Every now and then I feel the need to go see a historic mill in action. You know I have a thing for colonial things. Doesn’t everyone? Fortunately, I live just about an hour away from historic Wye Mill. Wye Grist Mill, located in Wye, Maryland, borders Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It’s the oldest working mill in Maryland (1682) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mill is open from April to November and they mill flour about two weekends a month. I had tried going to Wye Mill once before many years ago but, of course, I arrived on a non-grinding day. Now my baking class was scheduled to go on a field trip in a few weeks to see the milling but I had a prior commitment. So, I resolved to check it out on my own. Wye Mill visit, Take II.
I had heard great things about fresh flour. I wanted some freshly milled flour ground before my very own eyes. The excitement! The very earthiness of it all! I would buy buckwheat and corn and wheat and make wholesome grainy treats. It would be my own personal Little House on the Prairie tableau. Like the food nerd I am, I was actually looking forward to this. So, naturally, something went wrong.
It was a fine Indian Summer kind of day, perfect for motoring around looking at historic sites (and stopping at the outlet malls, but that’s an aside). Blue skies, puffy clouds, the air redolent with rusticity and rural-ness — imagine birds chirping on gentle breezes and you’ve got your vibe. I roll into the mill on this cloud of contentment and anticipation to claim my grains. And sitting before me is one grand but silent grinder. No water wheel turning. No grinding stones a’grindin’…roto. Broken. It seems the mill broke down pretty much as I walked in. I believe I saw the last motes of flour dust settling into place as somewhere the mill gods laughed — foiled again!
Goodbye buckwheat pancakes and hush puppies! Never mind that I can make these anytime I want since I live in America, the land of year-round food opportunity. I did buy some flour milled on the previous grinding day — two weeks old, bah! — still probably the freshest flour I’ve ever had, but that’s not the point.
It seems that whatever stopped the grinder has laid it low for the rest of the season. There will be no more milling at Wye Mill this year. I guess I’ll have to give it a go next April.
(Click on photos for slideshow.)