The Cylindrical Silo

Above: An old silo, July 24, 2017

If you live, as I do, in farm country, old silos are a familiar sight. Almost all of them are abandoned now, because the farms do not raise livestock anymore. Dairying is out; corn and soybean fields predominate.

My curiosity about these old silos led me to read a selection on their form and function for the 51st volume of the Nonfiction Collection. I found out that you could estimate from the diameter of a silo, how big a herd it had once served: “There should be a feeding surface in the silo of about five square feet per cow in the herd; a herd of thirty cows will then require 150 square feet of feeding surface, or the inside diameter of the silo should be 14 feet; for a herd of forty cows a silo with a diameter of 16 feet will be required; for fifty cows, a diameter of 18 feet; for one hundred cows, a diameter of 25 1/4 feet, etc.”

Everything you might want to know about silos, including how to build your own was provided in the book Modern Silage Methods, published in 1911, from which I read.

In the fall of 2017 our local Farm Bureau sponsored a “Ride on a Combine” fundraiser. Everyone who took part got to ride with a farmer while he harvested a few rows of his corn field.  This is a picture of me, standing on the steps of the combine.  What I learned from talking to the farmer was that his corn crop, far from ending up in a silo, is sold to the local ethanol plant.

Harvesting Corn

October 21, 2017


You might enjoy these recorded books about American rural life:

Recollections of Life in Ohio (1813-1840)


Story of My Boyhood and Youth, by John Muir, who grew up in rural Wisconsin.


The Friendly Road, fiction, rural utopia vs. the “city” at the turn of the 20th century, a book my grandmother received for Christmas in 1919!

And here are some shorter reads (good to listen to on a break or commute):

Early Transportation on the Mississippi

Johnny Appleseed

John Deere’s Self-Scouring Plow

The colors of summer:  Prairie flowers, photos from June, July, and August 2017


Orange prairie flowers

June 16, 2017


Purple prairie flowers

July 11, 2017


Iron weed, magenta flower

Iron weed, August 7, 2017