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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: Farming Systems & Approaches

Littlefield Notes Fall 2012

Littlefield Notes: Fall 2012

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Why horses? We are knee deep in threshing oats and rye when I find after lunch that the tractor won’t start. Press the ignition switch — nothing; not even a click. I cancel the day’s threshing and drive thirty miles to the tractor store and pick up a genuine-after-market IH part. Come home, put in the new ignition switch and still nothing. When we need the horses they start right up, without complaint — every time.

Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

The Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

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In the winter of 2011, Daniel mentioned a fourteen-year-old student of his who had spent a whole month eating only foods gathered from the wild. “Could we go for two days on the hand-harvested food we have here?’ he asked. “Let’s give it a try!” I responded with my usual enthusiasm. We assembled the ingredients on the table. Everything on that table had passed through our hands. We knew all the costs and calories associated with it. No hidden injustice, no questionable pesticides. We felt joy at living in such an edible world.

Soil, Vegetation, and Acidity

From Dusty Shelves: Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide teaches us about soil acidity.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

by:
from issue:

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.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

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Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

Fjord Horses at Work in the Green Mountains of Vermont

Fjord Horses at Work in the Green Mountains of Vermont

We own a 40 jersey cow herd and sell most of their milk to Cobb Hill Cheese, who makes farmstead cheeses. We have a four-acre market garden, which we cultivate with our team of Fjord horses and which supplies produce to a CSA program, farm stand and whole sale markets. Other members of the community add to the diversity of our farm by raising hay, sheep, chickens, pigs, bees, and berries, and tending the forest and the maple sugar-bush.

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley A Farmrun Production by Andrew Plotsky

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

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The agricultural system of the Old Believers has long been one of hand labor. Their homesteads (hozyastvas) were not intended for tractors or horses, with the possible exception of their larger potato fields. Traditionally the small peasant hozyastva has its roots in hand labor, and this has helped maintain the health of the land. Understanding the natural systems is easier when one’s hands are in the soil every day as opposed to seeing the land from the seat of a tractor.

Food Energy The Fragile Link Between Resources and Population

Food-Energy: the Fragile Link Between Resources & Population

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Now, after a one lifetime span of almost free energy and resultant copious food, the entire world faces the imminent decline (and eventual demise) of finite, fossil-fuel capital. Without fossil fuels, food can no longer be produced in one area and shipped thousands of miles to market. To suggest that the world will be able to feed the UN projected population of nine billion by 2050 is totally incomprehensible in the face of declining oil.

The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

Cultivating Questions: The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

It took several incarnations to come up with a satisfactory design for the bottom heated greenhouse bench. In the final version we used two 55 gallon drums welded end-to-end for the firebox and a salvaged piece of 12” stainless steel chimney for the horizontal flue. We learned the hard way that a large firebox and flue are necessary to dissipate the intense heat into the surrounding air chamber and to minimize heat stress on these components.

Russian Dacha Gardening

Russian Dacha Gardens

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Russian household agriculture – dacha gardening – is likely the most extensive system of successful food production of any industrialized nation. This shows that highly decentralized, small-scale food production is not only possible, but practical on a national scale and in a geographically large and diverse country with a challenging climate for growing. Most of the USA has far more than the 110 days average growing season that Russia has.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Horse Farming and Holistic Management

Horse Farming and Holistic Management

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Holistic Management was developed by Allan Savory who was a wildlife and ranch biologist in Africa who was concerned that the advice he could give farmers didn’t work in the real environment and even when the advice was good it wouldn’t get implemented. He developed a program which helps farms create a clear Holistic Goal and then use the farms resources to move toward the goal while being ecologically sustainable.

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Forestry

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After 70 plus years of industrial logging, the world’s forests are as degraded and diminished as its farmlands, or by some estimates even more so. And this is a big problem for all of us, because the forests of the world do much more than supply lumber, Brazil nuts, and maple syrup. Farmlands produce food, a basic need to be sure, but forests are responsible for protecting and purifying the air, water and soil which are even more basic.

Useful Birds

Useful Birds

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Whether a bird is beneficial or injurious depends almost entirely upon what it eats. Birds are often accused of eating this or that product of cultivation, when an examination of the stomachs shows the accusation to be unfounded. Accordingly, the Biological Survey has conducted for some years past a systematic investigation of the food of those species which are most common about the farm and garden.

The Way To The Farm

Lise Hubbe stops mid-furrow at plowing demonstration for Evergreen State College students. She explains that the plow was going too deep…

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