Grinding corn into meal
Here's the tractor that we use to power the mill. It's also
the same tractor that is used to plant, plow, and harvest the corn.
It looks a little ugly since the radiator grill and "hood" never
got put back on after the engine overhaul.
(click on images for larger view)
Here's the mill itself. It's a stone mill. You can't see them
but inside the wooden box on the left side of the mill are two
large circular stones. One of them is fixed to the case. The other
is fixed to the shaft. The shaft is also connected to the large pulley
that you see the belt running on. The tractor powers the belt, the
belt powers the pulley, the pulley powers the shaft, the shaft powers the
moving stone. The two stones grind against each other and crush
the corn into meal.
On the end of the shaft (away from the wooden box) you can see a small
hand wheel. By turning this wheel, the shaft can be moved in and out (only about a
quarter inch is needed). This allows the stones to be moved together and apart.
In this manner you can adjust how coarse or fine you want the meal to be.
Also when you run out of corn, you have to be careful to separate the stones
before all the corn between them is ground. If you don't the stones will
touch together and start grinding themselves. At the begining and end of the
milling a small amount of corn is wasted to make the starting adjustments and
to ensure the stones don't touch.
The stones on this mill are 26 inches in diameter.
After harvesting the corn, it is shucked and shelled out. That is, the paper-like
shucks are removed from the ear of corn, and the kernel of corn is removed from the
cob. The shucking is done by hand, and the shelling is done by a small hand powered
piece of equipment. The kernels of corn are then picked cleaned of debris and
blown with air to remove dust and lightweight debris. The cleaned corn is poured into
the hopper on the top of the mill. At the bottom of the hopper there is an opening
which has an adjustable collar. By raising and lowering this collar the amount of
corn pouring into the mill can be adjusted. Immediately under the collar is the
shaker pan. This pan is attached by lever to an offset wheel on the main shaft.
One round of the main shaft results in one back-and-forth movement of the shaker pan.
This shaking makes the corn flow almost like a liquid. The mill has another air blower
on the end of the main shaft. This blows air across the falling stream of corn in
an attempt to clean it of lightweight debris. The corn kernels fall down next to
the main shaft. The main shaft at this point has an auger built onto it. This
auger draws the corn through a hole in the center of the stationary stone and
into the center of the mill.
The corn gets augered into the center of the mill. It then gets trapped between
the stationary stone and the rotating stone. It gets crushed by the two stones
and the meal flys out from between the stones. It gets tossed around inside
the wooden box until it comes around to the output port. The meal then comes out
of the output port and into the catch bucket.
The final product. This is a thirty-one gallon can of fresh meal. At this point
the meal is still warm from being ground. Our meal is made from natural corn.
No fertilizer, no pesticides, no preservatives have been used at any point in the
process. Also none of the corn sugar or corn oil has been extracted from the meal.
This gives it a much better flavor than meal from the store. There is a downside from
having the corn oil and sugar present but no preservatives present. The meal must
be stored in a freezer if it is to be kept more than a month or two.
This year (2002 harvest) we ground one 31 and two 20 gallon cans of kernel corn. This resulted
in one 31 gallon and three 20 gallon cans of meal. The meal tends to be more
'fluffy' than kernel corn. We didn't weight the cans, but I'm estimating
a total of about 300lbs of meal.