(May 2000, Michigan) My grade school classmate grew up on a dairy farm in northern Michigan, where winter temperatures can drop well below freezing. Materials that normally separate easily, such as grain, can turn into solid blocks.
In the winter, dairy cows eat silage, which consists of shredded alfalfa and cornstalks. It is stored in large silos attached to the dairy barn.
Back in 1974, a particularly cold spell froze the silage 12 feet up in the silo, which is more exposed to the cold than the lower part that is adjacent to the barn. My classmate's father fed the cows the lower portion of the silage, but the upper portion was frozen solid, and remained suspended roof-like over the floor of the silo.
His father decided to dislodge the silage. There was still feed enough for several days, and the man could have brought a small heater into the silo to thaw the material overnight. He could also have climbed to the ladder leading to the top of the silo, and dislodged the ice from a higher vantage. Instead he stepped into the silo and used a long 2x4 to prod loose the tons of frozen silage above him.
My classmate and his brothers used the tractor to extract their father from several tons of silage, so the undertaker could do his job.
The local paper just listed this incident as a "farm accident" in the person's obituary.
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Submitted by: Brian Bixby