The windmill at Buracas

Model of an Ortega windmill

The windmill at Buracas was designed by Isidoro Ortega Sánchez (1843-1913), an engineer from Mazo. Isidoro was self taught, but he clearly thought it through very thoroughly.


The windmill’s largely made of tea, the heart wood of a Canarian pine. It’s much cheaper than stone, easily available in most of the island, and it lasts really well, and the construction’s rather simple.


There’s a mechanism to turn the sails to face the wind, which makes it far more efficient. And it doesn’t need much wind in order to turn the grindstone, because there are 12 sails and a set of gears. The sails are made of tea too, and you could add or remove panels, depending on the strength of the wind. If it was really blowing a gale the windmill would grind grain with just the spokes.

The work of the miller is more efficient too, because the grain goes into the hopper only a metre or so above where the gofio comes out. No carrying sacks of grain up several floors. ( I did see a water mill in England where the water raised the sacks to the top floor, but I suspect that the miller still went up and down those stairs a lot.)



The miller bought an diesel motor for windless days. When the wind mechanism broke, he used the diesel constantly. People complained that the gofio didn’t taste quite as good when it was ground by wind power. Probably this was because the constant high speed grinding heater the grindstones enough to cook the gofio a little more. since it was already cooked just fine, that meant the diesel-powered gofio was slightly overcooked.

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