Thursday, September 9, 2010

Supporting Your Local Miller

Big Spring Mill
Obviously, I didn't take this photo today. This is a shot from Big Spring Mill located in Elliston, VA. Not too far from home, no more than Justin's daily commute to work.
Why is Big Spring Mill so special? One, it is a family-run, truly local business. They get their grains from as many local (or close-by) farms as possible. They are good, honest people.

My grandfather is the one who told me about them. Well .. he told my mom, she eventually passed it along to me. Now the whole family is addicted to Big Spring Mill.
But again, I'm sure you're asking ... why??

During today's visit I bought a 50lb. bag of dog food and a 25lb. bag of rabbit food. And, all together, tax included .. I spent $25.20. They even load it into my car for me.

Sure though, anyone can find a source for cheap crap, right? But that's the thing, this isn't cheap crap. The dog food is GOOD dog food. It isn't a label I had heard of before (Sportmix), but I read the ingredients & it's naturally preserved. They have several different varieties they carry, and we get the most expensive. I have pure-bred dogs, Mom has show-dogs .. not that mutts are loved less around here, this is just what we happen to have. We showed the label to our vet (the vet consistently voted best in our area) and they gave it thumbs-up AND guessed that it was likely fresher than some of the stuff bought in stores!

So .. I could pay $50 for 35lbs of the dog food we were buying at the mega-pet store OR I could pay $18.25 for 50lbs of something that is just as good. And the money here goes to a local company. $50 for 35lbs or $18.25 for 50lbs???? You tell me which is a better deal.

And for our rabbit?? Well, from the same mega-pet store I could get a 25lb bag of rabbit food for $39.99. At my local mill I picked up a 25lb bag for $5.75. Which would you rather pay -- $39.99 or $5.75 for 25lbs of rabbit feed?

But what else have they got? How about bird seed? Same mega-pet store, I can get 40lbs of black oil sunflower seed for $19.99. At the mill, 50lbs of black oil sunflower seed runs me $16 and some odd cents (sorry, I don't have a recent receipt).

Got chickens? You know I do! I also pick up my chicken feed at the mill (the original reason I started venturing out there). I get 100lbs of laying crumble for a little under $20. The price varies, but it is always right around there. Not too bad.
They also have feed for other farm animals, but I don't have those, so I don't know the prices. From the number of times I've seen pick-up truck beds being filled with sack upon sack, I'm gonna guess the prices are good. Of course, this goes against my whole pasture-raised thing ... but, what can I do there?

Are you a baker? If you're a baker, you should REALLY know your local miller. Again, I don't have a local receipt to quote you detailed prices. But here's what I can tell you, it costs me several dollars, per bag, less to buy my flour there than it would cost me to buy it at the store. Enough of a difference that I now choke when I see store prices and say "you've got to be kidding me!"

So .. check around. Do you have a local mill? See what they have, it might surprise you. It might save you some money. It might help keep money in your local economy and keep small, local businesses alive all at the same time. Not only that, noting the fact that a very old mill in Roanoke was recently torn down to pave the way for snazzier, more modern businesses .. you may just help keep a profession alive.

For those of you who live in my neck of the woods and want to check out Big Spring Mill yourselves, here is their info:

Big Spring Mill, Inc.
PO Box 305
Elliston, VA 24087
Phone: 540-268-2267
Fax: 540-268-9837
(Cash or Checks Only)

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