Stafford County Flour Mill

(Jim) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Doblin, your guest host. We’re not on a farm today, we’re at the Stafford County Flour Mill Company in Hudson, Kansas, population oh, about 100 or so. Thirty six of them work here at the Flour Mill. We’re going to talk about what goes into making flour, what kinds of products they produce and how this plant is powered. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Doblin your guest host for this episode. We’re in Hudson, Kansas, at the Stafford County Flour Mill Corporation. With us we have General Manager and President, Reuel Foote. This Reuel, is incredible. Number one and I understand it may be the oldest continuous privately owned flour mill in the state. (Reuel) That’s what we would believe. (Jim) Good. (Reuel) It was founded in 1904, reorganized in 1909, burnt down in 1914, rebuilt, and the mill that sets here today is the mill that was rebuilt in 1914. (Jim) And the man who started all this, talk to me about him a little bit. (Reuel) His name was Gustav Krug, he’s a German immigrant, came over here, had a desire to start a flour mill and his family started…well it was Hudson Flour Mill that then became Stafford County Flour Mill. (Jim) And talk a little bit about what kind of products come out of this mill today. (Reuel) This is a long flow mill. We make everything from whole wheat flour, organic flour, straight grade flour and short patent flour. (Jim) And we’ll talk about the process here in a little bit, but who do you market to? What is your market? (Reuel) We market everywhere from the house wife to the schools, to the bakeries, to the tortilla makers. Ninety percent of our flour, over 90 percent goes out in two pound, five pound, 25 pound or 50 pound bags. (Jim) I saw some guys coming into the office a little while ago, buying a couple sacks of flour. (Reuel) Those were hunters that were here hunting and they took flour to go home with. (Jim) Right, so this is a bit of a landmark. (Reuel) Yes. It’s pretty well noted all over this part of the country. (Jim) Right. And when you’re talking about production and you do sell to a wide variety of customers, how much flour do you produce in a day? Any idea? (Reuel) We produce five semi loads a day, so we produce about 230,000 pounds of flour a day. We run from middle of July until after Easter, sometime in April. We’ll run seven days a week, 24 hours a day. (Jim) And this is a four story flour mill? (Reuel) Yes. (Jim) Common or uncommon? (Reuel) It’s common to be stacked in floors because we use…we do everything by air. So, we blow everything up and then Mother Nature takes it down by gravity and gravity’s free. (Jim) Yes. (Reuel) That’s the natural way to do it. (Jim) Right, right. And we’ll get into the process and the flow because the more it goes up and down the better the flour I understand. (Reuel) Well, it can go up and down up to 14 times to get the products that we want out. And that’s done through sifters with sift cloths and how fine the cloth is meshed the product through. (Jim) Gotcha. Reuel Foote in Hudson, Kansas. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re obviously not on a farm today. I’m Jim Doblin along with Reuel Foote at the Stafford County Flour Mill Company in Hudson, Kansas. This is one of the oldest private mills in the state and one of the most rigorous mills when it comes to flour making. And we’ll talk about that in a minute, but let’s get started by talking about when the wheat comes into the mill what first happens? Take us through the first steps. (Reuel) Well when the wheat comes into the mill originally we add water to it to temper it, to raise the moisture content because then it goes…it sets for 12 hours, then it goes to first break roll which is where we grind it. And we want to peel the bran off the outside. We don’t want to break it into a thousand particles. (Jim) OK. (Reuel) Then it goes to the sifters, then it will sift out what flour will sift out. Then it will go back down, go through second break roll, go back up to the sifters and do that process up to 14 times to get our short patent flour that then we will take and blow out the bulk bins to bag off. The second floor is where the first break roll is, where the wheat hits the rolls. (Jim) OK, where it hits the rolls then it goes up. (Reuel) Yep. We use air to blow it up. (Jim) Blow it up, OK. (Reuel) And then Mother Nature takes gravity and brings it down and then we blow it back up, and then back down. (Jim) Right. Right. And why do it so many times? What’s the rational behind that? (Reuel) The rational is that we want one, you want to get all the flour out that’s available out of that kernel of wheat. And two, is we separate the low grade flour from the high grade flour, so we have to sift it more to be able to separate that out. (Jim) OK. (Reuel) And then we sell it off separately. (Jim) Where does that go, usually, the lower grade? (Reuel) We call it the clear flour and we sell it to people that make batter mixes. It’s real sticky. It’s like glue. (Jim) Right. (Reuel) And it makes good binding for pellets or the plywood industry will use it as a glue. (Jim) Oh, OK. (Reuel) Things like that. (Jim) So, it’s more of a puttyish substance almost. (Reuel) It’s a flour, but if you tried to make a product with it, it better be French Bread, because otherwise it’s going to be heavy. (Jim) What is your flour used the most for Reuel? (Reuel) Our Hudson Cream Flour can be used for anything that an all purpose flour can be used for and then some because it’s lighter and fluffier. And it just depends on where you’re at with it. Here people make cooks, bread, cookies, cakes. In the Appalachian states they probably make 80 percent biscuits with it. (Jim) Right, right. So, you can make it for flakey, like pastry kind of products, that kind of thing? It’s good for that. (Reuel) Yea. (Jim) Alright well we’ll get into some more of the process in just a minute here in Hudson, Kansas, at the Stafford County Flour Mill with President and General Manager Reuel Foote. We’ll be back right after these words from our sponsor.

