Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Sprint

When I drove by the silage field after my parts run, it looked a little like scattered whiskers left behind on a clean-shaven face. The 2012 silage harvest came and went without me - and without my ever-present camera. Unlike wheat harvest, it's not a marathon, but a sprint.

It hasn't always been that way. For years, Randy's family and a neighbor family did the job themselves. When Randy was young, they had a one-row, pull-type silage cutter. Then they upgraded to a two-row, pull-type silage cutter. They each provided a tractor, one to pull the cutter and the other to use to pack the trench silo.

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.

That's a little different than hiring Sallabadra Harvesting to cut our 23 acres of silage. They came in with a crew and got it cut, hauled and packed into the silo in just about 3 hours
We grow silage (also known as forage sorghum) for cattle feed. This particular variety is dual purpose: It has both grain and forage (or roughage), both of which are important to the cattle's diets.

During this second year of drought, the chopped silage filled only about half of the trench silo.
2012 silage crop
Compare that to 2010, when the silo was filled to overflowing, and we sold our "leftovers" to a neighbor.
2010 - The silage came all the way to the fence, about where I was standing to take this year's photo, labeled above.
Still, we are glad to have the silo full enough to feed the cows that will calve again in late January and February.

It may not look like much to you and me. But the cows seem to like it just fine.
Since I missed getting photos of this year's harvest, check out this step-by-step pictorial  from 2010 about the whole process - from start to finish. And here's another look from last year, which was also impacted by drought.


  1. I really enjoyed this story... shows so clearly what must be done to feed the cattle during the winter, and not just hay bales! I am still praying (here in eastern Kansas) for rain!

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann! We've had several overcast days, but the rain has missed us. Thanks for continuing to pray for rain. I know you need it there, too!