New owner of Wade's Mill turns to simple life after 35-year international career

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RAPHINE, Va. (WDBJ) -- With practiced ease, John Siegfried opens the mill gate and pulls the belt to start the machinery …
“But once you get it going," he explains, moving through the turning gears, "Once you get the water heading off on the other side of the wheel, then it all runs.”
And that’s how they milled grain into flour 250 years ago, and how Siegfried still does it today at Wade’s Mill, the longest running commercially operating grist mill in America.
But appearances aside, he’s fairly new to the business.
“Seven months ago," he says without a tremor, "I didn’t know I’d be a miller.”
Seven months ago, Siegfried was living in England, running a company selling high tech equipment to the oil and gas industry.
“A friend of mine sent me a picture of the mill, and I was sold as soon as I got it in an email in Cambridge, England.”
A simple mill, where he now stone grinds flour mostly from local farms has replaced a 35-year-long international lifestyle.
“I have lived in London and Rio de Janeiro and lots of big cities that conjure up kind of images of a fantastic lifestyle," Siegfried explains. "But I’ve also lived in Nigeria and Kazakhstan and Ecuador, and lots of places where … You know what? This is a pretty nice – Raphine, Virginia, is our new roots and we’re happy to be here.”
You can check out Wade’s Mill for yourself this weekend. They’re having an Apple Butter Festival Saturday from 10 till 2 with music, activities, food, and of course, lots of milled grains and flour available.