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I'm worth my weight in corn

A couple people have asked me to show them pictures of our farm or farming in general. We are in the midst of our harvest season here in West Central, IL so I've spent the last couple of weekends taking photos of everything to share here.

First thing you see from the road, the house. When it was built in the late 1800's, there was no road anywhere close. Now unfortunately, US Hwy 24 runs within 40 feet of the front door. We've actually talked about picking the house up and turning it 180 degrees but so far that is just talk. In my grandma's youth, there was a working smokehouse out back. Now we use it as a tool shed but on very cold winter days or very hot summer days you can still smell the scent of years of smoked meat inside.

Back of the smokehouse there used to be a tall post with an old iron schoolbell on it for calling the cows in at feeding time. This was inside a rickety old wooden fence with a couple equally rickety gates. There was also this old stone, foot-powered grinding wheel that we kids used to have fun turning and grinding things on. Stupid things like rotten apples and old rocks. After we inherited the farm in 93, someone came along and stole the bell and the grinding wheel along with a few other things. About 10 years ago we found a similar bell. Determined to not let anything happen to this one, we got a telephone pole and buried it six feet in the ground then bolted the bell to the top of it high enough up you'd have to stand on a ladder to get to it. We don't have cows anymore to call home with it but it's the principal of the thing. Then we built a new fence around it and painted it with wood preservative paint. And of course, a kid with a motorbike went through it, smashing the fence and breaking the support arm of the bell. This is the newly welded bell and the rebuilt fence with heavy duty gate.

Tha gate opens up on the barnyard and the fields and woods beyond. Those are fields of nicely dried soybeans ready to harvest.

Here is the house looking back from the barnyard.

Last week, my cousin Alan came to combine the soybeans. When I got to the farm Friday night, his combine was still out in the field so I figured he'd been harvesting past dark when the local grain elevators close. He came out about 8 Saturday morning with his two young daughters in tow. They love riding in their dad's combine. He emptied the hopper of beans out of the combine and into the truck and was gone on to his next field. Ours was the last field of beans. He was going home to put on the corn head and start in on 1100 acres of corn.

Ever wonder what soybeans look like before they get ground up for TVP and biodiesel? These fuzzy things are the bean pods and these are the beans. And this big beautiful empty field represents enough money to pay the taxes on the land next year and buy more seed and anhydrous ammonia.

Later that day, I went out for a drive in the country looking for old barns to shoot and came across this lovely specimen right about sunset. I hung around for a little while taking pix from various viewpoints. Then the farmer that owned the barn showed up and wanted to know what I was doing there. I walked back out to the road and talked to him and soon his suspicion of me turned to friendship and we talked for quite awhile. He even offered to let me go fishing in one of his catfish ponds. Just as the sun was setting, I was back inside the barn getting some more nice shots.

Tomorrow I'll finish the farm post with the ride in Kenny's combine and the trip to the elevator and haunted house.




( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
Excellent post! I love the way you took us on the tour of your farm :)
What a great place to live.

I'll be looking forward to your post tomorrow!
Oct. 16th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
If I have to move for this job search. The farm will be one of the biggest factors keeping me in the midwest.

Oct. 17th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
I hope you won't have to give up your farm. There's just too much there to leave or sell out.
Oct. 16th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
Awesome farm!
Oct. 16th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
Just waiting for you to come and visit sometime.

Oct. 16th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, as I suspected. I never knew you grew soybeans.

And am I the only person who is mildly terrified of the litte girls riding on the combine? I know, I know, I rode on my grandfather's tractor as a girl, but still.

Is the (soybean) truck yours, too, or does it belong to a wholesaler or what? Forgive my stupidity, on that one, but I've wondered about that.

I want a tool shed that smells like smoked meat.
Oct. 16th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
As I've said to others, you are welcome to come visit and see it for yourself. Most of us small farmers do what is called cash renting. Which means another farmer essentially leases our land. They provide the expertise and the machinery and manpower. We provide money to buy the seed, fertilizer, herbicides and etc. Then all profits from the sale of the grain are split 50/50. So to answer your question, my cousin owns all the equipment. Some small farmers still own their own and the cash renter uses it. Depends on the situation. If the cabs were still open on combines I might have a problem with small children riding in them. But they are completely self contained so as long as they are not jumping around all over the place, I don't have a proble m with it. Plus it lets them see what their parent does for a living and helps them to decide if they want to go into farming.

I grow soybeans and corn on a rotating basis. I used to grow wheat but it wasn't as cost effective so we stopped doing it.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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