13 March – Spring clean / milling preparations
Spring is on its way and so are the preparations for processing our grains. We bagged up the dried grain, colourfully labelled the bags, put up new shelving for the big dumpy bags coming in from the farms and cleaned the whole place several times now. Hopefully we can plug the machines in soon, so we can actually get started with milling! It’s a rewarding task preparing the unit and working hands-on with the grains and machines since you can see the result of your day’s work. I always have a great time working with other volunteers and spending a day at the unit. I proudly present our shiny premises:
22 March – Electrics are done – ready for processing
We’re electrified! After several shared days in the unit our electrician set up all the additional sockets so we can plug our machines in! We still have to assemble some of the machines and our dehuller needs some extra work done so it will match our needs perfectly. It is super exciting working on an industrial estate where people of all kinds of skills are close by and networks are created quite easily. I worked with the electrician, with our neighbours who do metal work, we’ve got some amazing catering by Sima from the The Kitchen Table cooking next door and I got an impression of how the New Lion Brewery assesses the grains used for making beer.
Mat from the Brewery joined us for testing our flaker, sending through different types of grains and trying various settings from coarse to fine flaking. I was impressed with how the smells of different grains vary once they’ve being flaked! This was a great taster of what we’re going to do and now I’m really looking forward to continuing testing the rest of the machines!
25 March – Farm trip to John Crisp’s Woodland Farm
What do you do on a nice sunny Saturday in early spring? Have a day out on a farm, of course! We had a lovely day visiting John Crisp at his farm near Loddiswell, talking about our cooperation and his plans for the farm. Firstly, we went to see the Hereford cattle in the barn and I was surprised to learn that the smaller the cattle, the more efficient they are in digesting their feed. This is why smaller and more traditional breeds don’t need much more fodder than is provided by a farm’s pasture. When we got to see the highly pregnant sheep grazing on one of his meadows, John explained about how they are assessing their soil in a microbiological context and how they try to convert it into a healthy and stable soil, which doesn’t need any further supply of nutrients but works together with a diversity of plants growing on it.
There are great opportunities to work with John in the future since we might be able to dry and clean our grains with our equipment stored in his barn and he is also considering growing grains for us in the coming years. Right now he probably doesn’t have much time for that – he’s hoping to have a successful lambing season!