Learning while experiencing
As ideas for columns rarely come to my mind until the day before they are due (which is a stressful and difficult deal for me), a friend suggested I check out an operation I wasn’t quite familiar with and see what sort of inspiration came my way for the next column rotation.
While I was a little hesitant with this idea at first, he was quick to say he could pull a few strings and get me in at the Ladd Elevator Co.
I shrugged at the idea at first and even placed the consideration in the back of my mind until the date of my next column was beginning to come in sight and, of course, I was once again clueless on a topic.
Going out on a whim, I finally agreed. A grain elevator is serious business in the midst of harvest season, so I figured it would be interesting to witness the ins and outs of farmers hauling crops in from fields and workers weighing, pricing and testing crops as they moved across a scale.
Oddly enough, I picked the afternoon to sit-in on the season’s first snow fall.
As you might guess it, not a whole lot was going on that day. Most farmers were home by the time I had made my way to Ladd through the huge, wet snowflakes.
Even when things don’t go as planned or don’t work out as envisioned, reporters have to improvise, move on and see what they can pull from an experience.
As I drove into the deserted business and sloshed my way through the mud into the door, I was greeted by several friendly faces. As I called for the man I was suppose to sit down and talk to, three men pointed at once to where he was sitting in his office in the way back. He was quick to push a co-worker to sit down and share a little bit about how an elevator business functions.
I’ve lived in Bureau County for three years, but before that lived in Lansing, Mich., where elevators are far and few between. Therefore, the very basics of what happens at an elevator were interesting tidbits for me to write down in my notebook.
Reporters are a resource for the basics on several topics, so this experience was just adding a page to my knowledge about farming, harvesting and the process of drying corn.
I’m sure it was humorous for the elevator employees to see a short reporter walk in with a giant red purse and ask questions about why it’s important to dry to corn and just really how hot grain dryers can be.
Getting to see old pictures of when the elevator moved to its current location in the early ‘70s was interesting and learning that 3.6 million bushels of corn and soybeans can be held at that location is, I think, just too big of a thought to really wrap my mind around.
I asked employees what they liked most about working at the elevator and some just smiled and rubbed their fingers together while others explained it was a great business to work for and was close to home.
I wish I could have witnessed the hurry scurry part of the business. The employees all explained the regular hectic conditions that happen on a non-snowy day during harvest season.
They all welcomed me back to elevator when the weather was a little sunnier and when wives of farmers were going to be bringing in a feast. While I just laughed at the offer and politely said thank you, it just might not be the last time they see this short little reporter with the big red purse walk through their door.
BCR Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.