The day after silo filling is one of those days that is just not fun. Oh yes, it's great to have the silage chopped and ready to feed the hungry cows all winter, but it's time consuming dirty work.
Two days ago, Jim spent a good chunk of time preparing the unloader to be raised to the top of the silo, where it would hang, suspended from it's cable, above the point where the silage is blown into the silo from the trucks and blower below. The one silo unloader needs to be cranked up 50 feet by hand. That takes a lot of arm muscles! Jim, Eric and two neighbor boys took turns cranking. The other unloader can be raised using an electric drill, a MUCH speedier process.
Yesterday, the silos were filled...that's actually the simplest part of the whole process! The custom chopper pulls in with his chopper, trucks and drivers, and away they go. Jim spreads innoculant on each load before it is blown into the silo, and oversees the operation.
Today was interesting, to say the least...
When we went to the barn this morning to start milking, Jim opened the doors to the silage room at the bottom of the silos. The first thing he saw was a number of dead mice and birds laying at the bottom of both silos. Silo gas!
Silo gas can be deadly. I don't profess to know exactly how it forms, but fresh silage can form a gas, which can impare judgement and kill rather quickly if one were to be in an enclosed space with no fresh oxygen supply.
We immediately started up some large fans to move fresh oxygen through the barn. While Jim milked, I went to pick up an extra blower from another farmer. The same blower that blows the silage into the silo can be used to deliver fresh air into the silo so one can safely work without fear of being overcome by gas.
After running the blower for a while to clear out the gas, Jim climbed the first silo to begin leveling the silage in order to set up the unloader. Then it was my job to lower the unloader from the top of the silo down to the silage surface. We need to constantly be yelling up and down the silo at each other in order to be heard. The neighbors must think we're nuts!!
This afternoon, we set up the unloader in the second silo. Standing in the feed room at the bottom of the silo, I was totally covered in dust and dirt from the silo chute. There was a lot of cranking to do on this one...my arms felt like wet noodles by the time we were finished. My hair and clothing were covered in grime.
The silage will likely settle a few more feet by morning and the unloader will need to be lowered some more, but hopefully from here on out, the trips up and down the silo will be few and far between!
After a busy day like today, it's time to take the wet noodles to bed!