Letters: Promoting Silage Fermentation

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Photo: Dale Brumm
No one knows why this Rumely tractor is pulling a water wagon, but it might have been to provide water for silage fermentation.

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

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

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