QUEST for red in the WEST
Previously there have been posts regarding GavinC lamenting the fact that there was a lack of different wheat varieties available in Australia, this was followed up by JonJ from South Africa with an article on an Australian farmer growing Red Wheat, it was a very interesting article and the best thing was it was being done here in Western Australia. I made contact with the company that supplies and buys the grain but didn't really get far, i then did some searching and found an email address for an engineering company that Ray Harrington has and asked them to forward my details to Ray and Tim and my interest in their Red Wheat. Both gentlemen phoned me that evening and we had a good chat although the telephone line wasn't that clear. I managed to get an invite so what follows is a write up i did for our local facebook group of bread enthusiasts Freo Food Bread. Quest for red wheat took a giant leap forward yesterday with me setting off for the farm at Cordering at 5am just as the pre dawn glow was appearing on the Eastern horizon. The early start was necessary as farmer Tim was wanting to attend Sheepfest in Darkan the local township. Lachie Bisset our fellow FFB member and part owner of Big Loaf was also keen to make this trip but would need to do some juggling of his calendar, but agreed to make his own way there which he confirmed on friday. As i left home the car told me it was 17 degrees outside and after the horrid 39 the previous day was quite lovely to be up and out. As i climbed the Darling Escarpment leaving Armadale in the rear view, dawn officially broke which was good as i didnt really want to be driving through the catchment area and Forrest in the dark. My reluctance for that activity was soon realised with a number of fresh Kangaroo carcases on the roadside, some of which would have caused the Subaru serious problems ! I noticed the temperature drop to 14 which shows the value of the tree canopy. With Curtin FM radio playing some good old songs and being solo i was able sing along loudly, perhaps that was keeping the wildlife at bay. In no time the town of Williams was reached and i turned off the Albany Highway onto the Darkan - Collie rd and a bit further along diverted to the Darkan rd. By this time the Curtin FM was becoming a bit scratchy so the ABC was employed for entertainment the next turn off saw me on a very well maintained gravel road and 80 klm per hour was easily achieved .At the T junction and a bitumen rd my first error turning left, and i soon realised after a couple of ks my mistake as i should have had my next turning coming in a short distance . A U turn soon had us back on track and another dirt rd this on a little more lumpy but still pretty good compared to some i have had to endure. This rd led to the farm and it was great to see Lachie and son Monty already engaged with Tim beside the storage silos. Lachie and Monty had camped out in swags overnight at a nearby small town of Quindanning quite an adventure already!After a good firm farmers hand shake Introduction from Tim we got on to the story of the Red Wheat and Tim showed us both varieties, the RGT Accroc a winter variety and LRPB Beaufort a Spring wheat. we listened to how the wheat had performed for Tim as a crop and how it fitted into the rotation but also how they could be grown further apart in the season so that it spread the risk quite a bit especially with frost. Lachie was sampling the grain for taste which he liked and detected that the Accroc was considerably harder to chew. Tim was quite interested in our enthusiasm and what we could hope to do with some of his wheat and we promised to keep him informed and hopefully produce a loaf made entirely from his own wheat even.Anyway we were conscious of taking up to much of Tim's time so got out the Hessian bags and Tim filled them generously 4 x bags, 2 of each both variety. Lachie presented Tim with some of Big Loaf's produce the famous Cinnamon scrolls the Pane Ancient and their signature Big Loaf. Tim then mentioned Lupins which he also grows and said that we need to get more lupins into the human diet which he and Lachie agreed as they are a great source of protein not the kind we Bakers are usually chasing which is the gluten content of wheat flour. Anyway we were gifted with a bag of lupins to have a play with too. We also stopped up by the Header that had brought in the harvest and Tim showed off the great invention that his uncle had produced locally the Harrington Seed Destructor. This clever device destroys weed seed at the time of Harvest so that it does not need eradicating with sprays in the next growing season.Tim also touched on Flax growing which apparently was quite wide spread at one time and that it supported a process plant for fibre in WA. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a big market for the seed and other than being a good rotation crop. The benefits of Flaxseeds or more commonly known as Linseeds are great, just look them up. Anyway we were told we could go to another farm that Tim runs and help our selves to a sample from the 7 tonne bin. So we made our farewells and Lachie invited Tim to bring the family to the Bakery for a tour when they were next down in the city. We headed off and went to the other farm where Lachie scaled the bin and remarked on the quality of the linseed. We were both aware of the dangers of grain bins and explained to Monty the dangers of sinking into grain and that people have died this way. I was so pleased that Lachie and Monty had made the trip not just because they are nice blokes but pleased that Lachie had come in his landrover ute and not on one of his motor bikes with six sacks of grain the subaru would not have coped at all well. The day wasn't over though as we decided to visit Darkan's sheepfest and it was one of those great country show / field days with log chopping and shearing competitions and of course sheep showing . i went home via Collie arriving home at around 3pm and 580klm on the clock but a great day out. The next part of the fun will be in the next few weeks when we mill some of the samples and see what we can come up with watch this space.