Looking Toward Winter

Soybeans and silo ~ Chase County, Kansas

Whatever you’re storing for the winter — be it acorns, soybeans, apples, or nuts — be sure to choose your container carefully.


Comments always are welcome.

A bit of additional information:
After looking at photos of similar silos, it became obvious that the split in the side was common. Mike Holder, District Extension Director for Agriculture & Natural Resources in the area, told me that the space would have been taken up by a series of small doors. Before filling, the doors were closed, and then the silage was blown in. As it was needed, one door after another was opened, beginning from the top, and the silage tossed down. Most doors were wooden, and they sometimes were removed when a silo was no longer used.

42 thoughts on “Looking Toward Winter

    1. It certainly isn’t. I laughed the first time I saw it, and I still laugh when I look at the photo. It’s been opened so perfectly it might as well have had a zipper.

  1. Some of the glazed tiles aren’t that far off in color, from your 11/30 post of a stream bed in Gillespie Co.
    Just too many beans, I guess, or our theme song for this year – “Nuts are bustin’ out all over”

    1. That’s a great comparison with the stream bed. I hadn’t thought of it, but I can see it now. I asked some people in the neighborhood why the silo had been opened like this, but no one knew. My theory is that it wasn’t being used, and while the owners didn’t want critters moving in, or other troubles, they didn’t want the expense or trouble of tearing the whole thing down.

    2. I just talked with the district agricultural agent, and got some additional information about the split down the side. I added it to the post — very interesting.

      1. A lot of farmers around here, now have big, rectangular pits, lined with concrete slabs, and put the silage in that. They tamp it down, cover it with a heavy tarp, and a whole lot of tires to keep the tarp down.
        I’ve never minded the kind of vinegary-smell of silage, I guess it’s from growing up eating sauerkraut and pickles, etc.
        Do you have the shiny blue steels silos in Texas? “Harvestore” is the brand usually. One of my grandfathers (the New York City one) used to think it was just a great color, and therefore, must be a pretty good farm.

        1. There aren’t many Harvestores here in Texas. There are some in the northeastern part of the state, where there’s some dairy farming, and I’ve seen a just a few up toward the Panhandle, associated with the big cattle feeding operations. They were common for a time in the midwest. The technology is different than a regular silo — they have to be pressure checked to make sure they’re airtight, for one thing — and apparently they fell out of favor because of the cost of maintenance and the increasing popularity of pits. There’s an interesting back-and-forth discussion on this ag forum.

    1. I found the explanation for the split in the tiles, and added it to the post. Knowing the facts doesn’t make the image any less amusing.

      I enjoyed talking to the ag agent who gave me the information about the doors. He knew exactly which silo I was talking about — that’s as funny as the photo itself.

    1. Indeed I do: rice kitchens. And I’ll bet you remember the rice birds they constantly were fighting to get the rice into those kitchens.

      Do you know what those birds actually were? I remember them as weavers, with nests that hung down from the palm trees. I went looking for genus and species, but I couldn’t pull up anything about rice birds except excerpts that said things like, “Rice birds are a problem.” But we know that!

      1. Your comment on rice birds sent me scurrying, Linda, but after 30 minutes, I found what you had found: nothing definitive but lots on the problem. One suggestion was eating them, which seemed like a good suggestion, much better than going after them with a flamethrower, which was another suggestion. My cat Rasputin was quite interested in their potential as food, and would leap up into the air and catch them in the evening as they flew in low over our yard back to their nests. –Curt

        1. Did Rasputin go after the geckos, too? I remember a story of a Peace Corps volunteer who’d amuse himself on Saturday evenings by lying on the sofa and blowing darts at the geckos. Uh — that wasn’t you, was it?

          1. Not that he ever admitted to me. :) No, I didn’t fire darts at geckos. I did find it fun playing with Rhinoceros Beetles, however. Put a bunch of boys near the girl and see what happens. –Curt

    1. Even though I was far from a country kid, I was thinking today of once-common items and practices that seem to have disappeared: corn cribs, fields left open for gleaning, hand-milking, real ice boxes, butter churns, hand-shelling corn and peas. I’m as much a fan of modern medicine, computers, and central heat as the next person. Still, seeing things like this silo makes me smile, and be happy that I grew up when I did.

      1. My neighbors seemed surprised that I had spent many hours shelling dried corn by hand for the animals.. and picking cotton by hand! Like you, I appreciate having one foot in the modern world while having the older times rooted firmly in my memory!

  2. What a fascinating storage silo. I’ve never seen nor heard of anything remotely like it…..and what a great subject for photography and a glimpse of the past.

    I’ve always been fascinated by how my own ancestors first lived in Australia and the tools, utensils and the like.

    1. Now my ignorance is showing. Is there much farming in Australia, or is it mostly cattle/sheep grazing and such? There’s no need for silos if there aren’t excess crops to be stored. Even some of the people I remember from my grandparents’ town didn’t have silos. They kept hay in haylofts in the barns, and they had corn cribs where they stored corn still on the cob. I remember getting corn for our squirrels from my grandparents’ corn crib. We’d take it home and put it whole on a feeder. Than, it was the squirrels’ responsibility to get it off the cob.

