long term durability, but it appears to be well made from durable products. I do have another hand mill that I have also never used. It comes from my Y2K days. And it’s not going to get used in the near future. The Wonder Junior made by Wonder Mill appears to be a good quality product. If you have any questions about this particular product, I hope this helps. And, yes, I have the ability to recharge my hand drill batteries if the electricity goes off, because I know somebody is going to ask that question. At my age, I would not want to crank this mill enough times to make four or five loaves of bread. 

If you have items, like I do, that you have bought, put in storage and never used, now is a good time to try them out. You never know when you are going to need them, and I’m as guilty as anybody for not having tried all of my stored items. But that’s just the way it is. I would certainly encourage you, if you haven’t, to pick out one and make sure it works. Now I’m going to go find the Ben-Gay, my arm hurts. Just kidding.

We’ll talk more later, Frank.

Researching a New Feed Ration

The more I read about and learn about GMO corn, the more I wish we could totally eliminate it from our diet, even though I know that’s close to impossible. We do have a few cans of store bought corn in the pantry, which I don’t even like to eat anymore. But, for me, the biggest stumbling block we have is the feed we give our animals. So, more research and more reading.

We used to have our goat and chicken feed mixed according to our own recipe at a small, family owned feed mill. This location does not have that option, so we have been mixing our own. Wheat was one of the ingredients we used to include that has not been available here. A few days ago when we were at the feed store, I noticed a bag of wheat bran that I didn’t remember seeing before. I didn’t know what the nutritional value of wheat bran would be for goats, so I came home and looked it up. According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, wheat bran has 13.3% digestible protein and rolled oats have 10% . Hmmm….okay. The alfalfa pellets we use have 17% protein and the sweet feed has 10%. 

Summer 2013

The ideal protein ratio for milking does is around 12%. So, what I am trying to figure out is a mix of these grains, minus the GMO corn chops we are currently feeding, that would give me about a 12% feed combination. Another thought I have had is sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are very nutritious for both goats and chickens. We grew our first ever sunflowers last summer and actually had seeds to harvest. This summer I hope to grow hundreds of sunflowers all around our place with the plan to harvest them for animal feed.


So, the new feed ration we are going to try is:

  • 6 parts rolled oats
  • 4 parts sweet feed
  • 1 part alfalfa pellets
  • 1 part wheat bran
  • 1 part sunflower seeds

For now, all of these ingredients will come from the feed store. This combination will give me a feed ration of about 11.5% protein. Of course, the protein content is always dependent upon growing conditions.

Summer 2013

I am also going to start several patches of comfrey this summer. Right now I have one plant in my herb bed. I have ordered and received 5 more roots which will begin bed number two. Then the next step will be to start comfrey seedlings. 

Once I have them up and established, I will plant bed number three. Comfrey, also called knitbone, has long been used as a medicinal herb and as a supplement for livestock feed. It is very high in protein and vitamin B12.

Another crop I am going to try to get established for supplemental livestock feed is plantain. I have read about it for a number of years, but didn’t really pay much attention to it. When I was ordering some more herb plants from Crimson Sage, I ran across plantain again, right after I had read another article about feeding it to chickens. I have been wondering what I could grow that would supplement our chicken’s diet more naturally than grains. It would have to be something that is easy to grow, pick and dry for winter use. So I ordered some. I will let you know how it grows and how the animals like it.

Fall 2013

The third thing I am going to grow more of this summer is kale. I have a few rather sad looking plants that made it through our cold winter. After reading this article, I started picking off some of the bottom leaves and feeding them to the chickens. They took to them right away, but the goats didn’t seem to care for them. I will try feeding them to the goats again after they have started producing newer leaves.

Summer 2013

We will try our hand once again at growing carrots, sugar beets and turnips for the animals. Last summer, our fall garden didn’t produce much of anything. I got started late and the weather didn’t cooperate very well either. If we are really going into another Maunder Minimum, we will see how that affects our ability to produce plentiful gardens like we have in the past.

We may all be learning to garden a little differently if the quality of our sunlight and warmth are affected by decreasing solar activity. Another thing to learn more about so that I can adjust our growing habits to match what nature is providing.

 

There are many things to take into account when pondering feed rations for both animals and humans. Learn all you can, put it to good use, and hold your family close. They are the most important thing there is in your life. Don’t let anyone, or anything, convince you otherwise.


Until next time – Fern


100% Fresh Whole Wheat Bread

A miracle has occurred! Frank actually liked this bread. In the past, he lovingly named it Brick Bread, because it is heavier than typical homemade bread that has at least a portion of regular white flour. Hmmm…..I wonder what I can get him to eat next??

A while back, when I first posted about making bread, my friend Grace asked what the difference was in bread that had about 50% fresh ground whole wheat flour (which was what I was making then), compared to bread with 100% whole wheat flour. Well, I finally got around to making some 100% whole wheat bread. I haven’t made this type of bread in a number of years because Frank has never really cared for it. It has a heartier flavor that some people just don’t care for very much. And besides that, if I don’t treat it right, it won’t rise very much resulting in a very heavy bread, hence the name Brick Bread.

I didn’t warn Frank I was making this type of bread beforehand. After I had worked the dough and formed the rolls and loaves, he eyed it on the stove as it was rising and said, “This bread looks pretty dark.” “Yes, it is Brick Bread.” I don’t remember what he said or even if he spoke. It may have been more of just a grunt like – oh, that again.

The only difference in this bread and the bread I have made in the past is that I have set my wheat grinder to the pastry, or the finest setting instead of coarse, which is where I always had it before. It does make for a finer flour, even though it is not anywhere as fine as store bought. I think one of the main differences in the flavor is that my fresh ground flour still has all of the bran and germ still intact, with no chemical means of separating the parts of the wheat grain. I really like this robust flavor, but again, it is not for everyone. 

The bread on the left is the standard 50/50 white to whole wheat flour ratio and the bread on the right is the 100% whole wheat. The 50/50 is a little lighter in color as well as texture. 

If you have wheat stored and you plan on using it in the case of a long-term disaster or down turn I highly recommend you learn how to use it now. If you try to eat foods that your body is not accustomed to when times are difficult and stressful there is a good chance it will make you sick when you can least afford to be. Think through your stores very carefully and make sure you can process, cook and eat them without the usual conveniences we take for granted everyday.

Until next time – Fern