Opening Tear Ducts and Chopping Silage

Two big things going at the “Vander Kooi Ranch” right now.

1.  Preparing for an eye surgery

2.  Chopping corn silage


See that little tear? That has been constant since she was born.

Ava’s right tear duct has been ‘clogged’ since she was born.  Tomorrow morning, Ava and I will leave our house at 4:00 a.m. to be in the Sioux Falls Surgical Tower at 5:30.  Dr. Tufty (who impressed me right from the start of our first visit….amazing how a doctor can either turn you off or develop trust within minutes) will perform what will hopefully be a quick and uncomplicated procedure.  The downside is that it involves anesthesia, but I’m trying to remain positive that she will be safe and the side effects minimal.  Huge shout-out to my sister-in-law, Anna, for having Vince over tonight and my mother-in-law, Deb, for taking Liv.  Kids needed to be ‘farmed out’ because Joe will be up and gone long before the bus comes…..

Chopping silage.  The crew has been at it from 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. for a little over a week now.  Joe has a little prep work to do before they begin in the morning and checks on stuff some when he finishes at night, so that means he has been home for less than 7 hours a day for a lot of days.  Thank goodness for Sundays!  God must have considered corn silage when He asked us to rest on His day.


My photograph was a winner in a contest a few years back. Vince, 2 years old, cleaning the chopper.

Chopping silage involves taking almost the entire corn stalk, ear and all, and chopping it into tiny pieces.  Then, it is blown by a spout, into a semi that is driving beside it.  The semi is quickly filled and he hauls it to the place where a pile is being built.  Another semi pulls in, and this routine goes on and on and on.  For our dairy farm, 1200 cows and 400 youngstock, it takes about 9 days, working 16 hours days.  Also, we do some custom (which means people hire you to do theirs) chopping, and so my husbands phone has been ‘exploding’ with calls from other farmers (and their nutritionists) who feel the more they call, the quicker we will somehow finish ours.  It is important to chop corn silage with enough moisture so it ferments correctly.


This photo is actually from haylage, but the part of the semi driving beside the chopper is the same.

When finished, the silage is covered with some huge white plastic ‘sheets’ and then tires thrown on top to prevent the wind from blowing it away.  The pile has to last us until next harvest, so it is crucial to have enough.  If you have any questions, please comment below.

While I miss Joe dearly, and so do the kids, I love this season because:

1.  I make a plan and stick to it.  Other times of the year, if I ask Joe to watch the kids for an hour here or there, he says, “There is an 80% chance I can”.  Hmmm, that leaves me hanging.  Now, I just plan on no Joe.

2.  I love to cook, and feeding 7-10 men is good for that!  My mother-in-law (I sincerely apologize for those of you who do not like their mother-in-law, mine is fantastic) and I take turns making sure they are fed.  Even one of Joe’s sisters did lunch the other day.  Many of the men in our crew do not get home-cooked food often, so they are always polite and thankful.

3.  After months and months of praying, it is just great to have stuff to harvest.

One part of the whole process that I DON’T enjoy is that Joe quits shaving his beard.  He is just too exhausted when he comes home at night.  He is blonde and his beard grows in red (with some white, I might add).   Nope, no way am I posting a photo of that!



One thought on “Opening Tear Ducts and Chopping Silage

  1. Rita, I love the comment about Joe’s beard!! The same is true for my husband. We do custom silage packing and he had been gone for a week when I saw him the other day. I did make him shave last night, as he is going to a conference with me for the next three days. I need him to look presentable! 😉


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