Baking, Biking, and the Country Living Grain Mill
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!
This Tim is a genius, i really like the ‘Erector-set’ design . I have been developing a pedal-power alternative to power ‘plain-bearing’ juicers (the liquid helps lubricate the bushings) that features ‘quick-change’ universal adaption to push the hand-crank handle around; like a ‘steel finger’ — so one could swap out a variety of ‘ancient’ kitchen-accessories, like the meat-grinder, or corn ‘shucker’ and of course, the flour mill. My ambition is a garden ‘compost chopper’ – the flywheel is, of course, a required component! – cheers! –
How much for that bike? I’d like one.
We don’t sell exercycles or converted bikes. We suggest you haunt garage sales or use an app like offer-up or Facebook market and find an inexpensive bike that can be retro-fitted to turn a Country Living Mill.