Hi to all my rambling friends. It's always my pleasure to share another bit of forgotten history and memories with you. I grew up near Elkland, and as a child, I have many fond memories of the little town in the northwest part of Webster County. Folks, this week, I have been asking several people this question: what is the tallest structure in Elkland? I have heard many varied answers. Do any of my rambling readers want to take a guess? Did anyone say or think of an old-fashioned concrete silo?
Don't feel bad no one else noticed either. Across from the Elkland Christian Church is a lonely silo that no one notices anymore. As a child growing up, I can remember the farmers filling them. They went out to the field and chopped the forage. The next step was to haul the forage to the silo, and with a piece of equipment called a blower placed at the foot of a tall silo, it was fed the fodder into it, and it would literally blow the forage up the pipe and through a curve on top to fill the concrete silo. OK folks: let's talk about how it was done and facts that are easily forgotten. First of all, it was gut-wrenching hard work. My dad used to talk about how farmers would help each other during silo season.
I have many stories of adventures and what went on behind the scenes that onlookers never realized what it took to have good silage. Here are a few: what was a stomper? When the silage was being blown over the top, it came down very loosely. It will spoil if it does not get packed. Yes, children were sometimes used inside the silos, and they literally stomped the silage to get it packed. It was dangerous, and the kids had to be on guard to stay on top or else! Now for feeding the blower before mechanical wagons– it was pitched forked, and many were injured by getting too close. Now, what about setting up the blower and running the pipe to the top of a 30 to 50-foot-high silo?
Now, this job was not for the faint of heart. Remember rambling readers, the silos were usually only four inches thick. Someone had to walk about on top of the silo and set the curved pipe. My cousins were pros at this job and would make any circus act look lame compared to what they did to set the pipes connected to the blower.
There are hundreds of silos in our community. They were being built starting in the early 1900s by pulling buckets of concrete by pulleys to the top. They are rarely used today. They usually stand lonely by themselves or next to an old barn that is falling in. From Marshfield to Elkland, there are dozens along the way if you will only look and notice. Siloes are just one more reminder of our community's history. For every silo was a family dairy farm. This rambling is just getting started, and we must already call it quits. More ramblings next week!
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