Scared of heights?

I never really think about it, but I’m not afraid of heights. However, in the city on a tall building, I don’t like being on the edge so I have my limits on that.

The farm we had had a 50′ and 60′ (15-18m) silos. It was really grimy climbing into them. There was a closed channel on the side. It was really messy because the silage was thrown down the same chute to a conveyer belt to feed the cattle.

A silo is a place to store chopped corn that is preserved by the weight and lack of oxygen. To put new silage in, there was a little separate chute that led up the side with a slide at the top that could be turned to spread the new silage evenly. It was important to be careful because, if it plugged up, it was tedious to clean it out.

What’s most notable on the farm was how we powered the impeller to push new silage up. Normally we would have used a tractor and its PTO. A PTO is a “power take off” crank coming out the back of a tractor that could drive equipment. For example, it could power a baling machine that packs alfalfa and compacts it with twine into 40-50 pound (18-22kg) cubes. That made a lot of work for us kids in the summer!

For our silo, dad took an old car (an Impala or Taurus?). He welded a big flywheel on the drive shaft and used a belt to make the blower rotate. I remember the right setting was to have the engine set to 30 or 40 mph (50-65km/h) in reverse.

By having a dedicated machine, it saved the need for an extra tractor and the inconvenience of manipulating a tractor into the right position over and over. The impeller had a bar with universal joints to give some flexibility, but it was still challenging to get a tractor hooked up.

My lack of fear of heights came in play because I would climb up the outside to keep the silage in the right place. The path up was with a small metal ladder in the open air. Around the ladder was a little metal cage so you had a little protection if you fell. We never had a safety harness like linemen use when they climb a power pole. It must have been relatively safe because I never heard stories of people falling.

There’s lots of stories about the farm.

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