Listen to the grain grinding song as composed by Australian folk singer, songwriter Leone Hunt.
Listen to the grain grinding song as composed by Australian folk singer, songwriter Leone Hunt.
This morning I received a phone call from a very pleasant lady from Missouri. She said that they had bought the Country Living Mill several months ago and that they had been very happy with it, it gave them beautiful flour. They used wheat that they had stored in their freezer. When they had ground the last of their freezer stored wheat they purchased more grain, packaged in paper bags, from a nearby bulk food store. They then stored the mill and the wheat in their basement. After a couple of months they got in the mood for milling again, but they were disappointed because the quality of the flour was coarse and the mill was hard to turn.
“What happened to the mill?” she queried.
It was hard for me to believe that the mill had changed just sitting there in the basement for a couple of months, but a lot could happen to the grain. I made some delicate inquiries. “ Is it possible that your basement is damp?”
“Why, er, yes I guess that it is.” She offered reluctantly.
After a few more moments of gentle probing she revealed. “ In fact we generally have a dehumidifier running in the basement but it’s been broken for some time.” Bingo, the moisture factor was fully exposed.
Since I’ve felt the heavy-hand of Missourian humidity on several trips to the Midwest it hadn’t been too hard to pinpoint the culprit.
Moisture is probably the most exciting thing in the world for a kernel of grain. And of course that’s how Mother Nature hard wired seeds of every kind from the very beginning of this old world. If it wasn’t so, they couldn’t sprout and reproduce. But if you want to store and grind your grains to make meal and flour then you have to avoid moisture like the plague. To insure maximum storage life, nutrition and good grind-ability, you have to do everything in your power to keep your grain dry.
Unfortunately grains that have more than ten or eleven percent moisture content don’t store well or mill well.
The good news is that grain that has absorbed too much moisture can be dried out on a screen or cookie sheet next to a heater, stove, or in the oven—110 to 125 degrees will work nicely. As soon as it has cooled pop the grain into a waterproof bucket or another airtight container.
We suggest 5 gallon food-grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids. They are a joy to use because of their easy on and off seal-ability. They fit 12-inch plastic buckets and save your knuckles and fingernails.
Good grinding. Jack J.
As part of an educational and informational program demonstrating at exhibitions and schools nationwide, the Canadian Grain Commission selected the Country Living Grain Mill to illustrate the concepts of self-sufficiency and whole living. For many of the children (and even some of the adults) this was their first introduction to the process of breadmaking and they were amazed to find out that their bread came from somewhere else besides the local grocery store.
Below are a series of pictures from the Calgary Exhibition. As part of the Canadian Grain Commision’s Education in Agriculture program students from local grade schools are given presentations including a chance to grind wheat with the Country Living Grain Mill. The following illustration comes from Amy at Kerrisdale Elementary School.
This report on dehulling buckwheat was prepared by Tom Kast, who was kind enough to share the information with us and asked us to disseminate it for the benefit of our other customers:
Step 1 – Get round-hole test screens from a seed testing house such as Seedburo.com. The screens are measured in 64ths of an inch. Purchase the 9, 10 and 11 64th’s screens. They are 15" square perforated pieces of metal. If you pay a bit extra they come with frames, or if you want to save a few dollars you can build the frames yourself.
Step 2 – Size your buckwheat. In my experience most kernels were larger than the largest 11 64th holes, but the value in putting the kernels through this largest screen is that all the tiny kernels fell through and could be discarded (because there were not enough to work with); otherwise, they would mix into the final result and be surprises that are very hard on your teeth.
Step 3 – Take the County Living Grain Mill and set it to a very wide aperture. Take a test handful of the same-sized buckwheat kernels and run them through the mill. Check your results. The results should be (A) All the kernels have been opened or (B) There has been little or no grinding of the black hulls which would result in "hull flour", (C) – The buckwheat is as large as you would like it (for example, Russian kasha calls for whole, dehulled kernels where as buckwheat flour can be as fine as you like).
Gradually decrease the aperture of the Country Living Grain Mill until all the kernels have been opened and before the black hulls begin grinding. If the hulls start grinding then widen the aperture a bit. Once you have the result you like, keep the setting on the mil and put all your buckwheat through the mill.
