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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walking into the First Part of Harvest

Well, as most of you guessed, my Wordless Wednesday photo was a picture of silage, fresh from our corn field!  Harvest started here on the farm Wednesday 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.

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope today and the weekend bring you opportunities for fun and time with your families.  The girls and I are headed back out to the soccer field tomorrow for morning games.  Woo!  At least I am pretty sure it will not rain on us tomorrow.  Be safe and happy!
My Wee View

Smart and Trendy Moms


  1. Awesome photos!

    I am your new FFF. Friend.
    Please stop by and say HI:)

  2. Lana Good pictures and interesting we have done silage but it was years ago. always like to watch them go through the field

  3. Thanks so much for sharing all of this, Lana. Since I'm not a 'farm gal' --I am enjoying learning how it all works. SO interesting.... Wish I lived closer. I'd visit you just to watch!!!! But then again, I'm sure you'd put me to work... ha ha

    Have a nice weekend.

  4. Thanks for the beginning to end process. LOVE the pictures. and YEA, I even knew what it was called. HAHAHAHA. I know you hop on over to my blog once in awhile, so please consider adding me to your blog roll. :o)

  5. Hi!
    Next week were going to start chopping some corn! I'm very happy about that because it's getting dry and dryer each day! I'll post some pics on a wordless wendnesday aswell so you can see...

  6. It is kinda funny that I lived in a rural community for 20 years and didn't know all this, and then a month after I move to the city I learn what all those machines I saw actually do!

  7. Great job explaining the process and great pictures too!!!

  8. Hi, I'm from the Hop Along Friday blog hop. I'm following you via GFC as Blogroll Please. Please take a look at my blog and follow me back.



  9. Visiting from the Blog Hops! I love your site. I can't wait to get to know you better. Stop by when you get the chance. I have a Meet Me Monday blog hop and I would love if you could join in. Hope to see you then!


  10. New GFC follower from Fun Follow Friday:


  11. Well, I di know some of this, but not all of it. Thanks for the psot. Good info and pics!

  12. if you're having troubles with drydown i know some great hybrids that could fix that! ;)

  13. I'm a new follower from Social Parade Follow on Friday.
    I hope you'll come check me out at PS Mom Reviews and follow me too!
    I have fun giveaways going on now too!

  14. I love the smell of corn silage. One of the things I miss about being dairy free now.

  15. Love the photos! I snuck over here from Little Indiana to see what's on your off-beaten path. It brought back waves of memories to see these photos. I vividly remember those days of chopping silage (and baling hay etc) from my childhood. Thanks for sharing. :)



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