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When people say, "It's that time of the year again," they usually mean it's time for football, or graduation, or allergies. On the farm, we mean . . . it's silage chopping time. 
Or planting time. 
Or harvest. 
Ok, pretty much every time of the year is THAT TIME.

{For my city friends, you get silage when you chop plants like rye or corn up into tiny pieces while it's still green, pack it into a bunker or silo, and let it ferment. It then gets mixed into rations for livestock throughout the year.  Dairy cows get a high forage ration, and silage usually make up over half of what they eat!} 

Rye gets chopped early in the season. And then we turn right back around and plant corn where the rye was growing. 

Side note: People say you can hear corn grow. I'm not convinced. But I'll tell you what: You can definitely hear cows pulling grass out of the ground and chomping on it. 
Sounds like a regular all-you-can-eat buffet up in here. 

Last Friday night, I took Chris some coffee and dinner. 
In return, he let me ride in the chopper with him. 
It wasn't really a fair exchange, since both his hands were busy driving and he couldn't actually eat his supper, but it was good in theory. 
The first step to cutting silage is to have great neighbors who cut down the rye for you. 
This guy whipped through the field like nobody's business. 

Once he's finished, a merger comes along behind him. A piece of equipment that. . . wait for it . . . merges two rows of rye together. 
That way, when Chris comes through in the chopper, he sees what you see above: a big, wide swath of rye just waiting to be chopped into tiny pieces for silage. 

This is the nerve-wracking part. 
Not for Chris, who's been doing this for years. 
For me.

He has to drive, steer, not run over anything, avoid being run over by truck drivers texting their girlfriends, check all the gauges and red lights and panel displays, plan out where to chop to minimize idle time, aim the chute, tip its end up or down to blow the silage into the truck, talk on the two-way, drink coffee, and put up with me all at the same time. 
I think my head just exploded. 

While Chris chops silage, a truck toodles along next to him, driving closely but not too close. Together, they wind up and down the windrows. 
Another truck follows closely behind so that when the first one is full, the next one can jump right in with practically no down time. 
When there are five trucks in line, well, heck. Just stay out of the way. That's all I'm saying. 
And somehow, while they're doing all this, they still find time to poke fun of each other over the radios.

Cue C. W. McCall's "Convoy."
"Yeah, breaker one nine, this here's the Rubber Duck. Uh, you got a copy on me, Pig Pen? C'mon. Uh yeah, ten-four, Pig Pen, fer sure, fer sure. By golly, it's clean clear to Flag Town. C'mon. Yeah, it's a big ten-four there, Pig Pen. Yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy. Mercy sakes alive. Looks like we've got us a convoy." 

Ahem. Sorry. 
Even turning corners looks like a challenge to me. 
Not hitting each other. Not running over each other. Not shooting silage all over the field. Not spilling the coffee.
 Turns out this is not a job for the faint of heart. 
Read: me. 

And they keep it up all day and even into the night. 
Because when rye is ready, it's ready. 
Which is why . . . "it's that time of the year again."

 Signing off from the chopper's buddy seat.


  1. Our family has been richly blessed to have Adriane in Chris's buddy seat!

  2. found your blog by accident and happy I did! Hello from another dairy farmer family from Alberta, Canada!


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