Step 4 – Take the loose hulls and buckwheat and sift them through the medium-sized test screen (10 64th’s). Shake the hulls and buckwheat over a cookie sheet. This will extract 90% of the hulls which you can save to make a Japanese soba pillow. Then take the cookie sheet outside and blow lightly over the pan, shaking it slightly. This will blow off most of the remaining hulls.
That’s it, you’re done. Use the buckwheat flour in your favorite recipe.
Dear Mr. Jenkins,
We purchased the mill quite a long time ago, late 80s or early 90s, and I have used it on and off since then, but never so much as I have in the past couple of years. I used to have it clamped to the peninsula in the kitchen and I always kept the hopper full because when my kids’ friends came by they enjoyed having contests to see who could grind a hopper the fastest, so you had better believe I was johnny-on-the-spot keeping wheat going into the mill for all that free grinding!
I started making bread in earnest in 2005 and began selling it on a subscription basis that winter. I ran the mill by arm and had a system of 100 with the left arm, 100 with the right, 100 with both, 100 with the right while standing on the left foot, etc. It was good exercise but slow.
I’d read the information about setting it up to run off a bike, and my son is an avid bike racer and mechanic, so I tried to get him to help me out. No luck there, so I asked my clever neighbor, Tim Bylander… He came through beautifully. The first mill was composed of two exercise bikes cobbled together so the chain from the pedals ran a sprocket wheel that had a chain to make the mill go around. I used that HARD for a year and then disaster struck when the plastic bushing in the crankset broke.
I called Tim immediately and he, good man, came that very evening. He said he’d known that was the weak link of the operation but so few exercise bikes were made to last. He planned to cut parts out of one of my son’s old junk bikes to repair the exercise bike. But the next day my friend said she had a really nice exercise bike, an old Schwinn, and no one was using it any more.
We went to see the exercise bike and it was so well made, I had to take it to Tim immediately, and he made the operation work again. He is the greatest. Now, having got new grinding plates, I am able to grind faster and better than ever. The new plates are FANTASTIC. My grinding time is cut from about 15 minutes per hopper to 5 or less. This is great because I don’t like to bike indoors and put in a lot of time on my bike on the road during the months I can do it. Biking on the grinder is just extra exercise.
Because my business is growing I’d like to add another grinder to the bike. I have more energy than time and could grind two mills at once if I had an extra one. The bike has an odometer and I see that I do about a mile a loaf.
I really like the mill and the way it grinds the flour so fine, and yet with bran that I can sift out for use alone if I want it. I generally leave the bran in because I like bread with texture and apparently so do my customers. I don’t use white flour or wheat gluten or anything but instant yeast, salt, and water.
I built the oven last fall and have been learning to use it ever since. I love when I have done several bakes in my outdoor brick oven and I have all that bread cooling and it smells so good and looks so rustic and beautiful. I’m also very popular as a hostess because I make pizza in the oven and it is pretty good, especially the crust made from flour ground on your mill.
Thanks for a very high-quality product and for great response when I asked for assistance in changing plates.
Very best wishes, Maureen
Note: Eventually Maureen found that grinding just one mill at a time just wasn’t challenging enough and converted her exercycle so that it would grind two Country Living Mills simultaneously!
It was 4:55 a.m., the time that our alarm radio does its early morning thing. My consciousness was struggling when an announcer began intoning something about “the most fuel-efficient machine in the world. This marvelous machine gets 914 miles per gallon,” he said.
Suddenly, I was very awake. Visions of replacing our 12 miles-to-the-gallon van leaped into my sleep-shrouded head. I listened carefully. I was both disappointed and delighted in the same instant. This magnificent machine was nothing less than the human body.
I had to have more information, more documentation. I called long-distance to the radio station to see if they could give me sources on the story, but, alas, the very stuff that radio is made of (in an instant, here- in an instant, gone) had taken its toll. They had erased the tape and claimed no ability to retrieve the information.
