Adventures in farming don’t stop when winter arrives. If anything, they become more frequent. This past summer hubby decided we would give silage feeding a try and chopped a pit full of the ever-fermenting feed for our cattle. We wrapped the pit tight and waited for the weather to require us to serve up the corn stalks and leaves. Fortunately, the coldest cold took its time getting here and we did not have to start the daily task of carting the food to our cows until January.
I had not experienced the serving of silage and, based on all the research I saw hubby do, I was intrigued by this form of feeding. It was a process that I found both interesting and time-consuming (traits that often go with farming).
Thank goodness for 4-wheel drive tractors and silage buggies to help us get the feed to our hungry herd. Silage has to be fed daily when the grass has stopped growing or is under a thick blanket of snow.
After 10+ inches fell, serving silage was a must. The following week brought sub-zero temps and those cows needed whatever food we could get to them.
My kids had gone along with hubby to put out the silage and came back with delight over the excitement of the cows upon delivery. I wanted to witness this bovine buoyancy for myself and see what hubby had been putting so many hours into for the last few weeks. I took advantage of a school snow day to ride along.
I am always in awe of the time and attention to detail my husband puts into each task and feeding silage was no different. He diligently filled the buggy, nabbed a bale of hay on the hay fork, and headed down the roads (that he had plowed earlier himself). I had the distinct privilege of being the gate-getter and had to move fast to let the tractor and its load in while keeping the cows from getting to the hay before hubby was ready. Normally he has to do this task on his own.
The cows moved and mooed as we made our way through the pasture. Once far enough into the field, hubby began augering piles of the silage in different locations (to guarantee each cow and calf had a chance at the feed). After emptying the just the right amount, we forged our way up the snowy hillside and unloaded the round bale, pushing it with hubby’s expert skill down the hill.
The snow made unrolling the massive bale tough and at one point the tractor just kept sliding and we were along for the ride. (It was only slightly terrifying.)
After feeding the cows and calves, we headed to the bulls. Once again, I had a special job to do.
Hubby devised a PVC pipe contraption to prop up the buggy shoot diverting the auger’s aim. My job was to walk alongside the buggy holding up the PVC pipe invention and keep the shoot tilted upward to ensure that the feed shot perfectly into the bulls’ feed bin. This prevented us from actually having to drive in the pasture and maneuver between those big ol’ bulls.
When all the silage had been dispensed, it was time to put out more hay bales and get ready to do it again the next day.
As I lay in bed that night, I thought of the work it took to feed those frozen dinners. I said a prayer of thanks for my husband’s foresight for providing nutritious feed for our cattle and the equipment to get the job done. I added a petition for the protection of hubby’s continued safety as we make it through these winter months. Today I ask you to keep the hard-working farmers in your thoughts and prayers as they work to serve not only their livestock but all of us.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. The only snow cancellations around here are for social occasions. The cows and turkeys don’t care if it snows.