I understood perfectly when Randy looked at the piled-high silo and said, "It's good to see it full."
|From upper left: Our trench silo; our neighbor's silo (his doesn't have sides, so you can see it better); looking from the bottom up; a handful of the freshly-cut silage.|
|Photos from Winter 2011 - (from upper left) Scooping out silage from the trench silo with the loader tractor; dumping it in the feed truck; the truck putting it in the feed troughs; the cattle enjoying their breakfast!|
They each provided a truck to haul the cut silage from the field to the silo. And the wives provided a harvest meal for the four- to six-man crew. Randy says it took two days to get everything ready. It took a week to get both family's silage cut and in the silos. And then it took another two days to get everything cleaned up.
It took about 4 hours from start to finish for the Salladedra Harvest crew to get 'er done. This year, though, since they got a late start, they didn't get done by dark, so they had to come and finish up on Monday morning. Still, that's my kind of harvest ... FAST!
Silage cutting is another one of those choreographed farm "dances." The silage feeds into the cutter and is chopped. An auger carries the chopped silage into the truck.
Here's a better photo of the tractor driver packing the silage down, also from 2011.
There are two goals for packing the silage. It allows more to be put into the "pantry," so to speak, and it helps the fermenting process. Once in the silo, the silage goes through an "ensiling" process. It goes through chemical changes, and the heat builds up. It raises the pH of the silage so that it doesn't spoil or ferment any longer. The top 6 inches of it will rot, then it forms an airtight seal, protecting the silage underneath.
After we bring the cows and calves off the summer pastures, the guys will start feeding the silage to the cattle. The mama cows will get the silage as is. For the feeder calves, Randy & Jake will add about 3 to 4 pounds of vitamin- and mineral-enriched grain per head, since they need the additional energy to grow to get ready for market.
It's good to get another harvest crossed off the books ... and to see the cattle's "pantry" full and ready for Old Man Winter.