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Today, I started picking corn by hand with the horses. I love this job in any year, but this year I am especially enjoying it. My corn is spotty and weedy. The weeds would make the picker get all bound up. We have also had lots of rain so the ground is very soft. The horses are digging in in a few places, but the tractor would be buried up to its axles.
The horses fiddled around some on the first load. They acted like they didn't know where to walk, they ignored me a couple times when asked to stop, but by the second load they were resigned to just do the job. It is a joy to use them for this job. I walk beside them telling them when to stop. They stand while I pick up to them and move forward again when I ask them.
The weather was perfect today, perhaps even a bit hot, but I know winter is coming fast so I plan to keep at this job until its finished.

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-11-04 19:14:49 (CST)

I finished with this years crop just before supper tonight. I did have a couple friends who helped each day. We got three loads a day. The corn crib is half full, but I will have plenty for this year. It is a great thing having this behind me. It was awesome to pick corn by hand with a great pair of black horses in the traces.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

C A Farms says 2016-11-05 06:23:34 (CST)

Hi Ralph, are you shucking by hand as you pick the corn? Do you happen to know who still sells/ puts up the old ear corn cribs(wire)any more?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-11-05 09:01:28 (CST)

Great looking team, Ralph. Despite the challenges you had with the corn this year, it must have been great to do it this way. And cheaper, too.
A week ago the soybean field across the road got harvested. 76 acres were done in just a few hours - two combines, two tractors, two hoppers, two semi-trucks. Everything huge - I don't even want to know what all that cost.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-11-05 19:35:13 (CST)

C.A Farms, yes, I am husking the corn as I go, snapping the clean ears and tossing them into my wagon. I don't know who puts up the cribs that you speak about, but I know that many are unused, rusting on old farms. A guy could probably pick up one fairly cheap. They are good storage when they are full. Probably best to tarp the outside of the crib once the level drops below the roof line. The snow and rain blows in. Unless you use the corn pretty fast it doesn't keep as good as an old wooden corn crib.

Klaus, The very best part of my harvest this year is that the only fuel I used was in a little diesel 4 wheeler my wife drove while I picked along the fence so I could get the horses into the field. It is as you say, all that fuel and all those payments your neighbor had to use for $3.50 corn and $9.50 soybeans. Makes me like my horses even better.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-11-06 08:32:47 (CST)

I think you are very wise harvesting corn with your horses. We use our mules for the same task. How many acres do you do?

While all my neighbors are out there with their massive combines spewing exhaust and noise, we're actually have a quiet old time, the mules and I. As far as labor is concerned, it's one farm task we can easily find volunteers to help with since, for people from the city, it's a "real" farm experience and not too hard to handle. And Klaus is correct. If you back out the expense of technology, is the added acreage machines allow (or should I say require) is that way of farming really more profitable?

As for a corn crib, we're in the process of looking to build a new one. (I think our population of red squirrels now own power tools to break into things.) There is a company in Nebraska that still makes the metal wire ones. I need to dig into my notes. Can't remember their name right now. Ironically, they sell them as large animal cages (perfect for your farm's pet monkeys) but they are, for all intent and purpose, the same structures re-named. But they aren't cheap. Several thousand dollars from what I recall and then there's delivery plus putting in a foundation. Depending how much corn you put up, a well-built wooden one can be had for much less and, I suspect, might be more adaptable for most of us on the forum. There are a lot of rusted ones around but it takes a lot of corn to fill one up and it is more exposed than in an old-style wooden one.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-11-06 17:47:55 (CST)

Brian, This year I planted five acres, but due to a couple mess ups on my end, I grew about three acres of corn on five acres of ground! I agree though, husking by hand is something I enjoy, especially on a nice fall day.
I also agree that a wooden crib is a great option. Mine are both wooden. I sawed the slats from pine trees here on the farm. The corn keeps well in it.
I like the look of an old-fashioned wooden crib. The kind where the walls lean out at the top. This configuration allows for rain and snow to drip off rather than run into the crib.
My crib forms the outside wall of my machinery shed. I divided it in half. Each half is four foot wide, seven foot tall and sixteen feet long. I have only filled both halves once. That was a lot of picking. I didn't finish until early December. That was a cold job.
I guess if I was to consider a wire crib. I'd build a wooden frame and put 2x4 welded wire on the inside. I'd make sure it had a wide overhang to keep some of the weather out and I'd try to use it up fast here in snow country.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

C A Farms says 2016-11-06 18:54:43 (CST)

BrianL and Ralph from NE Ohio, I don't have the resources to take one of those wire mesh cribs down and move it. I already have the round foundation(2) things already on the property. Looks like square is the new round for me. Anyone have a link for some plans?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2016-11-06 21:01:33 (CST)

Any time you do it with a team it makes You feel good as your doing something that most people can't or wont take the time to do. It

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2016-11-07 05:41:10 (CST)

Will you disc the stalks in this year or wait until the spring?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-11-07 07:38:04 (CST)

We're in the same boat. Yield looks to be down, especially compared to last season. Although it's quite a crop of grass and weeds we grew amidst the corn. We harvest ours either this week or next, depending on the weather. I'd even kicked around the idea of a small grain bin and putting the corn up shelled. But a slat-wood crib does keep things nicely.

As for corn crib plans, Lynn Miller has plans for a slant-walled crib in one of his books, "Starting Your Farm." It's for a 300 bushel one. You can probably improvise from there. As for those wire ones still in production, I think the "smallest" was close to 1,800 bushels or something. That's a lot of corn.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-11-07 20:12:05 (CST)

When I was a high school boy, I grew an acre of corn for a school project. I made my crib by using two shipping pallets, covered with boards for the floor. The sides I made from wooden snow fence. The slats were spaced just right. Once the "crib" was full, I put two old pieces of tin roofing over the whole thing. It was cheap. It worked well and a teenaged boy built it by himself.

As for discing the stalks, normally I would do it as soon as the cows eat the majority. This year we are too wet. I will let the animals smash what they will, then hopefully the horses and I can mow it with a brush hog in very early spring, just before plowing it.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-11-08 13:54:28 (CST)

My first temporary crib was built using the shell of a great big crate that I got when my disc harrow was delivered. Up on blocks, I built a shed roof for it, wrapped it in hardware cloth, and it served me well, keeping coons and mice at bay. Until the pesky red squirrels figured out how to break in.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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