winter rye & barley

winter rye on the farm. September 2015.

We planted 24 acres of winter rye in September 2015. This winter rye will be harvested in July 2016, and be approximately 85% of a rye whiskey that will be distilled and aged by Caledonia Spirits. Barley that was grown in the summer of 2015, will be approximately 15% of this whiskey and has been malted by Peterson Quality Malt, Monkton, Vermont, and within three weeks of when this whiskey is made, we will smoke this barley with apple wood from Thornhill Farm and cherry wood from Champlain Orchards, Shoreham, Vermont.

Winter rye and barley will be grown organically on Thornhill Farm and be rotated to control weeds, disease and insects.

Our 1950’s John Deere 45 combine, “She’s a Beauty,” harvesting barley August 2015.


writings & images about the grains of Thornhill Farm

  • Evan’s Thornhill Farm 100% rye sourdough boule December 11, 2017

    9.6 oz / 272 g rye flour
    1 tsp / 5.3 g sea salt
    8.2 oz / 232 g active rye sourdough culture
    5.5 oz / 156 g hot water
    2 Tbs/ 50 g honey
    1 Tbs / 18 g melted butter

    Makes 1 small round

    Transfer to a buttered baking sheet or parchment paper to knead for 5-8 minutes. Do not add any extra flour, moistened hands with water to prevent dough from sticking. Shape loaf into a tall round as dough will spread.

    Cover with a dusting of flour then plastic wrap or damp towel, put in a warm place for 3-4 hours or overnight.

    (optional) To top dough, sift bran from flour and sprinkle bran evenly around the loaf; or, top loaf with oats, caraway, or other favorite seed.

    Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

    Bake, preferably with steam, on a preheated stone or baking sheet, after 5 minutes drop baking temperature to 350 F. and continue baking for 30-35 mins.


  • Tim Van de Weert bringing the 2017 crop of barley to be malted October 6, 2017

    Tim Van de Weert bringing the 2017 crop of barley to be malted. The malted barley will be smoked on the farm and become the second ingredient in our Thornhill Farm rye whiskey. Peterson’s Quality Malt will send most of the barley to the breweries in Vermont. in the background, 24 acres seeded to legumes/green manure, resting from rye after two seasons of rye. Thornhill Farm rye, barley and cropland for grain is certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers.


  • drilling barley May 19, 2017

    I am looking back to see if the barley is coming out of the shoots and being drilled into the soil – The 1950’s John Deere grain drill is over 60 years old. We are moving through drilling barley to an 18 acre field behind the farmhouse. We plowed this land and then disk harrowed 7 times. It is a very sacred process to see the earth transformed as we spread manure, a gift from the pigs, plow and disk harrow, always stopping to pick rocks and fill the bucket on the front of the tractors. We are constantly aware of the rain and how dry or wet the day will be. On this day, I keep driving through two thunderstorms, lightening on the distant hills. 7 pm, the first rain came hard, it was not expected until 10 pm and so I was moving though it, no raincoat. I was soaked and stood up on the tractor to stay a bit dryer, and kept driving as the soil was not being hurt yet by the impact of the tractor’s weight. We had to get this done because the seeds needed time to germinate, and the moist, warm soil was an ideal incubator for this. Barley has to be planted early, by May 20 Jack tells me. Through the day, the fragrance of the Balm of Gilead poplars kept drifting over the fields. The honey bees and the Order of Hymenoptera will be draw to this resin in the air. For a beekeeper, this is also intoxicating. Spring is here. This barley will be the second ingredient in our Thornhill Farm rye whiskey, a partnership with Caledonia Spirits, be sprouted for the pigs and enable us to grow all of their food, and also be offered to breweries and bakeries.

  • Winter Rye in June June 29, 2016
    walking in the winter rye tonight, looking at harvest in four weeks, the mystery of heat degree days and moisture. I walked in the rows, the winter rye towers above the scattered baby sized weeds. June 2016.
  • Taylor & Nick of North Hardwick Dairy, Hardwick, Vermont June 3, 2016
    Taylor & Nick Meyer of North Hardwick Dairy in Hardwick, Vermont. Photo by Jan Cannon, 2015.