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silage 2k18


I love and loathe silage time on the farm. I love it because there's a lot of activity and people are (generally) excited for something new and different. Adrenaline runs high, and everybody bands together during the long (long!) days to get hundreds of acres of corn chopped for cow chow. 

I mean, they don't actually call silage "cow chow" but I kind of feel like there's a PR company out there somewhere who wishes they'd have thought of that instead of me. 

Unless someone else actually DID think of it before me, in which case let's forget we ever had this conversation. 

But it also means long days for everybody, including my farmer, and that part I don't love so much. I'm all, "Well, see you in two weeks when silage is over. Be a good boy. Don't forget to write. Remember I love you" when I hand him his lunchbox every morning. 

Maybe not quite like that.


Some years, my sister and her kids come for a week. Her boys get to ride in the silage chopper and stay out too late and wear pliers pouches, which makes them happy, and I get to hang out with one of my sisters and have some company during my farmer's 18-hour days, which makes me happy. 

This year, my sister-in-law and her little boy came for a week.


 We spent the first few days of silage drinking mimosas, dipping our toes in the kiddie pool, watching our children play quietly together and getting caught up on each other's lives. 


Aaaaaaactually, we both had sick kids who found it fun to haul off and deck one another while we tried to sip just a slurp of coffee to help counteract the getting-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-said-kiddos-who-couldn't-sleep-or-breathe-due-to-junky-noses tiredness.

And you know what? WE STILL HAD SO MUCH FUN. 

If being a mom -- and silage -- have taught me anything, it's to be flexible. Kids get sick. Silage choppers break. Toddlers melt down. Trucks fall apart. They're just going to happen. And getting worked up about it doesn't help. You just roll with it.

Basically, silage season is like parenting. That's what I'm getting from this. 

In unrelated news, I struggle every year to know what to fix Chris to eat while he's driving the chopper. He told me once the only thing he has to look forward to during the day is what he's going to eat. Otherwise, it's corn. All day. Every day. Back and forth. Corn. Just corn. 

He also needs food he can eat with one hand because the other hand is busy driving and adjusting the chopper spout and hitting the radio button to tell truck drivers to back up or move over. He also tells me the food has to fit in a cup holder or be something he can wolf down while driving.

NO PRESSURE. Just make fun food that brightens his day that he can eat in about two bites.  


So this year, in an effort not to feed him sandwiches and chips for two weeks straight, I bought out Aldi's snack aisle. Nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, chocolate -- all the things. 

And my sister-in-law used her creative wizardry to whip up five different kinds of trail mix . . . without using a recipe, I might add. 

I'd be all, "Let's see if Pinterest has any idea what I can do with this massive pile of dried goods. Otherwise, here you go, honey: a giant bag of banana chips. See you in two weeks!"

I also packaged up mini cucumbers and sweet peppers the first week and popped a couple of those in his lunch box each day. 

My sister-in-law -- again with the awesomeness -- made up some protein bites with craisins and walnuts and chia seeeds, and those have been the hit of silage season thus far. 

(Sarah, you might be sorry you made these because you're probably going to be on tap for doing it next year too. Please don't hate me.)


And because this is the year of silage revelations, I also learned from my friend Megan than you can make meat and cheese sandwiches and freeze them.


This means no more making a gabillion sandwiches every night after the kids are in bed.

My world: revolutionized.

Instead, we put the sandwiches in the freezer, pulled them out the night before, added some veggies and pickles and lettuce, and voila!

But wasn't the bread soggy, you're wondering? No. No, it was not.

Now go and do likewise.

(Also, runzas for the one-handed-eating-in-the-chopper win! Again, my SIL. I'm not even sure I'm needed for meals at silage at the rate she's going.)

Add some tea, some Red Bull, and some peanut butter with celery and carrots in the bottom of a cup to polish it off (See? Cupholders!), and the guys had meals fit for kings!

Scratch that. But at least good enough for hardworking, worn out, hungry farmers.


Silage is all about timing. The corn's moisture has to be just right. The corn has to be a certain maturity. All the machinery has to be ready to go. The weather has to cooperate. There have to be enough truck drivers. And caffeine.

Lots of caffeine.

And when all those line up, silage runs like a well-oiled machine.

Like a chopper, for instance.

Or the Eagle, which is that sweet semi pictured below with carpeted doors that leaves everybody wanting to sing C.W. McCall's Convoy and wear 1970s aviators and grow big mustaches.

We had a lovely week with my sister-in-law and her little boy, and now we've plowed through another week of the kiddos and me at home, listening to Dad on the radio and anxiously awaiting his return to normal life, packing lunches, watching the weather app and praying everybody makes it through safely. 

And while we do, we remember that on the days silage doesn't quite run the way it's supposed to, when it seems far from a well-oiled machine, when kids are sneezing or axles break or rain halts everything in its tracks, we still get it done.

The cow chow still gets packed in a pile to feed the cows until next year's silage season.

The children get well again and beg for Mule rides.

The Red Bulls and iced coffees do their job.

The sun still shines.

And it's all good. 


  1. What a difference between silage here, and there! We fill our 3 small silos in a day! (but that's the difference between 45 cows and over 600!!) And it's still crazy stressful, because our silos are small and the moisture has to be just right so that it will pack enough to keep those lovely mold spores at bay! Seems like your corn is several weeks ahead of ours!

  2. Did you get your silage chopped? How did it go?!

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