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Friday, June 15, 2012

Meditations on a wheat grinder

A rare weekend morning I awoke to a silent house. Everything in the day screamed,  "This is Yard Sale season!" A quick perusal of Craigslist and I found a yard sale within a mile. I grabbed my bag and was out the door. As most readers probably have experience with, yard-sailing can yield either wonderful treasures or more junk for my husband to cringe at and call me adorable. As the late, great George Carlin riffed, "You ever notice how your stuff is your stuff, but everyone else's stuff is s---?!" You take your chances.

Purchases made by women (specifically this woman) don't always make city sense or even, at times, country sense. But in my head it makes common sense. One of my favorite activities is making bread, specifically challah bread. My recipe calls for large amounts of eggs and, it made perfectly "countryfied", romantic sense to grind my own flour in a beautiful, almost new, flour grinder. Just like Grandma had!
Literally. This particularly sleek model was made in the 1960's, and weighs a shoulder aching twenty-five plus pounds. I picked it up for about twenty bucks and was sure I would later be channeling the spirits of both my abuela and Caroline Ingalls to my kitchen.

This is what I call my Farm Wife High. Feelings of euphoria over feeding my Urban Homesteading obsession. One of the best places for a good bargain/farm wife high is a vintage sale. Anyone else felt that? I thought so...

Setting up grinder was fairly self explanatory. Secure base to table. Insert grains. Grind grains. Live happily and sustainably ever after.

I needed a little help securing the base.. I used the Nixon Family Paper doll book from our library because realistically no one will ever play with it and it deserves little respect. (Whoa, 40 year old political reference...Zap!)

Trying to be graceful and mindful, I finished the setup of the grinder. The little one helped by carefully dropping a small handful of wheat berries into the marble bowl.
 They dropped down into the milling area  and told him what a good job he had done.

Again, gracefully, I positioned the arm to turn it clockwise- per the 1960's, hand-drawn instructions.  Pushing gently I tried to start a good strong turn. Turns out I was not strong enough so I emptied out the hopper area and started over with less five grains. That seemed to work but only grudgingly. At this pace it took me 45 sweaty minutes to turn out about a quarter cup of gritty wheat berry flour.

I think it's important to say at this point that my level of respect for former and current farm-wives, as well as the magic of electricity seemed like an overwhelming gift. Suddenly that wet basket of laundry waiting for the clothesline seemed like a mini vacation. Arduous would be an understatement.

Since I've embarked on this journey of urban farming and self-sustainability my respect for such humble things as homestead chores such as hanging clean laundry on a line, cleaning the coop, and even clipping the occasional flighty-winged chicken have a renewed sense of nobility. I said nobility...not romance. That novelty wore off long ago, and rightly so.

So now my grinder will hold a place of honor in my thoughts. Revealing a lesson about appreciating the mundane zen  in care taking for an urban homestead. And the lesser know lesson that my farm wife euphoria is no match for a bulky stone wheat grinder sitting in it's box in the closet. 

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