Those of you who came to the Chili Cook-off saw a field of dried up bean stalks then looked inside the pods and found wonderful heirloom beans. To efficiently remove the beans from the pods and the rest of the plant material we have to thresh them. Last year we used a huge, old machine from UC Davis. This year Wayne from Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa kindly drove over towing his new threshing machine. It is a small machine which can thresh many crops such as popcorn and wheat. The plant material is fed in at one end and the debris come out the other end. The beans fall through a sieve plate into a tub with as little debris as possible. It will take us two days to finish the whole one acre.
Wayne taught us a great deal about beans and how to thresh them well. For instance we will not pull them out of the ground by their roots to dry next year just cut them at the surface. The roots slow down the threshing considerably. We will also plant cranberry beans which we can pick as fresh shelling beans and still get a crop of dried beans to harvest in September.
To see the thresher in action go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=eatwell+farm&search=Search