Things of the past

It has been a few years since we have seen a silo built.

Back in the mixed-farm days, most “modern for their time” farms sported a silo. Within, chopped up corn silage or high moisture corn would be blown in during the fall and allowed to settle for a few weeks.

From there, the rich guys had automatic unloaders that would chew a circle around the diameter and blow it down the chute. For the other guys, and we knew many of them, the winter months were spent forking and shoveling by hand. Once it landed on the ground floor, much of it was shoveled into galvanized tubs the size of a large bushel basket and fed to the cows.

It wasn’t a task for the faint hearted, climbing those rungs into the sky. The better set up farmers had a galvanized enclosure that made ascending and descending safer. The turn of the century silos had something fashioned from wood, but we recall each style having limited room for a big work boot to get a secure footing. Imagine climbing through an opening and exiting the same way. Not much time was spent worrying about the 25- or 30-foot drop (or more) should something go wrong.

At some point the old cement silos became impractical as larger operators needed the ability to further mechanize their chores. Now, loader tractors either feed material directly into mangers or dump it into ration mixers that stir up ingredients to maximize herd health. Times change and what was thought to be a novel idea or cutting edge becomes a relic of the past.

That first-hand involvement with silos made the business term “silos” make sense. This metaphor in business and larger organizations became a hot topic on the convention circuit decades back. How can silos be removed and different groups be encouraged to work together? It was a question many leaders asked of themselves. Having departments work in isolation without knowing the larger strategy can be self-defeating. One aspect of a job may make perfect sense, but when it gets to the next stage of development or production, a simple tweak caught early may have made the job itself perfect. Without communication and transparent thought, little issues can become larger than they had to be if not caught early in the process.

A week or two back, Wellington County Police Services Board dealt with changes by the Upper Grand District School board and its original embrace of the officer in the school program. It got us to thinking of silos in the context of working to common ends.

We remain unaware of any significant examples or claims that the officer in the school program was a problem for students, teachers, officers or parents in this readership area. By outward appearances it seemed a good partnership designed to back up staff, encourage good will with students and provide a source of security when lockdowns or other grievous situations occurred.

Like most organizations facing change, the county police service is in the process of finding other ways to implement programs to meet youth community needs. Easy access the officers in schools provided seemed a cost-effective good fit. The school board itself will now have to examine its policies and procedures to cover off functions the resource officer was tasked with.

There is a larger picture at play here and that is trust in our institutions has taken a real drubbing in recent months, if not years.

The “us and them” mentality that comes with silos is something that must be guarded against and mutual efforts to work with good purpose pursued.