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May 7, 2014

Corn in the Ground

Over the weekend, my father in law and husband decided it was time to begin #plant14 and get some corn in the ground. Me? I wasn't ready yet. Us farm wives never really are, though.

It's funny how we wait all winter and ache for spring and planting season but once it's here, it's here. And it's not stopping. I like to help out with the farm when I can and when they want me. It's a personal choice and it's an atmosphere I really enjoy. I'm always learning something new. 

This year I got to help fill the seed boxes. And I thought baling hay was rough. Dan always says, "There's more to farming than just sitting in a tractor." 

He got that quote from his grandpa. There's a lot of truth to it, that's for sure.

You're probably wondering why the corn is pink. Well, it is dyed to indicate that the corn is treated with fungicide and insecticide. This helps the seed grow without getting a disease or eaten by a root worm. Some of the kernels you may notice are dyed purple. The purple kernels indicate the refuge seed. The refuge seed does not contain insect resistant traits. More than likely, the plant grown from this seed will die from disease or not produce a good yield. However, it gives the root worm something to feed on, a chance to mate and repopulate. Although we do not like root worms, we do not want to wipe out their habitat.

The black, grainy stuff on top of the seed is called graphite. It comes in a tube similar to a ketchup bottle and a small amount is sprinkled on top of the seed. This keeps the gears lubricated and working properly. This. Stuff. Is. Messy. No matter how hard you try, it always ends up on your face.

I didn't do the greatest job filling my last box on the planter. I spilled some seed. You just cover the spilled kernels up with dirt and hope for the best. There is a lot to learn when it comes to farming and it's easy to make mistakes. My father in law always says though, "That's the only way to learn!"

 Although everyone was off to a later start then expected this year, things have gone pretty smoothly for us. Most of our corn is in the ground and waiting for rain. We still have a few muck patches to plant. Those have to dry out first.

We recently purchased a bigger [new to us] corn planter two years ago. We went from planting 6 rows to planting 12 rows at once. We literally get done with corn twice as fast. It helps out tremendously. This is small potatoes as larger farmers are acquiring up to 24 and 36 row planters at this point. For the amount of acreage we do, 12 rows is more than plenty! Although, if you ever get a chance, the 36 rows are cool to watch run in the fields. The technology and advancements in farming is absolutely incredible.

An easy way to determine how many rows a planter can do is to count the seed boxes. Those are the bright yellow boxes in the above picture. The yellow faded tanks (most are white on this planter) contain the liquid fertilizer which gets applied, not sprayed, into the dirt.

As I've said many times before, we run tractors that are older than we are, from the 80s. They do a great job, though. My husband keeps them running with his mechanic background and we make more of a profit not buying new.

There are days when a buddy seat would be nice so I could jump in the cab and ride along however, it's not a necessity. Actually, it's given me the opportunity to run a few tractors on my own and has forced me to take pictures from afar.


Before the seed gets planted, we have to work the ground with another operation. There are many tillage tools you can use and it mostly depends on the type of planter application you are using. In our case, for corn we have to use a disc which turns the dirt up and makes it nice and soft for the seed to easily get planted. The disc is directly behind the tractor. There is also another tool attached to the disc called a rolling basket. It creates a nice bed for the seed. Sometimes the disc can leave the dirt a little rough so the rolling basket takes care of that. The rolling basket is new to us last year.

To keep things moving at a good pace, typically, you'll see one person or several working the ground in one field and someone planting in another. Once in a while, you'll see the planter following the disc. 

Working ground is definitely my favorite thing to do on the farm. It's very relaxing, much like mowing the lawn. It gives you time to yourself to think and reflect a little bit about life. I fell in love with it years ago and I get overly excited when I am asked to help!

Yesterday I posted about the importance of our soil and how it connects our lives. Next up, is the seed. But without the farmer planting the seed, our food wouldn't grow. Without farming, there wouldn't be civilizations. Or cities. You wouldn't have jobs. You'd be busy growing your food.

 If you're driving along the countryside this planting season, enjoy watching the farmers out hard at work. Reflect a little bit about your life and where each day begins.

That's what planting season is all about.


  1. Great post, Kelly!

    I understand the "not being ready" feeling. Somehow we get ready in a hurry and things usually turns out fine.

    J's Dad is the primary ground worker and J does the planting. I am the helper and gate opener.

    Last year we planted corn on Mother's Day afternoon and the next day. There's no chance that will happen this year; it's too wet here. We don't have very many acres to plant, but it's a good job to get done. J and I like to watch the corn grow. It's fun to watch J get excited about checking the crop.

    "There's more to farming than just sitting in a tractor," reminds me that there is a lot more to ranching than cattle. Sometimes we don't get the full picture until we are fully involved. Glad to hear you get along good with your in-laws and are able to work together. That makes a big difference!

  2. Great post Kelly-
    It seems as though you and your family have a very similar farming operation to what we have. Not too huge, but enough to keep busy. Not large enough to be the sole income, so my father-in-law is an agronomist for our local co-op and my husband works for our local John Deere dealership. We also run older and smaller equipment, and my husband maintains it himself. But every year there seems to be a new upgrade or two. I also love to help at the farm, but after having kids, I don't get as much time there as I would like. I now have to share my seat in the tractor next to my husband with my girls who love farming just as much. They rode in the tractor until 10:30 on Friday night!

  3. Love your pictures as always! I remember seeing colored seed corn for the first time in the first few years of dating the hubs. Pretty sure I was playing around in a container of it before he thought to tell me I probably shouldn't touch it so much as it had been treated! Lol.

  4. Great post! I love learning about the different methods in farming, and know little about conventional. It was interesting to learn about the color coatings on the corn. I hope you guys have a plentiful harvest this year!


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