Different seasons certainly bring different activities on the farm. During the mid to late part of Fall, we find ourselves harvesting our corn crop. We were thrilled to locate non-GMO seed corn to plant this year that had none of the modern day fertilizers or pesticides sprayed on it. The other area farmers thought we were crazy. How are you going to get rid of the weeds in the field? Gary purchased a cultivator to go behind the tractor to go over the fields when the corn was just springing up. This allowed him to cultivate out many of the weeds until the corn was big enough to thrive. And thrive it did! We have been bountifully blessed to have about 7 acres of dried corn to help insure that our livestock will eat well during the winter months.
As farming has begun to be more and more industrialized for large scale production, it is harder and harder for small farmers to find equipment appropriate to harvest crops. Our desire is to have the full ear corn to blend into our feed as the nutritional and fiber content of the cob plays a role in most animals diets just as much as the kernels. Unfortunately, corn pickers that will harvest the whole cob are no longer manufactured. So, we found ourselves hand harvesting our crop this year. And what a crop it has turned out to be. Without the use of industrial fertilizers or herbicides, we have already harvested approximately 2,000 bushels with about 2/3 of the acreage still left to pick.
We have had folks ask about how we do things on the farm. Here is a snapshot into what corn harvest looks like at the Double O step by step.
The important thing is that it is a family affair. Family farms are called that not just because they are too small to be considered large scale agribusiness. Family farms are family farms, because it truly takes the whole family to get the job done. Twelve hands certainly get the job done quicker than two or four.
Another important rule during corn harvest is to play fair. Picking corn can be hard work. In not using herbicides, there are weeds that grow after the cultivating is done. As you pick from row to row, you find yourself high stepping over the weeds and usually through the mud. The tops of cornstalks sometimes hitting you in the face and those in front of you bend stalks to get the ears off. The most popular job is driving the tractor. Everyone gets a turn at this job from the youngest to the oldest.
As the bucket on the tractor gets filled, the corn is then hauled back to the barn. A corn crib has been constructed to hold a part of the crop as well as grain bins. Additional storage will need to be built in the coming days to accommodate the larger than expected harvest this year.
When the corn arrives at the barn a corn elevator is used to conveyor it up into the corn crib. It will be stored here until it is either fed out as is or put into the grinder mixer for our own special formulation of feed to keep the livestock fed throughout the winter.
At the end of the day we find ourselves walking the fields assessing what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done. There is always a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you are following the true nature of things. We planted, God watered and grew, and now we finish our part in harvesting what He has grown. Then we turn it back into His hands trusting that it will be sufficient provision to carry us through the winter.
Our family has come to see how God uses even a cornfield to grow us more like Him. We learn daily to be more gentle and kind to one another. We develop faithfulness and patience in seeing the job through to the end. As the day wanes and everyone is growing hungry and tired, self-control in how we use our tongues makes all the difference in the world to finishing well. Finally, we strive to find peace and joy in reminding ourselves that the toil we do is only because God has chosen to bountifully provide for our needs.