Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: Silos

Silos are an iconic fixture of farm landscapes.  Nearly every farmstead, whether it currently serves as an actual working farm anymore or not, in Northern Illinois seems to have at least one of these structures on it.  We have 4 - these 2 are the ones we use.  The blue one, known as a Harvestore holds high moisture corn (remember, you can't store corn wet in a bin or it will mold, but this structure seals out the air, so it can be stored safely, and wet corn is a little more digestible for cows), and the taller concrete one stores our silage for the year.  We use a blower to virtually blow the silage (or corn) from the bottom, where it is unloaded, up the white tube on the side, and into the silo itself.

Then, to get the feed out, we leave a hole in the middle with a fancy little thing called a "hole former" (or at least that's what Brent calls it when it comes time to adjust it), which leaves a hole in the middle of the silo all the way to the top, and then an auger sweeps around the silo at the top of the feed, pushing feed down the hole & to a conveyor which loads it into our mixing wagon.  The auger moves down the silo as the feed is fed, so last feed in is the first feed out.  Lots of these silos aren't used anymore because it takes a lot of moving parts (the blower, the hole former on cables and pulleys, the auger, the conveyor) that have a tendency to break (especially on cold, icy days), so many farmers, especially farms as they get bigger and the year's feed won't fit in the silo, or feed enough that it takes too long to fill the mixer using a conveyor go to the bunker method.

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