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Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Scenes from Oconto County Past.
What is left, or what was left until recently, of the old days.

Round Wooden Silo

Farm silos are storage structures for silages used for livestock feed. Silos are still a common fixture in dairy operations across the US. Silage is formed by microbial fermentation of plant material under near oxygen free conditions. Whole plant corn silage is made by chopping the entire plant finely.  Haylage is silage composed of wilted grass or Alfalfa dried and chopped finely. 

Under normal conditions, silage producing microbial fermentation produces lactic and acetic acids until acidity reaches a high enough level that growth of all micro-organisms stop growing after 2-3 weeks. With well stored silage foods in a near oxygen free storage, the quality and tast of the feed is maintained until the material is exposed to oxygen, which causes silage to deteriorate quickly. Gasses given off during the silage process are toxic and lethal. Deaths were regularly reported on farms where accidental exposure overcame those working to compress the silage without ventilation.

These are tower type silos, used more by dairy farmers, and were for storage of food used extensively in winter feeding to maintain milk production. 

Wooden silos were hard to maintain and eventually gave way to concrete silos, which also gave way to metal and fiberglass silos seen today.

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A rare example of  a round wooden silo is seen in this detail of a 1982 photograph from the original John Holl Sr. homestead in town of How, western Oconto County. Only the massive split rock stone foundation now stands. This silo dates back to the 1880's pioneer days of the township. The wood used was cut on the Sunny View Farm homestead.  Such wooden constructions were often replaced or not kept in repair and rotted apart quickly once the pointed cone shaped tops were gone.


This early wooden "basket weave" silo stands bravely beside the barn and next to a newer and much larger banded concrete silo of the the type more commonly seen today. These stand on private land still being worked for farming. Each one reflects the generation of homesteader and farmer that built it as technology changed the family farm.

Standing alone, without the barn once attached, this classic wooden silo was found on the golf course near Suring in Oconto County, Wisconsin.

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