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I love to read. Reading has been a passion since I can remember. Actually, the earliest I can remember was when my mother was reading to us kids The Wind and the Willows and Anne of Greengables. I loved those stories. When I had children of my own I started reading to them as soon as they were born. My oldest son would caress the pages as early as 2 months. It was the easiest and most pleasurable way to calm him when he was crying.

Last spring I read the entire Little House series to my two boys, 9 and 6. They really enjoyed them. The books inspired them to want to do all kinds of things: candle dipping, cheese making, ice-cream making, and flour making to name a few. We managed to do the candle dipping and ice cream making without much mess and heart ache and had a great time in the process.

I was inspired one day on my way to visit my parents. The wheat fields were so beautiful and brown and looked so soft (I assure you they are NOT soft!). I thought we might try to pick some, thresh it and grind it to see just how much work it was. Here is the story I wrote to my brother and his family about our excursion.

How We Made Our Own Flour From Wheat

We did do something fun this past week you might all find interesting. We passed by M&D's house last Wednesday, the 12th, and they were kind enough to feed us lunch. After lunch we took a leisurely walk up the road and stole 2 bags of wheat. Okay, we didn't steal it. Mom chatted with Dave (the guy who owns the field) and made an offer to pay for the small amount of wheat we'd actually want. He declined the offer and countered with a request for fresh veggies from the renowned Larry and Shirley garden. The deal was struck and the PO was promptly faxed to ... oh, sorry. Mom and Dave smiled and waved a friendly country wave to seal the deal.

We started out with 1 pair of scissors (a mistake as we had two small boys on our hands. Dadís tack was to pick the darker brown wheat heads and Momís and mine was to pick the lighter heads. As it turned out, they were both equally difficult to thresh. The boys got a kick out of standing in it. Simonís head was maybe 2 inches over the swaying crop and with his wheat colored hair we made sure to keep him close.

While we were picking the wheat I had to pee. Mom convinced me to just hike my skirt over in the weeds 20 or so feet away. They were plenty tall enough to hide me but shortly we were spotted by the cops and they accused us of stealing the wheat and peeing in the weeds. We were, however, only guilty of the one (I explained the other earlier). Mom flashed her charming smile and made some sweet comment about how we were not really stealing. Her smile was so dazzling they forgot about the peeing charge.

Anywho, we brought the wheat home and left it in the bags for 5 days to age (I've heard this is a very classy thing to do). On Sunday night Kevin, Spencer, Simon, myself and Jenny sat down and did some threshing. We didn't do it the tradition beat-the-crud-out-of-it-with-a-broom way, we picked up each wheat stalk, rubbed it between our hands and blew the chaff off, nearly hyper ventilating I might add. We got about 3 cups of beautiful chaff free wheat berries. Then again this afternoon during our play date some of our friends and their kids separated another 3 cups of berries from the chaff.

Celeste brought over her flour mill (electric, not classy at all) and milled up the 6 cups of wheat berries. The flour was so white and pretty and warm from running through the mill. I was surprised that it took so long to go through the mill but the flour was quite fine. We promptly ran into the house, whipped up a batch of pancakes and ate them all! They were so good we repeated the pancake step again! Kevin and the boys required bacon on the side (something my vegetarian friends would scoff at) but the pancakes were just as wonderful.

We still have a couple cups of flour left and about 1/2 a bag of berries yet to separate from the stalk. I had started out with this whole project in mind so that the boys could get a real appreciation for what people used to have to do to get flour to make stuff. Instead, I gained a real appreciation for what people used to have to do to get flour to make stuff AND absolutely loved the wheat pancakes!

I look back on that experience with great fondness. When the boys grow up, I would guess that when they get to be my age theyíll have this sudden recollection of their trip up to Grandma and Grandpaís and the fun they had with the flour mill!

Miche Suboski

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