Well here it is – all set to spin into gold. So now you know. Rumpelstiltskin surely had barley straw.
But before the spinning – this was the barley crop three mornings ago:
Then in the afternoon, in the baking heat, this happened:
And the dust flew:
And now we have this:
And I can hurdle across the field to the allotment, leaping limping over the straw furrows which are half a metre tall, grabbing a few handfuls as I go – not for gold production unfortunately, but to add to the compost bins. There’s another bonus too. This early harvesting may mean we have the freedom of the field for much longer than we usually do – i.e. before it is ploughed for the next crop. I’m also looking forward to baling, if that’s what happens with barley straw. Lots more photo opportunities if the bales are left in the field long enough to take the camera out.
Grimms’ Fairy Tales: Rumpelstiltskin
What’s with the barley? Some may say I need to get out more. Others may be quite mystified by my fascination with this summer’s crop in Townsend Meadow behind the house. In my defence I have to say that this particular grain is so very lovely on the stem. Also this is the first year it’s been grown in the field while we have lived here. And then there’s the fact that barley-growing has great heritage: around 10,000 years ago its evolution played a key role in the development of hunter-humans to farmer-humans; the wild grasses (including wheat) of the Middle Eastern plains transforming themselves into useful food crops. This happened (most probably) by some accidental selection wherein some plants for some reason failed to shed their grains as their wild forebears did, and so could be harvested. Then it was discovered (again perhaps by accident) that any of a stored crop not eaten could be saved and sown and produce similarly cooperative plants. It was the beginning of settled living – the creation and management of fields.
These days in the UK, barley is still a common food staple. But most important of all, when malted, it is an essential ingredient in the making of British ale. And until fairly modern times ale was the drink of necessity, even for children, in the absence of clean water supplies. So: now you’ve had the barley-praise. Here are the pictures.
Copyright 2021 Tish Farrell