      1. I read many years ago that 93% of Australia’s population live in coastal regions (i.e. 3% of the continent), but yes, we have as much farming as you do. I vaguely remember seeing some large silos between where I live now and the coast, but in general, most small farmers (like my maternal Grandparents in north-west Tasmania) would sell their milk every day and make hay for bailing and storage for winter feed. If I still had a car and could drive long distance, I’m sure I could bring you plenty of farming life on a large scale. So many droughts and flooding rains in Australia these days have spoilt so many crops. My Mother’s family farmed mainly potatoes (and dairy cows for milk). I don’t know what other crops they had, but certainly had sheep, cows, pigs and chickens. My maternal Grandfather died young (from the same heart condition I have inherited) and the Uncles, (Mum’s brothers and here sister’s husbands) continued to farm until it was no longer profitable and they sold some of the best land to the CSIRO for research purposes. In many rural areas now, country men take any job they can get whether it be bricklaying, truck haulage (of farm crops), or working for factories (making cheese and milk products). There are almost no small farms any more as it’s cheaper to import from China, South America etc. Even more recently, our fruit orchardists have had trouble getting ‘backpackers’ and travellers to harvest the fruit crops to the north of my state. I think there’s probably more money in mining than farming. Most of my Mother’s family ended up with the best farming country in their state, but cash poor. One maternal Uncle was the last to use draught horses for ploughing the fields in Tasmania. I have wonderful memories of summer school holidays on my (maternal) Grandmother’s farm as a small child. I can picture every detail in the old farmhouse to this day (despite my memory problems in general). I have an article I wrote about summer holidays on my Grandmother’s farm (when writing on a health forum in 2009), but it’s too long for my Nature Blog (which is supposed to be about photography).
        Note: I can’t write like I used to, as I can’t remember many common words or how to spell (so have to rely on spellcheck). This was a contributing factor as to why I had to quit working in Feb 2010.
        I remember being fascinated by the farms I saw in Turkey back in 1976. The old bearded farmers on their horse and carts was just like stepping back in time. I saw much of what was then Bulgaria and Yugoslavia (before the Bosnian War).

        1. Land rich and cash poor is a reality here, too. I don’t know where it stands now in the current tax proposals, but for a time there were suggestions that those inheriting land would have to pay substantial taxes on them, even if the land had been in the family for generations. I know that some have had to sell the inherited land just to pay the taxes, effectively bringing to an end another family farm.

          Our stores are filled right now with fruit from other continents. I much prefer local and seasonal eating. I’d rather buy from a local farm, and adjust my diet to what’s being produced, than pay high prices for something picked too early and flown in from Who Knows Where.

    1. I don’t remember seeing many silos in that area at all. That’s part of the reason this one stood out. For the most part, crops like the soybeans growing around this silo are put directly into large trucks which carry them to elevators for storage or shipment. In a sense, the silo’s not only a token of an older storage technology, it’s also a reminder that ways of farming have changed considerably over the past century.

      Even in this country it takes a good bit of foresight and monitoring to keep harvest losses to a minimum. Where insects, birds, rats, and various molds and fungi can have their way, the losses certainly can be substantial.

    1. And right now in my back yard — there a combination of sleet and snow. There’s been some accumulation, but I see from online reports that it’s really snowing in areas of Houston. I’m almost tempted to get dressed and go out to check the cars, but I may wait until it gets light. What I can see is that it’s sticking to the trunks of the palm trees and elevated surfaces like table tops and railings.

    2. I just saw some videos from Pearland with big, fat flakes. They’re not as big as your flakes, and they won’t last as long, but they surely are fun. We’re getting real snow now, too — no sleet.

  3. Something like trying to capture sand for a castle with a colander, right?! I’m glad you did a bit of research and included the “rest of the story.” It explains things, I guess. But I still can’t fathom such a contraption really working!

    1. I’m not sure about this, but I think I know how modern vertical silos handle the unloading problem that these old silos used those little doors for. Do you remember seeing small “tubes” going up the side of silos? Apparently those contain elevators that carry the grain up to the top, and empty it into the silo. Then, they unload from the bottom. Don’t take that for gospel, though. I clearly need a course in remedial farm life!

    1. I just lost a long comment. I don’t know why WP told me it couldn’t be posted, but it’s gone: “poof!” Well, here’s a bit of it, reclaimed.

      The sight of any silo always evokes memories. I worked for a farm equipment manufacturer during my undergraduate days, and one of their products was a silo unloader. Our salesmen often sold turnkey installations that included milking parlors, silos, and all the accessories that went with them, and I got to be pretty familiar with how everything fit together. Today, of course, much of the technology has changed; it’s interesting to me that this silo might be closer to the products of the 1960s than anything we have today.

      One of my best blogging friends spent many years running a dairy farm in New York. Eventually, we figured out that she’d bought equipment from the company I worked for. Hilarity ensued — and a little musing on the truth that, in the end, there always is a connection.

  4. Oh, woe to the squirrel who stacked his nuts here! (My squirrel tends to dig them in Rosie’s garden next door, much to her chagrin — so I try to hand them out a little farther afield!)

    1. Remember the old camp song called “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It”? I’d say this is the agricultural version — and you’re exactly right about those poor squirrels trying to make a pantry of it. I recently learned that squirrels will try to bury any nut that’s in the shell, but that they’ll eat shelled ones right away. I’m not about to be handing out pounds of shelled nuts to them, but I am willing to put out a few — as long as I know the bluejays aren’t around to steal them right out of the squirrels’ paws!

    1. The world is filled with interesting things, if only we look around. Of course, I can have my interest piqued by some fairly weird things, so there’s that. :-)

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