Page images

or the frost touches it, it can still be preserved with great profit, but the air entering the shrunked cells of the partially dried stock will cause it to sour more or less in the silo, and the cattle will not appreciate it so highly, though they will still eat it in preference to hay. If cut at the right time and preserved in the right manner, they always prefer it to June grass. Maize, with all its juice, if you wish to preserve it by en. silage, the cutting can be done most economically with a reaperChampion single wheel reaper has been used by Mr. Morris for the purpose.

The silo may be a trench dug in the soil, if the soil is right for the purpose-the soil that is most suitable and the only kind that I have heard of being succeesfully trenched for a silo, is clay above; this prevents the down-flux of water and is porous and dry beneath. Mr. Morris makes his trenches in a soil which has clay for a foot or 18 inches on top and a rotten rock below. He digs 57 feet deep, 71 feet wide on bottom, and 11 feet wide on top, and any length desired. A width of 11 feet on top prevents danger of archiag. At this slope in this soil it does not fall in, and he does not plaster the face. The surface water should be carefully drawn from it. But not one in ten of farmers have the advantage of a suitable soil, and therefore they must build their silos with masonry. Where they do build silos in the soil they will almost need an engineer to give them a slope that will remain firm without being so great as to prevent the cut fodder from settling under pressure.

In using an earth trench the sides are lined with straw standing so that the ensilage will slip down; the bottom floored with plank; the top, when full, rounded up and covered with a thin layer of long straw, the thiner the better; above that a sheet of tarred roofing-felt, or paper, and above that earth piled on about two feet, the fodder to be trampled in and rising above the surface of the ground; the earth to be pounded or rolled with a heavy roller, and at first to be frequently pounded or rolled. As I understand it, a considerable vigilance is the price of safety with an earth silo. It may be lined with thin boards, but it is not important in the right soil. Still, Mr. Morris, whose foreman, Mr. Thompson, is a practical engineer, has been perfectly successful with one trench eighty feet long. He will now build others radiating from a centre so that he can fill all conveniently without moving his machinery. His first experiments were with masonry silos in his stone barn.

As to dimensions, I would say that a cubic foot contains about twenty pounds cut green fodder, which is about one bushel. Fifty tons per day

about as much as can be conveniently handled by one gang, and they can get done about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, for the reason that a lar


ger heap drawn from the field is liable to heat before cutting if left over night, and it must be handled in advance to keep the machine a going. But most farmers will at first be contented with less quantity, and I would here mention a fact that was not known till last season, when this kind gentleman, M. Goffart, wrote me specially to say tbat twenty inches per day of cut fodder in depth will keep sufficiently ahead of the heating, and by so filling the final subsidence will be less. This remark, however, applies more especially to masonry silos where the vacum left by susidence is a certain loss of capital.

In either kind of silo the cut fodder should be fine enough to pack close, the finer it is cut the better the preservation, and the less labor for the masticatory apparatus of the animals that eat it. Masticatory means chewing. Mr. Curtis reminded me that there might be some dull farmers here, but that is a gross libel. However, inch will answer, and } inch is better, but if you get in a hurry and cut it longer your cattle may make faces at it and not give you quite so much milk. Well prepared food and a variety of diet make sleek animals as well as men and

The masonry silo is best to begin with. You then spend some real money, have, 80 to speak, cut away the bridges behind you and en. listed as a practical ensilagist. You then have made yourself liable to the jeers of your brother farmers, if you fail, and to their respectful admiration if you succeed. If you are the first one in


will be entitled to a monument from your greatful fellow citizens, though you may not get it, and may not care for it.

The masonry silo should avoid all interior angles; rounded corners are better. It can be built of brick, or stone plastered smooth inside, or of grout with 15 inch walls. This can be made, as you probably all know, of four parts sand to one part cement, and mixed with coarse gravel, about half and half laid on in plank boxes or troughs, about three in a day, and plastered inside with cement. The center walls, if built in pairs or triplets, had better be 18 inches. The walls should be verti. cal and about half under ground for coolness in the summer time. The covering is better, we have ascertained, in this country, without straw. [Mr. Goffart said he expected to hear of some improvements when the universal Yankee genius got to work at it.] A battened cover of twoinch plank, tongued and grooved, and in five feet sections with length a little less than the width of the silo, so as to slip down safely, is probably the best kind of cover. The vapor from the top surface will pass off without making any mould; the air can escape, and thus the ensilage itself be its own sweet preserver. When you lift the boards it will be pale but as it absorbs oxygen it will become green or brown. The weight on

town you

top is the essential thing above anything else. It is this continuous, heavy pressure, that is the great discovery of M. Goffart, and which silenced his unfair competitor. He says "When a silo has been filled it not only answers to prevent the external air from penetrating it; it is necessary at once to take means to expel the air that it incloses between its disks and in its cells. It is necessary that this compression should continue during several months, following the maize down in its softened condition, and to bring it to that state of density that is neces Bary to put it out of reach of all alteration. He recommends 100 pounds per square foot; the more weight the better, until a point where it presses out the juice. I have seen stones sized convenient to handle, used for the purpose, and another person has used sacks of meal, which are used up about the same time on his fatting cattle. The door or post of silo is best to be of temporary masonry, plastered in, the whole should be covered with a roof set above the walls, so that the air will circulate below it.

