Saturday, April 11, 2015

Betty Crack Corn and I Don't Care!

Yep, looks like you're out of cracked corn, ma!
Yep, this Betty cracks corn. Not for fun of course, but in the event that we are out of cracked corn and we have whole corn, I can just pull out my handy dandy grain mill and replenish the stockpiles.

I didn't know the simplicity of this concept a few months ago of course, when my birds refused to eat whole corn and instead started cannibalizing their own eggs, but that's beside the point. The point is that I stumbled on this awesome gadget here quite by accident. Through researching how to grind our barley into flour and how food mills work, I thought I might present you all a post about such a subject.

So here is our lovely grain mill scattered into the pieces I found in a bucket in the basement, discarded for just such an occasion. I won't bore you with the anatomy but if you're interested in being politically correct, check this website out. So, moving forward! I fumbled with the pieces a bit, but got it together and attached it to the kitchen table. Out of this first-time experience, I found you need to have a few things with you besides your bucket of grain:
  • 9"x13" clean pan
  • clean dish towel
  • Quality assurance, folks
  • empty clean bucket (same size as your grain bucket)
 Set the pan under the grinder wheel and drape the cloth on top of the wheel (otherwise you'll be cranking at 1mph and still have a floor covered in corn). Below is a simple photo progression of how the grain actually gets cracked. **Don't think I'm talking down to anyone here; I did plenty of research and was REALLY frustrated at not being able to see the fine details of how it works. Keep in mind that my blog is meant for "them city folk" or newbies who are visual learners like myself.**

The left plate turns clockwise with the siphon inside. You can see some corn already cracking.

Too coarse; I had to adjust lots of times before I found what was going to work for the birds.

This is the ideal setup.

Top view from the hopper.



...still cranking...

...more cranking...

The process is incredibly simple so don't think cracked corn is anything special besides and extra drop of sweat. To the top right is a handful of the texture close to what my birds prefer, yours will be different if your birds are as picky as mine but its just about identical to the stuff from the feed store. I'm not crazy about cracking my own corn, but as I mentioned before, in the case that we have whole corn and none cracked, I know that I can sacrifice twenty minutes of my time and get a gallon done to toss in the mixture. Self-reliance is just a fancy way of saying that Hubby and I can improvise really well instead of buying the quick fix.  And as they say, "Happy hen, happy den" right?

Just for kicks, I sent the same handful seen above through the mill one more time (incredibly messy because the flour dust got everywhere) and then another time, each time adjusting the plates to be closer and closer. Nothing remarkable here, just a bit more powdery corn. It came out each time very dusty and still very coarse so I wouldn't recommend making any cornbread from this method.

Of course, there's tons of grain mills out there and this is only one of them, probably a much lower-end model too. We want to get another soon, and grow the grain to mill in it, but that's a long way off. For now, we are going to be growing corn and will likely post a video from start to finish once we finally get our corn shucker.

Does anyone else crack their own corn? What about barley or wheat? Any success? Any tips we can use?

Betty Crockett


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