Letters: Promoting Silage Fermentation

A reader speculates that a tractor pulling a water wagon might have been distributing water for silage fermentation.

| May 2006

While still a teenager, my father and a younger brother acquired a threshing machine — a horse-powered threshing machine. Papa said they would start out at home and work north, coming home usually in a snowstorm.

Papa's first threshing machine separator was a Russell, powered by a Rumely 16-30. The Rumely's fuel was a mixture of kerosene and water. Our tractor had a large tank right at the operator's foot. That tank had to be kept full of clean water (later that became my job).

Now, about the question from Dale Brumm, who wondered why a kerosene-fueled Rumely would pull a water wagon. Perhaps they were filling silos for silage fermentation. In the 1930s, when conditions were so dry, water was allowed to flow into the silo filler to moisten the much-too-dry fodder (corn). Then it would ferment and turn into silage — a great food substance for cattle. We had an IHC silage cutter. During those drought years, the township government would come to the farms with a bulldozer, a large blade on the front of a trac-tractor, dig the farm and trench silos. The dried corn stocks were cut, bound, and put in the silo, and as I said, water was needed to make the excessively dry corn stocks ferment.

J. Otis Mellenbruch
Rye, CO