And then you have your fodder, no fear from rats, no refuge for tramps or setting hens, no danger from heating or from fire or lightning, or weak insurance companies. When your cattle need it, it will be as sure to be on hand as death or taxes. When it is opened, the face is cut down with hay knife or with spading forks. It stands like a wall, and the daily consumption will keep pace with the effect of the air upon the face. If it is to remain till hot weather, it is better to take out the upper half first, leaving that which is below ground for summer use under the same cover of plank, which will not need to be weighted. Sult is not important to the preservation unless the ensilage has been frosted, but one. fifth of a pound to a cubic foot will of course improve the flavor of itwe salt our canned corn and our celery.

Such a silo can be built almost anywhere in the Eastern States for $1.00 a ton of contents. If built in pairs 12 feet wide by 7 feet deep by 44 feet long, will hold 200 tons easy with allowances for vacuum. The filling is more or less costly as the machinery is effective. The proper machine (which I am not here to advertise) will cut ten tons per hour with four horse power, or six is better. It will take five or six men to feed it from the pile of maize that is brought close to it in the morning before work begins. It should be set as high as the tops of the silo, and have an elevator to carry the cut fodder to the middle of each silo, where it can be discharged toward each end. Four men will be kept busy spreading and trampling it, which should be done as thoroughly as possible; their boots will be wet with the juice. Of course it can be done in a slower manner, or smaller way, with shorter or shallower silos, but it is in this powerful manner that it can be done with the most economy. And the machinery required is not a very great investment, and the fact that the fodder is all ready to feed without further grinding or cutting, makes the subsequent care of the stock easier and cheaper. Harvesting ensilage will probably become a matter for the threshing contractors to do by the cubic foot from farm to farm with engines. As it can be done as well or better on a rainy day, there will be less loss of time.

It is probable that a masonry silo will in the long run be cheaper than one made in the ground under the most favorable circumstances. There is another method which has been described and illustrated in many of the agricultural papers, which is a dangerous temptation to the inexperienced. That is to pile maize, either cut or uncut, upon the silo. Such a method cannot possibly give good results. The compression to expel the air, which is essential to good preservation, cannot be applied to such a silo. Those who recommend this method manifest a culpable ignorance and cause great loss to those who follow this advice. I have heard a man say that he had successfully buried whole corn-stalks, but I noticed that after reading M. Goffart's book, he built a masonry silo. The perfect ensilage is.quite as sweet, I think sweeter, as the day it was cut in the field. M. Goffart says: “Let me tasto his butter, and I can tell how well the ensilagist understands his business.”

In the matter of frost, a New England climate has not yet been tried upon it, but it is probable that a concrete silo will prevent all danger to the ensilage, which surrounded by cobble-stones are probably not liable to be overthrown by frost. Probably no other vegetable is so useful for this purpose as maize. You all know how it grows and how extensively on the earth's surface the stalks can be grown. In France, except in the extren.e south, although in the same latitude with us, only the stalks can be grown, the seed must be imported. Probably if M. Goffart could have raised 150 bushels of ears to the acre, he never would have discovered the principles of ensilage. Necessity, like nobleness, com pels some people.

Probably none of you have ever seen a field of fodder corn as heavy as it may be raised. It will grow in good land 21 feet high. I have seen it. Kansas exhibited such a stalk at our Centennial. A tall man, with an umbrella, could just reach the lowest ear, and all this growth can be made in 50 or 60 days, and sometimes a crop of green rye can be cut from the same ground before planting the maize, but of course that is not always safe. Nothing is better adapted than this crop for making milk and butter.

Mr. Morris says: “In a very long experience in raising stock, I have

[ocr errors]

found corn fodder preserved by ensilage the best food for milking cows that I ever used.” The average hay crop of this State is not equal to one ton per acre, and every farmer knows what a costly crop it is to cure and to preserve after it is raised, though modern machinery has greatly lessened it. It is a most uncertain crop, while Indian corn will grow and flourish and tassel with the most ordinary care and tillage. Twentyfive tons to the acre is a small crop. M. Goffart, in France, has averaged 40 tons to the acre. In 1878 he had 55 acres, and in 1877, 75 acres. In that country it is an uncertain crop, on account of the difficulty of getting good seed It is a most certain crop in this country, to which it is indigenous.

I think it was year before last that the farmers of Orange county lost by drouth nearly their whole crop of hay, and a large portion of their grass. Such a thing had not happened to them before for a generation. They had to sell their milch cows and go to work to plow up their meadows. They had plenty of corn weather, but they could not compete with the West in corn. Grass is king in Orange county. They depend apon it for milk and butter. This reminds me of something I saw in New York the other day. A little boy had dropped a ten cent piece through a narrow grating in front of a store. It could be seen ten feet below. The store was closed. The little boy was crying. Probably none of us here would have known how to extract that silver with the means at hand. But city boot-blacks are quick witted in such matters, and one came along and seeing the situation, said: “Bub, stop your crying, I will get it out for you. He had a string and jack-knife in his pocket, of course, but how with these tools could he rescue that little piece of silver ten feet below? Well, he tied the string to the knife, touched the end of the knife to the hub of a hand cart that stood on the sidewalk, dropped the knife upon the silver, and of course he picked it up as easy as grease; and if the Orange county farmers had known how easy it is to preserve green corn-stalks, they would not have had to cry over their loss of milk.

The yield of manure by feeding ensilage is very great. M. Goffart says that one-third of the manure, with a little phosphate, will keep ap the production of corn-stalks, leaving two-thirds to spare for another crop, and that like hemp, it does not require rotation, but as he ex. presses it, eternalizes itself, requiring only its potash back, and this is nearly all restored by the dung-heap, since animals consume very little potash. The great gain is in what the plant absorbs from the atmosphere.

Clover, with its long tap roots, drawing sustenance from sub-soil plowed

« PreviousContinue »