Continuing with Fuerteventura’s windmill topic, now we are going to aboard the aspects that define other type of mill that became very famous on the island called Molina, or female mill. We are in front of a more modern item than the windmill, invented in the nineteenth century by Mr Isidoro Ortega, a native of Santa Cruz de La Palma (Tenerife).
Ortega’s idea became popular fastly, mostly because of the simplicity of the construction and the reduction of costs that involved the use of construction materials in the area. Is known that Ortega was in the island of Fuerteventura and he built some of the mills. However, we don’t know which, because in Fuerteventura this kind of mill acquired its own personality that we later explain.
The female mill highlight from de mill in practicality, because it organize in one floor the activity of grind and its use. This prevented the miller going up and down the stairs carrying heavy bags of grain. That makes this job easier.
The main characteristic that we have is the difference between the machinery and the building. In its complex, the female mill was divide in three parts: the tower, the machinery and the building.
Built by a wooden tower that supported the whole machinery. This rests on a metal pivot also known as puyón. This turns on an iron plate placed on the floor. The tower was inside a room. This room had a rectangular or square plant built in masonry. The grinding machinery was inside this room. The structure of the tower grows from the interior through a circular hole in the roof, protecting of the rain by a kind of an umbrella made in metal. This piece calls farol. A highlight in Fuerteventura’s female mill structure that differentiate to the Ortega’s model are the blades. They look as the blades in the windmills, adopting the teleras form, with sheets of canvas or rag. This typology was more typical of the mills, as result Fuerteventura female mills are a kind of hybrid between this two types.
The grinding machinery is composed of two wheels, the hopper and the trough, which is located at the base of the tower. Two thick criss-cross beams build this base. In the centre of the beams, it is locate the metal pivot on which the tower rests, and on which the entire mechanism rotated.
In the upper part of the tower were the cogwheel with its axis, the spindle and the blades, which used to be four or six.
One of the essential elements of the female mill, as in the mill, are the grinding stones. These consist of two circular stones conditioned to grind the grain.
In the case of Fuerteventura, which is the one that corresponds to us, the obtaining of the stone is in Lajares, in La Oliva. These stones were carve in the quarry, where they were make a central hole whose purpose was to transport easier to the mill itself.
The conditioning to be able to grind with the stones consisted of a chop in the form of curved or straight grooves and edges in the contact surfaces. This allowed the grain to break and tear. The chopping process was repeat according to the wear of the stone in the grinding process.
The operation of the mill was the same as that of the mill. The grain was deposit in the hopper and was direct to the milling stones through the canaleja. The blades received the force of the wind and transmitted it to the cogwheel. This meshes with the spindle, which by means of a vertical metallic axis takes the movement of the upper wheel, making it rotate on the lower one, producing then the grinding.
This type of mill was one of the last contributions in terms of the milling industry before the introduction of motorized machinery, towards the middle of the 20th century. As a final note, it should be noted that few examples are preserved today, but on the island of Fuerteventura we have one of the examples that are kept in very good condition and continues in operation is the mill of Asomada, which dates from 1818 , and that in 2011 was restored. The location of this mill is located in the town of Puerto del Rosario.