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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Making Silage

Daddy John has been making silage which he'll feed his cattle this winter. He's grown the prettiest and tallest crop of corn in the valley; in some places it was 17 feet or taller. Field corn for silage is different than sweet corn for our table and while it's possible to eat it, it's tough to chew and not especially flavorful. The entire corn stalk is used in making silage and generally when the moisture content is around 30 to 40%, according to Virginia Tech.
Daddy John drives the wagon, pulling the machine to cut the corn. As the corn is cut, it's "chewed" don't you love my technical terms? smile into a silo filler and blown, via a silo tower, into the back of an open truck. Cutting corn for silage is a four person job...one person to drive the tractor and cut the corn, 
two truck drivers, here, a full truck leaving as an empty one pulls into place, 
and another man to drive the second tractor and pack down the silage in a silo which is, essentially, a pit, or bunker, built into the side of a hill. It has a bank on three sides, is open on the top and will sit and ferment until it's fed to the cattle. This is a quite different process from the horse drawn wagons and hand cutting that took place before mechanization. 
Silage is fed only to animals with four stomachs...cattle, sheep, goats. Horses cannot eat it as it will make them sick and possibly kill them. Silage is around 7% to 8% in protein and beef cattle need around 10% to 14%. According Mark L. Wahlberg, Ext. Animal Scientist at VA Tech, there are ways of increasing silage protein and I'm pretty sure Daddy John knows them but I won't go into them here. "Cause I don't -smile-  
Silage will ferment, it is after all, corn which is used to make alcohol all over the world. Dave never enjoyed the smell but I do; perhaps, it's because I know it's food for the cattle and that makes it attractive. Dave never liked the smell of wet wool on the sheep either but I told him, "I love that smell; it's the smell of money." Really though, I just like farm smells although I'm not crazy about poultry houses. That's a trifle too much nasty for my nose.
John still has pastures of corn to cut but it's raining this week, so, tomorrow, he's picking me up and we're going to buy gravel for my driveway and garage entry. I've spent two days leveling out the entry, moved half a ton of feed by hand...again!...straightened the garage, am in process of putting my tools away, and have moved wood and metal fence posts to a new storage spot. Tonight, Erik and his twin brother Austin, surprised me by coming by and smoothed my leveling job on the entry ramp. 
We're having a fierce storm from the south...high wind, rain and I've begun feeding hay to the horses and feed to the calves. This weather sucks the life right out of animals and I always like to feed a bit extra to tide them over a stormy night. 
Needless to say, this ole gal is whooped and all this physical labor is why I'm not blog visiting. I'm hustling to get the farm ready for winter and it's in winter I do most of my blog visiting. It will be nice to be able to use the garage; tomorrow is the beginning of the end of that particular chore. Thank God! It's going to be nice to have the car in storage.

Blessings ~ beautiful weather to cut, transport and store corn ~ my garage ~ level ramp ~

9 comments:

  1. Sandra, you are super woman. You moved 1000 lbs. of feed, AGAIN? Whaaaa? I'd tell you to take a break, but you know best about when that can happen. May you get good sleep, and may your tired body be rejuvenated. Glad the garage is looking good -- that will be a help in the rain and the cold.

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  2. How fun to share a little bit of your life with us Sandra! I was just telling Robert that one of the coolest thing about the blog world (aside from sharing our mutual in faith in Christ of course) is that we get to "experience" a little bit of life across the planet. Thanks so much for this little lesson today in silage. God bless you sister!

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  3. Hello Sandra:
    Alas, we cannot use any technical terms in our response to silage making!! But, strangely, this post brings back the smell of it, something which we associate with childhood and which we have never found unpleasant. So glad to know that, despite the storms, the farm is gradually coming together for its winter calm.

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  4. You work your butt of and enjoy the down time. What little there is. It feels so good to get these things completed.

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  5. I didn't think you could feed silage to sheep and goats. That is interesting. My wagon doesn't dump but all 4 sides drop down. Much Love.

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  6. Hi Sandra!
    I remember the smell of pea silage. I did not know that only animals with multiple stomachs could eat it.

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  7. You astound me ... wow. Hope you rest and restore super well tonight, friend.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  8. Dear Sandra (superwoman) sounds like your pretty organised for the cold season on it's way. I'll be keeping close 'tabs' on your updates. Hope you get done all you need in the near future and you can get some rest. Hugs Sue

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  9. You have been so busy. We had 2" rain this week - much needed! My parents' best friends had a farm and their 3 sons (the same age as my siblings and I) attended Va Tech. I enjoyed your photos and the reminder of the smells. I can handle anything but chickens! I know you'll love your gravel.

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Thank you for visiting Thistle Cove Farm; may God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart. My goal is to respond, here, to your comments although it may take a while.