Winter Rye

I finished picking corn Thursday about dusk. And went straight to bed. I’d been up since five am for I don’t know how many days, working till near ten pm each evening. On Wednesday night at a quarter to ten the feeder house disintegrated. Where it attaches to the combine on one side was splitting apart stopping the rattle chain where it would jam up in the pinch. Looked like an old wound that had been welded by the previous owner. Or his blacksmith. The greater part of Thursday was spent wrenching another feeder house off the parts combine onto the “new” one.

I was ready to roll by mid afternoon. Afternoons are very short this time of year. We are what, a week away from the shortest days of the year? Sun stands still. Our little Indian Fall was just the window of opportunity I needed to finish up combining corn and get a drill full of homegrown rye planted on the headlands for a cover crop. Or another rye crop depending on when it germinates. Quite possibly the last day this crop year to run in the soil. It was none too dry as it was. Winter Rye only needs a minimum 35 degree soil to germinate, and a following freeze to give the berries viability.

It rained all Saturday night , Sunday, and Sunday night with a whitening of snow to finish it off this morning. Had to be a couple inches. By afternoon the snow was melted and the sidewalks dry. The creeks were half way up their banks and many fields were puddled along them when my daughter and I went for a short drive around sundown this evening to snoop on the other farmers who’d been picking as I was. Damn it’s good to be done. It’ll take a hard freeze to get back into the fields now. But I’m sure that’ll come. It’s darn near winter.

Now, where’s that bottle of rye?



The Gales Of Novembre’

The gales of November came early. And the corn blew down. What wasn’t already blown down. Back when I was a kid there were many years the corn stood out there all winter damn near and never blew over. The tops would be blown off after the corn bore had hollowed out the upper stalk. But the bottom stem up to the ear would stand fast. Now they have genetically manipulated the seed to produce a toxic fungus that kills the pests. So the whole plant stays intact. So the wind has a lever. So the corn levers over. Progress, they say.

The gales of November had a tornado embedded. The whole pleasure train came complete with a snowstorm caboose. Nice little way to top off a disaster. Burn you with a tornado then freeze you out with a blizzard. At the height of the blowing snow I got a call from the stay at gone mom to come get her. She was done cutting hair and ready to be picked up. I had her van because my pickup was up on a jack while the tire was replaced. With none left in stock they had to order one. Nothing like driving in a snowstorm to make you a stay at home person.

That was all forty acres or so ago. Today we had a half inch rain overnight and breezy mists all day. Not very conducive to picking downed corn. But I dumped the six wagons I stayed up till 10:30 last night picking. It takes longer in downed corn. But it’s a chance to sell some dirt. At corn prices. Rooting around in the downed corn with the corn snoots on the corn head causes some of the tangled tops (still attached thanks to genetic engineering) to go in upside down one row over and it yanks the whole plant out roots and all. Some of the dirt from the root balls gets knocked off into the corn. Progress(ively worse)!

So the landlord gets to keep some of my corn. I get to sell some of his land. Not by the acre, not by the square foot, by the bushel. Fair trade. FM? In this case the foreign material is free mud. Complete with fertilizer and good humus. I try to take good care of my soils. Trust me, it’s worth more than the $3.40 per bushel the corn is bringing. But then so is the corn. I have over $4.00 wrapped up in it as I speak. Plus interest.


My harvest song for the rest of the run.

Where the downed corn grows …….


Bean There Done That

The bean run is done. Perfect weather for the whole race. Yields were good but not great. Maybe a little above average but nothing to brag about. I finished up on Thursday, October 22. It rained on the next day. Off and on all day. It was getting dry so the rain is a good thing. Fields were catching fire when worn out bearings threw sparks that ignited the super dry crop residue.

Thirty some acres of standing corn was burned down and totally lost somewhere nearby. According to the bar chatter on Friday evening. Fortunately I’m not part of the fire starter crowd since I’m not using my fire starting Fisher Price combine I’d bought (been ripped off for) locally by “a good church going Christian”. Everybody started carting a tractor hooked to a disk around to set in each field they were cutting in case of emergency. Nothing fights a field fire better than a disk.

Now it’s on to the corn. One crop down with one to go. In more ways than just price and harvest (and fire). I hear the corn dried down naturally in the field. Good thing since we are already losing enough money on every bushel as it is. Wet corn would have added insult to injury. I only wish the EPA would let my people grow and allow the ethanol to reach Congress’s mandated level of production. At the total mandated the surplus bushels would disappear and profitability could be restored in the grain growing business. As it is we are held hostage by appointed administrative bureaucrats. The kind that are very hard to fire since you can’t vote their sorry asses out of office.

After two weeks of climbing combine ladders I’m beginning to toughen up. Some of the soreness is abating from my muscles. Another three or four weeks will finish the crops and the workout. I’ll be fit as a fiddle going into winter. Ready to cut and split the wood for warmth.