(Jim) Not a farm today, but a flour mill here in Hudson, Kansas. I am with Reuel Foote, the President and General Manager of the Stafford County Flour Mill Company. A mill that’s been around for more than 100 years Reuel. (Reuel) Yes. (Jim) Precisely how long has this facility been in operation? (Reuel) Well if you go back to the first founding of it, you’ve got 1905 to 2016. (Jim) Right. Let’s talk about where you get your wheat. You are a very local producer. You don’t stray far afield in getting your product behind us, some of the bins, but talk about that a little bit first. (Reuel) We have three locations in three towns within 23 miles of each other and we get all our wheat locally at harvest. We bring it all in. We test it, have it ran for milling and baking, make sure it meets our standards. And then what we don’t want of it we ship off. We mill 1.5 million bushels a year and we take in about 2.4. (Jim) OK. Where does the reject wheat go? (Reuel) It’s not bad wheat. (Jim) I mean you know.. it’s just not… (Reuel) It’s just not the wheat that we want. (Jim) …that you want. Exactly. (Reuel) And it will go to the terminals and out into the terminal market. (Jim) OK, OK. So, when the wheat is milled here though, do you have a particular season or do you do this all year long? In other words you don’t really, you’ve got these huge bins here so you could basically keep going through the year. (Reuel) We store all the wheat to run the flour mill for the year from the wheat at harvest. (Jim) Right. (Reuel) And we’ll store it and run it as we need it. We mill 5,000 bushels of wheat a day. (Jim) Wow. (Reuel) We run 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the middle of July til about the middle or end of April. And then we’ll run five and a half to six days a week the rest of the time. (Jim) So how much wheat do you have on hand here on a given day, in the bins and you know… hanging around here? (Reuel) In September I will have about 1.8 million bushels. And then we’ll just start rolling it down. Right now I have about 800,000 here. (Jim) OK. (Reuel) Enough to keep me going until the next crop comes in. (Jim) Right, exactly. What are some of the challenges of this business? I’m sure you’re integrating more technology and the like. I saw some of that when we toured the place. (Reuel) Our challenges are just like anybody else’s. You’ve got to have a labor force, which we have. I’m real proud of our labor force. Hudson’s 120 people. We employ 36. So, it gets pretty slim. (Jim) Why you might be the biggest employer in town. (Reuel) We’re the biggest private employer in the county. (Jim) There you go. (Reuel) But, and then you get the challenges of we’re a small mill fighting the General Mills and that of the world. And so we feel we have to do it better because we’re smaller and we have to put out a product that’s better. (Jim) Right. Market it, market it, market it. (Reuel) Yes. (Jim) Reuel stand by, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Thanks for sticking around on That’s My Farm here in Hudson, Kansas, this morning with Reuel Foote who’s the President/General Manager of the Stafford County Flour Mill Company, a flour mill company that’s been around since 190… (Reuel) Five. (Jim) Five. A long time. But they branched out and now specialize in a variety of different products, some of them organic. (Reuel) Yes. (Jim) Talk about that Reuel. (Reuel) Well, we felt we wanted to get into other markets, so we became certified organic. So we run organic flour for various people and companies. (Jim) Right. (Reuel) We get our organic wheat, some of it locally within 20 some miles. Some of it as far away as western Kansas. (Jim) And when you talk about organic, you’re talking about what? No herbicides? No I mean… (Reuel) Right. (Jim) I mean the true organic, organic. (Reuel) They can’t add things to it. They have to have a 10-year history on the ground. And we can’t add anything to it. And we have to isolate it and it’s all done that way. We also make a product called 60/40 we started this year, which is 60 percent whole wheat and 40 percent white flour blended together because in lunch programs and stuff, they’re requiring more whole wheat and this way it made it easy for them cause we blend it for them. They don’t have to buy two products and put ’em together. (Jim) Right. And so you’d sell those, that kind of a product to someone who services, food services for schools, or someone who makes products for food services for schools. (Reuel) Right. (Jim) So the end user would be the school