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Fourth graders see wheat from field to table

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By Cathy Toole

Thanks to Robbie and Katie Sue Yount, the fourth graders of Henry County had a unique experience this past Thursday.   For the second year the Younts have welcomed the youth to their farm to see how wheat is grown, cut, harvested, ground and made into bread.

Several pieces of the equipment used for the demonstrations were close to 100-years-old.  The steam engine tractor that ran the trashing machine was quite the highlight from the hissing of the engine to the toot of its horn.  Students learned that before the tractor could be used it had to be fired up with wood and water at least two to three hours so that the needed pressure could build up.

Students enjoyed watching the trashing machine separate the wheat from the straw.  They were allowed to taste one of the wheat grains and then watch as it was ground into course flour.  They were able to feel how the stone grinder heated the wheat and how the flour was warm to the touch as it dropped down into the bucket. Then it was taken to the cleaner where it was sifted through several layers of screens to take out the husk of the wheat head, producing a finer grade of wheat flour.

They also learned that every piece of the stalk of wheat was used.  The straw was used for bedding and protection of young plants, the wheat for flour and the course husk that was separated from the wheat head into feed for farm animals.  

They also learned some Henry County history in that the last mill in production in Henry County was the Smithfield Mill and it was in operation until 1987.  There are many water wheel foundations that can still be found along the water edge within the county.

The average cost of a loaf of bread is around $2 and the average that the farmer receives from that one loaf of bread is between five- to 15-cents.   The students thought that was not very much money for all the work it takes to grow and harvest wheat.  

The one thing that they did agree upon was that wheat bread with a little jam on it tastes great.  They also learned to check the label on wheat products to make sure it says 100 percent whole wheat to get the most nutrition out of each slice.

The stations were led by the Henry County High School FFA officers and they did an outstanding job, many thanks to them for all of their hard work.