May Flowers

May Flowers

Thursday, April 12, 2018

In the Trenches

The cattle's "pantry" is nearly empty. So it was time to do a little maintenance on the "cupboard" this week.

We use a trench silo to store silage. (Click on this link for the 2017 blog post about filling the silo with silage.) Randy remembers that the trench silo was dug at Peace Creek about 1965 or so. It replaced a trench silo at a different location, where sandier ground had made the dirt sides collapse beyond repair.

Randy would have been about 10 years old at the time, and he remembers them digging into a hill at Peace Creek to make the new silo. After a few years, they poured cement in the bottom of the trench to make it easier to navigate.

There are still remnants of the cement, but, over time, much of the cement broke up. We now periodically put white rock in the bottom of the trench. As the photo shows below, even on a dry year, the weight of tractor tires makes the surface soft. The new white rocks will give a firmer surface.
Randy called for a delivery of white rock from Raymond Sand and Gravel.
It was delivered on Tuesday.
The truck driver backed into the silo and dumped the load in the trench ..
... leaving behind a "river" of rock. Randy will use the loader tractor to spread the rock and pack it in the bottom of the silo.
Randy also had the driver dump a little on a soft spot on the path our feed truck and tractor use to get to the silo each winter day.
This cow didn't let the activity interrupt her breakfast!
As we drove back into the farmstead, I asked about the upright silo there. Randy also remembers using it during his childhood. I found a photo of his Grandpa Clarence standing in front of the "new silo," labeled in Randy's mom's handwriting. Though the photo wasn't dated, it was near to some photos taken when Randy's dad Melvin was serving during the Korean War. So we think the upright silo must have been constructed around 1953.
I found a few other photos where the silo was a backdrop for fun on the farm. (Randy's grandma Ava is on the bicycle in the far left of the photo. If anyone can ID the other people, we'd love to know!)
Randy thinks he may be the "victim" in this photo below, where the silo is again in the background.

Today, the upright silo doesn't have a purpose for our farm - except for serving as a perch for a yard light and for holding a panel we swing into position when we work cattle. 
Like many of these old sentinels, they still stand as a silent centerpiece at the farmstead.
And they may conjure up conversations about young boys climbing the silo with their granddads, tossing down silage to feed the cattle.
Maybe there is value after all.


  1. I remember my dad having a trench silo when I was a girl. I thought those sides seemed soooo steep when I was little, and it was fun to pretend I was rock climbing!
    In our area, the upright silos are by far the most common, with just a few trench (or bunk) silos on some of the really large farms.

    1. The sides on a trench silo definitely seem steep when in the tractor that's packing it down. Even though I wasn't driving, I didn't like that sensation!

  2. I hope the old silo doesn't go the same way as your barn. So much history.

    1. So far, it seems to be holding its own.

  3. Most silage bunkers here are build on pads above ground... probably because it is quite flat and not too places to dig into the hillside! Dairy farmers locally have been busy harvesting corn silage and refilling their bunkers for winter feed.

    Really enjoyed the old photos!

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I found some others I will post in an upcoming blog on moving cattle.