Restoration & Construction, Part V

The Feed Mill's iconic stepped parapets on the top of the building where grain was stored.  The Feed Mill’s iconic stepped parapets on the top of the building where grain was stored.

Nooses and Their Uses

by Ginger Graham

The sight of a noose hanging from the rafters is a startling sight to most folks, but if you’ve ever worked in a mill or if you grew up on a farm like I did, you probably wouldn’t be surprised.

Nooses have many uses.   They are easy to install – just a rope thrown over a beam will do the trick.  They can be used to tie a horse for shoeing, to move a heavy item with a makeshift pulley, or to hang a hose or auger any place you need one.  My dad and uncles were masters at knots and creating nooses for quick use.

We found two hanging from the uppermost rafters of the mill – on what might be loosely called the 3rd floor.  Actually, it’s not really a floor, more of a catwalk built over the top of the large grain bins. Workers would traverse the narrow walkway as they moved equipment and directed the addition of new grain into the many large built-in grain bins below the catwalk.

When walking the catwalk, it was important to avoid failing through the many holes that open to the grain bins below or walk off the edge and fall into one of the bins.  Many unfortunate accidents have happened in old mills as grain is very dry and dirty and falling in could easily result in suffocation.

As grain arrived at the mill it was moved up to the top of the building through a system of pulleys and was then funneled into bins. The nooses were created to help direct the metal “hose” that funneled the grain.

A pulley system moved the grain up while the green plastic pipe attached to metal cones created a variable-length “hose” for filling grain bins below. A pulley system moved the grain up while the green plastic pipe attached to metal cones created a variable-length “hose” for filling grain bins below. Metal tubes used for extending the grain hose.  Metal tubes used for extending the grain hose.

That “hose” is a great piece of farmer ingenuity.  If the grain was headed for the first grain bin, the hose could be pretty short.  Then, as one bin filled and additional grain had to be directed to the next bin, that “hose” had to get longer.

They accomplished this by using a series of metal tubes, stacked one-into-the-other to create whatever length “hose” was needed to reach the next grain bin.  As the “hose” kept getting longer and longer, a noose helped support the length so it wouldn’t collapse in the middle and break open to release the grain to the wrong bin.

You can imagine that the jobs working in this place were often dirty, hard and physically challenging.  But I know that humor was alive and well in the building.

Ingenuity and humor are two powerful attributes I would ascribe to my Dad and all the farmers I knew.  When you are not in charge of the weather or the price of goods, you learn to lean on your faith and have a sense of hope and humor.  And when you can’t afford to buy a tool for every trick, you learn to make your own.  This mill is full of reminders of the ingenuity and humor that form the roots of Fort Collins.  We can’t wait to bring it back to life!

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Tailgate Cooking with Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

September 6th, 2023
5:30PM - 8:30PM

With football season in the air, Tatum Cochran, from Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, will be joining our chef in the Teaching Kitchen for an evening making tailgate classics!