Grain Chain: The Farming Year

George Explores… the Grain Chain, with support
from farmers and millers across the UK Hi there. Now, because my school project is
on the Grain Chain, checking out farms and how they grow their crops is a really important
part of the story. I already knew that the main cereal crops
that farmer’s grow are wheat, barley and oats, but I didn’t know how busy a farmer’s year
was! It all starts around the end of Autumn… the time when we’re enjoying Halloween and
Bonfire Night, farmers will be out in the cold, ploughing their fields and sowing the
seeds. They’ll also give them a good spray to help keep pesky weeds and bugs away. Once
that’s done, they just have to wait a wee while…
… for the seeds to germinate and start to grow. But by Spring…
The crops will be well on the way and with a bit of luck will be growing nice and strong,
producing loads of shoots. The farmer wants to KEEP them nice so he will help the crops
grow, treating them with fertilisers, until… Ahhh! Summer! Mmm that’s better. By early
Summer the cereal crops will have grown their “ears” — that’s the bits where the grains
are. The weather plays a big part in how successful the crop is — a bad summer can mean a poor
crop and in parts of the world that can make the difference between food and no food. When it’s ready, over the late Summer – most
likely when you’re having a nice relax on your school summer holidays, the crops will
be harvested using combine harvesters. As well as cutting the stalks, these huge machines
will separate out the grain. The stalks are valuable to the farmer. Once they’re cut,
the stalks will be baled and left to dry, which as well as providing a food for cows
and horses, can also make a nice bed for animals! If it’s even a teeny weeny bit damp, grain
may rot and that’s the last thing the farmer wants — so the grain has to be dried and
stored on the farm, before being sent to a mill to be made into flour.
Once the harvest is done, whilst it might sound like there would be time for our farmer
to take a holiday, there’s no chance! He or she will have to start the farming cycle all
over again, ploughing and preparing the fields for the next crop.
But before all of that, they’ll get a chance to take a breather and celebrate the harvest,
and try some of their produce at a local harvest festival.
Phew! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Let’s get back inside and get cooking.
Here it is! Today I’ve made a tasty fruit loaf called Bara Brith, and it smells FANTASTIC.
There are stacks of different types of bread from all over the world like chapatis and
pitta bread but this one is from the UK — Wales in fact, where the Welsh Dragon’s live — let’s
get a slice. You HAVE to cut Bara Brith in nice thick slices
and there’s nothing better to put on top than a big thick layer of real butter. Fruit and
bread together might sound a bit crazy but… It’s delicious! See you soon!
George Explores… the Grain Chain, with support from farmers and millers across the UK

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