Late night…but we’re done!

Greetings from 58 degree Minnesota.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the smell of corn silage is something that reminds me of fall. Well, we’re been working on chopping corn silage (for feed for our cows) for about a week now. This involves using a large self-propelled machine called a chopper that drives through the field and collects and chops all the corn plants in the field. Here’s what fresh corn silage look like.

I don’t have any pictures of the actual process, but the chopper has a big spout that dumps the silage into a semi trailer or silage box and then the silage is dumped into a large pile. It’s covered so it can ferment properly and become a more digestible, nutrient-available feed for the cows.

Some farmers also put the silage into silos, but we don’t have nearly enough silos for all our silage. Methods vary, but smaller herds mainly use silos, and herds over about 100 cows usually do silage piles like we do. We pack the pile by driving a tractor on top, and when we are done chopping all the corn, we cover the pile with plastic and old semi half-tires — a good way to recycle them, IMO 🙂 

It’s been raining on and off since we started last week, and silage needs to be at a certain moisture level when chopped. If it’s too wet/muddy it’s also hard to drive out in the fields. So, we had to stop and cover (with tires and plastic) what we had done last Wednesday because it was too wet to continue. It dried out by Sunday morning, we uncovered the pile and prepared to finish. Just for the record, nobody likes uncovering and then re-covering!

My excitement is that last night at 10:08pm, we finished covering the pile!  Luckily we had about 20 people (family, neighbors, employees) to help so the process only took about 2 hours. Here’s a few pictures so you can imagine a bit better, the first one is the packing tractor driving over the pile just before we started covering it.

The last one is the best picture I could get in the dark.  Here’s a picture I took earlier in the evening of a pile of chopped hay that was covered this summer.

So, I have a feeling I just shared more with you about corn silage than you ever wanted to know! But, it’s important “cow food” so it is a process that takes center stage in the fall.

As a runner, I totally feel that I got in some awesome cross-training yesterday too. Walking up and down the pile, holding down plastic and throwing heavy tires for a few hours definitely gets my heart rate up. I told my husband after we finished that two hours of covering pile is probably more challenging than a 2 hour run (which would be around 12 miles at my pace.) So today I’m in for a nice and easy recovery run!

So tell me, what non-typical activity have you done (or do you do on a regular basis) to cross-train or just stay active?

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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9 Responses to Late night…but we’re done!

  1. lifeisbeachykeen says:

    Hmm, that looks like a lot of hard work! Glad that’s its over for you.

    I’m lame. I don’t do any cross training. On my rest days I do homework and relax.

    My sister has the Insanity DVDs which I want to borrow from her, but I’m sort of worried to do that for cross training. I think I’ll be so sore I wouldn’t be able to run.

  2. Brit says:

    I’m so glad that you posted about this! We have corn farmers on two sides of us (well, this year corn on one side, soybeans on the other) and ever since we moved here I have been wondering what they were doing over there.

    Based on your description, I think they are growing feed corn and “mulching” it into silage. I’m not sure where it ends up going, the farmer nextdoor farms about 1000 acres, but now it has me thinking.

    I should probably go over and meet him sometime when he is out there. Go figure that we’ve lived there for three summers and haven’t met him – I am living up to my rude Northeasterner stereotype.

    I think most of my cross-training activities are fairly typical. Lately cross training has been biking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. We have a fairly large yard, so yard work can easily become cross training, but nothing like what you were doing!

    • Lisa says:

      So glad the post helped you better understand silage! Most corn is definitely harvested for the corn kernels, but a small amount is for silage. If you saw your neighbors chopping silage and didn’t know what it was, I’m sure it was totally confusing. Let me know if you have any other questions, as I could probably write a book on silage by now 🙂 Hope biking is going well for you, can you still rock climb while your foot heals?

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