Each autumn on the Croft the land is cultivated and sown with precious rye seed kept safe for this very moment. In the September sun it shoots forth, and lays down its roots, before the approaching Highland dreich and winter frosts. Cows brae from the cow barn, and during the dark winter night the rye nestles down. In the spring it bursts forth with renewed vigor, but the hungry cows (now with calves) are first out for their fill. The rye benifits from this early cut & natural fertlising, and puts forth renewed growth to flourish in the summer with a ripe heavy harvest of berried rye swaying in the wind.
The rye is reaped, and stooked in the field if the weather allows, or brought in for dry storage in the cow barn (now vacated for the summer) if the weather does not play game. Once it dries, it is threshed and fanniered, and the straw put aside for the mulch and bedding come winter. The precious grain is dried and cleaned, and the best laid aside for the Autumn planting. The rest is placed in the grain silo.
The grain silo stores a years worth of rye grain, safe against the elements and hungry critters of varying size. Each week a portion is syphoned off the silo into the bakehouse, where it is stone milled straight into the mixer. The fresh, sweet and nutrituous flour is mixed with water and sourdough starter, divided into large 800g rye tinnies – and left to ferment. Slowly it rises and the fragile dough is thrust into the oven, before warm dark loaves emerge and are left to cooling on the racks.
The ryes bread change subtly with the seasons, as the yard herb garden pulses with flavour and as annual festivities rise and fall, but it is also consistent – a stable base to the diet regime of the families it feeds. Bread is collected and couriered each week, delivered in cloth bread bags to local rye patrons in the nearby area – 2 loaves each, enough to see them thru the week.
Each month, alongside the bread sits ceramic growlers of fermentable treats – kvass, kombocha, milk Kevir – which have all been sitting on the shelves of the bakehouse, fermenting away. And through the seasons, there are other additions – bags of freshly dug vegetables in the summer, the soil still clinging to their roots, and fermented jars of the same vegetables in the winter. These are from the previous years fields, which (as part of a crop rotation) are nuturing the soil ready for next years rye crop.
Disclaimer – this is currently fictional; but drop me a line if you’d like to help make this closed loop fermented food fiction become fact.
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