Now we have information at our finger tips, but back when I lived on the farm, this wasn't so. Relationships were important to keep, and the Mill was the place where folks would get together and pass on news that was going on. The counter help would have to be some one that was good at keeping inventory, math, feed/food information as well as a good, friendly gossiper. A person who got along with everyone, and did so to help spread the word of the information they had gotten else where.
They had to be a Master Gossiper, one that didn't take sides, or hold judgment against different people. After all, the information they told would be the information that you told them to spread. There were certain things that wouldn't be spoken of, and some matters of family business weren't spread. There was/is a fine line of spreading that information.
I am not sure of the workings of the grain/feed business, as the crops we grew were to sustain our own farm. We sometimes had to buy grain in if we didn't have enough to make feed for our hogs. That's right, we were in the hogging business, or pork producers. Not a huge operation mind you, and I am not convinced that we were that successful at it.
From slaughtering our own hogs, storing them in a freezer until the buyer came by, to making scrapple to sell locally. I still think to this day, if Mom could have gotten that recipe out, we would have been known throughout the eastern seaboard for our scrapple, it was that good.
We were one of those familys that John Cougar Melloncamp would sing about, when he wrote the song Rain on the Scarecrow. A small farm run by country folks trying to make a living in the dirt. But soon technology and factory farming would put us out of business. I will not say that Mom and Bobs business plan was not at fault either. When your a kid, you don't always get the information you want from adults.
Thou we owned the farm, I think about 20 acres, we leased about 140 more from the state for 50.00 a month. The bank really owned the farm, and I remember the day I climbed in the truck and left the farm for the last time. I remember the banker, Randy using a staple gun to staple something on the front door, a foreclosure letter no doubt. Country living at its finest, and everything I ever knew.
Our local Mill, which is long gone, took up a local collection as they had done many times before for other families that suffered from the same out come as we had. They kept our line of credit although we couldn't pay it back, or perhaps later it was paid back.
I was shocked when I moved here to have a Mill in my backyard. But not just any Mill, thou its 26 years later, it remains the center hub and supply store that anchors this community, just like the one when I was a kid.
So now that I have shared what the Mill meant to me/us/to a community as a child, I hope you have learned why it is such a important place.
Please take a little time to watch the first 40 seconds of this video to try to understand what farming was about back in those days. I suspect it is much the same these days. Even though my homestead sits on 5 acres, its mine, and no bank can have it. It might not be much to some, its more than others, and I can, at a small scale, work this land as I learned back on the farm. With a old milk farm at the bottom of the mountain, it isn't hard to get tied up in making my land produce food. I do have a real since of pride during harvest time.
Everything else I do to be self sufficient today, were important things to do back on the farm to make ends meet or put food on the table. As food prices go up, the population increases, food becomes more GMO and less valuable as a food source, I am pleased with all that I do for myself and family.