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)
Our roots here feel deeper everyday, but our branches seem to stretch across the country and world to find like-minded folk.
Carrie is out-spoken and not one to ever hide who she is, Justin is the rock of reason that keeps her from flying off into her own world, but who also is always along for the ride!
We're dedicated to urban-homesteading and trying to live as eco-friendly and self-sustainable life as possible, without losing what made us who we are in the first place. The love of beer brought us together, and homebrewing holds a special place in our hearts.
Homesteading, homebrewing, homeschooling, and Hokies -- is there anything else left to say?
Halloween is such a big thing for us and this neighborhood. So, carving pumpkins has become a big thing for us as well. This year we only did two (down from I think 6 last year!) but they were awesome: Jim Morrison & Jerry Garcia
Summer beginning to fade
Our sunflowers going to seed - 7/22/07
Early Spring 2007
A view of the garden in early spring
Beauty of Spring
A white Lily with raindrops
The sense of community and love that came out after the 4/16 massacre was beautiful. I cry everytime I think about everything that happened that day. No, it shouldn't define Tech, but what I will always remember is the love and sense of community & one-ness. So often we feel so alone in this world, the times when we don't should be remembered.