Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How the Amish Harvet Field Corn

With our countryside dotted with corn shocks and families husking corn in the fields, many guests of the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast are asking questions about how the Amish harvest field corn.  There are several ways that corn is harvested, and methods vary with differing sects of Amish.
Shocked Corn in Holmes County
Our amish neighbor said that he likes to husk three rows of corn around the edges of the field.  Hand husking three rows along the edge will allow space for his team of horses to pass pulling a binder without destroying good corn.  From then on he is binding the stalks with the ears of corn on the stalk.  The binder is an early 20th century implement that cuts and bundles the corn, producing a bundle about every 10 feet.  Next, the family or several men set the bundles, tee pee fashion, 12 - 15 bundles per shock.  They tightly tie a twine in the upper portion of the shock, thus keeping water from soaking into the shock.  The purpose for shocking is to dry the corn.

Sometime in February or March, they load the shocks onto a wagon, take it to the barn, and run it through equipment similar to a threshing machine.  This process separates the ears of corn from the stalk and shreds the stalk for bedding.  This bedding is called fodder.  Corn fodder is a preferred bedding for animals.

Another way corn is harvested, is as demonstrated by the stricter Amish, who husk it by hand in the fields.  They draw a team of horses and a wagon into the field.  Often a family of six or seven persons take one row per person, pull off the ears and throw them into the wagon. They have a special tool in one hand.  The tool has a leather strap and a piece of metal that enables them to easily strip the ear of corn. They typically allow the stalks to fall to the ground, then later crush it down with a piece of equipment so that it can easily be plowed under in the spring.
Amish man using corn binder
 A third way that some Amish harvest is to cut it with the same binder as described above.  They cut it while still green, then they load the bundles onto a wagon and take it in to the barn where they have equipment that shreds it and blows it into a silo for storage.  This silage is complete with both corn and stalks and provides food for the winter.

Yet another way they harvest is to allow the corn to totally ripen and dry in the field.  They come along with a corn picker (different from binder).  It strips the ear of corn off the stalk.  They pull a wagon behind the picker which collects the corn that the picker throws back.  The corn is taken in where, by hand, it is shoveled into an elevator that takes it into a corn crib.  The ears of corn are later shredded and combined with other grains for animals.

Rows of Corn
 There are those Amish who might hand husk six rows of corn in the field, then come along with a binder, bundle the stalks into bundles, and shock it without the ears of corn; shocking it as mentioned above.  Later, after it is dry, they take it to the barn and shred it for bedding.

The Amish neighbor told me that when the kernels are in full dent, no milk is left in the kernel. Another note is that the animals will eat the stalks if they are harvested green; however, they will not
eat them when they are dry.

Antique Cars at The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast
 While planning a trip to Amish Country, consider a stay at the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, a leading property in Holmes County, Ohio.  We are a licensed hotel, offering fine accommodations, personal touches, and amenities expected at a bed and breakfast.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
November 4, 2014

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