Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11, 2015: 150 Years

Take a close look at this photo.  If you ever wondered what 150 years looks like, well here you go.  This is the mill crew at Conway Feed.  Left to right you have Feush, 25 years, Moe nearly 35 years, Richie, over 35 years, myself, the junior, 20 years, and seated in the stolen office chair, the Wizard, with over 35 years. (Yes, I realize that adds up to 145, but at this stage are we really going to argue over 1 year per person?)

At the time this shot was taken, the Wizard was fully retired, and since then Richie is semi retired.  The challenge now for the 3 of us who are left and also fast approaching retirement is to pass on to whoever comes to replace us, the 150 years of collective knowledge we have tucked away in our heads.  How do you prepare the next in line for tens of thousands of varying situations we have each faced and solved in the course of this 150 years?  When the fan light goes out on Mill 1, it is a completely different sequence of steps to take to get it going, than if the same light goes out on Mill 2.  How do you pull off a "flying switch" from corn to barley to organic corn on the roller mill?  Then there's knowing where the various trucks are and planning ahead which loads of feed to put out, all the while Moe has the west fill going backwards for crumbles pre-grind. 

If this all has the sound of a foreign language, don't feel bad, it does.   I did to me when I first came up on the mill floor.  That's what 150 years accomplishes, learning inside and out, a different language.  It's the language spoken when your workplace, like it or hate it, becomes a part of you.

Of all the things I've done at Conway, this just might represent my crowning moment.  I was proud to be included in this photo of men I respect.  I was proud that these guys considered my 20 years good enough to be added to there's.  I was proud to think I was part of 150 years.

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