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You, our faithful customers, contribute to our success every day when you purchase from us with your food dollars. That in itself, buying our pasture raised meats, is appreciated more now than ever. Thank you.
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About our Silo and Winter Hay Storage:
Growing, harvesting, and storing feed in the silo is an all-summer-long project. Here at Lilac Hedge Farm we maintain hundreds of acres consisting of both their own fields as well as rented areas in 5 different towns. This year was an incredible accomplishment as it was our first year actually filling the entire silo, and would have been the first year that we did not have to buy in additional feed.
Thousands of man hours were spent mowing, raking, tedding, chopping, trucking, running the blower and table to push food into the silo, and preparing equipment and maintaining the silo… only to result in what we now think is a total loss.
The fire resulted from spontaneous ignition within the stored silage. The leading cause of this type fire is low moisture silage, which can be attributed to the dry conditions this summer. The combustion happened in the middle of the silo around 35 feet up, and so far has worked its way to the top. Discussing the situation with others who have dealt with this, once the fire makes its way to the top it will continue to work its way down. The only way to stop it is to fully unload the silo.
The Plan Moving Forward for Feed Storage:
It is now a race against the clock to implement a plan we had wished up for a future date: constructing a bunk silo. It is needed to store the unusable feed coming out of the silo as part of the unloading process to extinguish the fire, as well to house the new purchased feed we will need to get through the winter. This afternoon, just 24 hours after this all started, we signed the paperwork to begin site work and construction for this new bunk silo.
The project is increidbly large, involved, and depends on a lot of outside resources and advisors to help us complete it properly. It includes pouring 6 inches of concrete covering an entire 30x80 area, trucking additional pre-cast silo bunk sidewalls up from Pennsylvania, and installing other drainage around the site. Concrete, site work, setting blocks and drainage will be over $80K with the side walls costing an additional $10K.
The Plan Moving Forward for Feeding Animals:
To be transparent with everyone, the loss of the silo and emergency construction is not what hits us hardest. It’s our winter feed loss that hits us most; the hay we rely on to nourish our livestock is the most substantial hit. It costs $3.5 per day for feed per head of cattle we have in the barn. Continuing our plan of wintering 150 cows here is an expense of roughly $525 per day. If all goes well and we are able to put them out on pasture in mid-May we are looking at an expense of $90,000 in feed to replace what we would have been able to feed from our own stores. This is nothing we could have planned for, and truth be told we’re still paying off summer bills to the tune of $50k associated with chopping the grass this summer, all of which is now lost.
The good news is we are moving fast. We are using a drawdown on our line of credit and will start construction of the silo on Monday, with hopes to pour concrete on Wednesday. Weather is not in our favor to pour concrete this time of year, but we’re hoping for the best. Our farmer friends are checking their feed inventories to hopefully help us secure what we will need to get through the cold New England winter months. Saturday we will have a caravan of trucks and trailers starting to bring home our remaining 150 round bales from our Templeton fields to get us through the next couple weeks.
I have incredible staff and friends with knowledge, connections, and resources to help us move ahead. My team and I have persevered through hundreds of challenges that have faced us in the past and I have no doubt we’ll get through this hurdle too. We are resilient.