Friday, December 17, 2010

Breaking down silos - and not in the business context

Kris is hoping UPS gets here with the skid steer’s fuel pump before it’s time to feed the cattle tonight. (He uses the skid steer to feed them every morning and night.) He uses it to take feed off of the feed pile, which is made up of alfalfa and corn we harvested. Since there’s no pasture right now, we feed it to the cattle all winter long.

Then he loads the feed into a mixer, which mixes the different types of feed together. It goes into the feeder inside the barn, so all the cattle who just got milked can eat. He also uses it to feed the heifers who are outside.

Here’s what the feed pile looks like before we cover it with the tarp and tires:

People used to store feed in silos, until everyone got sick of them. (Some farmers still use them, but few build them anymore.) They’re really hard to fix, for one thing. Anytime anything breaks in a silo, or needs adjusting, you need to climb up into the silo. It’s physically hard, it’s hard to breathe, it’s dangerous, and often really hard to fix anyway. It’s a lot easier to work with feed in piles on cement.

As a result, when we moved to the farm, we took down three silos. How do you knock down a silo? you may ask. Well, one silo someone wanted to reuse, so a company took it apart block by block and took it away on a trailer. This silo was starting to lean toward the barn and was unusable.

Here’s the scene: Kris, my dad, and our employee. Me, standing faaaaaaaar away in the field, ready to call for emergency medical help. First, they attached a cable to the silo, then attached it to a tractor, in order to encourage the silo to fall away from the barn. Then, they took turns hitting it with a sledgehammer.

Yep, you read that right!

They took a lot of hits, knocking out the entire bottom – you can see the black stripe of emptiness in the picture below. It seemed impossible it was standing with all of that support gone. However, when they pulled with the tractor, the cable came off, so my dad climbed up to reattach the cable. I was yelling things like, “Don’t do it! Mom’s going to be SO MAD!” (You know, when he's crushed. I have to note that I was the only one who was nervous about this. The guys were fully at ease.)

They took one more hit with the sledgehammer. The block crumbled from the weight, everyone ran to safety, and it fell perfectly in the right direction. Just as they planned.

I even got a video of it. Think the camera work is a little shaky due to my extreme nervousness? No doubt … but still, with 12,000 hits, here’s our biggest YouTube sensation. I like to call it Extreme! Farming!


Jules said...

I showed this video to M and she immediately knew it was taken at your farm (because it's the only one she's ever been to). Great camerawork!

Jim said...

There should have been applause at the end of the video :)