Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graue Mill with the Cowens

Last year I found this fun spot for the kids called the Graue Mill in Oakbrook, IL. It's about 25 minutes from our house, and it is this great old grain mill museum that is located right along a river that goes through a forest preserve area. So, in one stop, you get to run along the river, walk around in trees, and watch the miller make flour! Actually, this one only grinds corn, which is delicious. We always buy a 5 lb bag.

We took Claire's teacher and family along for the ride too. Actually, I should say, they took OUR kids along for the ride because the kids all rode in the teacher's car on the way out to the mill from the city. Poor her. I offered to take them in my car, but she insisted. I'm sure Sammy delighted them with potty talk on the drive. Sorry Mary!

The wheel at the mill actually turns still, so the kids get to see it in action. However, it doesn't actually turn the mechanism inside which turns the milling stones. That's all automated now. Anyway, the kids don't know the difference. They are awed by the experience every time.

The whole mill is run by volunteers, so there are always nice grandpa-types there letting the kids pretend to grind grain on the hand-held grinders. Sammy, in his baby strength always manages to get a little flour out of the little manual grinder. Here he's grinding corn grist into corn meal.

Here's the big daddy grinder. The stones weigh 2,000 lbs, I believe. The kids get to dump in the corn grist and they get to turn on the machine which starts the grinding of the stones. The things makes about 10 lbs of flour in a few seconds if you're not careful. Of course, we are always yelling "Sammy, that's enough! Turn it off now!" and then we nicely buy 10 lbs of corn meal instead of the original 5 to make up for it. Thanks nice miller man!

Cecilia had birthday money with her and it was burning a hole in her pocket the whole time. She couldn't stop talking about what she was going to buy at the gift shop. Her mother, always the Waldorf teacher, kept saying "I'm never giving her money again...look at the greed!" But Cecilia wasn't so greedy after all because she offered to buy my kids some candy with her money as well. Fun times were had by all. We even ended up in Oak Park at our favorite toy store and my favorite Thai food restaurant. Not bad for a Saturday. Of course, we had to have corn cakes with syrup for dinner...and for breakfast this morning. 10 lbs is a lot of cornmeal!

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