Bringing the Harvest in
This time of year, known as “Harvest,” is CRAZY to say the least! A lot going on, with late nights and early mornings!
We successfully harvested our one and only crop of corn silage for the year. We determined, with a lot of help that our crop was ready to harvest.
This is accomplished by chopping the whole plant (corn stalk, kernels, and cob) into one chopped up pile. This machine, called a chopper, works by taking the plant into its head and using knives and rollers to chop it up, and crush the corn kernel. This makes everything easier for the cow to eat and digest and it opens up all of the nutrients to make them more digestible for the cow.
Our chopper takes in eight individual corn stalk rows at a time, others can do more or less depending on the model of the chopper. The corn plants are chopped into ¾ inch pieces and then shot through a spout into a truck or tractor with a wagon that drives next to the chopper. Taking the corn plant from the ground, chopping it up and sending it into the truck is all a pretty fast process!
The fresh corn silage is then driven back to the farm and dumped into a large pile. We drive around 2-5 miles per hour next to the chopper and it takes about 10 minutes to fill up a truck that carries around 12 tons of silage in one truck! That means for the 7,000 tons of silage we put into our big pile, we have to drive next to the chopper, fill up the truck with silage and dump that silage around 600 times!
At the farm heavy tractors push the new silage into one big pile, and part of their job is to pack it down really tight by driving back and forth many times to remove the air so it keeps well and doesn’t mold (kind of like vacuum packing food). After it’s packed tight and the air is removed, we cover the pile to preserve the corn silage and keep the weather off it. There it will ferment and keep for the cows to eat throughout the year, until harvest 2017. We have to work quickly so the pile isn’t exposed to the weather while trying to remove as much air as possible to give us the best feed for our cows.
One of my jobs is to feed the guys helping with harvest. Let me tell you they eat a lot, too! In order to keep them moving and to finish corn silage as fast as we can they require portable meals to be eaten while they are driving the trucks, chopper, and tractors. Trying to come up with a meal they can “eat on the go” can be difficult. It doesn’t help they are pickier than my toddler!
One of my favorite, and easy, meals is sloppy joes! Throw them in the crock pot and we have a nice meal that I normally pair with a bag of chips, pickle and cookie. I box them all up and deliver to the fields. My toddler knows the red wagon as the food wagon, and he hangs on to the boxes so they don’t tip over on our walk to the farm.