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Watson: Dry Weather Creek mills its own

Eric Lange has taken over operation of Dry Weather Creek mill and farm north of Watson. It mills locally raised wheat and other grains, including oats for steel cut Irish oatmeal. It's all about locally grown. "People want to know where their food is coming from,'' said Lange. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

When Albert Angrimson began farming this land in western Chippewa County in 1910, just about every community had its own mill to grind wheat to flour.

Today, the mill is on the farm and it is the fourth generation of the family responsible for raising the wheat.

Just like more than 100 years ago, it's still all about locally raised food.

"That's the main thing,'' said Eric Lange, owner of the Dry Weather Creek mill and farm north of Watson. "They want locally grown. They want to know where their food is coming from,'' Lange said of the customers for the farm's milled products.

Lange's grandparents, Agnes and Edward S. Erickson, took over the farm in 1917. It's the same year a tornado whisked away the barn as the newly married couple clung to lilac bushes in the yard for dear life.

A new barn was built in 1918, and the farm has remained in the family since.

Lange's brother Mark and his wife at the time, Wendy, launched Dry Weather Creek milling in 2003. Eric took over the farm and the milling operations about three years ago.

Demand for the locally milled flour remains strong, and Eric said he is looking at bringing production and sales back to levels that Mark and Wendy had achieved.

Today, he is selling the milled flour directly to customers, as well as through farm to school programs. The Benson Bakery often uses the locally raised wheat for baked goods it delivers to the Benson schools. Dry Weather Creek flour has proven popular in the Willmar schools as well.

Whole wheat and unbleached white flour from wheat are the main and most popular products, but by no means the only. Cracked wheat, wheat berries, high-protein corn grits and yellow corn flour, Irish (steel-cut) oatmeal and even soy flour are among the products produced here.

Farming has changed dramatically since 1910, but the craft of turning grains to flour is really no different. It starts with producing a quality crop in the field, and carefully cleaning the grain to be sure it's 99.9 percent free of any foreign material before milling.

Today, as then, it still comes down to grinding the grain between two stones to the desired coarseness. No bleaching occurs and no chemicals are used to assure that the flour is as pure as possible.

Dry Weather Creek products are available in five- and 30-pound sacks, and can be ordered directly from the farm at 320-269-9617.

Lange is hoping to re-establish a retail presence for the products in the area soon.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335