Wild Rice harvesting September 2010
Over Labor Day weekend 2010 Fred and Becca took a wild rice harvesting course
at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN on the North Shore (of Lake
Superior northeast of Duluth. The course is based on the traditional wild ricing methods and
included making some of the equipment, harvesting and processing the rice.
Day 1 Preparing
After getting an introduction to Wild Rice history thru harvesting from Eric we made our own knockers.
2127546 2010-09-03 13:48 DSCN0831.jpg Eric using draw knife to start making knockers
2033762 2010-09-03 14:48 DSCN0838.jpg John and Lisa using draw knives on nearly complete knockers
2053956 2010-09-03 16:13 DSCN0846.jpg Becca using crooked knife for finer work
Day 2 Harvesting on the Swamp River north of Grand Marais.
Becca and Fred headed into wild rice bed
When we get into the rice bed, Fred will stand up and push us along with the pole
he is holding. Becca is holding knockers we carved with drawknives at North House.
She will pull the rice over the canoe with one and knock the ripe rice into the
canoe with the other.
Note that waater is not very visible in rice beds in pictures since
rice plants above the water obscure it. On the other hand the rice
beds are still mostly water tho the rice is thick enough to slow
progress in a canoe and make paddles ineffective. Hence the poles.
92073 2010-10-03 12:44 DSCN0863x.jpg John polling and Lisa in rice
504920 2010-10-03 12:24 DSCN0866y.jpg Rice bed being worked by two canoes
This enlargement from preceding picture of Fred and Becca harvesting is very fuzzy but
shows Fred poling while Becca harvests with knockers.
Wild Rice harvest in bottom of canoe while we pause together before heading home.
2347495 2010-09-04 15:25 DSCN0881.jpg Group with combined days harvest
Day 3 Processing
We processed the rice the next day at Grand Portage National Monument where there is a
"living history" Ojibway village as well as the Northwest Company fur trading stockade.
Preliminary cleaning of harvest from 4 canoes We picked out stems, ergot (a fungus
on the rice) and other debris.
The rice was heated in an iron kettle over a fire while being stired continuosly.
Eric Simula. our instructor, demonstrating stirring batch of wild rice being parched
Pit where wild rice was threshed by stepping on it with moccasins (Abrading the husks from the grain.)
2127753 2010-09-05 13:15 DSCN0908.jpg Glenn threshing with mocasins
3450564 2010-09-05 09:55 P1000146.jpg Closeup of threshing
After threshing we took the rice in birch bark trays (there is one sitting by pit in
previous picture) and winnowed it in the wind. By throwing it up in the stiff wind
down on the dock on Lake Superior, the chaff blew away while the rice fell back in the tray.
2284128 2010-09-05 14:10 DSCN0910.jpg Winnowing
877746 2007-01-15 06:22 S7301023.JPG Closeup of 1/3 of F&B's finshed rice
Light tan pieces have husk still on them (threshing failures). Three pieced of ergot in lower right.
889427 2007-01-15 07:47 S7301025.JPG Pile of husks cleaned in one hour from
the 1/3 after preceding photo