Sioux Falls times---"The Light @ end of YOUR Tunnel"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Trip to Worthington rendering plant to clean the sewer

Now in the 60's and early 70's it was a virtual certainty that the sewer would get plugged over at the dead animal (cows & pigs primarily) rendering plant; when the temperatures were at least 100 degrees in the shade---often right on the 4th of July weekend; when you wanted to be sitting @ the lake, sipping some cool beers with the ladies of course.

When the call came in two, may be three of us family members @ Colwill Bros. Water & Sewer Const. in Sioux Falls would get picked to make the hour trip east into MN with the sewer rodding machine---device with a coiled rod that could be used as a traveling auger, run out through the sewer drain lines to cut out whatever caused them to plug during the hot weather, typically animal fats!

Usually the guys at the rendering plant got to take a break; while they waited for us to clear out their drain lines---often we'd find them eating their lunches while sitting right on top of the dead, bloated cows & hogs among an ample supply of flies. (probably did that for our benefit and it usually got the gagging sensations started)

The rendering plant drain lines actually ran out into a large lagoon that held the liquids drained from the plant during the processing of the dead animal bodies into what is commonly called "tankage"--really a very good source of protein that we fed to our feeder pigs to fatten them for market. (We hauled anywhere from a pickup load to a large semi-truck load of fattened hogs to the Sioux Falls stock yards almost every Sunday afternoon for about 34 years.)

The stench was unbelievable; and often we had to wade into that sewer lagoon to make sure the drain was working properly; plus the animal "byproducts" got all over you and every part of the rodding machine.

Needless to say your clothes were discarded when you returned home; and you got to sleep out on the screened porch for the week it took the odors to get worked out of your body! Pig manure could not even hold a candle to this stuff!

In addition the rodding machine was very heavy to tow, really poorly balanced with most of the weight in the rear; causing you to nearly lose control of it and the little 1/2 ton pickups we were typically towing it with originally---used up both lanes of the newly poured interstate and both parking shoulders more than once to get it slowed, under control if it started whipping back and forth. (rodder was clearly posessed and after a while only two of us would even tow it at all).

The old man could not figure out why a set of new tires would only last for a summer on that pickup; and we considered it a badge of honor to just be able to master transporting that baby!


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