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horse eats,—viz., corn. You know that the horse eats oats; and that you eat bread made of wheat. Oats and wheat are, both of them, corn. In Scotland people eat thin cakes which are made of oats; the same oats which the horse eats.
The horse can eat the oats whole, but the people who eat the oat-cakes are obliged to have the oats ground into meal. The children eat this meal boiled for their breakfast, and call it porridge. They are very fond of it, and I think they are even stronger than our English children.
Wheat, also, must be ground before it can be made into bread. When it is ground it is called flour.
Would you like to know something about this wheat which makes your bread ?
Children who live in the country have often seen it growing.
In the spring, about February or March, the sower may be seen in the field with a very large bag full of grains of wheat. He takes a handful at a time, and walks carefully up and down over the whole field, scattering the seed about as he goes.
He is very careful not to sow it thicker in one place than he does in another place.
When the seed is all properly scattered he brings a large rake, or harrow. This is a frame of wooden or iron bars crossing each other, and full of great iron teeth. A horse drags this harrow over the field, so that some of the earth may be scraped over the seed.
After a while it begins to grow, and in the month of April or May it may be seen starting quite green through the ground. You could hardly tell it from grass then, but soon afterwards the stalk grows thick, and small round lumps begin to appear on it towards the top.
These lumps are the very first beginning of the grains of wheat. They get larger and larger and lie very close together, the end of one touching that above it. This part of the stalk is called an ear of wheat.
When the ears are ripe, their colour is a brownish yellow : a great number of these ripe ears are saved for seed for the next year.
The wheat begins to ripen in August; when it is ripe it is cut down, and tied up in large bundles, called “sheaves.' We call this cutting down, reaping.
When the men have reaped the wheat, some farmers allow women and children to go to the fields to pick up the ears which the reapers drop in tying up the sheaves. These women and children are called “ gleaners."
The sheaves are carried away and piled up close together in a stack, and kept there till the corn is wanted to be made into flour. Then they are taken
wn, and the grains are beaten out of the skins which hold them. The skins or husks are separated from the grain, which is then sent to the mill.
The important parts of the mill are the stones. There are two of them large, flat, round stones. They must be made of very hard stone indeed, or else small pieces like dust would be rubbed off in the grinding, and get mixed with the flour. The grains of corn are placed between the stones, which are one above the other. The upper one turns round and round; it can also be moved up and down.
If the flour is wanted very fine the stones are “set” almost close, so that every grain which is put between them may be touched by them. For coarser flour they are put farther apart, and then, you will understand, the stones cannot touch every grain; a great many of the grains can then be crushed only by the pressure of those that do touch the stones.
There is a hole in the middle of the top stone, and the corn is poured down a funnel through this. The stone turns very fast indeed, crushing the grains as they come down. It keeps the flour always moving, and throws it outwards towards the edge of the bottom stone, over which it falls into a large box put underneath to catch it.
Next the flour must be sifted; the coarse brown pieces that come off the outside of the grains form what is called bran. This is used for feeding pigs and
for many other purposes. It is only the very fine flour that will pass through the sieve, and that is at once put aside for best flour, or firsts, as it is called in the trade. What is left in the sieve is put into the mill again, and ground for second-best flour, called seconds.
All this flour is sent to the baker, who makes it into different kinds of bread. He charges more for bread made of firsts than for bread made of seconds. You shall be told in another lesson the different things which the baker does with the flour.
THE baker gets the flour after it has left the mill. He makes cakes of it, and biscuits, and bread. He wants