Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tower Silo Monuments to the Past

  Since I live in a county where dairy production is the major agricultural enterprise, I am tuned into the trends in these businesses.  As a geezer, I have lived long enough to watch the number dairy farms decline at a precipitous rate.   In New York State in year 2000 there were 7615 dairy farms.  In 2016 the number was  4624 and continuing to decline.   For Cortland County New York where I now live in 2006 there were 143 dairies and by 2016 the number is 96.
    How do these changes impact what I see when I drive the countryside?   Today large dairies typically store huge quantities of forage in bunker silos.  In the past, however, smaller dairies stored forage in tower silos.  As these smaller dairies perish, the tower silos become monuments to the past.  Razing the silos seems to be a rare event.   Today I took a little tour within a few miles of our home, simply to photograph a few of these monuments.   Within ten minutes I passed over a dozen silos of varying designs and sizes.  All of them probably had not been filled in at least 10 or even 20 years. 
    In many respects these silos remain as forlorn objects of the past.  Having grown up on a farm I can imagine the angst of the farmers and their families as the next generation moves on from agriculture to other employment in society.  A whole way of life disappears.   Meanwhile,  I find there is a certain beauty to these monuments.  Perhaps we could consider them to be our Stone Henge equivalent for the 21st Century?   For the geezer me, I find it entertaining to look for the different numbers and types of unused tower silos.     And also to muse about the families and businesses that once thrived on those farms. 

     Here are a few examples of silo monuments.  Note the different designs and sizes! 
Concrete Stave Silos

Concrete Stave and Coated Steel
Galvanized Steel Panels - Likely from the 1960s.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Beyond Skiing

      This past Wednesday our geezer skier group gathered for an off season lunch at Greek Peak.  Usually after the ski season we rarely see each other since we go our separate ways to summer activities.  At the end of the season, I had the sense it would be good for us to get together occasionally to extend our socialization beyond the ski season.  We just might have a lot to talk about beyond the usual commentary about ski conditions.
       Seven of us gathered at the Hope Lodge Acorn Restaurant of the Greek Peak Resort.   My e-mail invitation sent out several weeks earlier rousted out at least a few of our group.  (We are looking to gather each second Wednesday of the month for the off-season.)    For an hour and a half we ate, drank and chatted with gusto.   Each one of us had a chance to swap stories of our recent activities and reveal something of who we are beyond our love of skiing.  We all have had an amazing array of experiences.  This has to be true since our youngest is in his upper seventies and our senior member is beyond 90. 
       There were an array of topics to be discussed.  Several geezers are military veterans in roles from grunts to officers.  For those of us who are not veterans it was interesting to hear of the impact of their service on their lives.  For several the service was a stepping stone to rewarding civilian careers.  Each person was encouraged to describe their career path.   It was a delight to learn of their experiences and accomplishments.  All in all, we were able to see multiple dimensions of our companions, well beyond our focus on skiing in our senior years.
     I am looking  forward to how this saga will continue.  Next lunch is June!
From what my wife tells me her women's group she has lunch with, gets into personal issues.  i.e. Sharing feelings etc.   As typical guys, that may be a stretch for our gatherings.  But who knows?  Now that we are beyond skiing, anything might happen!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Skiing and Agriculture: Weather Dependent

  It was a strange mid February ski day at Greek Peak.  In the midst of President's Week vacation the area has been struck with rain and near 70 F temperatures.  Only a small number of brave souls were out on the slopes.  I think I was the only geezer there. 
   Because I had no geezer companions to converse with on the lift, I had plenty of time to muse about the impact of weather on the ski resorts both presently and over all.  My childhood and teen years on the farm also brought back many memories of the impact of weather on the productivity of our crops and orchards.  There are a multitude of similarities of  the ski business and agribusiness.  If it doesn't snow it is hard to attract skiers and boarders.  If it doesn't rain at the right time on the farm, crops fail and income declines.   Both events can be mitigated, albeit at some cost to the businesses.  Making snow demands equipment, labor and energy as does agricultural irrigation.   Also their can be similar unmanageable weather that forgoes those mitigation's.
    Another similarity between the ski resort business and agribusiness is the wide swing in income from year to year.  On the farm we experienced feast and famine.  One year we would have great weather and bumper crops.  The next year could be a disaster from hail and wind storms and or pests and diseases.  Likewise there can be a year of great snow and conditions for a ski area followed by a year or sometimes two of a snow drought. 
     My geezer group of friends often get into a bitching session about the ski conditions and the vagaries of the management of the ski area.    Sometimes we are a bunch of crotchety old men.  When this happens, I wish I could be more positive in reminding ourselves that we are just blessed to be able to ski in our most senior years and we don't have the headaches of the ski area operators.   Again I am reminded of my farm background, that when bad things happen, the  tough get going and remain optimistic that next year will be a better year.   May it be so at my local ski area.   We truly are due for some fabulous ski seasons after the bummers we have had over the last three.
      There is an old joke about a farmer inheriting a fortune who was asked, "How long will you keep farming?"   The answer,  "Until the fortune is all gone!"  Seems like that is what is happening in East with ski resort operators now!