TLC Cai-Cai and I went out to check the drying down of the corn
Still spots of green…still drying down.
Your friend on a western Colorado farm,
“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.
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.
“Come in, TLC Cai-Cai,” Mom invited. “Come sit with me for a spell and have your head rubbed.
So, I did.
So, she did. It was so peaceful, just sitting with Mom, purring.
Maybe you could tell me more about Farm Living, Mom. I purred.
“Well, let’s see…the Crop market. I don’t think I’ve told you about the crop market. You see this is the PRICE Dad gets when he sells something. That price is set by a thing called “Supply and Demand.” Mom explained, as she gently rubbed under my chin.
AHHHHH….so nice. Purrr.
“What that means is, if there is a lot of something, then the price for that something is low, but if there isn’t a lot of something then the price rises higher.” I stretched out my full length so Mom would rub on my backbone.
“So, you see, if the market is down, then the whole season’s work (March through November) can make it so a farmer doesn’t get anything for all his effort.
That is why a farmer tries to grow lots and lots of different crops. There is corn for silage/ensilage, corn for people to eat all summer long called sweet corn, corn for animals, and corn for people called corn flakes, cornmeal, lots of corn things. This is why corn is such a big crop. At least around our part of the world.” Mom petted me all the way down my side and clear over to the tip of my tail.
“Some farmers grow onions, and pinto beans, and pumpkins, and well just lots and lots of different products so people and animals can eat.”
“Oh, yes, Mom said scratching my ears OH MY THAT FEELS GOOD—and hay. Hay can be alfalfa and it can be grass. We grow alfalfa here. This way farmers try to have different types of crops so there is always some money coming in.”
In, I thought dreamily to myself. I understand about wanting and needing to come in.
Suddenly Dad was in the house getting a drink of water. I jumped up and headed toward the door.
I’ve had enough of In…
Out I go with Dad.
“TLC Cai-Cai, what are you doing?” Mom said as I jumped up to grab her foot.
Mom reached down a picked me up. “Oh, good, Sweet Little Kitty. I’ve been thinking I had better tell you about some other BIG noisy and dangerous pieces of equipment Dad has on the farm. Equipment you need to stay far, far away from.”
There is the swather— this is the thing Dad uses to cut down all the standing alfalfa, to let it dry turning into hay.
STAY away…it will swath you right up, then there won’t be a TLC Cai-Cai anymore!” Mom admonished.
Mom put me on her shoulder and walked over to the outside chairs and sat down.
“Then there is the combine.
The combine will move through the corn and chop down all the corn stalks, separate the corn cobs from the stalks, then shell the corn from the cobs, flinging the stalks, and cobs out onto the ground and the corn kernels into the hoper in the back.
If you were to get in the way of the combine, you would come out just like those tiny pieces of corn cobs and stalks, so you MUST stay out the cornfield during harvest.”
Mom started scratching my head, my ears, hum puuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
“Then the big truck will come through the yard, taking all the corn kernels to town.”
Purrrrrr, hummm, purrrr
“So, TLC Cai-Cai, when anything like this is going on, you have to RUN to the House! And stay IN the HOUSE where Dad and I know you are safe.”
I looked at Mom. Then I looked around and realized I WANT DOWN.
So I squirmed off Moms’ lap and headed over to the water tub—that fountain is intriguing!
Bye Mom, Gota Go!
When I woke up one morning, I realized Mindy was missing.
She didn’t come in for her regular spend the night and eat some kitty candy
Nor was she anyplace I could find her on the farm.
I meowed out at the barn,
I called by the Grain Bins,
I meowed and called and squalled in the hay stackyard.
I looked in Dad’s collector ‘parts’ cars,
I looked in all the grain trucks (there are three of them)
I walked down the corral fence and hollered constantly.
Then I went over into the orchard and meowed,
When I got back into the farmyard,
Mom was outside looking for Mindy also.
So, we both called.
After all that I knew.
But Mom kept calling for her for days and days,
Even going out at night (which she would NOT let go with her)
and called for Mindy
It’s lonely here without Mindy.
I like to go for rides! In the Pick-Up with Mom and Dad.
I get to see lots and lots of stuff. I like learning about STUFF!
I don’t whine or meow or anything. When I get tired, I curl up on Mom’s lap and sleep.
I have, also, figured out MICE! I watched Mindy bring Mice to Mom and get lots and lots of pets for bringing Mom mice. So I got Mom a mouse also.
That Mouse was LOTS of FUN! I played with it here and there and, well, gosh everywhere.
No, I didn’t eat it. I only eat cereal and yummy stuff in a can. The eating mouse thing, Mindy does I just don’t get.
Anyway…I AM A BIG KID NOW!
Well, since you don’t really listen to me, or take my advice—yes,
I have seen you clear out by the Butler Bins—-you need to get this through your fluffy head…
RUN! RUNNNN! GET OUT OF THERE!
there is a fox out there!
Fox EAT CATS!!!!
Well, on with your lesson. We live on a farm. We don’t live in town, or in a clump of houses called a sub-division, or on a ranch.
We live where Dad works the land—plowing, planting, marking, watering, growing, and then harvesting.
Farms grow foodstuffs.
A Ranch grows Grass. Grass called Pasture. Pasture lands for animals.
Not us…yes, I know we are animals.
Big animals, cows, horses, sheep, goats, those sorts of animals.
Oh! Just so you know. Come winter, after the crops are gone from the farm, then cows come. They eat up all the dried-up grasses and weeds and alfalfa, and left-over corn stalks.
“Are we a ranch then?”
“No, we are a guest hotel for a rancher and all his cows” I replied.
So, now you know, we live on a farm. We grow pasture grasses, alfalfa; three big fields of alfalfa, which Dad and Mom turn into hay, and corn. The corn is field corn, not sweet corn. Although, the cows think it is pretty sweet and yummy.
Our corn is the kind of corn that goes for food like cereal, and food for animals; like chickens, cows, goats, etc.”
Okay, so now you know…we live on a farm.
Next time I will teach you more about the farm.
Until then you stay out of the cornfield, there are foxes in there!
Mindy Lou-Sue, or as Mom calls me, Min-Min
Since you are going to be outside with me—sigh.
You need to learn some things:
We, that means, you, me, Mom and Dad, live on a farm.
You live in the house…. where I wish you would stay 24-7.
But since YOU don’t WANT to stay inside, I guess I can say you live in the house and outside just like Mom, Dad, and Me.
We live and work on several acres of ground that belong to Mom and Dad and You and I.
Mostly you and I will hang around the Farm House and the Farm Yard. That means you and I take care of the house and yards, the chicken pen, and the two tractor sheds, plus the equipment building, and Dad’s shop.
I (I NOT YOU) will take care of the equipment parking area and the hay stackyard. (And go on walks with Mom and Dad, but I won’t let you know that.)
You need to stay at the house and take care of the lawn. I’ll handle the rest.
Oh, yes, you can go as far as the Butler Bins (grain bins) and the fuel tanks, but that’s far enough.
You can also go into the corrals but STAY OFF the canal banks. That water can get you.
Okay, you got all that?
Good. That’s how it’s going to be.
Lesson One. We live on a farm.
Mindy Lou-Sue, or as Mom calls me, Min-Min