Steam silo filling crew

A steam silo filling crew in a small town called Egremont, Massachusetts about the turn of the century.

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(P.E. MASS.) New Ashford, Massachusetts 01237

Silos in those days were built inside the barn; they were about 8 x 8 or 10 x 10 square and of a vertical plank construction extending from ground level through first floor and loft placed so as to obtain all the height possible. They were filled by a chain type elevator; if one looks real close part of the chain can be seen. Being square, the silage had a tendency to spoil in the corners then someone came up with the idea of planking across each corner forming an octagon, then this developed into the stave type circular silo constructed outside of the barn as we knew them. However, they are now becoming obsolete for silage can now be stored in earth trenches or between long parallel plank walls and in some areas just piled on the ground and covered with plastic sheeting anchored by old tires. As a teenager I put in many days cutting corn and helping to fill silos. Stalks were first cut by hand and just left in small loose bundles for loading crosswise and horse drawn hay racks. Then horse drawn corn harvesters that cut and tied about 10 stalks in a bundle came in, but the bundles were heavy and one could not put many bundles on a wagon for fear of overloading; also the cutter and blower came on the market. Care was necessary when feeding bundles through the ensilage cutter and blower, for it was easy to plug and stall any gas engine or small tractor.. However, the larger tractors could easily handle the average size ensilage cutter and blower.

It was not long before many different makes of ensilage cutters and blowers belted to various makes of tractors appeared. One that stays in mind was the 'Blizzard.' I cannot recall who made them, some were more or less self feeders having a movable continuous wood slat type belt that fed the bundles to the cutter; however, someone had to stand by to keep everything going.

Every farmer used whatever tractor was available for belt power. I worked on one that used a 2 ton HOLT Caterpillar belted to a medium size ensilage cutter that did a good job, another had a 15-30 McCormick Deering that easily handled the job. Numerous Fordsons were used and they had difficulty at times. One fellow used an old Steel Mule right up to the time the field choppers came in. Now the silage is cut in the field, blown into wagons dumped on the site and stacked or placed by bulldozers. When used for feeding it is loaded by front end loaders and fed to cattle by automatic feeders.

Today most of the large steel silos we see are in effect a large thermos vacuum bottle which stores ground corn only which looks and actually tastes like cornmeal. The ears are harvested by a two or more row corn harvester, ground, cobs and all and blown into the silo. It keeps fresh for a season if outside air is not allowed to enter, all this makes one wonder what is next.

We already have milk factories where a large number of dairy cows are held on a few acres and just fed and milked; dry powdered milk is also here. I wonder if imitation or machine made milk is in the picture.