Stone Silo / by John Ela

There’s an old silo at the Ela Orchard. It’s built out of stone and has not been used for years. Salamanders live in the bottom and the trees above are framed in a perfect circle.

Silos are an old part of our family history. The first upright silo was constructed in Illinois in 1873, and the Elas were quick to adopt the technology, building silos in Rochester in 1880. Those silos were taken down about a decade ago by their new owners, who didn’t see the point in obsolete rundown farm buildings.

We’re less practical people. We didn’t want the silo at the Orchard to suffer the same fate, especially since we named our cider after it. This particular silo was built by one Peter Frederickson between 1907 and 1908, according to notices in the Waterford newspaper. Apparently silos were big news back then.

A century of rainfall had eroded a whole side of the silo, leaving a crater in the wall that compromised the structural integrity of the entire building. The mantle over the entry door had also fallen out. Tom Ela, our Facilities Manager, led the repair effort, replacing stones that had fallen out, reinforcing the mantle, and tuck-pointing to prevent further decay of the mortar. By the time we were finished it looked as good as new and ready to continue standing, outdated and beautiful.

Stone Silo is our first cider. We’ve had some stumbles along the way but we’re proud of the end result. We hope it’s still around in 100 years like its namesake.