Our "Magic Mill" grain mill! This is the engine side of it. The wood top lifts open and there is a hopper there for the whole grains.
One of the items on our original 'to buy eventually' list was a flour mill. We are working towards having a working pantry (meaning that it's stocked with the things we use and that we are using these things on a regular basis). There a number of reasons for this. First of all, we live out in the country. There is a market about 3 miles away, but it's very expensive and very small. The next closest is about 8 miles away. If we run out of something, it's no longer just a jaunt down to the corner. Secondly, we need a place to store the things we preserve. This goes along with the idea of being sustainable, too. The more we can store, the less we need to buy from other sources. Lastly, we want to have plenty on hand for emergencies. All grocery stores work with very little back stock. If you were to cut off the supply trucks, those shelves would empty in a matter of days (or hours if there was a panic). Think about the water/battery supply in FL when a hurricane approaches....or the milk/bread situation in the northeast when a blizzard is forecasted...it's not fun, is it? I'd rather not contribute to that. If our supply lines got cut off tomorrow, we'd have plenty of food for us and the animals for at least a month or more. I'd like that time frame to be 6 months eventually (easy for humans - harder for animals).
Anyway, as part of this storage plan, a grain mill can really help but the good ones are quite expensive. We prefer whole wheat flour to white for the nutritional benefits. Whole wheat doesn't keep very long before it goes rancid due to the fact that it contains the whole wheat berry - fats and all. Additionally, keeping on top of flour stores is annoying and I admit that if I can cut corners, I will. This means storing the whole wheat berry in it's intact form. These berries keep WAY longer than ground flour, so we don't have to be as dilligent about rotation. We can grind what we need when we need it. Plus, fresh ground flour? How cool is that?!
We were at dinner at a friends house a couple of months ago and jokingly made mention of a good place in their kitchen to put the grain mill. When they mentioned that his parents had one that they used we asked if maybe they wanted to sell it. A week or so later, we find out that they didn't want to sell their current one, but that they had an older model that they no longer use and would be willing to part with! Score for us! So we bought it from them and we love it. It's a Magic Mill grain mill in a wooden cabinet. They stopped making these in the 70's, but it's definitely good quality. They even had the owners manual to it! It is both electric powered and it has a hand-crank which while I know it won't be an easy task, it appeals to the greener side of me. So far, we've only done the one test batch, but it worked well and we look forward to stocking up on whole grains for future grinding.