‘Ein al-Balad, the largest spring in the Peqi’in Valley, emerges at the historic center of the village; its courtyard, a social center in the past, remains so today. The spring flows year- round, reaching peak effluence in winter.
In the summer, the spring water was used to irrigate gardens, and in winter, for operating the flour mill. In the past, water from the spring operated two flour mills, vestiges of which are still extant, one near the grave of R. Yosei of Peqi’in, and the other in the streambed above the first mill, which was in operation until the 1940s.
The lower mill, near the wadi, included a well at its northern, more elevated end, and the two-storey mill building, attached to the well from the south. The well had a thick wall one meter wide, and at its center, a channel 30-50 cm. wide, and railings at both ends. Near the well was a reed barrier that filtered the water. The well, round in shape, was 50-70 cm. in diameter, and plastered on the interior in order to prevent leakage. At the center of the mill’s lower level was a large wooden turbine at the height of the narrow opening in the opposing wall, and at its center, a high wooden axle that rose to the upper level of the mill, passing through a bedstone (lower millstone) and attached to a runner stone (upper grindstone). Above the runner stone hung a large, wooden container shaped as an upside-down, hollow pyramid, which enabled a thin stream of wheat berries into the opening, positioned directly over the center of the grindstone. Near the northern wall was a long, wide wooden shaft, whose end was positioned in the wall of the well, under the opening where the wheat berries streamed through. By moving the shaft, one could open or close the opening of the well, and control the water flow. With every rotation of the runner stone, flour would fall into the depression dug out adjacent to it.
The runner stone could be raised or lowered to modify the texture of the flour, or for purposes of producing cracked wheat. When flow from the spring was exceedingly strong, the turbine would usually suffer damages, and the miller would hurry to repair the wooden parts. When the strong flow would approach the mill, some of the water was diverted via the channel to the well, which would fill up, and the water would burst forth with great force and move the turbine. The turbine rotated quickly, moving the runner stone at the upper level. The wheat berries would stream down and be ground, and flour was collected in the pit for filling the sacks with flour.
When they were hungry, the millers would knead dough from the fresh flour and place it in a pit with hot cinders. Some time later, they would take out the coal-baked pita and eat it.
The mill would operate until the spring water flow dropped to a certain level; operations would resume the following winter with the rainy season.
Until 1934, flour was ground at the mill using water power, but over the years, the water supply dwindled, forcing the mill switched to diesel power.
The ancient mill, which no longer operates, has suffered heavy damages, and is today undergoing renovation and reconstruction.