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John and Nancy Hourigan's silo almost says ‘moo’

Alisa Anderson Published on 05 June 2009

By the road to Elbridge, New York, standing near a red barn, is an older, unused, 30-foot silo that catches everyone’s eye.

It’s not very often that you see Holstein spots that big.



Every year, owners John and Nancy Hourigan hire Tim Fratus to paint their barns and other buildings.

“I had seen a painted silo in a magazine, and I thought it would work perfectly on this old concrete silo. The young man was up painting the silo, and I asked him if he could do it, and he did it. He was really good about it,” Nancy says.

Tim, owner of Coatings Plus Paintings in New York, says that this was the most interesting project he’s done.

“She said that if we needed anything to paint it by, just to look out in the field,” he says.

According to Nancy, the silo has become a familiar landmark in the area. It has become the icon for their dairy, too. They’ve put a picture of it on the shirts that they give to their farm hands.


“People pick up on it right away. They say, ‘Look at the cow silo!’ They think it’s clever. It’s something they’ll remember. You’ll meet people later and they’ll say, ‘You’re the farm with the cow silo,’” Nancy says.

The Hourigans host tours and meetings on their 1,000-cow dairy, and the silo is a nice way to promote their dairy. Recently the Hourigans had Tim paint all the fuel tanks with a Holstein pattern. “It’s fun,” Nancy says.

It took Tim a couple of days to paint the silo. Even when he repaints it, it still takes a while because he hand-paints it all. According to Tim, depending on the height and the condition of the silo, it could cost anywhere between $1,500 to $4,000 to paint one, and it often takes a couple of days.

He usually uses about 15 to 25 gallons of paint on a 30- to 50-foot-tall silo. Tim uses ladders and cherry pickers to reach high or difficult places.

“It’s difficult to paint silos because they’re round and, most of the time, they’re connected to a barn. So there are some areas that are hard to get behind. It’s very hard to get around them,” he says.

Nancy thinks it would be difficult to paint the spots. Tim spray-painted the silo white, hand-drew the spots then hand-painted the spots black.


“He did an excellent job,” Nancy says of Tim’s work. “He didn’t just put little dots here and there, he was actually very conscious of the scale, transferring from a cow to a silo.”

Nancy says that if another dairyman wanted to do something similar with an existing building, he should plan on keeping it up.

“Once you start painting it, you have to keep it up. You can’t let it deteriorate and become neglected,” she says. PD

Alisa Anderson
Staff Writer
Progressive Dairyman