The day before yesterday we started one of the most eventful, hectic, demanding times of the year for a farmer. We began the laborious task of chopping corn for silage. It is the time of year when a farmer has the opportunity to see their goals and dreams realized.
Every spring we go out in the field, test the temperature of the ground and anxiously wait for just the right time to put the seed in the soil. Once planted, we anxiously wait for just the right combination of sunshine and rain to get that seed to germinate. When it finally peeks out of the soil, we breathe a sigh of relief knowing the crop is in and started.
The next several months will be a time of maintaining that crop, praying for rain, watching it grow and hoping for an abundant yield. Everything is wrapped up in that seed in the dirt. For our family specifically, that crop represents all the feed we will have to care for our cattle all winter long. Without it, we are in serious trouble. If something happens to it during the growing season, it grossly affects how we care for our cattle the rest of the year
So when I stand out in the field and watch that corn go in the wagon, then into the silage pit for storage, I am relieved and content despite the chaos of the process. Just like all things, there are smells and feelings I revisit every year when we begin the process that make me nostalgic and joyful. The way I feel when I walk across the silage pit and the chaos of machinery moving in 10 different directions all at the same time. I am always amazed at the fact that no one ever runs into anyone else. Everyone stays in their “lane” so to speak.
For those of you unfamiliar with this process of storing feed, I will explain the fascinating steps that go into supplying a healthy diet for our cattle for the next six months.
Chopping corn and combining corn are very different. Combining corn will not start for several more weeks as the moisture level in the corn must be significantly lower than it is today. But for making silage, the corn needs to have moisture in it to make for an ideal level of fermentation to take place, thereby creating silage. Also, when we chop corn we take the entire plant, stock, ear, leaves and utilize all of it in a chopping process to make silage. The end product of combining is just the grain (kernel). Everything else is discarded. In many cases the leftovers from combining will be baled and used for livestock bedding.
For our farm specifically, all of our corn is chopped and utilized to feed livestock. Many farmers are growing corn and other grains to feed people. It is important to realize that all farms serve different purposes.
I gain great comfort in knowing that we all serve a different area of agriculture and all of it makes the world go round. Each farmer in the United States is feeding an average of 158 people worldwide everyday. So during this time of harvest and celebration, I encourage you to remember the farmer and the fruit of their labor that makes it all possible.