DEAR NEW FARM:
I raise sheep and hens. I'd like to grow a half-acre of wheat
to feed the hens but need ideas about threshing. Are there
any really small scale threshers out there, say the size of
a home or farm chipper/shredder? Any ideas of where to look?
Dancing Sheep Farm
Check out the article Small-scale
grain production today by Eugene Canales, CEO of Ferrari
Tractor. The site also lists some small-scale threshing equipment.
DEAR NEW FARM:
Thanks for the tip. It's a great site and helpful. I see
by your email that you're connected with Rodale. The article
talks about a Treadled Indian thresher and mentions that Rodale
produced a book with plans to make a similar thresher. Is
the book sill in print and can I get a copy? Does that thresher
And so long as I have you…What I'm working on is making
my own feed for the hen flock. I can't irrigate but can grow
wheat by sowing in fall and harvesting in early summer. I
can buy the corn portion and cull peas, but I need to crack
those. I was thinking of a Corona mill, but they seem to be
only hand crank. Do you know of any mills of about the same
size or slightly larger that will crack corn and peas and
The homemade thresher plans mentioned in the Canales article
appeared in the book Build it Better Yourself
(Rodale Press, 1977), which is out of print. So, we forwarded
our exchange to George Devault, an organic farmer who writes
for New Farm and will be scribing a tool column, geared toward
new farmers, on a monthly basis. George is a longtime Rodalian,
so he might have some ideas of where to locate the plans.
You might also check out our New
Farmer Forums and pose your questions to the group.
You have exactly the right idea
about raising a small patch of wheat to feed your flock.
But forget the expensive equipment—What
you really need is to read Small-Scale
Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon. It was published by Rodale
in 1977. Try to find it at your local library or ask for
it on inter-library loan, because used copies are hard to
It’s been a long time since
I read this book, but it sticks in my mind that one of the
things Gene addressed in great detail was threshing grain
for his chickens-- by hand--using a plastic baseball bat
and a tarp. Just pile sheaves of wheat on the tarp and flail
away at them with the bat.
Gene's son was maybe 10 years
old at the time and had a ball threshing the wheat this
way, as I recall. The book is packed with lots of other
simple, sustainable and affordable techniques and tools.
For example, to winnow the grain,
simply pour it slowly from one 5-gallon bucket to another
in front of an electric fan. Blows away the chaff, and your
grain is nice and clean.
Two Acre Eden
is another Logsdon classic that might contain some helpful
hints. One of these classics, I forget which, talks about
raising your own "pancake patch." Make mine buckwheat,
Hope this helps. Happy sowing--and
P.S. Gene harvested his grain
with a scythe, which is another lost art that on half an
acre is fun work, good exercise and quite affordable.
After reading George’s reply, we did a little more digging
for those thresher plans and found them (where else?) at “The
unofficial, totally unauthorized (but very enthusiastic) Gene
Logsdon fan club homepage!” Ain’t life funny that
way? Here you go: www.geocities.com/RainForest/Vines/4095/resources/thresher.html.
There are also number of used copies of Build it Better
Yourself available through our bookstore at Amazon.
If you don’t care about mint condition, it looks like
you can pick up a copy at a very reasonable price.
us with comments, suggestions and questions.