Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Autumn Brew

The time of fall colors is so short that in other years I often rushed to catch as many stunning pictures as possible. This is a destructive impulse, a mad dash to snag butterflies out of the air. It has taken me this long to learn to take this season as just a swelling of the color palette, a chance to find in old landscapes new blushes and highlights. At the least, these blushes and highlights allow one to recompose the familiar. However, with the low autumn sun beaming an incendiary sunset blaze, fireworks can erupt out of nowhere.

I've long enjoyed the old silo at Kallstrom Farm , and I've included it in many photos. As the leaves behind the farm color up, work has begun to restore it. They were pouring new concrete floor supports as I took this shot. Tomorrow is supposed to be nasty, so by the time the sun returns to light these trees, the leaves will have changed and the silo may have a new roof.

This silo is unusual. Basically a silo is a big barrel made relatively airtight in which the stalks and greens of the corn are packed and in which they ferment into what must be an intoxicating gruel to keep Elsie contented through the long, winter months. Many silos made of either wood or concrete are wrapped with great steel bars like the hoops that make a barrel hold its shape. Unlike most wooden silos, this one is built more like the frame construction of a house - a structure of members covered inside and out with a wooden "skin." Brent Kallstrom pointed out the obvious defect of using stud instead of barrel construction: the cavity inside the wall provides a series of passages away from winter's cold where rodents can access any part of the silage and enjoy a long winter celebration at Elsie's expense.