The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hayes Hollow - Flutter Mills

By George C. Parker © 1985

Issue: September, 1985

In mid-summertime, we would get most of our work in the field finished so, until fall, it would be a time when we youngsters could go fishing, swimming or just work at making games around the farm.

There was never any money to buy bikes, wagons or toy trucks, not even kits, so we made our own wagons and other toys.

One of our favorite toys was called a flutter mill. My brother and I would set out to see how many flutter mills we could put in the stream that ran through our farm.

A flutter mill was a small water wheel of sort, made from a limb of a tree and two small boards. We would find a straight limb of a dogwood about 14 inches long and two boards a little thicker than a knife blade and one inch wide, about six or eight inches long.

First we would use our pocket knife and split the center of the stick two ways. Then we would notch the boards in the middle in order for them to slide into each other at right angles, thus forming a wheel. When the fit was sure, we would push them through the slits in the stick, again at right angles, making sure the notches were mated. Now you have a flutter mill.

There were a lot of rocks in the stream, so any place where the water ran over a fixed rock, we would set our little wheel on other rocks so it would turn by the power of the moving water. In a matter of days, we would sometimes make and place 25 of those little water wheels and work hard at making sure they were all turning - SAP, SAP, SAP, as the water hit the little blades. It was quite a sound and quite a sight.

With that feat accomplished, we would turn to making windmills for the garden fence posts. The windmills were made much the same way except the small blades were trimmed at an angle in order to catch the wind.

We would place one on almost every garden fence post. On a day when the wind was blowing and the water running (and it always was) when you walked from our house to the spring, you could hear the whirling of the windmills and the Sap, Sap, Sap of the water mills. You could also see the turning of both windmills and water mills

There was a foot bridge leading across the stream on the way to the spring. Mama would come in saying, "Someone else will have to make all the trips to the spring from now on. All that whirling and turning makes me too dizzy to cross the foot bridge."

Jonah and I would hear her remark and have a big laugh, because we knew we had accomplished our goal - Mama's attention. After all, that's what we were trying to do from the beginning.

She was some Mom, I still remember.