The Corn Harvest Has Begun

Greetings from Minnesota. High of about 75 today, and I think this is officially the warmest fall that I can remember!

I’ve been alluding to corn harvest in my last few posts, and I’m finally going to talk about it. A combine ( said “comm-byne” and not “cum-bine”) is the machine we use to harvest the ears of corn from the corn plant. (This is way different from when we chop the whole corn plant to ferment for silage like I talked about a few weeks ago in this post.)

I spent several nights over the weekend riding around in the combine – see above –  with J. He keeps telling me I should just drive it, but I like riding with him and I’m not a very good driver :-). If an extra driver is needed for a tractor, I’ll have to do that, but this weekend we had enough people so I just got to ride.

Here’s several more shots. The first one is taken while I’m in the cab and looking down on the corn plants getting  harvested. The head of the combine is the front part in the corn with the pointed snouts. I love the name “snout” for a part of a combine. The snouts go in between each row, and have cutting mechanisms in between that chop off and suck in the corn plants. Once inside, the kernels get shelled off the cob. The kernels get stored in the top of the combine or they can get dumped directly into a tractor with a cart or a semi that travels next to the combine. The excess leaves, stalk and cobs just get ejected out the back of the combine.

 Here’s J fueling up the combine right at dusk. We used a skid loader to load a fuel tank into the back of a pickup truck, and the truck got parked in the field so that we can add fuel without having to return to the farm.

I think video would explain this process a bit better, but the videos I took are just not uploading to my blog. So here’s a few I found on UTube.  The first one is just a combine, and the second shows a combine harvesting and dumping corn simultaneously. The second combine is a LOT bigger then ours.

Once all the combining is done, there are a variety of different methods of plowing the soil. Each farmer evaluates their own topography to determine what’s best for the soil and environment in their area. Because we have dairy cows, we also have manure to apply as fertilizer to some of our fields in the fall. We have a specific manure management plan (fun, right 😉 ) to be sure we apply the right amount to various fields and do it responsibly.  Farmers depend on their land to produce a crop, so having healthy soil, water and environment is actually really important!

Running Tales

In spite of my nasty cold, I did get in a sort-of long run this weekend. Saturday I just didn’t feel good, and actually took a quick nap that afternoon. On Sunday I had to speak at an event in the afternoon, but it got done early enough that I arrived back at the farm about an hour before I needed to start feeding calves. So, I laced up my running shoes. I figured I’d go a few miles and see if it helped to clear out my sinuses. I started slow, but I ended up having one of those wonderful runs where I feel better the further I go. I felt great that last mile, and the mile 5 split seems to agree. I think the splits are actually pretty accurate because it wasn’t very windy, and my route was basically flat.

I hope I haven’t overloaded you with info on this post!

Did I explain the whole combine thing well enough?

Want to hear more about that manure management plan of ours??

Seen any combines in the fields (or been stuck behind them on the highway) lately?


About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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6 Responses to The Corn Harvest Has Begun

  1. sweatykid says:

    Nice run! I am so pumped that we are Bogs buddies — I adore mine unconditionally and love that I get to wear them every day now that it’s so rainy and muddy here.

    From a non-farm-gal perspective, it is very cool to get an inside look at the corn harvesting process right from the source. Between cornstarch, corn syrup, sweeteners, cattle feed… corn is in EVERYTHING, it seems. (Not to mention my personal fave — tortilla chips).

    • Lisa says:

      I think I’ll have to devote a post to my Bogs at some point in the future. As for corn, it really is in everything! I have some dishes made out of corn plastic of all things. I was thinking of talking about how HFCS really isn’t worse for you than cane sugar, beet sugar or a lot of other things we shouldn’t eat too much of, but I decided to leave that battle for another day…

  2. I love the pictures of corn harvest. I grew up on a farm in Canada, but we bought all of our feed. However, I am now living in the States and the boyfriend lives in Iowa. So you know what that means. I lot of education on corn this year. I find it all really interesting.

  3. Brit says:

    I’m excited for this post! I still want to know how the combine knows which part of the corn is kernels and which part is leaves, stalk, and cob. Off to ‘How Stuff Works’!

    • Lisa says:

      Ever since I was a little kid riding around in the combine with my Dad, I’ve wondered the same thing. It’s a very smart machine 🙂 “How Stuff Works” is probably a good place to start; I’ll bet they did an episode on it! If I find any other good explanatory websites I’ll post them.

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