Upright silos are familiar features of North Country landscape. Like iconic windmills of the Netherlands, they were built for another era. Structures rose steadily in the 20th century on small farms with limited acreage. In the last few decades, feed storage has trended to concrete bunks. Some silos are torn down and rebuilt elsewhere. Some, like ours, stand empty in the midst of a farm embracing progress. Others keep quiet watch over barns falling to disrepair.
Once new facility construction was underway, attention turned to clean up of the barn fire site. Included in the mess were two blue metal silos compromised by the fire. Additionally, two 80-foot concrete silos at the main farm stood empty and smack dab in the way of progress. One of those was the monster that almost stole the Hubs’ life in 1997. All four silos were destined to be razed. Good riddance!
Who knew silo demolition could be so much fun? It was like a good ol’ fashioned field day for grands and adults alike. A lot of excitement for our small corner of the word. But when I heard an Amish crew would dismantle all four silos, I was sure I’d misunderstood. Seriously? How does that work?
The crew arrived by truck, courtesy of a non-Amish driver. They brought only sledge hammers and saw with a steel-cutting blade. In less than half a day, all four were reduced to rubble.
The Amish approach to taking down concrete silos is especially impressive. First they cut and remove metal staves at the base of the silo, gaining access to concrete blocks. Then they hammer some blocks out from a portion of the base. The resulting hole itself is enough to produce anxiety. These fellows must have nerves of steel.
They continue to widen the hole, increasingly cautious. Nearing the tipping point, they take a swing and scurry quickly out of the way. If that doesn’t do it, they sneak back in for a final, solid WHACK! This elicits the tell-tale creak followed by full-on groan from tons of concrete and steel giving way. LOOK OUT!
Each silo fell with a large bang and cloud of dust yet neatly, in a straight line, as predicted. It was as if a giant had leaned into a tall cylinder of dominoes. I don’t know which is more impressive: the precision in this manual process or the confidence of the men who whack away at the base of a massive structure destined to crumble.
Quite something, eh? See more of this crack team in action here.