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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

by Marjorie Dobbin of Vidalia, GA

Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Cane Grinding

Mom, Dad, and I have driven to Uncle Charley’s farm. It is the Saturday before Thanksgiving, their traditional cane grinding day. Early in the morning, family and friends gather for a hot breakfast under the trees near the operation. Mr. Charley grills sausages. Miss Pat sees that there are hot coffee, biscuits, grits, and scrambled eggs. Guests bring foods also, such as banana pudding, pecan brittle, and barbequed venison. I decide to wait until later for my breakfast. I want to help with the grinding.

Cane Grinding

The cane has been growing in the field since spring. Uncle Charley and his sons have cut it and brought the stalks to the grinder machine. Here, men stack the long stalks of light greenish-tan cane on a rack near the grinder. I ask if I can help. They show me how to feed the stalks into a slot between two revolving wheels.

Cane Grinding

I shove the ends of cane stalks in, just like this little girl is doing. But my eyes are on a four-wheeled vehicle that is being driven around and around us. It is pulling one end of a long pole. The pole turns the gears in the grinder, causing two cylinders to turn toward each other. When the cane stalks are fed through the cylinders, they come out flattened on the other side. Last year Uncle Charley said that maybe I could drive the four-wheeler. For the next fifteen minutes, I am very busy, following the circle and keeping the proper speed. It was fun.

Cane Grinding

While Uncle Charley’s son shows some children how to feed cane, some of my buddies try their strength at pushing the pole around. Before gas-driven vehicles were used, the family mule or oxen pulled the pole. The farmer would start it walking, and it would keep on going until the farmer stopped it.

Cane Grinding

The juice squeezed from the cane is collected in a blue barrel. The juice looks like grayish water with bits of cane floating in it. When the barrel is almost full, one of the adults drains it into a large pail, carries it to the boiling shed, and dumps it.

Cane Grinding

With a plate heavy with scrambled eggs, cheese grits, and a sausage biscuit, I wander over to the boiling shed. Some boys are standing around the huge cauldron encased in a cement wall. Under the cauldron is a gas-fed fire. The juice boils, and the steam is fragrant and sweet. Long ago, farmers used to use a wood fire. One person would always be busy feeding the wood into the fire under the cauldron to keep a constant temperature.

Cane Grinding

I watch the men working in the shed. They scoop off the impurities and bits of cane that float to the surface, using skimmers – flat circular screens about eight inches in diameter fastened on long handles. The men dump the contents of the skimmer in a discard bucket. The syrup has to boil in the cauldron until it reaches the right consistency. One of the men told me that the best part of the whole process is when the syrup is drained off. Around the kettle would be cane candy to scrape off and eat.

Cane Grinding

In time, the syrup is packed in pint and quart jars. The Rockin’ R label is put on them, and they are offered for sale. Mr. Charley makes a special trip to deliver bottles to the people attending the Grinding.

When Mom, Dad, and I have the syrup on biscuits, pancakes, or waffles, it reminds me of the fun of feeding the cane, driving the four-wheeler, skimming the syrup, and eating breakfast with friends in the crisp fall air.

Spotlight On: How-To & Plans

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

by:
from issue:

The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.

The Farm & Bakery Wagon

The Farm & Bakery Wagon

by:
from issue:

The first step was to decide on an appropriate chassis, or “running gear.” Eventually I chose to go with the real deal, a wooden-wheeled gear with leaf springs rather than pneumatic tires. Wooden wheels last forever with care and are functional and look the part. I bought an antique delivery wagon that had been left outdoors as an ornament. I was able to reuse some of the wheels and wooden parts of the running gear.

Horseshoeing Part 4A

Horseshoeing Part 4A

According to the size of the horse and his hoofs the nails should be driven from five-eighths to an inch and five-eighths high, and as even as possible. As soon as a nail is driven its point should be immediately bent down towards the shoe in order to prevent injuries. The heads of all the nails should then be gone over with a hammer and driven down solidly into the nail-holes, the hoof being meanwhile supported in the left hand.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

by:
from issue:

Watching Wayne’s sure hands it was easy for me to forget that this is a 91 year old man. There was strength, economy, elegance and thrift in his every stroke.

Multiple Hitching with One Set of Lines

Multiple Hitching with One Set of Lines

by:
from issue:

A great deal of interest has been shown the last several years in using multiple hitches in horse farming, especially in spring fieldwork. The question often asked is how to keep it simple and easy in driving and assembling the hitch as far as lines are concerned. We demonstrated our method at the Horse Progress Days at Mt. Hope, Ohio in 2003 and have been asked numerous times how we drove four, six and eight-horse hitches using only two lines.

McCormick Deering/International No 7 vs no 9

McCormick Deering/International: No. 7 versus No. 9

McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

by: ,
from issue:

It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily.

Harvesting Rainwater

Harvesting Rainwater

by:
from issue:

Collecting rainwater for use during dry months is an ancient practice that has never lost its value. Today, simple water collection systems made from recycled food barrels can mean a free source of non-potable water for plants, gardens, bird baths, and many other uses. Rainwater is ideal for all plants because it doesn’t contain dissolved minerals or added chemicals. One inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof yields approximately 600 gallons of water.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Permanent Corncribs

A short piece on the construction of corncribs.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

by:
from issue:

Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.

Horseshoeing Part 5A

Horseshoeing Part 5A

All shoes whose ground-surface is provided with contrivances to prevent slipping upon snow and ice are called winter shoes. These various contrivances are produced by several processes called “methods of sharpening.” All methods may be gathered into two groups, – namely, practical sharp-shoeing and impractical. Only the first will be considered.

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

from issue:

Before starting to plow a field much time can be saved if the field is first staked out in uniform width lands. Methods that leave dead furrows running down the slope should be avoided, as water may collect in them and cause serious erosion. The method of starting at the sides and plowing around and around to finish in the center of the field will, if practiced year after year, create low areas at the dead furrows.

On The Anatomy of Thrift Fat & Slat

On the Anatomy of Thrift Part 3: Fat & Salt

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals. Fat & Salt is the third and final video in the series. It is the conceptual conclusion to the illustrated, narrated story that weaves throughout the entire series, and deals instructionally in the matters of preserving pork.

Forging Rings in the Farm Blacksmith Shop

Forging Rings in the Farm Blacksmith Shop

by:
from issue:

Fabricating steel rings is a common task in my small farm blacksmith shop. They are often used on tie-rings for my customer’s barns, chain latches on gates, neck yoke rings, etc. It’s simple enough to create a ring over the horn of the anvil or with the use of a bending fork, however, if you want to create multiple rings of the same diameter it’s worthwhile to build a hardy bending jig.

A Horse Powered Round Bale Unroller

A Horse Powered Round Bale Unroller

by:
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We had experimented with unrolling the bales the year before and had decided to make a device that would let us move them with the horses and then unroll them. I used square tubing to make a simple frame with two arms attached to a cross piece which connected to a tongue. Small diagonal braces made the arrangement rigid and the arms had a right angle piece of square tubing on their ends which allowed a pin to be driven into the middle of the round bale from each side.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT