Friday, June 21, 2013

Old Mill of Guilford, Oak Ridge, NC


Historic grist mills provide us with a look into the past. Grist mills were relied on and became a livelihood for many settlers. They were used by both the British and Americans.  Just to get an idea of the magnitude of their spread lets take a look at the Domesday survey of 1086. It displayed that the quantity of England’s water-powered flour mills were 5,624, which would be about 1 for every 300 inhabitants. It gained momentum and then peaked at about 17,000 in 1300.

Today the numbers of historic mills has declined with the use of modern mills that instead rely on electricity or fossil fuels. I did some research into the subject of remaining grist mills. I was surprised to find that 27 states still have historic mills. North Carolina has four which includes Old Mill of Guilford in Oak Ridge (focus of this entry), Yates Mill in Wake County, Mingus Mill in Cherokee, and West Point Mill in Durham.

To see if any grist mills are in your area check out this link:

To see my blog entry on Yates Mill:


The Old Mill of Guilford was founded in North Carolina on Beaver Creek in 1767. It is fully operating and is water-powered. It’s historical character has been preserved and renovation efforts in 2007 replaced rusted buckets to improve operation. They offer flours, grits, cornmeal, and a variety of delicious mixes. Old Mill Gingerbread Mix, Sweet Potato Muffin Mix, and the Southern Style Biscuit Mix all sound scrumptiously delicious!

You can buy their products online. See full list of products here:

  The mixes are bagged by hand.


The Old Mill of Guilford has old millstones for visitors to view. The millstones were powered by the water wheel and used to crack and smash the kernels of grain. The grain ran down a chute with screens to remove sticks and rocks before being ground.


This is the stone they currently use. A more modern version.


The crane that is used to lift the stones apart so that they can be sharpened.


This is the sifter that sifts out the bran. Bran are the pieces of grain husk that are separated from the flour after it has been milled.

To end on a funny note here is one of the signs in the store that gave my family a few laughs….


Friday, June 14, 2013

Little Birdie Chicken Farm and Hatchery, NC

20-Polish top hat

Chickens are one of the best animals to start with when entering the idea of raising farm animals. They are fairly easy to raise, but are not bland when it comes to all the breeds to choose from. You can also choose different breeds for egg layers, broiler chickens, and dual-purpose chickens.

This blog entry will take you on a tour of Little Birdie Chicken Farm and Hatchery. It will show you the process from incubating eggs, to raising chickens, and general care of chickens.


My family has recently taken interest in raising chickens. We have been volunteering at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm and learning much about farm life. To learn more about the topic of chicken raising, we took a trip to visit the Little Birdie Chicken Farm and Hatchery in Wake Forest, NC. It is a family business that is primarily run by Ben and his father.

I’m always excited to hear about people in my generation who have a desire to make a difference. Ben Alig is the one who helped to fuel this journey of raising chickens. His interest began at 11 yrs. of age and has been continuing this journey for almost 6 yrs. now. He did much reading and research to learn what he could about chicken raising. What started out as a project for fun has become a growing business. It was Ben's initial investment of his birthday money that they then used to build several chicken tractors to help raise money for the coop and starter flock.

Visit their website: 
Facebook page: 

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Building chicken tractors has helped continuing profits for the farm. They take about 10 – 12 hrs. to build.


This is where the chicken raising begins. The incubator is complete with a digital command center to insure the chicks receive proper temperature. Eggs go in and chicks come out ready to embrace the world!


They are so cute! Don’t you just want to take them all home?


I was relieved to learn that the blood is visible because the chick has not finished absorbing the yolk sack. The nutrients within the yolk will provide it enough nourishment for three days.

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This chicken hatchery was the handy work of Ben and his father. It is complete with heat lamps, feeders, and a source of water.


The little chicks huddle under the light to absorb the heat. These chicks are  1 week old.




Little Birdie Chicken Farm and Hatchery sells a variety of supplies including heat lamps, chick feeders , and chick water bases. View their list of supplies here: 


The family takes care to insure their chickens receive the best care even down to the feed they use. The finer, powder feed is for the chicks and the chunkier feed pictured below is for the more mature chickens. The feed is high in protein and contains whole grains including flax seeds which are rich in Omega 3 vitamins. The quality of food farm animals eat does matter. This nutritious diet results in more healthful eggs and meat.



Ben referred to these fancy Heritage varieties as “floor models.” They demonstrate the different breeds that are available. They have 20 different breeds to choose from. Here are some of the chickens breeds they raise; Rhode Island Red, Plymoth Rocks, Leghorn, Polish Top Hat, Wyandotte, and many more. They have quite a selection and they are all uniquely beautiful.


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Our tour ended with a look at the garden at Little Birdie Chicken Farm and Hatchery. I loved the layout and design. The vegetables were happy and thriving. It was constructed by the Carolina Food Gardens. You can learn more on their website. 

Special thanks to Ben Alig for the detailed tour and to his father for all he has contributed to these amazing projects !

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hanging Rocks State Park, NC


North Carolina has a rich landscape with thick forests, wildlife, and native flora. North Carolina has 34 state parks and conservation is important in the state my family calls home. Hanging Rocks State Park has more than 300 species of mountain flora in the park! The streams and moist forest areas create a wonderful ecosystem for a variety of amphibians and a source of fresh water for many animals such as the white-tailed deer. The moist ecosystem at Hanging Rocks is especially well suited for salamanders. The Wehrle's salamander, is found only in this area of the state.


Before Hanging Rocks came about, it had been owned by developers who planned to create a mountain resort on the highest peak. Thankfully, it fell through during the initial construction due to bankruptcy. In 1936, Stokes County Committee for Hanging Rocks and Winston-Salem Foundation donated 3,096 acres to North Carolina for the founding of a state park. In 2009, the total rose to 7,096 after more acres were added. 


Some visitors are very daring. It is climb at your own risk.

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The rugged rocks, landscape, flowers, and even the moss creeping along the forest floor made the climb entertaining. There were some features that were curious indeed. The tree to the left looks like it is actually growing out of the rock.


The park markers on trees keeps those who get easily lost in mind (that would include me).

Mountain Flora
Rhododendron ponticum


Kalmia latifolia, commonly called mountain-laurel.


Fire Pink (Silene virginica) is a wildflower in the pink family.


Hanging Rocks State Park is home to 5 significant waterfalls. We took the trail to Window Falls and Hidden Falls. The photo above is Window Falls and it has a height of 27 ft.


The “window” inspired the name.


Hidden Falls is smaller with a height of 13 ft. Both waterfalls were beautiful and were just a small taste of the astounding beauty within the park.

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: Be sure to arrive early if you want a parking space! The weekdays are probably the best time to go. We went on Memorial Day and by lunch the spots were full. As the picture shows, people were going around and around waiting for a space to come available.