children. (Reuel) Right. (Jim) So, what other kind of products do you have? I know you have some gravy mix, you have some… (Reuel) We have a corn bread mix, gravy mix and biscuit mix. They’re in the little pouches and you just add water and mix it together, and put it in a pan and bake it. (Jim) So, even I couldn’t screw that up? (Reuel) Right. And then we make self-rising flour and we make short patent white flour, unbleached flour. We make whole wheat flour and then we make straight grade flour, which we call Diamond H flour and that goes to restaurants, schools, tortilla makers. It’s a little, it’s higher in ash than the Hudson Cream Flour, but it’s still a very good flour. (Jim) Right. And what does the ash have to do with it? (Reuel) Ash is a way of measuring how pure the product is. (Jim) OK. (Reuel) And the ash on Clear, our by-product is 80. The ash on straight grade flour is like 48. And the ash on Hudson Cream Flour is like 38 to 40. (Jim) Gotcha. So, as far as the market goes, you’re seeing more of a demand for this organic flour? And more of a demand for a combination? (Reuel) Those are our newest flours. And we’re seeing a growing demand on both of them right now. And our whole wheat flour we went to fine grinding it which pretty much means you can’t tell that the bran is in it. It’s just a little more beige colored than the white flour. (Jim) OK. We’re going to talk about some of the innovations in technology at this plant because power is a big concern and they’ve got wind power here. We’ll talk about that when we come back. Stay with us.

(Jim) Welcome once again to That’s My Farm at the Stafford County Flour Mill Company in Hudson, Kansas with Reuel Foote, the President and General Manager. And in this final segment we’re going to talk about the future of the plant, which has been here since 1905. And is the largest private employer in Hudson. (Reuel) Stafford County. (Jim) Stafford County and in Hudson as well. Population how many? (Reuel) Hudson maybe 120. (Jim) One hundred and twenty and we’ve got 36 right here. So, behind us, or actually in front of us is a wind turbine that you installed about three years ago to help power this plant to help sustain it. Talk about how that has gone. (Reuel) We started out researching it three years ago and broke the ground on it. And it’s only been running for about six months. My son Derek was the one that oversaw that project. The wind turbine is 850 kilowatt turbine and at 12 to 15 mile an hour wind it will make 100 percent of the power that the flour mill takes to operate. (Jim) Wow. What percentage of the time does that happen? (Reuel) In a study that we had ran in Kansas the wind blows more than it doesn’t, and probably a third of the time. (Jim) Right. And you’re getting some residual drip even when the winds are… (Reuel) If it’s more than that we’ll get more power. If it’s less than that we get less. But we still get some, yes. (Jim) Right. Store that? (Reuel) No we can’t store it. (Jim) You can’t store it. (Reuel) What we can’t use goes back on the grid. (Jim) On the grid, correct. (Reuel) But when the mill, since the mill runs 24 hours a day, we’re going to use it, if it produces it. And that’s what makes it pay it’s way. (Jim) Right. (Reuel) And as far as we know, we’re the only flour mill that has its own wind power on its premises. (Jim) Yea. You had no trouble with it. It’s a fairly consistent source then? (Reuel) Yes it is. As long as Mother Nature gives us wind that’s the variable we can’t control. But that particular turbine 90 percent of the time it operates in the wind farm it sits in. (Jim) Right, right. And will power this flour mill. So, that’s good, that’s good. What about some other innovations that you see coming down the road, maybe technically or in your product line in the next few years? Where do you see this mill? (Reuel) Well this particular mill, I see us getting into more specialty products, maybe growing the organic side more and maybe since we’ve maxed this mill out we may look for a “B” mill to go along with the “A” mill. (Jim) And would that be around here somewhere? (Reuel) Would be right in the same place. (Jim) OK. (Reuel) We pretty well like to keep it here. (Jim) Well, thank you very much Reuel for sharing your story with us and the story of the Stafford County Flour Mill Company. And thank you folks for sticking with us and we’ll be back next week. So, stay tuned for another edition of That’s My Farm. We’ll see you then.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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