The skies have cleared here in the Finger Lakes and the work of preparing the fields for planting corn has just gotten underway. Back in the fifties when I was growing up, corn was used mainly as an animal feed for the hogs and the dairy cows that we raised. But today, corn goes into a variety of our foodstuffs as well as a feedstock to make ethanol alcohol which is added to the gasoline that we burn in our cars, light trucks, and other small engines.
I like to watch the big tractors as they pull the chisel plows through the fields, not with a “put, put, put” like the old two cylinder John Deere tractors, but with a whine of a big turbo powered diesel engine. Today, it’s a one pass operation through the field and the field is ready for planting corn. We used to be able to tell which neighbor was working in his field at night by the sounds of his tractor: Willbough’s to the south used a John Deere B, Snure’s owned an Allis Chalmers WD45, and Kasserman owned a Deutz Allis tractor.
Today’s corn planters are a whole new breed of equipment. No more stringing a wire across the field to guide you so all the rows would be straight. My father liked to use the “hill method” as opposed to drilling the corn in a row as he thought that he could better control amount of seed dropped by the planter. Today’s farmers use GPS and computers to keep their rows straight and to calculate the settings for just the right amount of seed to be sown by the planting machine.
Well, my planting is limited to a couple of small garden plots in my back yard. But to my way of thinking, there’s hardly anything more satisfying than to work the land, plant some potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and then harvest what you have planted at the end of summer.