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Late Summer Greetings

September 12, 2011
by North House Folk School

Hello North House blog followers. This is Mike, the third and final blogger of this year's intern trio. And what do I have to report? The big event that we have all been anticipating is just around the corner; in many ways it's already here. Everyone is busy with last minute preparations. The big tent arrives on Wednesday followed by the Mountain Stage crew who will be setting up their gear. A sizable battalion of volunteers will descend upon campus to give it a thorough old fashioned spit shine. Anticipation is running high, but more on that later.

I just returned from a multi-functional outing in neighboring territories to the south. I flew down to Cleveland, OH for a family wedding to have some quality family bonding time, made my way back to my home turf in the Milwaukee area to pick up a mini-van, and then continued north to stay with friend and North House instructor Jarrod Stone-Dahl and family. During one of his visits, Jarrod and I made plans to harvest wild rice together and ricing season happened to fit nicely into my late summer adventure.

Last year high water levels and an untimely cluster of storms conspired against my wild rice plans, so I was delighted with the string of warm sunny days that ripened the rice for us this year.

This may appear to be a normal grassy pasture scene, but don't be fooled. It's a lake, and it is full of Zizania aquatica a.k.a. wild rice!

As a group we managed to harvest 200 lbs. of wet rice over three days which will come out to about 100 lbs. of finished rice after processing.

Jarrod knocking ripe grains into the canoe. The barbs on the end of the rice grains stuck to his beard like Velcro.

Lunch Break...there's a nice pile building

Jarrod and April have a designated outbuilding filled with clever home made processing equipment that speeds up the efforts of processing wild rice. It was really neat to see it in action. The wet rice is sun dried, then parched to make the chafe surrounding the rice kernel brittle. The rice is then threshed to remove the hull. Finally, grains are winnowed to separate the rice from the empty hulls. It takes quite a bit of effort, but the end product is well worth it. The smell alone is worth it. Yum!

I have always been fascinated with foraging; I love wild rice and I love good company.... I would say it was a wildly successful excursion. I am extremely grateful to Jarrod and April for their hospitality.

That's it for now... More unplugged action to come