Still the thought of such phenomenal efficiency plagued me. Here we are inhabiting one of the most efficient machines ever devised and yet we persist in surrounding ourselves with inefficient, energy-wasting machines, expensive convenience appliances that literally encourage the degeneration of the most magnificent machine ever placed on earth- the human body. It’s not fair to condemn all appliances. If used correctly they can give us the time needed to accomplish and create. But, like many blessings, mankind has a tendency to overindulge, to take for granted. Often we forget where to draw the line. If it’s convenient, we overindulge. If it’s pleasurable, we sate ourselves. When we cross over this line of reason and restraint, both the body and the mind suffer.
It may be a simple thing, but to me when I spend ten to thirteen minutes grinding- by hand- our fresh whole wheat flour in the Country Living Grain Mill, both my body and my mind benefit. I’m keeping in tune this 914 miles-per-gallon machine. I could never use an electric grain mill so beneficially. Mentally, what value? The sense of pride I feel as I walk into the kitchen with two pans of beautiful, fresh whole wheat flour and hand them to Ann, is inestimable. A simple thing, perhaps. But often the simple things have the greatest value.
The mounting platform with a slotted 2 x 6 board locks the exercycle into place, while making the tension of the belt easily adjustable. The wing nuts and bolts in the slots make it quick and easy to make all adjustments.
Dear Friend: Unfortunately, since there is such a huge variety of exercycles on the market, I don’t have any specific plans describing how to hook an exercycle up to the grain mill. There is no standard pulley for the exercycle hub that I can recommend because most of the exercycle brands have different flywheels and hubs. The exercycle (AVITA made in Redmond, Washington) that I have hooked up to my Country Living mill has been off the market for at least 15 years. I actually took my exercycle flywheel to a machinist and had him mill a pulley to fit the hub. It cost me $40 but I have been using it for almost 20 years now, so it has been well worth it.
I suggest that you look for an exercycle with a cast iron flywheel and enough space between the frame and the flywheel to allow you to bring a V-belt out from the hub. I saw an exercycle in a thrift store a while ago for $8.50 (cheap). I guarantee that if you are patient and look around you can find a very nice but inexpensive cycle that will serve you well.
For the best ratio, it would be nice to put a three or four inch pulley on the exercycle’s flywheel hub. An off-the-shelf pulley might work for you. You will have to drill holes through the pulley and match them to holes drilled in the cast- iron flywheel. Self-tapping metal screws will hold the pulley to the flywheel of the exercycle. Some people have used a strong epoxy to bond the pulley on. Someone suggested J. B. Weld – I haven’t tried it, so I can’t assure you of success. Trouble is, all hubs are not created equal, so you may have to have a machinist machine a pulley to fit the hub of the cycle that you decide to get. Another alternative is to run your V-belt around the outside diameter of the exercycle flywheel. The ratio isn’t efficient, but I know several folks who have done just that and they seem satisfied.
I wish you well,
Country Living Productions
With the help of her neighbor, Maureen Ash developed a chain-driven system for powering her Country Living Grain Mill with an old Schwinn exercycle. She say’s she’s able to grind a hopper of wheat in five minutes! To read her amazing story click here.
Brett McCall uses his grain mill as part of the Harvest Food Cooperative dining kitchen at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Brett found a used flywheel, with which he replaced the wheel of the exercycle. He centered the sprocket on the flywheel and with the help of father-in-law, Karl Schmitt, machined a bolt to hold it in place.
Right: Diana Schmitt on the Exercycle Right: The flywheel installed by Brett McCall. Using calipers he measured to make sure the flywheel, sprocket, and new axle fit the bike and aligned with the chain. After a few adjustments, and cutting the table, to which the grain mill was mounted, down a couple inches to match the length of the v-belt, he was able to power the grain mill with his exercycle.
Tom Farquhar, headmaster of Potomac Maryland’s Bullis School has applied his mechanical expertise to the construction of a conversion kit that uses his 18 speed mountain bike to grind flour with his Country Living grain mill.
Maureen Ash owns and rides this fabulous contraption which was created from the magnificent mind of her neighbor, Tim Bylander. He originally designed the exercycle conversion for one grain mill, but when Maureen found the grinding too easy she asked him to modify it so that her legs could power two grain mills at a time.