Farm Collector

Plow Finds and Silage Stomping Technique

Readers solve May's mystery of the donkey and the silo.

Playing a trick on city dweller

Regarding “Harvesting Fence Posts” in the April 2022 issue of Farm Collector: The hedge balls pictured reminded me of a fall day many years ago. Family friends were visiting from the city. We decided to go to the woods to gather black walnuts. There was a large hedge row near where we were gathering nuts. I told a lady in the group that much larger nuts were over by the hedge row. She gathered a half bushel of hedge balls and carried them about a half mile to the house. Everyone but her had a big laugh when we told her what she had lugged to the house.

John Heath, Sullivan, Ohio

fallen hedge apples among leaf litter

Memories of hedge rows

Don McKinley’s article in the April 2022 issue of Farm Collector, about hedge rows and fence posts, brought back memories of the early 1950s at home. We had two hedge rows and I guess Grandpa decided it was time for them to go. One was cut down by a neighbor on the halves. He also had the first chainsaw I had ever seen. The other hedge row, along the side ditch, was taken out by the county highway department as part of a ditch reconstruction project.

Grandpa said the devil planted hedge trees and man put barbed wire in them. I also heard it said a hedge post would last two years longer than the hole it was in.
In the fall each year, when the hedge balls fell on the ground, we made sure the milk cows could not eat any or they would supposedly go dry. Cows could choke on those hedge balls.
Don stated they made good fire wood and he was right. They could turn a stove red hot on a cold night and possbly warp the grate (voice of experence).

John Brown, Falmouth, Indiana

Recounting the genealogy of tractors

This is a history of tractors. Allis-Chalmers married H.J. Ford. They had two kids, Minnyaplos and Ferguson, who moved to New Holland. Ferg worked for Farmall and Caterpillar. Minny married Massey-Harris. They had one boy named John Deere who married J.I. Case.

Carman Fedele, Tidioute, Pennsylvania

Colors of hay stacker?

I rebuilt a 1900 Deran hay stacker. I know John Deere bought the company out. I would like to paint it the original color. Maybe someone would know the color. If you call me, I would send a picture.

Kenneth Anderson, 42780 136th St., Webster, SD 57274; (605) 228-1924

vintage photograph of a donkey hogtied and being lowered down from the top of a silo

“…but I was the donkey”

Randall Baron’s photo of a donkey being lowered down the side of the silo (Farm Collector, May 2022) reminded me of when I took part in this practice, but I was the donkey.

At the time, partially mature corn stalks were ground and used to fill the silo. The grinder had a pipe that blew the silage down from the top of the silo. As the silo filled, someone or something had to stomp it down to compact it. During the process, they built the sides of the silo higher by adding boards. You can see the bands and rough laid sides in the photo. Juice would leak out of the bottom, and I’ve heard hogs would drink the fermented liquid and get drunk.

In 1952, I was 17 and looking to make money. Jude Burkhart of Benton County, Missouri, hired me at $6 a day to help with end of harvest. Two of us young men wore our four-buckle overshoes and stomped the silage down as it filled each layer. Dave McGranahan (who was married to my father’s cousin) and I would walk all day to compact the silage and help build up the silo. It took quite a few men to put up the silage, from cutting the corn, running the grinder, to stomping it down. Jude had several head of cattle, and the silage would keep them fed through the winter.

William (Bill) Ballew, Kansas City, Missouri

Using whatever was available

Randall Baron asked about a photo in which a donkey is being lowered or raised outside a silo. I’m guessing it is being lowered after filling the silo. Early silos were relatively narrow and short compared to later ones. There wasn’t enough mass to self-pack the silage. This would also be the case with wide and shorter structures. Similar to below-ground silos, farmers may have placed an animal in the silo at the beginning of the fill, then lead it around the face as the silo was filled to pack the mass.

When they reached the top, they lowered the donkey to the ground, in contrast with below-ground silos, where the animal and humans simply walked out of the structure when full or, if the silo walls extended above ground, they had a shorter distance to lower an animal. Horses, cows and oxen were also used in addition to men tramping down the silage: whatever was available was used.The reason I think this may be the case, as opposed to the animal being used somehow in the construction of the silo, is the clue towards the bottom of the photo. It’s a silage blower belt.

In response to Randall’s question of the need to notch the top for removal of the animal, I don’t see a roof, so a notch would not have been needed.

Ken Bolton, Fall Creek, Wisconsin

Remembering Kelly plows

An antique chain swivel stamped with

The article “Every Piece Tells a Story” in the May 2022 issue of Farm Collector made me decide to send you a picture of my Kelly plows. Both plows were manufactured in Longview, Texas, by G.A. Kelly Plow Co., established in 1860. They were used in Smith County, Texas, in the New Harmony community by Clyde Smith.

The wooden beam is called the Tripper and has the single tree, chains and hames from the last day he would have had it behind his mule. Both chains have swivels. On one side, the swivel has US cast into it. I’m wondering if that could have been a U.S. Army surplus chain he had picked up. I put new handles on and painted the one, but decided to leave the Tripper just as I found it. Love Farm Collector magazine!

Wayne Rogers, Corsicana, Texas

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  • Updated on May 23, 2022
  • Originally Published on May 18, 2022
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