Corn Harvest ’14

Corn Harvest ’14 is upon us.  After waiting for the corn to be dry enough, which seemed like it took a while, we officially started harvesting about ten days ago.

combine in corn This is a combine.  A miraculous invention that takes the kernels off the corn.

Then, a storm a blew in and it rained half an inch.  That was weird. It hasn’t rained up here in November since like 2010, so bring it on.  Rain during harvest, which we are NOT complaining about because it’s awesome for the wheat and we love rain, does keep you out of the fields for a couple days.

Also, we’ve received lots of loads of calves to run on the wheat.  Matt and Layne have to ride through and check and doctor cattle every day.  And we shipped a few.  And bought a few more.  And it turns out, franchers are triple-y busy during harvest because they really don’t have TIME to harvest the corn they’ve been tenderly raising since May.  So unlike the farmers around us who combine all day every day until they’re done, how nice for them,  we just sporadically combine when we have a minute, and now that Daylight Savings Time has began and ruined every mom’s life, that usually means after dark before the harvest starts.

night time grain cartThis is a tractor pulling a grain cart for the combine to pour the kernels in.  See, told you it was dark.

Side Note:  We live two minutes from the Central Time Zone, in New Mexico Mountain Time, so it technically gets dark here at 5:00pm now.  This results in a Seasonal Affective Disorder known as “Why Are My Kids Not in Bed It’s Already 6:30!?! Syndrome.”  Symptoms include herding one’s children to the bathtub during Ellen, forcing them to eat dinner when they wake from afternoon nap, and not allowing the oldest to watch the bonus round of Wheel of Fortune because he should be INBEDALREADY.  And we had such a nice pattern of sleeping in until 8:30 every morning here…so long, summer.

Our corn has cut really well this year  and that’s exciting.  Matt and Layne have worked and worked and worked this summer and I’m so glad it’s paying off.  This is [most likely] our last corn crop for the foreseeable future; we’re focusing on the ranching side of farming next year, which means the Wranglers I wash will be covered more in cow crap and less in grease.  Plus, Matt likes cows better than corn, which is bizarre because corn doesn’t attack people, so I think he’ll be overall happier to go to work in the mornings.

corn to the cartThis is the combine pouring corn into the DeKalb cart at Layne’s test plot.

claire watching combineClaire wanted to check out the test plot, too.

Lessons I’ve Learned as a Corn Farmer’s Wife

1.  The sprinkler is our boss.  A finicky, dictator-style, high maintenance boss with no regard for its employees’ personal plans, vacation days, or sleep schedule.  Sprinklers have flat tires, broken gear boxes, clogged nozzles; they get stuck, they go too slow, they have leaks; they suck water out of the aquifer which kind of makes me sad but I like to eat.  They run 24/7 during corn season and so do farmers.  No matter how much technology a sprinkler has going for it (GPS, VFDs…), it still requires round-the-clock care and pampering.  And without sprinklers here, there would be no crops.

2.  The market is our financial adviser.  It’s generally wise to farm crops that are profitable, so your family can eat and pay for their Dish Network and stuff.  The markets allow us to make informed decisions on important issues like what to plant, how much, when to hedge or not, and if we can afford Michelle’s online shopping habit. (Guess how much I cared about the markets before we moved here: nada.  Guess how much they affect all of us: mucho.)  Formula 2015:  Corn down + cattle up = cows on wheat.

3. GMO-schmo.  I’m no scientist.  We grow GMO.  If you’re against GMO, I’m cool with that.  Farm a row of corn in your backyard garden and you’ll have 8 ears to eat in August.  (Corn has one ear per plant, maybe a few twins occasionally.)  Also, no beef for you.  Or leather boots.  Basically, there are so many many things to worry about in the food world, but GMO corn isn’t one that warrants staying up at night.  Now, eating too much processed food full of high fructose corn syrup – cut that out already.  And donate to Food for the Hungry, so a kid doesn’t die of starvation today.

4.  Farming requires Excel.  Matt spends A LOT of time in the office, usually around midnight when he gets in, and he is a Spreadsheet master.  He and Layne know down to the dime how much it costs to raise corn/wheat/cattle, and they account for unexpected expenses as well.  Both of them were Ag Economics majors at Texas Tech, and it turns out this is a super useful major in which you actually learn things you will implement in real life.  Go Tech.

5.  Farmers are nice guys.  We’ve lived up here in the middle of nowhere for 21 months now.  The people are friendly.  The people are hard workers.  The people want their neighbors to succeed.  We may run over each other’s dogs occasionally, but everyone is willing to lend a hand or lease their wheat or bale some hay or drive a grain truck. Almost all employment relates to agriculture in this area, and when it’s a good year for one, it’s usually a good year for all.  It seems as if people are more concerned about the important things in life when they rely on weather, markets, sprinklers, and elbow grease for their income.  

trevor at test plotTrevor helping measure and test corn at the plot.  He’s a natural.

piggybackIt’s fast-paced around here, hold on tight.

That’s all for now about harvest, and maybe about corn farming, forever.  I haven’t taken many great photos because, as aforementioned, I’m in my pajamas by the time the guys get going.   Matt wants a record of this time on my blog so we can remember the good ole days next year when we’re eating bonbons and gazing at our wheat while the neighbors are cutting corn.  Because that will happen.





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