“Let’s Go Outside, TLC Cai-Cai. I’m sure you can find lots to do.” Mom picked me up and took me outside with her. Then while Mom worked on the flower bed beside the red rocks, I hung out with her.
Tell me more about the farm, Mom. I’m still learning. I purred, wrapping myself around her legs, getting between her and the weeds, purring and purring.
“Okay, you sweet loving kitty. Let’s go have a sit and I will give you a wee farm lesson. Gosh, today you are 10 months old. (We really don’t know your day of birth, but the vet thinks you were born very close to the 1 Day of January, so we are going with that.)”
“Happy Ten Months, Dear Kitty!”
“Now, let’s see,” Mom put me on her lap and started petting me, “the farm. We talked about the hay, the big loud things that do stuff, and the fact we raise. Corn. I’ll tell you about corn.
Corn is our very most important crop. It’s the crop that takes us from paycheck to paycheck. For a Corn paycheck, that means a paycheck in December (usually—one year it didn’t mean that, but that is another story for another time.)
That paycheck in December takes the farm and everything on the farm clear through the whole year until the next paycheck in the next year’s December.
The corn crop Starts in January. Yes, it does. That is when Dad sits down, figures out how many acres he wants to grow the corn on, then he figures out how many seeds he needs to purchase from the seed supplier. The seeds make up all the bushels/tons of corn he will sell.
Then he starts watching the corn market. By the end of February, he knows (has a general idea, anyway) the amount of corn he wants to plants, will the crop will bring when he harvests the corn in late fall…that can be late October, or in November, or December.
By March the cows have left the cow hotel, so it’s time for Dad to work the ground. First, he disks the cow manure and all the left-over stalks of everything up — chopping everything into tiny little bits.
After that, he hooks up the plow and turns all the chopped-up bits over into big slabs of dirt to mellow out and feed the earth.
After all the soil dries, he goes back in and rolls the ground flat. This is so he can get a good clean place to work with.
Now it’s time to level the fields so he can get ready to start the water. Leveling makes sure there are no humps and bumps in the field so when the water starts it will run right through the furrows from the beginning to end, not washing out the seeds or pooling up somewhere along the way.”
I rather stopped listening, I even stopped purring, but I didn’t go to sleep. If I went to sleep Mom would sit me aside and go back to work.
I reached up and patted Mom.
“Okay, after the leveling, it’s time to mark up the furrows and Start the Water.
Then we wait for that to dry a wee bit, after which Dad plants the seeds. Lots of work in the spring.
When the little seeds get to growing and have four leaves…
Dad will go out and cultivate the rows…which means get rid of the weeds. Then he marks it out again and we start the water again.
We irrigate all the time, moving the water across the fields, onto other fields, then back again. All summer long.
The corn grows and grows and grows…. finally getting to a spot in the fall where Dad takes the water away because the plant is so big and so mature it can no longer take in any more water into itself.
Then we wait. It’s a little bit of downtime…time to get caught up on other things (of course the other crops have needs too, but we are just talking about corn right now)
Then in late October, or sometime in November, possibly December we harvest the corn.
We talked about that earlier when I was explaining how you need to stay away from the big machines on the farm.
So, there you have it, My Darling Sparkling little kitty. Corn. The big crop on the farm.
Mom gave me a kiss on the nose and put me down on the red rocks, now it’s time for you and me to get something done around here.