Big Stone Bounty


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Blueberries grown by Koopman farms, Milbank SD. Frankly, the best tasting blueberries I've had since I lived in Silver Bay during the year of bumper crop wild blueberries

It is the peak of local foods luxury in Minnesota. Everything is bursting forth... at last. The harvest is rolling in. Thanks to Izzi who offered up the bounties of her apricot trees in Clinton, I've been able put up apricot jam and apricot chutney using my own ad lib recipe which turned out great (apricots, dates, raisins, garam masala, sugar, and onions). Last night's dinner (below) was Wild Rice (MN lake harvested) hotdish with carrots and our own chicken. Accompanied by the fresh Koopman blueberries, sliced green peppers, and local red wine. A perfect meal for a cooler August evening.

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Easy summertime meal... local wine, wild rice hotdish with our own chicken, carrots, and ground flour, and fresh sliced green peppers

And then I had the adventure of buying my first piece of farm equipment at the auction on a neighboring farm. It was the first ever auction at this farm that had been in the same family since this land was settled. Jiggs was a good man who cared for his farm until his dying days in his 90's. He made sure, even from the nursing home, that the buildings were painted and the lawn mowed. He'd fed the deer for many years and they still congregated at his farm waiting for him, even a couple years after he'd moved to the nursing home.

Chances are his parents were immigrants... making him a second generation American. There's what I think is the original house on the farmstead-- a small, tall, thin wooden house. It sits behind the more modern 1950's rambler where Jiggs and Marge lived out their lives.

So, at that auction, I had the thrill of holding up my white numbered card, surrounded by a crowd of a hundred and bid on my hearts desire. There was only one thing on the auction bill that I really wanted. If your a farmer, look at the picture below and see if you remember this piece of farm machinery.

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Fanning Mill, circa 1900, used to separate the wheat from the chaff (and the weed seeds)

I bought myself a Fanning Mill. Originally hand cranked, Jiggs or his dad rigged this one up with an electric motor and it still works. This is a beauty, with all the screens for the different crops. I wanted this for my wheat and edible beans. Right now, I wait until a windy day to separate the wheat from the chaff to grind it for flour. Likewise with my beans, I hand picked through them to get out the little clods of dirt and the dried bits of bean pods.

This mill was proudly made in Minneapolis and attention was paid to make it look beautiful.

Here's how it went... The auctioneer came over with his microphone and started calling for opening bids. When he got down to $25 I put up my card. He scanned the crowed yelling "25-30-25-30-25-30." Then he went 'whose gonna give me 30-35-30-35-35-35." Well, since he'd skipped 30, and the way he was gesturing, I thought someone had bid 30 and so I held up my card for $35. Then we kept going and the same thing with 40-45-40-45-45-45-45" So I raised my card again. At this point the auctioneer stopped the auction. As it turns out. I was the only bidder and had bid myself up from $25 to $45. So we started all over again, and much to the amusement of the hot, overall wearing crowd. "Oh come on!!" said the auctioneer "I just sold one of these last week for $140."

I got my Fanning Mill for $25.

Pretty darn proud of myself for scoring this lovely equipment for my local foods dreams and ventures. Thanks Jiggs for taking such good care of it for all these years. I'm lifting a glass to you tonight sir!


And Jiggs is smiling down on you and very happy

Kathy..what fun to see the Fanning Mill you bought at the auction. As a little girl in the 40's, I can still see my dad setting it out in front of the granary and my sister and I helping with the grain. He had motorized our's too, so we just had to keep it full. It was a job I didn't mind. Much better than cleaning the roosts in the chicken house. I so enjoy your blog. I marvel how much you can get done in no time at all.

By the way, your scones were wonderful last Sunday.

I remember very well using a fanning mill. Matter of fact I have one myself and thats what I used to clean these old beans I'm planting. I'm probably regressing in some peoples minds but Hey, I'm old enough to take some chances and maybe have a little fun, and who knows I might even prove something while I'm doing it! Right now these old beans are up to my navel when I walk through them,(Remember I'm 6' 4"!!) and I'm thinking they'll give any $65.00 Roundup Ready bean a run for there money.( and thats not even a bushel in that bag!!) I've had no problems with anything, Disease's, germination, aphids, Nothing! There's 40 acres of them out there so I'm going to find out if these past years were right in what they did for me. I read an article one time about " what would the last bean be worth if it was the only one left in the world". Maybe we should change that to "what if there,s only one seed company left in the world and its in an unfriendly country".

Hi Kathy-- My mom was out at the farm yesterday and picked green beans, but says there will be more ready by Thursday or Friday, so if you want green beans, please go pick. I can't go out there till Sunday, and they'll be past their prime by then. Feel free to take anything else that looks ready too.

Wow! Evan- your thought about last bean in the world or worse (in my mind) only one seed company in the world gave me a chill.

Would you be willing to sell some of those beans to us as seed beans? I think we need to go rogue and do some subversive bean growing. You know it is perfectly legal to sell the publicly release bean varieties, which is what I'm sure you've got. It's been too many years, however, since our Ag Colleges have released public varieties. And you are still using your Fanning Mill. Makes me think I did alright after all.

Arla Mae-- thank you so much for the note!! So cool to hear your recollection of using a Fanning mill. And glad you liked the scones. A bit too much cardamom -- I forget that you can get too much of a good thing and that is one of my favorite spices. The scent of the Middle East....

Diane-- dang. I was out of town this week and so didn't get to your garden. I you want to trade some veggies for eggs, I'd be more than happy. Give us a call or stop by.

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on August 12, 2011 7:20 PM.

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