The multi-colored poles are used to brake and release the vanes as well as to rotate the cap section of the windmills. The tops rotate to be able to catch the wind no matter the direction. How do they determine the direction of the wind? According to the guide, the oldest way Millers did it was to get up in the morning...go outside and take a leak. The direction of the stream determined how to set the sails. Hence...the term pissing into the wind....or so the guide said.