Dangers at Silo-Filling Time

| 12/28/2011 12:11:03 PM

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Silo Filling 

Your request for reader input on silo filling (Farm Collector, September 2011) did not bring a response to one danger I remember. One fear was that fresh silage emitted a gas; I believe it was a nitrogen compound. It was known to overcome workers in the silo. To prevent this, my uncle left the silo filler running between loads to ventilate the silo.

Of course putting up the filler pipe and hooking the “gooseneck” over the top was dangerous. The opening for the gooseneck was called “the doghouse.” I believe some farmers left the pipe up all year.

My Uncle Amos preferred the Papek and Gehl silo fillers. It’s odd that Papek, made in Shortsville, N.Y., far from the Cornbelt, was one of the favorites. He used a McCormick-Deering 15-30 and later a Farmall F-30. These machines were good on the belt. It was hard to stall them on ensilage cutters.

During bountiful years of corn crop, they put up temporary silos made of snow fence and a reinforced tarpaper. I think the latter was called “sisal-kraft.” A ring of snow fence was lined with the tarpaper. When this silo was near full, a second fence was telescoped inside the first. They went up to three layers high. I never saw a trench silo in these parts.

To open up a silo filled with fresh silage, you had to remove a cap of spoiled (moldy) silage. This was up to a foot deep. On the one silo I opened up, about a dozen rats were up there. I pitched them down the chute along with the silage, where a couple of dogs eagerly dispatched them (no P.E.T.A. people around then).