Today is the feast day of St. Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687), sometimes referred to as Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. In addition to being the patron saint of England, and specifically Durham, Newcastle, Hexham, Lancaster and Northumbria, shepherds, sailors, and against the plague, he is also the patron saint of maltsters. According to some sources, this is because “during his final years, in retreat on the Island of Farne, Cuthbert was only able to sustain himself by growing barley. He also became a protector of the barley by invoking the name of God to disperse the birds who hungered to consume the barley.”
Here’s his overview from Wikipedia:
Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon saint of the early Northumbrian church in the Celtic tradition. He was a monk, bishop and hermit, associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in what might loosely be termed the Kingdom of Northumbria, in North East England[b] and the South East of Scotland. After his death he became the most important medieval saint of Northern England, with a cult centred on his tomb at Durham Cathedral. Cuthbert is regarded as the patron saint of Northumbria.
Cuthbert grew up in or around Lauderdale, near Old Melrose Abbey, a daughter-house of Lindisfarne, today in Scotland. He decided to become a monk after seeing a vision on the night in 651 that St. Aidan, the founder of Lindisfarne, died, but he seems to have seen some military service first. He was quickly made guest-master at the new monastery at Ripon, soon after 655, but had to return with Eata of Hexham to Melrose when Wilfrid was given the monastery instead. About 662 he was made prior at Melrose, and around 665 went as prior to Lindisfarne. In 684 he was made bishop of Lindisfarne, but by late 686 he resigned and returned to his hermitage as he felt he was about to die. He was probably in his early 50s.
Here’s another telling of his story, from OrthoChristian, picking it up after he’d been prior of Lindisfarne for twelve years and had been teaching the rules of monastic life to the Lindisfarne monks.
Little by little he introduced very strict discipline and monastic rules to the monastery—he lived precisely such a life himself—and became a real father to his brethren. And he continued his missionary work, which stretched to such places as Durham and Carlisle. But he more and more wished for a solitary life as a hermit. So he first retired to the isle today known as St. Cuthbert’s Island, and then, in 676, he settled on Inner Farne (both isles belong to the group of the Farne Islands which are famous for their wild nature and colonies of many species of birds today). On Inner Farne he built himself a little hut and a chapel and constructed a high wall around them (he was a physically very strong and skillful man).
At first he did not want any visitors to come to him, wishing to see only the sky, the heaven for which he strove so much. The saint lived in extremely difficult conditions on Farne, but nothing was impossible for him because God and the angels were always nearby. The saint by his fervent prayer expelled all the demons from Farne, who for some time attacked him ferociously. He also provided food for himself by the labor of his hands: through his prayer the soil on Farne became fertile and he was able to grow barley there, and a holy well with an abundant amount of water gushed forth from a dry rock on the isle due to his prayers. With time monks from Lindisfarne and other monasteries, nevertheless, started to flock to him and inhabitants from outside Lindisfarne followed too, in spite of the remoteness of that site. And Cuthbert, though he tried to avoid fame, could not refuse them wise instruction and words of consolation.
And they mention his growing of barley a little later in the story.
Some modern researchers suggest that St. Cuthbert was the first man in history to speak up in defense of wild nature, in his case: eider ducks. Maybe this is just a legend, but it is certain that he took care of these birds during his life and they still nest on Inner Farne in masses, as if in memory of the great saint. Northumbrians call these eider ducks “chicken of Cuddy” after St. Cuthbert. According to Bede, when Cuthbert first sowed seeds of barley on Inner Farne, birds started pecking them. The saint reproached them for that and they did not do it again. Two ravens used to steal straw from the small guesthouse near the saint’s cell. Cuthbert ordered them to leave the isle for such behavior. But the ravens soon returned with their wings prostrated and the heads lifted low as a sign of their remorse. More than that, they brought him lard to atone for their guilt. The saint forgave them, allowed them to stay on the isle and used the lard to waterproof his shoes.
There is a specific cross named for the saint, known as the St Cuthbert’s Cross, which is used on the County Durham flag, for example.