Hi Everyone! I just got back from visiting Ian and Val Plagge on their farm in North Central Iowa during corn and soybean harvest. Ian and Val, along with their kids Klayton (4), Audrey (2) and Lauren (9 months), along with Ian’s Dad (Roy), and couple other farm workers (Rusty, Cole and Merlin), kept me busy every day bringing in the harvested grain.
North Central Iowa is definitely “flat and black”, as they like to say. Just look of this photo of me driving a tractor for Val. Do you see how far you can see from a tractor cab? I spent most of my time on the farm riding along with Val in the tractor and catch cart. She follows along with the combine, so the combine can drop the grain from inside it, into Val’s grain cart. The goal is to keep the combine moving at all times. So as the catch cart driver, I had to make sure to follow along at the same pace as the combine in the field and once my cart was full, bring it over the semi-truck or grain wagons, so they could then bring it to a grain bin, grain bag or deliver it to a grain elevator or ethanol plant, all while returning back to the combine before it needed to dump again.
I also enjoyed hanging out with Ian and Val’s oldest child Klayton. He is in PreK every afternoon but always seemed to manage to join the rest of the family out in the field either before and/or after school daily. He told me his favorite thing about living on the farm is helping in the field and with the pigs and being able to have lots of space to run around. He also told me that he wants to be a farmer when he grows up but that he is going to add some more animals to the farm including, cows, horses, chickens and sheep. His favorite place to ride along during harvest is the combine. I had fun joining him watch the head of the combine, through the big windows of the combine cab, bring in the corn so swiftly and smoothly. Then behind us in the cab, you could see through a window where the individual corn kernels were stored, until Val comes by with her tractor and catch cart. It is actually really neat and amazing how fast the combine can take a whole stalk of corn through the machine, find the one corn cob on it, then take of each individual kernel of that cob, store the kernels and throw away the rest of the cob and stalk behind it as it moves through the field.
On Ian and Val’s farm they raise field corn. This is not the kind of corn you eat on the cob in the summer or buy frozen or in a can from the grocery store. That kind of corn is sweet corn. Their field corn has two main uses: livestock feed and ethanol. The corn is ground up and used for pig, cattle, sheep, etc. food. Some of the corn also goes to local ethanol plants where it is processed into fuel that helps your family’s cars and truck go down the road. Pretty amazing that a simple corn plant can be used for such a variety of things.
Overall I had a great time being a part of such a busy time of the farm with the Plagge’s. I loved how they work so hard and work as a family to make it all work.
I can’t wait for my next adventure!
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