In The Blood, Tractor Time

It’s time to collect the grass and make silage. Silage is simply fermented mulch for livestock to eat. It’s actually quite simple to make – I wish my dog could live off that stuff. You collect the grass, store it in a big pit, put a tight tarp over it to exclude moisture, and let it sit for a minimum 2-3 weeks. Once you’ve done that, you scrape the top 1in off the top of the whole pit and voila! You have yourself some nice silage. Of course, the quality of your silage isn’t purely up to the process of fermentation, but the condition of your grass when you cut and collect it. Below, the pictures are shown in order of the process.

AAshare-175797AAshare-175809This tool is called a Rake. It collects the cut grass and stacks it into rows to be collected by the chopper.

AAshare-175802Chopper collecting the row of grass that the Rake madeAs the chopper collects the grass, it cuts it up and spits it out into the bed of a following truck. There are 3 trucks involved with the process – 1 filling up, 1 following, and 1 dumping. AAshare-175695AAshare-175721Grass being dumped into bed of truck.AAshare-175841AAshare-175856AAshare-175653AAshare-176260"As long as your ass is to the back, youre good." Brian“Rule of thumb: if your ass is to the back, you’re safe.” Brian tells me. There’s an art to stacking silage. Brian is one of the best, if not the best, around at stacking. I grew up being one of four brothers – I did some reckless stuff growing up. Nothing put me on edge more than watching Brian drive a couple ton tractor on soft grass overlooking a 15ft drop. But there he was, just stacking grass while eating his lunch. Pro.top of silage pit“Hey Matt! Do you want to ride along on the chopper? Maybe get some different angles?” Andrew yells to me across the yard. “Heck yea!” I replied, trying not to sound too eager, but didn’t care much if it did. I knew Andrew wouldn’t mind.

AAshare-176062AAshare-176168If you ever find yourself in a tractor cabin for hours, I hope you have someone such as Andrew to accompany you. The chair I was sitting on is meant for training purposes (or a perfect seat for your significant other). In other words, you’re cuddled up close and it would be unfortunate to not enjoy the other occupant. But a 5×6 box felt three times its size with the relaxed presence Andrew lives with. He asks questions about my camera and I return with questions about his tractors. We have a mutual respect for one another’s trades. We laugh a bit about certain trends in our industries before settling into conversation of hardship and the great unknowns we both experience. “Did you ever feel like you weren’t gonna make it?” I asked. “Oh yea! Just a couple years ago. I love to work hard but I like to make a little bit of money too, ya know?” He answers with a bit of a laugh that breaks to seriousness. Andrew isn’t afraid to be seen bleeding. He knows he isn’t weak. His confidence isn’t pride, it’s strength. He isn’t unsure of who he is. AAshare-176024AAshare-176037There’s something about Andrew. I haven’t been able to pinpoint it, but I see glimpses of it often. He treats other well, he works hard, and the only thing he loses his patience for seems to be himself. I feel honored to be documenting this man’s story. I find myself in situations like my time in the tractor and think to myself, “I do not deserve this.” To witness one’s story firsthand is profound.

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