Mills in the Realms
There are four types of grinding mills in the Realms. Which one is used depends on the type of natural resources available. In all of the below cases, the farmer having his corn, oats, or wheat ground pays the miller with a percentage of the take. Most of the millers from the Dragon Reach to the Sword Coast use the rule of one in seven: For every seven bags of flour ground, the miller takes one (rounding upwards). Some may take one in eight with long-standing customers, and some, with a lock on the process, may take one in five. As the official owner of Mirrorman's Mill in Shadowdale, Mourngrym offers its use free of charge to the farmers of the Dale, though he is looking for someone to occupy and maintain the mill year-round.
Watermills: Watermills are usually located at natural falls or cascades of streams, though there are some located adjacent to large rivers that run off a diverted part of the flow. The flowing water turns the waterwheel either by flowing over the top (favored at falls) or turning the wheel as it passes beneath it. The waterwheel in turn moves grinding stones which reduce the wheat and corn to flour.
Windmills: Windmills are similar to waterwheels, save that they operate under wind power as opposed to water. The wind is caught in great vanes that spin, driving the internal grinding stones. Windmills are used in areas with strong, steady breezes, including along many coastlines.
Wheelmills: The wheelmill is a third type of mill, working off human or animal power to turn the stones. The power source pushes or drags large beams fixed to the upper stone, causing the grinding. Given the limitations of living motive forces, this type of mill is used for small operations, such as a handful of farms, or in situations where a large number of potential workers (read: slaves) are available.
Magic mills: The fourth type of mill is a magicmill. There are several types of these, ranging from stones with permanent animate object spells placed upon them to those manipulated by golems. Such mills are used in areas where no other option is available and the community is blessed with a resident, patient mage of sufficient power. They are most commonly found only in tales of far away places, like Thay and Halruaa.