Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fanning mills, leather soles & the local economy




We're pretty excited about our new farm purchase. We bought a circa 1850 fanning mill. The principle of a fanning mill is to separate the wheat from the chaff or whatever grain you're growing. The grain is poured in the top and then the handle is cranked which works the grain down through progressively smaller screens. Inside is a big wooden paddle wheel that provides the "fan" to blow away the chaff. We're pretty thrilled with it! The children all wanted to crank it and see who could really get it going, it is mesmerizing!



On a different note, I left a pair of boots to be re-soled this past week and picked them up on Friday. We have a local Amish run shoe shop and Melvin does the typical repairs that people in his trade used to do back when a pair of new shoes was a really big deal and people thought they were worth repairing rather than just buying a new pair. My Mom, who was born in 1931, said that when she was a girl people would put canning jar rubbers around their shoes to keep the soles from flopping when they were loose. Can you see somebody doing that today? Anyway, I told him that I wanted all leather soles, he said that he could get it done in 2 days and I'd have to pay....... 10 bucks! I was happy with that, needless to say. I watched him sewing new soles onto somebody's boots, he has this hand cranked machine that he winds up and it sews for a while and then he has to crank it again. It reminds me of our phonograph player. We buy almost all of our shoes and boots from Melvin. Melvin has a family and you'll often see his children and sometimes his elderly father out in the store. Toward the end of August he runs his back-to-school sale and gives the children pencils and stuff. It's a big treat. The re-soled boots are high top black leather boots that have gone through a few children. No holes but worn out soles. Our girls wear these all winter long, they look good with their winter dresses and everybody wears them for reenacting. I feel good when I buy things there. I've contributed to someone's livelihood. Someone with a face who cares about his customers and community. It's the same with our local hardware store. We shop there a lot. They are nice, friendly people who really appreciate our business. I don't shop at Wal-Mart for this reason. Wal-Mart destroys communities and it seems like people just don't get it, if there isn't any other competition (because Wal-Mart undercuts and drives them out of business) then it's Wal-Mart that dictates what you buy. I think a thriving local economy is well worth the extra money to let these folks stay in business. The same with what food we actually buy, it's all locally grown or at least purchased from a small, family-run business.


I'm loaning my pressure canner to my friend Anna to put up her corn, so before it goes I want to get my baked beans canned. The recipes I saw were all too tedious so I thought I'd wing it and hoped it would work out. Well, it did! There's no sound quite like the satisfying "ping" of a jar sealing. ;-)