The weekend before last we wrapped up the most stressful time of year: corn silage chopping. Despite a few days of breakdowns, we finished filling our big silo and much … Continue reading First Phase of Harvest Complete!
This weekend David and I did some crop scouting. Our Pierron farm, still called by the name of the family who owned it before Heims did, has four main fields, … Continue reading A Tale of Three Corn Fields
Silage chopping is underway! Chopping is the busiest and most important season for our dairy. I wrote about chopping rye this spring, but that task pales in comparison with this one. This time we’re chopping corn.
I’ve said before that corn silage is a big part of our cows diet. Chopping cuts up the whole corn plant – stalk, leaves, cobs (with or without grain) and all. Our silage is then packed and covered in pit silos. The end product is very efficient feed for our cows.
We only get one opportunity to chop corn silage each year, and the plants are only at the right moisture for a short time. We do stagger our planting to extend our window to finish, but it’s still a high stress time involving very long days.
Typically we chop around 80% of our corn in late August or early September. Because we’re in a drought, the corn didn’t get as tall and has started to dry out faster. That means there will be less grain (quality) and less tonnage (quantity) than an average year. It also means we’re chopping in July for the first time in David’s memory, and we plan to chop 100% of our planted acres.
We ran out of corn silage about a month ago, so chopping early isn’t all bad. It was hectic trying to get the chopper, trucks, and dump box ready, though. Also, I should note that I’m using “we” pretty loosely. I’ve been working in Wichita and have contributed little other than moral support to the chopping effort.
David’s cousin Jeff has been a huge help, running the chopper so David can get milking and chores done. Jeff also recruited his dad and other neighbors to help out driving trucks back and forth from the field to the pit silo. This also allows Dave to spend some time packing the silage – an essential part of the process. David’s dad and our employee, Tyler, have also been logging extra hours.
Having a person to do each task (chopping, hauling, and packing) has made chopping significantly more efficient. We still have at least a week to go – we’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, prayers for safety and sanity are appreciated!
Sorry for no post last week and a late one this week. Things have maybe been even busier than usual, apparently. What have we been doing? Well, we’ve been doing lots of planting!
About a month ago we borrowed a drill with a seeder from our neighbor to plant oats and seed alfalfa simultaneously. We plan to mow and chop the oats and then hopefully get 2 or 3 cuttings off the alfalfa this year. Also, the alfalfa will come back and should provide good feed for the cows for two more years. We’re really pleased with how it’s growing so far.
The plan (I should know better by now…) was to start planting corn immediately after we finished the oats, but first we had to get the planter going again. It was ready before the fire disintegrated the monitor and ruined the wiring. We replaced the wiring harness and monitor, hooked it up to a different tractor, and got started planting a couple of weeks ago. We finished about 70% of our corn planting before stopping to chop the cereal rye that we planted last fall.
We haven’t finished the rye yet, but when we do we’ll continue planting corn. Many grain farmers have finished their corn planting, but it actually helps us to have our corn crop spaced out a little bit to give us some time to chop corn silage later this summer. If all of the corn is ready at the same time, and we can’t keep up, it could hurt our feed for next year. We also have a few acres of beans to plant before we officially finish the planting season.
A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit and help us with some things around the house. While my dad tilled the garden (thanks, Dad!), my mom and I went plant shopping. We actually went looking for some bushes and annuals, but I also bought most of the veggies for our garden. It took me nearly a week to find time to plant them, but one night after work when we were expecting a rain, I decided I had to get them in the ground. I planted various tomatoes and peppers along with cucumbers, squash and a watermelon plant. I finished just as it was getting dark and had to have David help me water everything while I held a flashlight.
This past weekend I got around to planting the seeds I had bought – onions, radishes and green beans. In a few weeks we will plant more radishes and green beans, in order to stagger our harvest somewhat, and also intend to expand the garden or start a new one to make room for sweet corn. It seems like it takes forever for the plants to start producing, but thankfully, last year we planted strawberries. They come back each year, and we have really been enjoying them so far this spring. I can’t wait to have more fresh fruits and veggies to enjoy!
I mentioned that when my mom and I went plant shopping, our primary objective was to buy flowers and bushes. We bought snap dragons and dahlias to fill in and add summer color to the big flower bed that is home to all of our perennials. We also got a variety of annuals (portulaca, geraniums, angelonia, osteopermum, and several more) to fill in three pots and three other, much smaller, flower beds. We also found a eunonymous bush to replace an azalea that the pets destroyed and a hydrangea to replace a rhododendron that just never thrived and eventually bit the dust.
My mom helped me plant the bushes and many of the flowers. When we finished, we also put fresh mulch down. Everything looks great freshly mulched and watered. Now’s the fun part – sitting back and watching everything grow!!