20 November 02

More Loading Grain

In Louisiana we loaded soybeans at the Zen-Noh grain elevators about 150 statute miles up the Mississippi river.

The soy beans look just like black eyed peas or white beans, they are round, cream and very hard. When you step on them on deck when they are scattered thinly they act as ball bearings.

The hoppers and conveyor belts that loaded the soy beans had more trouble getting it in the hold than did the wheat equipment in Galveston. The soy beans fell in great quantities from above. In some places they were up to five inches deep, when it is that deep it is more like walking on sand than on ball bearings. I don't quite know what I expected or that I had any pre-conceived notions about what falling soybeans were like compared with wheat, but I remember clearly what it did feel like. They make the same tapping, only a little louder than wheat, they have the same soothing "ch" or "sh" sound as they hit the piles accumulated on deck. They do a better job of obscuring the foot steps on deck, presumably because of the added weight but no doubt helped by the greater quantity falling.

What is markedly not the same about falling soy beans and falling wheat is the sensation on your arms. The wheat fells sharp half the time while the soy, though completely round and smooth feels sharp with every tap. I was wearing long sleeves, but despite this I felt the impact of each individual soy bean strike my arm through my boiler suit.

I didn't want to pass under the shower but with my shoulders hunched and my hard hat tilted just a little forward and quickly, particularly quickly, but careful because of the reduced friction.

If they are thin enough to cause you to slip then they are too thin to pad your fall. I did not test this. but that is how it appears.