Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Year Ago......

Still running around like that crazy, headless chicken, but here is a post from last year that shows you what has us hopping around the farm this time of year!

HEY!  I think I missed my blog's birthday a month or so ago! DANG!

Time sure flies when you are living in the fast lane!  Enjoy!

 Harvest started here on the farm Wednesday (Actually this year it started Monday) with our first crop.  Silage is chopped when the corn is still a bit green, so that it will help "cure" itself in the the silo.  You all have probably seen a silo before; it is a tall round tower-like structure, but I bet you never knew what was inside of it!  For those of you that do farm, our corn tested about 29-30% moisture.  It needs to be down to around 14-15% before we like to pick it to store in our bins, and we store just the kernels in the bins, no cobs or other parts! 

Let me show you how we make our silage that feeds our cattle:

Ok, First we have to get out all the equipment.  The rule on our farm is to put everything away ready to use the next time, so Tall Guy and his dad usually just give everything a once over with the grease gun, and then we are good to go!

Next, we bring out the wagons.  These are special wagons that help move the silage around once it is blown inside.  My friend from Cranberry Morning will like the fact that these wagons hale from Wisconsin.  I think they are the only red pieces of farm machinery we have around here!




 Last comes the actual chopper.  Looks like the great, great, great, great ancestral granddaddy to a lobster doesn't it?  As you can see, it picks two rows of corn at a time, and those teeth start the chopping process up.  Silage uses ALL parts of the corn plant: stalk, husk, corn, and cob.  I will say, though, that the cob parts are the last to go in the feed bunker.  Cows must like them about as much as I like lima beans!  They are always the last veggies left in my bowl of veggie soup!
 From the picture below of the entire chopper, it is easy to see where the corn goes in, and then it comes out of the shoot in the back.  That snout will be pointed right into a wagon.  Let's get the whole thing together so you can see it in action!
 There's Tall Guy bringing out an empty wagon .
 And here is Grandpa chopping silage.  You can see it shooting through the snout and in to the wagon. 
 Here is a better look:
 The chopper is powered by the tractor by the yellow top round thing.  That "thing" is actually a PTO shaft, and this is probably one of the most dangerous parts we have on the farm.  The motor of the tractor turns the PTO shaft, and that makes the "wheels go 'round" on the chopper.  It turns VERY FAST!  You never want to be too close to a PTO shaft in action.  You also want to make sure your hair is tied back, if you have long hair, and all clothing is tight and secure.  Loose shoe strings and sweatshirt strings are other no-nos around a PTO shaft.  All of these personal items can get caught in the PTO shaft, and that is how we lose limbs and lives. 
 Now we have moved back to the silo, and Tall Guy is going to unload the silage and put it in the silo.  Now if you memory is good, you will know that these big guys, silos, are REALLY TALL!  How do we get the silage in them?  We blow it up another shoot with a very powerful blower, again powered by a tractor and PTO shaft!
 The arms with tines move the silage forward, and (you may have to scroll back up to the first pictures to see this, but there are also conveyors on the bottom of the wagon to help bring the silage forward) and it is dumped in to the blower below.
 Here is my picture from Wednesday!  All that you see are chopped parts of the corn, stalk to kernel!
 This is the blower.  You can see another PTO shaft 2/3 of the way down the picture.
 Here are our giants.  The silage blows up the shoot in the bottom left picture.  The pic on the right is there to help you  judge size.
 So, there you have it. Food fit for cows and home grown!  It will sit in the silo, and from its own weight, all the oxygen will be pushed out of the silage.  The lack of oxygen will stop the fermenting process so the silage will not rot.  Actually, silage is just one of the many food options our cows have to eat.  They can graze on grass, chew on hay and straw, and they also get a ground corn mix that also includes corn gluten, minerals, and other nutrients that are good for cows.  Tall Guy has a recipe to mix all this together, compliments of our feed man.  This recipe changes depending on how big our cattle are and/or how close they are to finishing out.


6 comments:

  1. Hmm, and I thought Alpo made cow food! Just kidding!
    I'm always amazed at what goes on in farming. I think I mentioned that we have friends who have a large farm in Lowell. I think most of their equipment is green. I applied to drive the huge combine (I think that's what it is) one year but backed out when I found that I couldn't just stay in the air conditioned cab listening to music but would have to actually get out and service it if there was a problem. It was a short-lived ambition. I have a great deal of respect for farmers--even when I have to slow down behind their equipment being moved from field to field.

    Best,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  2. And here I thought we were the only ones who still chopped silage using antique equipment hehe ;}. Our chopper is a 1-row and other farmers think we're nuts when we tell them. Happy choppin'!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lana, Looks like a very busy time of the year for you all --and other farmers.. I enjoyed reading about the process you go through.... Wow---lots of work!

    Take care --and a Happy Blogaversary!!!
    Hugs,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete