It’s like Christmas here in the northern Rockies. Well, really more alike Advent because I have to wait and wait, and I don’t want to. 🙂
I’ve mentioned that I’ve been toying around with the idea of different grain mills. I have a little one – a Back to Basics model that was super cheap. I got it so it would give me an idea of what it’s like to grind my own grains. I like it well enough, but the capacity is low, and you have to put the ground grains through a couple times to make flour fine enough for bread making. I think it’s better geared toward grinding small amounts of grains, beans, seeds, etc.
So I went about the process of researching different high-capacity, hand-crank mills… well, because ya know, why use electricity if you don’t have to. 😉 I thought I was pretty set on forking out the cash for a Country Living grain mill. It’s super heavy duty. But there are a lot of parts to it, and some of the essential ones you have to buy separately. Adding to the already expensive price tag. Plus, no store in town carries them – which means I’d have to pay to have a 15-pound grain mill mailed to me. Ooof. I could get an electric WonderMill at the local kitchen goods store, but I don’t want an electric one.
Pretty, isn’t it?
A few weeks back I was paging through the latest issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine when I came across a pretty, shiny red grain mill – hand crank – from a company I had never heard of… GrainMaker. Hmmm – interesting. Upon closer inspection of the ad, I noticed a little emblem that we see all around town – the Made in Montana logo. Made in Montana?!?! A hand crank grain mill made right here in the state? Well, it gets better. Not only is it made in Montana (Montana’s a pretty big state), but it’s made just south of here in the Bitterroot Valley – in a town called Stevensville!!! Holy Cow! I can drive there in 45 minutes from Frenchtown!
Now I was excited.
I did a little more research, and came across some comparisons and reviews of the mill. Some people liked it well enough, but a one review site used the term “Herculean Strength” in describing using the mill. But still – it comes with all those extra pieces that the Country Living grain mill charges extra for – and has fewer overall parts. As it turns out – there’s a heavy duty auger for use in grinding larger grains – like dry beans and corn – and they admit that it does take some strength when using it. However, if you take out that heavy duty auger and replace it with a smaller coil auger, it becomes much easier to use.
So I emailed the company, wondering if there was someplace I could try one out – to make sure I could crank the thing and use it happily. The price tag of this one isn’t anything to sneeze at either, so I want to make sure I’ll like it before forking out that kind of money. The wife, and co-owner of the company, emailed me back today to say I was welcome to come down to the shop any time and they would have one set up for me to try out! She sounds like a lovely lady… I told her I was super busy until June 15th, but once work calms down that she could expect a visit.
The entire contraption is forged and machined right in their shop. No foreign pieces and parts. Made and assembled right here in Montana, by Montanans. Who can argue with supporting a small, local business? I’m really excited about heading down there. I’ll be back in town from our conference on June 14th. I have about a half-day’s work in the office on the 15th, then I plan to take a ride down the “Root” and check it out.
Hopefully by mid-Summer, I’ll have myself a fancy-schmancy, shiny, red grain mill set up on my log bench to happily grind my own wheat into flour. My bread will have never tasted so good. 🙂